RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE-RELATED LEGAL DOCUMENTS


Russia-CIS:
Does the West's Position Need Modification?

Foreign Intelligence Service

September 1994

[Report delivered to Russian and foreign journalists by Yevgeniy Primakov, director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service]

The main avenue of contemporary development in the international situation is highlighted by a move away from "Cold War values" and a reorientation to civilized interstate relations. But all that does not render the world less complex, does not preclude failures of various countries' national interests to intermesh, or sometimes even conflicts between various countries' national interests. The inertia of thinking and the enduring stereotypes of past practice also take their toll to some extent.

Tracing the development of various processes and trends in the international arena the Russian Federation FIS could not overlook the fact that influential circles in a number of Western countries interpret the role that Russia may play in uniting the republics of the former Soviet Union as "imperial" and integration as a process aimed at the restoration of the USSR (Footnote) (Here and hereinafter it is not a question of the former Baltic republics which do not form part of the CIS).

Some foreign analysts are promoting with increasing vigor the idea that the irreversibility of the move away from the "Cold War" is directly dependent on keeping the former Soviet Union in a disconnected state. At the same time it is claimed (Brzezinski and others) that separate CIS states are needed to balance the tendency for Moscow's positions to gain strength. The prospects linked with the results of the recent elections in Ukraine and Belorussia [Belarus] aare also being viewed from the viewpoint of the undesirability of centripetal processes on the territory of the former USSR. The conclusion is drawn that the policy of the leading Western countries vis-a-vis the CIS area should be modified with a view to preserving the status quo that took shape following the breakup of the Union. On the one hand, these opinions hide real fears that centripetal processes within the Commonwealth may revive the union state in its former capacity as the enemy of the West and, on the other, clear pointers regarding the "need" to prevent Russia's growing stronger as a world power.

Needless to say, all Western leaders are not so definite and unequivocal. But even the fact that this topic is being discussed by political circles in the United States and certain European states, along with the calls for a reappraisal of the West's strategy in the sphere of security and for changes to their policy toward Russia and the other CIS countries, are viewed by FIS experts as serious reason for analysis.

I. Wholesale Generalizations and Reality

The idea of Russia's changing and as yet undefined relations with the former national Soviet republics as "Moscow's imperial ambitions" is not a matter for theoretical dispute. Policy may be -- and in a number of cases already is -- behind that assessment.

U.S. Congressional experts for instance rightly point out that in the past year Russia's foreign policy has become more independent, regarding its own vital national interests as being of paramount importance. One can and must concur unequivocally that this change does not revive the "Cold War" era. However the conclusion that this change in Russia's policy does nevertheless represent a "kind of challenge to the United States" stems from the logic that indeed prevailed during the "Cold War" when one side's defense of its own interests was necessarily regarded as a minus by the other side.

Russia's safeguarding its vital interests is by no means an alternative to its desire for partnership relations with the United States, and European and other states. On the contrary, the durability of these relations is ensured by their equitable nature, which manifests itself in the partners' ability to grasp the essence of one another's national interests and uphold them in a nonconfrontational climate.

Typically, many foreign experts mainly associate the threat to Russian-Western relations with Russia's stance on the so-called near abroad.

Some shift of emphasis can be noticed here. The question of whether the centripetal tendencies within the Commonwealth will develop within or outside the democratic process may indeed be worrying both Western politicians and public opinion in the "far abroad." However, often the emphasis is placed on something else: Will the CIS survive at all in its disjointed form or will there be reintegration on its territory. Here the former is seen as beneficial to the West and the latter as contrary to its interests.

Current information indicates that the arguments behind this stance are mainly that:

  • reintegration will destroy the sovereignty of the states within the CIS;
  • it will at the same time weaken democratic processes throughout the Commonwealth;
  • Russia, using its resources, which are incomparable to those of the other CIS countries, will start "flexing its muscles."

  • These arguments are unfounded.

    First, all attitudes to the breakup of the Union notwithstanding, the tremendous stability of the new states' sovereignty remains an immutable fact. Its attainment is virtually irreversible.

    Second, any significant political organizations which condemn the breakup of the USSR do not aim to restore it in its previous form and capacity. Awareness of the irreversibility not only of the CIS countries' state sovereignty but also of the emergence of private ownership throughout the greater part of the former USSR and the development of a mixed economy is growing among these organizations and forces.

    Third, the idea of Russia's striving to "take in hand" the other CIS states, using its economic and other advantages to this end, is untenable. The fairly widespread views in the national republics of the USSR that "assets were pumped" from the provinces to Russia and that Moscow "inculcated" excessive centralization in cadre and other decisions initially or historically so to speak paved the way for this kind of talk.

    The latter did indeed take place in the past but the "resumption of Moscow's diktat" -- and all serious experts are aware of this -- is impossible following the changes in Russia and the former USSR republics' acquisition of sovereignty. It would be wrong to claim that "integrationist" views and sentiments hold complete sway at present in the CIS countries. There are certain forces in Russia itself and the other CIS states who disregard or underestimate the objective nature of the centripetal tendencies forging their way through various parts of the former Union. In Russia, hypothetically speaking, the "neoisolationists" attribute their position to the fact that the Russian Federation has sufficient potential to autonomously escape from the crisis and an agreement on economic union would be burdensome for it and could even complicate its relations with the West. In other CIS states the "neoisolationists" rely on "conclusions" that economic integration on the territory of the former USSR would weaken their sovereignty, strengthen Moscow's influence, and complicate the development of relations with other states.

    Both groups consider that they express the national idea. And Russian "neoisolationists" can indeed for instance cite the fact that in 1993 alone deliveries to other CIS countries for which no payment was made reached around $10 billion, which is in excess of all the aid that Russia received from the IMF and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. (Is that not a counterargument to the big talk regarding the machinations by Moscow, which is allegedly thinking of establishing its own supremacy throughout the Commonwealth!) The "neoisolationists" believe that Russia should "distance itself" from the other CIS countries because their egotistical credit and monetary policy is dangerously whipping up inflation in Russia.

    All that is indeed happening. However, "neoisolationist" ideas and currents run counter to objective processes. What is more, they harbor considerable potential for conflict. At the same time, according to the Russian FIS's information, a desire is arising in leadership circles in a number of leading Western countries and states in the Muslim world to view "neoisolationist" currents" as a possible mainstay when implementing their policy on the CIS.

    II. Economic Realities

    There are a whole series of factors in favor of creating a common economic area in the Commonwealth;

  • the traditionally high level of production sharing that has developed over the decades: In the late eighties the RSFSR (now Russia) sold almost twice as much of its output via interrepublic union commodity turnover as it did via trade with foreign countries while the other former Soviet republics sold roughly seven times as much;
  • the single technological area that developed over the decades, the unified standards, and the fact that national processing capacities were tied to certain categories and grades of raw materials and semimanufactures;
  • the republics' vital need to maintain employment by preserving mutual deliveries and also the very existence of their own industry, whose output, with the exception of cheap natural raw materials, is as yet uncompetitive on the world market;
  • the need for investment cooperation in opening up and processing natural resources, and the joint use of important installations, particularly infrastructure;
  • the advantages of a coordinated strategy for the conversion of the defense industry;
  • the impossibility, given the "transparency" of the borders, of total economic isolation; the sizeable material losses owing to illegal imports and re-export; the absence of a coordinated financial policy, and difficulties in mutual settlements;
  • the unfeasibility in the coming years of a real influx of foreign financial and industrial capital given the instability of the situation in the CIS countries and the high degree of commercial risk.
  • Lastly, there is no reason to believe that the CIS will stay aloof from worldwide practice, which demonstrates the advantages of a large-scale economic area for the development of productive forces. It was awareness of these advantages that led to the conception and broadening of economic integration processes in various parts of the world -- be it the European Union, ASEAN, NAFTA, or other integrationist groupings.

    Naturally in the present conditions in view of the sovereignty of the CIS states it is impossible to mechanically restore the economic ties in the forms that existed within the single Union of the past. The movement toward the creation of a common economic area in the CIS is not straightforward and cannot occur without irregularities, digressions, and retreats. Suffice it to say that the formation of a common economic area within the Commonwealth is altogether impossible without in-depth economic reforms in the USSR's former national republics and without squaring their economic mechanisms with the Russian model.

    The stage-by-stage resolution of the issue of forming a common economic area is dictated not only by the uneven development of elements for the transition to a market economy in the CIS countries but also by the demands of this process itself. The creation of a common market, including freedom of movement for goods, capital, and the work force, is proposed as the immediate objective followed by the unification of the infrastructure to ensure the normal functioning of the corresponding sectors of the Commonwealth countries' economy.

    The creation of a common economic area in the Commonwealth is a by no means easy matter. However, it is hopeless to resist the centripetal tendencies within the CIS, which are particularly manifest at present in the economic sphere.

    And counterproductive at the same time.

    The creation of a common economic area in the CIS is virtually the only way of reducing tension in interstate relations in connection with the fact that following the breakup of the Union there are around 25 million Russians and so-called Russian speakers who gravitate toward them outside Russia.

    III. Security Realities

    A number of factors are prompting the CIS countries to create not only an economic but also a common defense area designed to guarantee their security.

    The change in the military-political situation in the world, characterized by a reduction in tension on a global level, the Russian Federation's and other CIS countries' renunciation of the concept of permanent enemies, and the beginning of cooperation with NATO does not mean the elimination of potential threats to their security. The world community is now at a stage where the geopolitical configuration is changing, the militarization of a number of "Third World" countries is continuing, and many nuclear and "threshold" states are situated on or near to the CIS borders, the conflict zone is expanding, encompassing the center of Europe and part of the "outlying areas" of the former USSR.

    1. Conflicts in the CIS countries.

    The interethnic and interstate conflicts that have broken out in the CIS states directly and in adjacent countries are tending to expand. The situation is aggravated by a number of factors. First, in postwar history this is the first time that crisis has simultaneously enveloped a host of countries in direct proximity to or bordering on states on whose territory contemporary destructive arms and highly complex technical production units are located. In these conditions the settlement of interethnic and interstate conflicts is a particularly pressing task.

    Second, a considerable proportion of the CIS conflict zone is adjacent to Afghanistan, where there is no sign of the situation stabilizing in the near future. In view of the ethnic features (the northern part of Afghanistan is mainly inhabited by Tajiks and Uzbeks) Afghanistan's destabilizing effect on the Central Asian states is intensifying. Moreover it is acquiring the nature of a threat to the state security of a number of countries, primarily Tajikistan, followed by Uzbekistan. Russia's FIS has information to the effect that there are forces in Afghanistan which want to break the north away and which are striving to create on that basis a Farsi-speaking state incorporating Tajikistan.

    Third, the situation in the CIS "hot spots" has been aggravated as a result of other states apart from Afghanistan, primarily Iran and Turkey, becoming "embroiled" in them. Both these countries are seeking to broaden their influence and are aspiring to the role of regional superpowers. As a result of their "involvement" in the conflicts on the CIS territory -- and this is not only of significance for Russia alone -- there is a "swing to the right" taking place in the alignment of forces in Turkey and Iran.

    Fourth, Islamic extremism has a highly negative effect on the crisis situations on CIS territory.

    FIS analysts believe that under no circumstances should it be associated with Islamic fundamentalism, which does not presuppose the forcible spread of Islam, much less terrorist methods. However, of late, Islamic extremism has intensified as a movement aiming to spread Islam by force, suppress forces opposed to this, and change the secular nature of the state. The "effect" of this extremism has manifested itself in both Tajikistan and the Caucasus conflict zone. However the problem of the spread of Islamic extremism is not locally confined.

    Fifth, despite a host of statements in actual fact an inadequate reaction can be discerned on the part of the world community to the conflict situations that have developed near Russia's borders. For instance, for all the comparable number of victims of the Yugoslav crisis and in the CIS "hot spots" major differences are emerging in peacekeeping diplomacy toward these two crisis zones. The United Nation's sharp reaction involving the use of force to the capture of several units of combat hardware in Bosnia rubs shoulders with a "polite reference" to the death of Russian border guards when repelling gangs' attempts to infiltrate the Afghan-Tajik border.

    2. Peacekeeping actions on CIS territory.

    All the Commonwealth countries have an interest in their implementation. Russia's active involvement in settling conflict situations is attributed to its vital interest in a stable situation on its borders and in preventing conflicts having a provocative influence on certain regions of the Russian Federation. People in Moscow cannot close their eyes to the fact that armed operations result in the death of Russian citizens and the violation of the rights of the Russian-speaking population, refugees are streaming toward the Russian Federation, and huge financial resources are needed in order to look after them, while their migration is exacerbating the social and crime situation.

    Despite the indisputably positive results of the peacekeeping actions in South Ossetia and the Dniester Region, their important role in Tajikistan, and the favorable start to the operations in Abkhazia, they elicit a more or less negative or suspicious reaction in many capitals of the "far abroad." There is criticism of Russia's "special role" in peacekeeping actions on the territory of the Commonwealth countries and the idea that its vital interests are linked with a state of stability in the other CIS countries.

    On the poor international-legal base for peacekeeping operations on CIS territory. In reality Russia's commitments under the UN Charter, the corresponding UN Security Council decisions, and other international treaties and agreements, including within the CIS framework ("On Collective Peacekeeping Forces in the CIS" of 20 March 1992, "On Collective Peacekeeping Forces and Joint Measures to Provide them With Material and Technical Support" of 24 September 1993, etc) constitute the international-legal basis for its participation in peacekeeping activity.

    The possibility of the use of Russian peacekeeping contingents abroad in accordance with Russia's international commitments is envisaged in the Russian Federation Law "On Defense" of 24 September 1992 and the Russian Federation presidential edict "On the Basic Provisions of Russian Federation Military Doctrine" of 2 November 1993. The draft law "On the Procedure for the Provision of Russian Personnel for Participation in Peacekeeping Activity" is being examined by the Russian Federation parliament.

    It must also be particularly emphasized that no peacekeeping action in the CIS has been conducted without the consent of the conflicting parties although the United States for instance has carried out operations in Panama and Grenada without any approval from these countries' authorities.

    On the fact that Russia allegedly pits its efforts against the activity of the United Nations and other international organizations. By way of confirmation I can cite in particular the words spoken by U.S. Secretary of State Christopher, who said bluntly when addressing the U.S. Senate 2 March this year: "We (the United States) do not recognize their (Russia's) right to take any actions in the new independent states save those which are carried out following coordination with the United Nations and other international organs and in accordance with the norms of international law."

    On the lack of neutrality among the Russian forces when implementing individual peacekeeping operations on Commonwealth territory. There are usually references to the Russian military's "inconsistency" in Abkhazia and Tajikistan. However, the neutrality of the Russian forces involved in resolving conflicts is guaranteed by the pledges made by the Russian Federation when coordinating the terms and framework of the peacekeeping operations with all the interested parties.

    On the predominance of Russian subunits in the Commonwealth's peacekeeping contingents. This cannot be put forward as an accusation purely because in practice it is not yet possible to ensure full-fledged participation by the other CIS states in peacekeeping operations. The overwhelming majority of states of the "far abroad" are not prepared to send peacekeeping forces here, and the United Nations is not prepared to pay for peacekeeping operations.

    On the inadequacy of international monitoring of Russia's peacekeeping activity. This is completely refuted, for instance, by the fact that the CIS countries' peacekeeping operations in Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh will be monitored in total by several hundred international observers. UN and CSCE missions have already been operating in the Dniester region, Georgia, and Tajikistan for a long time. The large Minsk Group of the CSCE on Nagorno-Karabakh has been functioning since 1992. They all have practically unlimited access to the information they require.

    On the inadequacy of the negotiating process in settling conflicts. Yet not a single Russian peacekeeping operation has been carried out without preliminary work to organize talks between the parties to the conflict. Moreover, the military phase of the settlement, involving the sending in of disengagement forces (South Ossetia, the Dniester region, Abkhazia) or the countering of outside aggression (Tajikistan) is always aimed at creating the conditions for intensifying talks with international participation (the United Nations, the CSCE). That talks to find a peaceful resolution to crises should be prolonged is a normal phenomenon in world practice. Thus, Russia is observing all the internationally recognized conditions of peacekeeping taken together.

    3. The problem of the "transparency" of external and internal borders.

    Following the USSR's collapse and the formation of the CIS, the question of how to ensure a quality relationship between CIS external borders and the internal borders of Commonwealth countries has sharply arisen. With "transparent" internal borders there is no doubt about the need to protect external borders. At the same time, in the absence of an overall defense area including functions such as a unified system for protecting external borders, there is a need to delimit and demarcate the Commonwealth's internal borders. And this is by no means easy.

    The demarcation of Russia's borders with neighboring CIS countries will require huge financial expenditure -- which could substantially hamper the reform of the Russian economy and stoke the already quite tense sociopolitical situation. The demarcation of Russian borders would be liable to lead to the emergence of new "hot spots" in the CIS -- for instance, Ossets, Lezgins, and so forth, would find themselves on both sides of the state border.

    Thus, the measures to step up controls on the Russian Federation border with Azerbaijan have shown that in this sector hundreds of citizens from Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, and other countries are illegally entering Russia along with contraband, including weapons. As a result of the "holes" in our border protection and visa regulations, and of the lack of coordination in immigration policy between the CIS countries, the number of illegal migrants from various Asian and African countries coming to Russia has increased sharply.

    This situation is making it necessary for Russia to stabilize the situation in the near abroad through joint efforts with the CIS countries and to restore order on the Commonwealth's external borders, while simultaneously equipping the Russian border -- bearing in mind that the approach taken to determining the arrangements in the various different sectors should depend on local circumstances and should rule out the possibility of any damage being done to integration processes on CIS territory.

    4. Features of military organizational development in the leading states that were formerly "enemies" of the USSR.

    The current phase of the development of international relations has some specific components which Russia and the other CIS members cannot fail to take into account. The United States, Britain, France, and China have currently not only not given up their strategic offensive weapons but are also implementing a range of measures to modernize their land-based ICBM's, their submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and their strategic aviation.

    Under present-day conditions these states have not missed out on the trend common to all former Cold War participants toward a reduction in military spending. New emphasis is being laid on military doctrines, dictated by the current military-political and military-strategic situation.

    The United States' new nuclear strategy, which emerged after the end of the Cold War, preserves the basic principles of the utilization of nuclear weapons -- the comprehensive combat use of all components of the "triad"; the provision of conditions for neutralizing enemy defenses; collaboration between different U.S. combat arms; and close coordination of their efforts with the NATO allies.

    The single operational plan for destroying the presumed enemy's strategic targets (SIOP) envisages supplementing the range of new scenarios and unusual targets. There is a planned transition to "adaptive" planning, which makes it possible to clarify virtually in real time the operational plans for the use of nuclear weapons in response to a changing situation. While preserving and modernizing their strategic offensive weapons, the United States, China, Britain, and France are emphasizing the development of their national forces. And the United States, with the most powerful strategic offensive weapons systems, is continuing to provide guarantees to a number of nonnuclear powers both within NATO and outside it. For instance, there is a paragraph to this effect in the U.S.-Japanese Security Treaty.

    The existing practice, linked to improving strategic offensive weapons and the continued provision of guarantees by the United States, is due to a number of factors:

  • the "uncertainty" of the domestic political situation in Russia;
  • the continuing presence of nuclear weapons on the territory of Ukraine and Kazakhstan, where the domestic political situation has also not stabilized;
  • the need to "restrain" China, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region;
  • the acquisition of nuclear weapons by a number of countries, including India and Pakistan;
  • the continuing work to develop [sozdaniye] nuclear weapons in other states (the relevant "indications" of the situation in this sphere in the DPRK and Iran are received particularly painfully).
  • With certain overtones the lists of these factors also features in any explanation of political decisions in the sphere of military-strategic organizational development in Britain and France.

    China too argues that its policy has an eye to the "need to safeguard its national interests." One way or another, all the measures to improve national strategic offensive weapons are presented as an appropriate reaction to the new dangers of the post-Cold-War period.

    Irrespective of the weightiness of the reasons which have given rise to this practice, it is a reality that Russia -- and, clearly, the other CIS countries -- cannot ignore. The conclusion has been drawn from this practice that it is necessary at this stage to preserve and develop one's own strategic offensive forces.

    5. Other present-day security requirements.

    These primarily include the problems of overcoming the environmental crisis which is getting worse throughout the Commonwealth. And the fight against the causes of this crisis requires joint efforts from all the CIS countries for the simple reason that many of the sources of environmental disasters and difficulties are to be found in several different states (the Aral Sea, for instance).

    The same joint efforts are required in the fight against epidemics, which have become particularly dangerous in the context of the deteriorating socioeconomic situation in a whole number of areas and the lack of any proper public-health measures appropriate to the "transparency" of our internal borders and the "holes" in the Commonwealth's external borders -- particularly in the Central Asia and Caucasus areas. Close coordination of the CIS countries' efforts is also needed in order to successfully combat organized crime. It is necessary to pool efforts in this area owing to the "international" nature of organized crime, which came about during the USSR's existence and continues to persist today. We could also conclude that without effective collaboration between law-enforcement organs and the CIS countries' special services there will be no chance at all to improve the crime situation on the territory of the former USSR -- a situation which is of increasing alarm not only to the population of the Commonwealth, but also to the "far abroad."

    IV. Likely Scenarios for the Development of the Situation in the CIS

    Scenario A:

    Centripetal processes intensify within the CIS. The prerequisites for a common economic area are created and then the area takes shape. General rules of "economic behavior" and unified systems in the sphere of lending, money supply, customs, taxes, courts of arbitration, and so forth are elaborated and formalized. Transrepublican companies are set up. While retaining their state sovereignty, the CIS countries "delegate" part of it to the suprarepublican structures required for the functioning of the common economic area.

    Along with economic integration (or lagging slightly behind it) there is integration in the military sphere, and a defense area with a unified command and unified subunits designed to protect external borders, undertake peacekeeping missions, and deter potential enemies is formed.

    It is not ruled out that in the process of further development the prerequisites will appear for political integration, the most likely form of which could be a confederation.

    Events could develop differently under this scenario. Most probably the process would begin with the implementation of agreements on an economic union initially between several CIS members, with the others joining later.

    The development of events under this scenario would lead to stabilization, democratization, the advancement of reform, and could include a transition to a federal system in a number of CIS countries -- which would reduce still further the threat of interethnic and interstate conflicts on Commonwealth territory.

    The development of events under this scenario would lead to an increase in the power of the CIS, its ability to develop independently, and its competitive strength in international markets. But at a time when democratic processes and economic reforms are developing in the former USSR this will not result in the clock being turned back to the era of confrontation with the West. On the contrary, this scenario creates the best opportunities for stabilizing the situation throughout the CIS, nullifying the danger of "chaos in a nuclear-weapon state" and producing the necessary conditions for expanding economic cooperation -- including by attracting foreign investment.

    Scenario B:

    With direct or indirect outside support, forces advocating "separate development" gain the upper hand in Russia and other Commonwealth countries. This compounds the economic crisis in the former Union national republics and increases the sociopolitical tension in them. The breakdown of national economic ties and the abandonment of production sharing could become irreversible. The unemployment problem will become acute and the transition to boosting production will be complicated.

    The emphasis on nationalism will be accompanied by an intensification in authoritarian and undemocratic trends. The criminalization of society, the infringement of ethnic minorities' rights, and mass violations of human rights will be additional destabilizing factors.

    The positions of Islamic extremists in the CIS states with Muslim populations will grow stronger. The intensification of separatist trends will help bring about the collapse of certain states.

    Theoretically for Russia the conditions for getting out of the economic crisis could improve in a very short period of time. But the economy does not develop in a vacuum. The question of the need to completely eliminate the "transparency" of borders will arise and will require enormous expenditure. The flow of refugees from certain CIS countries to the Russian Federation will increase. The new geopolitical situation will require considerable additional amounts of defense spending. Finally, Russia will lose its traditional markets, which will be particularly painful when we are getting out of the crisis and beginning to boost production.

    The overall destabilization in the CIS will pose a threat to the world community's security.

    Scenario C:

    (Rather, you could call it a "subscenario," since the development of events implied by it would inevitably lead in the final analysis to either Scenario A or Scenario B).

    One of the CIS states (but not Russia) undertakes "unifying" functions. Several republics of the former USSR (without Russia) move closer together. Integration processes begin within the framework of this group of states. One option would be development, whereby this gives definite impetus to integration processes on the territory of the entire CIS, and the original group becomes part of a general integrated area. Another option would be that the group turns in on itself, which would inevitably push it toward external "centers of influence." [Scenario C ends]


    The influence of leading countries of the "far abroad" on the processes taking place in the CIS is indisputable and, consequently, the scenario that the development of the situation in the former USSR follows will, to a certain extent, depend on those countries.

    In recent months there has been a wide divergence of opinions in the West about the future Commonwealth. A great deal will be determined by which approach prevails: reliance on cooperation with Russia as an equal partner (given the irreversibility of democratization and the objective nature of the reintegration processes on CIS territory) or reliance on a "monopolar" world in which the Russian Federation is given the role of a country with a very limited range of interests and tasks. The second approach is unacceptable to Russia and, one way or another, it will reject it.

    But in the main, of course, the prospects for the CIS depends on the Commonwealth countries themselves and, primarily, on the Russian Federation.