Kinkel rehearses Albright's Nato script

Every world-class fixture has a warm-up act, and the encounter between Madeleine Albright and Russia is no exception.

As an indignant Moscow awaited the new US Secretary of State, the second act on the bill climbed into the ring yesterday - Germany's Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel.

He came to spar with his counterpart, Yevgeny Primakov, over Nato expansion in the hope of softening up the Kremlin before the small but determined figure of Ms Albright and her bandwagon hoves into view tomorrow.

At least one new condition was discussed and won Russian approval - the prospect of an informal accord outlining the principles of Moscow's relationship with the alliance, to be signed before the July summit in Madrid, when Nato unveils its new members.

Germany is closer to Russia than any other Western power, and has pursued a more conciliatory line over the Atlantic alliance than the United States.

But Mr Kinkel is unlikely to have departed much from Ms Albright's main script - yes to a Russia-Nato council and no to a Russian veto over Nato affairs.

His mission coincided with a sharp rise in the volume of the Nato debate in Russia.

It has become the issue of the hour, with the exception of the future of President Boris Yeltsin.

Moscow's fractious political elite is almost unanimously opposed to the alliance's eastward march, which has left Russia feeling threatened and at risk of a surge in anti-Western, nationalist sentiment.

No doubt sensing differences within Nato's 16 members, the Russians have been pressing their case harder than ever.

This week Mr Primakov told Russia's NTV that Russia's concerns could be met by revising the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty to specify national arms limits, thus restricting Nato's ability to introduce extra troops and weaponry to its new territory.

And Russia is continuing to press for the right to exercise specific control over the activities of the alliance.

Mr Primakov stressed that Moscow regards it as "mandatory" that the two sides have a legally binding charter defining Russia's relations with the alliance, though Nato has pledged to refuse anything that smacks of a veto.

Yesterday Igor Ivanov, the deputy foreign minister, weighed in with an interview with the Interfax news agency: "If you think that it is impossible to build or think of true security in Europe without Russia - and everyone is saying that today - let us put it down.

"Let us find a form in which decisions on fundamental European security matters would be made jointly by Nato and Russia."

While the Nato debate will dominate the headlines, huge interest will also focus on the performance of Mr Yeltsin.

These are testing times. One paper, Komsomolskaya Pravda, has alleged that the President's wife, Naina, has been urging him to stand down, a report which prompted the Kremlin to accuse the offending reporter of "HG Wells-style fiction" and to revoke his accreditation.

Ominous rumours have been circulating of Mr Yeltsin's 66th birthday party, most of which he is said to have spent stretched out on a couch.

Looking puffy-faced but relatively alert, Mr Yeltsin yesterday met Yasser Arafat. But it will take more than a short choreographed public appearances to convince the world he is well enough to govern.

Everyone is waiting to see how he performs over the next few weeks. The biggest hurdle comes on 6 March, when he is to deliver his state-of-the- nation address to parliament. After that, it is the Helsinki summit with Bill Clinton on 20 March.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Process Improvement Analyst (Testing)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Service Delivery Manager - Derivatives, Support,

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Delivery Manager - (Derivatives, Support...

Technical Account Manager - Java, FIX Protocol, FIX 5.0, C++

£30000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Technical Account Manager - Java,...

WPF .NET Developer

£300 - £350 per day: Harrington Starr: WPF Analyst Programmer NET, WPF, C#, M...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform