Embassy Row

Article excerpt

50-50 FOREIGN POLICY

Along with some warnings to the West and veiled threats to neighbors, a former Russian ambassador to the United States explained his country's foreign policy goals for the future and reviewed accomplishments in 1997.

Vladimir Lukin, now chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian parliament, said Russia has national interests in the former Soviet republics in Asia and will assert its claim to Caspian Sea oil.

"The Caspian oil resources may soon become a field of either international cooperation or tough rivalry fraught with conflicts," he wrote in a paper distributed by the Russian Embassy.

"We are ready to negotiate a harmonic use of these riches with a view to satisfying the interests of all partners. But a discord may make all countries of the Caspian basin suffer."

He also warned the Baltics to expect Russia to use "economic leverage" to reverse what Moscow claims is discrimination against Russian speakers. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia deny mistreating ethnic Russians.

"Russia's striving to improve relations with the Baltic states has brought little fruit," Mr. Lukin wrote. "[Their] tough policy toward Russian speakers in the region and their unwillingness to heed Russia's legitimate demands on the matter make Russia seek new methods of convincing them to comply.

"Thus, I believe, it is expedient to use the economic leverage in negotiating with Latvia."

Mr. Lukin said the new Russia-NATO council helped ease Moscow's concerns about the expansion of the Western alliance, but he warned that Russia must have a legitimate voice in NATO policy.

"If Russia's stance is heeded, the mechanism can well be seen as efficient," he wrote. "If it become an instrument of exclusively furthering decisions by [NATO], one has to admit that the standing Russia-NATO council is a gimmick intended to keep Russia happy."

He counted improved relations with China and Japan as among Russia's "largest achievements of 1997" and called the Russia-China border treaty a "breakthrough."

He said Russia's relations with Japan are "on the rise. …