Gorbachev Aide Accuses West of Dragging Feet on Improving Ties

From Reuters

A top aide to Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, in remarks clearly aimed primarily at the United States, has accused the West of dragging its feet on improving relations with the Soviet Bloc, Pravda reported Tuesday.

Alexander N. Yakovlev, speaking a week before the first formal high-level contacts between the Kremlin and the Bush Administration, said “Cold War” attitudes still influence Western leaders in their attitudes to the East.

“Official political thinking in the West continues to make use of the concepts of hostility and confrontation,” Yakovlev, a member of the Communist Party’s ruling Politburo, told a meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Monday.

“Movement in Western thinking is only just beginning. It is a long way from full understanding that the policy of military strength has no future, and even more from rejecting it.”


Yakovlev, 65, has a strong influence on formulation of foreign policy and is widely regarded as one of the most radical reformers in the Kremlin leadership, although he has a long record as a bitter critic of the United States.

His remarks indicated growing concern in Moscow over the Bush Administration’s position on bilateral relations.

He said trade restrictions against the Soviet Union and its East Bloc allies and “unceasing talk” about the modernization of weaponry appeal to those reluctant to respond to Soviet initiatives.

“Is this not all the heritage of the Cold War, a desire not to move fast in reducing tension?” he asked.


There seemed little doubt that his list of concerns formed part of the background agenda for next week’s Vienna meeting between Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze and Secretary of State James A. Baker III.

Caution on Trade

Baker has urged caution on any slackening of Western rules on technology transfers to the East and strongly championed updating of North Atlantic Treaty Organization nuclear weaponry in Europe.

The Bush Administration has also insisted it will not move quickly toward negotiating new agreements with Moscow on arms reductions or other areas of the superpower relationship.

Yakovlev said that despite the problems he outlined, there is a growing recognition in the West that confrontation and the accumulation of nuclear weaponry have led mankind into a blind alley.

The response from Moscow in the present situation, he said, “should not be in favor of continuing a confrontational approach” but in persisting with Gorbachev’s “new thinking.”