Christopher Questions Russia's Path to Reform: U.S. Re-Examines Policy on Moscow

By Strobel, Warren P.; Sieff, Martin | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 19, 1996 | Go to article overview

Christopher Questions Russia's Path to Reform: U.S. Re-Examines Policy on Moscow


Strobel, Warren P., Sieff, Martin, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Secretary of State Warren Christopher warned yesterday that the success of Russia's reforms is "by no means assured," signaling a more pessimistic view of events in Moscow, which administration officials said are the subject of a policy review.

In a sobering assessment of recent setbacks in Moscow, Mr. Christopher also warned Russia that it risks losing assistance from the International Monetary Fund and other agencies unless it stays the course of economic reform.

"Recent events reflect troubling signs of Russian reform under strain," Mr. Christopher said in a speech at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

The Clinton administration, which has put a premium on its support for Russian reforms, has been dismayed by the departures of the last proponents of pro-Western policies in President Boris Yeltsin's inner circle. They include Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev; Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov; and the head of Russia's privatization program, First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais, who resigned Tuesday.

And while it has largely kept quiet, the administration has watched with something approaching incredulity as Russia has become bogged down in a Vietnam-style quagmire in Chechnya.

Administration officials said their fresh look at Moscow's reforms began in early December, just before parliamentary elections in which Communists won the biggest number of seats. They said recent events have given the review new urgency.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the administration has expected a period of severe turbulence in relations with Moscow and wants to make sure it is not taken by surprise.

Elections for the president, who is far more powerful under the Russian Constitution than the parliament, are in June.

The administration realized "that the upcoming season could pose some very difficult challenges," a senior U.S. official said.

"Obviously, the fact that there's all this new stuff around is something that we'll be looking at."

Another official said the administration began to worry that its Russia policy was "coasting," especially with so much focus on the U.S. troop deployment to Bosnia, and decided it was time for a reassessment.

Still, several officials said they doubt the review, being coordinated by the State Department's policy planning staff, will result in any fundamental changes. The United States has little choice but to continue trying to do business with Mr. …

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