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& Policy Issues For The Former USSR Essay, Research Paper

??????????? On

the 26th of December 1991, the Soviet parliament voted itself, and the USSR,

out of existence. The hastily formed Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS),

an association with neither constitution nor statutes, took its place. At its

inception, Russia hoped the CIS would maintain a ?common space? concerning

strategy, economics, law, communications, and so forth. However, many of the

successor states, most notably the Ukraine, view the CIS as an emergency

organisation; only a useful vehicle for handling the Soviet inheritance and

dismembering the old structures in a rational and peaceful manner. Given

historical the history of the region, there remains great suspicion among the

former Soviet republics that Russia will once again seek to control the

disparate states which constituted the USSR. It is against this complex

background of distrust, economic dislocation, and rising ethnic tensions, that

foreign policy and security issues have to be formed. Policy formation and

implementation is influenced by two distinct factors: relations with the

outside world, primarily the industrialised nations of the West, and relations among

members of the CIS. In this respect we will first assess the salient issues pertaining

to the CIS?s ?foreign? contacts, and then examine the delicate political

relationships between Russia and the rest of the CIS. RUSSIA: SECURITY


1985, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev claimed that the central issue

for Soviet security was integration into the world economy. Despite the

revolutionary change in Russia?s political circumstances, this policy has not

only remained but also become vital to the maintenance of democratic and

economic reform. After a tour of western capitals in 1992, Gorbachev?s

successor, Boris Yeltsin, mentioned two fundamental principles of his

governments foreign policy: ?to pave the way for Russia?s membership in the ?community

of civilised states? and to secure ?maximum outside support? for its internal

transformation.?[1] Therefore,

Yeltsin believes that the only way for Russia to become a modern civilised

state is to overcome its isolation and develop adequate contacts with the

international community. To achieve this aim, Russia has lobbied hard to join

international institutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and

Development, the International Monetary Fund, and stepped up its participation

in the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE). In the

military sphere, Yeltsin and his supporters radically reduced strategic arms to

a number far below the limits set by the START 2 treaty, ratified and continued

the CSCE treaty on the reduction of conventional forces, joined the North

Atlantic Co-operation Council, and worked in partnership with the western

powers to make the UN a much more effective organisation for mediating

conflicts and restoring peace. ??????????? All

of these steps, in addition to sweeping internal socio- economic reforms, were designed

to convince powerful G7 nations that it was time to support Russia?s reforms

with massive financial assistance thus stabilising the pro-western groups among

the ?new elite?. Continued support from the West was seen as vital as the

present Russian leadership began the democratisation process and movement

toward a market economy with out this support the process could have, and still

could be reversed. Economic chaos and the weakness of central government may lead to a

power struggle with the ?national patriots,? according to some conservative

thinkers. These conservatives believe Russia to be humiliated, outwitted, and

even betrayed. Army support for this group could lead to a much more aggressive

policy vis-a-vis the former republics and bring an end to the? ?approchement

between East and West. Therefore, Russian integration into global institutions

was seen to be vital to continue the economic and social reforms, and to the stabilisation

of the Russian polity. As Wallander points out: institutions can play a

powerful role in domestic power struggles; defining interests themselves by

supporting the policy positions of individuals or groups within governments.[2] ??????????? To

sum up, the Russian leadership was aware that military power alone would be no

guarantee of Great Power status. To prevent Russia from being marginalized and

to push it towards the centre of global developments, economic reforms would be

necessary. For these reforms to succeed, massive investment and technical

expertise would be needed from the industrialised West and from financial

institutions controlled by the G7 nations. The main aim of Yeltsin (and most of

his government) was to link Russia with the West by way of the ?four D?s?: ?democratisation,

de-globalisation, de-ideologisation and de-militarisation.?[3]THE CIS:


some of the former republics of the USSR, the collapse of the Union came as a

relief, to others a dis-orientating shock. The western republics such as the

Ukraine and the Baltic states, were set firmly on the path toward European

integration, the first step towards membership in the European Community. In

addition to the dispute between Russia and the Ukraine over the Black Sea

fleet, Kiev felt its relations with the Central Asian republics were more a

burden than anything else, and that a continuing association with the CIS could

well tie it to Asia forever. Therefore, the Ukraine, and perhaps Belorussia as

well, move firmly towards Europe and away from the CIS, following many of the

policies being pursued by Russia: integration into the global economy plus

financial and technical assistance to move towards a market economy and a civil

society. The much less developed Central Asian republics are turning toward

their religious and ethnic cousins in the Turkish and Islamic worlds. Turkey,

in particular has been interested in a strong presence in this area and devotes

much diplomatic energy in pursuing the former Soviet republics in an attempt to

pry them away from Russia . In June 1992, Turkey held a conference proposing a

Black Sea zone of economic co-operation which included delegations from Armenia

and Azerbaijan. In addition, multinational oil companies were attracted to the

area to supply much needed investment to build up state structures in these

semi- traditional societies. However, it must be recognised that for virtually

all the former republics, questions of internal economic and civil order, as

well as the relations with one another, either collectively or bilaterally,

have been more important than foreign policy in the world outside of the CIS.

These internal problems must be solved before these players can move, or

operate, on the world stage. It is for this very reason that an examination of the relations

between the CIS members is in order. Concentrating on the most pressing problems

facing this group of states: security, nationalism, and ethnicity. THE INTERNAL


the treaty of Brest, concluded between the three Slavic states on 8 December

1991, the successor states of the USSR started to treat one another as foreign

countries. Russia had no qualms about positioning itself as the legitimate

successor to the Soviet Union and immediately

claimed the USSR?s seat on the UN Security Council, acquired all Soviet embassies,

the Central Bank, and Soviet gold reserves, in the process. However, the issue

which initially caused alarm among the successor states, and which has yet to

be satisfactorily resolved, was the tendency to treat the common strategic

armed forces as ?de facto? Russian armed forces. Since 80% of the officers are

Russian, and given the extent of possible inter-ethnic disputes, many of the

former republics regard the United Armed Forces to be a potential Russian

interventionist force. Hence, the drive towards formalising the division of the

armed forces and the setting-up of national guards. The recent settlement,

giving the Russian Federation 50% of Soviet weaponry, with the rest being

divided among the other CIS states proportionate to their influence, did not

include the Black Sea Fleet or nuclear weapons. The persistent haggling between

Ukraine and Russia over control of the powerful Black Sea fleet has emphasised

the strategic importance of the Crimea and contributed to a deterioration in

relations between the two strongest states in

the CIS. ??????????? However,

it is the control and destruction of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons which

remains of vital importance, not only to Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia and

Kazakhstan who all have strategic nuclear missiles on their soil; but to the

West as well. In order to fulfil bilateral international commitments and

prevent the proliferation of potential nuclear powers, Russia has patiently

tried to regain control of all its nuclear weapons not withstanding the

distrust of Kazakhstan and the Ukraine. These states regard nuclear weapons as

useful bargaining levers and an effective deterrent against Russia, which has

potential territorial claims against both Ukraine and Kazakhstan. In light of

the sixteen million ethnic Russians living in these states, Russia believes it

has legitimate security interests in protecting its foreign nationals and in

preventing instability that could bring massive waves of refugees flooding over

its borders. The Russian military also justifies its presence in nominally

independent states by pointing to its perceived vital national interests: in

protecting and securing strategic military bases, such as the Skrunda radar

site in? Latvia and, in denying outside

powers access to previously secure border regions which might threaten Russia

itself. ??????????? Therefore,

the dissolution of the Soviet Union has led to the proliferation of nuclear

control, the division of powerful armed forces into national units and the

creation of dozens of potential ethnic flash points. Russia, the only state in

the entire region with the ability to solve disputes and enforce solutions,

teeters on the brink of social and economic collapse and is suspected by many

of the successor states of harbouring imperialist ambitions. PROBLEMS OF


of the most serious and difficult questions confronting Russians today is not

how they will survive economic reform but whether they legitimately can accept

the independence of the other successor states. Because of the expansionist

nature of both the czarist and communist state, its national consciousness has

been centred on the empire and not on the Russian nation. ?The Russians have

never before been forced to define precisely who is a Russian and what the

proper limits of Russian territory should be.?[4]

This attitude permeates all levels of Russian society and was aptly summed up

by Galina Sidorava, an advisor to foreign secretary Kozyrev, when he remarked: ?There

is a psychological barrier preventing us from treating other CIS members as

absolutely independent.?[5]?The loss of empire and superpower

status is felt keenly by powerful sections of the old soviet military hierarchy,

who, given the right circumstances, would attempt to re-establish Russian

military hegemony over the old empire. However, many of the former republics are

happy with the release of long suppressed patriotic feelings, and this has resulted

in nationalist outbursts and assertive behaviour. While not dismissing the

relevance, or importance, of national and ethnic strife in areas with no direct

Russian interest; such as the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh involving

Armenia and Azerbaijan; it will be the treatment of ethnic Russian minorities

and the strength of ?Great Russian Chauvinism? which will be the final arbiter

in the future stability and security of the CIS area. ??????????? Altogether,

some twenty six million Russians live ?abroad? in other ex-Soviet republics.

The relatively greater importance of nationality over citizenship in Soviet

times convinces many of these Russians now living abroad that they in fact

remain citizens of the USSR. Over half of the twenty six million Russians live

in the Ukraine, where discrimination has not been a problem so far. However, in

the Baltic states, huge Russian minorities are being progressively

disenfranchised. In Central Asia, with a combined Russian population of over

ten million, fear of resurgent Islam and civil war is causing a stampede from

the region. In Georgia and Moldava, fighting is continuing involving

secessionist movements and Russian minorities. In addition, the Russian

parliament is questioning the legality of the transfer of the Crimea, where

Russians form the clear majority, to Ukranian jurisdiction in 1954 and has

called on Ukraine?s parliament to do the same. Leonid Kravchuk has denounced

what he sees as ?Russia?s imperialist disease? and refused to discuss the

matter. ?Borders are increasingly seen as?

artificial, leading many to conclude that repression, aggression, or

migration will eventually be the only option.?[6] ??????????? As

such tensions increase between states, they loom larger in Russia?s domestic

politics. No government, especially the faction – ridden elites of Moscow,

could be indifferent to the problems of so many of its people abroad. An

increasing number of nationalist-minded Russians argue that the Russian

government must make itself responsible for all Russians, wherever they live in

the former USSR. Among these is Russia?s former vice-president, Alexander

Rutskoi. In a television interview in 1992, he warned that: ?Any state must be

aware of the inevitability of punishment for what is perpetrated against

Russian citizens.?[7] Many powerful

figures in the Russian military support these views and have already actively

intervened in Georgia and Moldava. A policy of imposing spheres of influence,

through military means, is being actively pursued. In the Baltic republics, the

military wishes to protect ethnic Russians; in the Trans-Caucasian republics it

claims to protect strategic bases on the Black Sea, while in Central Asia it is

supposedly fighting Islamic fundamentalism. All of these measures are rationalised

by the presence of Russian minorities and forcing the government on to the

defensive, thus jeopardising the reforms and increasing the chances of a return

to authoritarian rule. Territorial claims by Russia have already prompted

Ukraine and Kazakhstan to hang on to their nuclear weapons. An increase in

Russian chauvinism, in protecting its minorities, or a pronounced swing to the

right in Moscow; could drive the new states to seek weapons systems or outside

powers for allies, thus exacerbating an already precarious situation. Alternatively,

the substantial non-Russian minority within the Russian federation (a fifth of

the population) could be encouraged to rebel in defence of their ethnic cousins,

or so goes the thinking of the day.??????????? Therefore,

it can clearly be seen that an aggressive Russian policy toward the new states

would encourage them to militarise, to seek control over nuclear weapons, and

to acquire outside allies, thus undermining Russia?s own security. The foreign

policy makers of the successor states would have to realise that it is in their

own interest to accommodate Russian interests and check any movement towards aggressive nationalism in their own

states. ?To recognise that Russians see themselves as having ?lost? while

others have gained, and that this sense of loss will inevitably lead to

rhetorical excesses that, given a responsible policy by others, will not lead

to action.?[8] To

acknowledge that Russia remains the overwhelming power in the region, and has

legitimate geopolitical concerns in many areas, would strengthen the hand of

Moscows reform-minded liberals in these very difficult times and lead to a

positive increase in security for all states. CONCLUSIONS??????????? At

the moment, the situation in the CIS and Russia remains in a state of flux and

transition. Events rather than deliberate policy continue to predominate and

guide the process toward the form which Russia and its republics will

eventually settle into.? In many ways,

foreign relations and security issues are governed by domestic necessity and

shifting political alignments, which rapidly change and prompt frequent shifts