Strategic Relations Between the Former Soviet Republics

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Strategic Relations Between the Former Soviet Republics

April 17, 1992 41 min read Download Report
William D.
Policy Analyst

(Archived document, may contain errors)

, I 892 April 17,1992 STRATEGIC RELATIONS BETWEEN THE FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS By Andxei Kortunov EL. Wiegand Fellow INTRODUCTION There is widespread concern in thewest about the future of relations with the re mblics of the fanner Soviet Union. Almost as hportant is the future of relations be ween those newly independent republics.

The natm of such relations likely will be determi ned by a number of questions that lave not yet been resolved: Can the growing political, economic and ethnic tensions tween the republics be resolved without open conflict? Who will control the nuclear weapons of the fanner Soviet Union? How will the fann er Soviet armed farces be di vided among the republics?

It still is too early to ascertain the answer to these and other questions. But some in xxim conclusions can be =ache 1) Instead of one common defense space on the territory of the fanner Soviet Union , four regional strategic theaters im likely to emerge: European, Cau casian, Central Asian, and Far Eastern. Russia will be the only former So viet republic that will be active in all four theaters 2) A key challenge will be to fine-tune the multilateral military balance in the Eurapean part of the former Soviet Union 50 that no non-Russian republic feels threatened and Russia does not feel isolated 3) Kazakhstan could play a key role in a NAIO-style multilateral alliance in which Russia could help defend Central Asian republics from potential ag gression from the south.

I After completing his team as E.L. Wkgand Fellow at Ihe He≥ Foundation, Andrei KorRlnov has retuned to the USA Canada Institute, where he is Director of US. Fbzeign Policy Studies. He can be reached at 243 Khlebny per suite 4-

07. Moscow, 121069, Rush. PHONE (095) m FAX 099 200-1207. 4 A NATO-style alliance is not very promising in the Caucasus region because of the Lebanonization of various republics and the disintegration of the mied forces there. Russia must try to prevent the spread of national-ethnic conflicts toward its borders by halting the transfer of arms to the Caucasus and reaching political agreements with its own restive autonomous ethnic regions 5) New political and milit a ry relations between the former Soviet republics re- quire.newapproaches-to arms cmmlanddisarmament Much my has been said about the possible negative security consequences of the rapid Soviet collapse. It is clear that at least some of these consequences c ould be pre vented if, from the beginning, the former Soviet republics could be anchored into some kind of international security system based on respect for international law, in cluding the major political, human rights, and arms control agreements that have been signed by the fanner U.S.S.R.

Russia as Nucleus. The current position of the military establishment in Moscow is bas ed on the assumption that it is still possible to -preserve a common defense space embracing most, if not all, the territory of the former Soviet Union with a common mil itary doctrine for all the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

T he idea is that the defense postures of Russia and other republics should be based on two military doctrines: their own republican doctrines reflecting specific defense needs of each republic and a common inter-state military doctrine of the Commonwealth worked out together. Russia is perceived as the nucleus of the entire CIS security sys tem with its special responsibilities (the major share of the Commonwealth defense ex penses) and rights (a special role in decision making at the operational level).

If the central military leadership (the Moscow General Staff and the Ministry of De fense) had its way, the CIS would end up with united armed forces including inte grated strategic forces understood in the broadest possible sense. The central com mand woul d control not only all nuclear systems but also all conventional arms that could be labelled dual-purpose.

Only small-scale self-defense units of the political leaderships of the CISS member states would remain outside the authority of the central command. For operational con trol and planning an organ similar to the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff (represent ing chiefs of republican General Staffs or republican Defense Ministers) would be es tablished. politically a NATO-type collective security mecha n ism could be formed was proposed by Russian President Boris Yeltsin in December 1991 and persistently has been pushed by the Commonwealth military leaders, does not seem to be work able. It is impractical not only because of Ukraines and Azerbaijans quest s for un compromised independence in military decisions; it also is impractical because of the diverging security interests of various CIS members, which are tearing apart the com mon defense space of the former Union Impractical Plan. However, a new NATO- t ype system of collective security, which 2 NO SINGLE SOLUTION FOR ALL A system of collective security presupposes that its participants are united by signifi cant common, or at least overlapping, security interests. Moreover, a stable security mechanism ( t hat would include appropriate political and military institutions, legal Framework, burden sharing and strategy planning procedures, and so forth) can be cre ated only if these interests have a long-term, steady nature. Otherwise participating states can afford only temporary coalitions aimed at achieving specific security goals rtnd.results (like-anti-Hider. or Such coalitions tend to disintegrate mce they have accomplished their goals.

In the case of the fmer Soviet republics there a re no long-term common interests important enough to overcome mounting nationalism and keep emerging states in one security structure. Political and social instability in most of the republics, moreover makes it difficult to define their respective long-t erm security interests and foreign pol icy orientations, which may fluctuate considerably.

The need to preclude the uncontrolled decomposition of the Soviet military, acci dents, or military coups is, of course, a crucial uniting task recognized to a certa in de gree by all republican leaders. However it is a short-term rather than a long-term issue.

The preservation of an integrated military structure, moreover, is politically danger ous for republican leaders. Until they get full control over troops and w eapons de ployed on their respective territories, they face the possibility of a military coup aimed at the forceful restoration of the Soviet Union. A weak CIS political structure might allow armed farces to escape any meaningful political control, thus t urning them into an independent political actor. Even if a Commonwealth summit makes a decision, the military establishment will have a lot of ways to sabotage it forces is nothing but a euphemism for the Russian army. The current Russian commit ment to t h e concept of integrated CIS armed forces politically is a self-defeating tactic that rakes old suspicions of Russian imperialism and domination. The Russian govern ment and the Parliament should demonstrate a greater sensitivity toward the indepen dent st ates new and understandable assertiveness.

It is unlikely that any comprehensive security structure emerging on the territory of the fanner U.S.S.R. would embrace all fifteen (or even twelve, excluding the Baltic states) republics.

Partnership Shortcoming s. The Commonwealth partnership has demonstrated shartcomings ftom the moment of its creation last December. The documents signed by republican presidents turned out to be declarations of intent, not binding agree ments. The subsequent Russian-Ukrainian d i spute over the future of the Black Sea Fleet and defmitions of strategic forces have exposed all the fragility of the Com monwealth. It might continue to be a regional United Nations-a forum for republi can presidents to make a statement, get media attent ion, and score some points with their constituencies at home.

But the Commonwealth in 1992 does not look like the NATO Alliance in 1949 then is neither a common enemy nor a clear understanding of common values. And Another fear in non-Russian republics is that a united Commonwealth armed I .I I 3 the Commonwealth does not show a lot of vitality, at least as far as security issues are concerned.

The current centrifugal trends and aggravation of political and economic-problems between the republics will acce lerate their military separation. Following the examples of Ukraine, Moldova, and Azerbaijan, the other Soviet successor states, including Rus sia, are thinking about building their own armed forces, in most cases on an ethnic basis.

New Commanders. Ukrai nian President Leonid Kravchuk probably has taken the most spectacular action. After thr& foxmer Soviet milit& districts-Kiev, Odessa and Carpathian-had been transferred to Ukrainian jurisdiction, he immediately cut off direct connections between the dist ricts headquarters and Moscow and then ap pointed new commanders loyal to him in all three.

Due to the immense economic, technical, and political problems related to the forma tion of independent armed forces, not all the former Soviet republics are able t o accom plish it at the same speed and with the same success. A considerable gap may emerge betwen those that axe self-sufficient in meeting their security needs and those with a heavy dependence on Russia.

Naturally fifteen new states with separate or quasi-separate armed forces will be en gaged in rather complicated relationships with each other. The most probable develop ment is the rise of regional security systems in Eurasia that will include different com binations of repub l ics. The rules of the game and the structures of the respective mili tary alliances will not be the same for all the new states SECURITY RELATIONS BETWEEN THE EUROPEAN REPUBLICS OF THE FORMER U.S.S.R The security arrangements on the European part of the f o rmer U.S.S.R. will depend on the polhdrelations within the Russian-Ukrainian-Belarus triangle, the heartland of the Commonwealth containing most of the Soviet military potential, industrial base and labor. Other actors in this region are somewhat marginal ized, forming two addi tional triangles the North Western (Russia, the Baltic states, and Belarus) and the South Western (Russia, Ukraine, and Moldova).

Despite the many differences among the European republics of the former Soviet Union, the dominant tren ds in the region most likely will be toward military and politi cal decouphg from other republics, independent military decisions, and attempts to integrate into West European and Atlantic security structures. Such severance will be not only a symbol of n ewly acquired independence but also a manifestation of the Eu mpemriented strategies of the republics.

Serious security concerns might appear in the relations of these states with their neighbors in Central Europe. Examples: Romania could threaten Ukrainia n interests if it absorbed Moldova and declared territorial claims to North Bukovina. Polish-Lithua nian relations could be strained because of problems related to the Polish minority in Lithuania publics to enter a military union with Russia, a union whi c h undoubtedly would meet But these threats hardly will be considered significant enough for these European re 4 powerful domestic opposition within the republics. In any case, since the European re publics find themselves in a relatively favorable geostra tegic situation, they hardly will consider it appropriate to spend money on the defense of lengthy southern and eastern Russian borders, to take any responsibility for security of Central Asian republics, or to invest in a blue-water navy.

This does not me an that European republics inevitably will drop all ties with Russia in the military and political spheres. Russia, because of its geographic position, always will be interested in preventing its western neighbors from turning into bridgeheads or coriidor s far hostile powers.

As for them, the Baltic states, Belarus, and Ukraine may be interested in some mili tary guarantees from Russia, especially in case of political and military instability in Central Europe. Another uniting factor will be the nature of defense industries located in these republics: they are integrated broadly into the Russian economy and cannot op erate on their own. Some cooperation in arms production is practically unavoidable.

Finnish Model. In the future, Russia could sign bilateral security agreements with these republics based on mutual interests. For the Baltic states and Belarus, the Finn ish model is the most they can give Russia. Russia and its partners would take on obli gations similar to those fixed in the Soviet-Finnish Tr eaty of 19

48. Such an arrange ment would ease Russian security concerns without compromising the national sover eignty of its neighbm. It might become more attractive to the Balts and Belorussians if it was accompanied by preferential economic treaties.

Two factors appear important for the future of Russian-Baltic security relations.

First, there is the highly sensitive issue of the Russian population in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Any political, cultural, or economic discrimination against Russian re si dents by the Baltic states, or any attempts by Moscow to use Russian settlers as a fifth column of the Russian Federation in the region will inevitably color all spheres of Rus sian-Baltic relations, undermining chances to create a stable political and security part nership.

Second, much will depend on the extent of security cooperation among the Baltic states.They hady have formed a political Baltic Union that could turn into a regional Yet, there are significant disagreements between Estonians, Latvia ns, and Lithuani ans on how far political and military integration should proceed. Vilnius would like to move ahead quickly, with the European Community (EC) and Western European Union (WEU) models in mind, while Riga and especially Tallinn take a more ca u tious and more nationalistic approach. If the Baltic region emerges as a united political and military entity, it definitely will have a stronger bargaining position in subsequent ne gotiations with Russia than if the Baltic states stay apart from each ot her.

Cooperation with Belarus. Russia could probably achieve more than just a Finnish model of security cooperation with Belarus. The relatively low level of Belorussian na tionalism and anti-Russian sentiment, combined with close ethnic and cultural ties to Russia, permit a higher degree of military cooperation, including, perhaps, common in frastrucm, joint exercises, coordinated military reforms, and maintenance of a com mon military infrastructure Securityalliance 5 By contrast, for Ukraine a Finnish m odel will be unacceptable due to the size of the muntry, its military potential, and.the quest for symbolic parity with Russia. In this Ease a different type of strategic arrangement will be needed.

Ukraine Military Edge. If the 1990 ParisTreaty on convent ional forces reductions in Europe is implemented, Ukraine theoretically could keep far more military equip ment on its territory than Russia could keep west of the Urals. In fact, the military bal mce between Russia and Ukraine now surprisingly favors Ukr a ine. The three Ukrai nian military districts contain the best-trained and -equipped elite troops of the former Soviet army, while-almost all divisions nowstationed in Russia are second echelon units equipped and manned to only 50 percent to 60 percent of their combat capacity.

So in a hypothetical conflict, as one of the senior officers of the Moscow General Staff put it, the military forces now in Ukraine could easily defeat the whole of Rus sia just in a matter of days.

Such a scenario clearly is unacceptable for Russia, which is trying to negotiate a more favorable distribution of military assets covered by the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) TEaty Another controversial issue separating Russia and Ukraine is the des t ination of the Soviet military equipment withdrawn from the former East Germany. A portion of the equipment that Russia cannot absorb itself it prefers to station temporarily in the Baltic states, while Ukraine wants to get its share will fann an open, no t a closed, system. For example, to balance Russian military influ ence, the Baltic states will try to work on some kind of Nordic subregional security sys tem with Scandinavian countries. Or Ukraine might choose to have a special partner ship with Poland u r Germany i The new security arrangements on the European part of the former Soviet Union Russia, in turn, is likely to try to reach over its next-door neighbors to get special deals with Central and West European countries as well as with European transn a tional institutions. Central European nations that have broken almost all political and military ties with farmer Soviet republics but have been granted a place only in the waiting room of Western security structms, instead of full NATO membership, will sooner or later engage themselves in security cooperation with some of their Eastern neighbors.

Regional Confederation. Some leaders in this region have more ambitious plans.

Lithuanian President Vitautas Landsbergis persistently puts forward the idea of the so called Black Sea-Baltic Confederation including Ukraine, Belarus, and the three Baltic states.

Such a union would have at least an implicit anti-Russian content. Theoretically if this Confederation is formed it could achieve, especially after ratification and im plementation of the CFE agreement, a very substantial military advantage over Russia.

It would claim some 65 percent to 75 percent of tanks, artillery pieces, and armored personnel caniers currently deployed on the European part of the former U.S.S.R.

During the CFE talks in Vienna the former Soviet leadership persistently fought for the right to redeploy the bulk of its conventional forces in Central Europe. The reasons were clear enough: first, to keep the power-projection capabilities in Europe at the highest possible level; and second, to deploy the troops in regions with better military 6 TURKMENISTAN 26% Russlen Russians in the Former Soviet Union iooo miles Scale Source. The Weshlngton Tlmes; USSR Facts end Figures Annual; Europe Bar b ook infrastructure and living conditions for servicemen. This strategy, however, now has backfired, giving Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic states a number of formal advantages over Russia The idea of the Black Sea-Baltic Confederation has not yet receive d any consider able support outside Lithuania and can hardly be organized in the near future. The states of the region depend too much on Russia and have too many problems between themselves. Besides, these states will not be able to afford the military ca p abilities that the CFE agreement fmally will allow them to keep An extremely important challenge will be to fine-tune the multilateral military bal an= on the European part of the former U.S.S.R. in a way that no non-Russian repub lic feels threatened, an d Russia, in its turn, does not feel isolated To achieve these goals, bilateral and possible multilateral negotiations should try to achieve A rough parity in troop levels and basic types of weapons between the Euro pean part of Russia on the one hand, and all other European, ex-Soviet repub lics on the other An obligation on the part of Russia not to redeploy troops and weapons from Asia and Europe without prior consultations with its western neighbors A military parity between the southern flank (Ukraine a nd Moldova) and the northern flank (Belarus and the Baltic states) of Eastern Europe 7 4 A commitment by Russia to additional sub-regional limits. Russia should agnx to deploy along the borders with its Western neighbors only as many troops and weapons as they have on the other side of the border. The same as surances should be given by the larger republics to the smaller ones (by Ukraine to Belarus and Moldova, for instance; by Belarus to Lithuania and Latvia; and by Lithuania to the Kaliningrad district o f Russia 4 A system of confidence-building measures similar to that of the CFE agree ments.Q.prevent a-wert. mobilizationtx redeployment of gqops withdrawn from Europe 4 A system by which all republics agree to preserve existing links between their respec t ive defense industries, providing for mutual shipments of spare parts and needed equipment SECURITY RELATIONS BETWEEN THE ASIAN REPUBLICS OF THE FORMER UmSmSmRm The independent republics of former Soviet Central Asia, Kazakhstan, and the Cau casian =publi c s have much less favorable geostrategic positions than those of the Eu ropean republics. Consequently, they should be interested in preserving a more solid political and military alliance with Russia, provided they manage to avoid hyper-na tionalism, reli gious fundamentalism, OT total economic and social collapse.

No longer part of the Soviet Union, these states will become embroiled in the geo politics of the chronically unstable regional international systems in the Middle East and South Asia. As such, t hese new states inevitably will become objects of political pressure and blackmail by such stronger neighbors as Pakistan, China, Iran, and in some cases even Turkey.

Ethnic maps of the regions reveal how very mixed the populations are. The bound aries of the republics primarily reflect the colonial demarcation between the British and Russian Empires in Central Asia, and the Russian, Ottoman, and British Empires in the Caucasus.

Historical Justifications. Territorial claims by the states of this region ag ainst their neighbors can be supported on historical grounds and can find considerable domestic support in authoritarian or semi-democratic countries. For example, Afghanistan which probably will start to fall apart once Soviet military and economic suppo r t comes to a complete end, might turn into a bone of contention between Pakistan and the fanner Soviet Central Asian republics. Tajikistan is especially interested in project ing its influence south of the former Soviet border because of the large Tajik m inority in Afghanistan. A similar problem might emerge in Azerbaijani-Iranian relations be cause of the existence of at least seven million ethnic Azerbaijanis in northern Iran.

If the fanner Soviet republics in these regions consolidate themselves as viab le states, they will have to seek Russian military guarantees against perceived threats from the south. Major economic and technical constraints will not allow them to en sure a stable military balance at the regional level without involving Russia. Indee d Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has never been a very close ally of BorisYeltsin, stated this January that his government had no intentions of building its 8own army, and-that he strongly supported the idea of the united Commonwealth Armed Forces even if such Forces would be only a Russian-Kazakhstan army.

An alternative security solution for Central Asian republics and Kazakhstan could in volve the creation of an Islamic alliance with powerful southern neighbors. The former Soviet republic s could turn into junior partners of Pakistan, Iran, orTurkey, receiving in exchange guarantees of their territorial integrity and some economic assistance.

Islamic Alliance. Pakistan already has proposed a political and economic Union of Ten that would i gclude Afghaqistan, Iran, Pakistan Turkey and the former Soviet re publics of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. This proposed union would dominate the political and strategic landscape of the region. Politicians in Islamabad express their readiness to act as mediators in conflicts between the Central Asian republics themselves.

Pakistani influence in this area undoubtedly will increase considerably. Yet, Islam abad hardly can replace Moscow as the Asian republics strategic ally or main trading partner. Geographical proximity and ethnic closeness paradoxically might appear as a complicating factor raising suspicions of regional domination or even absorption. It is not surprising that the President of Uzbekistan, I slam Karimov, recently visited India and not Pakistan.

It is mm likely that the main struggle for political influence in the region of Central Asia will take place between Turkey and Iran. Turkey has more opportunities with Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan: these countries axt united not only by a common Turkish lan guage but also by relatively democratic political systems and by the orthodox Sunni branch of Islam. Azerbaijan also is a natural Turkish client.

Iran, by contrast, might be better positioned to establish closer relations with auto cratic and less-developed Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Uzbekistan, the strongest ex-Soviet power in the area, will most likely try to dis tan= itself from both protectors. Russia should still be considered an important counterweight to the southern powers by all the fmer Soviet republics in the Central Asian and Caucasian regions WESTERNIZERS VS. SLAVOPHILES The Russian intemts in the Caucasian and Central Asian regions are somewhat con tradictory. On the one hand, Russia is interested in stability south of its borders and there f m in keeping a buffer zone between itself and the explosive Middle East and South Asian regions. This interest is intensified by the need to protect large Russian and Russian-speaking communities existing in all republics of these regions, excluding Armen ia.

Any major migration of Russians from Central Asia or the Caucasus back to Russia because of political instability, ethnic violence, or war inevitably will destabilize Rus sia itself, boost Russian nationalism and xenophobia, and undermine Russias still very fragile democratic political institutions. Meanwhile, the numerous and politically vocal Turkish-speaking Moslem ethnic groups within Russia, which have d,iverse ties with Central Asia and Kazakhstan, are a powerful lobby preventing Russian politici a ns from turning their backs on the south 9 I a On the other hand, direct involvement in conflicts in the South is evidently not in Russias interests. In the wake of the war in Afghanistan, no political leadership in Moscow is able to generate wide public support for a military engagement in this area.

The material resources needed for such a military engagement m not available in Rus sia now. Moreover, any significant Russian involvement in Central Asia or the Caucasus will mean that Russia would take side s in many domestic conflicts and clashes: between Uzbeks and Tajiks, between Kirgiz and Uzbeks, between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, and so on In fact; the question-of-setting-the level-and-goals of Russian involvement in Central Asia and the Caucasus boil s down to debates between Russian Westernizers and Slavophiles that are almost two centuries old, and that reassert themselves at every his toric juncture the country reaches.

The WesterniZers position is based on the assumption that Russia, after all, is a Eu ropean state-although a very special one. True, Russians acquired their culture and re ligion from the Byzantine, not the Roman, empire. True, for centuries it was separated Fnrm the rest of Europe by the Mongol yoke and the xenophobia of Russian cza rs. And seven decades of communist rule could not but widen the gap between Russia and the West.

But all the history of Russia, claim the Westemizers, is a record of desperate at tempts, sometimes inventive and successful but mostly clumsy and abortive, to rejoin the West. The prodigal son is still on his way home.

Separate Civilization. The Slavophiles vision of Russia is quite different. For them, Russia is not and never has been a European country. Russia is, they insist, a sep arate civilization, squee zed between Europe and Asia. It is not just a large version of Poland or Romania. Its geographic position, ethnic composition, culture, and traditions put Russia into its own class. Scratch a Russian and youll see a Tatar, as Napoleon put it. A society th at was ruled after Peter the Great by a European elite still retained a mostly Asiatic population.

Thexefare Russian history is read as a constant search for a stable balance in dealing with the West and the East, Europe and Asia, Christianity and Islam.

If Russia belongs to a larger European cultural and political space which now em braces most countries of the Northern hemisphere from America to Japan, the goal of integration -or rather reintegration into this space becomes of paramount import ance.

Eve rything that contradicts this goal and undermines it in one way or another should be sacrificed. This means, for example, that Russia has to cut its economic and military ties with radical Third World regimes that it inherited from the imperial Soviet Uni o n. Russia also has to distance itself from the remnants of the Communist world still existing in Asia-Vietnam, North Korea, and even China. This means, too, that Russia should take a strong pro-Western position in the United Nations and other inter nation al organizations and give its full support to Western efforts on a broad range of matters, such as curbing nuclear and ballistic proliferation and limiting the arms trade.

Inferiority Complex. But if Russia is a special case, then all attempts to rejoin th e West axe doomed. No matter how smart and far-sighted Russian leaders may be, Rus 10 I 1 I I I sia will be dependent on the good will of its Western partners. In the community of prosperous Western democracies, Russia always will have an inferiority comp l ex place between Ewpe and Asia, North and South. Since the 21st century will be marked by a deep systemic conflict between the developed and developing worlds Russia should keep all its options open to act as an honest broker in this conflict These differ ent perceptions of the future Russian role in international system already have been refleztetj in practical foreign policy actions. The Persian Gulf crisis of 1990 91 is just one example of struggle between modern Westernizers and Slavophiles.

Though this Crisis took place before the Soviet disintegration and the subsequent re emergence of Russia in international relations, it was characteristic of what will be the fume clashes within the Russian political establishment.

Immediately after Iraq occupied Kuwait, there were somewhat conflicting signals coming from Moscow that indicated two apparently different attitudes toward the con flict existing within Gorbachevs team The first attitude, personified by Foreign Minister E duard Shevardnadze, implied consistent and unambiguous support of America and the American-led coalition, in cluding xeadiness to break the long-term Moscow-Baghdad partnership for the sake of continuing Soviet-American detente.

The second attitude, most o ften attributed to academician Evgeny Primakov, as sumed that a mm independent Soviet position would allow the U.S.S.R. to escape tuming into a junior partner of America, preserve its positions in the Arab world and under certain circumstances to play a r ole of mediator between the conflicting sides.

Gorbachev tried to combine both approaches, fluctuating from one to the other. Fi nally the logic of events brought him to accept Shevardnadzes attitude, but only after the Fmign Minister had to resign.

No Cl ear-cut Option. For the future, the question is what choice will be made by the emerging Russian political establishment. It is hardly possible to speak of any clear cut option. Both Westemhers and Slavophiles will be present on the Russian political scen e.The domination of one or the other trend will depend on a number of factors.

In particular, much depends on how fast and how successful the Russian transition to the market economy will be. Rapid privatization of state property, the aggressive en trance onto international markets, and the creation of conditions for massive foreign in vestments will push Russia toward Europe and distance it from theThird World, in cluding the Central Asian republics.

If, however, reforms slow under the mounting pressure o f egalitarian-oriented popu lists, and if attempts to join the Western economic structures turn out to be futile, Rus sia will turn into aThird World country with many problems and perceptions similar to those of the Central Asian republics.

In any case, Russia will be somewhat ambiguous about its political and military in volvement in the region. A possible solution to its dilemma might be a NATO-type multilateral alliance with Russia playing the role of America, and Russias Central Asian partners playin g the role of Western Europe It thus would be much more advantageous for Russians. to preserve their natural 11i r I Russia would provide its allies with a nuclear umbrella against possible aggression tom the south (in this case, however, it has to reconsi d er traditional no first use So viet strategic doctrine) and assume military responsibility for meeting some of their de fense needs as America did during the Cold war in Europe. But this alliance will not imply any automatic Russian involvement in a conve n tional conflict or any Russian ob ligations to mediate in domestic disputes and clashes should imply a coalition defense doctrine with clear understanding that the members of the alliance will have very different social; po1itical;ancl economic structures , different perceptions of democracy, human rights and so forth. In this sense it might have more in common with the Organization of American States than with NATO.

A key role in such an alliance would be played by Kazakhstan, which should get spe cial att ention from Russia. Not only does Kazakhstan share hundreds of miles of bor der with Russia, but its 16.5 million population is almost half-Russian. Another import ant factor is that today Kazakhstan is in a better position to lead the vast region of Cen tral Asia than any other local power center.

Uzbekistan, which rivals Kazakhstan in population and economic potential, still is controlled mostly by hard-line communists and is lagging in-economic reforms.

Azerbaijan, technologically more advanced than ot her Moslem republics, is too busy settling accounts with Armenia and therefore is unable to project any significant influ ence into Central Asia. Kyrgyzstan, so far the most successful in managing political and economic change, simply is too small to have any regional domination ambitions gion. Kazakhstans President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, made a bid for regional leader- ship last December by successfully demanding a founders role for each the Central Asian republics in the Commonwealth of Independent State s which had been started by the Slavic republics. He made another move in February, stating at a press confer ence in New Delhi that Kazakhstan will have its own nuclear arms reductions strategy that the futm of the Soviet nuclear potential will not be dec i ded only by the Slavic re publics, and that these republics are not the only ones deserving international attention Key Player. Any military alliance built by Russia and its Central Asian partners Kazakhstan therefcne is able to fill the vacuum left by th e late Soviet Union in the re I- THE CAUCASUS: SLIDING INTO ANARCHY The NATO solution does not look very promising for the Caucasus. A Lebanoniza tion of the region already is a fait accompli, and it is unlikely that there will be politi cal and military s t ability in the region in the near future. The conflicts tearing apart the Caucasus (Nagorny-Karabakh conflict, Armenian-Azerbaijani border war, South Osse tian-Georgian war, civil war in Georgia itself) have deep historical roots and have no evident solut ions. They were suppressed for almost two centuries, first by the Russian Empire and then by the totalitarian communist rule; now the genie is out of the bottle again.

Another complicating factor is that the disintegration of the former Soviet armed farces in this region hady has gone deeper than the level of republics. The disintegra tion processes have gained momentum and appear to be uncontrollable. It goes down from military districts to armies to corps to divisions, regiments, battalions, and further 1 2 I Local field commanders, left alone by the Moscow General Staff, with their lines of communication broken down and their supplies terminated, have to care for their en listed men and solve food and supply problems on their own. This means that they hav e to strike special deals with local political leaders to do such things as exchange military trucks for food or trade political non-interference for an assured electricity supply Dangerous Trend. Eventually local units will become more and more self-orien t ed and self-governed, turning into mercenaries ready to sell their support to those able to pay a good piice. They could even try to replace-civilian administrations and seize po litical control in some smaller communities or isolated territories if the s ituation per mits it.

This dangerous trend toward complete disintegration of the armed forces and the emergence of loose units of the 1918-1920 Russian Civil War type is not limited to the Caucasian region. It is seen too in other regions of the former U.S.S.R.

Moldova, with its rekllious Dniester and Gagauz ethnic minorities, is perhaps the most clear case. But Ukraine (in the cases of the Donetsk coal basin and regions on the left bank of Dnieper river with a large Russian population) and Russia (in the case of its autonomous republics of the Northern Caucasus, Tatarstan, Bashkorstan, Tuva, and some other smaller ethnic regions) are not immune to these problems.

Still, the Caucasus, with its immense ethnic, cultural and political diversities, persis tent tribal and feudal traditions, and a number of ongoing conflicts, is most likely to face this bleak prospect maintain their positions by creating parallel or alte r native armed units of their own, outside the regular republican armed forces. And the political orientations of these units and their behavior during crises would be unpredictable, as the national guard established by former Georgian President Zviad Gamsa k hurdia demonstrated. In many cases in the Caucasus (Nagorny Karabakh, South Ossetia, Chechnya) para-mili tary units already have engaged in conflicts with regular republican or Common wealth farces, thus contributing to the general chaos and anarchy tions similar to the Mafia, with their influence spreading far beyond the Caucasus it self. Thm are powerful Armenian, Chechen, and Azerbaijani mafias competing and fighting each other throughout the former U.S.S.R.

These criminal structures, which recently hav e accumulated great wealth and power are in no way interested in stabilizing the situation. These mafias successfully can con front regular republican troops. There have been many reports about criminal groups stealing weapons fmm military garrisons, kill ing military personnel, or taking their family members as hostages. It cannot but aggravate the general situation even more.

Armed Citizenry. Finally, the Caucasus has a long-standing tradition of its private citizens having their own arms. This consistent ly was fought by the Soviet authorities who prohibited private ownership of arms. However, it outlived the Soviet state and now has meived another extremely powerful impetus. Citizens are trying to buy guns to protext themselves against criminals and semi - criminal political groups. These same weapons already have been used in riots, social disorders, and anti-government actions In fact, Caucasian political leaders losing their power or public support might try to The Caucasus also has been known for many y e ars as a cradle of criminal organiza 13 In short, the situation with weapons is out of control. The Georgian government, for example, now controls only a portion of the weapons in Georgia. The remaining weap ons am in the hands of the Georgian opposition, South Ossetians, Abkhazians, local po litical leaders, criminal pups of different kinds, and self-defense units of private cit izens. Low-intensity conflicts of tribal character look practically unavoidable For Russia, the problem is not to prevent these c onflicts or mediate them. It is too late far the former, while the latter can backfii. Russian diplomacy simply is not ma ture enough to keep the proper balance between the conflicting sides. It tends to be po litically biased and subject to politicallobb ying from-ethnic-centered communities.

Mediation by the United Nations or the European Community probably would be a bet ter solution. What Russia can and should do is prevent the spread of these conflicts to wad its borders. For-this, Russia must stop all ms transfers to the Caucasus and must reach political agreement with its own ethnic regions, such as in the Northern Caucasus. It also must mist any attempts by Georgia or Azerbaijan to interfere politi cally or militarily in the region north of the Cauc asian mountains.

Instead thmfore of one common defense space on the territory of the former U.S.S.R there will be at least three different regional strategic theaters: European Caucasian and Central Asian. The fourth will be the Far Eastern theater with it s own rules of the game defined by the character of future Russian-Chinese relations.The Russian Federation will be the only state participating in all these strategic settings.

Other actors will be mostly regionally oriented in their foreign and defense policies.

The only exception might be Ukraine, whose leaders already have been active in Cen tral Asia, especially in the Caucasus. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk even was asked by fmer Georgian leader Zviad Gamsakhurdia to mediate in the Georgian ci vil war. But the practical abilities of Ukraine to make a difference in the strategic balances outside of Europe now seem to be rather limited.

Need for Deft Diplomacy. It is very important for Russia to avoid mutually exclu sive obligations in diffmnt re gions, as well as devoting disproportional attention to any of them at the expense of others. Participating in different multilateral and bilateral alliances and unions, Russia could coordinate the security interests of all the former subjects of the U.S. S.R. to assure both its own security and Eurasian stability in gen eral.

With deftness Russia might erect in five or ten years a stable Slavic political and eco nomic community, a Russian-Muslim defensive military alliance, and a Russian-North em Caucasian union.

Specific arrangements and conditions of membership as well as Russian responsibili ties in each of these blocs may vary quite considerably depending on the security prob lems in each region, levels of Russian economic involvement there, political relations with the regional centers of power, and other factors.

These overlapping security structures on the temtory of the former U.S.S.R. should be supplemented by the participation of Russia and other republics in wider interna tional security-related bodies-such as different NATO institutions, Conference on Se curity and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) mechanisms, and new blocs or regional col lective security organizations that can emerge in the Southwest Asia OT the Asian-Pa cific region 14 IMPLICATIO N S FOR ARMS CONTROL I i 4 New political and military relations between emerging nation-states on the territory of the fanner U.S.S.R. quire new approaches to arms control and disarmament both in terms of mechanisms and in terms of basic concepts and goals. This will not be easy; new participants in axms control negotiations lack expert knowledge and experi ence. Most of the republics have not yet articulated their threat perceptions and their se curity needs, which makes it practically impossible to forge a n y consistent arms con- ml-policies The heritage of the Soviet Union in arms control decision making is of little help to new states. During the 1970s and 198Os, in fact, there were no attempts by the Kremlin to shape a solid constitutional or even a burea ucratic framework for arms control deci sion making.

Delicate Balance. General political statements usually had very little to do with spe cific negotiating. Those were primarily the responsibility of the so-called Inter-Agency Commission, which included r epresentatives from the military, defense industries, the Famign Ministry, the KGB, and the International Department of the CPSU Central Committee, and reported directly to the Politburo. All the participating institutions de fended their interests, and t he final negotiating position depended on the very delicate balance of power that existed in the top Soviet political establishment at any moment.

The arms control decision making in most former Soviet republics will be an open procedure, involving not jus t top bureaucrats but also parliaments, leading political par ties, media, and lobbying groups. It may, at least in the near future, considerably slow the arms control process and undermine its consistency ties and agreements signed by the former U.S.S.R. but not ratified by the Supreme So viet. The way in which new actors treat these obligations will be their first serious test in the arms control sphere.

The most complicated case will be the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) agree ment. Though all the republican leaders have made formal pledges to work for its rati fication by their respective parliaments and abide by its provisions, too many questions remain unanswed.

Baltics Problem. The treaty cannot be ratified in its present form because new na tion-states have emerged on the territory of the U.S.S.R. One possible complication is the status of the Baltic states. The CFE agreement divides all partici pants into two groups: the signatories to the NATO treaty and the signatories to the Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO If the Baltic states ratify the CFE agreement as signatories to the WTO, they will implicitly recognize the legitimacy of their absorption by the The first problem that the new republics face is what to do with the arms control trea 1 CPE limited the number of tanks, annod personnel carriers, artillery pieces, combat helicopters, and combat aircraft that the former Soviet Union could station in Europe, from the Atlantic to the Ural Mountains. Since the European temitory of the former Soviet Union is divided among Russia and several other states, all these states must agree on how the treaty-limited weapons will be divided and stationed to mee t CFE requirements 15 U.S.S.R. and their former status as a part of the U.S.S.R this, obviously, they defi itely do not want to do.

Another problem is the status of military units and equipment deployed on the terri tory of some former Soviet republics, li ke the Baltic states or Georgia, but which be longs to other republics, like Russia, or to the Commonwealth in general. It is not clear how these units and equipment fit into the overall CFE framework, especially when sisputes over the disposition of the former Soviet armed forces still go on.

Dividing Fomgs. The most se,rious question, of course, is how the republics will di vide the Soviet quotas &thin the European conventionalforces balance. Within the CFE agreements there are specific limitations on tr oops and weapons deployed within B number of geographical zones, such as all the European part of the former U.S.S.R the so-called extended Central Europe, the flank zones in the North and in the South the second echelon zone. All of these zones, with the exception of the second echelon mne, which includes the Russian Moscow military district and Volga-Urals military district, cover temtories of several independent states.

This means that Soviet successor states must agree among themselves on the num bers of troops and weapons they will keep in each of the zones as well as on the de ployment patterns on multilateral basis. This could be an extremely difficult technical problem, fraught with political implications. Example: to comply with the CFE provis ion s related to the flank zones, a.multilateral agreement should be reached between Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, and the Caucasian states. The extended Central Europe mne levels can be met only if there is an agreement between the Baltic states, Belarus Ukraine, and Moldova.

Such a set of multilateral security treaties between republics of the former U.S.S.R could establish greater stability and predictability in the European military balance.

But it is doubtful that it can be created in the near future. If only one or two Soviet suc cessor states are not ready to ratify the CFE agreement, all the others will find them selves in a very strange position. Their arms reductions and sub-regional troops and weapons levels will be determined by those who will stay out of the CFE taking no ob ligations whatsoever. In other words, the sheep will have to pay the toll for the goats.

If Russia, far example, ratifies the CFE and Georgia does not, the arms levels in differ ent regions of Russia will depend on the Georgian defense posture, while Georgia it self will be free from any limitations.

The =publics, finally, confront a set of problems deriving from the current inability of many republican leaders to control all military units on their territories. Should, for instanc e, the military formations of Nagorny Karabakh be included into the Armenian quota OT the Azerbaijani quota? What will be the status of Gagauz forces? And how can the republican leaden assure adequate international verification and monitoring procedures i n the areas where they are simply not recognized as legitimate authorities?

Some of the regions in question, moreover, are now in the midst of war, thus making impossible any meaningful international control over arms reductions.

Declaration of Intent. Be cause of these problems, the value of pledges by the re publican leaders to ratify the CFE agreements should not be overestimated. They seem to be declarations of intent rather than firm promises. Any attempt to impose the po visions of the CFE on the rep u blics now most likely would be counterproductive.They simply cannot live up to their formal obligations 16 U.S.S.R. will be needed to handle the Soviet nuclear legacy and related international agreements.This problem is serious, but it should not be overd ramatized.

One, of course, can speculate that the collapse of the central government could trig ger political struggles over the nuclear facilities located in non-Russian republics, and that the disintegration of the Commonwealth could nullify the agreemen ts on nuclear issues reached among the Big Four of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan thus opening the way for nuclear proliferation and even a nuclear civil war in Eurasia.

Antinuclear Movement. But this is unlikely. Anti-nuclear sentiments are so strong in the fanner Soviet Union as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster that no local leader is able to proclaim an independent nuclear program without risking politi cal suicide. Even the republics that theoretically could produce their own nuclear me nal-in particular, Ukraine and Belarus-have announced nuclear-free zones in their territories. Far the Russian and the Commonwealth military and political authorities this poses an acute problem: revising the strategic offensive arms and tactic a l nuclear weapons-basing system and stringently regulating relevant military activities of the Commonwealth confinned their adherence to the provisions of the START treaty negotiated between Washington and Moscow. Despite mixed signals from Ukraine and Ka z akhstan, neither republic questioned the treaty itself. Since all Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) are based in Russian territory and stra tegic bombers are not subject to any significant START reductions, the problems that the =public s have to solve are mostly limited to land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs Solutions to these problems will be defined not only by political considerations but also by financial and economic ones. Implementation of the START treaty will co st several billion rubles of nuclear weapons as well as those for plutonium production and uranium enrich ment, are located in the Russian Federation. Parts of the nuclear infrastructure, how ever, ae in Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.

Ukraine is the most important in terms of its nuclear facilities: it has two major in dustrial complexes for the production of ICBMs. This does not mean, however, that Ukraine independently can produce these systems without spare parts, navigation equipme nt, launching pads, and other hardware produced by Russia. It is relevant meanwhile, that Ukraine has assumed an obligation to join the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear state.

It is likely that physical control over nuclear weapons and r elated structures will be centered in Russia with or even without Commonwealth arrangements. Most of the strategic air bases outside Russia are also nuclear storage sites, and it is likely that the populations in the republics will demand their withdrawal . These bases could be trans During their meeting in Alma-Ata last December 21, the leaders of the nuclear states The coxe ofthe Soviet nuclear arsenal, including facilities for design and production 17kmed to the territory of the Russian Federation. Denuc learizing the non-Russian naval bases will probably not present a serious challenge to Russian national security.

The problem of test sites could be more serious. Several are located in Kazakhstan.

Even before the August 1991 coup attempt, the nuclear tes t site near Semipalatinsk Kazakhstan, created a major political problem for the Moscow leadership and resulted in a lengthy undeclared unilateral moratorium on nuclear tests in the U.S.S.R. Environ mental problems, fear of accidents, and lack of trust in M oscow created the influential antinuclear movement Nevada-Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan. Relocating nuclear tests to Novaya Zemlya, an island in the-Arctic Ocean; would be difficult for the Rus sian leaders due to internal and external opposition. Yet, comp lete termination of all nu clear tests by Russia eventually might cast doubt about the reliability of the Russian de mnt.

Russian defense planners also will take into account the need for adjustments to counter the loss of some strategic infrastructure of the former U.S.S.R especially air defense and early warning installations located in other republics tion as a result of the Soviet collapse could create another problem. It is possible, for instance, that some of the former republics would desire their o w n-bombs. Under all conceivable scenarios this hardly could be expected from republics traumatized by the Chernobyl tragedy or by nuclear testing; these republics-Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic states, or Kazakhstan-already have powerful antinuclear movement s and no apparent reason to develop nuclear weapons.

If some of the republics become strategically isolated in an insecure international en vironment, however, they could see themselves as nations threatened by extinction.

They could try to develop a bomb as a deterrent, possibly in cooperation with coun tries able to assist them technically or financially. To avoid this danger, the potential nuclear pliferators should be anchored to regional security systems and/or pro vided with adequate Russian guarant ees.

The second proliftion concern is that pressing economic problems and need for hard cmncy could prompt the republics to export nuclear materials and sensitive technologies, including missile technology, to theThird World or elsewhere. Since real conver sion from military to civilian production on the territory of the U.S.S.R. has not started, while radical cuts in military procurement programs are reality, with Russia and Ukraine cutting major programs by 50 percent to 70 percent for fiscal 1992, the mi litary-industrial complex has to look for survival strategies. These could include mar keting its facilities, products, and technologies.

Some nuclear and nuclear-related enterprises are ready to sell anything they have to get hard cmncy. For example, a nu clear warhead production complex, the CHETEK Carparation, advertises facilities for peaceful nuclear explosions for elimination of toxic waste and chemical weapons. Another newly formed corporation is ready to take orders for plutonium and enriched uraniu m.

Effective ways to halt these dangerous trends could include: special agreements with Russia, strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime worldwide and linkage of Western economic aid to guarantees by the republics of proper export controls Prolife ration Concerns. The possibility of nuclear and missile technology prolifera 18 As for the Soviet-American agreement on chemical weapons, the complications are of mostly technical nature.The agreement implies that America and the U.S.S.R. are to start dis mantling their chemical munitions before the end of this year. Though the agreement was signed by Bush and Gorbachev in June 1990, it has never been ratified by the Supreme Soviet.

The major Teason for the delay was the absence of adequate elimination faci lities for chemical weapons in the U.S.S.R.The Soviet leadership built a special complex in Chapaevsk in the Samara region to meet these needs, but were unable to use it because of thelocal environmentalist movement. A number of attempts to find a new loc ation for the facility were unsuccessful: no region wanted to host it and nobody wanted to pay for it.

This problem now seems to be limited to Russia only since no other republic has ad mitted that it possesses chemical weapons. Given the current situation , Russia clearly is unable to meet the Soviet obligations in this field if not helped by its partner to nego tiations. America could provide technical and financial assistance in building an eco logically safe chemical weapons destruction facility. An add i tional protocol probably will be needed to specify the elimination procedures and change the timetable of actual elimination WHAT IS TO BE DONE WITH ETHNIC CONFLICTS Another problem directly linked to security matters is the need to solve or at least to d efuse the numerous ethnic conflicts existing between the republics or within them.

The world by now has grown used to the national-ethnic conflicts in the former Soviet Union, just as it grew accustomed to the chronic civil war in Lebanon, the armed sal lies of separatists in India, or the exchanges of fire in Ulster.

But now, after all the republics have proclaimed their independence, the ethnic con flicts on the territory of the former U.S.S.R. acquire a different meaning. They can no longer be referred to as intemd affairs of a decaying empire, but should be treated as international, inter-state conflicts with all their implications. Though in the fmal analy sis only the peoples of the fmer U.S.S.R..can come to terns with their future relation ships, the international community now has rights and responsibilities in this matter.

ThFee diffemt scenarios can be envisaged 1) A revision of hter-republican borders in keeping with the populations ethnic composition.

This would cmte long-term security problems in relations between republics that would divide winners and los ers; It would also mean a sizeable headache for the West not only because it hardly would be possible amicably to redefine borders without recoutse to armed force, as Yugoslavia has discovered, but also because most likely it would be impossible to confin e the desire to revise borders to the territory of the for mer Union. Almost inevitably it would sweep over into Central Europe, where practi cally all the nations, from Poles to Bulgarians, may present claims to neighbors.

It also probably would affect th e Near and Middle East. The borders between Azerbaijan and Iran or between Tajikistan and Afghanistan are dubious from the stand 19 point of national-ethnic demarcation. In short, the revision of borders is fraught with a real threat of destabilizing the w hole Eurasian continent 2 This could undermine international security. First, it will again be impossible to keep migrational flows within the confines of the former U.S.S.R. The wave of refu gees will sweep the whole of Europe and will possibly reach eve n more remote regions of the world.

Second, the masses of repatriates, as history has shown, are favorable breeding grounds fa revanchist and even extremist political movements. The Sudeten Germans or the Algerian French, after all, by no means amounted to tens of millions. This sec ond scenario sharply increases the likelihood of a reactionary dictatorship in Russia which would be dangerous to the West Massive internal migrations and mutual exchange of ethnic minorities be tween the republics while keepin g the existing borders intact 3 This solution of national-ethnic problems undoubtedly is optimal for the West and the republics themselves: it not only will make it possible to avoid many socio-politi cal cataclysms, but it also is consistent with the fund amental principles of modern Western policy. But how feasible is this solution?

Recent developments in Tbilisi, Dushanbe, Kazan, and Lvov again demonstrate that democracy is not necessarily inevitable in a post-communist society. For a long time nationalis m will be the determining political force in many republics, whereas democ racy will still remain too fragile to resist it successfully. This means that the realization of the third scenario of settling national-ethnic conflicts, considering that it will b e im possible to bypass completely the first and second scenarios, is probable only when powerful pressure is broughtm bear from the outside political and economic ties conditional on the normalization of relations between the new states. An indispensable preliminary condition of the establishment of full-scale diplomatic relations should be mutual recognition by the former Soviet Republics with the attendant settlement of temtorial disputes rights. The republics also must fulfill unconditionally the U.S.S .R.s commitments in the area of arms control.

In the long run, the West could take advantage of the principle of the differentiated approach towards the new states by making the development of political, economic and humanitarian relations with them contin gent on how they tackled the problems of their ethnic minorities. Inasmuch as the former Soviet Republics inevitably will vie with one another for access to Western aid, technology and investments, this lever of influence may prove to be highly effective M utual guarantees by the republh protecting the rights of ethnic minori ties, including the right to cultural and territorial autonomy In the short term, the West may pressure the new states by making the expansion of Next, the new states must assume all t he U.S.S.R.s obligations in the field of human 20


William D.

Policy Analyst