At least half of the foreign ministers of CIS member countries failed to attend a scheduled January 12 meeting in Moscow, passing up the opportunity to meet Russia’s new foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov. Instead, the absent ministers sent their deputies to the meeting, which was to finalize draft agreements and resolutions to be considered by the upcoming CIS summit. The Russian side submitted, inter alia, draft agreements regarding border regulations and the settlement of border disputes, conflict prevention and resolution, and collective peacekeeping on the territories of CIS countries. The Ukrainian delegation countered with a draft agreement on border issues that ruled out Russian attempts to establish different legal standards for "internal" borders among CIS countries and "external" borders between CIS countries and the outside world.
Moldova, Georgia, and Azerbaijan actively supported the Ukrainian document. Ukraine and Moldova refused to participate in the discussion on CIS collective peacekeeping on the grounds that any such operation should require a mandate from the United Nations and/or the OSCE. Moldova and Georgia called for monitoring and reporting upon the implementation of earlier CIS commitments to maintaining peace, stability, territorial integrity, and inviolability of the borders of CIS countries. (8) The differences aired at the meeting and the unusually low level of representation appear to presage a contentious CIS summit. The alignments that took shape at the meeting illustrate Ukraine’s potential to provide an alternative center of gravity on security issues for member countries concerned by Russian policies. Concurrently in Central Asia, the presidents of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan conferred January 12 in Kokchetav, Kazakhstan on coordinating their positions on regional issues scheduled for discussion at the summit. Such top-level regional caucusing before a CIS summit is unusual and reflects the willingness of the Central Asian presidents to protect their countries’ interests.
Sharetsky Appears Ready to Resist Presidential Pressure.