That could hardly be said when the two delegations joined the presidents for a boat ride around Vancouver harbor that afternoon. We were barely away from the dock before Yeltsin had downed three scotches. At dinner that evening, he knocked back four glasses of wine and ate barely a bite. Secretary of State Warren Christopher passed Stephanopoulos a note: "No food, bad sign. Boat ride was liquid." Keeping count of Yeltsin's intake was to become a standard practice of summiteering.
Russia's economic well-being and rocky transition to a market economy were not the only issues to dominate the agenda of the Clinton-Yeltsin relationship. The West's desire to enlarge NATO to include former Soviet-bloc countries swiftly emerged as one of the toughest problems, continually straining relations between the two presidents. When Yeltsin flew to Washington in September 1994, Clinton was determined to show him that NATO enlargement did not have to threaten Russia and would be a sign that the Cold War really was over.
As Yeltsin emerged from the plane at Andrews Air Force Base and made his way down the mobile stairs, he was gripping the railing and concentrating on each step. His handlers did their best to block the view of the cameras recording his descent. He slipped on the last step and had to grab his wife's arm. That night at Blair House, Yeltsin was roaring drunk, lurching from room to room in his undershorts. At one point, he stumbled downstairs and accosted a Secret Service agent, who managed to persuade him to go back upstairs and return to the care of his own bodyguards. Yeltsin reappeared briefly on the landing, demanding, "Pizza! Pizza!" Finally, his security agents took him firmly by the arms and marched him briskly around in an effort to calm him down.