Russia yesterday delivered a stinging condemnation of Nato's eastward expansion in an apparent attempt to exploit deepening tensions within the Western alliance.
Speaking on the opening day of the 52-nation Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) summit in Budapest, President Boris Yeltsin warned that Moscow would not tolerate being excluded from the new security order in Europe. ''No major country would live in isolation and any country would reject such a game with itself,'' Mr Yeltsin thundered. ''Why sow the seeds of mistrust?''
With the American President, Bill Clinton, sitting not far away, the Russian President said: ''Europe has not yet freed itself from the heritage of the Cold War [and] is in danger of plunging into a Cold Peace.''
Minutes earlier, Mr Clinton had delivered a speech aimed at winning Russia over to the idea of support for Nato expansion. ''As Nato does expand, so will security for all European states,'' he said. ''Nato's new members, old members and non-members alike will be more secure.'' But he warned: ''No country will be allowed to veto expansion.''
Western diplomats believe there are three motives for recent Russian attacks on alliance enlargement. Russia is concerned that expansion is being put on a fast track and wants Washington to explain why the policy has been inconsistent. Secondly, Moscow wants to make clear to Central and Eastern Europe that its assent to their membership of Western security organisations will not be bought cheaply. But thirdly, diplomats also believe Russia is mounting a skilful effort to drive a wedge between Europe and the US.
They point to the offer by Andrei Kozyrev, Russia's Foreign Minister, of co-operation with the WEU, the 10-member defence body linked to the European Union. And they admit that there are differences between Europe and the US over the faster expansion agreed in Brussels on Thursday.
Confirming the drift in Europe away from the American line, President Francois Mitterrand of France yesterday rounded on Western moves on expansion and Western policy in Bosnia. After a lengthy meeting with Mr Yeltsin, Mr Mitterrand said: ''Nothing could be worse than to give the impression that we are recreating the blocs which existed during the Cold War.''
British sources remain relatively sanguine about Russia. In a private meeting with John Major yesterday, the Russian leader was ''more nuanced'' than in his public pronouncements, they said, adding that Russia continued to remain co-operative over Bosnia in the five-nation Contact Group.
The West also came under attack from the Bosnian government, which denounced the world for failing to come to its aid. The British government was singled out for Bosnia's scorn, but Mr Major still warned that British troops would be withdrawn from Bosnia if the fighting continued.
Plot to split Nato, page 11
Leading article, page 15
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