The Role of the Western Soviet Successor States in the Russian-East European Relationship

  • Margarita M. Balmaceda
Part of the International Council for Central and East European Studies book series (ICCEES)


The purpose of this chapter is to bring to our attention and shed light on certain factors affecting the Russian-Central European relationship which until now have not received much attention. I am referring to the role of the western Soviet successor states, first and foremost Ukraine, in the development of a new relationship between Russia and its former Warsaw Pact allies in Central Europe. As the Polish author Roman Kuzniar has noted: ‘The establishment of the sovereign states of Ukraine and Belarus — even though their sovereignty is, to a large extent, of a formal character — has created a chance for an essential modification of the geostrategic situation in Eastern Europe’.1 Yet whether this will in fact happen or not will depend on a series of further factors, which I should like to explore in this chapter. Whether this will actually be the case will depend not only on these successor states’ ability to transform their economies successfully and to build a strong sense of national identity, thereby becoming viable states, but also on the development of their own relationship with Russia and on the attitude of the international community. It is in the interests of the Central European countries that Ukraine and other post-Soviet states deal with these changes successfully, so consolidating the potentially favourable geopolitical changes that started to take shape after the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.2 It is in the interests of Poland and other Central European countries that this ‘window of opportunity’ that opened in 1991 does not close.


Foreign Policy Baltic State Central European Country European Security Kaliningrad Oblast 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Roman Kuzniar, ‘A Map of Security’, Polish Western Affairs 35 (January 1994), p. 36.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For the purposes of this paper, I defme Central Europe as the ‘Visegrad Group’ countries: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    S. Neil McFarlane, ‘Russia, the West and European Security’, Survival 35, no. 3 (Autumn 1993), p. 5. Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See Kuzniar, op.cit., p. 32.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Zbigniew Mazur, ‘Program for a New Containment’, Polish Western Affairs 35, no. 1 (1994), p. 70. Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Kuzniar, op.cit., p. 37.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Similar anxieties about Russia’s post-Soviet imperialist behaviour were stirred by the publication in November 1993 of a new Russian ‘War Doctrine’, and nationalist gains in the Duma elections a month later.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    See Vitaly Ganyushin, ‘The Chechen Flag in Krakow’, New Times, July 1995, p. 51. In addition, some groups in Poland are pressuring the government to recognise the Chechen independence movement and provide it with arms; others are discussing the possibility (quite unlikely in practice) of opening a ‘Free Caucasus’ short-wave radio station transmitting from Poland: Masha Gessen, ‘Svobodnyi Kavkaz mozhet veshat’ na Chechnyu iz Krakova poka lish’ teoriticheskii’, Segodnya, 7 June 1995, p. 3.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    See F. Stephen Larrabee and Allen Lynch, ‘Russia, Ukraine, and European Security’, Rand Conference Report, 1994, p. ix.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ian Brzezinski, ‘Ukraine: The Geo-political Dimension’, The National Interest, Spring 1992, pp. 48–52.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Thereby, in the words of the Russian journalist Arkady Moshes, facing a security situation not much different from that of Poland between the two world wars: see ‘Ukraine: A Marriage of Convenience is Better than a Marriage of Love’, New Times, May 1995, p. 44.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
  13. 13.
    In October 1993 the parliament approved a ‘Concept on National Security’, and the government approved a ‘Military Doctrine of Ukraine’ of a strictly defensive nature: Aleksandr Honcharenko, ‘International Institutions and European Institutions: The Ukrainian Debate’, in Marco Carnevale (ed.), European Security and International Institutions After the Cold War (Rome: Instituto di Affari Internazionali, 1995), p. 139.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Yutaka Akino and Adam S. Albio, Russia-Ukraine-Visegrad Four: The Kozyrev Doctrine in Action (New York: Institute of East-West Studies, 1993), pp. 2–3.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Quoted by Ian Brzezinski in ‘Polish-Ukrainian Relations: Europe’s Neglected Strategic Axis’, Survival 35, no. 3 (Autumn 1993), p. 26.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    The Carpathian ‘Euroregion’ is not the only one under development in Poland. For example, the Neisse ‘Euroregion’, initially created to deal with the transnational effects of pollution, is composed of parts of southwest Poland, northwest Czech Republic and southeast Germany: see Jan B. de Weydental, ‘Cross-Border Co-operation in East-Central Europe’, Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Europe Research Report 3, no. 2 (14 January 1994).Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    See David Karas, ‘The Foreign Policy of Poland’, unpublished paper (The University of Toledo, 1995), p. 4.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    See Jan de Weydenthal, ‘Controversy in Poland Over “Euroregions”’, RFE/RL Research Report 2, no. 16 (16 April 1993), and Robert Moren, ‘Syndrom Dziewicy’, Sasiedi, 11–17 March 1993, p. 19.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    See Kuzniar, op. cit., p. 41.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    See Roman Kuzniar, ‘The Geo-strategic Factors Conditioning Poland’s Security’, The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs 2, no. 1 (Winter 1993), p. 23.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    See, for example, Jan S. de Weydenthal, ‘Poland’s Eastern Policy’, RFE/RL Research Report 3, no. 7 (18 February 1994).Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    See Andrej Sakson, ‘The Problem of the Kaliningrad Region’, Polish Western Affairs 35, January 1995.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    It is clear that, by increasing its military presence in the Kaliningrad area, Russia is trying to compensate for the loss of Soviet strategic positions in the Baltic Sea region.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Stepped up contacts between Kaliningrad oblast and the counties it borders in north-east Poland are contemplated in the May 1992 Russo-Polish friendship treaty: see Krzysztof Kopczynski, ‘A Visit to Kaliningrad’, Uncaptive Minds 5, no. 2 (Summer 1992), p. 59.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Talks were held between the head of the Lithuanian parliament and the Polish government in mid-December 1993, and during the visit of the Lithuanian Prime Minister, Adolfus Slezevicius, later that month.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    See ‘The Sejm on Suggestions Presented by Lithuanian President’, Gazeta Wyborzca, 30 March 1995, p. 4, quoted in FBIS-EEU 95–062, 31 March 1995, p. 21.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
  28. 28.
    Arkady Dubnov, ‘Lukashenko’s “Initiative”’, New Times,April 1995, p. 43.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
  30. 30.
    See Kuzniar, ‘A Map of Security’, p. 35.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    After a boom period in 1992 the Polish-Belarusian relationship started to stagnate. Some of the reasons for this stagnation had to do with the shortcomings of Poland’s ‘Eastern policy’, and also with the uncertainty concerning Belarus’s role in the political map of Europe: in the last four years, Warsaw could not decide whether to bet on co-operation with the new states to its East, or on a game with Russia; therefore, Poland’s policies themselves contributed to a self-fulfilling prophesy: see Ezhi Kalina, ‘Sosedstvo nesbivshikhsya nadezhd’, Delo: zapad-vostok,1995, no. 3Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Miranda Anichkina, ‘Russia Revives the Corpse of the Soviet Union’, The European, 26 May-11 June 1995, p. 11.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    See Sokrat Janowicz in Gazeta Wyborcza, 16–17 May 1995, translated in Transition 1, no. 10 (23 June 1995), p. 39.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    See Vitaly Ganyushkin, ‘An Easterly-Westerly Wind, from Gentle to Moderate’, New Times, August 1995, p. 44.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Interview with Officials at the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Warsaw, August 1995.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Ganyushkin, ‘An Easterly-Westerly Wind’, p. 44.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    See Izvestiya, 6 July 1995, translated in FBIS-SOV, 6 July 1996, p. 48; also ‘Zaklamanie rakiety’, Gazeta Wyborcza, 8–9 July 1995, p. 2.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Dubnov, ‘Lukashenko‘s “Initiative”’, p. 43.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    CEI member countries are Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Austria and Italy.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Kuzniar, ‘A Map of Security’, p. 37.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Andras Köves, Central and East European Economies in Transition, (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1992), p. 90.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    It is impossible here to answer fully the question of how an eventual closing out from Western European institutions would affect Central European policies towards the Soviet successor states, but it is possible to speculate that it could lead to a rapprochement towards the Eastern neighbours.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    On Ukraine and the European Union, see Alexandra Morris, ‘Ukrainian Nationalism: New Security Issues for Europe’, Stanford Journal of International Affairs 4, no. 1 (Fall-Winter 1995).Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Köves, Central and East European Economies, pp. 126–7.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Given the frailty of the Russian-Ukrainian relationship itself, the relationship between the Visegrad countries and Ukraine could affect the future of their relations with Russia.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    R. Richter and Istvan Toth, ‘Perspectives for Economic Co-operation Among the Visegrad Group Countries’, unpublished working paper, p. 16.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    ‘The Sejm on Suggestions Presented by Lithuanian President’, Gazeta Wyborcza, 30 March 1995, p. 4, in FBIS-EEU-95–062, 31 March 1995, p. 21.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Elmar Mutazaev, ‘Oleg Davydov vystupaet za uskorenie ekonomicheskoi integratsii v SNG’, Segodnya, 5 October 1995, p. 2.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Akino and Albion, op. cit., p. 13Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Kimberly Zisk, ‘The Russian Military-Industrial Complex and the Former Soviet Empire’, paper presented at the seminar ‘Foreign Relations After the Warsaw Pact’, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 17 June 1995. I am grateful to the University of Illinois for an associateship at the Summer Laboratory on Russian and East European Studies which allowed me to attend this seminar.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Some military officers, for example, Col. Tadeusz Jaynasty (Deputy Director of the Arms and Equipment Department of the Polish Department of Defence) in an interview with Polska Zbroina, argue that such co-operation concerns only the supply of spare parts, and would in no way jeopardise Poland’s move towards NATO: Polska Zbrojna, 15 March 1993, pp. 1–2, quoted in FBIS-EEU-95–054, 21 March 1995, pp. 12–13.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    ‘Shortly before his resignation as Slovakia’s Prime Minister, Vladimír Mečiar claimed that during his visit to Moscow in 1991 he had secured future Soviet defense orders for Slovakia as a viable alternative to Slovakia’s continued economic ties with Bohemia and Moravia’ (all of Czechoslovakia’s 111 weapons factories were located in Slovakia): see Andrew A. Michta, East-Central Europe After the Warsaw Pact (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1992), pp. 107 and 127.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    The new military doctrine approved by the Czechoslovak parliament in March 1991 mandated the redeployment of significant forces to the Slovak republic (the goal was 38 per cent of military forces by the year 2005): see Michta, East-Central Europe, pp. 105–30.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    BBC Summary of World Broadcasts (SWB), 30 August 1993, quoted in Akino and Albion, op. cit., p. 10.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    See ‘Kovac and Yeltsin Sign Treaty’, Reuter Textline, BBC Monitoring Service, Slovakia, 30 August 1993.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Akino and Albion, op. cit., pp. 10–11.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Ibid., p. 9.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Zbignew Lewicky, Institute of East-West Studies, Prague, quoted in ‘Russia’s Reversal on Partnership Eases Central European Concerns’, The Prague Post, 7–13 June 1995, p. 4.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Peter Rutland, ‘Ukraine: Search for Stability’, Transition 1, no. 10 (23 June 1995), pp. 20–23. The conference surveyed was on Ukrainian Security Dilemmas, held at Yale University in April 1995.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    See John S. Duffield, ‘NATO’s Functions After the Cold War’, Political Science Quarterly 109, no. 5 (Winter 1994–95).Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Kuznar, ‘A Map of Security’, p. 36.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    See Honcharenko, ‘International Institutions and European Institutions’, p. 151.Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    MacFarlane, ‘Russia, the West and European Security’, p. 19.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margarita M. Balmaceda

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations