The delay of the U.S.-Soviet summit should warn Mikhail S. Gorbachev that his new hard line threatens relations with Washington and his accomplishments as president, a leading Soviet reformer said Tuesday.
"I think this can be a very strong signal for our president and for our rulers in general that the result of their turn back can be a restoration of the Cold War," Moscow Deputy Mayor Sergei B. Stankevich said.The summit between Gorbachev and President Bush that had been set for Moscow on Feb. 11-13 was put off Monday, largely because U.S. officials are preoccupied with the Persian Gulf war.
Soviet news media did not directly comment on the postponement of the summit. But the state news agency Tass quoted Soviet Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh as saying that "hasty assessments and statements in the West do not help."
"They contradict the task of retaining perestroika and developing new constructive elements in international relations," Tass reported Bessmertnykh as saying.
Radio Moscow reported in a morning newscast that "due to the war in the Persian Gulf, Mr. Bush must remain in Washington. And besides, work on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty requires more time."
The English-language broadcast quoted Secretary of State James A. Baker III as telling reporters in Washington that "the situation in the Baltic republics was not the reason for the postponement of the summit.
"At the same time, he said that the Baltic problem was discussed in detail in the talks, and the United States informed the Soviet Union of its major concern on this issue," Radio Moscow said.
Stankevich said that since the end of December, Gorbachev has tailored his policies for hard-liners in the Communist Party, armed forces and KGB who oppose his earlier reforms.
Soviet generals, bitter over arms cuts, the withdrawal from Eastern Europe and efforts to trim their budgets, have been incensed over the war in the Persian Gulf, in part because it pits the United States against a longtime Kremlin client, Iraq.
Stankevich said the Soviet Union has an enormous army "considering our economic situation and our international situation, and it tries to defend itself and preserve itself."