Don’t Treat Russia Lightly, Clinton Told
The United States should address Russia’s concerns about NATO plans to expand eastward and should avoid humiliating the Kremlin, French and German leaders said Wednesday.
President Jacques Chirac of France and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl said both of them told President Clinton that Russia should not be treated as a loser. Russia has been highly critical of NATO’s plans to admit former members of the Soviet bloc.
“We should not give the Russians the impression that we are trying to surround them militarily. That’s not the West’s intention, but that’s how it’s perceived in Russia,” Chirac said.
“It would be a grave mistake to treat Russia like it lost World War III,” Kohl said. “Russia is a great, proud nation, and we should not try to humiliate Russia.”
Kohl and Chirac spoke at a joint news conference late Wednesday after a dinner and talks in Bonn during Chirac’s five-hour visit.
While German media noted that it took Chirac five months after taking office to make his first visit to Germany, both leaders dismissed suggestions of any cooling in the bilateral relations.