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Russia: Lebed Says Approach To NATO Too Passive

Brussels/Moscow, 9 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed says Russia's approach to NATO is too "passive" and deprives the country of the chance to take part in the creation of a new system of European security.

"Russia is trying to preserve a 15-year-old political line under totally new economic, military and other circumstances," said Lebed, according to Itar-Tass. His comments came as he left Brussels after two days of talks with NATO officials.

Lebed said it is especially strange that Russia does not actively participate in the NATO-sponsored "Partnership for Peace" program, after joining it along with 27 other Central and East European states and former Soviet republics. He said Russia could possibly have some influence on the alliance's eastward expansion plans but only with "active participation."

While in Brussels, Lebed met representatives of all the countries in NATO's "Partnership for Peace" program, including prospective members from Central Europe. One participant quoted him as saying that Russia was not a threat, and had used up its Cold War energy.

During his talks, described as "calm and business-like," Lebed reaffirmed Moscow's opposition to moves to grant NATO membership to former Warsaw Pact countries. At the same time, Lebed accepted that Russia has no right to veto expansion, and stressed the need to build on existing cooperation with NATO in this and other areas, including Bosnia.

Meanwhile, Russian news agencies are reporting that Lebed has been summoned to appear before parliament to clarify his position on NATO following his talks in Brussels. The move was reportedly initiated by ultra-nationalist Duma deputy Viktor Vishnyakov, who criticized Lebed for being "ambiguous."