The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1992Prime Minister (1990-1997)

Mr Major’s Statement on the Visit of President Yeltsin – 30 January 1992

Below is the text of Mr Major’s statement on the visit of President Yeltsin, issued on Thursday 30th January 1992.


President Yeltsin and I have had over four hours of talks, some of it in very restricted session, some with other Ministers.

My first contact with President Yeltsin was at the height of the August coup. Some of you may remember that I came out into Downing Street to report that conversation. Britain was the first country to denounce the coup. I wanted, on that day in August, to draw the world’s attention to the courage of President Yeltsin and his followers in the White House. They fought for their lives and for the future of democracy in their country.

It is a particular pleasure to welcome President Yeltsin today as President of Russia. Today we have made progress in building a new relationship between our two countries. We have always had shared interests. Now we have shared values as well. The shared values of democracy, a free economy and a commitment to peace and stability.

I was glad to have the opportunity today to welcome the arms control initiative taken by President Bush and President Yeltsin. I expressed our strong support for further moves towards deterrence at much lower levels, based on the most stable systems. I assured him of our intention to maintain only a minimum strategic deterrent force, threatening no one.

We have given a practical and important expression today to our new relationship. I will mention ten points.

1. We have signed a joint declaration this morning. This commits our two countries to a relationship of friendship as partners in the international community. It commits us to the peaceful settlement of disputes; to the control of weapons of mass destruction and to non-proliferation. We propose to turn this Declaration into a formal Treaty on the relations between our two countries in the near future.

2. Britain is determined to help democracy in Russia. It has already done a great deal to provide assistance to Russia and the new Commonwealth.

– Britain’s share of EC aid is £300 million;
– Know-how fund of £50 million already committed to over 50 projects (including improvement of bread distribution in Moscow);
– £20 million feed grain package to St. Petersburg;
– Medical assistance of £2 million;
– Financial sector training initiative: there will be places for 1,000 Russians with British financial, insurance and legal firms.

3. Britain was the first country to propose Russian membership of the IMF and to propose an April deadline for that membership. We will press for that.

4. We took the lead in negotiating a debt deferral agreement for Russia and the other republics. We have also taken a lead in the Group of 7 to urge further assistance for Russia, possibly in the form of a rouble stabilisation fund.

5. In the context of an IMF programme, I can announce today our readiness to make available in 1992 a total of £280 million in medium term export credit cover and investment insurance for Russia and the other Republics.

6. Britain will propose in the EC an improved trade and cooperation agreement with Russia. We will make this one of the priorities of our Presidency.

7. We have agreed to cooperate on handling surplus Soviet nuclear weapons and safeguarding nuclear materials and we will be sending a technical mission to Moscow to assess the immediate needs at first hand.

8. We have agreed to cooperate in other defence fields including the transformation required to ensure the restructuring, control and financing of armed forces in a democratic society. I have offered to second a small number of MOD officials to the Russian Ministry of Defence.

9. The President and I discussed the problem of expertise in the field of weapons of mass destruction and the President told me of the steps he is taking against the risks of proliferation. We will have further discussion about how best we can help the Russian Republic and other Republics to use the talents of their scientists in the cause of peaceful development.

10. President Yeltsin and I have agreed to establish a secure telephone link between his office and mine. I do not see this as a crisis hot line. It will reflect the growing number of shared issues and interests that we will wish to discuss.

I have invited President Yeltsin to pay an official visit to Britain later this year. I am delighted to say that he has accepted.

This afternoon we both fly to New York for a meeting of the Security Council which will demonstrate Russia’s role as a linchpin in the Council’s role as peacekeeper and peacemaker. The keynote of our meeting today has been friendship and partnership. I am sure that will also be a hallmark of tomorrow’s meeting of the Security Council.