The change in the US administration signals
potential changes in the emphasis of US policy in the broad Black
Sea-Transcaucasus-Caspian Sea region. Oil
and gas considerations will be a major reason for the eventual re-interpretation
and re-definition of particular US engagements in this delicate geopolitical
knot of contradictions, conflicts, and opportunities for cooperation.
Russia continued her efforts in proving the
influential – if not the dominating – position of the federation in
political and security factors as well as in the oil and gas energy sectors in
the same geopolitical and geoeconomic space.
The European Union (EU) is stepping into the area
very cautiously as a major actor, although local regional factors such as Turkey
and Iran along with a dozen smaller states and contending ethnic entities also
try to prove the significance of their individual roles in influencing the
stability and economy of the region.
The eastern and western parts of the Black Sea
basin assume different geopolitical qualities relative to the EU integration
area: The western Black Sea coastal
countries are getting closer to their prospective EU membership, while the
eastern part of the basin is considered more and more as a neighborhood whose
stability is of the utmost importance to the EU.
At the same time, the existing groupings and organizations of countries
like the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Organization of Black
Sea Economic Cooperation (OBSEC) are facing major identity problems.
The clear overlap of the interests of the US,
Russia, and the EU was registered in anti-terrorist activity, mainly against the
Geopolitical and Geostrategic Tendencies
Defense Secretary William Cohen released a 63-page European Strategy Report on 1
December, stating that the future European strategy of the US must pay special
attention to certain key regions adjacent to NATO (North Atlantic
Treaty Organization) members, such as the Caucasus region, the area
around Turkey, and the Mediterranean’s southern littoral.
The implementation of the strategy will involve enhancing the Partnership
for Peace (PfP) program and building cooperative relationships with the Russian
Federation and with Ukraine. A
close, cooperative, coherent, and transparent relationship between NATO and the
EU is also considered necessary.
The document also notes that the US reserves the
right to act alone or within a coalition of the willing whenever the US's vital
interests are at stake, and that a NATO-wide consensus for action does simply
UN Security Council adopted a resolution for tightening sanctions against the
Taliban regime of Afghanistan on 19 December, because of the Taliban's failure
to comply with council demands to turn over indicted terrorist Usama bin Laden.
The US and Russia, together with India, Kyrgystan, and Tajikistan
submitted the draft resolution to the Security Council on 7 December.
China was the only permanent member of the UN Security Council that
abstained. The resolution requires
the imposition of an arms embargo on the Taliban as well as the closure of
Taliban offices and Ariana Afghan Airlines around the world.
The sanctions should lead to the freezing of the assets of Usama bin
Laden and his organization Al-Qaida, and to the prohibition of the sale to
Afghanistan of a key chemical used in processing opium into heroin.
Bin Laden has been indicted in the 1998 bombing of the US embassies in
Kenya and Tanzania.
The joint Russian-US diplomatic pressure on the
Taliban regime has a definite political impact on two Russian neighbors
(Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) who developed bilateral ties with the regime in
Kabul in recent months. Russia has
the potential to broaden this pressure to other issues such as the participation
of Uzbekistan in CIS activities, and the oil and gas routes from Turkmenistan to
the world markets. Two other
countries of the CIS family – Kazakhstan and Kirgistan – are also influenced
as to how they should develop their relations with Kabul.
Both countries experience a strong Islamic influence, stemming from the
The Taliban response to the sanctions on 20
December was the order for Afghans to boycott products from the two sponsors of
the UN Security Council Resolution: the US and Russia.
The Taliban regime also promised to close UN political offices and expel
its eight staff members when the sanctions take effect.
According to the resolution, new sanctions will follow against
Afghanistan if the Talibans do not surrender Osama bin Laden and do not close
terrorist training camps.
Sources of Conflict in the Black Sea-Caspian Sea Region
the Delimitation of the Caspian Sea.
Russia substantially modified its position on the delimitation of the
Caspian Sea during the last months of 2000.
Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have long advocated the division of the Caspian
Sea into national sectors along its middle line.
Turkmenistan, Iran, and Russia insisted on working on the concept of
joint use of the Caspian Sea resources. In
the meantime Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan were increasing the volume of drilling
work in the Caspian Sea. Viktor
Kaliuzhin, the special adviser to the Russian president on Caspian Sea affairs,
presented to the other littoral countries Moscow's new proposal.
According to this the seabed and the water above it are to be divided
into national sectors in the following way: 16 per cent to Russia, 14 per cent
to Iran, 21 per cent to Turkmenistan, 20per cent to Azerbaijan, and 29 per cent
to Kazakhstan. The Russian desire
to turn the Caspian Sea into an internal sea for the littoral states is
understandable; in light of the traditional influence over the post-Soviet new
independent states, Moscow is expecting to have the major influence on issues of
Caspian Sea regulation. Russia
struck a bilateral deal in 1998 with Kazakhstan which divided only the seabed;
this was clearly in line with Russia’s perceived interest.
A similar treaty was prepared with Azerbaijan at the end of November
2000. Russia’s hopes are that
Turkmenistan and Iran may follow the Azerbaijan example.
The problems, however, are not between Russia and Kazakhstan, nor between
Russia and Azerbaijan; the long-running argument about boundaries is between
Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. A
fundamental issue is Iran’s position of disputing the whole basis of dividing
In the absence of new agreements, the Caspian Sea
is regulated under international law by the Soviet Russia-Iran agreement of
1921. The rise of new independent
states has raised the issue of the precise demarcation of seabed boundaries,
which is a vital consideration for oil and gas field development.
An eventual arrangement among the littoral states of the Caspian Sea
would improve the legal aspects of the security of the international oil
companies seeking oil and gas under the Caspian Sea.
Environmental protection would be promoted and could lead to coordinated
protection against sturgeon poaching.
the Oil and Gas Issue.
(1) The Russian natural gas
monopolist Gasprom started the implementation of earlier warnings that it will
commence construction of gas pipelines that will bypass Ukraine, which is blamed
for stealing large amounts of the energy resource.
Gasprom began constructing a gas pipeline to Western Europe through
Belarus and Poland on 18 October. Ruhrgas,
Wintershall of Germany, Gas de France, and ENI of Italy have joined forces with
Gasprom in the project worth US$ 2 billion.
Gasprom does not agree with the claim that the project is
"anti-Ukrainian", because Ukraine needs to increase its yearly exports
from 130 to 200 billion cubic meters.
was announced in Istanbul on 16 November that the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil
pipeline project has received US$ 26 million for basic engineering studies, and
that a group of eight oil companies has formed a sponsors' group of project
investors. The underlying objective
of the pipeline project, according to the US administration, is to empower the
people and governments of the Caspian region to have choices, to foster
sustainable and balanced economic growth, and to develop efficient and
transparent government structures based on the rule of law.
to US sources, the demand for natural gas in Turkey is expected to more than
triple over the next ten years, from 15 to 50 billion cubic meters.
Jan Kalicki, counselor to the US Department of Commerce, said in Istanbul
on 17 November that while some may see commercial opportunities in courting
Iran, regional leaders are increasingly aware that their best political and
economic interests will often not coincide with those of Iran and, in any event,
Iran should not be allowed to act as a spigot for Caspian oil and gas.
Kalicki also said that whatever the changes in Washington during the
coming months, the US position towards Iran will remain firm.
Post-Conflict Issues in Chechnya
Chechen rebels continue their tactics that
terrorize the Russian federal forces and kill many soldiers and officers:
hit-and-run attacks, ambushes, and bombings.
Though Russian troops have occupied most of Chechnya, they have not yet
managed to stamp out resistance.
Russian authorities facilitated the return to
Chechnya of an Organisation for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) assistance group at the
beginning of November. It was
formed and sent to Chechnya in April 1995, but was temporarily withdrawn to
Moscow in December 1998 because of the deteriorating security situation.
In October the head of the Moscow-appointed interim
administration, Akhmed Kadyrov, has prevailed over his troublesome deputy,
Beslan Gantemirov, in securing Moscow’s creation of a new, more disciplined
militia. Interior forces are
supposed to replace army units gradually over the next four months, which are
being withdrawn partly for cost reasons.
According to a decree issued on 4 November by the
Russian prime minister, Mikhail Kassyanov,
the oil and gas company Grozneftgas will manage this sector of the
economy in Chechnya. Grozneftgas is
the daughter company of Rosneft, and 49 per cent of its capital is owned by the
Chechen government. The company is
licensed to transport and trade oil outside the Russian territory, and the
sharing of profits will most probably be controlled by the Russian Government.
The new religious Muslim leader of Chechnya, Akhmed
Shamaev, who replaced Akhmed Kadyrov, said in November that he will support the
Chechen administration in its efforts to restore peace and stop hatred.
Liberating Chechnya from terrorists and freedom for ordinary Chechen
people are his major objectives.
In the last days of November, Russian President
Vladimir Putin introduced a new governmental position of minister of the Russian
Federation for Chechnya. The
purpose is to improve the coordination of the federal executive authorities in
their efforts to foster the social and economic development of the republic.
The former administrative chief of the Orenburg oblast, Vladimir Elagin,
was appointed to this position.
The Abkhasian Conflict
A CIS working group meeting in Moscow on 23-25
October to regulate the Abkhasian conflict did not produce any results.
The return of refugees is incomplete and the practice of abducting UN
servicemen is continuing. A Greek and a Polish member of the UN mission to
Georgia were taken hostage in mid-December.
Earlier this year four other members of the same mission were kidnapped
and later released. The Abkhasian
conflict is a permanent destabilizing factor in Georgian-Russian relations.
A meeting between leaders of the breakaway Abkhasian republic and the
Russian Foreign Ministry at the beginning of December confirmed that a planned
withdrawal of Russian military equipment from the Russian military base at
Gudauta will proceed as scheduled with 78 armored vehicles and 11 artillery
pieces leaving the area. The Abkhasian leaders promised to not obstruct the withdrawal
and the Russians expressed hopes that Tbilisi will facilitate the operation.
The Transdniestria Conflict
The unrecognized breakaway republic of
Transdniestria (in Moldova) held general elections on 10 December to elect 43
deputies to its parliament, choosing from 230 candidates.
The political objectives of most of the candidates are international
recognition of the republic, closer links with Russia, and the permanent
presence of the Russian military on their territory. Moldovan President Petru Luchinski declared on 11 December
that the elections were illegal, which further exacerbated the conflicting
issues. The participation in the
elections was low at 44 per cent, although the minimum requirement is for 25 per
cent of eligible voters to participate. However,
according to official Moldovan sources, the low turnout is indicative of lost
trust in the secessionist leaders. The predominantly Slavic populated Transdniestrian region
separated from Moldova in 1990, before the collapse of the USSR, due to fears
that the Romanian-dominated population of Moldova will try to unite with
neighboring Romania. The military
conflict in 1992 caused hundreds of deaths on both sides.
Moscow subsequently stationed its 14th army, and only after international
pressure promised to withdraw its troops from the area.
The Transdniestria republic has its own currency, constitution, and armed
forces. The remaining 2'600 Russian soldiers are expected to leave by
the end of 2001. Some Russian
dual-use equipment was withdrawn from the Transdniestria region of Moldova at
the beginning of December.
A meeting of the foreign ministers of the four
unrecognized breakaway republics of Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhasia, Southern
Ossetia, and Transdniestria was convened in Tiraspol, the capital of the
Transdniestria republic, on 20-22 November.
The ministers discussed joining forces in establishing their independent
status and intensifying bilateral cooperation.
The four republics regularly exchange delegations for their national
holidays and for monitoring elections.
The general elections of 5 November in Azerbaijan
resulted in the victory of the party of President Geydar Aliev, of the "New
Azerbaijan" party, with more than 70 per cent of the vote.
Many in Azerbaijan called the results "Aliev family’s
victory", because the son of the president, Ilham Aliev, presided over the
list of candidates of the presidential party.
The president’s son is considered to be the main contender for the
position of the president in the 2003 elections.
Even the final decision of President Aliev to allow opposition parties to
take part in the parliamentary elections is viewed by observers as a move to
make the accession by his son smoother, rather than an obedient act to Western
pressure for greater democracy.
OSCE representatives stated that the elections fell
short of international standards for democratic elections, and the political
opposition in Azerbaijan did not accept the victory of the New Azerbaijan party.
A 70'000-strong demonstration against the election results took place in
Baku on 19 November, and some 50 opposition members were arrested after clashes
with riot police.
The Georgian minister of justice, Mikhail
Saakashvili, announced at the beginning of November a prize worth more than US$
2'000 for every citizen who can prove corruption charges against civil servants
of the Justice Ministry. Georgian
President Shevardnadze announced the establishment of a coordinating bureau for
fighting corruption with the president’s office.
Highly respected and non-corruptible representatives of society will
staff the bureau.
Russian President Putin said on 30 November that
the proposal for merging Belarus and Russia would require careful consideration,
suggesting that a speedy merger is not a Russian priority.
The two states reached an agreement for launching monetary union in 2006,
with a common currency by 2008.
President Leonid Kuchma appointed Anatoliy Zlenko, a professional diplomat since
1967, as the foreign minister of Ukraine on 2 October.
This followed the dismissal of Borys Tarasyuk on 29 September, who was
closely associated with the European and Euro-Atlantic course of the country.
Zlenko is a former foreign minister of Ukraine (from July 1990 until
August 1994), permanent representative and ambassador plenipotentiary to the UN
(from September 1994 until September 1997), and ambassador to France (from
September 1997). Analysts in
Ukraine and in the West consider the new foreign minister as a person who is
more acceptable to Russia.
Chernobyl nuclear power plant was closed in a solemn ceremony, directed by the
Ukrainian president, on 15 December. The
fatal accident on 26 April 1986 caused the largest peaceful radioactive
contamination in history. Life in
the area around the nuclear plant will be highly dangerous for at least the next
300 years. The West will compensate
the energy system of Ukraine by subsidizing the construction of two safe nuclear
power plants, and will provide funds for the burial of the Chernobyl reactors.
introduced a visa regime for Georgians on 5 December. Abkhasians and Southern Ossetians are exceptions to this
regime. The privileges are given to
residents of two separatist regions, and Georgians perceive this Russian move as
running against the official Russian policy of supporting the sovereignty and
territorial integrity of Georgia. Russia
openly objects to Tbilisi's support of Islamists residing in Georgia.
Georgia has protested at the UN that this act of Moscow is a violation of
international law. In response
Georgia imposed a visa requirement for Russians.
Georgian President Shevardnadze said on 4 December that: "No one is
hiding anymore the fact that the decision to introduce the visa regime comes
from our refusal to let Russian troops through our territory", hinting that
Russian federal troops may fight the Chechen separatists.
and Georgian representatives continued their talks concerning the presence of
Russian military bases in Georgia, at the end of October and December.
The first two of four Russian bases are expected to be closed by 1 July
2001. There are Russian proposals
to use the two other bases for joint multilateral peacekeeping purposes.
The two sides will continue their negotiations at the beginning of 2001.
It was announced on 3 November that Armenian
President Robert Kocherian is willing to start a dialogue with Turkey for
improving bilateral relations. The
state secretary of Turkey, Abdulhaluk Chay, said on 4 November that he does not
exclude the possibility of normalizing relations with Armenia, on the condition
that Yerevan gives up its "historical claims" from Ankara.
As a first step he suggested that Yerevan withdraws Armenian troops from
The French senate adopted a resolution early in
November (with 164 votes for and 40 votes against) that recognizes the genocide
of the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians in 1918.
The political weight of the resolution has been diminished by the
position of the French president and government, stating that this act has been
the parliament’s initiative and that France works strongly on the Turkish
accession to the EU. The European
parliament voted in mid-November (with 234 votes for and 213 against) to adopt a
resolution stating that the recognition and condemnation of the genocide against
the Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in the period 1915-1923 is an obligatory
condition to Turkey’s accession to the EU. Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit reacted by stating that
the European parliament has no right to force its own arbitrary decisions onto
Ankara. The US administration
succeeded in October in stopping a similar motion in the US Congress that would
have endangered the effectiveness of the American-Turkish bilateral strategic
relationship. This dispute
indicates what efforts would be needed to bring Turkish society and its
political elite in line with the rest of Europe.
international mediation team met in separate meetings on 11 December with the
presidents of the two countries to discuss ways of reducing occasional violence
along the common border. The
mediation also aims to prepare talks between the two leaders for discussing the
settlement of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Confidence-building measures and improvement in the discipline of the
border troops of the two countries is crucial for the solution of the broader
defense ministers of the two countries met on 15 December in the border area
between Armenia and Azerbaijan, close to the Nakhichevan enclave. They
discussed the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and agreed to take
additional measures to prevent sporadic breaches of the enforced regime.
The ministers agreed also to improve the mechanism of exchanging
prisoners of war.
The presidents of the two countries, Leonid Kuchma
and Ahmed Sezer, signed nine bilateral agreements at the end of November, on the
prevention of nuclear disasters, cooperation in the fields of justice, health,
and communications, and the exchange of military and technological expertise.
Both countries have a substantial impact on the regional security
situation and stability. Both
presidents displayed an interest in strengthening economic and defense industry
cooperation. Ukraine is
particularly interested in selling its technologically advanced tank to Turkey,
which is also somewhat cheaper than similar alternatives.
Bulgaria-Russia, Bulgaria-Ukraine, Bulgaria-Georgia
In light of its new Schengen obligations, Bulgaria
started in December the procedure of terminating the bilateral free-visa regime
with Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia. The
free movement of Bulgarian citizens for three months in the Schengen European
area requires the introduction of additional measures to tighten border controls
and the visa regimes with other Bulgarian partners. At the same time Bulgaria has proposed the launch of
negotiations for signing bilateral agreements with the three countries for
re-admission into the free-visa agreement, which would facilitate bilateral
contacts in various areas. Russia
was the only Bulgarian partner that claims it has insurmountable difficulties in
signing a bilateral agreement for re-admission, which may leave bilateral
contacts at a more bureaucratically burdened visa regime.
Russia has kept this situation for many years in spite of the free-visa
agreement, by including the "priglashenie" (invitation) element as an
obligatory and discriminating part of the otherwise free-visa arrangement.
Cooperation in the Caucasian Region
The interior ministers of Russia, Armenia,
Azerbaijan, and Georgia met in Sochi at the beginning of October and agreed to
strengthen their cooperation in fighting terrorism in the Northern Caucasus.
The Ministers signed three documents of cooperation that provide better
exchange of information on criminals, especially assassins, terrorists, drug
dealers, and arms smugglers.
Russia introduced special rules of residence for
the citizens of the other CIS states on 1 October; the so-called "near
abroad". These rules are identical
to the rules of the residents from the so-called "far abroad".
The "near abroad" citizens who intend to reside in Russia will
need to obtain the Russian equivalent of the US "green card".
Russia expects to process some 10'000-11'000 applications per year for
residence in Moscow alone, but there are no indications as to how many of these
will be granted. Further changes in
the relations of Russia with the other CIS members are expected.
Belarus convened a CIS summit meeting in Minsk from
30 November to 1 December. All the
presidents of the CIS member states (except for the Turkmeni one, Saparmurat
Niazov, who did not attend the meeting) agreed to establish an anti-terrorism
center and approved to jointly meet the expenses of holding similar summits in
the future. Russia agreed in
December to take on 50 per cent of the funding of the anti-terrorism center in
2001. The center will employ 60 people.
The Economic Situation in the Individual Countries and in the Region
An IMF mission visited Moldova at the end of
October. The Moldovan parliament
continues to block the privatization of the tobacco and wine production
facilities of the country, and prevents government efforts to obtain much needed
support from the IMF. The World
Bank may also credit the Moldovan government in its foreign-debt restructuring
efforts if by the end of 2000 the parliament decides to privatize the tobacco
and wine sectors of the country’s economy.
The Russian prime minister reported to an
international economic forum in Moscow at the beginning of December that the
Russian economy is improving. He
confirmed the expectation of 7 per cent economic growth in 2000, including 10
per cent industrial growth. Inflation
continued to decrease this year after the dramatic events in Russia in 1998, and
the expectations are of 21.5 per cent by the end of this year and of 12-14 per
cent in 2001. The state of the
crops this year and the expectations for the next one motivated the Russian
agrarian minister, Aleksey Gordeev, to say at the beginning of November that
Russia will not purchase wheat in 2001. A
high-priority task is the regulation of the market and the establishment of a
grains stock exchange in Russia. The
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development decided in November to invest
US$ 160 million in improving the organization basis of the Russian agrarian
Russia-US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
OPIC announced on 15 December that it will
reinstate political risk insurance for US investments in Russia.
OPIC reached this conclusion after discussions in Moscow between the OPIC
president and chief executive officer George Munoz and Russian finance minister
Aleksey Kudrin. Munoz said that
this reinstatement of inconvertibility insurance was a reflection of the
progress that the Russian government has made in implementing economic reforms.
Russia-US Commerce Department
Counselor to the US Department of Commerce, Jan H.
Kalicki, said at a Russian energy summit meeting in Moscow on 8 December that
the development of Russia’s energy sector has the potential to revitalize the
entire economy. Improving the legal
framework, and involvement in broader energy and transportation projects
covering the territory of the former Soviet Union are considered to be priority
tasks. The Caspian Pipeline
Consortium was cited by Kalicki as an example of how Russian and Western
companies can work together in creating transportation solutions for the region.
Russia has the chance to make the BTC pipeline another example of
regional cooperation, with Russia’s offshore Caspian projects potentially
benefiting from the use of the BTC pipeline.
In Kiev on 18 December Munoz encouraged Ukraine to
accelerate the pace of its economic and political reforms as the best way to
attract US investment. By now
OPIC-supported funds have invested more than US$ 84 million in 40 companies in
Political and Security Aspects of the Black Sea Regional Cooperation
The regular meeting of foreign ministers of the
OBSEC ended in Bucharest on 21 October. Still
ineffective in its delivery, OBSEC member states again wished the organization
to start working. However, no
significant projects are currently planned within OBSEC.
The export-import (Ex-Im) Bank of the US announced in Moscow on 5
December that it has identified 15 Russian banks, including 11 private sector
banks, as creditworthy partners that it will work with in financing Russian
purchases of US goods and services. (2)
General Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited
Russia from 11-13 December upon the invitation of his counterpart Army General
Anatoliy V. Kvashnin, chief of the General Staff and first deputy minister of
defense. The two military leaders
signed the US-Russian military-to-military program for 2001.
(1) The US Senate approved
the US-Ukraine Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty on 18 October, which was signed by
both parties on 22 July 1998. Ukraine
already ratified the treaty in September of this year.
The treaty provides a formal intergovernmental mechanism through which
the two countries will be able to provide each other with evidence and other
assistance in criminal investigations and proceedings.
(2) US Secretary of Defense
William Cohen and Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksandr
Kuzmuk signed a Plan of Cooperation for 2001 in Brussels on 5 December
during the NATO defense ministerial. It
is designed to meet mutually agreed-upon goals in eight main areas, including
interoperability, force professionalism, and defense restructuring, and it will
continue their cooperative threat-reduction program.
Under the auspices of the Department of State, US military personnel are
teaching select groups of Georgian, Armenian, and Azerbaijani soldiers modern
demining techniques at a military base in Georgia – techniques they can later
use at home. The first group
graduated on 2 November. US State Department sources said that the training is
needed because these former Soviet republics are all affected by landmines that
were placed on their territories during conflicts that arose prior to and after
the break-up of the USSR. Many
landmines from those conflicts remain hazardous today.
The US military contingent is also teaching the deminers how to carry out
mine-awareness education campaigns.
Council of Europe (CE)
After two days of heated debates during the middle
of November the foreign ministers of the CE member states decided to accept
Armenia and Azerbaijan as members of the organization simultaneously.
Their membership was conditional on the two countries’ introduction of
changes in their constitutions, and election and media laws.
President Putin was in Paris on 30 October for the
sixth Russia-EU summit with the French presidency and the EU highest-level
representatives. A grand bargain in
the global energy game was drafted: in return for helping Russia to develop its
vast oil and natural gas reserves, the heavily fuel-dependent economies of the
EU would be able to ensure long-term (around 20-year) supplies.
More needs to be done to shape the legal framework of the deal.
The two sides also agreed for the first time on a joint statement that a
political solution should be found urgently for the conflict in Chechnya.
They also agreed to strengthen security ties and increase Russia’s
involvement in future EU-led crisis management operations. In Berlin on 26
November the Russian foreign minister called for a "strategic
partnership" with the EU as a sign of strengthening relations between the
two regions of Europe, and said that the defense links of Russia and the EU can
extend to the deployment of Russian troops alongside EU forces in tackling
Russia continued the recent warming of its
bilateral ties to NATO at the regular meeting in Brussels of the Council
NATO-Russia. Russia will re-open
the NATO information center in Moscow. Broadening
of cooperation in the context of PfP and peacekeeping operations is expected,
including – in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina – in the area of military
education. After the Joint Council
meeting the Russian defense minister, Igor Sergeev, said that the two sides have
agreed to set up a joint system to prevent accidents involving submarines and
naval vessels, and to respond to those in distress.
The NATO-Ukraine commission ministerial issued a
joint statement in Brussels on 14 December that they have developed an ambitious
work plan for 2001. The plan
emphasizes political consultation and practical cooperation, including defense
reform. The Commission meeting also
concluded that the defense reform in Ukraine has been slow.
Budget shortfalls have limited new reform initiatives.
The existing regulations in bilateral relations inhibit the sharing of
information. Budget planning,
parliamentary oversight, civilian control of the military, interoperability with
NATO forces, and the development of a rapid deployment force are the areas of
cooperation that are needed by Ukraine with its partners in NATO.
The security situation in the broader Black
Sea-Caspian Sea area continues to be undermined by the conflicts in the area.
Signs of rising international cooperation against terrorism coincide with
improved cooperation between the US, NATO, and the EU, with Russia, Ukraine, and
other states from the region. This
tendency overlaps with an improving economic situation in Russia, and with
rising chances of sharing economic interests among various players in the
diversified production and transportation of oil and gas from the area to world
markets. In the last three months a
clear geopolitical and geoeconomic shift of the western part of the Black Sea
basin towards the EU promised new chances for closer involvement of the eastern
part of the same region in mutually profitable relations with the EU.