Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 203

A regular meeting of the CIS Council of Defense Ministers, held yesterday in Dushanbe, deliberated amid some empty seats and rejected several major Russian proposals. The meeting marked an inauspicious debut for Russian defense minister Gen. Igor Rodionov as chair of the CIS defense agency.

Moldova, Turkmenistan, and, apparently, Uzbekistan failed to attend the meeting, while Ukraine was there only as an observer and limited its participation to issues affecting its own interests. A majority of the delegations in attendance rejected Moscow’s proposal to appoint General Mikhail Kolesnikov as head of the CIS Military Cooperation Staff, arguing that his predecessor had also been a Russian and that the post must not be monopolized by Russia. The Ukrainian delegation’s head, Deputy Defense Minister Gen. Ivan Bizhan, stated that Ukraine will not participate in CIS "peacekeeping" operations, but only those under UN or OSCE auspices. The Ukrainian and other delegations also turned down a Russian proposal to create a CIS organ for coordinating the CIS countries’ participation in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. They pointed out that such participation is governed by national programs agreed upon by individual countries with NATO. Most delegations did approve a plan of measures to equip and maintain a CIS air defense system, which most countries view primarily as a business proposition that could boost under-utilized industrial capacities.

The situation in Afghanistan and on the Tajik-Afghan border was a major topic. Some unspecified countries – very probably the Central Asian — endorsed a proposal to prolong the mandate of "CIS peacekeeping" forces in Tajikistan. Some — again unspecified — ministers supported the formation of "regional and subregional security systems" in fulfillment of the draft CIS collective security concept. Tajik president Imomali Rahmonov, together with the Russian delegation, urged approval of that proposal. There was no word on the agenda item regarding the mandate of Russian "peacekeepers" in Abkhazia and the appointment of a new commander of that force–a point of controversy between Russia and Georgia. The meeting ended after a half-day, instead of the day-and-a-half originally set aside for it. (Interfax, Itar-Tass, October 29)

The rejection of Kolesnikov leaves the CIS Military Cooperation Staff headless. Its former chief, General Viktor Samsonov, was named recently to Kolesnikov’s former post as head of Russia’s General Staff. Moreover, the Cooperation Staff has also lost its deputy head, Col. Gen. Leonid Mayorov, who was yesterday appointed to the post of deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council.

Lukashenko Threatens Force.