Balancing the East, Upgrading the West
U.S. Grand Strategy in an Age of Upheaval
From Hope to Audacity
Appraising Obama's Foreign Policy
Foreign Affairs Live: Zbigniew Brzezinski
NATOs History and Next Course of Action
An Agenda for NATO
Toward a Global Security Web
A Tale of Two Wars
The Right War in Iraq, and the Wrong One
A Geostrategy for Eurasia
A Plan for Europe: How to Expand NATO
The Premature Partnership
The Cold War and its Aftermath
Selective Global Commitment
America's New Geostrategy
A Divided Europe: The Future of Yalta
U.S. Foreign Policy: The Search for Focus
How the Cold War Was Played
Japan's Global Engagement
America and Europe
The Framework of East-West Reconciliation
Moscow and the M.L.F.: Hostility and Ambivalence
Russia and Europe
Threat and Opportunity in the Communist Schism
Peaceful Engagement in Eastern Europe
The Challenge of Change in the Soviet Bloc
AMERICA AND RUSSIA
For nearly 45 difficult years the United States pursued a remarkably consistent policy toward the Soviet Union. On the level of grand strategy, that policy was defined as containment of both Soviet geopolitical and ideological ambitions. The practical implementation of the policy of containment involved American geostrategic concentration on the defense of both the western and eastern peripheries of Eurasia, manifested by permanent troop deployments and defined by binding treaty commitments. The doctrine of deterrence, designed to neutralize any Soviet nuclear blackmail, reinforced this defensive posture.
Though the Cold War never escalated into direct American-Soviet warfare, on several occasions it did generate indirect military collisions. In the western extremity of Eurasia, American and Soviet forces twice confronted each other in Berlin, and in the east, U.S. troops were engaged in repelling the Soviet-supported invasion of South Korea, while the Soviet Union later provided Vietnam with the military wherewithal needed to expel the American armies. The closest the two sides ever came to a head-on collision occurred in Cuba because of the Soviet effort to leapfrog its strategic containment. Nevertheless, containment, which in turn made possible the vitally important integration into the Western camp of both Germany and Japan, relied heavily on the ingredient of power.
The collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequent end of the Cold War necessitates a new strategy, one that no longer views Russia as an adversary and in which the factor of power is no longer central. But if Russia is no longer an adversary, is it already an ally, or a client or merely a defeated foe? What should be the goal and the substance of a post-Cold War grand strategy toward a major country, destined one way or another to be a power in world affairs, irrespective of its current malaise? Is current American policy toward Russia guided by a well-considered and historically relevant successor to the grand strategy of the Cold War years?
This essay argues that the present U.S. grand strategy is flawed in its assumptions, focused on the wrong strategic goal and dangerous in its likely geopolitical consequences.
A POLICY OF IDEALISTIC OPTIMISM
After several years of unavoidable groping, during which Washington seemed to concentrate mainly on tactical help for two successively favored Kremlin leaders, under President Clinton a new U.S. grand strategy toward the former Soviet Union has finally crystallized. Ambitious in scope, characterized by internal consistency and driven by an attractive idealistic optimism, its essence can be summarized as follows: the goal of containment of Soviet expansion is to be replaced by a partnership with a democratic Russia. The strategy of partnership assigns the highest priority to aid for President Boris Yeltsin’s government while at the same time reinforcing that government’s self-esteem and confidence by emphasizing the special global responsibility that America and Russia share. It follows that as far as the former Soviet Union is concerned, the primary focus of U.S. policy is Russia.
The underlying and mutually reinforcing premises of this new grand strategy are that the prospects for the emergence of a stable and enduring Russian democracy, based on a free-market economy, are reasonably high; and that the foregoing makes a partnership with America feasible. In that context, all-out support for Boris Yeltsin as the genuinely democratic Russian leader is the logical tactical consequence, irrespective of occasional shortcomings in his performance as a democratic leader.
That support is to be projected in a deliberately optimistic fashion in order to stimulate American public backing for financial aid to Russia and also in order to generate badly needed confidence among the beleaguered Russian democrats. Thus, even in the face of textual evidence to the contrary, the new Russian constitution has been hailed by President Clinton as an example of constitutional democracy, while a massive antidemocratic vote by both right-wing and left-wing extremists (together accounting for almost half the ballots cast) was dismissed by the administration as a mere "protest vote" against the government’s economic policies. During the January 1994 summit, Clinton repeatedly expressed his satisfaction with Russia’s democratic progress.
A rosy assessment of the country’s economic transformation is the logical corollary of that approach. Accordingly, much has been made by administration spokesmen of Russia’s allegedly large-scale privatization, even though most of the major domestic industrial privatizations have involved essentially paper transfers of ownership to enterprise management, and sometimes also to its work force, with the central government’s purchases and subsidies unaltered. Little attention has been paid to the fact that the emerging capitalist class in Russia is strikingly parasitic, inclined to stash its profits abroad rather than to bet on Russia’s future, with Russian banks investing only about $450 million in domestic development while depositing some $15.5 billion abroad. The covert diversion of a significant portion of foreign financial aid to Western banks has similarly been ignored, since that consideration is viewed as less important than the key goal of sustaining the momentum of economic transformation.1
Moreover, support for the economic stabilization and eventual transformation of the Russian economy is being given a higher priority than aid to the new non-Russian states. In 1992 the head of the International Monetary Fund projected Russia’s need for foreign financing at approximately $23 billion, and that of the non-Russian states at about $20 billion. At the July 1993 Group of Seven industrial nations summit, the United States prevailed in obtaining collective pledges of aid for Russia of $28 billion while largely ignoring the non-Russian states.
The doggedly optimistic political and economic assessments of Russia’s prospects have also been deliberately disseminated in order to advance the pursuit of a more specific and admittedly important U.S. objective: Russian-American nuclear disarmament. A Russia-centered policy not only facilitates the reduction of the Russian nuclear arsenal but it may also increase Russia’s own stake in nonproliferation. That goal also justifies working closely with Moscow in applying joint pressure on the new post-Soviet states, notably Ukraine, to give up their nuclear weapons. Some American strategists have gone further, advocating the harmonization of U.S. and Russian defense policies. All these themes were highlighted in the communiqués issued after January’s Moscow summit.
Implicit in these notions is the view that Russia’s major geostrategic concern is regional stability. That makes Russian and American goals basically compatible. Moreover, since Russia is the only power capable of generating stability within the former Soviet Union, and since the independence of some of the new states is precipitating regional conflicts, the pacifying role of Russia is thereby enhanced. Accordingly, the joint Clinton-Yeltsin communiqué at the January summit did not dispute Russia’s interpretation of its "peacekeeping" mission in the "near abroad." Going still further, President Clinton, addressing the Russian people, not only described the Russian military as having been "instrumental in stabilizing" the political situation in Georgia, but even added that "you will be more likely to be involved in some of these areas near you, just like the United States has been involved in the last several years in Panama and Grenada near our area."
It follows that concerns regarding the alleged Russian threat expressed by states like Ukraine or Georgia are not to be taken too seriously, and as much has been said by top administration figures. In any case, the Ukrainians should blame their own intransigence regarding nuclear weapons for their international isolation and their resulting sense of vulnerability. The other non-Russian states would be well advised to eschew excessive nationalism and to make their own accommodations with Moscow, thereby relieving Washington of excessive burdens or awkward pangs of conscience. President Clinton’s visit to Belarus, a state that is increasingly being reintegrated under the Kremlin’s control, has reinforced the impression that the administration blesses Moscow’s "peacekeeping."2
Last but not least, a democratizing Russia is perceived as justifiably fearful of exclusion and isolation. Hence its opposition to any eastward expansion of NATO to fill the security vacuum in Central Europe is understandable. Instead, a loose NATO-sponsored collaborative arrangement, the Partnership for Peace, is to be open to all, thus propitiating the Russian objection against the opening of NATO doors to membership by a specific few. However, this price, the administration feels, is worth paying for the sake of an enduring American-Russian reconciliation.
The vision is undeniably grand, and the conviction is captivating. But is the historical optimism inherent in this concentration on a bilateral partnership, including its premises as well as its central objective, well grounded?
THE IMPERIAL IMPULSE
Unfortunately, considerable evidence suggests that the near-term prospects for a stable Russian democracy are not very promising. The growing political influence of the Russian army, especially in Russia’s foreign policy, is not reassuring. President Yeltsin’s inclination toward authoritarianism has transformed the new constitution for a democratic Russia into a document that can be easily used to legitimize arbitrary personal rule. Russian political culture is still far from accepting the principle of compromise as the basis for political discourse. Meanwhile the continuing economic crisis has been alienating the masses from both the democratic process and the free market. That the democratic parties do not control the newly elected Duma is also worrisome.
Making matters worse is the centrality in Russian politics of an old issue, one that evokes the greatest passion from the majority of politicians as well as citizens, namely, "What is Russia?" Is Russia primarily a nation-state or is it a multinational empire? Polling data indicates that the dissolution of the Soviet Union is viewed by roughly two-thirds of the Russian people, and even by the majority of democratic politicians, as a tragic mistake, something that must somehow be undone. Yet any effort to recreate some form of empire, repressing the awakened national aspirations of the non-Russians, would surely collide head-on with the effort to consolidate a democracy within Russia. The bottom line here is a simple but compelling axiom: Russia can be either an empire or a democracy, but it cannot be both.
The non-Russians are no longer politically passive nor nationally unaware. Their nationalism is a reality that expresses itself through the strong desire for independent statehood. Efforts to suppress it would unavoidably affect the fabric and substance of any emerging Russian democracy. Moreover, efforts to recreate and maintain the empire by coercion and/or economic subsidy would condemn Russia not only to dictatorship but to poverty.
Regrettably, the imperial impulse remains strong and even appears to be strengthening. This is not only a matter of political rhetoric. Particularly troubling is the growing assertiveness of the Russian military in the effort to retain or regain control over the old Soviet empire. Initially, these efforts may have been the spontaneous acts of rogue military commanders in the field. However, military self-assertion in such places as Moldova, Crimea, Ossetia, Abkhazia, Georgia and Tajikistan, as well as military opposition to any territorial concessions in the Kuriles and to the reduction of Russian forces in the Kaliningrad region and to a prompt withdrawal from all the Baltic republics, perpetuates imperial enclaves on the outer edges of the former empire. (A line drawn on the map between these points would virtually trace the outer boundaries of the former U.S.S.R.)
These efforts were formalized in late 1993, when the Russian military command asserted its de facto right to intervene in the former Soviet republics if developments there were deemed to violate Russian interests or threaten regional stability. These sentiments were subsequently echoed by Russian political leaders. Moreover, they have been matched by deeds. In 1993 Russian military behavior toward the new states of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) became increasingly unilateral, while the Moscow government became more assertive in the use of economic leverage.
Russian policy toward its CIS neighbors has had two central prongs: it has focused on progressively stripping the newly independent states of economic autonomy and forestalling the emergence of separate armed forces. The first has been designed to drive home the lesson that economic recovery is only possible through closer CIS integration, while the second has sought to limit national armies to essentially symbolic and nominal forces, to be increasingly integrated under Moscow’s command. So far, only Ukraine has made serious efforts to shape its own military.
In addition, the last two years have seen a concerted effort by Moscow to rebuild some of the institutional links that used to bind the old Soviet Union together. Much energy has been invested in promoting a host of new agreements and ties, including the CIS charter, a collective security treaty (which in several cases also gives Russia control over the external frontiers of the former Soviet Union), a collective peacekeeping agreement (used to justify intervention in Tajikistan), a new ruble zone (meant to give the Russian central bank the decisive role in monetary matters), and a formal economic union (transferring key economic decision-making to Moscow), to a common CIS parliamentary institution.
The use of military and economic means to obtain subordination to Moscow has been strikingly evident in the recent trials of Belarus and Georgia. In Belarus, Russian economic subsidies were translated into political subordination. In Georgia, military intervention gave Moscow the pretext for political mediation. In the course of it, Georgia learned, contrary to what Clinton said in Moscow, that Russia as umpire is not very different from Russia as empire.
Most ominous, given Ukraine’s size and geostrategic importance, has been the intensification of Moscow’s economic and military pressure on Kiev, in keeping with the widespread feeling in Moscow that Ukrainian independence is an abnormality as well as a threat to Russia’s standing as a global power. (The inclination of some leading Russian politicians to speak openly of Ukraine as "a transitional entity" or "a Russian sphere of influence" is symptomatic.3) The Russian military has enforced a partition of Crimea and asserted unilateral control over most of the disputed Black Sea fleet.4 Making matters even worse has been the open assertion of Russian territorial claims to portions of Ukraine. At the same time, economic leverage has been applied through reductions and periodic cutoffs in the delivery of vital energy sources to Ukrainian industry, presumably in the hope of destabilizing the country to the point that a sizable portion of the population will begin to clamor for a closer connection with Moscow.
To isolate Ukraine internationally, Russian policymakers have also skillfully exploited the Clinton administration’s preoccupation with Ukraine’s nuclear status. Playing on American fears (and the administration’s evident preference for Russian control over Ukraine’s nuclear weapons), Moscow was quite successful in portraying the new leaders in Kiev as a menace to international stability. Ukraine’s ineptitude in conveying its concerns to the West also intensified its isolation and therefore its sense of vulnerability.
By late 1993, just two years after the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union (leaving aside the Baltic republics), only beleaguered Ukraine, energy-rich Turkmenistan and perhaps authoritarian Uzbekistan could still be viewed as truly sovereign.
The notion of a real partnership, if it is to be more than a ritualistic slogan designed to salve wounded Russian national pride, requires a solid foundation of shared international goals and interests. It is certainly reassuring and gratifying that Russian foreign policy makers have indicated a genuine interest in cooperation with America in the areas of global peacekeeping, development and disarmament. Many public statements by President Yeltsin and by Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev have been constructive, while Russia’s conduct in the United Nations has contrasted markedly with the behavior of the Soviet Union.
Moreover, responsible Russian leaders know that neither the old tsarist empire (with its open Russification), nor the Soviet Union (with its coercive totalitarianism), nor the previous domination of central Europe (with its overt political and ideological subordination) can be fully restored. Such outlandish goals are entertained only by extremist elements, either radical chauvinists or old communists, though, admittedly, both have been gaining influence. For the time being, however, the dominant political elite appear to have a somewhat more limited set of objectives.
The dynamic thrust of prevailing policy seems to be pointed not toward the recreation of the old centralized union but toward a confederal arrangement in which Moscow would dominate a cluster of satellite states (much like in the old Soviet bloc) but this time within the confines of the former Soviet Union itself. Russian politicians have been talking openly of making Russia the center of a new confederation within which the non-Russian, formerly Soviet states, while formally retaining the semblance of sovereignty, would be progressively and increasingly constrained by economic, political and military ties. Ukraine, once reduced to the status, for example, of former Soviet satellite Bulgaria, would thus no longer pose a problem. With Belarus already effectively subordinated, Ukraine’s return to the fold would reunite under the Kremlin the Slavic component of the former Soviet Union.
Russian leaders seem to hope that they can apply the same formula to the non-Slavic nations of the Caucasus and Central Asia. Their economic dependence on some form of integration with Russia as well as the large number of Russian colonists in several of them make these states quite vulnerable to Russian economic and political pressure. This has generated widespread fear and considerable resentment among the new elites. During this author’s trip to Central Asia and Georgia in late 1993, all the top political leaders deplored, in strong language, Moscow’s use of the Russian settlers as a justification for claiming the right to intervene. The outspoken president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev, went as far as to state publicly, in words almost calculated to outrage the Russians, that "any talk about the protection of Russians living in Kazakhstan reminds one of the times of Hitler, who also started off with the question of protecting Sudeten Germans."4
If not openly imperial, the current objectives of Russian policy are at the very least proto-imperial. That policy may not yet be aiming explicitly at a formal imperial restoration, but it does little to restrain the strong imperial impulse that continues to motivate large segments of the state bureaucracy, especially the military, as well as the public. The underlying and increasingly openly stated consensus behind the policy appears to be that the economic and military integration of the once-Soviet states under Moscow’s political direction would prompt the reemergence of Russia as a mighty supranational state and a truly global power. As Foreign Minister Kozyrev put it, "Anyhow, everything will get back to its old place."8
Prevailing Russian thinking about central Europe is an extension of this proto-imperial approach. Central Europe is not to be permitted to become an organic part of an integrating Europe, and especially of the Euro-Atlantic alliance. The region is explicitly designated as an area of special Russian interest and influence, including, according to the new military doctrine, the right to object to "the expansion of military blocs or alliances" (i.e., NATO) into the region.
Russian spokesmen, both military and civilian, have not hesitated to employ harsher language in making known their objections to any expansion of NATO. The Russian foreign minister went as far as to declare, in words painfully reminiscent of the old Soviet style, that any tendency in that direction would create "a buffer zone that could be crushed in any situation," while Marshal Pavel Grachev imperiously declared, "Russia cannot allow Poland to be admitted into NATO."5
Instead, Russian leaders have indicated that they would favor a joint Russian-NATO guarantee for the security of the region. That proposal, contained in President Yeltsin’s letter of September 1993, to the leaders of the United States, Great Britain, France and Germany, was interpreted by the central Europeans as an ominous proposal for a regional condominium. Their suspicion that it would be a symbolic condominium only, with Russian military propinquity and Western political indifference in effect legitimizing a Russian sphere of influence, was deepened by Yeltsin’s perplexing statement in the same proposal: "We are of the opinion that relations between our country and NATO should be several degrees warmer than relations between the alliance and Eastern Europe."6
The larger design that emerges from these assertions would confine the political integration of Europe largely to the western peripheries of the continent. A wider system of security would range all the way (as the slogan goes) from Vancouver to Vladivostok, thereby progressively diluting the Euro-Atlantic alliance while permitting a regionally hegemonic Russia, eventually revitalized under the umbrella of the American-Russian partnership, to become again the strongest power in Eurasia. Unlike the old centralized Soviet Union and its neighboring bloc of satellite states, the new arrangement would embrace Russia and its satellite states (within the former Soviet Union) in some kind of confederation, with central Europe next door viewed by the West as Russia’s sphere of influence.
Over the years the U.S.-Soviet relationship occasionally developed characteristics of a partnership in some areas. Yet it remained essentially unthreatening to America’s European allies because the essence of the relationship remained adversarial and therefore the interests of the allies were always high among U.S. concerns. In contrast, a cooperative condominium between America and Russia would result in a lower priority for the interests of the allies.
Should the design become reality, the Euro-Atlantic alliance would inevitably be an immediate casualty of the European perception of American acquiescence to such a scheme. Germany would doubtless view such a development negatively, while France would be likely to assault it publicly as an American betrayal of European interests. What else these states might do cannot be foretold, but it is a safe guess that Euro-Atlantic unity would be fractured. Germany almost surely would be tempted to pursue its own interests, perhaps through some separate accommodation with Russia. Any such German movement would undo whatever prospects exist for German-Polish reconciliation. That reconciliation, however, is central to the future stability of a larger Europe, much as German-French reconciliation was central to the stability of Western Europe.
The end result would be to forfeit the long-range fruits of the West’s victory in the Cold War. Instead of relative stability in Eurasia and of a new and genuinely constructive American-Russian partnership, a more troubling pattern of power politics could again come to dominate the old continent. Fluid and unpredictable coalitions could replace the present hopes for a larger and more united Europe, closely linked to America, with both engaged in deeper collaboration with Russia.
All these concerns are focused on a future that today may look not only remote but unlikely, given Russia’s current smuta (a term used in Russian history to denote a prolonged phase of internal malaise). But the reality of the malefic trends noted here calls for a basic rethinking of the American strategy toward Russia. Too much of this strategy is based on historical amnesia that has already prompted, for example, the U.S. secretary of state to defend the new Russian military doctrine as essentially benign. Insurance is needed against the possibility, one might even argue the probability, that the weight of history will not soon permit Russia to stabilize as a democracy, and that the single-minded cultivation of a partnership with Russia, while downgrading other interests, will simply accelerate the reemergence of an ominously familiar imperial challenge to Europe’s security.
The central goal of a realistic and long-term grand strategy should be the consolidation of geopolitical pluralism within the former Soviet Union. That goal defines more appropriately the long-term American interest, irrespective of whether in the near future Russia does or does not become an accommodating democracy. Attaining that goal is the necessary precondition for the eventual emergence of a stable democratic Russia. Only when a felicitous environment for Russia to define itself purely as Russia has been firmly created will the basis have been laid for an enduring and genuine American-Russian partnership.
The basic premise of this alternative strategy is that geopolitical pluralism will foster the best context for the emergence of a Russia that, democratic or not, is encouraged to be a good neighbor to states with which it can cooperate in a common economic space but which it will not seek or be able, politically and militarily, to dominate. The consolidation of geopolitical pluralism would inhibit the temptation to reinvent the empire, with its pernicious effects on prospects for democracy in Russia. In not being an empire, Russia stands a chance of becoming, like France or Britain or earlier post-Ottoman Turkey, a normal state.
Consolidation of geopolitical pluralism within the former Soviet Union would entail a number of practical policy consequences. Though continuing the pursuit of a deepening friendship with Russia, it would call for a more balanced distribution of financial aid to Russia and to the non-Russian states, the abandonment of the single-minded elevation of the question of nuclear arms to the status of litmus test for American-Ukrainian relations, and an even-handed treatment of Moscow and Kiev.9 It would require the explicit recognition of the fact that Ukraine’s independent existence is a matter of far greater long-range significance than whether Kiev does or does not promptly dismantle its post-Soviet nuclear arsenal. It also would condition American aid to Russia on the end of Russian efforts to the newly independent states into fully subordinate satellites, and it would entail a greater willingness to make an issue, including in the United Nations, of Moscow’s transgressions against its neighbors. Georgia, for example, deserved better in 1993.
The crucial issue here, one that might well come to a dramatic head in the course of 1994, is the future stability and independence of Ukraine. It cannot be stressed strongly enough that without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire. American policymakers must face the fact that Ukraine is on the brink of disaster: the economy is in a free-fall, while Crimea is on the verge of a Russia-abetted ethnic explosion. Either crisis might be exploited to promote the breakup or the reintegration of Ukraine in a larger Moscow-dominated framework. It is urgent and essential that the United States convince the Ukranian government, through the promise of substantial economic assistance, to adopt long-delayed and badly needed economic reforms. At the same time, American political assurances for Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity should be forthcoming.
A more visible American show of interest in the independence of the Central Asian states, as well as of the three states in the Caucasus, should follow. Vice President Al Gore’s visit in late 1993 to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan was a step in the right direction, but much more could be done at relatively little cost. Kyrgyzstan has been implementing American prescriptions for democracy and the free market, and today it is in worse straits than some of its neighbors. Given its small size, even modest American involvement would have considerable political impact. U.S. political relations with Uzbekistan, and to some extent Turkmenistan, both of which appear determined to resist external domination, have lagged because in Washington’s view these largely Muslim countries have made insufficient progress toward democracy. Yet U.S. policy toward Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, for example, does not appear to be motivated by the same concern and, for equally good strategic reasons, neither was it in years past toward Taiwan or Korea.
To the extent possible, the Central Asian states should be encouraged to engage in regional cooperation in order to enhance stability. Otherwise, ethnic conflicts between them are likely to be exploited from the outside, much as with the Armenian-Azerbaijani warfare. The initiative by Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in early 1994 to form an economic union certainly deserves international support, especially from the United States. In addition, given China’s growing economic impact on the region and its natural interest in the future of the adjoining Central Asian states, some quiet American-Chinese political consultations regarding the area would be timely.
For equally good geopolitical reasons, but also for humanitarian ones, the United States should be more responsive to the need for international peacekeeping in the Caucasus. The U.N. special representative has proposed an international force of 2,000 peacekeepers for the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict, of whom not more than one-third would be from the same country. The effect would be to engage the Russians, who probably would supply one-third, in constructive international cooperation while reducing the scope for their unilateral intervention. The administration has inexplicably dragged its feet, thereby forfeiting the opportunity to establish a positive precedent for international, and thus genuine, peacekeeping within the CIS.
Pursuing geopolitical pluralism should also entail a more deliberate expansion of the scope and perimeter of European security. The deliberate promotion of a larger and more secure Europe need not be viewed as an anti-Russian policy, for the inclusion in NATO of several Central European democracies could be coupled with a simultaneous treaty of alliance and cooperation between NATO and Russia. It is altogether unlikely that Russia could be assimilated into NATO as a mere member without diluting that alliance’s special cohesion, and that is certainly not in America’s interest. But a treaty between the alliance and Russia (even if Russia falls short of U.S. hopes for its democratic evolution) would provide the Russians with a gratifying recognition of their country’s status as a major power while embracing Russia within a wider framework of Eurasian security.
That the expansion of the zone of democratic Europe’s security would bring the West closer to Russia is no cause for apology. An eventually democratic Russia should wish to link itself with a stable and secure Europe. Only then will modernity and prosperity become Russia’s reality. On this issue, propitiating Russian imperialists is not the way to help Russian democrats. The right course is to insist firmly that the gradual expansion of NATO eastward is not a matter of "drawing a new line", as President Clinton wrongly put it in Brussels in January 1994, but of avoiding a security vacuum between Russia and NATO that can only tempt those in Russia who are more than ready to opt for empire over democracy.
Over the years American policy toward Russia has oscillated between naive wishful thinking and cool realism. A dose of tough-minded geopolitics, mixed with a friendly sentiment for the Russian people but also with sympathy for the aspirations of the non-Russians, is much more likely to produce a worthy successor to the earlier and historically successful strategy of containment. For that, neither slogans nor illusions provide a viable alternative. The emergence of a true American-Russian partnership requires not only a bilateral accommodation but, even more, a constructive geopolitical framework.
1 For details, see Financial Times, Nov. 1, 1993, regarding Russian banking deposits, and Grigory Yavlinsky, "Western Aid Is No Help," The New York Times, July 28, 1993.
2 For example, President Clinton agreed to downgrade his planned homage at the Belarussian national shrine in the Kuropaty forest to the victims of Stalinist rule because of objections raised by the leaders of the pro-Moscow faction in Minsk.
3 For an outspoken attack on this approach by a democratic Russian, see Andrei Kortunov, "Why hit a man when he is down?" Moskovskiye Novosti, Dec. 7, 1993.
4 In doing so, the Russian military have occasionally hinted that they enjoy U.S. support. Thus, the first deputy commander in chief of the Russian Naval Forces, Admiral Igor Kasatonov, reported on his return from a visit to the U.S. Navy that he had discussed the problem of the Black Sea fleet with his U.S. counterparts and that "they do not share the absurd approach of Ukraine’s Defense Minister toward this problem. Therefore they are, of course, in favor of the Russian BSF. This is their official point of view." Interfax, Oct. 14, 1993, italics added.
5 Interview with the Polish Press Agency, Aug. 23, 1993.
6 Foreign Broadcasting Information Service-SOV (unofficial translation), Dec. 3, 1993.
7 Interview with Interfax, Nov. 24, 1993.
8 Andrei Kozyrev, in Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Dec. 7, 1993.
9 For a very intelligent Russian critique of the Clinton administration’s fixation on Ukrainian nuclear weapons and of its counterproductive impact on both American and Russian relations with Ukraine, see Stanislav Kondrashov, "That Kiev is Holding on to Nuclear Weapons is the Fault of Moscow and Washington," Izvestiia, Nov. 27, 1993.