Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Window on Eurasia: Russian Military Planners Thinking About a Post-CIS Eurasia

Paul Goble

Vienna, October 21 – In the clearest indication yet that senior officials in Moscow are worried about what will happen if, as seems likely, the Commonwealth of Independent States dissolves, an article in the journal of the Russian military-industrial complex argues that the demise of the CIS could fundamental alter security arrangements in Eurasia.
In the current issue of the “VPK Kurier,” security analyst Aleksey Matveyev says that the Chinisau summit shows that “the disintegrative processes on the post-Soviet space continue to develop” (
Four presidents of the CIS countries in Central Asia did not even show up , the presidents of Belarus and Ukraine were sharply critical of Russia, and the CIS Anti-Crisis Fund which Moscow had announced earlier still has to be created and “it is not a fact that it is working,” Matveyev writes.
Indeed, he continues, as many analysts have pointed out, “the leaders of the post-Soviet states are losing faith in the competence of the CIS. And in reality, it must be acknowledged that the Commonwealth now exists as a semi-amorphous formation which, possibly, will in general cease to exist.”
What would its disappearance mean for the post-Soviet space? Matveyev asks rhetorically, and in his article, he addresses “only one aspect” of this question – “the military-political,” which he suggests is the one that “for the countries of the CIS and Russia is the most important.”
Matveyev points to four consequences of the collapse of the CIS. First, he says, the end of the CIS would promote “the activation and formation on the remains of qualitatively new military-political blocs and super-governmental unions,” with the pro-Moscow Organization of the Treaty of Collective Security and the pro-NATO GUAM being “the poles” of attraction.
Moreover, he continues, Belarus and Uzbekistan would likely leave the first, and Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan would be likely to join GUAM.
Second, the disbanding of the CIS would “inevitably involve a significant activation of NATO in the post-Soviet space.” Indeed, Matveyev argues, “it is not excluding that given the current nature of relations and political orientation of the leaders of the post-Soviet republics, all members of GUAM, plus Uzbekistan and “possibly” Kazakhstan might join the alliance.
Third, the “VPK-Kurier” author says, “the disintegrative processes in post-Soviet space would reverberate through [their] military relations”, with the collapse of the unified anti-aircraft system likely to fall apart and “the role of the military-industrial complex in the provision of arms and military technology to the post-Soviet countries even more reduced.”
And fourth, Matveyev continues, the demise of the CIS could “possibly stimulate inter-state conflicts over disputed territories” -- not only over Karabakh and Transdniestria but also in the Ferghana valley in Central Asia and also over Crimea between Russia and Ukraine, conflicts especially likely in the course of generational changes in the leaderships of these countries.
These challenges would be so severe, the Moscow military analyst argues, that “Russia must [immediately] work out a correct and clear policy so as not to allow these tendencies to develop” and seek to reinvigorate the Commonwealth by promoting collective peace-keeping forces and other joint activities.
To that end, he suggests, Moscow should be willing to make “significant concessions to Minsk in order to complete the creation of a Union state and [set the stage for drawing] into that union new countries including Kazakhstan, Armenia and other states which are now members of the Organization of the Collective Security Treaty.”
Indeed, Matveyev argues, saving the CIS is so important that Russia “must not be afraid to promote its interests in CIS countries by means of lobbying and supporting the Russian-language population living in them,” both directly and by offering them a simplified procedure for gaining Russian citizenship.
While Matveyev’s conclusion makes it clear that he believes Moscow cannot easily do without the CIS if it is to retain influence in the post-Soviet space, his article as a whole suggests that many senior people in the Russian capital are already looking beyond the commonwealth and considering the environment Russia will have to deal with after the CIS ceases to exist.

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