Writing in yesterday’s issue of Nezavisimaya gazeta, Russia’s Security Council deputy head Leonid Mayorov and Council department chief Dmitry Afinogenov maintain that ongoing international processes require Russia and the CIS countries to create their own military alliance. NATO’s eastward enlargement in particular "represents a very serious challenge to Russia and the CIS countries," according to the officials, who throughout the article undertake to speak on the CIS countries’ behalf and equate those countries’ interests with Russia’s. The officials urge practical steps to "create a CIS security system; this issue is inseparably linked to Russia’s own national security."
Concerned by "lack of real progress in this most important aspect of CIS integration," Mayorov and Afinogenov insist that "military integration neither impairs CIS countries’ sovereignty nor impedes these countries’ accession to European and international organizations." As part of developing a military alliance, the officials urge CIS countries to "legalize the presence of Russian troops and bases on their territories and conclude corresponding treaties" with Russia. (Nezavisimaya gazeta as cited by Russian agencies, February 3) Publication of this article follows the January 30 session of the CIS countries’ defense ministers, where the Russian side unsuccessfully advocated creation of a Russian-led "single defense space" and "peacekeeping" system in the CIS. (Russian agencies, January 30-31)
The article restates an official Russian position that long predates NATO’s recent decisions to enlarge. Moscow now uses those decisions as an additional rationalization of its own agenda in the CIS. Moscow also seeks to influence NATO’s debate over the scope and pace of enlargement by suggesting that Russia might create a CIS military bloc in response. However, only Belarus seems willing to join such a bloc, and not without reservations. Armenia’s alliance with Russia is of a limited and purely local nature. Ukraine and three Central Asian countries are already developing their own security arrangements with NATO. Moldova is Western-oriented and firmly neutral in military issues. Georgia and Azerbaijan have clearly cast their lot with the West. Turkmenistan bases its entire policy on internationally approved neutrality. Tajikistan appears to be slipping out of Russia’s control. The Mayorov-Afinogenov article indicates that top-level Russian advisory bodies continue ignoring the CIS countries’ national interests, have learned little from the Chisinau summit and offer misleading and potentially dangerous policy prescriptions to the Kremlin.
(The Monitor continues its survey of Ukraine’s political parties and blocs in the run up to the parliamentary elections. See the series of profiles in The Monitor, November 6, 17, and 20; December 5, 12, and 24, 1997; and January 8, 1998.)
Ukraine’s Political Landscape: The Party of Reform and Order.