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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)

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Roman Kuzniar, ‘A Map of Security’, Polish Western Affairs 35 (January 1994), p. 36.Google Scholar
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    For the purposes of this paper, I defme Central Europe as the ‘Visegrad Group’ countries: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.Google Scholar
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    S. Neil McFarlane, ‘Russia, the West and European Security’, Survival 35, no. 3 (Autumn 1993), p. 5. Google Scholar
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    See Kuzniar, op.cit., p. 32.Google Scholar
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    Kuzniar, op.cit., p. 37.Google Scholar
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    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
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    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
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  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
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    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
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    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
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    Miranda Anichkina, ‘Russia Revives the Corpse of the Soviet Union’, The European, 26 May-11 June 1995, p. 11.Google Scholar
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    CEI member countries are Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Austria and Italy.Google Scholar
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    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
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    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
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    Köves, Central and East European Economies, pp. 126–7.Google Scholar
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    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
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    R. Richter and Istvan Toth, ‘Perspectives for Economic Co-operation Among the Visegrad Group Countries’, unpublished working paper, p. 16.Google Scholar
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    ‘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
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    Akino and Albion, op. cit., p. 13Google Scholar
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    BBC Summary of World Broadcasts (SWB), 30 August 1993, quoted in Akino and Albion, op. cit., p. 10.Google Scholar
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    Akino and Albion, op. cit., pp. 10–11.Google Scholar
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    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
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    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
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    See John S. Duffield, ‘NATO’s Functions After the Cold War’, Political Science Quarterly 109, no. 5 (Winter 1994–95).Google Scholar
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    See Honcharenko, ‘International Institutions and European Institutions’, p. 151.Google Scholar
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    MacFarlane, ‘Russia, the West and European Security’, p. 19.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1998

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  • Margarita M. Balmaceda

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