ANTITERRORISM CENTER REMAINS ELUSIVE

Publication: Fortnight in Review Volume: 6 Issue: 14

Creation of a CIS Antiterrorism Center topped Russia’s agenda at the June 19-21 CIS summit. The result fell short of Moscow’s expectations. Member countries differed over the proposed center’s functions, size and financing. They ultimately agreed to creating a consultative, not an operational structure. The Center’s mandate is essentially that of a data bank which will supply intelligence information and “analytical reports” to CIS member countries. There will be no CIS Antiterrorism command in the foreseeable future. And there is no agreement yet on staffing the center.

While countries signatory to the CIS Collective Security Treaty (CST) are prepared to delegate permanent representatives to the Antiterrorism Center in Moscow, other countries indicate that they would only send their representatives on periodic visits, evidently hoping to stall the development of a structure which they are poorly placed to control even if formally present there. Such presence may even saddle them with co-responsibility for actions initiated by the Russian side. The center’s Russian head, Lieutenant-General Boris Mylnikov, consented to select three deputies or assistants, at least two of them presumably non-Russian. He will almost certainly seek to include representatives of non-CST countries as a show of CIS cohesion. A Ukrainian deputy would be a prize catch for Mylnikov. But within days of the summit, Moscow put its wrong foot forward when its military intelligence and General Staff charged that Ukrainian ultranationalists were financing and fighting on the side of Chechen forces against Russian forces. Ukraine’s Security Service chief, Leonid Derkach, indignantly rejected those accusations.

Moscow and allied Armenia scored a success at the summit by thwarting a collective condemnation of “aggressive separatism.” Georgia, Azerbaijan and Moldova–countries facing Russian-supported secessions–insisted as usual on pairing “aggressive separatism” with “terrorism,” as some CIS summits had done in the recent past, at least on paper. At this summit, however, the Russian side quashed any implication that the CIS Antiterrorism mechanism might conceivably be used against the armed “separatists.”

Moscow’s short-term goals regarding the CIS Antiterrorism Center were outlined in the summit’s aftermath by Mylnikov, Federal Security Service Director Nikolai Patrushev and Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov. Those goals include: first, funding the Antiterrorism Center by special decisions of the CIS heads of state, not from the meager budget of the CIS Executive Committee as this summit decided; second, creating joint CIS Antiterrorism units under Russian leadership; and, third, establishing a “legal mechanism” for the rapid deployment and operation of Russian antiterrorist units on the territories of CIS member countries. The Russian officials expressed hopes of achieving those goals by mid-2001. Such an agenda would seem to presage a continuing tug-of-war between Moscow and the independent-minded countries over the nature of the Antiterrorism Center.

The Moldovan parliament’s foreign policy commission chairman, Vasile Nedelciuc, zeroed in on the main source of risk to CIS countries in Moscow’s blueprint for the Antiterrorism Center. He pointed out that Russia’s interpretation of the concept of terrorism and its practice of Antiterrorismist operations differ in basic ways from the Western concept and practice, setting Russia apart from the international community. CIS countries that follow the Russian lead in this matter would not only grow more dependent on Moscow, but would also distance themselves from their natural Western partners, Nedelciuc cautioned. The summit’s aftermath suggests that this view is shared in varying degrees by most national leaderships, even if it is not openly articulated.

“The Fortnight in Review” is prepared by senior analysts Jonas Bernstein (Russia), Stephen Foye (Security and Foreign Policy), and Vladimir Socor (Non-Russian republics). Editor, Stephen Foye. If you would like information on subscribing to the Monitor, or have any comments, suggestions or questions, please contact us by e-mail at [email protected], by fax at 301-562-8021, or by postal mail at The Jamestown Foundation, 4526 43rd Street NW, Washington, DC 20016. Unauthorized reproduction or redistribution of “The Fortnight in Review” is strictly prohibited by law. Copyright (c) 1983-2002 The Jamestown Foundation