Russians warn NATO not to expand eastward

MOSCOW — MOSCOW -- Russia's foreign intelligence service warned NATO yesterday that any move to incorporate Eastern European countries into the Western alliance would bring "fundamental" military countermeasures and heighten anti-Western sentiments.

Some Eastern Europe countries that were once under Soviet domination, including Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, have asked to join NATO. Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin reacted calmly in late August, but the military pushed him to reconsider, and Mr. Yeltsin wrote Western leaders on Sept. 30 warning them against expanding eastward.


Yesterday's declaration by the director of the intelligence service, Yevgeny Primakov, was a remarkable intervention in the debate by the foreign intelligence arm of the former KGB.

The Clinton administration, eager not to offend Russia or other Eastern European countries, has suggested a "Partnership for Peace" that could involve Eastern and Central European countries in joint exercises and meetings but with no expansion of NATO membership for now.


But Mr. Primakov said he expected NATO to decide in principle at its January summit to expand its membership, which now includes 14 countries in Western Europe, the United States and Canada.

"This expansion would bring the biggest military grouping in the world, with its colossal offensive potential, directly to the borders of Russia," he said at a news conference. "If this happens, the need would arise for a fundamental reappraisal of all defense concepts on our side, a redeployment of armed forces and changes in operational plans."

Mr. Primakov made public an analysis arguing that a NATO expansion also would require "the restructuring of armed forces, a reconsideration of the structure of the theaters of military activity, the creation of additional infrastructure, the relocation of major military contingents and changes in the character of combat training."

Such changes could break Russia's budget, the report said, and if there isn't enough money for the army and soldiers' social needs, "irritation in military circles might emerge that is not in the interests of the political or military leadership of Russia or the country in general."

"Public opinion in the Russian Federation has long been formed in the anti-NATO spirit, and it cannot change in an hour," the report said.