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Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 05:10 GMT 06:10 UK
Russian papers on Nato developments
George Bush and Vladimir Putin
Mr Bush's trip to Russia showed the presidents' rapport

Russian papers note that differences remain between Russia and Nato despite their new closeness. They also suggest that Europeans feel uneasy about the new "special relationship" between Washington and Moscow.

Following the opening of a Nato military mission in Moscow and as Russia and Nato formally launch their new co-operation mechanism, Moscow's new relationship with the North Atlantic alliance inevitably dominates the Russian press.


Even though Russia does not refer to them as 'the axis of evil', it is no less worried by uncontrollable developments in those regimes than Washington is

Izvestiya

The government mouthpiece Rossiyskaya Gazeta believes the "substantial change" in the relationship benefits both sides".

"Partnership with Russia, albeit in a limited number of areas, gives Nato more weight and authority on the international scene," it says.

It adds that Russia is now "entitled to expect Nato countries to understand and, moreover, support our fight against international terrorism on Russian territory", meaning the war in Chechnya.

Southern threat

The leading daily Izvestiya says the Russia-Nato council is an attempt to create a belt of stability "girdling the entire globe above the 40th parallel".

It notes that below that line lie Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and their ilk.

"Even though Russia does not refer to them as 'the axis of evil', it is no less worried by uncontrollable developments in those regimes than Washington is," the paper says.

The popular daily Moskovskiy Komsomolets says there is "little practical meaning" in the agreement setting up the council, as Russia would still be unable to prevent an attack on one of the axis of evil.


We have made our choice. We are moving towards the civilised world

Moskovskiy Komsomolets

According to the paper, however, the declaration is quite meaningful and significant in political terms.

"We have made our choice. We are moving towards the civilised world."

The Defence Ministry newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda follows the official line in hailing the Rome summit as a breakthrough.

But this is tempered by reiterating that Moscow still regards Nato expansion "as a historic mistake".

"This scheme will not enhance anyone's security," the paper warns.

Ganging up on Russia

The nationalist Nezavisimaya Gazeta is altogether unimpressed by Russia's rapprochement with Nato.

"Moscow still has substantial differences with Nato, and Ukraine's recent declaration that it wishes to join the alliance shows that Nato's expansion will alter the geopolitical situation not just in Eastern Europe but possibly also in Central Asia".


New problems fraught with the further isolation of Moscow are emerging

Nezavisimaya Gazeta

It says that Ukraine and Uzbekistan - where there is a large Western presence at the Manas airbase as part of the conflict in Afghanistan - have adopted "a largely anti-Russian stance".

And so, "against the backdrop of the emergence of what appears to be a new relationship between Russia and Nato, new problems fraught with the further isolation of Moscow are emerging too", opines Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

The Ukrainian daily Den analyses relations between Ukraine and Nato against the backdrop of Nato's courtship with Russia.

The paper says that Nato members are pessimistic about Ukraine joining the alliance, perhaps due to Russia's new influence.

"Only Poland publicly supports the need to strengthen co-operation between Nato and Ukraine," it adds.

But the paper is optimistic about Ukrainian chances.

It recalls that Hungary was blanked by the European Union in the early 1990s but enacted reforms and left no doubt as to where it saw its future.

Ukraine has "showed its will and started the process", the paper declares.

European jealousy

With President Bush's visit seen in Russia as an unquestionable success, Rossiyskaya Gazeta has noticed that the reaction in Europe is somewhat different.


"One gets the impressions that the West Europeans are jealous of Russia as America's new sweetheart

Rossiyskaya Gazeta

It says that West European media see an attempt by Washington and Moscow to restore the hegemony of the two nuclear superpowers.

"One gets the impressions that the West Europeans are jealous of Russia as America's new sweetheart," Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes.

Izvestiya too detects a note of jealousy in Europe's reaction to the newly-found friendship between US President George Bush and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

It points out that the welcome Mr Bush received in Berlin and Paris was "to put it mildly, not as warm as in Russia".

The paper itself believes that Washington's co-operation with Moscow "may in many ways prove more significant" than its co-operation with Europe.

The reason, according to Izvestiya, is that Moscow can offer Washington things that no European ally can.

These include its energy resources, which can reduce US reliance on Gulf oil, and its "real (unlike Europe's) influence in the Middle East and on the countries of the 'axis of evil'," Izvestiya says.

This press review was compiled by BBC Monitoring from newspapers' internet editions and some early printed editions.


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