The Russian elites have been and remain generally opposed to NATO expansion, though the reasons for opposition, and the policy approaches they advocate, do differ. Similarly, there is a virtual consensus on the possible alternatives to expansion. Most Russian elites support establishing an OSCE Security Council and expanding the role of the OSCE as the basis for a new pan-European security system, including Canada and the US. In addition they support the transformation of NATO from a military alliance into a peacekeeping/making organisation.
Perceptions of NATO expansion are linked to political orientations. Liberals, both in the Duma and the Foreign Ministry, are opposed to NATO expansion because it would strengthen the position of the nationalists, thus threatening domestic reforms. The conservatives -- both communists and centrists -- are opposed because they fear an increased Western military potential. The radical nationalists state that they are opposed to NATO expansion while they are aware that, if it happened, it would boost their domestic popularity.
The Military elite is opposed to NATO expansion for strategic reasons; primarily out of concern that it will increase both the existing imbalance of conventional forces in Europe and the military potential that will be placed at NATO's disposal in any future crises involving Russian national interests.
In response to NATO expansion, the Military advocates withdrawal from conventional and nuclear arms limitation treaties and possible conventional and tactical nuclear build-ups, as well as the formation of a counter alliance. Given the Military's apparent influence on this issue, the West should take its views seriously.
The Foreign Ministry, under the former Foreign Minister Kozyrev, emphasised the domestic repercussions that expansion would have for Russia, i.e., increasing the strength of reactionary forces opposed to the reform process and friendly relations with the West. Primakov, the present Foreign Minister, has chosen to emphasise specific military concerns in the hope of limiting the negative consequences of NATO expansion while at the same time depriving the reactionaries of the support of the Military elite.
The Duma is dominated by those who support a more hard-line response and are likely to hold START-2 ratification hostage against NATO expansion. Alternatively, even though liberals are in the minority, they do command positions of respect and influence (not only in the Duma but in the presidential administration as well), and they may convince Duma members to ratify START-2 provided there is rapid movement to START-3.
In order to remove the Military elite's support for hard-liners in the Duma, members of NATO should seek to allay Russian fears about the military aspects of NATO expansion in particular, such as re-negotiation of the CFE Treaty and providing internationally binding promises that NATO nuclear weapons, troops, and infrastructure will not be introduced on the territory of new NATO members. It is unlikely that the Duma will ratify START-2 or a NATO-Russia charter if these concerns are not met.
Furthermore, if the Military's concerns are addressed, it would then be able to concentrate its limited resources on the more urgent problems of reform, down-sizing, modernisation, and payment and housing arrears. This would remove much of the current discontent in the military, thereby hopefully creating a more reliable partner for the West. It would also help strengthen the position of the liberals who are working for economic and political reforms in Russia, the success of which are crucial for European security.
Russian decision-making has become more pluralistic than was the case under the Soviet Union. Policy coalitions by powerful elites have had a greater influence than ever before. Yeltsin's seemingly favourable attitude toward Polish membership in NATO, which he expressed in August 1993, and subsequent rejection of NATO expansion immediately afterwards, is an example of the power and influence of Russian elites on the President's policies. This, and other apparently conflicting statements which have come out of Russia, has led to some confusion in the West about Russian attitudes towards NATO expansion. This paper sets out to clarifiy some of the elites' views on this issue.
The Russian elite have been and remain universally opposed to NATO expansion, though the reasons for opposition, and the policy approaches they advocate, do differ. The views of the presidential administration and advisers, Security Council, Defence Council, Academia, the Media, Financial or Industrial elites and others are very important. However, this short paper will be limited to a selective review of the perceptions of some of the more prominent figures involved in the debate within the Military, Foreign Ministry, and Duma.
Before looking at the three elite groups individually, however, I will first discuss what the Russian elite in general see as the alternatives to NATO expansion. This is being looked at separately because, in addition to a consensus opposition to NATO expansion, there is a virtual consensus on the possible alternatives to achieve European security.
Most Russian elites have supported calls for the creation of a new European collective security system which includes all of Europe2. Granted, a few individuals have called for other options, like a joint NATO-Russia security guarantee for Eastern Europe or Eastern European non-nuclear and neutral status as a buffer zone between NATO and Russia3. Nevertheless, the OSCE is the most common suggestion amongst elites as the organisation which could become the backbone of the new European security system because, as expressed by Yevgenii Primakov, the current Russian Foreign Minister, "The OSCE is the only truly all-embracing organisation of European states."4 Because the OSCE is "a fairly toothless organisation" and depends on a consensus of 53 countries, those who have supported a central role for the OSCE have also called for the establishment of an OSCE Security Council, similar to that of the UN5. Furthermore, NATO would be just one tool at the disposal of the OSCE6, and NATO would need to be fundamentally transformed from a military alliance into a peacekeeping/making organisation operating "under the mandate of the UN Security Council and the OSCE."7 NATO transformation is seen as necessary because the military alliance is designed to deter an external aggressor, like the Soviet Union (or Russia?), and is not equipped to resolve the type of security threats - ethnic and nationalist conflicts, drug smuggling, illegal immigration, terrorism, etc. - which are now confronting Europe.8
Therefore, most Russian elites support expanding the role and responsibilities of the OSCE as the basis for a new pan-European security system, including Canada and the U.S.A., with a substantially transformed NATO.
The main concern of the Russian military elite is that NATO expansion will upset the balance of conventional forces between NATO and Russia well beyond the existing imbalance which resulted from the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union. As early as 1993, just after the issue of NATO expansion was put on the agenda, Krasnaya Zvezda, a Russian newspaper widely recognised as reflecting the views of the Defense Ministry and the Military, argued that the expansion of NATO would undermine what was left of the "parity" negotiated in previous arms control treaties.10
In 1995, Col.Gen. Dmitrii Kharchenko, the Deputy Chief of the General Staff, suggested that NATO expansion would threaten the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty in particular because it was designed to "eliminate disbalances in military potentials, which impair stability and security."11 However, he argued, the situation in Europe has changed dramatically since the treaty was negotiated in 199012 and NATO expansion would continue to undermine the goals the Treaty set out to achieve. When the CFE treaty was negotiated it set out to balance NATO forces with the forces of the Warsaw Pact, which was made up of Eastern Europe and all the presently independent republics which were then the USSR. Now, the Russian Military feels that it stands weakened and alone facing, not only NATO as it existed, but the possibility of an enlarged and stronger NATO. As a specific example of the military threat posed by NATO expansion, Col.Gen. Viktor Barynkin, the First Deputy Chief of the General Staff, has pointed out that NATO tactical aircraft will be able to strike deep into Russian territory and the Russian Baltic fleet will be threatened by NATO air power moving to the shores of the Baltic Sea13. Thus, able to strike Russias strategic assets, NATO tactical aircraft have the potential to become strategic aircraft. In which case, Barynkin argues, the CFE treaty will be compromised by the additional forces and bases which would be at NATO's disposal following expansion. The impact of NATO expansion on the spirit of the CFE treaty has been emphasised consistently by Russian military officers14, yet it is rarely mentioned in the West15.
The General Staff of the Army do not think that NATO presently has any plans to attack Russia and, therefore, NATO does not pose an immediate military threat to Russia: their main worry is the military potential which will be made available to NATO16. The fear is that NATO forces could be used against Russian interests in future circumstances that are unknown at this time17. Responding to NATOs December 1996 statement that it had no intention of deploying nuclear weapons on the territory of new members, Defence Minister Igor Rodionov reflected on NATO's so-called good intentions with the memory of verbal promises not to expand NATO when Soviet troops pulled out of Eastern Europe:
"the political intentions and objectives are an abstract category, but the military potential is a permanent and really tangible factor. All the more so, as even the recent experience of history shows, the political intentions change and verbal declarations are forgotten."18
NATO promises and assurances of good intentions19 are no longer taken seriously by Russia and this is why there is intense pressure to insist that, if NATO expands, then Russia must have NATO promises, not only in writing, but as some kind of binding international agreement.
The Russian military have not based their negative attitude toward NATO expansion on cold war indoctrination or their historical fear of invasion from the West. Rather, they are primarily concerned with the growing imbalance of conventional forces, and the military potential that could be brought to bear against a weakened Russia if future relations in Europe change for the worse or unexpected crises arise which involve Russian national interests.
The main purpose of any military is to ensure a country's military security. Not surprisingly, then, the Russian military have argued that, whilst they do not want a confrontation, they would be compelled to respond to NATO expansion with military means "in order to strengthen national security20. The Commander-in-Chief of the Ground Forces recognised that the real threats facing Russia are not Europe but so-called Islamic fundamentalism from the South, and China from the Southeast. Nevertheless, he warned that the Russian military would have to make preparations in response to NATO's military structures approaching Russia's borders21. High ranking military officers have suggested three types of response which can be employed individually or in a combined package: conventional build-up; re-juvinated nuclear deterrent; and the formation of a counter alliance.
Some military officers have suggested that a conventional force build-up would be required in response to NATO expansion, especially if the CFE treaty was not revised to take into account the imbalance mentioned above. Lt.Gen. Sergei Bogdanov, the commander of the border troops, recognised that the prospect of NATO and EU membership has encouraged states to solve their border disputes in a cooperative and peaceful way in order to improve their chances of membership22, indeed, it is a requirement for admission to NATO. However, he argued, having achieved membership, they may become more aggressive in attempts to resolve border disputes because NATO membership brings with it increased "means of warfare and power pressure."23 More specifically,
"Being a member of the alliance and expectation of its support may tempt some neighbouring countries into trying to put into practice their territorial claims to Russia and upset the establish border regimen."24
Furthermore, in response to this fear of NATO's military potential, Bogdanov also argued that, if NATO expands to or near Russia's borders, "Russia's Federal Frontier Service will have to considerably reinforce its troops."25 He pointed out that this would inevitably require the deployment of front-line Army combat troops.
However, it is obvious to most analysts that Russian military capabilities have diminished dramatically26 (the difficulty in capturing Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, is the most obvious example) and it is expected that the situation will continue to deteriorate over the next few years27. Russian soldiers wages are often not paid on time and insufficient housing for soldiers and officers have been the main pre-occupations of the Defence Ministry. It is unlikely that Russia can afford to pay for a military build-up in response to NATO expansion, but this will not stop the military from demanding an increased share of Russia's limited financial resources, to the detriment of political and economic reforms (see below). However, as a result of the dire financial situation in Russia, it is widely believed that the Russian military will rely on nuclear weapons to make up for its deficiency in conventional capabilities28.
The Russian military doctrine, adopted in 1993, reversed the former Soviet policy of `no first use' and now reserves the right of a nuclear weapons `first-strike' in response to even a conventional attack on Russia. Not surprisingly then, in response to NATO expansion, military leaders have argued for the re-deployment of tactical nuclear weapons, deceleration of START-1 and non-ratification of START-229:
"Tactical nuclear weapons should become the backbone of Russia's defence capability in all the three [west, north and south] European theatres."30
A large portion of the Duma is opposed to ratification of START-2 (see below) and if the Military throws its support behind the Duma then it is unlikely that Yeltsin, who supports START-2 ratification, will be able to convince the Duma to ratify it (despite his promise to Clinton, at the Helsinki Summit in March 1997, to convince them to do so).
When asked what Russia will do if NATO expands, Grachev replied that, aside from military measures, "We will, of course, form some kind of alliance. This is understandable. A defense alliance, a military-political alliance."31 However, at the NATO defense ministers' meeting in Bergen, Grachev's successor, Defence Minister Igor Rodionov, was more guarded. Although he said that Russia would respond to NATO expansion, he also said it would be premature to announce Russia's response before NATO actually began the process of expanding32. He has said that he is not in favour of forming a military alliance in response to NATO expansion but that it should be a decision for politicians33. Moreover, it has been argued by Russian military experts that most CIS states would resist further military integration, though Belarus, bordering on Poland, would be a willing participant34.
In September 1995 Grachev warned that Russia would take countermeasures if the Baltic states joined NATO35. Such statements may be an indication that the Russian Military would be less concerned if only Poland, Czech, and Hungary were to join NATO. Nevertheless, Yeltsin, or any future president, would be pressured by the Military to respond to NATO expansion. As recently as January 1997 a group of admirals and generals submitted a letter to Yeltsin urging that he take strong measures to oppose NATO expansion by ignoring START-2, building up the nuclear forces and targeting NATO members, and demanding revision of the CFE treaty36. Rodionov acknowledged in January 1997 that the Defence Ministry was preparing proposed responses which would be presented to Yeltsin37.
The Defence Ministry has been one of the most vocal and influential opponents of NATO expansion. The fact that the Russian Defence Ministers have been sent to NATO to negotiate and discuss Russia's position on NATO expansion indicates that the views of the Military are an important consideration in the development of Russian policy. A core aim of the Military is that NATO's military infrastructure must be prevented from widening the military imbalance by moving closer to Russia's borders. This has always been the position of the Defence Ministry. U.S. recognition of the Russian Military's concerns was one of Yeltsin's achievements at the Helsinki Summit, (i.e., recognition of "the importance of adapting the CFE Treaty"38) and this also indicates that the Militarys views are important39. If so, it would follow that the Military will also be influential in determining Russia's response to NATO expansion. Considering what the military has been saying, and if NATO expands without taking the Russian Military elite's objections into consideration, then NATO expansion will not improve European security.
Since 1993 the Russian Foreign Ministry has followed a dual approach to the issue of NATO expansion. On the one hand, it is recognised that East and Central European countries have the sovereign right to join any alliance they so choose. On the other hand, expanding the NATO alliance and creating exclusive zones of security goes against the aim of building stability and security for the whole of Europe in general, and is seen as a threat to Russia in particular.
Andrei Kozyrev, Russia's Foreign Minister from 1990 until January 1996, does not appear to have considered NATO expansion as a military threat. Long before the issue of NATO expansion arose, Kozyrev had a positive view of Western military intentions:
"The main thing is that Western countries are pluralistic democracies. Their governments are under the control of legal public institutions, and this practically rules out the pursuance of an aggressive foreign policy .... In the system of Western states ... the problem of war has essentially been removed."40
Therefore, Kozyrev believed his goal of making Russia a part of the "system of Western states" would nullify any military threat from the West. In June 1996, when he was no longer foreign minister, he suggested that Russia should strike a compromise solution with NATO and stop its hard-line rejection of expansion: "I don't think it is in Russian interests to stand alone against the majority of European states."41 Later, he argued that he was in favour of close cooperation with NATO and did not think NATO expansion would be a threat or humiliation42.
Kozyrev was not fundamentally opposed to NATO expansion and claimed that cooperation with NATO and the PfP programme was going ahead without objections from Yeltsin or the General Staff but "Then some people from the special services and their military allies started undermining the cooperation programme."43 He said that he "lost" his battle against those who did not want to "make friends with NATO..."44
While not posing a direct military threat to Russia, Kozyrev still thought NATO expansion was dangerous because of the potential negative consequences for Russian domestic politics - a view shared by most Russian liberals45.
Kozyrev was a democratic reformer and this is reflected in his arguments against NATO expansion. His statements emphasise his belief that NATO expansion would strengthen the position of the "reactionary nationalist hard-liners"46 and "communists"47. He warned that it would "play into the hands of Liberal-Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky and will contribute very little to the practical strengthening of their [East European] security."48 The view that expansion was a threat to domestic reforms in Russia was also acknowledged by Yevgenii Primakov when he was the head of the Foreign Intelligeance Service in 1993, long before he became foreign minister in January 1996:
"Additional expenditure for military business will be very hard, especially taking into account the present economic situation in this country. And the event of the inability of the government of Russia to provide the conditions for such necessary retaliatory measures, a discontent among those who have been tasked with protecting the interests of security may arise. Do we need to give additional emphasis to the fact that such discontent does not meet the interests either of the political or of the military leadership, or of reform, or the country as a whole."49
It is not a question of a disappointed military attempting a coup: most analysts believe that a military coup in Russia, for whatever reason, is highly unlikely50. However, the fear is that NATO expansion will result in a more conservative policy towards the West and increased power and influence of the Military, conservatives and nationalists in guiding policy direction. NATO expansion may be a contributing factor which adversely affects democratic reforms in Russia. At the very least, more conservative influence could shift the "accents" of policy, as it had, according to Kozyrev, after the strong showing of the nationalists in the December 1993 Duma election51. NATO expansion could also increase the popularity of a conservative General running for President and, if victorious, could result in the re-allocation of Russia's limited resources52.
While Kozyrev emphasized the threat to domestic reforms, when Primakov became Foreign Minister he switched the emphasis to military issues:
"The liquidation of medium range missiles as a class of weaponry was a big victory for the international community...." "If we suppose, purely hypothetically, that tactical weapons are deployed near Russia's borders this will mean a liquidation of the results that we achieved by destroying the medium range missiles."53
Primakov acknowledges that Russia can not stop NATO expansion but warns that if some agreement is not reached and if NATO's military infrastructure is moved closer to Russia then "this will affect our military construction and Russia's attitude to many arms control treaties."54 He also admits that it might lead to a Russia-Belarus alliance and that NATO would then be responsible for re-dividing Europe. These warnings, which echo those of the Military, reflect the close cooperation and coordination between the Foreign and Defence Ministries which Primakov has been able to facilitate55. It also emphasises the importance of the Military's views on this issue.
NATO and Western leaders have tried to reassure their Russian counterparts that NATO expansion is not aimed against Russia and that they have no hostile intentions toward Russia. Western advocates of NATO expansion often seem bewildered as to why Russia does not seem to understand these `facts'. In a March 1997 press conference, when Russia was formally admitted to the Council of Europe, Primakov described Russia's view of NATO's claims of good intentions with the following analogy:
"I don't think ... the West would applaud an increase in our fleet of missiles, even if they were not targeted on it. Why, then, does the West want us to applaud an expansion of NATO, even if the military alliance isn't directed against Russia?"56
Clearly, Primakov was voicing his concern about the military potential of NATO.
The Foreign Ministry, like much of the Russian elite, base their distrust on the history of this decade, not earlier this century, as is often believed. Primakov argues that any NATO promises or an agreement between Russia and NATO must be in writing because "We have been promised a lot of things which never came true."57 Primakov elaborates on these `promises' by referring to conversations in transcripts he requested from the Soviet/Russian archives:
"In conversations with Mikhail Gorbachev, Eduard Shevardnadze and Dmitri Yazov, held in 1990-1991, i.e., when the West was vitally interested in the Soviet troop withdrawal from the German Democratic Republic and ... the disintegration of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation (OVD), Francois Mitterand, John Major and George Baker, all of them said one and the same thing: NATO will not move to the east by a single inch and not a single Warsaw Pact country will be admitted to NATO. This was exactly what they said. These conversations were not codified in the form of official documents at that time. Though practically any agreement could be signed then, all remained only in words."58
Western leaders, NATO officials, and academics tend to take the `legal' view of history that no promises are made unless there are officially signed documents to that effect.
By early 1995 the Foreign Ministry's policy began to shift from outright rejection of NATO expansion and the proposing of alternatives, such as the OSCE, to one of negotiating a compromise solution that would take into account specific Russian concerns. The Foreign Ministry seemed to have recognised that NATO expansion will take place, regardless of Russian opposition, and that specific issues needed to be addressed to minimise its negative impact.
In February 1995 Georgi Mamedov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, allegedly discussed the idea of a NATO-Russia non-aggression treaty59, and reportedly suggested that NATO expansion may be possible if a formal permanent consultation mechanism was set up and if NATO promised not to base troops and nuclear weapons on the territory of new members60. The Western media and politicians suggested that this was a change in Russia's policy. Rather, it was a clarification of specific aspects of NATO expansion that were unacceptable to Russia. They were still opposed to NATO expansion and in favour of a "new model of comprehensive security..." as an alternative, or requirement prior, to NATO expansion61. Therefore, this shift in the policy approach to the problem of expansion could be better described as a change in tactics rather than any fundamental change in policy.
The views expressed in the Duma have ranged from advocating a tough response to NATO expansion to a willingness to negotiate a compromise solution, although virtually the entire Duma is opposed to expansion in principle. This section will briefly describe some of the general views within the Duma as well as some of the views of influential figures in two groups that deal specifically with the issue of NATO expansion: the International Affairs Committee and the Defence Committee. The newly formed Duma Anti-NATO Group will also be looked at.
While the Duma is not directly involved in foreign policy decision-making, parliamentarians do have indirect influence in the decision making process:
they have the right to request and receive explanations from the government on policy issues;
they can influence public opinion by openly discussing those issues in the Duma;
they are tasked with approving the selection of ambassadors which gives the Duma some, albeit limited, leverage with the President.
perhaps most importantly for the issue being discussed here, the Duma is responsible for ratifying international treaties such as START-2;
the Duma may also exert indirect `back-door' influence through bureaucratic support or sympathy for Duma views in the various ministries. For example, Kozyrev said that when he was foreign minister in 1994-95 the bureaucracy consolidated its ranks making it "impossible to work."62 He believed that the Duma was the source of the Foreign Ministry's lack of decisiveness at that time.
Some Duma deputies, like Alexander Shokhin, the First Vice-Speaker of the Duma and member of the centrist Our Home is Russia faction, have supported a non-confrontational approach:
[We should not] "assume a defiant stand, saying that we won't tolerate any eastward expansion of NATO. As I see it, we should better advance certain well-substantiated pre-conditions, whose realization would make it possible to clearly determine the direction of NATO's transformation into an organization that will become a genuine nucleus of the European security structure."63
Others have realised that Russia has no real say on the issue and have suggested concentrating diplomatic efforts on undermining Western consensus for expansion64. Liberal members of the Duma have also warned that NATO expansion "inevitably would give a boost for nationalistic ... trends in Russian policy, for sure."65
Most Duma deputies, however, have adopted a harder line and have warned that international disarmament agreements are threatened66. Some have specifically linked START-2 non-ratification with NATO expansion67. Alexei Podberezkin, a Communist Duma representative and Deputy Chairman of the International Affairs committee has said that START-2 ratification and adherence to CFE treaty obligations would not be possible if NATO expands68. While Lt.Gen. Lev Rokhlin, the chairman of the Duma Defence Committee and member of Our Home is Russia, has suggested that ratification of START-2 was contingent to NATO expansion plans69, he has also supported ratifying START-2 provided START-3 is negotiated soon70. Granted, there is some limited, though influential, resistance to START-2/NATO linkage. Vladimir Lukin, the Chair of the International Affairs Committee and member of the liberal Yabloka bloc, has argued that START-2 should not be linked to NATO expansion, though he argues re-negotiation of the CFE treaty should be71.
Nevertheless, most deputies are opposed to ratification of START-2 unless it is amended72, and some insist on linking it to NATO expansion. Clearly there is disagreement in the Duma as to whether START-2 should be linked, but because ratification requires a majority - and the more hard-line parties/factions hold a combined majority - then it is quite conceivable that it will be blocked. At Helsinki, Yeltsin pressed Clinton for flexibility with START-2 implementation (to reduce the financial costs) and immediate negotiations on START-3 provided START-2 is ratified. This was clearly aimed at satisfying those members of the Duma, like Lt.Gen. Lev Rokhlin, who may vote either way. It should be noted, however, that non-ratification of START-2 is the only direct action the Duma itself can take in response to NATO expansion. Failing non-ratification of START-2, the Duma can only indirectly influence Russia's response. Though, as mentioned above, this indirect influence can be significant.
The Chairman of the International Affairs Committee, Vladimir Lukin, has critisised the West's lack of will to discuss any alternatives to expansion and has argued in favour of negotiating the best possible deal for Russia. He named six priorities which Russia73 should pursue in such negotiations74:
NATO should not set dates or name countries for membership in order "to allow both sides to save their faces and create a framework ... for quiet, non-aggressive discussion";
the Western European Union should be expanded;
nuclear and conventional disarmament talks should be carried out and security guarantees should be offered to all European countries;
the role of the Council of Europe should be expanded because it is better suited than NATO to deal with Europe's non-military problems, such as prevention of ethnic conflicts, organised crime, drugs, and other challenges to democracy;
Russia should consult all its neighbours about what Russian military cooperation with certain neighbours would cause them concern;
"The OSCE should be left as a forum to discuss the key European issues, a kind of `United Nations for Europe and its environs'."75
Lukin has been relatively supportive of Yeltsin and distanced himself from his own liberal faction, Yabloka. Lukin was the Chairman of this committee in the previous Duma as well, and his success in being re-appointed by the Duma indicates that he has their general support and trust. While his opinion is not necessarily shared in the Committee, as Chairman his opinions, assessments, and recommendations are likely to be seriously considered by the Duma as a whole, as well as the government. Primakov, for example, acknowledges the "immense importance" of working closely with the Duma, especially the International Affairs Committee.76
Sergei Yushenkov, the former Chairman of the Duma's Defence Committee and member of the liberal Russia's Democratic Choice faction, has expressed concern about the monetary cost to Russia of NATO expansion. In 1995, he warned that "the reactionary part of the Russian military brass..." would "demand greater military spending," and it may also threaten arms control agreements.77
The present Chairman of the Defence committee, Lt.Gen. Lev Rokhlin, is a military man and his views do not differ greatly from the Militarys views mentioned above. While he is a member of the centrist pro-government Our Home is Russia faction, it has been said that "he behaves more and more like Communists, he is much more nationalistic than maybe many would have expected."78 On the other hand, Alexei Arbatov, the Deputy Chair of the Defence Committee and member of Yabloka, claims that any attempt to resist NATO expansion militarily would be futile because the resources of the West are far greater than those of Russia alone79. Though he has acknowledged elsewhere that if NATO expands Russia "will simply have to retaliate,"80 he has also argued that "the main task of Russia's foreign and defense policy should be to enhance and institutionalize all the positive aspects of the emerging strategic situation, while minimizing the role and impact of the negative shifts on its security."81 He suggests the following measures to limit the damage caused by NATO expansion:
expansion should occur slowly and with certain promises not to station troops and nuclear weapons on the new member's territory;
expansion should be parallel to enhancing relations between NATO and Russia in order to prevent a Russian sense of isolation;
expansion should occur at the same time as NATO reform from collective defense to a peacekeeping organisation;
NATO must cooperate more fully with the OSCE and the UN;
the CFE treaty must be revised to reduce NATO superiority82.
Much of Arbatov's wish-list in 1995 is what Yeltsin sought and obtained recognition for by Clinton at the Helsinki Summit in 1997.
The Duma anti-NATO Group was formed at the beginning of 1997 by 150 Duma deputies to "insist on taking measures to counteract the NATO expansion ..."83 It is meant to study the options and costs of possible responses to NATO expansion including reviewing agreements on conventional and tactical nuclear weapons, restoring medium range missiles, and promoting closer ties with India, China and others84. The Anti-NATO Group was formed too recently for this paper to provide a coherent summary of their views, though from their mandate of options for consideration they appear to support the views of the more hard-line parties/factions. It is premature to say how important this group is at this time, but it is doubtful that the Group will play a significant role in studying and recommending policy options because this would duplicate the work of the Defence and Foreign Affairs Committees in the Duma, as well as the various Presidential Councils set up by the administration. Rather, the Duma Anti-NATO Group is more likely to have been created to act as a coherent lobby group to oppose NATO expansion from within the Duma and/or as a public relations mechanism to rally public opinion. Although the Group does not have a voting majority in the Duma, it is comprised of approximately one-third of Duma members, allegedly from different factions85.
Inaccurate or incomplete media reporting has contributed greatly to the impression that Russia's foreign policy on the issue of NATO expansion has been inconsistent. In an article in September 1996, Primakov was wrongly accused of shifting his position at the 51st UN General Assembly by recognising that Russia could not stop NATO expansion and would do what it could to prevent new dividing lines in Europe, while pushing for the revision of certain treaties86. However, Russia has always asserted that it has no right to stop NATO expansion because it recognises that every country has the sovereign right to choose its own alliances. The Foreign Ministry has often stated its opposition to new dividing lines in Europe and treaty revisions have also been mentioned. Primakov even reasserted the long-standing position that NATO expansion would have negative consequences for Russia's movement towards democracy. NATO officials have often been the "anonymous" source alleging that Moscow's position has softened or changed, yet when these allegations are made public, Russian officials have been quick to correct them87. Russian policy is more consistent than it often appears.
Perceptions of NATO expansion are linked to political orientations88. Liberals, both in the Duma and the Foreign Ministry, are opposed to NATO expansion because it would strengthen the position of the nationalists, thus threatening domestic reforms. The conservatives - both communists and centrists - are opposed because they fear an increased Western military threat/potential. The radical nationalists say they are opposed but would actually welcome NATO expansion because it would boost their popularity and strength. However, it would be wrong to assume that the Military's opposition, mainly for strategic reasons, is because they are dominated by communists and "statists."89 Rather, they have an inherent responsibility to be concerned about Russian military security. Nor can they be considered radical nationalists because they certainly give more than lip service in their opposition to NATO expansion and the pressure they apply on the government to prevent it.
The Military is primarily concerned about NATO expansion increasing the existing imbalance of conventional forces in Europe and increasing the military potential that will be placed at NATO's disposal. In response to NATO expansion, the Military advocates withdrawal from conventional and nuclear arms limitation treaties and possible conventional and tactical nuclear buildups, as well as the formation of a counter alliance. Given the Military's apparent influence on this issue, the West should be extremely cautious about plans to expand NATO and accept some of Russias legitimate concerns. The Foreign Ministry, under Kozyrev, has emphasised the domestic repercussions that expansion would have for Russia and the negative consequences this would have for European security. This view is shared by his successor, Primakov, but Primakov has chosen to emphasise specific military concerns in the hope of limiting the negative consequences to Russia from NATO expansion. The Duma is dominated by those who support a more hard-line response and are likely to hold START-2 ratification hostage against NATO expansion. Alternatively, even though the liberals are in the minority, they do command positions of respect and influence (not only in the Duma but in the presidential administration as well), and they may convince Duma members to ratify START-2 provided there is rapid movement to START-3 and concerns about NATO expansion are met.
In order to remove the Military elite's support to hard-liners in the Duma, members of NATO should make every effort to minimise the military aspects of NATO expansion, such as re-negotiation of the CFE Treaty and providing internationally binding promises that NATO nuclear weapons, troops, and infrastructure will not be introduced on the territory of new NATO members. It is unlikely that the Duma will ratify START-2 or a NATO-Russia charter if these concerns are not met (Re-affirming to new members NATOs adherence to Article 5 - the promise to come to members aide in the event of attack - should suffice to guarnatee their security and rule out any fear of second-class membership). Furthermore, if the Military's concerns are addressed, then they will be able to concentrate their limited resources on their more urgent problems of reform, down-sizing, modernisation, and payment and housing arrears. This would remove much of the current discontent in the military creating an overall more reliable partner for the West. It would also help Russian reformers to consolidate their positions. Liberal reformers (Chubais, Nemtsov) have recently regained important positions in Yeltsin's government, it would be a tragedy if NATO expansion resulted in another step backwards by forcing Yeltsin to accept more hard-liners in his government. A nationalist or communist revanche may not be a direct outcome of NATO expansion, but expansion will likely weaken the position of the liberals who are working for economic and political reforms in Russia, the success of which are crucial for European security.
1 Most elites support the continued existence of NATO, though there are some who believe it should be dissolved as a cold war relic. Alexei G. Arbatov, "Russian National Interests," in Robert D. Blackwill and Sergei Karaganov eds. Damage Limitation or Crisis: Russia and the Outside World, (Washington: Brassey's, 1994): p71.
2 See, for example, Viktor Barynkin, Col.Gen., "Russia's Stand on Plans for Enlargement of NATO: A View from the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces." Military News Bulletin, Vol.5.5 (53) (May 1996). [http://www.ria-novosti.com/military/1996/mil05_6.htm]; "The State Duma's Address in Connection with NATO's Expansion Plans." Rossiiskaya gazeta, (12 November 1996). [http://www.russia.net/ria/dr/1996/du12110.htm]; and Marina Sergeyeva, "There won't be any less America in Europe." Kommersant-Daily, (June 15, 1996): p.1,4. in Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press, vol.68.23: p23.
4 Yevgeny Primakov, "International Relations on the Threshold of the 21st Century: Problems and Prospects." Nezavisimaya gazeta, (22 October 1996). [http://www.russia.net/ria/dr/ 1996/db22106.htm]. Although, some Russian experts have argued that Western rejection of a leading OSCE role makes continued discussion about it redundant. Yevgeni Mikailovich Kozhokin, interview with the author, (9 July 1996); and Vladimir Lukin, in Scott Parrish, OMRI Daily Digest, 17/7/95.
6 Other `tools' available to the OSCE would include the West European Union, the Council of Europe, the armed forces of the Central and East European states, Russia, or the CIS. See Andrei V. Kozyrev, "Russia and NATO: A partnership for a united and peaceful Europe." NATO Review, vol.42.4 (August 1994): pp3-6; Mikhail Pogorely, "Russian Defense Minister says tough, constructive words in NATO." Krasnaya Zvezda, (December 20, 1996). [http://www. russia.net/ria/dr/1996/de24120.htm]; and Alexei Podberezkin, "NATO and European Interests: View from Russia." Executive and Legislative Newsletter, no.20. [http://www.russia.net/ria /1996/_dr273.htm]
7 See Col.Gen. Igor Rodionov, "Prevent the Appearance of New Division Lines in Europe." [Rodionov's address to the meeting of NATO defense ministers on 26 September 1996] Military News Bulletin, vol.5.10 (October 1996). [http://www.ria-novosti.com/military/1996/mn27103.htm]; and "The State Duma's Address in Connection with NATO's Expansion Plans." Rossiiskaya gazeta, (12 November 1996). [http://www.russia.net/ria/dr/1996/du12110.htm]
8 For example, "Press Conference by RF Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev." FBIS, (15 October 1993); "Press Conference by Yevgeny Primakov, Head of the RF External Intelligence Service on the Interests of NATO and Russia." Federal Information Systems Corporation, Official Kremlin International News Broadcast, (26 November 1993); Alexei Arbatov, "NATO and Russia." Security Dialogue, vol.26.2 (June 1995): pp144-5; and Alexei Podberezkin, "NATO and European Interests: View from Russia." Executive and Legislative Newsletter, no.20.[http://www.russia.net/ria/1996/_dr273.htm]
12 As Defence Minister, Pavel Grachev pointed out, "Some 70 per cent of the most up-to-date technology and weapons of the former USSR Armed Forces have remained outside Russia." "Minister's Position," Rossiyskiye Vestii, (4 January 1993) in FBIS/Soviet Union, (6 January 1993): p24. Qtd. in Dale R. Herspring, "The Russian Military: Three Years On." Communist and Post-Communist Studies, vol.28.2 (June 1995): p164.
13 Rodionov has also expressed concern about the reduced flight time of NATO aircraft flying from the airfields of new NATO members to Russias strategic assets. Igor Rodionov, "Russia and its armed forces in changing Europe: Speech at the Italian Centre for High Military Studies on 14 November 1996," in Military News Bulletin, vol.5.12 (December 1996) [http://www.ria-novosti.com/military/1996/mn19121.htm]
14 See, for example, Col.Gen. Boris Gromov, the Foreign Minitistry's military adviser, in an interview in Komsomolskaya pravda in November 1995, in Constantine Dmitriev, OMRI Daily Digest, 29/11/95; and more recently, Col.Gen Nikolai Pishchev, First Deputy-Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, "NATO: Myths and reality." Krasnaya Zvezda, (5 January 1997). [http://www.russia.net/ria/dr/1997/01/d108010.htm]
18 Igor Rodionov, "From the Speech by Russia's Defence Minister Igor Rodionov at the meeting of the Council of Defence Ministers of NATO Members under the 16+1 Formula in Brussels on December 18, 1996." Military News Bulletin, vol.6.1 (January 1997). [http://www.ria-novosti.com/military/1997mn270110.htm]
19 The Russian military believes that NATO had also broken its word on the purpose of PfP: "We take into account the previous assurances, voiced at different levels during the elaboration of the programme, to the effect that partnership should become the alternative to the NATO expansion. But facts prove that these promises have been broken, and this worries us." Igor Rodionov, "Russia and its armed forces in changing Europe." (December 1996) op cit.
29 Ibid. An anonymous source in the General Staff allegedly reported that a draft version for a new military doctrine suggests that tactical nuclear weapons will be deployed in western Russia, Belarus, and the Baltic Sea if NATO expands. See Constantine Dmitriev, OMRI Daily Digest, 2/10/95; and Doug Clarke and Scott Parrish, OMRI Daily Digest, 10/10/95.
30 Anton Surikov, "Conceptual Provisions of the Strategy of Counteraction to the main Threats of National Security of the Russian Federation." Institute of Defence Studies (INOBIS), (1995). Duma defense committee Chairman Sergei Yushenkov claims that the INOBIS report reflects the opinions of high ranking Russian officers. See Constantine Dmitriev, OMRI Daily Digest, 23/10/95.
39 Some analysts have suggested that the Defence Ministry under Grachev was more influential on this issue than the Foreign Ministry under Kozyrev. Mikhail Gerasyov, interviewed in Patrick Henry, "Kozyrev finds fault with line on NATO." The Moscow Times. (6 December 1995). Primakovs actions suggest that the Defence Minsitry is still very influential (see below).
56 Yevgeny Primakov, Qtd. in Vladimir Katin, "Primakov on Russia and NATO." Nezavisimaya gazeta, (March 1, 1997): 2. in Current Digest of the Post Soviet Press, Vol.XLVIII.9 (1996): 23. A similar analogy described to the Duma indicates his consistency between foreign and domestic audiences. See Yevgeny Primakov, "Remarks by Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov at the Duma committee for international affairs," (8 February 1996). Federal News Service Kremlin Transcripts, (8 February 1996).
64 Mikhail Mityukov, Vice Chairman of the previous Duma, suggested that Russian diplomacy concentrate its efforts in three main areas to prevent NATO expansion: "differences within NATO"; "American electors" who are questioning the necessity and cost of expansion; and "some people in East and Central European countries" who are questioning the possibilities of foreign troops and weapons being based on their territory and the financial costs of membership. "Press Conference with Vice Chairman of the State Duma Mikhail Mityukov" (22 November 1994), op cit.
70 Lev Rokhlin, "The Treaty Should Be Ratified, Provided That a New One is Concluded." Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye, No.16 (22 August 1996): pp1,3. in Current Digest of the Post Soviet Press. Vol.68.34 (1996): p24; See also Lev Rokhlin, "START-2 and Russia's Vital Interests." Russian Executive and Legislative Newsletter. No.38 (1 October 1996). [http://www.russia.net/ria/reln/1996/px011016.htm]
71 Vladimir Lukin, "Press Conference" Federal News Service Kremlin Transcripts, (31 January 1996); and Vladimir Lukin, "Nothing Lost, Not Everything Gained." Nezavisimaya gazeta, (27 March 1997) in RIA-Novosti Daily Review, (27 March 1997) [http://www.russia.net /ria/dr/dw27030.htm] An indirect START-2/NATO linkage is implied, however, in that he believes there should be linkage between CFE renegotiation and START-2 ratification.
77 Doug Clarke, OMRI Daily Digest, 26/6/95. Vladimir Shumeiko, the Chairman of the Federation Council (the upper house of parliament), added that NATO expansion would hurt Russia's economy because the new members would be obligated to adopt integrated NATO defence systems as opposed to the Soviet-made systems they have now and that other industries, besides the MIC, would also suffer from a loss of markets in Eastern Europe. Scott Parrish, OMRI Daily Digest, 11/10/95.
85 It does not include any members of the liberal Yabloka bloc or other "democratic-minded deputies." Gleb Cherkasov, "Russian State Duma Displays Growing Foreign Policy Consensus." Segodnya, (1 February 1997) in RIA-Novosti Daily Review, [http://www.russia.net/ ria/dr/dr03021.htm]; Though a new Atlantic Deputy Group was formed in April 1997 which does include more liberal deputies. Its purpose is "promoting Russias dialogue with NATO on questions of mutual interest which cause mutual concern." This group claims not to be opposed to any other groups but may have been formed as a counterweight to the more reactionary Anti-NATO Group. See, Yulia Panyushkina, RIA-Novosti Hot Line, (9 April 1997). [http://www.russia.net/ria/hotline/hf90412.htm]
87 See Vladimir Abarinov and Fyodor Lukyanov. Sevodnya, (June 5, 1996): p.1, in Current Digest of the Post Soviet Press, Vol.68.22 (1996): p22; and Stanislav Kondrashov, "Who won the Tug-of-War in Berlin?" Izvestia, (8 June 1996) in Current Digest of the Post Soviet Press, Vol.68.23 (1996): pp11-13. In which Primakov denies policy changes leaked by NATO sources to the Western media. Instead, he claimed that NATO's policy was changing in that it was now willing to conduct a dialogue with Russia about Russian objections to NATO expansion.
89 Sergei Yushenkov, a Duma deputy and former Chairman of the Duma Defense Committee, says that the so-called "party of war" is not a formal organisation but rather a loose grouping of "like-minded individuals...", including the top military brass, "the reactionary part" of the military industrial complex's ruling elite, and political forces with a nationalist agenda. In "Russia's Dangerous Weakness: There's no room for a Zero-Sum game in dealing with the Russian Military." Armed Forces International, (June 1996). [http://www.afji.com/Mags/1996 /June/russia.html]
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