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Russia - Government


SINCE GAINING ITS INDEPENDENCE with the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, Russia (formally, the Russian Federation) has faced serious challenges in its efforts to forge a political system to follow nearly seventy-five years of centralized, totalitarian rule. For instance, leading figures in the legislative and executive branches have put forth opposing views of Russia's political direction and the governmental instruments that should be used to follow it. That conflict reached a climax in September and October 1993, when President Boris N. Yeltsin used military force to dissolve the parliament and called for new legislative elections. This event marked the end of Russia's first constitutional period, which was defined by the much-amended constitution adopted by the Russian Republic in 1978. A new constitution, creating a strong presidency, was approved by referendum in December 1993.

With a new constitution and a new parliament representing diverse parties and factions, Russia's political structure subsequently showed signs of stabilization. However, since that time Russians have continued to debate the future of their political system, with Western-style democracy and authoritarianism being two widely considered alternatives. As the transition period extended into the mid-1990s, the power of the national government continued to wane as Russia's regions gained political and economic concessions from Moscow. Although the struggle between the executive and the legislative branches was partially resolved by the new constitution, the two branches continued to represent fundamentally opposing visions of Russia's future. The executive was the center of reform, and the lower house of the parliament, the State Duma, was a bastion of antireform communists and nationalists.

Historical Background

The Soviet Union formally came into being under the treaty of union in December 1922, which was signed by Russia and three other union republics--Belorussia (now Belarus), Ukraine, and what was then the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (an entity including Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia). Under the treaty, Russia became known officially as the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR). The treaty of union was incorporated into the first Soviet constitution, which was promulgated in 1924. Nominally, the borders of each subunit were drawn to incorporate the territory of a specific nationality. The constitution endowed the new republics with sovereignty, although they were said to have voluntarily delegated most of their sovereign powers to the Soviet center. Formal sovereignty was evidenced by the existence of flags, constitutions, and other state symbols, and by the republics' constitutionally guaranteed "right" to secede from the union. Russia was the largest of the union republics in terms of territory and population. Ethnic Russians dominated Soviet politics and government; they also controlled local administration.

Because of the Russians' dominance in the affairs of the union, the RSFSR failed to develop some of the institutions of governance and administration that were typical of public life in the other republics: a republic-level communist party, a Russian academy of sciences, and Russian branches of trade unions, for example. As the titular nationalities of the other fourteen union republics began to call for greater republic rights in the late 1980s, however, ethnic Russians also began to demand the creation or strengthening of various specifically Russian institutions in the RSFSR. Certain policies of Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev (in office 1985-91) also encouraged nationalities in the union republics, including the Russian Republic, to assert their rights. These policies included glasnost (literally, public voicing--see Glossary), which made possible open discussion of democratic reforms and long-ignored public problems such as pollution. Glasnost also brought constitutional reforms that led to the election of new republic legislatures with substantial blocs of pro-reform representatives.

In Russia a new legislature, called the Congress of People's Deputies, was elected in March 1990 in a largely free and competitive vote. Upon convening in May, the congress elected Boris N. Yeltsin, a onetime Gorbachev protégé who had been exiled from the top party echelon because of his radical reform proposals, as president of the congress's permanent working body, the Supreme Soviet. The next month, the congress declared Russia's sovereignty over its natural resources and the primacy of Russia's laws over those of the central Soviet government. During 1990-91, the RSFSR enhanced its sovereignty by establishing republic branches of organizations such as the communist party, the Academy of Sciences (see Glossary) of the Soviet Union, radio and television broadcasting facilities, and the Committee for State Security (Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti--KGB; see Glossary). In 1991 Russia created a new executive office, the presidency, following the example of Gorbachev, who had created such an office for himself in 1990. Russia held a popular election that conferred legitimacy on the office, whereas Gorbachev had eschewed such an election and had himself appointed by the Soviet parliament. Despite Gorbachev's attempts to discourage Russia's electorate from voting for him, Yeltsin was popularly elected as president in June 1991, handily defeating five other candidates with more than 57 percent of the vote.

Yeltsin used his role as president to trumpet Russian sovereignty and patriotism, and his legitimacy as president was a major cause of the collapse of the coup by hard-line government and party officials against Gorbachev in August 1991. The coup leaders had attempted to overthrow Gorbachev in order to halt his plan to sign a confederation treaty that they believed would wreck the Soviet Union. Yeltsin defiantly opposed the coup plotters and called for Gorbachev's restoration, rallying the Russian public. Most important, Yeltsin's opposition led elements in the "power ministries" that controlled the military, the police, and the KGB to refuse to obey the orders of the coup plotters. The opposition led by Yeltsin, combined with the irresolution of the plotters, caused the coup to collapse after three days.

Following the failed coup, Gorbachev found a fundamentally changed constellation of power, with Yeltsin in de facto control of much of a sometimes recalcitrant Soviet administrative apparatus. Although Gorbachev returned to his position as Soviet president, events began to bypass him. Communist party activities were suspended. Most of the union republics quickly declared their independence, although many appeared willing to sign Gorbachev's vaguely delineated confederation treaty. The Baltic states achieved full independence, and they quickly received diplomatic recognition from many nations. Gorbachev's rump government recognized the independence of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in August and September 1991.

In late 1991, the Yeltsin government assumed budgetary control over Gorbachev's rump government. Russia did not declare its independence, and Yeltsin continued to hope that some form of confederation could be established. In December, one week after the Ukrainian Republic approved independence by referendum, Yeltsin and the leaders of Ukraine and Belarus met to form the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS--see Glossary). In response to calls by the Central Asian and other union republics for admission, another meeting was held in Alma-Ata, on December 21, to form an expanded CIS. At that meeting, all parties declared that the 1922 treaty of union creating the Soviet Union was annulled and that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist. Gorbachev announced the decision officially December 25. Russia gained international recognition as the principal successor to the Soviet Union, receiving the Soviet Union's permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and positions in other international and regional organizations. The CIS states also agreed that Russia initially would take over Soviet embassies and other properties abroad.

In October 1991, during the "honeymoon" period after his resistance to the Soviet coup, Yeltsin convinced the legislature to grant him important special executive powers for one year so that he might implement his economic reforms. In November 1991, he appointed a new government, with himself as acting prime minister, a post he held until the appointment of Yegor Gaydar as acting prime minister in June 1992.

During 1992 Yeltsin and his reforms came under increasing attack by former communist party members and officials, extreme nationalists, and others calling for reform to be slowed or halted in Russia. A locus of this opposition was increasingly the bicameral parliament, whose upper house was the Congress of People's Deputies (CPD) and lower house the Supreme Soviet. The lower house was headed by Ruslan Khasbulatov, who became Yeltsin's most vocal opponent. Under the 1978 constitution, the parliament was the supreme organ of power in Russia. After Russia added the office of president in 1991, the division of powers between the two branches was ambiguous.

Although Yeltsin managed to beat back most challenges to his reform program when the CPD met in April 1992, in December he suffered a significant loss of his special executive powers. The CPD ordered him to halt appointments of administrators in the localities and also the practice of naming additional local oversight emissaries (termed "presidential representatives"). Yeltsin also lost the power to issue special decrees concerning the economy, while retaining his constitutional power to issue decrees in accordance with existing laws. When his attempt to secure confirmation of Gaydar as prime minister was rejected, Yeltsin appointed Viktor Chernomyrdin, whom the parliament approved because he was viewed as more economically conservative than Gaydar. After contentious negotiations between the parliament and Yeltsin, the two sides agreed to hold a national referendum to allow the population to determine the basic division of powers between the two branches of government. In the meantime, proposals for extreme limitation of Yeltsin's power were tabled.

However, early 1993 saw increasing tension between Yeltsin and the parliament over the language of the referendum and power sharing. In mid-March 1993, an emergency session of the CPD rejected Yeltsin's proposals on power sharing and canceled the referendum, again opening the door to legislation that would shift the balance of power away from the president. Faced with these setbacks, Yeltsin addressed the nation directly to announce a "special regime," under which he would assume extraordinary executive power pending the results of a referendum on the timing of new legislative elections, on a new constitution, and on public confidence in the president and vice president. After the Constitutional Court declared his announcement unconstitutional, Yeltsin backed down (see The Judiciary, this ch.).

Despite Yeltsin's change of heart, a second extraordinary session of the CPD took up discussion of emergency measures to defend the constitution, including impeachment of the president. Although the impeachment vote failed, the CPD set new terms for a popular referendum. The legislature's version of the referendum asked whether citizens had confidence in Yeltsin, approved of his reforms, and supported early presidential and legislative elections. Under the CPD's terms, Yeltsin would need the support of 50 percent of eligible voters, rather than 50 percent of those actually voting, to avoid an early presidential election. In the vote on April 25, Russians failed to provide this level of approval, but a majority of voters approved Yeltsin's policies and called for new legislative elections. Yeltsin termed the results, which were a serious blow to the prestige of the parliament, a mandate for him to continue in power.

In June 1993, Yeltsin decreed the creation of a special constitutional convention to examine the draft constitution that he had presented in April. This convention was designed to circumvent the parliament, which was working on its own draft constitution. As expected, the two main drafts contained contrary views of legislative-executive relations. The convention, which included delegates from major political and social organizations and the eighty-nine subnational jurisdictions, approved a compromise draft constitution in July 1993, incorporating some aspects of the parliament's draft. The parliament failed to approve the draft, however.

In late September 1993, Yeltsin responded to the impasse in legislative-executive relations by repeating his announcement of a constitutional referendum, but this time he followed the announcement by dissolving the parliament and announcing new legislative elections for December. The CPD again met in emergency session, confirmed Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoy as president, and voted to impeach Yeltsin. On September 27, military units surrounded the legislative building (popularly known as the White House), but 180 delegates refused to leave the building. After a two-week standoff, Rutskoy urged supporters outside the legislative building to overcome Yeltsin's military forces. Firefights and destruction of property resulted at several locations in Moscow. The next day, under the direction of Minister of Defense Pavel Grachev, tanks fired on the White House, and military forces occupied the building and the rest of the city. This open, violent confrontation remained a backdrop to Yeltsin's relations with the legislative branch for the next three years.

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Russia - The Constitution and Government Structure


During 1992-93 Yeltsin had argued that the existing, heavily amended 1978 constitution of Russia was obsolete and self-contradictory and that Russia required a new constitution granting the president greater power. This assertion led to the submission and advocacy of rival constitutional drafts drawn up by the legislative and executive branches. The parliament's failure to endorse a compromise was an important factor in Yeltsin's dissolution of the body in September 1993. Yeltsin then used his presidential powers to form a sympathetic constitutional assembly, which quickly produced a draft constitution providing for a strong executive, and to shape the outcome of the December 1993 referendum on Russia's new basic law. The referendum vote resulted in approval by 58.4 percent of Russia's registered voters. The announced 54.8 percent turnout met the requirement that at least 50 percent of registered voters participate in the referendum.

The 1993 constitution declares Russia a democratic, federative, law-based state with a republican form of government. State power is divided among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Diversity of ideologies and religions is sanctioned, and a state or compulsory ideology may not be adopted. The right to a multiparty political system is upheld. The content of laws must be made public before they take effect, and they must be formulated in accordance with international law and principles. Russian is proclaimed the state language, although the republics of the federation are allowed to establish their own state languages for use alongside Russian (see The Russian Language, ch. 4).

The Executive Branch

The 1993 constitution created a dual executive consisting of a president and prime minister, but the president is the dominant figure. Russia's strong presidency sometimes is compared with that of Charles de Gaulle (in office 1958-69) in the French Fifth Republic. The constitution spells out many prerogatives specifically, but some powers enjoyed by Yeltsin were developed in an ad hoc manner.

Presidential Powers

Russia's president determines the basic direction of Russia's domestic and foreign policy and represents the Russian state within the country and in foreign affairs. The president appoints and recalls Russia's ambassadors upon consultation with the legislature, accepts the credentials and letters of recall of foreign representatives, conducts international talks, and signs international treaties. A special provision allowed Yeltsin to complete the term prescribed to end in June 1996 and to exercise the powers of the new constitution, although he had been elected under a different constitutional order.

In the 1996 presidential election campaign, some candidates called for reducing or eliminating the presidency, criticizing its powers as dictatorial. Yeltsin defended his presidential powers, claiming that Russians desire "a vertical power structure and a strong hand" and that a parliamentary government would result in indecisive talk rather than action.

Several prescribed powers put the president in a superior position vis-à-vis the legislature. The president has broad authority to issue decrees and directives that have the force of law without legislative review, although the constitution notes that they must not contravene that document or other laws. Under certain conditions, the president may dissolve the State Duma, the lower house of parliament (as a whole, now called the Federal Assembly). The president has the prerogatives of scheduling referendums (a power previously reserved to the parliament), submitting draft laws to the State Duma, and promulgating federal laws.

The executive-legislative crisis of the fall of 1993 prompted Yeltsin to emplace constitutional obstacles to legislative removal of the president. Under the 1993 constitution, if the president commits "grave crimes" or treason, the State Duma may file impeachment charges with the parliament's upper house, the Federation Council. These charges must be confirmed by a ruling of the Supreme Court that the president's actions constitute a crime and by a ruling of the Constitutional Court that proper procedures in filing charges have been followed (see The Judiciary, this ch.). The charges then must be adopted by a special commission of the State Duma and confirmed by at least two-thirds of State Duma deputies. A two-thirds vote of the Federation Council is required for removal of the president. If the Federation Council does not act within three months, the charges are dropped. If the president is removed from office or becomes unable to exercise power because of serious illness, the prime minister is to temporarily assume the president's duties; a presidential election then must be held within three months. The constitution does not provide for a vice president, and there is no specific procedure for determining whether the president is able to carry out his duties.

The president is empowered to appoint the prime minister to chair the Government (called the cabinet or the council of ministers in other countries), with the consent of the State Duma. The president chairs meetings of the Government, which he also may dismiss in its entirety. Upon the advice of the prime minister, the president can appoint or remove Government members, including the deputy prime ministers. The president submits candidates to the State Duma for the post of chairman of the Russian Central Bank (RCB) and may propose that the State Duma dismiss the chairman (see Banking and Finance, ch. 6). In addition, the president submits candidates to the Federation Council for appointment as justices of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, and the Superior Court of Arbitration, as well as candidates for the office of procurator general, Russia's chief law enforcement officer (see The Procuracy, ch. 10). The president also appoints justices of federal district courts.

Informal Powers and Power Centers

Many of the president's powers are related to the incumbent's undisputed leeway in forming an administration and hiring staff. The presidential administration is composed of several competing, overlapping, and vaguely delineated hierarchies that historically have resisted efforts at consolidation. In early 1996, Russian sources reported the size of the presidential apparatus in Moscow and the localities at more than 75,000 people, most of them employees of state-owned enterprises directly under presidential control. This structure is similar to, but several times larger than, the top-level apparatus of the Soviet-era Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU--see Glossary).

Former first deputy prime minister Anatoliy Chubays was appointed chief of the presidential administration (chief of staff) in July 1996. Chubays replaced Nikolay Yegorov, a hard-line associate of deposed Presidential Security Service chief Aleksandr Korzhakov. Yegorov had been appointed in early 1996, when Yeltsin reacted to the strong showing of antireform factions in the legislative election by purging reformers from his administration. Yeltsin now ordered Chubays, who had been included in that purge, to reduce the size of the administration and the number of departments overseeing the functions of the ministerial apparatus. The six administrative departments in existence at that time dealt with citizens' rights, domestic and foreign policy, state and legal matters, personnel, analysis, and oversight, and Chubays inherited a staff estimated at 2,000 employees. Chubays also received control over a presidential advisory group with input on the economy, national security, and other matters. Reportedly that group had competed with Korzhakov's security service for influence in the Yeltsin administration.

Another center of power in the presidential administration is the Security Council, which was created by statute in mid-1992 (see The Security Council, ch. 8). The 1993 constitution describes the council as formed and headed by the president and governed by statute. Since its formation, it apparently has gradually lost influence in competition with other power centers in the presidential administration. However, the June 1996 appointment of former army general and presidential candidate Aleksandr Lebed' to head the Security Council improved prospects for the organization's standing. In July 1996, a presidential decree assigned the Security Council a wide variety of new missions. The decree's description of the Security Council's consultative functions was especially vague and wide-ranging, although it positioned the head of the Security Council directly subordinate to the president. As had been the case previously, the Security Council was required to hold meetings at least once a month (see The President, ch. 8).

Other presidential support services include the Control Directorate (in charge of investigating official corruption), the Administrative Affairs Directorate, the Presidential Press Service, and the Protocol Directorate. The Administrative Affairs Directorate controls state dachas, sanatoriums, automobiles, office buildings, and other perquisites of high office for the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, a function that includes management of more than 200 state industries with about 50,000 employees. The Committee on Operational Questions, until June 1996 chaired by antireformist Oleg Soskovets, has been described as a "government within a government." Also attached to the presidency are more than two dozen consultative commissions and extrabudgetary "funds."

The president also has extensive powers over military policy. As the commander in chief of the armed forces, the president approves defense doctrine, appoints and removes the high command of the armed forces, and confers higher military ranks and awards (see Command Structure, ch. 9). The president is empowered to declare national or regional states of martial law, as well as states of emergency. In both cases, both chambers of the parliament must be notified immediately. The Federation Council, the upper chamber, has the power to confirm or reject such a decree. The regime of martial law is defined by federal law. The circumstances and procedures for the president to declare a state of emergency are more specifically outlined in federal law than in the constitution. In practice, the Constitutional Court ruled in 1995 that the president has wide leeway in responding to crises within Russia, such as lawlessness in the separatist Republic of Chechnya, and that Yeltsin's action in Chechnya did not require a formal declaration of a state of emergency (see Movements Toward Sovereignty, ch. 4; Chechnya, ch. 9; Security Operations in Chechnya, ch. 10). In 1994 Yeltsin declared a state of emergency in Ingushetia and North Ossetia, two republics beset by intermittent ethnic conflict.

Presidential Elections

The constitution sets few requirements for presidential elections, deferring in many matters to other provisions established by law. The presidential term is set at four years, and the president may serve only two terms. A candidate for president must be a citizen of Russia, at least thirty-five years of age, and a resident of the country for at least ten years. If a president becomes unable to continue in office because of health problems, resignation, impeachment, or death, a presidential election is to be held not more than three months later. In such a situation, the Federation Council is empowered to set the election date.

The Law on Presidential Elections, ratified in May 1995, establishes the legal basis for presidential elections. Based on a draft submitted by Yeltsin's office, the new law included many provisions already contained in the Russian Republic's 1990 election law; alterations included the reduction in the number of signatures required to register a candidate from 2 million to 1 million. The law, which set rigorous standards for fair campaign and election procedures, was hailed by international analysts as a major step toward democratization. Under the law, parties, blocs, and voters' groups register with the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) and designate their candidates. These organizations then are permitted to begin seeking the 1 million signatures needed to register their candidates; no more than 7 percent of the signatures may come from a single federal jurisdiction. The purpose of the 7 percent requirement is to promote candidacies with broad territorial bases and eliminate those supported by only one city or ethnic enclave.

The law requires that at least 50 percent of eligible voters participate in order for a presidential election to be valid. In State Duma debate over the legislation, some deputies had advocated a minimum of 25 percent (which was later incorporated into the electoral law covering the State Duma), warning that many Russians were disillusioned with voting and would not turn out. To make voter participation easier, the law required one voting precinct for approximately every 3,000 voters, with voting allowed until late at night. The conditions for absentee voting were eased, and portable ballot boxes were to be made available on demand. Strict requirements were established for the presence of election observers, including emissaries from all participating parties, blocs, and groups, at polling places and local electoral commissions to guard against tampering and to ensure proper tabulation.

The Law on Presidential Elections requires that the winner receive more than 50 percent of the votes cast. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote (a highly probable result because of multiple candidacies), the top two vote-getters must face each other in a runoff election. Once the results of the first round are known, the runoff election must be held within fifteen days. A traditional provision allows voters to check off "none of the above," meaning that a candidate in a two-person runoff might win without attaining a majority. Another provision of the election law empowers the CEC to request that the Supreme Court ban a candidate from the election if that candidate advocates a violent transformation of the constitutional order or the integrity of the Russian Federation.

The presidential election of 1996 was a major episode in the struggle between Yeltsin and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (Kommunisticheskaya partiya Rossiyskoy Federatsii--KPRF), which sought to oust Yeltsin from office and return to power. Yeltsin had banned the Communist Party of the Russian Republic for its central role in the August 1991 coup against the Gorbachev government. As a member of the Politburo and the Secretariat of the banned party, Gennadiy Zyuganov had worked hard to gain its relegalization. Despite Yeltsin's objections, the Constitutional Court cleared the way for the Russian communists to reemerge as the KPRF, headed by Zyuganov, in February 1993. Yeltsin temporarily banned the party again in October 1993 for its role in the Supreme Soviet's just-concluded attempt to overthrow his administration. Beginning in 1993, Zyuganov also led efforts by KPRF deputies to impeach Yeltsin. After the KPRF's triumph in the December 1995 legislative elections, Yeltsin announced that he would run for reelection with the main purpose of safeguarding Russia from a communist restoration.

Although there was speculation that losing parties in the December 1995 election might choose not to nominate presidential candidates, in fact dozens of citizens both prominent and obscure announced their candidacies. After the gathering and review of signature lists, the CEC validated eleven candidates, one of whom later dropped out.

In the opinion polls of early 1996, Yeltsin trailed far behind most of the other candidates; his popularity rating was below 10 percent for a prolonged period. However, a last-minute, intense campaign featuring heavy television exposure, speeches throughout Russia promising increased state expenditures for a wide variety of interest groups, and campaign-sponsored concerts boosted Yeltsin to a 3 percent plurality over Zyuganov in the first round. At that point, Yeltsin took the tactically significant step of appointing first-round presidential candidate Aleksandr Lebed', who had placed third behind Yeltsin and Zyuganov, as head of the Security Council. Yeltsin followed the appointment of Lebed' as the president's top adviser on national security by dismissing several top hard-line members of his entourage who were widely blamed for human rights violations in Chechnya and other mistakes. Despite his virtual disappearance from public view for health reasons shortly thereafter, Yeltsin was able to sustain his central message that Russia should move forward rather than return to its communist past. Zyuganov failed to mount an energetic or convincing second campaign, and three weeks after the first phase of the election, Yeltsin easily defeated his opponent, 54 percent to 40 percent (see table 24, Appendix).

Turnout in the first round was high, with about 70 percent of 108.5 million voters participating. Total turnout in the second round was nearly the same as in the first round. A contingent of almost 1,000 international observers judged the election to be largely fair and democratic, as did the CEC.

Most observers in Russia and elsewhere concurred that the election boosted democratization in Russia, and many asserted that reforms in Russia had become irreversible. Yeltsin had strengthened the institution of regularly contested elections when he rejected calls by business organizations and other groups and some of his own officials to cancel or postpone the balloting because of the threat of violence. The high turnout indicated that voters had confidence that their ballots would count, and the election went forward without incident. The democratization process also was bolstered by Yeltsin's willingness to change key personnel and policies in response to public protests and by his unprecedented series of personal campaign appearances throughout Russia.

The Government (Cabinet)

The constitution prescribes that the Government of Russia, which corresponds to the Western cabinet structure, consist of a prime minister (chairman of the Government), deputy prime ministers, and federal ministers and their ministries and departments. Within one week of appointment by the president and approval by the State Duma, the prime minister must submit to the president nominations for all subordinate Government positions, including deputy prime ministers and federal ministers. The prime minister carries out administration in line with the constitution and laws and presidential decrees. The ministries of the Government, which numbered twenty-four in mid-1996, execute credit and monetary policies and defense, foreign policy, and state security functions; ensure the rule of law and respect for human and civil rights; protect property; and take measures against crime. If the Government issues implementing decrees and directives that are at odds with legislation or presidential decrees, the president may rescind them.

The Government formulates the state budget, submits it to the State Duma, and issues a report on its implementation. In late 1994, the parliament successfully demanded that the Government begin submitting quarterly reports on budget expenditures and adhere to other guidelines on budgetary matters, although the parliament's budgetary powers are limited. If the State Duma rejects a draft budget from the Government, the budget is submitted to a conciliation commission including members from both branches.

Besides the ministries, in 1996 the executive branch included eleven state committees and forty-six state services and agencies, ranging from the State Space Agency (Glavkosmos) to the State Committee for Statistics (Goskomstat). There were also myriad agencies, boards, centers, councils, commissions, and committees. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's personal staff was reported to number about 2,000 in 1995.

Chernomyrdin, who had been appointed prime minister in late 1992 to appease antireform factions, established a generally smooth working relationship with Yeltsin. Chernomyrdin proved adept at conciliating hostile domestic factions and at presenting a positive image of Russia in negotiations with other nations. However, as Yeltsin's standing with public opinion plummeted in 1995, Chernomyrdin became one of many Government officials who received public blame from the president for failures in the Yeltsin administration. As part of his presidential campaign, Yeltsin threatened to replace the Chernomyrdin Government if it failed to address pressing social welfare problems in Russia. After the mid-1996 presidential election, however, Yeltsin announced that he would nominate Chernomyrdin to head the new Government.

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Russia - The Parliament


The 628-member parliament, termed the Federal Assembly, consists of two chambers, the 450-member State Duma (the lower house) and the 178-member Federation Council (the upper house). Russia's legislative body was established by the constitution approved in the December 1993 referendum. The first elections to the Federal Assembly were held at the same time--a procedure criticized by some Russians as indicative of Yeltsin's lack of respect for constitutional niceties. Under the constitution, the deputies elected in December 1993 were termed "transitional" because they were to serve only a two-year term. In April 1994, legislators, Government officials, and many prominent businesspeople and religious leaders signed a "Civic Accord" proposed by Yeltsin, pledging during the two-year "transition period" to refrain from violence, calls for early presidential or legislative elections, and attempts to amend the constitution. This accord, and memories of the violent confrontation of the previous parliament with Government forces, had some effect in softening political rhetoric during the next two years.

The first legislative elections under the new constitution included a few irregularities. The republics of Tatarstan and Chechnya and Chelyabinsk Oblast boycotted the voting; this action, along with other discrepancies, resulted in the election of only 170 members to the Federation Council. However, by mid-1994 all seats were filled except those of Chechnya, which continued to proclaim its independence. All federal jurisdictions participated in the December 1995 legislative races, although the fairness of voting in Chechnya was compromised by the ongoing conflict there.

The Federal Assembly is prescribed as a permanently functioning body, meaning that it is in continuous session except for a regular break between the spring and fall sessions. This working schedule distinguishes the new parliament from Soviet-era "rubber-stamp" legislative bodies, which met only a few days each year. The new constitution also directs that the two chambers meet separately in sessions open to the public, although joint meetings are held for important speeches by the president or foreign leaders.

Deputies of the State Duma work full-time on their legislative duties; they are not allowed to serve simultaneously in local legislatures or hold Government positions. A transitional clause in the constitution, however, allowed deputies elected in December 1993 to retain their Government employment, a provision that allowed many officials of the Yeltsin administration to serve in the parliament. After the December 1995 legislative elections, nineteen Government officials were forced to resign their offices in order to take up their legislative duties.

Despite its "transitional" nature, the Federal Assembly of 1994-95 approved about 500 pieces of legislation in two years. When the new parliament convened in January 1996, deputies were provided with a catalog of these laws and were directed to work in their assigned committees to fill gaps in existing legislation as well as to draft new laws. A major accomplishment of the 1994-95 legislative sessions was passage of the first two parts of a new civil code, desperately needed to update antiquated Soviet-era provisions. The new code included provisions on contract obligations, rents, insurance, loans and credit, partnership, and trusteeship, as well as other legal standards essential to support the creation of a market economy. Work on several bills that had been in committee or in floor debate in the previous legislature resumed in the new body. Similarly, several bills that Yeltsin had vetoed were taken up again by the new legislature.

Structure of the Federal Assembly

The composition of the Federation Council was a matter of debate until shortly before the 1995 elections. The legislation that emerged in December 1995 over Federation Council objections clarified the constitution's language on the subject by providing ex officio council seats to the heads of local legislatures and administrations in each of the eighty-nine subnational jurisdictions, hence a total of 178 seats. As composed in 1996, the Federation Council included about fifty chief executives of subnational jurisdictions who had been appointed to their posts by Yeltsin during 1991-92, then won popular election directly to the body in December 1993. But the law of 1995 provided for popular elections of chief executives in all subnational jurisdictions, including those still governed by presidential appointees. The individuals chosen in those elections then would assume ex officio seats in the Federation Council.

Each legislative chamber elects a chairman to control the internal procedures of the chamber. The chambers also form committees and commissions to deal with particular types of issues. Unlike committees and commissions in previous Russian and Soviet parliaments, those operating under the 1993 constitution have significant responsibilities in devising legislation and conducting oversight. They prepare and evaluate draft laws, report on draft laws to their chambers, conduct hearings, and oversee implementation of the laws. As of early 1996, there were twenty-eight committees and several ad hoc commissions in the State Duma, and twelve committees and two commissions in the Federation Council. The Federation Council has established fewer committees because of the part-time status of its members, who also hold political office in the subnational jurisdictions. In 1996 most of the committees in both houses were retained in basic form from the previous parliament. According to internal procedure, no deputy may sit on more than one committee. By 1996 many State Duma committees had established subcommittees.

Committee positions are allocated when new parliaments are seated. The general policy calls for allocation of committee chairmanships and memberships among parties and factions roughly in proportion to the size of their representation. In 1994, however, Vladimir Zhirinovskiy's Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia (Liberal'no-demokraticheskaya partiya Rossii--LDPR), which had won the second largest number of seats in the recent election, was denied all but one key chairmanship, that of the State Duma's Committee on Geopolitics.

Legislative Powers

The two chambers of the Federal Assembly possess different powers and responsibilities, with the State Duma the more powerful. The Federation Council, as its name and composition implies, deals primarily with issues of concern to the subnational jurisdictions, such as adjustments to internal borders and decrees of the president establishing martial law or states of emergency. As the upper chamber, it also has responsibilities in confirming and removing the procurator general and confirming justices of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, and the Superior Court of Arbitration, upon the recommendation of the president. The Federation Council also is entrusted with the final decision if the State Duma recommends removing the president from office. The constitution also directs that the Federation Council examine bills passed by the lower chamber dealing with budgetary, tax, and other fiscal measures, as well as issues dealing with war and peace and with treaty ratification.

In the consideration and disposition of most legislative matters, however, the Federation Council has less power than the State Duma. All bills, even those proposed by the Federation Council, must first be considered by the State Duma. If the Federation Council rejects a bill passed by the State Duma, the two chambers may form a conciliation commission to work out a compromise version of the legislation. The State Duma then votes on the compromise bill. If the State Duma objects to the proposals of the upper chamber in the conciliation process, it may vote by a two-thirds majority to send its version to the president for signature. The part-time character of the Federation Council's work, its less developed committee structure, and its lesser powers vis-à-vis the State Duma make it more a consultative and reviewing body than a law-making chamber.

Because the Federation Council initially included many regional administrators appointed by Yeltsin, that body often supported the president and objected to bills approved by the State Duma, which had more anti-Yeltsin deputies. The power of the upper chamber to consider bills passed by the lower chamber resulted in its disapproval of about one-half of such bills, necessitating concessions by the State Duma or votes to override upper-chamber objections. In February 1996, the heads of the two chambers pledged to try to break this habit, but wrangling appeared to intensify in the months that followed.

The State Duma confirms the appointment of the prime minister, although it does not have the power to confirm Government ministers. The power to confirm or reject the prime minister is severely limited. According to the 1993 constitution, the State Duma must decide within one week to confirm or reject a candidate once the president has placed that person's name in nomination. If it rejects three candidates, the president is empowered to appoint a prime minister, dissolve the parliament, and schedule new legislative elections.

The State Duma's power to force the resignation of the Government also is severely limited. It may express a vote of no-confidence in the Government by a majority vote of all members of the State Duma, but the president is allowed to disregard this vote. If, however, the State Duma repeats the no-confidence vote within three months, the president may dismiss the Government. But the likelihood of a second no-confidence vote is virtually precluded by the constitutional provision allowing the president to dissolve the State Duma rather than the Government in such a situation. The Government's position is further buttressed by another constitutional provision that allows the Government at any time to demand a vote of confidence from the State Duma; refusal is grounds for the president to dissolve the Duma.

The Legislative Process

Draft laws may originate in either legislative chamber, or they may be submitted by the president, the Government, local legislatures, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court, or the Superior Court of Arbitration. Draft laws are first considered in the State Duma. Upon adoption by a majority of the full State Duma membership, a draft law is considered by the Federation Council, which has fourteen days to place the bill on its calendar. Conciliation commissions are the prescribed procedure to work out differences in bills considered by both chambers.

A constitutional provision dictating that draft laws dealing with revenues and expenditures may be considered "only when the Government's findings are known" substantially limits the Federal Assembly's control of state finances. However, the legislature may alter finance legislation submitted by the Government at a later time, a power that provides a degree of traditional legislative control over the purse. The two chambers of the legislature also have the power to override a presidential veto of legislation. The constitution provides a high hurdle for an override, however, requiring at least a two-thirds vote of the total number of members of both chambers.

Clashes of Power, 1993-96

Although the 1993 constitution weakened their standing vis-à-vis the presidency, the parliaments elected in 1993 and 1995 nonetheless used their powers to shape legislation according to their own precepts and to defy Yeltsin on some issues. An early example was the February 1994 State Duma vote to grant amnesty to the leaders of the 1991 Moscow coup. Yeltsin vehemently denounced this action, although it was within the constitutional purview of the State Duma. In October 1994, both legislative chambers passed a law over Yeltsin's veto requiring the Government to submit quarterly reports on budget expenditures to the State Duma and adhere to other budgetary guidelines.

In the most significant executive-legislative clash since 1993, the State Duma overwhelmingly voted no confidence in the Government in June 1995. The vote was triggered by a Chechen rebel raid into the neighboring Russian town of Budennovsk, where the rebels were able to take more than 1,000 hostages. Dissatisfaction with Yeltsin's economic reforms also was a factor in the vote. A second motion of no confidence failed to carry in early July. In March 1996, the State Duma again incensed Yeltsin by voting to revoke the December 1991 resolution of the Russian Supreme Soviet abrogating the 1922 treaty under which the Soviet Union had been founded. That resolution had prepared the way for formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

In his February 1996 state of the federation speech, Yeltsin commended the previous parliament for passing a number of significant laws, and he noted with relief the "civil" resolution of the June 1995 no-confidence conflict. He complained, however, that the Federal Assembly had not acted on issues such as the private ownership of land, a tax code, and judicial reform. Yeltsin also was critical of legislation that he had been forced to return to the parliament because it contravened the constitution and existing law, and of legislative attempts to pass fiscal legislation in violation of the constitutional stricture that such bills must be preapproved by the Government. He noted that he would continue to use his veto power against ill-drafted bills and his power to issue decrees on issues he deemed important, and that such decrees would remain in force until suitable laws were passed. The State Duma passed a resolution in March 1996 demanding that Yeltsin refrain from returning bills to the parliament for redrafting, arguing that the president was obligated either to sign bills or to veto them.


Russia - The Judiciary


The Ministry of Justice administers Russia's judicial system. The ministry's responsibilities include the establishment of courts and the appointment of judges at levels below the federal district courts. The ministry also gathers forensic statistics and conducts sociological research and educational programs applicable to crime prevention.

Many Western observers consider the judicial and legal systems weak links in Russia's reform efforts, stymieing privatization, the fight against crime and corruption, the protection of civil and human rights, and the general ascendancy of the rule of law. Many judges appointed by the regimes of Leonid I. Brezhnev (in office 1964-82) and Yuriy V. Andropov (in office 1982-84) remained in place in the mid-1990s. Such arbiters were trained in "socialist law" and had become accustomed to basing their verdicts on telephone calls from local CPSU bosses rather than on the legal merits of cases.

For court infrastructure and financial support, judges must depend on the Ministry of Justice, and for housing they must depend on local authorities in the jurisdiction where they sit. In 1995 the average salary for a judge was US$160 per month, substantially less than the earnings associated with more menial positions in Russian society. These circumstances, combined with irregularities in the appointment process and the continued strong position of the procurators, deprived judges in the lower jurisdictions of independent authority (see The Procuracy, ch. 10).

Judicial Reform

In 1992 a new Law on the Status of Judges was passed. The law was intended to confer greater status on the judicial profession by raising salaries and benefits. The 1993 constitution provides for some degree of judicial reform by establishing an independent judiciary and specifying that justices may only be removed or their powers curtailed or terminated in accordance with the law. Sitting justices also enjoy immunity from prosecution. However, judicial reform has moved slowly despite those two legislative developments, and in 1996 the judiciary remained subject to the influence of security agencies and politicians. A large case backlog, trial delays, and lengthy pretrial detention also remain problems (see How the System Works, ch. 10).

According to a provision approved in 1994, trial by jury may take place in specific types of cases, including those involving the death penalty. This reform supersedes in part the older system of trial by judges and lay "people's assessors" who usually acceded to the judges' verdicts. In practice, trial by jury has made little headway in the hidebound court system. In 1995 jury trials were only available in nine of the eighty-nine subnational jurisdictions, although other jurisdictions sought permission to introduce them.

In the mid-1990s, a total of about 14,000 judges were active in approximately 2,500 courts at all judicial levels. To be eligible for appointment as a judge, an individual must be at least twenty-five years of age, have a higher education in law, and have at least five years of experience in the legal profession.

Structure of the Judiciary

The twenty-three-member Supreme Court is Russia's highest court of origination and of appeals for consideration of criminal, civil, and administrative cases. Its chairman in 1996, Vyacheslav Lebedev, had been a judge in Leningrad and Moscow for nineteen years before his appointment in 1989. The Superior Court of Arbitration, which is headed by a board of one chairman and four deputy chairmen, is the highest court for the resolution of economic disputes. Courts of arbitration also exist at lower jurisdictional levels. The nineteen-member Constitutional Court decides whether federal laws, presidential and federal decrees and directives, and local constitutions, charters, and laws comply with the federal constitution. Treaties between the national government and a regional jurisdiction and between regional jurisdictions are subject to the same oversight. The Constitutional Court also resolves jurisdictional disputes between federal or local organs of power, and it also may be asked to interpret the federal constitution. The Constitutional Court temporarily ceased to exist after Yeltsin dissolved the parliament in October 1993. Although prescribed in the new constitution, the court remained moribund in 1994 because no new law was passed governing its procedures and composition. In 1995 the Federation Council finally approved appointments to the Constitutional Court, and it resumed operation that year.

Under the constitution, judges of the three highest courts serve for life and are appointed by the Federation Council after nomination by the president. The president appoints judges at the next level, the federal district courts. The minister of justice is responsible for appointing judges to regional and city courts. However, in practice many appointments below the national level still are made by the chief executives of subnational jurisdictions, a practice that has perpetuated local political influence on judges' decisions (see Local and Regional Government, this ch.).


Russia - Local and Regional Government


In the Soviet period, some of Russia's approximately 100 nationalities were granted their own ethnic enclaves, to which varying formal federal rights were attached (see Minority Peoples and Their Territories, ch. 4). Other smaller or more dispersed nationalities did not receive such recognition. In most of these enclaves, ethnic Russians constituted a majority of the population, although the titular nationalities usually enjoyed disproportionate representation in local government bodies. Relations between the central government and the subordinate jurisdictions, and among those jurisdictions, became a political issue in the 1990s.

The Russian Federation has made few changes in the Soviet pattern of regional jurisdictions. The 1993 constitution establishes a federal government and enumerates eighty-nine subnational jurisdictions, including twenty-one ethnic enclaves with the status of republics. There are ten autonomous regions, or okruga (sing., okrug ), and the Jewish Autonomous Oblast (Yevreyskaya avtonomnaya oblast', also known as Birobidzhan). Besides the ethnically identified jurisdictions, there are six territories (kraya ; sing., kray ) and forty-nine oblasts (provinces). The cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg are independent of surrounding jurisdictions; termed "cities of federal significance," they have the same status as the oblasts. The ten autonomous regions and Birobidzhan are part of larger jurisdictions, either an oblast or a territory (see fig. 1). As the power and influence of the central government have become diluted, governors and mayors have become the only relevant government authorities in many jurisdictions.

The Federation Treaty and Regional Power

The Federation Treaty was signed in March 1992 by President Yeltsin and most leaders of the autonomous republics and other ethnic and geographical subunits. The treaty consisted of three separate documents, each pertaining to one type of regional jurisdiction. It outlined powers reserved for the central government, shared powers, and residual powers to be exercised primarily by the subunits. Because Russia's new constitution remained in dispute in the Federal Assembly at the time of ratification, the Federation Treaty and provisions based on the treaty were incorporated as amendments to the 1978 constitution. A series of new conditions were established by the 1993 constitution and by bilateral agreements.

Local Jurisdictions under the Constitution

The constitution of 1993 resolved many of the ambiguities and contradictions concerning the degree of decentralization under the much-amended 1978 constitution of the Russian Republic; most such solutions favored the concentration of power in the central government. When the constitution was ratified, the Federation Treaty was demoted to the status of a subconstitutional document. A transitional provision of the constitution provided that in case of discrepancies between the federal constitution and the Federation Treaty, or between the constitution and other treaties involving a subnational jurisdiction, all other documents would defer to the constitution.

The 1993 constitution presents a daunting list of powers reserved to the center. Powers shared jointly between the federal and local authorities are less numerous. Regional jurisdictions are only allocated powers not specifically reserved to the federal government or exercised jointly. Those powers include managing municipal property, establishing and executing regional budgets, establishing and collecting regional taxes, and maintaining law and order (see table 25, Appendix). Some of the boundaries between joint and exclusively federal powers are vaguely prescribed; presumably they would become clearer through the give and take of federal practice or through adjudication, as has occurred in other federal systems. Meanwhile, bilateral power-sharing treaties between the central government and the subunits have become an important means of clarifying the boundaries of shared powers. Many subnational jurisdictions have their own constitutions, however, and often those documents allocate powers to the jurisdiction inconsistent with provisions of the federal constitution. As of 1996, no process had been devised for adjudication of such conflicts.

Under the 1993 constitution, the republics, territories, oblasts, autonomous oblast, autonomous regions, and cities of federal designation are held to be "equal in their relations with the federal agencies of state power"; this language represents an attempt to end the complaints of the nonrepublic jurisdictions about their inferior status. In keeping with this new equality, republics no longer receive the epithet "sovereign," as they did in the 1978 constitution. Equal representation in the Federation Council for all eighty-nine jurisdictions furthers the equalization process by providing them meaningful input into legislative activities, particularly those of special local concern (see The Parliament, this ch.). However, Federation Council officials have criticized the State Duma for failing to represent regional interests adequately. In mid-1995 Vladimir Shumeyko, then speaker of the Federation Council, criticized the current electoral system's party-list provision for allowing some parts of Russia to receive disproportionate representation in the lower house. (In the 1995 elections, Moscow Oblast received nearly 38 percent of the State Duma's seats based on the concentration of party-list candidates in the national capital.) Shumeyko contended that such misallocation fed potentially dangerous popular discontent with the parliament and politicians (see The Elections of 1995, this ch.).

Despite constitutional language equalizing the regional jurisdictions in their relations with the center, vestiges of Soviet-era multitiered federalism remain in a number of provisions, including those allowing for the use of non-Russian languages in the republics but not in other jurisdictions, and in the definitions of the five categories of subunit. On most details of the federal system, the constitution is vague, and clarifying legislation had not been passed by mid-1996. However, some analysts have pointed out that this vagueness facilitates resolution of individual conflicts between the center and the regions.

Power Sharing

Flexibility is a goal of the constitutional provision allowing bilateral treaties or charters between the central government and the regions on power sharing. For instance, in the bilateral treaty signed with the Russian government in February 1994, the Republic of Tatarstan gave up its claim to sovereignty and accepted Russia's taxing authority, in return for Russia's acceptance of Tatar control over oil and other resources and the republic's right to sign economic agreements with other countries. This treaty has particular significance because Tatarstan was one of the two republics that did not sign the Federation Treaty in 1992. By mid-1996 almost one-third of the federal subunits had concluded power-sharing treaties or charters.

The first power-sharing charter negotiated by the central government and an oblast was signed in December 1995 with Orenburg Oblast. The charter divided power in the areas of economic and agricultural policy, natural resources, international economic relations and trade, and military industries. According to Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, the charter gave Orenburg full power over its budget and allowed the oblast to participate in privatization decisions. By early 1996, similar charters had been signed with Krasnodar Territory and Kaliningrad and Sverdlovsk oblasts. In the summer of 1996, Yeltsin wooed potential regional supporters of his reelection by signing charters with Perm', Rostov, Tver', and Leningrad oblasts and with the city of St. Petersburg, among others, granting these regions liberal tax treatment and other economic advantages.

By the mid-1990s, regional jurisdictions also had become bolder in passing local legislation to fill gaps in federation statutes rather than waiting for the Federal Assembly to act. For example, Volgograd Oblast passed laws regulating local pensions, the issuance of promissory notes, and credit unions. The constitution upholds regional legislative authority to pass laws that accord with the constitution and existing federal laws.

Presidential Power in the Regions

The president retains the power to appoint and remove presidential representatives, who act as direct emissaries to the jurisdictions in overseeing local administrations' implementation of presidential policies. The power to appoint these overseers was granted by the Russian Supreme Soviet to Yeltsin in late 1991. The parliament attempted several times during 1992-93 to repeal or curtail the activities of these appointees, whose powers are only alluded to in the constitution. The presence of Yeltsin's representatives helped bring out the local vote on his behalf in the 1996 presidential election.

The governments of the republics include a president or prime minister (or both) and a regional council or legislature. The chief executives of lower jurisdictions are called governors or administrative heads. Generally, in jurisdictions other than republics the executive branches have been more sympathetic to the central government, and the legislatures (called soviets until late 1993, then called dumas or assemblies) have been the center of whatever separatist sentiment exists. Under the power given him in 1991 to appoint the chief executives of territories, oblasts, autonomous regions, and the autonomous oblast, Yeltsin had appointed virtually all of the sixty-six leaders of those jurisdictions. By contrast, republic presidents have been popularly elected since 1992. Some of Yeltsin's appointees have encountered strong opposition from their legislatures; in 1992 and 1993, in some cases votes of no-confidence brought about popular elections for the position of chief executive.

After the Moscow confrontation of October 1993, Yeltsin sought to bolster his regional support by dissolving the legislatures of all federal subunits except the republics (which were advised to "reform" their political systems). Accordingly, in 1994 elections were held in all the jurisdictions whose legislatures had been dismissed. In some cases, that process placed local executives at the head of legislative bodies, eliminating checks and balances between the branches at the regional level.

Election results in the subnational jurisdictions held great significance for the Yeltsin administration because the winners would fill the ex officio seats in the Federation Council, which until 1996 was a reliable bastion of support. The election of large numbers of opposition candidates would end the Federation Council's usefulness as a balance against the anti-Yeltsin State Duma and further impede Yeltsin's agenda. In 1995 some regions held gubernatorial elections to fill the administrative posts originally granted to Yeltsin appointees in 1991. Faced with an escalating number of requests for such elections, Yeltsin decreed December 1996 as the date for most gubernatorial and republic presidential elections. This date was confirmed by a December 1995 Federation Council law. The decree also set subnational legislative elections for June or December 1997. (In July 1996, the State Duma advanced these elections to late 1996.) Observers noted that by calling for most of these elections to take place after the presidential election, Yeltsin prevented unfavorable outcomes from possibly reducing his reelection chances--even though voter apathy after the presidential election had the potential to help opposition candidates.

The Separatism Question

In the first half of the 1990s, observers speculated about the possibility that some of the jurisdictions in the federation might emulate the former Soviet republics and demand full independence (see Minority Peoples and Their Territories, ch. 4). Several factors militate against such an outcome, however. Russia is more than 80 percent ethnic Russian, and most of the thirty-two ethnically based jurisdictions are demographically dominated by ethnic Russians, as are all of the territories and oblasts. Many of the subnational jurisdictions are in the interior of Russia, meaning that they could not break away without joining a bloc of seceding border areas, and the economies of all such jurisdictions were thoroughly integrated with the national economy in the Soviet system. The 1993 constitution strengthens the official status of the central government in relation to the various regions, although Moscow has made significant concessions in bilateral treaties. Finally, most of the differences at the base of separatist movements are economic and geographic rather than ethnic.

Advocates of secession, who are numerous in several regions, generally appear to be in the minority and are unevenly dispersed. Some regions have even advocated greater centralization on some matters. By 1996 most experts believed that the federation would hold together, although probably at the expense of additional concessions of power by the central government. The trend is not toward separatism so much as the devolution of central powers to the localities on trade, taxes, and other matters.

Some experts observe that the Russian republics pressing claims for greater subunit rights fall into three groups. The first is composed of those jurisdictions most vociferous in pressing ethnic separatism, including Chechnya and perhaps other republics of the North Caucasus, and the Republic of Tyva. The second group consists of large, resource-rich republics, including Karelia, Komi, and Sakha (Yakutia). Their differences with Moscow center on resource control and taxes rather than demands for outright independence. A third, mixed group consists of republics along the Volga River, which straddle strategic water, rail, and pipeline routes, possess resources such as oil, and include large numbers of Russia's Muslim and Buddhist populations. These republics include Bashkortostan, Kalmykia, Mari El, Mordovia, Tatarstan, and Udmurtia.

In addition to the republics, several other jurisdictions have lobbied for greater rights, mainly on questions of resource control and taxation. These include Sverdlovsk Oblast, which in 1993 proclaimed itself an autonomous republic as a protest against receiving fewer privileges in taxation and resource control than the republics, and strategically vital Maritime (Primorskiy) Territory on the Pacific coast, whose governor in the mid-1990s, Yevgeniy Nazdratenko, defied central economic and political policies on a number of well-publicized issues.

Some limited cooperation has occurred among Russia's regional jurisdictions, and experts believe there is potential for even greater coordination. Eight regional cooperation organizations have been established, covering all subnational jurisdictions except Chechnya: the Siberian Accord Association; the Central Russia Association; the Northwest Association; the Black Earth Association; the Cooperation Association of North Caucasus Republics, Territories, and Oblasts; the Greater Volga Association; the Ural Regional Association; and the Far East and Baikal Association. The Federation Council formally recognized these interjurisdictional organizations in 1994. Expansion of the organizations' activities is hampered by economic inequalities among their members and by inadequate interregional transportation infrastructure, but in 1996 they began increasing their influence in Moscow.

Regional and ethnic conflicts have encouraged proposals to abolish the existing subunits and resurrect the tsarist-era guberniya , or large province, which would incorporate several smaller subunits on the basis of geography and population rather than ethnic considerations. Russian ultranationalists such as Vladimir Zhirinovskiy have been joined in supporting this proposal by some officials of the national Government and oblast and territory leaders who resent the privileges of the republics. Some have called for these new subunits to be based on the eight interregional economic associations.


Russia - Political Parties and Legislative Elections


After early 1990, when the Soviet constitution was amended to delete the provision that the CPSU was the "leading and guiding" force in the political system, many political groups began to operate more openly in Russia. The constitution of 1993 guarantees Russians' right to a multiparty system. Political party development has lagged, however, because many Russians associate parties with the repressiveness of the CPSU in the Soviet era. In the mid-1990s, most of Russia's parties were based on personal followings, had few formal members, and lacked broad geographical bases and coherent platforms. Prior to the legislative elections of 1993 and 1995, much shifting occurred as parties formed and abandoned coalitions, sometimes involving partners with which they had little in common politically. Even the KPRF, direct heir to the CPSU, waffled on many central economic and foreign policy issues in the 1996 presidential campaign. One observer noted that for most Russian voters, the two major sides in the 1996 election had no identification with broad national issues; they were simply the anti-Yeltsins and the anti-communists. Experts identified the lack of focused national party organizations as a key factor in the diffusion of political power to subnational jurisdictions in the mid-1990s (see The Federation Treaty and Regional Power, this ch.).

The Elections of 1993

In November 1993, Yeltsin issued decrees prescribing procedures for multiparty parliamentary elections, which would be the first since tsarist times. Besides setting the configuration of the new bicameral parliament, the Yeltsin plan called for half of the 450 State Duma deputies to be elected from national party lists with representation proportional to the overall votes received by each party. The other half would be elected locally, in single-member districts (see The Parliament, this ch.). The party-list procedure, a new feature in Russian elections, was designed to strengthen the identification of candidates with parties and to foster the concept of the multiparty system among the electorate. To achieve proportional representation in the State Duma, a party would need to gain at least 5 percent of the nationwide vote.

The CEC declared thirteen parties eligible for the party list, and 2,047 individual candidates were selected to compete for Federation Council seats (490) and State Duma single-mandate seats (1,567), allotted to individuals regardless of their parties' overall performance vis-à-vis the 5 percent threshold. Although the CEC reported some voting irregularities, the vast majority of the more than 1,000 international observers termed the elections largely free and fair, with some reservations expressed about manipulation of results. In several republics, the referendum results were invalidated by low turnouts caused by boycotts, or because voters failed to approve the constitution.

Many experts divided the myriad parties of the 1993 elections roughly into three main blocs: pro-Yeltsin reformists, centrists advocating a slower pace of reform, and hard-liners opposing reforms. The main reformist party was Russia's Choice, led by former prime minister Yegor Gaydar. The main centrist parties were the Yavlinskiy-Boldyrev-Lukin bloc, commonly referred to as Yabloko (the Russian word for apple), headed by economist Grigoriy Yavlinskiy and former ambassador to the United States Vladimir Lukin, and the Democratic Party of Russia, headed by Nikolay Travkin. The main hard-line parties were the LDPR, the KPRF, headed by Gennadiy Zyuganov, and the Agrarian Party, which represented state- and collective-farm interests and was headed by Mikhail Lapshin.

In 1993 the strongly nationalist, antireform LDPR emerged with the largest vote on the State Duma party lists, followed by Russia's Choice. By faring much better in the single-member districts, however, Russia's Choice emerged with sixty-six seats, the most in the State Duma. The LDPR followed with sixty-four seats. Altogether, reformist and centrist parties emerged with the greatest number of seats in the State Duma, followed by nationalist and antireform parties. Some 127 State Duma seats were won by individuals not formally affiliated with a party, many of whom were former CPSU members.

Of the thirteen parties participating in the December 1993 legislative elections on the party lists, eight exceeded the 5 percent threshold to win seats in the State Duma. In addition, all thirteen parties, as well as some local parties, won seats in single-member districts. Once the new parliament was seated, the parties aggregated into several factions. A number of deputies coalesced into the Union of December 12 faction. Sixty-five centrist deputies formed the New Regional Policy faction, and some LDPR members shifted their affiliation to the KPRF or the Agrarian Party, or supported former vice president Aleksandr Rutskoy's Concord in the Name of Russia policy agenda.

The Elections of 1995

In June 1995, the Federal Assembly passed--and Yeltsin signed--a new law to govern the next legislative elections, which were planned for December. This legislation echoed many provisions of Yeltsin's 1993 electoral decree, such as the division of the State Duma seats into party-list and single-member districts. Yeltsin had urged a change in this provision because he feared that Zhirinovskiy's LDPR might again gain many seats in the party-list voting, but the Duma had insisted on retaining the even-split voting procedure that gave such meaning to the party lists. The 1993 election had demonstrated that voting by party lists generally encouraged party formation and program pledges, whereas voting by district encouraged loyalty by deputies to local interests. The 5 percent threshold for party-list voting also was retained. In September 1995, Yeltsin decreed that the Federation Council seats would not be filled by regional elections; instead, the upper house would be composed of regional and republic executive and legislative leaders--a group with which Yeltsin had close contacts and from which he could expect strong loyalty. All of the suggested provisions were incorporated into the new election law (see The Parliament, this ch.).

In anticipation of the legislative races, early in 1995 Yeltsin encouraged the creation of two political parties that would lend support to his policies and form the basis of a stable, moderate, two-party system in Russia. One party would be led by State Duma speaker Ivan Rybkin, the other by Chernomyrdin (who by that time had proven himself a loyal and competent manager of the Yeltsin agenda). The unnamed "Rybkin bloc" was designed to attract centrist and leftist voters, and Chernomydin's party, Our Home Is Russia, was envisioned as a right-center coalition. Both parties would occupy the moderate band of the political spectrum. Having attracted the support of many Russian Government ministers and regional leaders, Our Home Is Russia became known as the "party of power." The Rybkin bloc, which was supposed to serve as the loyal opposition in the parliament, attracted several tiny parties, but major parties and groups refused to join the bloc because of opposition to some or all of Yeltsin's reforms. As a result, Rybkin's unification effort received little practical support.

To qualify for the party-list voting, parties were required to obtain 200,000 signatures, with no more than 7 percent of signatures coming from any single federal jurisdiction. The latter requirement was designed to encourage the emergence of broad-based rather than regionally based parties. Candidates wishing to run in single-member districts had to obtain signatures from at least 1 percent, or about 5,000, of their district's voters. Forty-three parties succeeded in getting on the party-list ballot, and more than 2,600 candidates were registered in 225 single-member district races. Many individuals listed on the party ballot also ran in single-member districts. This was especially true of locally popular candidates whose minor parties could not surpass the 5 percent national threshold needed to get on the national party-list ballot.

In the legislative elections of December 1995, voter turnout was high (about 65 percent), and international observers again evaluated the balloting as largely free and fair. The second such evaluation in two years boosted the image of electoral democratization in Russia. Dissatisfaction with the Yeltsin administration was conspicuous in the election results, but the showing of the reformist and centrist parties that supported some or all of Yeltsin's program was undermined by the disunity of that part of the political spectrum. Among the forty-three parties participating in the party-list vote, only four met the 5 percent requirement to win seats for their national party lists, although several other parties won seats in individual races. In the aggregate of party-list voting, reformists and centrists performed much better than they did in the single-member phase, receiving almost as many votes as the hard-liners. But pro-reform and centrist votes were dispersed among a multitude of parties, negating almost two-thirds of the party-list votes they received and costing these parties dozens of seats by keeping them below the 5 percent threshold. In contrast, the KPRF and its allies suffered much less from such dispersion and gained many seats from the party-list vote.

Although centrists and reformers split single-mandate seats about evenly with the antireform parties, nonaffiliated candidates gained more than one-third of these seats. About 40 percent of the sitting State Duma deputies were reelected, and fifteen Federation Council deputies entered the State Duma, providing some continuity of legislative expertise. Under a provision of the new constitution, Government officials were obligated to resign their positions if elected to the parliament.

Overall, reformist parties did not do as well in the 1995 elections as they had in 1993. Gaydar's party, now renamed Russia's Democratic Choice, failed to meet the 5 percent requirement. Altogether, reformists and centrists won 129 seats in the State Duma (less than one-third of the total), and independent, nominally nonaffiliated candidates won seventy-seven seats (about one-sixth). The KPRF and its ally, the Agrarian Party, gained 179 seats as the KPRF achieved a plurality of seats, and the anti-Yeltsin nationalist parties won another sixty-five. Zhirinovskiy's LDPR received much less electoral support than in 1993, gaining 11 percent of the vote--a distant second to the KPRF--and fifty-one seats (see table 26, Appendix).

More than in the 1993 alignment, parties now tended to be either for or against reform, with former centrists moving either left or right. In the 1996 State Duma, the main reformist parties were Chernomyrdin's "official" Our Home Is Russia, the main advocate of Yeltsin's programs, and Yavlinskiy's Yabloko coalition, which was highly critical of Yeltsin's approach to reform but supportive of reform principles. The main hard-line, antireform parties in the Duma were the KPRF, headed by Zyuganov, and the LDPR, headed by Zhirinovskiy.

Altogether, in 1996 communist, nationalist, and agrarian parties controlled slightly more than half the State Duma seats. Their strength enabled them to pass some bills and resolutions if they voted together, but they still lacked enough votes to override Federation Council votes or presidential vetoes (see The Executive Branch, this ch.). The numerical proportions also did not permit antireformists to approve changes in the constitution, which require a two-thirds majority, that is, at least 300 votes of the full chamber.


Russia - Civil Rights


The constitution of 1993 includes a wide range of provisions guaranteeing the civil and human rights of Russia's citizens. However, inadequacies in the criminal justice system and other institutional flaws have hindered consistent observance of those provisions.

General Civil Rights Guarantees

The constitution establishes wide-ranging civil and human rights and social guarantees, several of which remained unattainable or unrealized in the mid-1990s. Social guarantees have been difficult to meet because of Russia's persistent economic crisis. Such guarantees include the right to a minimum wage and welfare for the "family, mothers, fathers, children, invalids, and elderly citizens." Protection of unemployed people and the right to a safe and hygienic work environment also are proclaimed. The right to housing is guaranteed, including free or low-cost housing for needy people and others. The right to free health care and secondary-level education is also upheld, in an echo of the promises of Soviet constitutions. Perhaps in recognition of the economic burden of such widely inclusive state social guarantees, the constitution calls for adult children to care for disabled parents, and it safeguards the existence of private charitable and insurance operations, which were forbidden or discouraged under the Soviet system.

Equality before the law is proclaimed regardless of sex, race, nationality, language, national origin, property and position, ideological conviction, membership in public associations, and other attributes and circumstances. Freedom of religion and conscience is upheld, and alternatives to military service are to be accepted, although neither the law in force nor military practice has upheld the latter provision. Individual privacy is protected, including that of correspondence and other communications and of housing. Nationality rights are upheld, including the right to use a language other than Russian in communications and education. The constitution asserts freedom of internal and foreign travel and the right to choose one's place of domicile. No one may be expelled or exiled from Russia. Freedom of the press is upheld, and censorship is prohibited. People have the right to assemble peaceably and to hold peaceful meetings and demonstrations of all types. The right to own, dispose of, and inherit private property, including land, is upheld, and private property may not be expropriated except with full compensation.

Constitutionally guaranteed civil rights may only be restricted upon the legal proclamation of a national or local state of emergency. Even in a state of emergency, however, the constitution prescribes that no one may be tortured or denied judicial rights, although an individual may be held for an unspecified period without being charged. The right of dual citizenship for ethnic Russians residing in the near abroad (the other fourteen former republics of the Soviet Union) is proclaimed. Presumably, such a right also exists for non-Russians residing in Russia. The constitution also includes a pledge that Russia will protect its citizens abroad. However, most member nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) have resisted Russia's demand that they grant ethnic Russians such dual citizenship, viewing it as an infringement on their sovereignty (see Migration, ch. 3).

Massive civil and human rights violations have been committed in the Republic of Chechnya by Russian military units as well as by Chechen guerrillas, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths and injuries and the displacement of more than 300,000 people. Official human rights monitoring of the conflict was undermined in 1995 when the State Duma dismissed human rights activist Sergey Kovalev as its ombudsman for human rights. Kovalev was removed because of his strident condemnation of Russian military and police atrocities in Chechnya. Kovalev resigned as chairman of the presidential Human Rights Commission in January 1996, accusing Yeltsin of backtracking on human rights in Chechnya and throughout Russia. No figure of similar stature had filled Kovalev's position as of mid-1996.

Criminal Justice Protections

According to Russia's 1993 constitution, the death penalty is applicable to some crimes "until its abolition" by federal law. Although the annual number of executions reportedly had decreased by mid-1996, the public outcry at Russia's growing crime wave made the death penalty a politically sensitive issue. In cases where the death penalty may be applied, the accused is guaranteed the right to trial by jury, although this provision was only partly in force in the mid-1990s (see How the System Works, ch. 10). A condition of Russia's admittance to the Council of Europe (see Glossary), which it achieved in January 1996, was abolition of the death penalty within three years. Much international pressure was applied toward that end both before and after Russia was approved for council membership.

For all types of crime, punishment without trial and prosecution ex post facto are forbidden. The constitution also bars torture and other "brutal or humiliating" treatment and punishment. Citizens have nominal protection against arbitrary arrest without a judicial decision, and they may not be held for more than forty-eight hours without being charged, except in a state of emergency. However, this constitutional provision has been directly contravened by Yeltsin's 1994 decree on combating organized crime, which allows police to detain persons suspected of involvement with organized crime for as much as thirty days without a criminal charge and without access to a lawyer. This decree was used widely in 1995 to detain persons without judicial permission beyond the mandated maximum period. Russian human rights monitors reported in 1995 that the few detainees who were aware of their rights and complained of violations were subject to beatings. Nonetheless, about one in six cases of arrest was appealed to the courts in 1995, and judges released one in six of those on grounds of insufficient evidence or breach of procedure (see Criminal Law Reform in the 1990s, ch. 10).

According to the constitution, judicial sentences may be appealed to higher courts, as may decisions of government organs at all levels. Those organs may be sued for damages caused by action or inaction. Nominally, all citizens are guaranteed their "day in court," have the right to choose their own defense counsel, or may be provided with free legal counsel if required. Legal aid may be requested from the earliest moment a person is detained, placed in custody, or indicted, a change from previous practice whereby the individual could receive counsel only upon being formally charged and after being interrogated. Few citizens are aware of these rights, however. A person is considered innocent until proven guilty, but where jury trials do not occur, the accused generally are expected to prove their innocence rather than defend themselves against prosecutors' efforts to prove their guilt. In cases where a judge imposes sentence, the average rate of conviction is more than 99 percent, as opposed to an 84 percent conviction rate in jury trials.


Russia - The Media


For most of the Soviet era, the news media were under full state control. The major newspapers, such as Pravda , Izvestiya , Krasnaya zvezda , and Komsomol'skaya pravda , were the official organs of party or government agencies, and radio and television were state monopolies. In the late 1980s, these monopolies began to weaken as stories such as the Chernobyl' disaster reached the public in detail, an occurrence that would not have been possible before glasnost . Then, after seventy-five years of state control, the media began an era of significantly less restricted activity in 1992.

In the post-Soviet era, the news media have played a central role in forming public opinion toward critical national concerns, including the Chechnya conflict, the economic crisis, and government policies and personalities. In the environment of freewheeling expression of opinion, public figures such as Boris Yeltsin and government actions such as the Chechnya campaign have received ruthless criticism, and the deterioration of Russia's environment, public health, national defense, and national economy has been exposed thoroughly, if not always accurately. However, the national and local governments have exerted heavy pressure on the print and broadcast media to alter coverage of certain issues. Because most media enterprises continue to depend on government support, such pressure often has been effective.

The Print Media

In the first post-Soviet years, major newspapers presented varied approaches to critical issues. Among the most influential titles were Izvestiya (in Soviet times, the organ of the Politburo, but after 1991 an independent periodical owned by its employees, with a daily circulation in 1995 of about 604,765); Nezavisimaya gazeta , 1995 daily circulation about 50,400; and the weekly Argumenty i fakty (1995 circulation about 3.2 million) (see table 27, Appendix). But by the mid-1990s, a new atmosphere of intense competition was bringing rapid change to the print media. In 1995 an estimated 10,000 newspapers and periodicals were registered, including more than twenty daily newspapers published in Moscow. The thousands of small regional newspapers that appeared after 1991 were plagued by low advertising revenue, high production costs, an increasingly apathetic public, and intense pressure from local authorities to slant content. But in the mid-1990s, local newspapers gained readers because of increased regional independence; they also benefited from the competition that television gave to national newspapers in providing the regions with news from Moscow and the rest of the world.

In 1995 the Moscow daily Nezavisimaya gazeta , which for five years remained true to its name (the independent newspaper) by refusing advertising and state subsidies, was forced to close because circulation had dropped to about 35,000 and many top journalists had left for more lucrative positions. The paper subsequently resumed publication under the ownership of a large bank consortium (the Unified Bank) with close ties to the Government. Pravda , formerly the main organ of the CPSU and still representing antireform positions, underwent numerous crises in the early and mid-1990s. Purchased by a Greek publishing firm in 1992, its circulation dropped from about 10 million in the 1980s to around 165,000 in 1995. After changing its name to Pravda 5 in mid-1996, the newspaper broadened its procommunist position somewhat. The decline of Pravda left Sovetskaya Rossiya and Zavtra as the chief organs of the antireform faction of the legislature.

Official organs still have a place in the media, however; Rossiyskaya gazeta , the heavily subsidized organ of the Government, publishes most of that body's official documents, including laws and decrees. Rossiyskiye vesti , organ of the office of the president, reaches about 150,000 Russians daily. Both newspapers feature strongly pro-Government positions. The third official national newspaper, Krasnaya zvezda , representing the Ministry of Defense, acquired a reputation in the 1990s as strongly pro-Yeltsin.

Although Russia's newspapers offer readers diverse opinions on most issues, the quality of Russian journalism remains relatively low, and objectivity is random. Journalists generally do not verify their sources fully or are denied access to relevant individuals. A 1995 official report on press freedom indicated that reporters without special connections have no better access to state officials than their counterparts did in the Soviet era. Most newspapers make no clear distinction between objective reports and editorials, and, according to a 1995 report by the trade magazine Zhurnalist , most have some connection to a political party or faction.

The Broadcast Media

In 1992 some 48.5 million radios were in use in Russia. Domestic radio programming is provided by two state communications companies, the Federal Television and Radio Service of Russia and the All-Russian Television and Radio Company. The Voice of Russia (Golos Rossii) is the main foreign-language broadcast service, providing programs in thirty languages, including Arabic, Chinese, English, Japanese, Farsi, and Spanish.

In the 1990s, television reached an increasing number of Russians with increasingly diversified programming. In 1992 about 55 million televisions were in use. For most Russians, television is the chief source of news. Television channels and transmission facilities gradually have been privatized, although in 1996 the most prominent "private" stockholders were entrepreneurs with strong ties to the Yeltsin administration. The largest of the four major networks, Russian Public Television (Obshchestvennoye rossiyskoye televideniye--ORT, formerly Ostankino), which reaches an estimated 200 million people, remained 51 percent state-owned after partial privatization in 1994. However, ORT has offered regular programs, such as one hosted by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, that are critical of the Government. ORT's news broadcasts tend to favor Government policies.

The second-largest network, the All-Russian Television and Radio Company (Vserossiyskaya gosudarstvennaya teleradiokompaniya, commonly called Russia Television--RTV), was fully state-owned in 1996 and reaches about 140 million viewers with relatively balanced news coverage. The largest private network is Independent Television (Nezavisimoye televideniye--NTV), which reaches about 100 million people. NTV has received praise in the West for unbiased news reporting. Its Chechnya coverage forced other networks to abandon pro-Government reporting of the conflict. The TV-6 commercial network brings its estimated 70 million viewers in European Russia mainly entertainment programs. Its founder, Eduard Sagalayev, was strongly influenced by an earlier partnership with United States communications magnate Ted Turner.

Besides the four networks, state-run channels are offered in every region, and an estimated 400 private television stations were in operation in 1995. More than half of such stations produce their own news broadcasts, providing mainly local rather than national or international coverage. The Independent Broadcasting System was established in 1994 to link some fifty stations with shared programming.

By 1995 the administration of state television had become heavily politicized. After the 1995 legislative elections, Yeltsin dismissed Oleg Poptsov, the head of RTV, for having aired what the president considered unfairly negative coverage of his administration. In exerting such overt political pressure, Yeltsin likely had in mind the prominent role television would play in the 1996 presidential election. In fact, all candidates in that election were represented in an unprecedented wave of televised campaign advertising, some of which was quite similar to that in the United States and little of which provided useful information to voters. Convinced that their independence would be jeopardized if KPRF candidate Gennadiy Zyuganov won, television broadcasters provided virtually no coverage of his main campaign events, and even the independent NTV aided Yeltsin by muting its criticism during the election. Critical coverage of the Chechen conflict and other issues resumed once Yeltsin's reelection seemed assured, however.


Russia - Foreign Relations


ONCE A PARIAH DENIED DIPLOMATIC RECOGNITION by most countries, the Soviet Union progressed from being an outsider in international organizations and negotiations during the interwar period to being one of the arbiters of Europe's fate after World War II. The Soviet Union had official relations with the majority of nations by the late 1980s. In the 1970s, after achieving rough nuclear parity with the United States, the Soviet Union proclaimed that its own involvement was essential to the solution of any major international problem. At that time, regimes in countries containing about one-quarter of the world's population emulated the socialist form of political and economic organization proselytized by the Soviet Union. That web of influence was built upon the political doctrine of class struggle and the geopolitical philosophy of a proletarian internationalism that would link together the workers of the world. Although the spirit of those concepts remained at the base of the Soviet Union's international attitudes even in 1991, pragmatic considerations often were the primary determinants of policy in specific cases.

Among the many bureaucracies involved in the formation and execution of Soviet foreign policy, the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU--see Glossary) determined the major policy guidelines. The foremost objectives of that foreign policy were the maintenance and enhancement of national security and the maintenance of the hegemony gained over Eastern Europe following World War II. Relations with the United States and with Western Europe also were of major concern; the strategic significance of individual nations in the so-called Third World of developing nations determined, at least partly, the relations with those nations.

The Twenty-Seventh Party Congress of the CPSU in 1986 produced the last formal enumeration of Soviet foreign policy goals. That listing included ensuring favorable external conditions for building communism in the Soviet Union; eliminating the threat of world war; disarmament; strengthening the "world socialist system"; developing equal and friendly relations with so-called liberated (Third World) countries; peaceful coexistence with capitalist countries; and solidarity with communist and revolutionary-democratic parties, the international workers' movement, and national liberation struggles.

In the years that followed, the emphasis and ranking of these priorities changed in response to domestic and international stimuli. After Mikhail S. Gorbachev assumed power as CPSU general secretary in 1985, for instance, some Western analysts discerned in the ranking of priorities a deemphasis of Soviet support for national liberation movements. As such shifts occurred, two basic goals of Soviet foreign policy remained constant: national security (safeguarding CPSU rule at home and maintenance of adequate military forces) and influence over Eastern Europe.

After the demise of the Soviet Union, Russia claimed to be the legal successor to Soviet foreign policies. That position would allow Russia to assume a ready-made role as a leading world power. At the outset, Russia accepted or built upon many tenets of the conciliatory foreign policy toward the West of Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, who had termed his revised policy "New Thinking." New Thinking defined international politics in common ethical and moral terms rather than military force, largely abandoning the Marxist-Leninist (see Glossary) idea that peaceful coexistence was merely a breathing spell in the worldwide class war. The most important practical result of Gorbachev's approach came in 1989 with the release of the Soviet Union's forty-four-year hold on the states of Eastern Europe. Superpower competition between the Soviet Union and the United States, known as the Cold War, gave way to increased cooperation with the United States on issues such as arms reduction, peace in the Middle East, and the Persian Gulf War.

In the early period after Russia became independent, Russian foreign policy built upon Gorbachev's legacy by decisively repudiating Marxism-Leninism as a putative guide to action, emphasizing cooperation with the West in solving regional and global problems, and soliciting economic and humanitarian aid from the West in support of internal reforms. In that early period, Russian foreign policy defended itself against arguments from former communists and ultranationalists that Russia had capitulated to the West and should renounce entanglements such as Western foreign aid. Russia also faced the challenge of reconciling the international commitments and obligations it inherited from the former Soviet Union with new and sometimes conflicting Russian interests, such as the desire to sell arms and missile technology abroad. Although Russia's leaders described Europe as its natural ally, they grappled with defining new relations with the East European (now termed Central European) states, the new states formed upon the disintegration of Yugoslavia, and Western Europe. In Asia, Russia faced territorial claims from China and Japan at the same time that closer Russian relations with these states and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and Taiwan became possible. Several challenges emerged in Russia's relations with the fourteen other former Soviet republics, now called the "near abroad." Among the most serious confrontations were Russia's dispute with Ukraine over the status of Crimea, long and complicated conflicts between Armenia and Azerbaijan and within Georgia, and numerous new economic frictions. The problem of discrimination and ethnic violence against the 25 million ethnic Russians living in the new states was a growing concern in relations with several of the former Soviet republics, especially those in Central Asia. Russia also faced adapting to and competing with changing regional politics along its borders, such as the growing ties between the Central Asian states and Iran and Turkey.

<> The Emergence of Russian Foreign Policy
<> The Foreign Policy Mechanism
<> Regional Policies
<> The United States
<> Western Europe
<> Central Europe
<> China
<> Japan
<> Other Asian States
<> The Third World
<> The Middle East
<> Latin America


Russia - The Emergence of Russian Foreign Policy


The Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR) of the Soviet Union began developing a separate foreign policy and diplomacy some time before the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991. The Russian Republic had possessed a foreign ministry and the "right" to conduct foreign policy since the 1936 Soviet constitution was amended in 1944. This power remained undeveloped, however, until the election of Boris N. Yeltsin as president of Russia and Russia's declaration of sovereignty in June 1990. Among the foreign policy institutions and procedures that emerged in Russia in this early period, some paralleled and others competed with those of the Soviet Union.

Recognized by world states and international organizations as the Soviet Union's successor state after its collapse, Russia aggressively assumed Soviet assets and most of the Soviet Union's treaty obligations. The assets included diplomatic properties worldwide and a large portion of the existing diplomatic personnel staffing those posts. Most foreign states simply reassigned their ambassadors from the Soviet Union to Russia, and international organizations allowed Russia to assume the Soviet seat. Most notably, Russia took over the permanent seat of the Soviet Union in the United Nations (UN) Security Council, which allowed it to join the elite power group with Britain, China, France, and the United States.

The Search for Objectives

In early 1992, Russian foreign minister Andrey Kozyrev announced that Russian foreign policy would differ from foreign policy under Gorbachev's New Thinking because democratic principles would drive it. These principles would provide a solid basis for peaceful policies. Kozyrev also stressed that the basis for the new foreign policy would be Russia's national interests rather than the so-called international class interests that theoretically underlay Soviet foreign policy. For two years (1992-93), Russian foreign policy was generally low key and conciliatory toward the West with endorsement of many Western foreign policy positions on world conflicts. Pressing domestic problems were a major determinant of this direction. Kozyrev argued that good relations with the West were possible because "no developed, democratic, civil society . . . can threaten us."

Domestic politics placed increasing pressure on this pro-Western and generally benign attitude. Bureaucratic infighting broke out in the government over foreign policy goals and the means of implementing them, and the same questions stimulated a major conflict between the legislative and executive branches of power. In this period, conflict and confusion exacerbated or triggered foreign policy problems with Ukraine, Japan, and the former Yugoslavia.

The lack of clarity in many aspects of foreign policy also reflected opposing Russian viewpoints over Russia's place in the world. Public debates raged over whether Russia should orient itself toward the West or the East, whether Russia was still a superpower, and what the intentions of the West were toward Russia--all indicating Russia's general search for a new identity to replace the accepted truths of Marxism-Leninism and the Cold War. In the debate, ultranationalists and communists strongly criticized what they viewed as pro-Western policies and argued that close relations with the West constituted a danger to Russia's national security because the West remained Russia's chief enemy. As early as December 1990, Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze had cited harsh criticism of his conciliatory position toward the West as a major reason for his resignation.

To allay Russians' broad uncertainty about their country's place in the world, in early 1992 Kozyrev presented the Supreme Soviet (parliament) with his concept of three main foreign policy objectives, but the conservative legislators did not accept them. In January 1993, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs prepared another draft, which also met substantial criticism. Finally, in April 1993, the newly created Interdepartmental Foreign Policy Commission of the Security Council finalized a foreign policy concept that the parliament approved (see The Security Council, this ch.).

According to the 1993 foreign policy concept, Russia is a great power with several foreign policy priorities: ensuring national security through diplomacy; protecting the sovereignty and unity of the state, with special emphasis on border stability; protecting the rights of Russians abroad; providing favorable external conditions for internal democratic reforms; mobilizing international assistance for the establishment of a Russian market economy and assisting Russian exporters; furthering integration of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS--see Glossary) and pursuing beneficial relations with other nearby foreign states, including those in Central Europe; continuing to build relations with countries that have resolved problems similar to those that Russia faces; and ensuring Russia an active role as a great power. The concept also called for enhanced ties with Asian Pacific countries to balance relations with the West. Beginning in 1993, public statements about foreign policy placed greater emphasis on the protection of Russia's vital interests and less emphasis on openly pro-Western policies.

The 1993 concept disclosed a dispute between liberals and conservatives over the nature of Russian foreign policy toward the CIS. Liberals warned of the great human and material costs Russia would be forced to shoulder if it reabsorbed the former Soviet republics, a step the conservatives increasingly advocated in the 1990s. Liberals argued that Russia could be a great power without pursuing that policy. Both liberals and conservatives agreed, however, that Russia should play an active role in safeguarding the human rights of the 25 million ethnic Russians who found themselves in a foreign country for the first time after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

The 1993 foreign-policy concept called for strengthening a "unified military strategic space" in the CIS and protecting Russia's major interests there. It warned that a third state's military-political presence in the CIS, or actions among the CIS states such as creation of an economic or religious bloc of Central Asian states, could negatively affect Russia's interests. In the case of Central Asia, this would occur if ethnic Russians were forced to flee the region. On a somewhat more liberal note that showed its compromise quality, the concept recognized that intraregional cooperation could have positive results and that Russia should react to each effort individually. The primacy of relations with the CIS was strengthened after the December 1993 Russian legislative elections, in which nationalist factions expanded their power base.

For the conservatives, Russian dominance was necessary to secure southern borders and to ensure continued access to the waterways, ports, and natural resources of the newly independent states. Some conservatives asserted that Russia's military security required a line of defense outside Russia's own borders and along the borders of the former Soviet Union (and even, according to some, including a "neutral" Central Europe) (see The Geopolitical Context, ch. 9). A related position called for Russia to counter efforts by countries such as Turkey and Iran to gain influence in the new states.

Some Western observers suggested that the characteristic positions of Russian conservatives and liberals regarding the near abroad differed only in the degree of hegemony they demanded that Russia have over the CIS states. These observers also saw Russia engaging in a two-sided foreign policy that distinguished policy toward the near abroad from policy toward the rest of the world (see The Near Abroad, this ch.).

The 1993 concept and a new military doctrine were to be parts of an all-inclusive Russian national security concept. In April 1996, the Yeltsin government announced a draft national security concept. That document included the seemingly progressive renunciation of strategic and military parity with the United States, reaffirmation of collective security within the CIS, and support for reductions in nuclear arsenals and domestic military reforms. Ratification of the new concept was subject to the political events of mid-1996, including the presidential election.

The State of the Federation Speeches

In February 1994, Yeltsin outlined Russia's foreign policy in his first state of the federation address to the Russian parliament, as the 1993 constitution required. Yeltsin's address to the more nationalistic legislative body that had just been elected called for a more assertive Russian foreign policy. However, Yeltsin showed the still inchoate and even contradictory character of Russian foreign policy by making several references to conciliatory, Western-oriented policies.

Yeltsin noted that as a great country, Russia had its own foreign policy priorities to pursue, including prevention of cold or hot global war by preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. By mentioning the possibility of global war, he supported the view of the Russian military and other conservative and hard-line groups that the United States and the West remain a threat. Yeltsin voiced support for the Partnership for Peace (PfP--see Glossary) program of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO--see Glossary) and opposition to the expansion of NATO to include Central European states without including Russia (see Western Europe, this ch.). On international economic matters, Yeltsin called for quick removal of obstacles to trade with the West and for making the CIS into an economic union with a common market as well as a common security system and guarantees on human rights. As a warning to those calling for reconstituting the empire, he stated that such integration should not damage Russia by depleting the nation's material and financial resources.

Yeltsin's February 1995 state of the federation address did not repeat the contradictory and sometimes harsh tone of the 1994 speech. Yeltsin broadly depicted a cooperative and conciliatory Russian foreign policy, but he offered few details on policy toward specific countries or regions. Yeltsin outlined Russia's cooperation with the Group of Seven (G-7; see Glossary) of top world economic powers, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE--see Glossary), the UN, and NATO; the need for Russia to adhere to arms control agreements; and reductions in Russian armed forces. Despite his broadly conciliatory attitude toward the West and his general support of world cooperation, Yeltsin still objected to NATO enlargement as a threat to European security.

Some political analysts in the West suggested that the 1995 speech was an attempt to reassure the world of Russia's peaceful foreign policy in the wake of its widely censured attempt to suppress separatism in the Republic of Chechnya in December 1994 (see Movements Toward Sovereignty, ch. 4). Later in 1995, arguing that the West was wrong to fear Moscow's intentions toward Central Europe, Yeltsin announced that in 1995 Russian foreign policy would be nonconfrontational and would follow the principle of "real partnership in all directions" with the United States, Europe, China, India, Japan, and Latin America. The priorities of this stance would be enhanced interaction with the CIS states and partnership with the United States on the basis of a "balance of interests."

The February 1996 state of the federation speech occurred just after the convocation of the Federal Assembly (parliament) following the December legislative elections and a few months before the June 1996 presidential election. The legislative elections brought substantial gains for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (Kommunisticheskaya partiya Rossiyskoy Federatsii--KPRF) and losses for reformists, which indicated deep discontent with the Yeltsin administration. Under these conditions, Yeltsin gave foreign policy only brief mention in his February speech. He noted that there had been problems in defining Russia's foreign policy priorities and in matching policy to execution. He vaguely promised a more realistic and pragmatic policy that would support Russia's national interests. Yeltsin singled out NATO enlargement, efforts against Russian interests in the CIS, conflict in the former Yugoslavia, and controversies over the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE Treaty--see Glossary) and the Anti-Ballistic MissileTreaty (ABM Treaty--see Glossary) as persisting problems of Russia's foreign policy.

Despite these problems, Yeltsin emphasized that his foreign policy had scored several major achievements, including moves toward further integration of the CIS. Repeating statements from the 1995 speech, he noted that Russia's strategic arms control and security agreements ensured that the country faced no real military or nuclear threat. He argued that such security gains made Russia's signing of the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START II--see Glossary) advisable. He praised United States and Russian cooperation in extending the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT--see Glossary), and he noted the international prestige that Russia had gained through participation in meetings of the G-7, membership in the Council of Europe (see Glossary), and new ties with China and the states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Persian Gulf.


Russia - The Foreign Policy Mechanism


In the Soviet system, the predominant foreign policy actor was the general secretary of the CPSU, who also was the preeminent figure in the party's Politburo (the highest executive body of the government). By virtue of this position, the general secretary also was the country's recognized foreign representative. Other Politburo members with major foreign policy responsibility were the ministers of foreign affairs and defense (always members of the Politburo), the chairman of the Committee for State Security (Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti--KGB; see Glossary), and the chief of the CPSU's International Department. The minister of foreign economic relations had foreign policy responsibility in commercial relations, and other members of the Council of Ministers provided input when their specific areas involved foreign affairs.

In 1988 constitutional revisions gave the Supreme Soviet, the Soviet Union's national parliament, new powers to oversee foreign policy and some input in policy formulation. The centralization of foreign policy decision making in the Politburo, together with the long tenure of its members, contributed to the Soviet Union's ability to plan and guide foreign policy over long periods with a constancy lacking in pluralistic political systems.

When a large part of the Soviet Union's foreign policy functions devolved to Russia in 1992, the Soviet pattern of centralizing foreign policy continued. The Russian constitution of 1993 gives the executive branch the chief role in making foreign policy, with the legislative branch occupying a distinctly subsidiary role. In the years since 1993, President Yeltsin has formed various organizations in the executive branch to assist him in formulating foreign policy. The mechanism of policy making has remained unwieldy, however, and the increasingly nationalistic parliament has used every power it commands to influence policy making.

The President

Under the provisions of the 1993 constitution, the president exercises leadership in forming foreign policy, represents Russia in international relations, conducts talks and signs international treaties, forms and heads the Security Council, approves military doctrine, delivers annual messages to the parliament on foreign policy, appoints and recalls diplomatic representatives (after consultation with committees or commissions of the parliament), and accepts credentials and letters of recall from foreign diplomats.

Between 1992 and 1996, there were indications that Yeltsin made important foreign policy decisions with little or no consultation with other officials of his administration or with the legislative branch. In that period, the size of the presidential apparatus steadily increased until it reportedly numbered several thousand staffers, including a Security Council staff of hundreds (see The Executive Branch, ch. 7). At the end of 1993, Yeltsin appointed a national security adviser who established his own staff, and during 1995 the Presidential Security Service, under the direction of Aleksandr Korzhakov, apparently also assumed some responsibility for foreign policy analysis. According to some observers, the vast size of the presidential apparatus exacerbated the confused and unwieldy formulation and implementation of foreign policy. In the early 1990s, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs came directly under presidential control, which further enhanced presidential power.

The Security Council

The function of the Russian Security Council is somewhat similar to that of the Defense Council that Nikita S. Khrushchev (in office 1953-64) created. Khrushchev's successor, Leonid I. Brezhnev (in office 1964-82), had retained the Defense Council as a consultative body on foreign policy and defense security, and this role was codified in the 1977 Soviet constitution. Gorbachev replaced the Defense Council in 1990, first by the Presidential Council and then by the Security Council.

After its statutory establishment in mid-1992, the Russian Security Council became part of Yeltsin's presidential apparatus. To distinguish his Security Council from earlier councils, Yeltsin presented the new body as an open organization that would obey the constitution and other laws and would work closely with executive and legislative bodies. He said the new council was based partly on that of the United States National Security Council. By statute, the Security Council is a consultative rather than decision-making body. It has the authority to prepare decisions for the president on military policy, protection of civil rights, internal and external security, and foreign policy issues, and it has the power to conduct basic research, long-range planning, and coordination of other executive-branch efforts in the foreign policy realm.

The Security Council's founding statute stipulates that voting members include the president, the vice president, the prime minister, the first deputy chairman of the Supreme Soviet, and the secretary of the council. It also includes nonvoting members from the Government (Russia's cabinet), including the ministers or chiefs of defense, internal affairs, foreign affairs, security, foreign intelligence, justice, and others. Other officials and foreign policy experts, including the chairman of the Supreme Soviet, also are invited to participate in council sessions. By statute the Security Council is to meet at least once a month. The 1993 constitution makes formation of the council the prerogative of the president, who is to be its chairman. In February 1994, Yeltsin reapportioned the membership of the council, giving additional influence to defense, internal affairs, justice, civil defense, security, foreign intelligence, and foreign affairs bureaucracies. Another adjustment in mid-1994 included the heads of both chambers of the new Federal Assembly and the head of the Federal Border Service. In 1995 Yeltsin added the minister of atomic energy to the council. After the election of a heavily antireformist parliament in December 1995, Yeltsin announced that the speakers of the two chambers of the Federal Assembly would be excluded from membership in the Security Council.

Some Russian commentators complained that the methods of the Security Council under its first secretary, Yuriy Skokov, were authoritarian, secretive, and antireformist. In early 1993, a major rift occurred between the Security Council and Yeltsin. Skokov led the council in opposing Yeltsin's attempt to declare a so-called special rule for the executive branch as a means of circumventing an executive-legislative deadlock and forcing legislative elections. After Yeltsin won this power struggle against the parliament, he felt strong enough to replace Skokov as secretary of the council. He named Oleg Lobov as secretary in September 1993, and Lobov served until Aleksandr Lebed' replaced him in June 1996.

The Security Council reportedly has played an important role in several vital foreign policy decisions. In September 1992, after an outcry from the Security Council over possible concessions to Japan on the issue of possession of the Kuril Islands, Yeltsin canceled a planned visit to Japan (see Japan, this ch.). In 1993 the Security Council's Interdepartmental Foreign Policy Commission (IFPC) reworked Foreign Minister Kozyrev's foreign policy concept to make it more conservative. The IFPC also appeared to be influential in Russian troop withdrawal policy in the Baltic states, which concluded in mid-1994. The Security Council's agenda also reportedly included deliberations on United States-Russian relations, nuclear arms reduction, ethnic relations within Russia, crime fighting, and relations with the former Soviet republics. On many issues, however, the council apparently failed to conciliate opposing positions of the ministries of defense and foreign affairs, and the council's overall influence appeared to wane after Skokov's dismissal. In December 1994, the council rubber-stamped Yeltsin's decision to send Russian security forces into Chechnya, and it invariably approved his policies there during 1995 and early 1996. Major questions remained about the quality of debate in the council because military and police authorities may not have furnished Yeltsin with complete information on operations in Chechnya during this period. The council likely had become moribund as a consultative body before Lebed' attempted to revitalize its role in 1996.

The Security Council contains various subdepartments and committees. Most significant to foreign policy formation is the IFPC, which was created in December 1992. The IFPC analyzes and forecasts information on foreign policy for the president. Creation of the IFPC coincided with increased opposition to Kozyrev's conduct of foreign policy and to Yeltsin's pro-Western policies. In 1993 the IFPC attempted to block Kozyrev's pro-Western foreign policies and urged a more "imperial" foreign policy toward the near abroad. After 1993, however, the IFPC appeared more amenable to the foreign ministry's policies.

The Parliament

During the first two years of Russia's independence, the Russian parliament's foreign policy powers were a matter of contention with the executive branch. This discord was part of a broader legislative-executive branch standoff that culminated in Yeltsin's forced takeover of the legislative building--the so-called White House--in early October 1993 and his rule by decree until December. In 1992-93 the parliament still derived its power from the 1978 constitution of the Russian Republic and numerous amendments to that document. Its foreign policy prerogatives included the right to ratify or abrogate international treaties, to confirm or recall diplomats serving abroad, to approve or reject the deployment of armed forces to areas of conflict abroad, and to approve the general direction of foreign policy.

In this period, the parliament increasingly attempted to widen its foreign policy prerogatives in opposition to official policies. These efforts included attempts to influence Russia's votes in the UN Security Council on economic and military sanctions against the former Yugoslavia, an open letter decrying Yeltsin's planned September 1992 visit to Japan, a July 1993 resolution declaring the Crimean city of Sevastopol' a Russian port although it is located in Ukrainian territory, and denunciation of United States aerial bombing of Iraq in 1993. Kozyrev tried to work with the International Affairs Committee of the Supreme Soviet and its successor, the State Duma, on several of those issues, but legislative criticism became increasingly strident in the period before Yeltsin forcibly dissolved the parliament in September 1993.

The 1993 constitution substantially reduced the parliament's foreign policy powers. The State Duma retained broad responsibility for adopting laws on foreign policy, but the constitution stipulated no specific foreign policy duties for the legislative branch. The constitution gave the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, the responsibility for deciding on the use of troops abroad and reviewing State Duma ratification and denunciation of international treaties and Duma decisions on war and peace. In January 1994, the newly elected parliament established committees dealing with foreign policy issues, including a Committee on Geopolitics with a member of hard-liner Vladimir Zhirinovskiy's Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia as chairman. Vladimir Lukin returned from his post as ambassador to the United States to head the Duma's International Affairs Committee, which worked in 1994 with Kozyrev and Yeltsin to forge a more conservative consensus on foreign policy issues.

After remaining relatively quiescent on foreign policy matters in 1994, the parliament stepped up its criticism of Government policy in 1995. Four State Duma committees investigated Ministry of Foreign Affairs policies toward the near abroad, Asia, and the West, timing their queries to enhance electoral prospects for anti-Yeltsin deputies in the December legislative elections. In September 1995, the State Duma called for Russia to unilaterally lift UN-approved economic sanctions against Serbia; then it demanded that Yeltsin condemn NATO air strikes against Bosnian Serb targets and convened a special session to debate Russian policy toward the former Yugoslavia. In that session, ultranationalist and communist deputies called for Kozyrev's resignation and for a wholesale redirection of foreign policy.

After the legislative elections of 1995, more deputies called for the parliament to take a more active role in foreign policy oversight. The reformist Yabloko coalition managed to gain the chairmanship of the International Affairs Committee in the State Duma, somewhat mitigating the anti-Government and anti-Western tone of legislative proceedings. However, many of the State Duma's nonbinding resolutions complicated foreign policy by arousing protests from foreign governments. In March 1996, the State Duma passed nonbinding resolutions abrogating the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which brought condemnation from most CIS member states as a threat to their sovereignty and independence. In 1996 the Duma also passed a resolution calling for elimination of international economic sanctions against Libya.

The Government (Cabinet)

According to the 1993 constitution, the chairman of the Government, the prime minister, defines basic policy guidelines, and the Government enacts the nation's foreign policy according to those guidelines. After referendum approval of the 1993 constitution, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, whom Yeltsin had appointed in December 1992, began to play a more prominent role in meeting with foreign officials, particularly CIS leaders. The prime minister focused primarily on economic and governmental relations, however, and made few foreign policy pronouncements.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was a central battleground of foreign policy formation from October 1990 until January 1996, when Andrey Kozyrev led it. In the two years before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs under Kozyrev had played an important role in challenging the supremacy of Soviet foreign policy. At the end of 1991, Kozyrev's ministry formally absorbed the functions and many of the personnel of the defunct Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At that point, budgetary constraints forced the closure of three dozen former Soviet embassies and consulates and the release of more than 2,000 personnel.

After some uncertainty about the role of the ministry, Yeltsin decreed in 1992 that it should ensure a unified policy line in Russian relations with foreign states and coordinate the foreign policy activities of other government agencies. At the end of 1992, increasing criticism of policy led Yeltsin to subordinate the role of the ministry to the supervision of the IFPC.

Beginning in 1992, Kozyrev and his ministry became the targets of increasingly forceful attacks from Russia's nationalist factions, who found any hint of pro-Western policy a pretext to call for Kozyrev's ouster. On several occasions, Yeltsin also criticized his foreign minister in public. Remarkably, Kozyrev retained his position until January 1996, when Yeltsin replaced him during a wave of nationalist appointments.

In December 1992, Kozyrev delivered what came to be called his shock diplomacy speech at a meeting of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE--see Glossary). In the speech, he outlined what he termed corrections to Russian foreign policy in a list of priorities that ultranationalists advocated. The corrections included a shift in policy away from the West and toward Asia; admonitions against NATO involvement in the Baltic states or other areas of the near abroad; a call for lifting UN economic sanctions against Serbia; and a demand that the near abroad rejoin Russia in a new federation or confederation. Western foreign ministries expressed shock, and Kozyrev retracted the speech by describing it as a rhetorical warning of what might happen if ultranationalists came to dictate Russian foreign policy. Although some Russian and Western observers said the speech was irresponsible, others saw it as an attempt to discredit ultranationalist views (and prevent the creation of the IFPC, then under consideration) by dramatizing the potential impact of extremist views.

In March 1995, Yeltsin criticized Kozyrev for his actions on several policy fronts and assumed control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the authority to appoint all deputy foreign ministers. At the same time, Yeltsin enhanced the ministry's powers by making it responsible for coordinating and controlling all governmental foreign policy actions. Perhaps to head off mounting electoral criticism of foreign policy during 1995, as well as to enhance coordination efforts, Yeltsin also established a governmental commission on foreign policy. Ostensibly, the commission was to evaluate the ministry's conduct of foreign policy and to determine policy coordination needs between the presidential apparatus and government agencies having foreign policy responsibilities. Then, after intensified NATO bombardment of Bosnian Serb military targets in September 1995, Yeltsin reiterated his dissatisfaction with the ministry and the need for personnel and policy changes.

In December 1995, Yeltsin created yet another advisory group, the Council on Foreign Policy, to present him with proposals for coordinating the foreign policy activities of various government bodies and to inform him of their activities. Members of the council were to be the ministers of foreign affairs, defense, foreign trade, and finance; the heads of the foreign intelligence, security, and border guard services; and Yeltsin's foreign policy adviser. Scheduled to meet monthly, the council had projected functions virtually indistinguishable from those of the Security Council.

In January 1996, Yeltsin announced Kozyrev's resignation, which had long been expected in view of the harsh criticism of Russian foreign policy. Western analysts explained that the powerful reactionary forces in the State Duma had been poised to name their own candidate to head the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so Yeltsin forestalled their move by dismissing Kozyrev and naming the more moderate Yevgeniy Primakov, an Arabist who had been KGB chief of espionage in 1991. Analysts viewed Primakov as a pragmatist with no strong views toward the West and predicted he would serve only until the winner of the upcoming presidential election replaced him. They expected Primakov to follow Yeltsin's lead in foreign policy by making no new gestures of friendship toward the West during the presidential election year. Although Primakov began his tenure by reassuring the United States that Russia would remain true to its international commitments, he also declared that Russia was and remains a great power and that his primary goal was to reintegrate the former Soviet republics, especially the Baltic states and Ukraine. These statements blunted the nationalist factions' complaints that Yeltsin was a puppet of Western interests.

The Ministry of Defense

In the Soviet era, the Ministry of Defense and its General Staff officers played a central role in the formation of national security policy because of their monopoly of defense information. After 1991 many senior officers in the armed forces continued to view military coercion as the main instrument for preventing the other side from gaining in foreign policy disputes (see Military Doctrine, ch. 9). In the early 1990s, most of the military establishment appeared to back both an assertive stance in the near abroad, where the Soviet military had exercised substantial influence through its military districts and played a role in local politics, and a less conciliatory relationship with the West. Some reformist elements of the military, mainly junior officers, rejected these views, and local military leaders sometimes seemed to act independently of their ministry in such areas of the near abroad as Moldova and Abkhazia, Georgia's breakaway autonomous republic. More often, the military leadership was united on actions having foreign policy repercussions, such as their advocacy of violating CFE Treaty limitations on military equipment deployed in the Caucasus region.


Russia - Regional Policies


The geographical extent of Russia's foreign policy interests is considerably less than that of the Soviet Union, which sought support and bases of operation wherever they might be available in the world. Nevertheless, most of the Soviet Union's primary zones of interest--Central and Western Europe, the Far East, the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions, and the United States--are priorities for Russia in the 1990s. To that list has been added the near abroad, which has become a zone of insecurity and the subject of constant debate.

The Near Abroad

Many Russians use the term "near abroad" (blizhneye zarubezhiye ) to refer to the fourteen other former Soviet republics that had declared their independence by the time the Soviet Union broke up at the end of 1991. Leaders and elites in those republics objected that the term implied limitations on the sovereignty or status of the new states. Since independence, Russian policy makers have tried both to restore old bilateral connections and to create new relationships wherever possible. Throughout the first half of the 1990s, inconsistency and reverses characterized these diplomatic efforts because no firm principles underlay them. However, Russia maintained strong influence with all but the Baltic states, so the nationalists' hope of reclaiming part of the lost empire stayed alive.

Particularly perplexing for Western observers were apparent contradictions between Yeltsin government policies and the Russian military forces' actions in certain of the newly independent states (NIS) of the former Soviet Union. An example was Russian military support of Abkhazian rebels against the Georgian government in 1993 at the same time that the Yeltsin government was promoting a cease-fire in the region. Some Western observers explained those contradictions as partly a result of differing bureaucratic interests and turfs, with the military seeking to continue its traditional influence and presence in the near abroad against the meddling of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If Russia's overall policy goal were to emasculate Georgia and force it farther into the Russian sphere of influence, ran the argument, then military and diplomatic actions would have been more compatible.

However, beginning in 1993 a greater degree of concordance appeared between the actions of the military and the government. Yeltsin and Kozyrev stressed that Russia ensured regional stability and acted in accordance with international standards in offering Russian diplomatic and military "peacekeeping" services to help end conflicts in the NIS. They also emphasized, however, that Russia had vital interests in using diplomatic or military means to protect the rights of the more than 25 million ethnic Russians residing in the near abroad. Accordingly, Russia pressured the NIS to enact legal protections such as dual citizenship for ethnic Russians. At the same time, Russia provided some aid to ease the internal economic distress that stimulated the emigration of ethnic Russians from the new states.

The new states signed friendship treaties and other agreements with Russia pledging them to protect ethnic Russian residents from harm and to respect their human and cultural rights. Because the borders among the states were open (except for Russia's borders with the Transcaucasus states, which were wholly or partly closed in 1994-96 during the Chechnya conflict), Russia's leaders asserted that Russia had important interests in ensuring the security of NIS borders with other states, such as Tajikistan's border with Afghanistan. In some cases, Russian troops served as so-called peacekeepers in conflict areas at the request of host governments such as Tajikistan and Georgia. In April 1994, at the request of the Ministry of Defense, Yeltsin decreed that Russia would seek military bases throughout most of the NIS.

Some analysts in the NIS and the West warned that Russia was showing a desire either to reconstitute its traditional empire or at least to include the NIS within an exclusive sphere of influence. They speculated that its arrangement with the near abroad might take the form of a collective security pact, similar to the former Warsaw Pact (see Glossary), that would counter NATO. Western analysts concluded that Russia's political and military elites adopted a more assertive foreign policy after the election of large numbers of ultranationalists and communists to the parliament in December 1993. They observed this trend toward assertiveness again during campaigns for the legislative elections of December 1995 and in the rhetoric of the 1996 presidential election campaign.

However, the Yeltsin government took considerable diplomatic actions to end NIS conflicts, and it stated that the financial burdens and human loss involved in burgeoning regional peacekeeping efforts precluded continuing such operations. Opinion polls showed that although some Russians supported a greater role in the near abroad, particularly in safeguarding ethnic Russians, the majority did not want Russia to assume new economic and defense burdens, particularly in Central Asia. Even in the State Duma, many members expressed doubt about the wisdom of even the peacekeeping efforts already under way in Tajikistan and Georgia.

Russian peacekeeping efforts in the NIS began with ad hoc agreements. For example, in August 1993 Russia formally invoked a Collective Security Agreement, signed by members of the CIS and ratified by the Russian parliament, to justify those efforts in Tajikistan. Avowing in the UN and the CSCE that its diplomatic and military efforts in the NIS supported regional stability, Russia requested international approval and financial support for its efforts. Kozyrev called for the deployment of UN and CSCE observers and the involvement of the international diplomatic community in solving the conflict in Georgia. In March 1994, Kozyrev asked the UN to recognize the CIS as an observer international organization and asked the European Union (EU--see Glossary) and the CSCE to recognize the CIS as a regional organization. Acknowledgment from these organizations would implicitly endorse the regional peacekeeping actions of the CIS.

At the December 1993 CIS meeting of heads of state, held after the Russian elections, Yeltsin's calls for strengthening military and economic cooperation within the CIS met with greater approval than they had previously. Since then the CIS states have been far from unanimous in supporting closer CIS integration, however: Armenia, Tajikistan, and Belarus have been most amenable; Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan have maneuvered to maintain independence while seeking support in some areas; and Ukraine, Moldova, and Turkmenistan have been most opposed (see The Commonwealth of Independent States, ch. 9).

In September 1995, Yeltsin again maneuvered toward a more conservative CIS policy by repeating the Russian nationalists' concerns with border security and the treatment of ethnic Russians. In a program stressing regional integration, including a "defensive alliance," Yeltsin stipulated that the CIS should consist of countries "friendly toward Russia" and that Russia should be "a leading power" in the CIS, while reiterating the call for UN and OSCE participation in CIS peacekeeping actions. Among CIS regional problems of concern to Russia were relations between China and Kazakstan, the effect of ethnic separatism in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on neighboring nations of Central Asia, ethnic problems in Russian regions bordering Transcaucasia and Mongolia, and emigration of ethnic Russians from Central Asia.


In the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic, ethnic minority Russians had proclaimed the autonomous Dnestr Moldavian Republic, or Transnistria, in September 1990. By late 1992, forces of the Russian 14th Army had enabled these Russians to consolidate control over most of the Dnestr region. Russia's actions chilled its relations with the now-independent Moldova, whose legislature had not ratified the 1991 CIS agreement. The pressure of a Russian trade blockade contributed to the victory of anticommunist candidates in Moldova's February 1994 legislative elections. In April 1994, the new legislature ratified Moldova's membership in the CIS, bringing the last of the non-Baltic Soviet republics into the organization. In October 1994, Russia and Moldova agreed on the withdrawal of the 14th Army, pending settlement of the political status of Transnistria. The agreement was jeopardized immediately, however, when Russia unexpectedly declared that the State Duma had to ratify the agreement, an outcome that had not occurred as of mid-1996.


In Georgia, Russian mercenaries, allegedly bolstered by Russian military support, fought alongside separatist forces from Georgia's Abkhazian Autonomous Republic, who finally defeated Georgian forces in September 1993. In October Georgia was forced to end its strong opposition to membership in the CIS by becoming a full member and signing a series of security cooperation agreements. That step prompted Russia to send military peacekeepers to support government forces, which saved Georgia's president Eduard Shevardnadze from large-scale insurrection and further fragmentation of the country. The terms of the so-called rescue included a Georgian-Russian friendship treaty calling for the establishment of Russian military bases in Georgia. In June 1994, Abkhazia and Georgia agreed to the interpositioning of Russian peacekeepers between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia to enforce a cease-fire. In September 1995, a Russian-Georgian treaty established twenty-year Russian leases of three bases. The Russian forces continued to share cease-fire enforcement in Georgia's breakaway South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast, where they had been since 1992, because no treaty had ended that conflict. The UN military observer group deployed in Abkhazia reported cooperative relations with the Russian peacekeepers.

Central Asia

In Tajikistan, oppositionist forces ousted the procommunist government in September 1992. Strong circumstantial evidence indicates that Russian forces assisted in the routing of the Tajikistani coalition government three months later. In 1993 several agreements formalized Russian military assistance. That year the new Tajikistani government deployed about 24,000 CIS peacekeeping troops from Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, and Kyrgyzstan (the majority of them Russian) along Tajikistani borders and at strategic sites. In late 1993, Tajikistan agreed to Russia's conditions on joining the ruble zone (see Glossary), including giving Russia control over monetary and fiscal policy, in return for subsidies. Tajikistan and Russia signed a cease-fire agreement in September 1994, but Tajikistani settlement talks, held under UN supervision with close Russian participation, remained inconclusive as of mid-1996. A small team of temporary UN military observers deployed in Tajikistan after the cease-fire agreement reported cooperative relations with CIS troops.

In Kazakstan in the mid-1990s, ethnic tensions increased between the Kazaks and the large minority population of Slavs (Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians) located primarily in northern areas of Kazakstan. The two groups represented an approximately equal share of the population, and Kazak president Nursultan Nazarbayev did a skillful job of balancing ethnic needs. He addressed many ethnic Russians' concerns while pushing language and other policies that were in the interests of the Kazak population. He resisted Russia's pressure to grant ethnic Russians dual citizenship; the legislature elected in 1995 contained a majority of ethnic Kazaks. In 1993 Kazakstan and Uzbekistan introduced their own national currencies rather than accept Russia's onerous conditions for membership in the ruble zone. Kazakstan also defied Russian pressure on its vital fuel industry by seeking new pipeline routes that Russia could not control. Nevertheless, for all five Central Asian republics, cooperation with Russia remains an essential element of economic and military policy.

In 1995 Yeltsin achieved a customs union with Belarus that later included Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan. In March 1996, a new treaty among the four countries strengthened the terms of their economic integration. That treaty was part of Yeltsin's presidential campaign effort to show that he advocated gradual and voluntary integration among CIS members, in contrast to the threatening gestures of the State Duma and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. However, an April 1996 agreement between Russia and Belarus to set a timetable for closely coordinating their governments and foreign policies brought opposition from Kazakstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, which saw the agreement as a danger to their national sovereignty.

Other Former Soviet Republics

Although a strong body of opinion in Belarus supported the April 1996 bilateral agreement that would bring closer integration with Russia, independence-minded Belarusians in Minsk staged large-scale protests, and the policy encountered substantial opposition in Belarus's parliament and among reform factions in Russia. Nuclear weapons in Belarus, which reportedly were under tight Russian control after 1991, were scheduled for transfer to Russia by the end of 1996.

The last Russian troops left Estonia and Latvia in 1994, leaving significant populations of Russians behind. Russian officials criticized citizenship and other laws allegedly discriminating against those groups in the Baltic republics, and some Russian enclaves in the Baltic states made separatist threats. Border disputes with Estonia and Lativa remained unresolved and heated in mid-1996.

Azerbaijan, which anticipated substantial economic rewards from Western development of its Caspian Sea oil, resisted Russian offers to station peacekeeping troops in its war-torn Nagorno-Karabakh region. Azerbaijan's president Heydar Aliyev was a former member of the Soviet Politburo and came to office in a Russian-supported coup in 1993. But Aliyev has proven more independent than Russian policy makers expected. He has accused Russia (with some justification) of supporting Armenia against Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In 1994 Russia demanded and received a 10 percent interest in a Western-dominated oil consortium that is to develop rich offshore Caspian Sea deposits for Azerbaijan. Russia called for construction of a new export pipeline that would terminate at the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk and allow Russia to collect transit fees and control the flow. In 1995-96 Russia objected to a territorial delineation of Caspian Sea resources to pressure Azerbaijan for concessions on oil revenue sharing and political and security matters. Azerbaijan decided on dual routes for oil shipments, one of which would bypass Russian territory by crossing Georgia to reach the Black Sea.

Many Western experts believe that Russia's relationship with Ukraine was the truest test of its willingness to accept the independence of the former Soviet republics. After regaining its independence at the end of 1991, Ukraine argued with Russia over the division of the Black Sea Fleet and the disposition of the Crimean Peninsula, which Nikita Khrushchev had "awarded" to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954 to mark the 300th anniversary of the union of Ukraine and Russia. After the end of the Soviet Union, the ethnic Russians who had come to dominate the Crimean Peninsula lobbied for autonomy from Ukraine or reunification with Russia. Ukrainian-Russian relations improved after the election of Ukraine's president Leonid Kuchma in July 1994. Russia did not support Crimean separatism, and both countries moved toward a peaceful settlement on dividing the Black Sea Fleet (see Naval Forces, ch. 9). The United States-Russian-Ukrainian Trilateral Nuclear Statement signed in early 1994 resolved many disputes over compensation for the transfer of nuclear weapons from Ukraine to Russia, and Ukraine transferred its last nuclear weapon to Russia in June 1996.


Russia - The United States


Relations with the United States have been a central concern of Soviet and Russian foreign policy since World War II. The United States gained unique stature in the Soviet Union when it emerged from World War II as the ultimate guarantor of European security against attack from the east and the top military power in the NATO alliance. A crucial factor of Soviet-United States relations was the mutual nuclear threat that arose in the 1950s as the Soviet Union developed first a nuclear capability and then a nuclear strategy. The nuclear threat and the underlying potential of "mutually assured destruction" created a chilling presence for the rest of the world. A high point in Soviet-United States relations was the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) that resulted from the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) of 1972. This agreement was an early achievement of the détente, or easing of tensions, that prevailed between the superpowers through most of the 1970s until the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The early 1980s were a time of tense relations and confrontations. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan brought trade and cultural embargoes from the United States and highly visible gestures such as the United States boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. In Europe the superpowers publicly traded threats and took actions such as the deployment of advanced nuclear weapons while they exchanged compromise positions at the negotiating table. Several events of 1983--the downing of a South Korean civilian airliner by the Soviet air force, the United States invasion of the Caribbean island of Grenada to evict a Marxist regime, and the exit of the Soviet delegation from arms control talks--kept bilateral tensions high.

By the mid-1980s, the Soviet Union had resumed talks on intermediate-range nuclear forces and strategic arms reduction. During that period, Soviet leadership underwent a major shift from Leonid I. Brezhnev, who died in November 1982, to Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who became general secretary in March 1985. The accession of Gorbachev ultimately ended a period of strident Soviet propaganda against United States president Ronald W. Reagan, whom Russia blamed for prolonging Cold War tensions because of his staunchly anticommunist positions.

In 1985 Reagan and Gorbachev began a series of annual summit meetings that yielded cultural exchange agreements, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty--see Glossary) in 1987, and less tangible benefits. The sight of the "cold warrior" Reagan consorting with his Russian opposite number combined with the instant popularity that Gorbachev gained in the United States to again warm relations. In the mid- and late 1980s, the Soviet Union also stepped up media access and contacts. Soviet spokesmen began appearing regularly on United States television, and United States journalists received unprecedented access to everyday life in the Soviet Union.

In the early 1990s, relations with the United States lost none of their significance for Russia. Russia viewed summitry with the United States as the mark of its continued status as a great power and nuclear superpower. Presidents Gorbachev and George H.W. Bush declared a United States-Soviet strategic partnership at the summit of July 1991, decisively marking the end of the Cold War. President Bush declared that United States-Soviet cooperation during the Persian Gulf crisis of 1990-91 had laid the groundwork for a partnership in resolving bilateral and world problems. For Russia, the closer relations of the early 1990s included a broad range of activities, including tourism and educational exchanges, the study of United States institutions and processes to adapt them for a new "Union of Sovereign States" (one proposed title for a new, nonideological Soviet Union), and the beginning of United States aid to Russia.

During this period, the Soviet Union and subsequently Russia supported the United States on several international issues. In the UN Security Council, the Soviet Union and Russia supported sanctions and operations against Iraq before, during, and after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990; called on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) to abide by safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); supported sending UN observers to conflict-ridden Georgia and Tajikistan; and supported UN economic sanctions against Serbia. The Soviet Union cosponsored Middle East peace talks that opened in October 1991.

In its cooperation with the United States on strategic arms control, Russia declared that it was the successor to the Soviet Union in assuming the obligations of START, which had been signed in July 1991. The Supreme Soviet ratified this treaty in November 1992. Presidents Bush and Yeltsin signed the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START II) in January 1993. The United States ratified that treaty in January 1996, but the much more problematic ratification by the new, nationalist-dominated State Duma was left until after the midyear presidential election. In September 1993, Russia acceded to the Missile Technology Control Regime, reaffirming an earlier decision not to transfer sensitive missile technology to India.

However, Soviet and Russian parliaments often opposed policies that they deemed helpful to the United States. The Supreme Soviet, which was less supportive than the Gorbachev government had been of international actions against Iraq, condemned United States air strikes in 1993. The Supreme Soviet approved START I in November 1992 with some conditions and after some delay, but then successive parliaments conducted hearings and debates on START II, without ratifying the treaty, from 1993 through mid-1996 (see Nuclear Arms Issues, ch. 9).

Beginning in 1993, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued statements critical of United States actions and policies. Some United States observers interpreted them as part of a more assertive Russian foreign policy that insisted on protecting nebulous Russian vital interests. Other observers saw such statements primarily as rhetoric designed to mollify hard-line critics of Russian foreign policy in the parliament and elsewhere. Events corroborating the former interpretation included Russia's opposition to NATO membership for Central European and Baltic states, Russian military moves in Georgia that raised questions of its intentions in the near abroad, and Russia's insistence on selling nuclear reactor technology to Iran, as well as doubts about Russia's adherence to chemical and biological weapons bans, the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE Treaty), and other arms control pacts. Another blow to United States-Russian relations came in 1994 with the United States arrest of Aldrich Ames, a longtime Soviet and Russian spy.

These events led some in the United States to question Russia's commitment to bilateral cooperation and the soundness of continued United States aid for Russia. Nevertheless, many elements of bilateral cooperation, including most United States aid programs, continued in 1995. From its high point in September 1993, when the United States Congress approved US$2.5 billion in aid to Russia and the NIS, the amount had declined to less than US$600 million for 1996. Only about one-third of the 1996 NIS appropriation was earmarked for Russia. In 1995 Congress placed several conditions on providing aid to Russia, such as requiring that Russia reduce assistance to Cuba. The United States also censured Russian behavior such as nuclear energy agreements with Iran (see Latin America; The Middle East, this ch.).

The Yeltsin-Bush Summits

Before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, President Bush met with Boris Yeltsin in 1990, when Yeltsin was chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet, and again in July 1991, immediately after Yeltsin's election as president of Russia. After the demise of the Soviet Union, Yeltsin met with Bush at a full-scale summit meeting in Washington in June 1992. The two leaders then agreed on many of the START II terms, and a joint session of the United States Congress enthusiastically received Yeltsin. According to some observers, that summit and Yeltsin's speech to Congress were the high points of Russia's conciliatory, pro-Western foreign policy orientation. At Bush's final summit with Yeltsin in January 1993, the leaders signed the landmark START II agreement.

The Yeltsin-Clinton Summits

The administration of William J. Clinton, which took office in January 1993, advocated more concerted United States efforts to aid Russian and NIS transitions to democracy and market economies. The justification of that policy was that these transitions served United States security and human rights interests and would provide markets for United States products. The April 1993 Vancouver summit, the first formal meeting between Yeltsin and Clinton, furthered United States-Russian cooperation on many bilateral issues. The resulting Vancouver Declaration pledged the two sides to uphold "a dynamic and effective United States-Russian partnership." The joint communiqué noted Yeltsin's pledge to continue reform efforts such as privatization.

The major summit initiative was finalization of a United States aid package of US$1.6 billion. On bilateral and international security issues, the two sides called for strengthening the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and urging North Korea not to carry out its threat to withdraw from the NPT. The sides also agreed to work for implementation of the START treaties.

An important by-product of the Vancouver meeting was the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission, which initially was a vehicle for Vice President Albert Gore and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to work out the details of bilateral agreements on space, energy, and technology. Between 1993 and early 1996, the two men met six times, each time with an expanded agenda. By 1996 the commission was a forum for establishing joint endeavors on topics ranging from the sale of Siberian timber to delivery of diphtheria vaccine to rural Russia. The United States also used the relationship to send messages to Yeltsin on urgent diplomatic topics such as Bosnia and Chechnya. In 1996 a similar commission brought Chernomyrdin into regular consultation with French foreign minister Alain Juppé.

Whereas the Vancouver summit had highlighted economic aid to Russia, the Moscow summit of January 1994 emphasized issues of arms control and nonproliferation. The summit included a hastily arranged meeting of the leaders of the United States, Russia, and Ukraine that produced Ukraine's commitment to give up all nuclear weapons on its territory and sign the NPT. The meeting's Trilateral Nuclear Statement also committed Russia and the United States to provide Soviet-era "nuclear powers" Belarus, Kazakstan, and Ukraine with security guarantees in exchange for giving up the uranium in the nuclear weapons located on their territory. Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin also pledged that, beginning in May 1994, strategic ballistic missiles no longer would be aimed at any country. This agreement marked the superpowers' first cessation of the nuclear operations that had been based on Cold War presumptions of mutual enmity.

A potential stumbling block to the success of the 1994 summit was Russia's objection to proposals for early admission of some Central European states into NATO (see Western Europe, this ch.; The NATO Issue, ch. 9). Nevertheless, the summit communiqué affirmed that the new European security order must include all nations as equal partners. The role of Russia in its near abroad was also an important point of discussion at the summit. Yeltsin sought to reassure the West that Russia's border policy was aimed only at stability, not neo-imperialist goals. Yeltsin repeated his call for peacekeeping assistance from the UN, CSCE, and other international organizations and complained about the international community's restrained response to Russian appeals for mediation in the conflict regions of Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Tajikistan.

United States aid played a less prominent role in the Clinton-Yeltsin summit in Washington in September 1994. Instead, both sides emphasized the growth of future bilateral trade and investment. International policy differences were more visible in the Washington meeting than they had been previously, but both sides stressed the nonconfrontational nature of the "working partnership" in resolving differences. The two presidents signed a framework agreement termed the Partnership for Economic Progress (PFEP), which outlined principles and objectives for the development of trade and economic cooperation and for United States business investment in Russia. They also planned a Commercial Partnership Program to help guide Russia toward better bilateral commercial relations. United States business leaders warned Yeltsin, however, that private investment in Russia could not increase appreciably under the still capricious and complex Russian laws, taxes, import duties, and governmental red tape.

A major initiative at the summit was agreement that once Moscow and Washington had ratified START II, the two sides would quickly remove warheads from missiles whose launchers would be eliminated under START II. Other initiatives covered the storage and security of nuclear materials and continued moratoriums on nuclear weapons tests.

The conflict in Bosnia remained an issue of contention. Yeltsin refused to support a UN Security Council resolution lifting the arms embargo against Bosnia's Muslim-led government. The United States also voiced concern about Russian peacekeeping activities in former Soviet republics, although Russia insisted that its actions respected the sovereignty of the new states. Russian recalcitrance on arms sales to Iran, classified by the West as a terrorist state, also was a source of conflict. While agreeing that no new arms contracts would be signed with Iran, Yeltsin insisted that existing commitments would be upheld.

Three issues dominated the Clinton-Yeltsin summit meeting held in Moscow in May 1995--NATO enlargement, Russia's sale of nuclear reactors to Iran, and the Chechnya conflict. In spite of their differences on key issues, Clinton and Yeltsin pledged to continue a cooperative relationship.

The two leaders referred the matter of nuclear sales to Iran to the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission, which subsequently crafted an agreement on two Russian concessions on the transfer issue. On the subject of European security, the two sides underscored the importance of ongoing integration and of joint participation in international bodies, including Russia's membership in NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP). Discussions of NATO enlargement remained inconclusive.

At the May 1995 summit, President Clinton expressed his expectation that Russia would meet all conditions of the CFE Treaty, which was due to come into full force in November 1995. Meeting this deadline would require withdrawing several hundred tanks and other weapons from the North Caucasus region of Russia, including many in Chechnya. At the review conference in May 1996, Clinton offered to support modifications to the CFE Treaty to meet Russia's "legitimate security interests." Clinton reiterated United States concerns about human rights abuses in Chechnya and called for a permanent cease-fire. Yeltsin responded by calling Russia's Chechnya campaign a battle against terrorism rather than a conventional military action.

The summit meeting of October 1995, held in Hyde Park, New York, continued the previous emphasis on the most contentious issues of bilateral relations. These included Russian nuclear sales to Cuba and Iran, objections to expansion of NATO in Central Europe and to United States plans to build a ballistic missile defense system, and Russia's noncompliance with the CFE Treaty. The dominant question of this summit, which yielded no agreements, was the form of Russia's participation in NATO-commanded international peacekeeping forces to be sent into Bosnia. Clinton and Yeltsin referred most of the contentious issues to lower levels for detailed discussion and emerged from the summit emphasizing the continued strength of Russian-United States cooperation.

The Moscow summit of April 1996 took place during presidential campaigns in both countries. It also followed directly the G-7 meeting on nuclear safety and security in Moscow. As in Hyde Park, the two leaders emphasized the positive aspects of their partnership and announced progress in negotiations over the CFE and ABM treaties, but without citing any details. Yeltsin briefed Clinton on his progress toward ratification of the START II agreement, and Clinton criticized Russia's fears of NATO enlargement as completely unfounded. For Yeltsin, the meeting was an opportunity to demonstrate to the electorate that the leader of the United States respected him, but he also felt constrained to demonstrate that he was independent of coercion by Clinton.


Russia - Western Europe


The Soviet Union's relations with Western Europe following World War II were colored heavily by Soviet relations with Eastern Europe and by the Warsaw Pact forces arrayed in Europe against NATO forces. The Soviet influence over Eastern Europe, punctuated by the 1956 invasion of Hungary and the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia and by a constant buildup of conventional and nuclear forces, prompted West European NATO member nations to reinforce their defenses and discouraged direct relations between those nations and the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union's policy toward Western Europe had five basic goals: preventing rearmament and nuclearization of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany); preventing the political, economic, or military integration of Western Europe; obtaining West European endorsement of the existing territorial division of the continent; splitting the NATO alliance by encouraging anti-Americanism on various issues; and creating nuclear-free zones by encouraging European peace groups and leftist movements. The more general aim was to make Western Europe as similar as possible to the Soviet Union's highly advanced northwestern neighbor, Finland: a neutral buffer zone whose political reactions could be anticipated under any circumstances, and which would refrain from commitments to Western nations. In the early 1980s, a conflict in Western Europe over NATO and Warsaw Pact nuclear installations accelerated Soviet efforts to neutralize NATO's European contingent. The Soviet Union tried to foster a European détente separate from one with the United States. The effort was defeated because West European governments were determined to uphold and modernize NATO, and Soviet-sponsored peace groups failed to arouse public opinion against NATO participation.

The Soviet-era division of Europe into two distinct military alliances continues to influence Russia's policy toward Western Europe. NATO remains an active presence in Western Europe, and Russia sees a persistent threat that NATO will embrace the former Warsaw Pact allies and leave Russia without its European buffer zone. Because of this perceived threat, sharpened in the rhetoric of Russian nationalist factions, Russia has been reluctant to accommodate West European nations on a number of issues, even as it has hastened to bolster relations in other areas such as commerce.

Even before the breakup of the Soviet Union, Yeltsin pursued closer relations with Western Europe on behalf of the Russian Republic. In his first foreign trip after the failure of the August 1991 coup had substantially improved his stature as president of the Russian Republic, Yeltsin visited Germany to seek safeguards for Germans residing in Russia. After 1991 Russia's relations with Western Europe achieved a level of integration and comity that the Soviet Union had aspired to but had never reached. The draft foreign policy concept of January 1993 called for Russian foreign policy to consolidate the emerging partnership with the states of Western Europe, but it also emphasized that Russia's vital interests might cause disagreement on some issues. Russia's major goals included gaining West European aid and markets, recognition of Russia's interests in Central Europe and the CIS, and regional cooperation in combating organized crime and nuclear smuggling. Germany emerged as the largest European aid donor to Russia and its largest trade and investment partner.

In June 1994, Yeltsin and the leaders of the European Union (EU) signed an agreement on partnership and cooperation. Pending the ratification of the agreement by the member states, a provisional economic accord was drawn up in early 1995 extending most-favored-nation status to Russia and reducing many import quotas. Because of Western disapproval over the war in Chechnya, the EU did not sign the agreement until July 1995, following a cease-fire in Chechnya.

The Council of Europe also sidelined a Russian application for membership as a sign of disapproval of events in Chechnya, and in July 1995 the council issued a report detailing Russian (as well as some Chechen) human rights abuses in Chechnya. After the conclusion of the cease-fire, Russian officials requested reconsideration of Russia's application. The council granted Russia full membership in January 1996. European authorities explained that admitting Russia into Europe's foremost body on human rights, democracy, and the rule of law would promote democratic trends in Russia more effectively than the isolation that would result if membership were denied. A substantial body of European opinion continued to oppose admission, however, especially when Russian army attacks on Chechen civilians continued and Russia failed to impose a required moratorium on capital punishment (see Chechnya, ch. 9; The Criminal Justice System, ch. 10).

In February 1996, the Council of Europe and the EU announced an aid package to help Russia meet the legal and human rights requirements of membership in the council. Tensions in Russia's relations with the West continued, however, with its refusal in April 1996 to provide arms sales data. These data are necessary for establishment of a military technology export control regime to replace the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (CoCom), which NATO used during the Soviet era to monitor world arms shipments.

The CFE Treaty, which the Soviet Union signed in 1990, aimed at stabilizing and limiting the nonnuclear forces of all European nations. Signed in the context of the NATO-Warsaw Pact division of Europe, the treaty remained a basis for reduction of tensions in Europe after the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union dissolved.

Although the Russian military accepted the CFE Treaty, in the ensuing years it increasingly insisted that the signatories allow modification of force limits on Europe's flanks, which included the still substantial garrison in Kaliningrad Oblast on the Baltic and the troublesome Caucasus region (see The Geopolitical Context, ch. 9). In the early 1990s, Russia shifted much weaponry to the southern flank area to stabilize its North Caucasus republics, particularly breakaway Chechnya, as well as the independent but conflict-plagued Caucasus states of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Although NATO proposed some alterations in Russia's flank limits in September 1995, Russia still was not in compliance when the treaty came into full force in November 1995. Russia met the treaty's overall arms reduction targets, however. Russia called for further modifications of the treaty's troop disposition requirements to be put on the agenda of a planned May1996 review conference. After intense negotiations, the conferees finally agreed to allow Russia to retain additional equipment in the southern flank area for three years.


Russia - NATO


The January 1993 draft foreign policy concept of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs called for increasing ties with NATO through the North Atlantic Cooperation Council and other means, including military liaison, joint maneuvers, and exchange visits. Russia objected to full NATO membership for Poland and other Central European states, so the United States proposed establishment of NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP) in the fall of 1993. The PfP was to be an ancillary of NATO, consisting entirely of the former Warsaw Pact states and former Soviet republics. By the end of 1995, twenty-seven states--the entire complement of those two groups--had joined. Yeltsin supported Russia's membership in the PfP in his "state of the federation" address to the Russian parliament in February 1994, but he opposed the future inclusion in NATO of Central European states as unacceptably excluding Russia from participation in European affairs.

In response to NATO air strikes on Bosnian Serb forces in April 1994, Yeltsin hinted that Russia might delay signing the PfP agreement. Instead, Kozyrev announced shortly thereafter that the Russian ministries of foreign affairs and defense had decided that Russia should have a special status in the PfP "to protect it from hostile acts by NATO." In May 1994, the Russian Security Council called unsuccessfully for NATO to agree to a list of special privileges for Russia. The Russian delegation walked out of the December 1994 signing ceremonies for membership in the PfP before finally joining in June 1995.

At the Budapest meeting of CSCE heads of state in December 1994, Russia called for the CSCE to transform itself into the major security organization in Europe. The CSCE rejected Russia's proposal, but it did agree to change its name to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to reflect its status as a permanent organization. The West viewed Russia's overture as seeking a new forum from which to gain influence over NATO and other Western organizations. Through 1995 Russian spokesmen continued their criticism of NATO, including its air strikes in Bosnia, and called for an alternative European security structure. Nevertheless, Yeltsin vetoed a State Duma resolution canceling Russia's PfP membership.

In late 1995, Russia agreed to join NATO's efforts to enforce the Dayton Peace Accords, formally signed in December as the Peace Agreement on Bosnia-Herzegovina, to end the conflict in Bosnia. In January 1996, some 1,600 Russian troops arrived in northern Bosnia to work closely with United States forces as part of the Bosnian Peace Implementation Force (IFOR). In the first six months of that arrangement, little controversy arose over command roles or goals.


Russia - Central Europe


Soviet influence in Eastern Europe began with Soviet occupation of territories during World War II. By 1949 communist regimes had been put into place in all the occupied states: Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Hungary, Poland, and Romania. Under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslavia maintained an independent position as a communist state that Soviet leaders first vilified but ultimately recognized in 1955. Domination of the East European countries belonging to the Warsaw Pact and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (known as Comecon--see Glossary) remained a fundamental priority of Soviet foreign policy through the disintegration of both organizations in 1991. Soviet leaders used the continued existence of socialist regimes in Eastern Europe as part of the ideological justification of socialism at home because it fulfilled the Marxist-Leninist recipe of the rule of the multinational proletariat. Because of that logic, a threat to Eastern Europe became a threat to the Soviet Union itself.

In the 1950s, the Soviet military used force to restrain mass expressions of resistance to conventional, Soviet-backed regimes in East Germany (1953), Poland (1956), and Hungary (1956). After the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia quelled political liberalization in that country, the irreversibility of communist control in East European countries was formulated in what became known as the Brezhnev Doctrine, which for the next twenty years was the foundation of Soviet policy toward the region. Soviet policy makers determined that occupation forces were the only sure guarantee of continued communist rule in Eastern Europe and that some limited local control over domestic policy was necessary to avoid future resistance. When Polish workers pushed their demands for independent trade unions and the right to strike in 1980-81, the implicit threat of invasion by Soviet forces led Polish police and security forces to quell disturbances and a new, military prime minister, General Wojciech Jaruzelski, to declare martial law.

In the mid-1980s, Gorbachev's internal liberalization was paralleled by his doctrine of "many roads to socialism," which called for cooperation rather than uniformity among East European nations. That call coincided with the implicit revocation in 1988 of the Brezhnev Doctrine as Soviet military doctrine recognized the need to conserve resources (see Soviet Doctrine, ch. 9). Gorbachev's internal reform programs of glasnost (see Glossary) and perestroika (see Glossary) received varying degrees of support and imitation among East European leaders. Regimes in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland showed substantial support, but those in Czechoslovakia, East Germany, and Romania refused to adopt the type of far-reaching domestic reforms that Gorbachev introduced at home (see The Gorbachev Era, ch. 2). Nevertheless, by the late 1980s the nature of Soviet influence had shifted unmistakably away from coercion toward political and economic instruments of influence. The last stage of Soviet relations with the region, 1989-91, was fundamentally different. By 1990 all the East European member states of the Warsaw Pact and Comecon had rejected their communist regimes and were straining toward the West. Although Soviet policy makers struggled to keep the two multinational organizations alive as instruments of influence, events had rendered them moribund before their formal demise in 1991. Now the world redesignated Eastern Europe as Central Europe, and the great western buffer zone disappeared.

Immediately after the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and Comecon and the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, relations with Central Europe were a relatively low priority of Russian foreign policy. This situation began to change during 1992, when many Russian reformists argued that closer ties with the new Central European democracies would bolster Russia's own commitment to democratization. Closer commercial ties also would make Central Europe's relatively inexpensive goods more readily available and afford better opportunities to make valuable connections with Western Europe as the former Warsaw Pact states moved closer to full integration into Europe.

Russia's January 1993 draft foreign policy concept stressed the importance of Central Europe. The concept proclaimed that the region "falls within the historical sphere of our interests" because it abuts "the belt of sovereign states"--Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia--of great interest to Russia. The concept warned against attempts by the West to push Russia out of Central Europe and to make the region into a buffer zone that would isolate Russia from Western Europe. Russia would counter such movements by reestablishing good trade and other relations with the Central European states.

The NATO Issue

The draft concept did not present NATO involvement in Central Europe as inherently threatening to Russian interests. Later in 1993, however, Yeltsin reversed course under the political exigency of his upcoming confrontation with the State Duma. The new position was that former members of the Warsaw Pact could join NATO only if Russia also were included. This opposition then spurred the United States proposal of the Partnership for Peace.

The military doctrine that Yeltsin decreed in November 1993 was not directed clearly at NATO. Calling for a neutral Central Europe, the doctrine warned that Russia would interpret as a threat the expansion of any alliance in Europe to the detriment of Russia's interests or the introduction of foreign troops in states adjacent to the Russian Federation. Throughout 1995 and the first half of 1996, Russian military officials continued to demand that the Central European states remain neutral. During the Moscow visit of Poland's president Alexander Kwasniewski in April 1996, Yeltsin hailed warmer ties, but he noted that the NATO issue remained the single obstacle over which the two sides disagreed.

Russia's Role in the Former Yugoslavia

In Russia's debate over its national interests and in Yeltsin's power struggle with hard-liners, a major issue was the appropriate attitude toward Serbia, a long-time ally whose aggression against several other republics of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, most notably Bosnia and Herzegovina, had made it an international pariah. The key question was how to cooperate with Western efforts to end the crisis in the former Yugoslavia while preserving Russia's traditional support of Serbia.

After the Serbian government expressed support for the August 1991 coup in Moscow, the Yeltsin government of the Russian Republic condemned the Serbian attacks of late 1991 on Croatia, one of the two initial breakaway republics from the Yugoslav federation. Russia supported efforts in the UN to compel Serbia to accept a negotiated settlement of the conflict with Croatia. This relatively low-key involvement shifted to a more active policy in 1993.

The 1993 foreign policy concept's language on the former Yugoslavia was rather neutral; it simply called for Russia to cooperate with the UN, the CSCE, and other parties in peacemaking efforts and to use its influence in the former Yugoslavia to encourage a peaceful settlement. As it began to speak more specifically for Serbian interests later in 1993, Russia hoped at the same time to maintain its image with the West as a useful mediator of a thoroughly frustrating conflict. However, this approach caused some tensions with the United States and its Western allies, who had hoped for straightforward Russian support of UN-sanctioned military actions against Serbian aggression. Russian hard-liners, meanwhile, urged that Russia give priority to defying what they called a "Western drive for hegemony" over the former Yugoslavia and to otherwise protecting Russian and Serbian geopolitical interests.

Hard-liners in Russia and Serbia espoused a so-called pan-Slavic solidarity that emphasizes ethnic, religious, and historical ties. Its adherents shared a frustration at diminished geopolitical dominance (in Serbia's case, the loss of influence over other parts of the former Yugoslavia, and in Russia's case the loss of control over the near abroad). Perceived threats to Serbs and Russians now outside the redrawn borders of their respective states aggravated this frustration. However, the rocky, thirty-five-year relationship between the Soviet Union and Tito's Yugoslavia disproved the natural affinity of the two nations.

Russia launched a more assertive phase of involvement in the former Yugoslavia when it opposed NATO air strikes against Bosnian Serb forces around Sarajevo in 1994 and 1995. Russia argued that there should be no air strikes until peace negotiations had been exhausted. Russia also demanded a larger role as a superpower in decision making on UN, NATO, and other international actions involving the former Yugoslavia.

In August 1995, Yeltsin and the Russian parliament harshly criticized intensified NATO air strikes on Bosnian Serb military targets. When mediation efforts finally led to a cease-fire in Bosnia in October 1995, Russia agreed to provide troops for a NATO-sponsored peacekeeping force. After some rearrangement of lines of command to avoid direct NATO command of Russian forces, Russian troops joined the peacekeepers in January 1996. Although it cooperated with IFOR, Russia asserted its views on other aspects of the Bosnia situation. In February 1996, Russia withdrew unilaterally from UN-imposed economic sanctions on Bosnian Serbs, arguing that the Serbs had met the conditions for withdrawing the sanctions.


Russia - China


Relations between China and the Soviet Union were cool and distrustful from the mid-1950s until the demise of the Soviet Union. Joseph V. Stalin (in office 1927-53) fostered an alliance when communists took over mainland China in 1949. When Khrushchev announced his de-Stalinization policy in 1956, Chinese leader Mao Zedong sharply disapproved, and the alliance was weakened. In 1959 and 1960, the Sino-Soviet rift came to full world attention with Khrushchev's renunciation of an agreement to provide nuclear technology to China, the Soviet withdrawal of all economic advisers, and mutual accusations of ideological impurity. Leonid Brezhnev attempted to improve relations, but serious border clashes and Brezhnev's proposal of an Asian collective security system that would contain China were new sources of hostility. In the 1970s, China began to improve relations with the West to counter Soviet political and military pressure in Asia. After Mao's death in 1976, the Soviet Union again sought to improve relations with China. But polemics were renewed in 1977, and tension between two Southeast Asian client states, Cambodia and Vietnam, further damaged relations. In 1979 China invaded Vietnam to defend Cambodia from the Vietnamese incursion of 1978. The Soviet Union condemned the invasion and increased arms shipments to Vietnam. Competing goals in Southeast Asia remained a key issue for nearly a decade.

A new set of bilateral negotiations began in 1979, but the Chinese ended talks shortly after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in late 1979. Thereafter, China added withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan to its conditions for renewing the two nations' 1950 friendship treaty. Talks on the Sino-Soviet border situation finally resumed in late 1982, but relations remained static until Gorbachev began making conciliatory gestures in 1986 and 1987. In 1988 two major obstacles were removed when the Soviet Union committed itself to removing troops from Afghanistan, and Vietnam did likewise for Cambodia. The Sino-Soviet summit meeting of June 1989 was the first since the Khrushchev regime.

Russia's foreign policy toward China generally has had two goals: to preserve a counterweight against United States influence in the Pacific and to prevent Chinese regional hegemony and a Sino-Japanese alliance that could exclude Russia. This balancing act appeared in Russia's 1993 foreign policy concept in its call for weighing the benefits of increased Russian arms sales to China against the danger of re-creating a Cold War arms race in which the respective proxies would be Taiwan and China. Accordingly, the concept endorsed neighborly and substantive relations with China while ensuring that "third countries," such as the United States or Japan, would not be able to use China as an ally against Russia.

In the early 1990s, relations got a boost from China's interest in renewed weapons imports from Russia and other forms of military cooperation. In 1992 an exchange of visits by high defense officials established defense ties and included the signing of a major arms technology agreement with a reported value of US$1.8 billion. In 1993 another series of defense exchange visits yielded a five-year defense cooperation agreement (see Foreign Arms Sales; China, ch. 9). A strategic partnership, signed in early 1996, significantly strengthened ties.

In December 1992, Yeltsin went to China and signed a nonaggression declaration that theoretically ended what each called the other's search for regional hegemony in Asia. Another treaty included Russian aid in building a nuclear power plant, the first such provision since Sino-Soviet relations cooled in the late 1950s. Chinese party chairman Jiang Zemin visited Moscow in September 1994 and concluded a protocol that resolved some border disputes and generally strengthened bilateral ties. During Yeltsin's visit to China in April 1996, both sides described their relationship as evolving into a "strategic partnership," which included substantially increased arms sales. At the April meeting, new agreements made progress toward delineating and demilitarizing the two countries' 3,645 kilometers of common border. Although border security and illegal Chinese immigration into the Russian Far East were controversial issues for Russian regional officials, Yeltsin demanded regional compliance with the agreements. Russia has respected China's claim that Taiwan is part of its territory, although Russia's trade with Taiwan increased to nearly US$3 billion in 1995 and Russia planned to open trade offices on the island in 1996.

In 1994-96 China emerged as a major market for Russian arms, having bought several dozen Su-27 fighter aircraft and several Kilo-class attack submarines. Russia also had a positive trade balance in the sale of raw materials, metals, and machinery to China. A series of high-level state visits occurred in 1994 and 1995. Both countries pursued closer ties, in each case partly to counterbalance their cooling relations with the United States. In March 1996, Russia announced that it would grant China a loan of US$2 billion to supply Russian nuclear reactors for power generation in northeast China, and further cooperation was proposed in uranium mining and processing, fusion research, and nuclear arms dismantlement.


Russia - Japan


Historians identify the crushing victory of Japan over Russia in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 as the beginning of those countries' poor relations. After World War I, Japan took Vladivostok and held the key port for four years, initially as a member of the Allied interventionist forces that occupied parts of Russia after the new Bolshevik (see Glossary) government proclaimed neutrality in 1917. At the end of World War II, Stalin broke the neutrality pact that had existed throughout the war in order to occupy vast areas of East Asia formerly held by Japan. His action resulted in the incorporation of the entire Kuril Islands chain and the southern half of Sakhalin Island into the Soviet Union, and it created an issue that blocked the signing of a peace treaty and forging closer relations. In the Gorbachev era, relations thawed somewhat as high officials exchanged visits and the Soviet Union reduced its Far East nuclear forces and troops, but fundamental differences remained unchanged when the Soviet Union dissolved.

Since World War II, twin concerns have dominated Japanese relations with the former Soviet Union: the East-West Cold War and the so-called Northern Territories--the four southernmost Kuril islands--that the Soviet Union occupied under the terms of the Yalta Conference in 1945 and continued to occupy on grounds of national security. The dissolution of the Soviet Union initially raised Japanese expectations of a favorable resolution of the islands dispute and Russian hopes of significant Japanese economic aid and investment in return. But the return of the islands to Japan remained politically inadvisable for Soviet and Russian leaders throughout the first half of the 1990s.

Just before he became de facto president of Russia in 1990, Yeltsin had advanced a bold, five-point plan to deal with the territorial issue. After initially criticizing the plan, the Gorbachev government incorporated several of Yeltsin's recommendations into its foreign policy position. The plan envisioned several steps leading to a full peace treaty, without a firm Russian commitment to return the islands, and in 1992 the Russian Federation continued the discussions that the Gorbachev regime had initiated.

However, Japan refused to increase commercial activity with Russia until the countries resolved the territorial issue (by which Japan meant that Russia would recognize its sovereignty) and signed a peace treaty. Russia offered only to return two islands after a peace treaty was signed. In the meantime, Yeltsin's efforts to improve bilateral relations faced increased domestic criticism from hard-line legislators, regional officials in Russia's Far East, and elements within the military establishment. In 1992 this criticism culminated in Yeltsin's Security Council forcing an embarrassing, last-minute cancellation of a presidential trip to Japan. Russia's January 1993 foreign policy concept approached the problem only obliquely. It made an improved role in Asian geopolitics a top general priority and improved relations with Japan a primary specific goal in that process.

In 1993-96 Russo-Japanese relations showed signs of improvement, although there were also repeated setbacks as both sides proposed and then withdrew conditions. After postponing a second visit, Yeltsin finally made an official visit to Japan in October 1993. The resulting bilateral Tokyo Declaration represented some movement on both sides, but Russia's dumping of nuclear waste in the Sea of Japan and the issue of Japanese fishing rights off the Kuril Islands marred relations in the ensuing years. In 1995 the two sides came close to agreements on both issues--including Japanese aid to build sorely needed nuclear waste processing facilities in Russia's Maritime (Primorskiy) Territory--but the terms of the treatment plant remained mired in controversy, and continued Japanese violations stymied the fishing agreement in 1995 (see Environmental Conditions, ch. 3).

After two years of talks, in January 1996 Russia reached an agreement with Japanese and United States firms to build a liquid nuclear waste treatment ship with financing from Russia, Japan, and the United States. Negotiations over fishing rights remained deadlocked after a fifth round of talks ended in February 1996, and Russian border troops continued to fire on Japanese fishing vessels. The Russians protested a Japanese proposal to extend a 200-mile economic exclusion zone around its coastlines, in line with Japan's imminent ratification of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea prescribing the limits of national coastline authority. Because of the proximity of the two countries, such a zone would include substantial Russian coastal waters. Meanwhile, the Kuril Islands issue remained unresolved in the first half of 1996, although at the Moscow G-7 meeting the two sides agreed to resume talks.


Russia - Other Asian States


The four major goals of Soviet policy in Asia were defense of the Soviet Union's eastern borders, including areas disputed with China, Japan, and Mongolia; maintenance of a set of alliances with key nations along the Asian periphery; improved relations with Western-oriented, relatively advanced states in order to obtain assistance in developing Siberia; and as much isolation as possible of China, South Korea, and the United States. In pursuit of these goals, the main instrument was the large Soviet military presence in Asia, which backed foreign policy assertions that the Soviet Union was an Asian power. In the late 1980s, Gorbachev sought to update this approach by improving relations with China, India, and Japan.

According to the 1993 draft foreign policy concept, Russia aimed to correct the imbalance in the former Soviet Union's East-West relations by paying greater attention to ties with Asian states. This view reflected the debate in Russian foreign policy between the westward-looking so-called Atlanticists and the so-called Eurasianists who would focus on relations with the near abroad and the wealthiest Asian states.

Reflecting the Eurasian alternative, the January 1993 concept called for a flexible policy of mutually beneficial relations with all the states of Asia, thus fostering good relations by reducing Russian military forces and cooperating with the United States and other regional powers to bolster security and regional stability. Such cooperation would include joint prevention of undesirable and unstable behavior, including organized crime and drug dealing. By following such a policy, Russia would come to be seen as an "honest prospective partner" in the region.

Some conservatives argued that the breakup of the Soviet Union pushed Russia geopolitically toward Asia because the great bulk of Russia's territory and resources are in its eastern regions and because the most European territories of the Soviet Union--Belarus, the Baltic states, and Ukraine--now were gone. Russian territory directly abuts three Asian powers: China, Japan, and North Korea. The security of the large populations of Russians remaining in Central Asia, which has an extensive border with China, were a continuing concern; thus, events such as changes in Chinese-Kazakstani relations have focused added Russian attention on Asia. Russia's relations with Mongolia, an adjoining state that moved decisively out of the Soviet sphere of influence in 1991, have been affected by separatism in areas of Russia bordering Mongolia.

Russia's presence and influence in Asia generally declined in the early 1990s. Elements of that movement were shifts of ethnic Russian populations away from areas near the Russo-Chinese border, growing anti-Russian sentiment in Vietnam, loss of Russian influence over an increasingly unpredictable North Korea, and a rapidly expanding, uncontrolled Chinese economic and even demographic influence in Russia's Far East. Russia soon took a series of measures to stem the erosion of its influence, including efforts to maintain and rebuild military ties with Vietnam and increased arms sales to China and Malaysia. In 1993 and 1995, Russia protested the failure of the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) to offer it membership, and it characterized the decision as a national insult.

Analysts interpreted the replacement of Kozyrev with Middle East specialist Primakov in early 1996 as marking a further tilt of Russian foreign policy toward the Eurasian emphasis. Early in his term, Primakov noted that his priorities would include reinforcing ties with the former Soviet republics and with such countries as China, Japan, and the Middle Eastern states. At the same time, Russia announced a new trade policy that called for increased commercial links with China, Pakistan, India, and South Korea, among other Asian nations. Yeltsin reaffirmed the new emphasis in his 1996 state of the federation speech. Economic interests played a large part in this change. In 1995 exports to Asian countries had increased to US$20 billion, more than one-quarter of Russia's total trade that year. Many Russian analysts observed that economically sound and technologically developed Asian states could provide markets, technology, and investments at advantageous terms.

Soviet policy in Southeast Asia, aimed at limiting the influence of China and eliminating the influence of the United States, was not especially successful in the 1970s. In 1978 support for Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia eliminated the pro-Chinese government of Cambodia, but it also pushed the member states of the pro-Western Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to cooperate more closely among themselves and with the United States. In the late 1980s, Russia established bilateral ties with ASEAN states as part of Gorbachev's revised Third World policies, which included improved relations with Asian nations of all economic descriptions.

In the early 1990s, Russia's efforts to improve relations with Vietnam met significant obstacles. In October 1993, the two sides discussed extending Russian use of the port at Cam Ranh Bay beyond its expiration date in the year 2005. Vietnam called for rental payments for use of the base, but the two countries reached no agreement. During Kozyrev's July 1995 visit to Vietnam, the two sides discussed enhancing bilateral and regional cooperation, which had reached a low level. Stumbling blocks to improved relations included Vietnam's repayment of its large debt to Russia, Russia's desire to repatriate many of the 50,000 to 80,000 Vietnamese guest workers stranded in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the status of Cam Ranh Bay. Vietnam also requested that Russia aid its army in modernizing itself as a counterweight to China, which remains a regional threat.

In the Soviet period, India was among the Third World states that responded the most positively to Soviet overtures, and the closeness of Indian-Soviet relations was a source of tension between China and the Soviet Union. In turn, the Soviet Union saw India as an important means of containing Chinese expansionism. Despite occasional declines, relations with India remained close through the end of the Gorbachev era, and India profited from abundant military and other foreign aid.

On a visit to India in January 1993, Yeltsin stressed that continued good relations were pivotal to Russia's balanced foreign relations, including its pro-Eastern policy. Although Russian trade with India had plummeted in the early 1990s, commercial relations recovered somewhat in 1994-95 following the establishment of an Indian-Russian Joint Commission. Much of the trade was linked to Indian repayment of past debts.

In March 1996, Primakov became the first Russian foreign minister to visit India. At that time, he termed India a priority partner, and he signed an agreement reestablishing the Soviet-era hot line communications link between New Delhi and Moscow. Primakov stressed that both Russia and India were seeking closer relations with China and that those new ties would not threaten the closer Russian-Indian ties.

Relations with communist North Korea and capitalist South Korea, defined clearly by the dichotomy of the Cold War, changed noticeably in the early 1990s. The January 1993 foreign policy concept endorsed the goal of a peaceful Korean unification to reduce regional instability on Russia's borders. Although the concept called for full ties with South Korea, which it described as sharing Russia's "basic values of world civilization," the concept also urged the maintenance of some levers of containment over North Korea to prevent that country from developing nuclear arms.

The Soviet Union's treaty ties with North Korea included the friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance treaty of 1961. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kozyrev indicated that many of the Soviet friendship treaties would be reevaluated, but at that time Russia did not renounce the pact with North Korea. In August 1995, Russia forwarded a new draft "friendly relations" treaty to North Korea that excluded a crucial provision calling for mutual military assistance in the case of attack. In April 1996, a Russian government delegation traveled to P'yongyang to discuss that proposal and to convince North Korea to halt bellicose moves along its border with South Korea.

North Korea's inconsistent positions on the issue of nuclear technology have been a major concern for Russia. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized North Korea's March 1993 announcement that it would withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and Russia subsequently supported the international community in urging North Korea to adhere to the NPT as a nonnuclear weapons power and to accept international inspections of its nuclear facilities. To ease the tension caused by the potential of nuclear weapons in the two Koreas, Russia called an international conference to declare the Korean Peninsula a nuclear-free zone. In October 1994, Russia endorsed a United States-North Korean agreement on halting North Korean nuclear proliferation while urging that Russian reactors be supplied to North Korea under the agreement. Moscow criticized the decision to supply South Korean reactors instead, and the new disagreement became another sore point in United States-Russian relations.

Other issues of conflict between Russia and North Korea were allegations of human rights violations against North Korean guest workers in Siberian forests and North Korea's unpaid debt to Russia of more than US$3 billion. In 1995 Russian conservatives urged renewal of arms sales and other ties with North Korea as a means of encouraging it to repay the debt.

On his 1992 visit to South Korea, Yeltsin signed the Treaty on Principles of Relations, which called for relations to be based on "common ideals of freedom, democracy, respect for human rights, and the principles of a market economy." This treaty placed Russia in the unique position of having treaty ties with both North and South Korea, each based on fundamentally different principles. Russia and South Korea reportedly also discussed joint projects in natural gas exploitation and industrial development. In 1995 the two countries signed an agreement that alleviated a sore point in relations by authorizing Russia to partially repay its debt to South Korea in goods. Russian arms transfers have included T-80 tanks and BMP-3 armored fighting vehicles. South Korea is assisting in the development of an industrial park in the Russian city of Nakhodka, a port on the Sea of Japan that Russia has declared a free economic zone.


Russia - The Third World


The Cold War affected the relations the United States and the Soviet Union had with Third World states. Both superpowers wooed Third World allies, many of which used the Cold War to extract favorable aid as the price of closer relations. The Soviet Union endeavored to construct socialism in the Third World to demonstrate that Marxism-Leninism would someday triumph worldwide. Many of its so-called client states were proclaimed as "socialist oriented" or following the path of "noncapitalist development," and the Soviet Union signed friendship treaties and other security and aid agreements with them. Some Third World states, however, involved themselves in the influential Nonaligned Movement, which began in 1955 and represented more than half the world's population. Most of those countries formally eschewed major security and other relations with the superpowers, with conspicuous exceptions such as Cuba. At some stages of its existence, however, the Nonaligned Movement appeared to have a pro-Soviet bias.

The collapse of the Soviet Union broke most of Russia's ties with Third World states. The Soviet ideological mission of fostering socialism also ceased. Russia was unable to continue economic subsidies to client regimes, including the Soviet-installed regime in Afghanistan that collapsed in 1992. Russia continued to play a reduced role in some of the regional peace negotiation efforts it had inherited from the Soviet Union, notably in the Middle East and in Cambodia.

Relations with Africa received a relatively low priority, and in 1992 Russia closed nine embassies and four consulates on that continent. Relations with some African states already had worsened in late 1991 when Yeltsin ordered the end of all foreign aid and demanded immediate repayment of outstanding debts. Most African states responded that their debts with the former Soviet Union should be forgiven or reduced because they had been largely military outlays resulting from a moribund superpower rivalry.

The January 1993 draft foreign policy concept made no mention of Russian support for former Soviet client states in Africa or elsewhere. Instead, the concept emphasized the use of diplomatic leverage to induce payment of debts by those states. Beginning in mid-1994, a shift began toward increased economic ties with more economically developed African states such as South Africa and Nigeria.


Russia - The Middle East


The Middle East was among the most important Third World regions for Soviet foreign policy and national security. The Soviet Union shared boundaries with Middle Eastern states Iran and Turkey, and some of those states' ethnic, religious, and language groups also were represented on the Soviet side of the border. The region's oil resources and shipping lanes were of significant interest to the Soviet Union and to the West. After World War II, the main Soviet goal in the region was to minimize the influence of the United States. Toward that end, the Soviet Union gave large-scale support to a group of radical Arab states that were united by their quest to eliminate Israel and to oust all vestiges of Western influence in the region. At various times, the strategy also included extensive economic assistance to NATO member Turkey, unsuccessful attempts at negotiation of the Iran-Iraq War in the mid-1980s (during a period of strained relations with both countries), and, in the late 1980s, pursuit of closer relations with moderate states of the region such as Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia as well as United States ally Israel. In 1987 the Soviet Union protected Kuwaiti shipping in the Persian Gulf against Iranian attack, and it established consular relations with Israel. At the same time, the Soviet Union continued ties with radical regimes in Libya, Syria, and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen).

In the last years of the Soviet Union, influence with Libya, Iraq, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and Kuwait ebbed, and the Soviet Union played a peripheral role in the Persian Gulf War of 1991. Despite its friendship treaty with Iraq, the Soviet Union supported the United States-led international effort to reverse Iraq's occupation of Kuwait. After the war, the Soviet Union found itself marginalized by United States dominance in the region. The Soviet Union played a minor but significant role as co-coordinator with the United States of peace talks between Israel and the Arab states that began in January 1992.

The independence of the five former Soviet Central Asian republics put a geographical barrier between Russia and the states of the Middle East. Some Russian democrats and some ultranationalists believed that the Soviet Union's involvement with Islamic states such as Afghanistan and the Central Asian republics had drained resources and harmed Russia's economic and political development and stability. This sentiment was a major factor in the original formulation of the CIS, which included only the Slavic republics in that new organization and added the Central Asian and Caucasus states only at the insistence of Kazakstan's president Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Beginning in 1993, however, Russian policy toward the Middle East and the Persian Gulf became more assertive in selected areas. In late 1992, Russia endeavored, with limited success, to prevent Iran from supporting the Islamic elements of a coalition government in Tajikistan, then under siege by antireformist Tajikistani elements. On other issues, Iran and Russia pursued similar interests in constraining anti-Russian and anti-Iranian political currents in Azerbaijan, and Iran used relations with Russia to counteract United States-led international economic and political ostracism.

A major factor in renewed Russian interest in the region was the prospect of arms sales and other trade, which were the goals of Chernomyrdin's visit to Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states in November 1994. In December 1994, Russia signed a trade agreement with Egypt with the stated purpose of resuming Egypt's Soviet-era position as the most important trade partner in the Middle East. Russia moved to reestablish its earlier lucrative arms sales ties with Iran, selling that country fighter aircraft, tanks, submarines, fighter-bombers, and other arms. Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Algeria also made arms purchases in the early 1990s, as did Egypt and Syria. However, the level of Russian arms sales remained low compared with the previous decades of high Soviet visibility in the region. In 1996 Russia continued to observe international bans on arms sales to Libya and Iraq.

Ultranationalists and other deputies in the Russian parliament called for rebuilding ties with Iraq and condemned United States air strikes against that country in January and June 1993. Among Russia's overtures for better relations was an appeal in the UN Security Council for easing international economic sanctions on Iraq, but in late 1995 these efforts were set back by revelations that Iraq was seeking to develop a nuclear weapons program. The apparently poor performance of Russian equipment during the Persian Gulf War discouraged many Middle Eastern states from buying Russian arms. Another negative effect on Russia's ties with the Middle East was Russia's aggression against Chechen Muslims and its stance favoring Serbia against Muslim Bosnia.

A series of Russian contracts to build nuclear power plants and to share nuclear technology with Iran became a major international issue and a source of particular friction with the United States. The initial 1993 contract was not fulfilled; a new contract, worth a reported US$800 million, called for construction of a nuclear reactor on the Persian Gulf. In September 1995, Moscow announced a further contract to build two additional, smaller reactors. Although the United States strongly protested what it viewed as potential nuclear proliferation to a terrorist state, Russia responded that international law permitted such deals and that the reactors would be under full safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Russian diplomats encouraged Arab participation in the Arab-Israeli peace talks that began in 1992, and Russians participated in talks between Israel and the PLO on the issue of PLO self-rule in Israeli-occupied territories. Among other reasons, Russia supported the peace process as a means of reducing the threat of the spread of Islamic fundamentalism.

Russian foreign minister Primakov launched shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East in April 1996 in an attempt to end fighting in southern Lebanon and to increase Russia's diplomatic role in the region. However, Russia's condemnation of Israeli attacks against militant Arab Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon led Israel to respond that it preferred the more evenhanded diplomatic approach of the United States. Russia subsequently was excluded from a multilateral force agreed upon by Israel, Lebanon, and Syria to monitor a United States-brokered cease-fire in Lebanon.


Russia - Latin America


In the Soviet period, the main reasons for involvement in Latin America were not historical, cultural, or economic, but related to strategic competition with the United States. Accordingly, the Soviet Union endeavored to foster leftist insurgencies and other distractions to interfere with United States foreign policy in the region.

The main bases of Soviet involvement in Latin America were Cuba and Nicaragua, but the Soviet Union also attempted some involvement in Peru and Grenada. The Soviet Union placed military and intelligence facilities in Cuba to spy on the United States. It also supported Cuba as an attractive and successful model of Latin American socialism that would induce other countries to move into the same sphere and become export bases for ideology. In 1962 Khrushchev attempted to redress Soviet strategic nuclear inferiority by surreptitiously placing intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Cuba. The resulting crisis brought the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of war. Although tensions over Cuba subsided considerably in the decades that followed, Cuba remained an important Soviet outpost until the Gorbachev regime began substantially cutting aid in the late 1980s. The other potential outpost of communism in Latin America, Nicaragua, was lost when a free election rejected the procommunist Sandinista Party in 1990. Meanwhile, Soviet purchases of grain and other goods from Latin America slumped severely in the decade before the breakup of the Soviet Union and thereafter because of the Soviet Union's inability to pay in hard currency (see Glossary).

The January 1993 draft foreign policy concept viewed relations with Latin America as particularly important for Russia's economic development. Russia saw the Latin American countries, particularly Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico, as a source of low-price food and other goods for the Russian market, as a source of mutually beneficial technological cooperation, and as a market for arms. The 1993 concept called for establishing and consolidating ties with regional organizations such as the Organization of American States, in which Russia is a permanent observer. The concept was vague about relations with Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala, and it avoided mention of Soviet-era support for Marxist-Leninist ideological movements in those states.

Some Russian analysts argued for revival of the mutually profitable pre-Soviet trade ties that had exchanged goods from Siberia for goods from Latin America. These analysts advocated obtaining Latin America's trade products--coffee, cocoa, sugar, fruit, footwear, and oil--in exchange for Siberian timber, coal, fish, and furs. Some also argued that Russia's trade in the entire Pacific Basin should intensify to compensate for the loss of ports on the Baltic and Black seas.

In the first post-Soviet years, the Russian government received criticism from nationalist factions for declining trade and lax diplomacy with Latin America. In 1993 commercial activity recovered somewhat as Brazil and Russia concluded a trade agreement that was worth about US$2 billion and included arms purchases by Brazil. In 1994 Vladimir Shumeyko, speaker of the Federation Council, Russia's upper legislative chamber, toured Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Many Russians urged restored ties with Cuba, Nicaragua, and Peru in order to persuade those states to pay back Soviet-era loans. Some of the many Latin American students who had benefited from the Soviet Union's large student-exchange program also began to seek new entrepreneurial and cultural contacts with Russia on behalf of their native countries. In 1994 Russia cooperated with the United States by supporting a United States-led international intervention force in Haiti.

In early 1996, Foreign Minister Primakov traveled to Cuba and other Latin American states to indicate Russia's determination to expand ties in the region. In March 1996, Russia and Colombia announced an agreement on the supply of Russian small arms and ammunition. Seeking to restore ties with Nicaragua, Russia agreed in April 1996 to cancel the bulk of that nation's debt (US$3.4 billion) to the former Soviet Union.

The Soviet-era status of Cuba deteriorated seriously late in the Gorbachev regime. Ties between the communist parties of the two countries were severed, economic subsidies were suspended, and, in late 1991, Gorbachev announced the pullout of the Soviet military brigade from Cuba. The Soviet Union announced that "mutual benefit" and world prices would dictate future economic relations and that Cuba no longer would enjoy the special status it had had until that time. The end of subsidies was a severe blow to the Cuban economy. In November 1992, a Russian-Cuban trade agreement endeavored to restore some trade ties with a sugar-for-oil barter arrangement, but it did not include subsidies for Cuba. During 1992 the Russian government also failed to defend Cuba against increased commercial sanctions based on international accusations of human rights violations. Some Russian hard-liners criticized the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' treatment of Cuba, and that policy was reversed partially between 1993 and 1995. First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets committed Russia to a credit of US$350 million and a sugar-for-oil barter agreement in 1993, and he made a high-level visit to strengthen bilateral ties in 1995.

Renewed Russian connections in Cuba have been of significant concern in the United States. Russia has argued that barter arrangements with Cuba do not violate provisions of the United States trade embargo on Cuba, which sets severe penalties for United States trading partners that deal with Cuba. In 1995 the United States voiced concern over Russian plans to assist Cuba in completing a nuclear power reactor. In February 1996, the United States tightened economic sanctions against Cuba in response to the shooting down of two United States civilian airplanes in international airspace. At that time, Yeltsin criticized the United States for overreacting, and he reaffirmed his intention of reestablishing traditional ties with Cuba.


CITATION: Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. The Country Studies Series. Published 1988-1999.

Please note: This text comes from the Country Studies Program, formerly the Army Area Handbook Program. The Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world.

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