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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kozyrev NATO Article Draws Fire

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has said he believes Andrei Kozyrev should have done more to stop NATO's planned eastward expansion when he was foreign minister.

Chernomyrdin's criticism, aired on the NTV television news program "Itogi" on Sunday, came on the heels of an article by Kozyrev in the American magazine Newsweek in which he dismisses the Russian protests against NATO enlargement as mere "bombast" and a "PR ploy" instigated by the country's anti-democratic old guard.

Kozyrev was foreign minister during the period of reforms after the Soviet Union split apart, and was instrumental in building warmer relations between Moscow and the West. He was replaced by the more conservative Yevgeny Primakov in January 1996. By then, Kozyrev was seen as too pro-Western.

"Talk about NATO expansion had begun long ago, precisely when Kozyrev was still in office," Chernomyrdin said in answer to a question about Kozyrev. "It was at the time when he was in office that the problem should have been made urgent."

Chernomyrdin said Russia must continue in its attempts to persuade Western leaders that NATO expansion is ill-advised because it would be misunderstood by the Russian people, who still see NATO as an adversary.

Kozyrev said in his Newsweek article that paying too much attention to Moscow's protests about NATO enlargement "would play into the hands of the enemies of democracy."

The former Foreign Minister, now a Duma deputy and chairman of the National Foundation for Strategic Studies, wrote that Russia was experiencing a "backlash against democratization" led by an old guard of generals, KGB-style intelligence officers and "red directors" of industry. These, he wrote, grew up seeing NATO as an enemy and now see no future for themselves if the old confrontation with the Western alliance disappears.

Kozyrev went on to say, however, that NATO must recognize Russian security concerns. A treaty between NATO and Russia is needed, he said, which should "stipulate that no nation will move, expand or re-base troops unilaterally."

Kozyrev said a growing group of Russians do not regard NATO as a threat, and that the old guard's "hollow rhetoric" should be countered in order to protect Russian democracy.