Regionalism in Russia and the Transformation of the Russian Army (1998-2000)

Led by Pavel K. Baev
Jan 2003 – Dec 2000

The Research Project was started in November 1997 as a direct follow-up to the Research project ‘The Russian Army and Russia’s Evolving Security Posture: The Impact of Chechnya and Beyond’, which was completed with the Final Report ‘The Russian Army in Action: Meeting Security Challenges in the South’. The research was concentrated in five areas: the progress and prospects of military reform in Russia; the dynamics of regionalism in Russia, the impacts of regional trends on Russia’s military policy; Russian policies of conflict management and peacekeeping; and Russia’s European policy. 

Russian Military Reform

According to the original application, the aim of research here is ‘to assess the implementability of reform plans proposed by Russian military authorities as far as the territorial organization of the Armed Forces is concerned’. The content and real implementation of the reform package, approved by President Yeltsin in July 1997, was analyzed in a paper presented at the international conference Russian Military Prospects, organized by FOA, Stockholm (March 1998). The first round of changes in government and political priorities was examined in a presentation at the seminar Russland, Quo Vadis?, organized by the University of Oslo and UD (report published in June 1998) and the article ‘The Russian Military Today: What Kind of Reform Is Implementable’ for the Collection of War Studies by the Centre for Strategic Studies, Slovenian Ministry of Defence (1998). The financial-political crisis in Russia in autumn 1998 altered significantly the environment for military reform. The new situation and possible scenarios for reforming the Armed Forces were analyzed in the report Russian Military Developments, prepared for the FFI (FFI Rapport 99/01229).

Regionalism and Secessionism

The original aim was to focus on ‘the interplay between economic/political and military processes’ related to regionalism. The trend towards redistribution of political power from Moscow to the regions makes an increasing impact on several aspects of Russia’s foreign and security policy. One of them involves state and sub-state level groupings, and was analysed in the chapter ‘Russia’s Policies and Non-Policies towards Subregional Projects around Its Borders’ for the book Subregional Cooperation in and around the CIS Space, prepared for publication by the East-West Institute (New York) in early 2000. Another aspect is Russia’s attitudes towards ethno-national conflicts around a separatist agenda. This problem was analyzed in the lengthy paper Russia’s Policies in Secessionist Conflicts in Europe in the 1990s, presented at the conference Enhancing the Security of States in a Multipolar World, at the George Marshall Center (Garmisch, March 1999) and published as a report of Norwegian Atlantic Committee (February 1999). After revision and shortening, it appeared as an article ‘Russia’s Stance Against Secessions: From Chechnya to Kosovo’, International Peacekeeping (Autumn 1999). This research is closely linked with the cooperative PRIO-NUPI project ‘Engaging the Challenges of Tomorrow’.

Regionalism and Russia’s Military

The lack of progress in reforming the military and the accelerating redistribution of political power and economic resources from the center to the regions gradually erodes the integrity of the power structures and leads to their regionalization. This trend was examined in the presentation at the Scottish Center for Security Studies, University of Aberdeen (May 1999), which was featured in a working paper produced by the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. The issue of regionalization of Russia’s power structures was further examined in two articles, accepted for publication in European Security and Perspectives. A chapter with a more elaborate analysis of this trend is being prepared for a book on civil-military relations in Russia, to be published by the Birmingham University by mid-2000. The preliminary conclusion here is that increasing control over some elements of the military structures by the regional elites increases the risk of local conflicts, primarily between the regions themselves.

Russian Conflict Management and Peacekeeping

The evolution of Russia’s policy of conflict management has been driven by various factors, and regional developments is a more recent one. More general aspects of this problem were examined in the paper ‘Intervention and Sovereignty in the CIS Area’, presented at the international academic conference in Kuykn Hee University (Seoul, October 1999). More specific questions were raised in the chapter ‘Peacekeeping and Conflict Management in Eurasia’ in Roy Allison & Christoph Bluth (eds), Security Dilemmas in Russia and Eurasia, (London: RIIA, 1998). They were also discussed in the presentations at the seminar Keeping the Peace in the CIS, organized by the Royal Institute of International Affairs (London, June 1998), a workshop on ‘Integrated Military Doctrine’ organized by the Institute of International Relations (Prague, May 1999), and a conference ’10 Years After the Wall’, University of Birmingham (November 1999). This research was addressing the original goal of the project related to the future of groupings of the Russian Armed Forces, based outside its borders. One area where the issue of Russian peacekeeping is particularly acute is the Caucasus. Russia’s policies in the Caucasus were addressed in a paper for the international conference ‘Caucasus: Ethnicity Geopoliticized?’, organized by NUPI (May 1999); in two lectures and four seminars, given at the George Marshall Center for European Studies (Garmisch, April and December 1998). The most recent developments were analysed in a paper presented at the Russian Military Workshop at the US Army War College (Carlisle Barracks, February 2000).

Russia’s European Policy

This broad research area was divided into several specific problems. The first was Russia’s policies in the Baltic area, with the focus on the role of military instruments. This problem was analyzed in two articles, published in Jane’s Intelligence Review (February 1998) and The World Today (March 1998). The second problem was Russia’s relations with Germany, which was analyzed in a chapter for the book From Zwischeneuropa to Wider Europe, edited at the Finnish International Affairs Institute (UPI). The third problem was the general pattern of Russia’s relations with Europe and Russia’s specific plans for the OSCE. It was discussed at several seminars in Oslo, an international conference organized by the Danish UN Association and the Committee on International Affairs in the Danish Parliament (October 1998), at the conference ‘EU and Russia: The Northern Dimension’ organized by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (Moscow, October 1999), and in a short article in Tidens Tegn.

Other Activities

An overview of the security and political situation in Russia was given at two annual Leangkollen seminars organized by the Norwegian Atlantic Committee (February 1998 and February 1999); a briefing on this issue was given to the Royal couple as a part of their preparation for the visit to Russia (April 1998). The changes in Russian security thinking were analyzed in a chapter in the book Sikkerhetspolitisk tenkning i en ny tid, edited by Anders Kjølberg and Bernt Bull (Europa-programmet, 1998). The lecture ‘Crisis of the State and the Role of Power Structures in Russia’ was given for an Forskerutdanningsseminar at the Dep. of Political Science, University of Oslo (September 1999). Two lectures were given at the Forsvarets høgskole (April 1998 and April 1999), one at the Forsvarets stabskole (September 1998), and three at the Kriegsskolen (January and August 1998, January 1999).


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