Implications_Russia_policy

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Implications_Russia_policy Powered By Docstoc
					Ella Akerman
Research Associate
Scottish Centre for International Security
Department of Politics and International Relations
University of Aberdeen
Dunbar Street, Old Aberdeen, AB24 3 QY
Scotland, United Kingdom


Implications of Russia's foreign and security policy on Moldova


Introduction
September 11 and the "war against terrorism" had a great impact on Russia's foreign and
security policy. Moscow had not only to re-evaluate its relations with the West, but also to
consider the creation of a new strategic concept for its policy in the ‘Near Abroad’. Furthermore,
Russia's participation on the Meetings of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) and between NATO
Foreign Ministers and the Foreign Ministers of Partner Countries Council of Ministers' in
Reykjavik in May 2002 within the new framework of Russian - NATO partnership, as well as
November 2002 NATO Summit in Prague with regard to accession of Rumania to the Alliance
might affect the strategic environment in which Moldova is placed. At first glance it seems that
in the light of these developments, Russo-Moldovan relations have gained a new political
momentum, not least through the signature of the Friendship and Co-operation Treaty in
November 2001. However, it remains questionable in how far the new Russian foreign policy
has a real impact on Moldova in the short and long-term.


Characteristic of the relations between Russia and Moldova
There are four key characteristics of Russo - Moldovan relations over the last decade. The first
one concerns Moldova's position within Russia's political and economic considerations. The
disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to the major changes in the geopolitical space,
turning the Soviet republics into independent actors on the international arena and making their
relations with Russia foreign. In the early 1990s Russia had no experience nor traditions in
establishing interstate relations with the former Union republics, and consequently did not
succeed to formulate a positive foreign policy taking into account its national and state
interests.1 Thus, at that time Russian policy towards Moldova was marked by the lack of
strategic vision and the uncertainty as to how far its commitments in the post-Soviet space
should go. As a result of miscalculations in assessing the nature of relations between Russia,
Moldova and the ‘Near Abroad’ in general, Russia did not perceive the new states as a region of



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special importance. However, the events that occurred in Russia and in the republics during
1992 caused a shift in the understanding of Russian role in the post-Soviet space, and in 1995
the ‘Near Abroad’ was proclaimed as Russia's `zone of vital interests`. Following this trend, the
Putin government places the CIS member states on the top of Russian foreign policy priorities,
seeing them as strategic partners and desiring the integration of the CIS with Russia, in
particular in the economic and security spheres.2 Thus, Moldova remains in Russia's sphere of
influence and plays an important role as Moscow's natural partner on post-Soviet space.
The second key characteristic is the status of Transdnestr and the withdrawal of Russian military
forces. Since 1992 Russia has been involved in mediating this conflict, the major step being the
signature of the Moscow Memorandum in May 1997 that outlines the basic principles for a
settlement in Moldova and affirming that Transdnestr should have a special status within this
country. However, little progress has been made in reaching an overall settlement. At the OCSE
Summit in Istanbul in November 1999, it was finally agreed that Russian forces would be
withdrawn by 2002, although in 1994 it had been agreed on withdrawal by 1997. 3 President
Putin also appears interested in giving a new impetus to Russo-Moldovan relations by reaching
a settlement of this conflict. On his visit to Moldova in June 2000, Putin affirmed Russia's
acceptance of Moldova's territorial integrity and the creation of a special state commission
headed by Yevgenyi Primakov to find a resolution to the Transdnestr problem.4
The third characteristic concerns economic relations between Russia and Moldova. Russia was
traditionally the main customer for Moldovan produce. At the same time, Russia was also the
main investor in Moldova, and the main supplier of raw materials, energy, oil, and gas. Thus,
Russia accounts for around 40 percent of Moldova's exports, and the reciprocal trade is growing.
Since 1999 it has increased nearly six times and was estimated at more than 534 million dollars
in 2000.5 The economic factor is viewed in Moldova as a guarantee of national security6, and
therefore close economic co-operation with Russia is vital for the stable development of the
country. However, the issue of Moldova's energy debts to Russia remain a major problem in
economic relations between the two countries due to Moldova's lack of resources, dependence
on fuel imports from Russia, continuing inefficient use of energy supplies, and lack of market
mechanisms to establish viable prices. Moldova's difficulty in paying its major energy suppliers
has repeatedly brought the country to a crisis point, with both Romania and Ukraine temporarily
suspending electricity supplies which left most of the country without power for a number of
days. Russia has also temporarily cut gas supplies, worsening Moldova's winter heating crisis.
The fourth key characteristic is the strategic co-operation between Russia and Moldova. In
particular, Moldova's membership in the GUUAM Group that was founded 1996 by Georgia,


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Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova as a "political, economic and strategic alliance
designed to strengthen the independence and sovereignty of these former Soviet Union
republics"7 makes the country a natural strategic partner for Russia. Furthermore, Russia has
played and continues to play a key role in the region and is viewed as a guarantor for promoting
peace, security and post-conflict co-operation. In its turn, Moldova is perceived as geo-
strategically important for Russian security as a "gateway" to Southeastern Europe and the
Balkans.


A decade of Russia's policy in the West: the status quo
The end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to major
changes in the international system and the security architecture. The emerged new Russian
state had to re-define its role in the international community in line with its transformed
political-ideological, socio-economic and military power. This in turn prompted debate and re-
examination of Russian national interests and so the formation of a new approach to
international relations and Russian foreign policy. In the light of these developments, Russia
perceived the West as its principal ideological and political ally, the main source of aid for
urgently needed reforms, and as a model of development.8 However, during the last ten years
Moscow's relations with the West proved to be rather difficult and disappointing for mainly four
key reasons.
First of all, Russia's desire to be seen as an equal partner to the West, expressed in the new
Foreign Policy Concept,9 is unrealistic in the near future due to the economic and political
situation within the country, and dependence on Western aid and technology. Furthermore, the
West perceives Russia as weak and ravaged, using the country's `process of transition` for
largely ignoring Russian interests.10
Secondly, the question of NATO eastward enlargement that has dominated Russian - Western
relations over the last years is perceived in Russia as a major defeat of Moscow's policy of broad
partnership with the West. It seems that NATO expansion will remain a `permanent seed of
mistrust, controversy and deadlocks on a broad range of international issues`, 11 creating fear that
it would result in a new division of Europe and Russia's isolation from the European security
system.
Thirdly, Russia's relations with the European Union proved to be unsatisfactory despite the
conclusion of the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement in 1997. It has been argued that the
terms of this Agreement are not equal to those offered by the EU to the Central Eastern
European countries.12 Furthermore, the pre-accession strategies pursued in the applicant


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countries contribute to the differentiation in treatment, entailing the risk of the isolation of
Russia from the rest of Europe.13 Another serious problem could arise with the accession of the
Eastern European countries in the EU, as Russia’s trade relations with these countries could be
adversely affected as they re-orient their trade towards the Union.
Finally, Russia's opposition to the scrapping of the 1972 ABM Treaty and National Missile
Defense that Russia considered `an important factor of maintaining strategic stability in the
world`14 has created tensions between Russia and the USA. It provides an example of the
deterioration of mechanisms that were designed during the Cold War to solve arms control
problems, and demonstrates that the US - Soviet patterns of arms control negotiations does not
work in the context of the US - Russian relationship.15


September 11: implications for Russia's foreign and security policy
Undoubtedly, the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the
Pentagon in Washington D.C. have a global impact on world politics and international relations.
Many analysts speak of the formation of a new world order and the actual beginning of the 21st
century. Others support `The Clash of Civilizations´ paradigm or warn of the spiral of violence
if the bombings on Afghanistan continue. The questions of anti-terrorism, security and
alternative ways for conflict resolution are widely discussed by politicians and the larger public
in many parts of the world. Russia is one of the countries where these debates are particularly
heated due, inter alia, to its own `anti-terrorist` campaign in Chechnya and the large Moslem
population within the country. Following the attacks in the USA on September 11 the Russian
President Vladimir Putin condemned `the cowardly acts against the United States`, and
proposed the USA co-operation against terrorism.16 However, Russian responses to the attacks
and the Afghanistan crisis are much more varied and complex, mirroring the attitudes of
different political groups, and raising key political issues within the country. As a consequence,
many in Russia perceive the terrorist attacks in the USA as a `moment of truth`17 that shows the
reality of Russian alliance and the major directions of its foreign policy. In fact, the war in
Afghanistan can be seen as a test for the level of Russia's integration in the international
community ten years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the ability of Russian
government to shape debates on extremely sensitive issues. Moreover, it could lead to the
construction of a new strategic framework and serve as a catalyst to Russia's re-alignment with
the West based on Russia's co-operative capacity.18
Russian responses to the events of September 11 show that Russia immediately gave its
rhetorical support to the United States. However, in the first weeks after the terrorist attacks it


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remained unclear to what extent Russia would co-operate with the U.S. in terms of use of CIS
bases, sharing of intelligence services information, or even Russia's participation in the military
operations. The ongoing debates within Russia mirror Moscow's concerns about its position in
the Afghanistan crisis, and at the same time highlight some of the sensitive areas Russia's in
foreign policy.
On one hand, the alliance with the West appears to be a profitable line of conduct, and if Russia
would join the West in the war against terrorism, it would undoubtedly receive Western political
support for its fight against domestic terrorism in Chechnya, and the defeat of the Taliban
regime would remove military threat to Russia in Central Asia. Furthermore, not to join the
West means foreign policy isolation which would undermine Russian position internationally as
well as inside the country.
On the other hand, the alliance with the West could lead to the outbursts of Islamic extremism
inside Russia itself, the emergence of the new centres of terrorism and the aggravation of
Russian relations with the Arab countries. Moreover, in the light of the unsuccessful Soviet war
in Afghanistan in 1980s, a new war would fail to have as much support among Russians as it
does among the Americans. In fact, Russia's responses and attitudes towards the terrorist attacks
in the U.S., and the subsequent war against Afghanistan appear to be closely connected with
Russia's political efforts and concerns with regard to Central Asia, its struggle against domestic
terrorism, the Islamic factor, as well as Russia's position in the international community.
However, President Putin appears to have difficulties to persuade all interest groups within
Russia of the advantages of his new approach towards the United States. In particular, the
military in Russia appears to be concerned about the sudden change in Russia's foreign defense
policy that ceases to regard the U.S. as an enemy. Furthermore, the Russian military experts
consider it unlikely that the U.S. military would leave Central Asia after the anti-terrorist action
in Afghanistan has been completed, and are concerned about its impact on Russian security and
position in the region. At the meeting of the top military command of the armed forces President
Putin made two important points concerning his new policy towards the U.S. First, that Russia is
not going to have nuclear war with the USA, and therefore does need a minimum of nuclear
weapons. Second, the main threat to the country comes not from the West, not from NATO, but
from the South. At the same time, Putin stressed out the importance of having a modern, well-
equipped army, which means that the money that was used to create nuclear weapons would be
used to strengthen general-purpose forces. This tactic shows two important features. The first
one is that Putin attempts to achieve support from different political groups by promising them
concessions, such as the army reform for the military sector. Second, that Putin places the state


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interest above those of the different interest groups within the country. This element appears to
be new in the Russian politics, and surely will have a long-term effect on the domestic policies.
However, there are other groups within Russia that are not pleased with Russian foreign policy,
and the question remains to what extent the Russian President will be able to get support from
these groups.


Russia's relations with the United States
Since September 11 Moscow's relations with the United States appear to have undergone
significant changes that are seen in Moscow as a new stage towards the `real partnership` in
bilateral relations with account being taken of mutual Russian and U.S. interests. The main areas
concern the joint co-operation in the international terrorism, post-war settlement in Afghanistan,
Russia - NATO relations and the future of the ABM Treaty.
The parameters of Russia's interaction with the United States in the military operation in
Afghanistan were outlined in the statement of president Putin on September 24, 2001. In
particular, Russia will promote active international co-operation between intelligence services,
open the air space over Russia for flights by planes carrying humanitarian cargoes into the
region, as well as take part in international search and rescue operations. Moscow's vast
experience in fighting domestic terrorism, as well as in developing an anti-terrorist program in
the CIS could indeed be a useful instrument for closer co-operation with the NATO. On the
defense meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels on September 26, 2001, Russian Minister of
Defense Sergey Ivanov pointed out that `today…we acknowledge that we must strengthen co-
operation as much as possible in this area of combating international terrorism`. 19 Curiously
enough, some in Russia even called for the country joining NATO, and linking Russia's military
assistance to the U.S. with article five of the NATO Charter.20 Similarly, Yevgeniy Primakov,
the former Russian Prime Minister, does not rule out the possibility of qualitative changes in the
relations between Moscow and NATO, and even Russia's entrance in NATO if `this
organisation becomes more and more political, if it loses the colouring it has now`. 21 However,
despite the declarations of unity in the struggle against terrorism, there are still major
contradictions between Russia and NATO. Certainly, Moscow and the Alliance have come
closer together, but Russia has not softened its position on the traditional issues, such as NATO
enlargement and critics on NATO's peacekeeping mission in the Balkans.
The question of the post-war political set-up in Afghanistan is directly connected with Russian
policy and security considerations in the region, and will certainly have an impact on the
relations between Russia and the United States. On the Meeting between Putin and Bush in


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Shanghai on October 22, no agreement was achieved between Russia and the US concerning the
model of the future Afghan government. The USA suggested to form a new Afghan government
with participation of the moderate Taliban members who represent the Afghan majority the
Pectin, arguing that a government formed only by the Northern Alliance that represent the
interests of the national minorities the Tajiks, Uzbeks and Harzaras would generate new tensions
within Afghanistan. However, Russia was against the presence of the Taliban in the new
government, pointing out that `the Taliban has compromised itself by co-operating with
international terrorist organisations`.22 Moreover, Russia would like to see a centralised system
of government with provinces enjoying only a measure of sovereignty, whereas Washington
would like to see the northern provinces to be granted maximum autonomy. The reason for
Russian desire to see Afghanistan as a centralised state is the fear that the possible tensions in
the autonomous northern provinces of Afghanistan could give the USA a good reason to stay in
the region.
With the regard to the future of the ABM Treaty, Moscow believes that it would be able to
achieve a compromise with the U.S. government in the course of intensive negotiations.
Commenting on Russia's position regarding the 1972 ABM Treaty and the possibilities of
making a compromise with the USA on this issue President Putin said that `We have a certain
platform on which we could reach an agreement on offensive weapons and we could find a
common perspective regarding the defensive systems`, pointing out that Russia's position on this
issue `is rather flexible`.23
Considering these developments, it appears that the terrorist attacks in the USA drew a
demarcation line under the Russian - Western relations of the last decade, making their relations
`before` or `after September 11`. In particular, Russia's responses to the September events and
the crisis in Afghanistan demonstrate that Russia is eager to change the pattern of its relations
with the West. Thus, the current events are seen by many in Russia as a unique chance to joint
the world economic and political community, and in establishing mechanisms of co-operation
with the USA, thus allowing Russia to play a big game on the international arena. The question
remains as to what extent Russia will take the chance.

Implications for Moldova
The events of and after September 11 contributed to the re-thinking of Moscow's policy towards
the Near Abroad, and made clear that Moscow's relations with the ex-republics on the post-
Soviet space should be oriented towards the creation of a new strategic framework based on
mutual interests. This new orientation in Russia's foreign policy certainly has a positive effect
on its long-term relations with Moldova, and in the signature of the Friendship and Co-operation

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Treaty that was in preparation since June 2001 can be viewed as the first step towards a
mutually beneficial partnership. The most important element of this Treaty is the definition of
the strategic nature of Russo-Moldovan relations and the recognition of the necessity to create a
new framework for present and future co-operation. Another element, which is of particular
importance to Moldova and was highlighted in Moldova's Foreign Policy Guidelines 1998-2000,
is Russia's supports Moldova's territorial integrity and the desire of a political solution for
Transdniestria.24   For Moscow, closer co-operation with Moldova will, inter alia, bring
geopolitical influence in a strategically important region. As Moldova borders Romania, a
candidate for NATO membership at the summit in November 2001, the control of this area will
also allow Russia to project its influence into Southeastern Europe and the Balkans.
Furthermore, the events of September 11 added raison d'être to the GUUAM Group that aspires
to develop de facto alliance relationships with the United States, in particular on bilateral level.
These bilateral trends are to be seen in conjunction with Washington's political support for
GUUAM collectively and for its institutionalisation, as expressed, for example, in Deputy
Secretary of State Richard Armitage's public statement on the occasion of GUUAM's summit in
Ukraine. All this creates new political opportunities for GUUAM to develop as a group, one
common denominator of which is the American connection of the member countries. These
developments could have an impact on Russia's policy towards Moldova, as Moscow could
attempt to preserve the political status quo in its relations with Moldova and limit the American
influence on the post-Soviet space.
With regard to the Transdnestr issue, the post-September 11 international environment could
facilitate the settlement of the conflict, as co-operation among the major powers is directed
towards conflict resolution in regions that could shelter international crime and terrorism.25 In
this context, the initiative of the European Union jointly with Moscow does not only mean a
contribution to the strategic partnership between Russia and the Union, but also active Russian
participation in the settlement and the additional benefits for Russo-Moldovan relations.
However, the short-term implications of Russia's new foreign policy on Moldova appear to be
limited. Paradoxically, the re-orientation of the foreign policy does not per se bring changes of
policy on the regional level. Moldova will certainly remain within Russia's sphere of influence
and play an important role as a strategic and commercial partner, but no radical changes in the
relationship between the two countries are to be expected in the near future.




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Concluding Remarks
All in all, it appears that the year 2001 has changed the pattern of Russia's foreign policy
development, and substantially improved Russia's position on the international arena.26 The
most important foreign policy issues concern Russia-NATO relations as well as closer co-
operation with CIS neighbours states. In the light of the developments after September 11,
Russia's foreign policy appears to be oriented towards the creation of new co-operation structure
with the U.S. and the West based on equal relationship and taking into account Russian long-
term security interest.
One of the major reasons for change in Moscow's foreign policy seems to be Russia's security
concerns, and the identification of potential threats and challenges results in an open, flexible
and balanced foreign policy oriented towards creation of strategic framework with the West
through a new formula for co-operation with NATO and the bilateral agreements with the CIS
neighbours. In this new strategic environment, Moldova's geo-strategic position as a gateway
between Russia and Southeastern Europe and the Balkans enables it on long-term to play a
greater role in Russia's security considerations. However, it still has to be seen in how far
Moldova will be able to use Russia's strategic interests to strengthen its position on the
international arena.




Endnotes:

1
   Many Russian analysts in the beginning of the 1990s described Russia's foreign policy as inconsistent,
contradictory and neglecting national interests
2
  This policy is expressed in the New Russian Foreign Policy Concept of June 2000
3
  Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Supplement Sodruzhestvo, 24.11.1999
4
   M.A. Smith, Russian Foreign Policy 2000: The Near Abroad, Publication of the Conflict Studies Research
Centre, December 2000, p. 9
5
  Y. Stroganov, A Common Language, Trud, 20.11.2001
6
  V. Cibotaru, "Regional Stability and Sources of Conflict: a View from Moldova", in: A. Aldis, ed., Security in the
Black Sea Region: Perspectives and Priorities, Publication of the Conflict Studies Research Centre, March 2001,
p.49
7
  The GUUAM Group: History and Principles, Briefing Paper, http://www.guuam.org/general/browse.html
8
   Yevgeniy Bazhanov, "Russian Foreign and Security Policy in its Global Dimension", in Kurt Spillmann and
Andreas Wenger, Russia's Place in Europe: a Security Debate, Studies in Contemporary History and Security
Policy, Bern 1999
9
  The Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation, 28 June 2000, http://www.mid.ru/mid/eng/econcept.htm
10
    For example, "How Far Can the West Afford to Ignore Russia?" Conflict Studies Research Center, Occasional
Briefing, July 1999, http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/russia/agency/ob69-cjd.htm
11
      Alexey Arbatov, "Bad For Russia, Bad for the World", Global Beat, March 3, 1998,
http://www.nyu.edu/globalbeat/nato/arbatov030398.htm
12
    Igor Leshoukov, Beyond Satisfaction: Russia's Perspectives on European Integration, Center for European
Integration Studies, Discussion Paper C 26, 1998, p.12
13
   Sergey Rogov, "Security Relations between Russia and the Western World", in Spillman and Wenger, p.2
14
   Pavel Podvig, "A History of the ABM Treaty in Russia", Program on New Approaches to Russian Security,
Policy Memo Series, 109, Ponars, 2000, p.2


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15
   ibid, p. 6
16
   ORT, Moscow, 11 September 2001
17
   Izvestia, Moscow, 13 September 2001
18
   For a detailed account on the change of Russia's relations with the West, see M. A. Smith, Russia & The West
Since September 11, Conflict Studies Research Centre, December 2001
19
   Gilmore, "U.S., NATO, Russia Partner in Terrorism Fight"
20
   For example, the speech of Vice Speaker of the Duma Irina Khakamada, Vesti.ru, September 24, 2001
21
   AVN Military News Agency Website, Moscow, October 3, 2001
22
    Surprisingly, Yevgeniy Primakov, a deputy of the Russian Duma appears to suggest that Taliban might well
participate in the new Afghan government and point out that `there will be no stability in this country [Afghanistan]
and in the Central Asian region, unless a coalition government is set up in Afghanistan which will control the whole
territory of this country`; Izvestia, October 23, 2001
23
   President Putin in an interview with ABC, reproduced by Russian NTV, November 8, 2001
24
      Foreign Policy Guidelines 1998 - 2000, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Moldova,
http://www.moldova.md/ro/government/oll/FOREIGN/en/DIREC_POL_en.htm
25
     Marius Vahl, Borderland Europe: Transforming Transnistria? Centre for European Policy Studies,
http://www.ceps.be/Commentary/1001/MV251001.htm
26
   Igor Bunin, Chief of the Political Technologies Center in an interview with Russian Observer.com, 28.12.2001




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