Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 169

Meeting on September 9 in Kyiv, the Council of Heads of Security and Special Services of CIS countries focused on the status and missions of the CIS Antiterrorism Center. Although official handouts dwelt on the problem of terrorism and “extremism” in Central Asia, discussion of that topic at the Kyiv meeting must have been confined to a general exchange of views. Any operational countermeasures would be discussed by the Russian side directly with the Central Asian countries concerned, either on a bilateral basis or in a subregional framework.

According to Ukraine’s Security Service chief Leonid Derkach, who acted as host, the meeting produced a resolution to “work out documents which would regulate the Antiterrorism Center’s activities” and to submit those documents for a follow-up review. Apparently, then, the meeting marked time in the CIS fashion. Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) director, Nikolai Patrushev, proposed a strictly limited mission for the Antiterrorism Center. He stated at the concluding briefing that the center would function primarily as a data bank; and that “the center’s key task at present is to conduct analytical work and offer recommendations, not to engage in operations.” This circumscribed mandate seems to settle an issue that the CIS June summit had left open when creating the center.

At that summit and since, Moscow proved unable to create a multilateral, operational structure under its own command. Virtually all CIS countries declined to fund such a structure. The most independent-minded countries withheld the political approval because they wanted to avoid being dragged into joint operations over which they would have little control. Nor did these countries accept Moscow’s initial idea that the center should be empowered to conduct intrusive operations on the member countries’ territories. As a net result, the center seems to be only nominally funded and staffed. On the other hand, the Russian side proved from the outset unwilling to allow the center to become a conduit for intelligence information exchanges with the CIS countries, the intelligence-gathering capabilities of which are no match to Moscow’s. The CIS Antiterrorism Center may be destined to churn out “analytical” papers for political effect, even as Russia continues to gather, use and manipulate intelligence information through its national means, outside any CIS framework.

Moscow’s expectations regarding the center had included the creation of joint “antiterrorism” units under Russian leadership and the establishment of a legal mechanism for rapid deployment of such joint units, or simply of Russian units, on the territories of CIS member countries. Those goals seem nowhere near attainment at this time (UNIAN, Itar-Tass, September 9; see the Monitor, March 10, June 22-23, July 3; Fortnight in Review, July 7).