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Defense Minister lashes out against NATO expansion

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, on a visit to Helsinki for talks with his Finnish counterpart Jan-Erik Enestam, told the Finnish daily "Hufvudstadsbladet" on 17 July that Moscow will review its military posture if the Baltic States join NATO, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 July. "Russia will then be forced to review not only its own military positions, but also the entire spectrum of international relations both with the alliance as a whole and with the mentioned Baltic States," Ivanov was quoted as saying. Ivanov added that NATO expansion "could also be a factor that essentially destabilizes the situation in the Baltic region and in the whole of Europe."

...and worries about influence of expansion on Kaliningrad

Ivanov in the same interview also lamented the possible influence of NATO expansion to include the Baltic states on the status of the western exclave of Kaliningrad Oblast, strana.ru reported on 18 July. "At present Russia has no guarantees that the development of the situation along the lines of this scenario will have a beneficial effect on the situation around the westernmost part of Russia -- Kaliningrad Oblast," Ivanov said. He added, though, that the Baltic region presently has every opportunity to become "an effective model, visibly demonstrating the goodwill of countries trying to realize effective and mutually beneficial cooperation."

(RFE/RL 18.vii.02)

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