The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from East Central Europe: National Perspectives in Comparison [1 ed.] 9783666311277, 9783525311271, 1985199121

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The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from East Central Europe: National Perspectives in Comparison [1 ed.]
 9783666311277, 9783525311271, 1985199121

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The editors: Christoph Meißner is research associate at the German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorst. 

The withdrawal of Soviet troops is a so far largely unresearched process of international political and military reorganization after 1989/90, which was accompanied by political, economic, social and geopolitical factors that had different effects in different nations. The anthology contains national studies that examine the withdrawal from a scientific perspective. But it also analyses the international conditions that led to the geopolitical reorganization and reduction of weapons. In addition to the country studies, the reforms and the collapse of the Soviet empire are examined from a military-political perspective in order to make the conditions for returning home understandable.

ISBN 978-3-525-31127-1

9 783525 311271

The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops Meißner / Morré (eds.)  from East Central Europe

Dr. Jörg Morré is director of the German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorst.

Christoph Meißner /Jörg Morré (eds.)

The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from East Central Europe National Perspectives in Comparison

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41

Christoph Meißner / Jörg Morré (eds.)

The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from East Central Europe National Perspectives in Comparison

Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht

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Supported by

Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek: The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data available online: https://dnb.de. © 2021 by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Theaterstraße 13, 37073 Göttingen, Germany, an imprint of the Brill-Group (Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands; Brill USA Inc., Boston MA, USA; Brill Asia Pte Ltd, Singapore; Brill Deutschland GmbH, Paderborn, Germany; Brill Österreich GmbH, Vienna, Austria) Koninklijke Brill NV incorporates the imprints Brill, Brill Nijhoff, Brill Hotei, Brill Schöningh, Brill Fink, Brill mentis, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Böhlau, Verlag Antike and V&R unipress.

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior written permission from the publisher.

Cover image: Loading tanks from the Berlin Brigade for transport home to Russia on 3 December 1993. © Detlev Steinberg / Deutsch-Russisches Museum Berlin-Karlshorst Cover design: SchwabScantechnik, Göttingen Typesetting: le-tex publishing services, Leipzig Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht Verlage | www.vandenhoeck-ruprecht-verlage.com ISBN 978–3–666–31127–7

Table of Contents

Christoph Meißner, Jörg Morré Introduction .........................................................................................

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The Context of the Withdrawals from East Central Europe Tim Geiger Disarmament and the End of the Cold War. The Military-Strategic Background of the International Change, 1985–1991.................................. 21 Hans-Henning Schröder, Christoph Meißner ‘New Thinking’ and its Effects on Soviet Foreign and Security Policy ............ 41 Markus Mirschel, Michael Galbas War Returnees as Transformation Accelerators. The Return of the Afgantsy .. 61 Christoph Meißner The Search for a New Security Structure in Eastern Europe Through the Example of the Dissolution of the Soviet Army........................ 77

The Withdrawal of Soviet/Russian Forces from Germany Matthias Uhl The Armed Forces in Germany in the Changed Soviet Defence Strategy Under Gorbachev ...................................................................... 95 Alexei Sindeyev The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Germany. An Event from History or from Current Politics?............................................................. 113 Christoph Meißner The Withdrawal of the Western Group of Forces from Germany ................. 127

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Christoph Lorke Shaping and Negotiating the Withdrawal. Soviet/Russian Troops as ‘Strangers’ in Unified Germany ................................................................ 145 Sascha Gunold ‘Withdrawal Under Observation’ How German Military and Foreign Intelligence Contributed to the Withdrawal of Soviet/Russian Forces from Germany, 1990–1994 ...................................... 161 Markus Hennen Conversion in Germany Through the Example of the Federal State of Brandenburg ..................................................................................... 181

The Withdrawal of Soviet/Russian Forces from East Central Europe Dávid Kiss The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Hungary and Hungarian Security Relations ................................................................................. 199 Barnabás Vajda The Soviet Army Stationing and its Legacy in Czechoslovakia and at Fortress Komárno............................................................................... 213 Agnieszka Kastory International Aspects of the Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Poland and Germany.............................................................................. 229

The Withdrawal of Russian Forces from States of the Former Soviet Union Sophie Momzikoff International Aspects of the Russian Troops’ Withdrawal from the Baltics. The Issue of the Russian Minority as a European Question and Internal Matter, 1992–1994 ............................................................... 247 Dovilė Jakniūnaitė, Valentinas Beržiūnas Russia and the Baltic States after Regaining Independence .......................... 263

Table of Contents

David Darchiashvili, Michael Machavariani The Empire Fights Back. Never-Ending Withdrawal of the Russian Troops from Georgia .............................................................................. 279 Nadja Douglas, Simon Muschick The Withdrawal of Russian Troops from the Republic of Moldova in the Context of International Confidence- and Security-Building Efforts .... 297 Contributors ......................................................................................... 313 Acronyms ............................................................................................. 315 Index of Persons .................................................................................... 319

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Introduction

Around 30 years ago, an era came to an end with the withdrawal of Soviet and, from 1992, Russian troops from Central and Eastern Europe. Their presence had played a decisive role in shaping the European post-war order. During the Cold War, they formed the counterpart to the NATO forces stationed in Western Europe. In the face of an arms race that went on unchecked for decades, it was, as many contemporary witnesses saw it, only mutually assured destruction that could secure the status quo and, with it, peace in Europe. Although forces had been stationed in eastern Germany (the former Soviet occupation zone and later the GDR), Poland, and Hungary without interruption since the end of the war in 1945, forces in Czechoslovakia (ČSSR) had been withdrawn in late 1945. However, they returned in 1968 to violently end the reformist policies of the Prague Spring.1 Soviet soldiers had already put down popular uprisings in the GDR and Hungary in 1953 and 1956. It had thus been made unmistakably clear to the stationing countries that the presence of the Soviet Army would always be a factor in their domestic political order. Against this backdrop, the withdrawal of Soviet troops represented a decisive historical break. It was made possible by the change of direction in Soviet policy under Mikhail Gorbachev, who took office as a reformer of the Soviet Union and the socialist camp. The results were the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, the dissolution of the ‘Eastern Bloc’, and the break-up of the Soviet Union. Last but not least, the process of German reunification provided the framework for the complete disappearance of the Soviet Army from the countries of Eastern Europe. When the Commander-in-Chief of the Western Group of Forces stationed in Germany announced that the withdrawal had been completed before the President of the Russian Federation at Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt on 31 August 1994, it was the final symbolic act in a development that had begun barely ten years earlier. The exact point in time at which the Soviet leadership decided to withdraw remains vague. There are indications that a withdrawal, at least from Czechoslovakia, was already being considered in March 1987. Gorbachev condemned the Soviet

1 For military details on the Soviet Army troops stationed abroad between 1945 and 1991, see Fes’kov Vitalii et. al: Vooruzhjonnye Sily SSSR posle Vtoroj mirovoj vojny: ot Krasnoj Armii k Sovetskoj. Chast’ 1: Suhoputnye vojska [Soviet Armed Forces after World War II from the Red Army to the Soviet Army. Part 1: Ground Forces], Tomsk 2013, pp. 379–428.

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invasion of 1968, but at the same time he wanted to leave the deployments in Poland, Hungary, and the GDR untouched.2 Yet Poland and Hungary had strong opposition movements at the time, which the ruling, Moscow-oriented elites could not control. It quickly became clear to the Soviet leadership under Gorbachev that it could not just be a matter of selective reparations for a historical aberration in one country. Eduard Shevardnadze, the Soviet Union’s minister of foreign affairs at the time, commented on this in his memoirs: ‘Our military presence in Eastern Europe was questioned long before the start of events in 1989/90. And it was not just the governments that came to power in those years that demanded the withdrawal of Soviet troops, but their predecessors [had done so] as well. Some of them told us in strictest confidence, using very cautious formulations, that the continued presence of Soviet troops in their countries would create serious problems for them. It would be better for us to take steps ourselves in this direction, they said, than to be forced later to move in haste under the pressure of events.’3 And yet Gorbachev’s offer in December 1988 to unilaterally withdraw six Soviet tank divisions, with a total of 50,000 men and 5000 tanks, from the GDR, the ČSSR, and Hungary4 was not directed at Moscow’s satellite states, but at the American adversary in the Cold War. In doing so, he wanted to prove to the United States on the global stage that the Soviet Union was ready to take further steps one year after the signing of the first major disarmament treaty, the INF Treaty, in December 1987. It was an offer in line with Soviet interests that had not been discussed within the leading bodies of the Warsaw Pact. In the old style, Gorbachev acted autonomously and without consulting his allies.5 Only when domestic political pressure in the socalled brother countries became too great and national reform movements actively demanded the withdrawal of Soviet troops did the Soviet leaders have to decide. In line with Gorbachev’s reform policy of glasnost and perestroika, they allowed more and more emancipation for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. With the abandonment of the Brezhnev Doctrine, the Soviet Union finally explicitly

2 Proposal from Georgy Shakhnazarov to the CPSU for a Partiel Soviet Troop Withdrawal from the ČSSR, March 1987, in: Safranskaya, Svetlana/Blanton, Thomas/Zubok, Vladislav (eds.): Masterpieces of History. The peaceful end of the Cold War in Europe 1989, Budapest/New York 2010, doc. 10, pp. 244–246. 3 Shevardnadze, Eduard: Moi vybor v zashhitu demokratii i svobody, Moskva 1991, p. 206. 4 Diehl, Ole: Die Strategiediskussion in der Sowjetunion: Zum Wandel der Sowjetischen Kriegsführungskonzeption in den achtziger Jahren [The Strategy Discussion in the Soviet Union: On the Change in the Soviet Concept of Warfare in the Eighties], Wiesbaden 1993, p. 264. 5 Safranskaya, Svetlana: The Logic of 1989: The Soviet Peaceful Withdrawal from Eastern Europe, in: Safranskaya/Blanton/Zubok (eds.): Masterpieces of History, pp. 1–45, here: p. 45.

Introduction

refrained from exerting influence on their internal developments.6 This developed its own dynamic. The withdrawal of Soviet soldiers was demanded sooner or later, louder or quieter, by every opposition movement. At a certain point, it was clear that Soviet soldiers would no longer be Moscow’s lever of influence. Even if they did not leave the country immediately, they stayed in their barracks from then on.7 Between February 1990 and August 1994, about half a million soldiers returned home along with about 320,000 of their family members. Nearly two thirds of them had been stationed in Germany. A period of four years was planned to completely repatriate them and their military equipment. And while the withdrawal of 90,000 soldiers from Czechoslovakia and 44,500 soldiers from Hungary was already completed after 16 and 15 months respectively in June 1991, the process was only just beginning in Germany. Around 340,000 soldiers were stationed in Germany, and it took four years to repatriate them and their military equipment. The German and the Soviet side were both able to draw on the experience of the withdrawals from Czechoslovakia and Hungary. The withdrawal from Germany, more precisely from the territory of the former GDR, attracted the most attention and not just because of the large numbers. Divided Germany, and Berlin in particular, had been the nexus of the Cold War. The Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSFG) was far more dynamic in terms of troop transfers and regroupings, stationing strength, and the arms and mobility of its military units than the Northern, Central, and Southern Group of Forces in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary. By contrast, the withdrawal of 56,000 Soviet soldiers from Poland did not begin until April 1991 and dragged on for two years, until September 1993. In all honesty, the editors must admit that the withdrawal from a unified Germany, often celebrated as a logistical masterpiece and the largest peaceful movement of troops in military history, was the starting point for their reflections. Yet the withdrawal was barely noticed by contemporaries, as it was overshadowed by the brilliant events that accompanied it at the beginning of the re-unified German state. Although a great deal of documentary photographs of the departing soldiers and their equipment as well as the subsequent search for clues in the military paraphernalia they left behind testify to the public’s interest.8 Based on the activities of the 6 Ibid.; Loth; Winfried: Moscow, Prague and Warsaw: Overcoming the Brezhnev Doctrine, in: Cold War History 2/1 (2001), pp. 103–118; Jones, Robert A.: The Soviet Concept Of ‘Limited Sovereignty’ From Lenin To Gorbachev: The Brezhnev Doctrine, New York 1990. 7 Kramer, Marc: The Warsaw Pact Alliance, 1985–1991. Reform, Adaptation, and Collapse, in: Küsters, Hanns Jürgen (ed.): Der Zerfall des Sowjetimperiums und Deutschlands Wiedervereinigung. The Decline of the Soviet Empire and Germany’s Reunification, Köln et. al 2016, pp. 69–103, here: pp. 100–101. 8 Deutsch-Russisches Museum Berlin-Karlshorst (ed.): Russischer Soldatenalltag in Deutschland 1990–1994. Bilder des Militärfotografen Wladimir Borissow [Russian Soldiers’ Everyday Life in Germany 1990–1994. Photographs by Military Photographer Vladimir Borisov], Berlin 2008; Gehrke,

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German-Russian Museum on the occasion of the 20th and 25th anniversaries of the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Germany,9 the perception emerged that a historical retrospective in the overall context of Central and Eastern Europe had remained unattended to. In contrast to the conference volume The Great Withdrawal,10 which was published in 2005 and in which eyewitnesses from competent sources elaborated on military aspects, the present volume is intended to take stock of historical research. For, although the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the accompanying reorganisation of security policy have been well researched, comparatively little attention has been paid to the withdrawal of forces from Central and Eastern Europe.11 Nor is it sufficient to perceive the topic merely in the course of research on the disintegration of the Soviet Union and its alliance systems.12 The time of the withdrawal of Soviet soldiers, most of whom were despised as occupiers, holds an important place in the national narratives of the transition period. The successful disengagement from Moscow manifested itself in very different sorts of public acts in each country. In Prague, people celebrated 27 June 1991, when the last Soviet soldier left the country, with a big rock concert and fireworks. Poland deliberately set the last day on which the commander-in-chief of Russia’s Northern Group of

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Tilo: Das Erbe der Sowjetarmee in Deutschland. Eine Bild- und Textdokumentation [The Legacy of the Soviet Army in Germany. A picture and text documentation], Berlin 2008; Liebe, Joachim: Vergessene Sieger. Jahre danach [Forgotten Victors. Years after], Halle/Saale 2015; Riboldi, Carlo: Soviet Ghosts in Germany, 2021. Deutsch-Russisches Museum Berlin-Karlshorst (ed.): Der Abzug. Die letzten Jahre der russischen Truppen in Deutschland. Eine fotografische Dokumentation von Detlev Steinberg [The Withdrawal. The last years of the Russian troops in Germany. A photographic documentation by Detlev Steinberg], Berlin 2016; Deutsch-Russisches Museum Berlin-Karlshorst (ed.): Alltag-Politik-Kampfauftrag. Sowjetische Truppen in Deutschland 1945–1994 [Everyday Life-Politics-Combat Mission. Soviet Troops in Germany 1945–1994], Berlin 2019. Naďovič, Svetozár et al.: The Great Withdrawal. Withdrawal of the Soviet-Russian Army from Central Europe, 1990–1994, Bratislava 2005. See among others Savranskaya/Blanton/Zubok (eds.): Masterpieces of History; Kosová, Jana: Odchod sovětských vojsk z území Německa, Československa a Polska [The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Territory of Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland], Prague 2012. See among others Adomeit, Hannes: Imperial Overstretch: Germany in Soviet Policy from Stalin to Gorbachev, Baden-Baden 1998; Zubok, Vladimir: A Failed Empire. The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev, London 2007; Brown, Archie: The Gorbachev Factor, Oxford 2003; Grachev, Andrei: Gorbachev’s Gamble. Soviet Foreign Policy and the End of the Cold War, Cambridge 2008; Savranskaya/Blanton/Zubok (eds.): Masterpieces of History; Mastny, Vojtech/ Byrne, Malcolm (eds.): A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, New York 2005; Umbach, Frank: Das rote Bündnis. Entwicklung und Zerfall des Warschauer Paktes 1955–1991 [The Red Alliance. Development and Disintegration of the Warsaw Pact 1955–1991], Berlin 2005; Bange, Oliver: Sicherheit und Staat. Die Bündniss- und Militärpolitik der DDR im internationalen Kontext 1969 bis 1990 [Security and State. The GDR’s Alliance Policy in the International Context 1969 to 1990], Berlin 2017; Kramer: The Warsaw Pact Alliance.

Introduction

Forces delivered his message of completion to Polish President Lech Wałęsa in 1993 on the historic 17th of September. On the same day 54 years earlier, the Red Army, in collusion with Germany, had invaded the eastern half of Poland, which was later annexed by the Soviet Union. Hungary made 19 June 1991 Hungarian Independence Day, although not until ten years after the withdrawal. And while it did not become a no-work holiday, it has nevertheless acquired highly symbolic significance. Germany, on the other hand, attempted an amicable final act on 31 August 1994 with a joint military ceremony involving the Bundeswehr and the last Russian unit. In the Russian Federation, as the legal successor to the Soviet Union, however, the withdrawal is still perceived to this day in the context of the break-up of the Soviet Union and as a defeat. Hardly any Russian historians deal with this period, and those who do mostly focus on the connections within the Soviet Union that led to its disintegration, in order to find someone to blame. This anthology was originally intended to be published as the results of a conference entitled ‘Withdrawals – the departure of Soviet and Russian troops from the sphere of power of the (former) USSR since 1985’. It sought to examine the preconditions and course of events transnationally, starting from the historical moment of withdrawal. The conference was planned in March 2020 by the German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorst in cooperation with the German Society for Eastern European Studies (DGO), the German Historical Institute Moscow (DHI Moscow), the Centre for Military History and Social Sciences of the Bundeswehr (ZMSBw), and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). Unfortunately, one week before the colloquium was scheduled to begin, the coronavirus pandemic hit Europe. Travel restrictions and lockdowns made it impossible to align national perspectives in face-to-face meetings and direct discussion. As a substitute, we invited the speakers to present their contributions in written form, even though this cannot replace the direct discussion that we still consider to be necessary. But at least the present anthology can offer a survey of perspectives, which hopefully will stimulate further discussion. The volume brings together 20 authors who report on the withdrawal of Soviet and Russian troops from seven countries. A relatively large part is devoted to the withdrawal from Germany. This has to do with the special status of Germany, which results, on the one hand, from the sheer number of troops stationed in the GDR and the area they occupied – at least three times larger than those in neighbouring countries – and, on the other hand, from the historical circumstance of reunification. Long-time Cold War adversaries suddenly became partners in managing the withdrawal. This is another specific feature of the German situation – the old, Soviet-socialist military and political elites did not play a decisive role in shaping the withdrawal. In all other countries, by contrast, decision-makers who were united by the Warsaw Pact alliance worked together. Whether this made a

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substantial difference in the euphoria of national independence remains to be seen. But at least one knew one’s counterpart. In addition to Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, the book also deals with the Baltic states, Georgia, and Moldova. For them too, the withdrawal of Soviet forces was an important aspect of state sovereignty. However, in contrast to Central and Eastern Europe, that group of countries has interdependencies in the post-Soviet space that continue to impact them today. While, from a European perspective, the withdrawal can be seen as something historical that has been completed, the situation is different in the Soviet successor states. There it has been more of a reduction than a complete withdrawal of Soviet, and now Russian, soldiers. It is a matter of military bases and renegotiated stationing modalities. Finally, we asked our authors for overview articles on security thinking and disarmament negotiations within the Cold War. The softening of ossified patterns of perception in the bipolar world of the Warsaw Pact and NATO remains a historical merit of Soviet foreign policy, with Gorbachev as the driving force. On the large international stage, this led to concrete disarmament steps and troop reductions. The withdrawal from Central and Eastern Europe was a major disarmament step in which war equipment was destroyed, military areas were converted to civilian use, and soldiers were transferred to a new civilian professional life. This brought burdens in the social, economic, and ecological spheres, which are addressed in this volume but are not the focus of attention. Some of the work on this has been done separately,13 but for the most part it remains a research desideratum. Similarly, we do not pursue the development of new security structures, the transformation of existing ones, or simply the absence of both, in this volume. The first part in this anthology deals with the international framework conditions for the withdrawals and the situation in the Soviet Union, without whose active initiative the withdrawals would not have been possible. They place the withdrawal, and often the reduction in Soviet troops and their weapons, in the larger context of disarmament and the settlement of the Cold War. In his contribution, Tim Geiger shows how in the 1980s, despite the deployment of new weapons systems on both sides, the arms race, which had been unchecked until then, was successfully diverted into negotiations on arms control. In the process, it reveals that initially there were

13 For example the special issues of Český lid/The Czech Ethnological Journal 4/106 (2019) and Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore, 70/2017; Herndon, Roy C. et. al. (eds.): Clean-up of Former Soviet Military Instalations. Identification and Selection of Environmental Technologies for Use in Central and Eastern Europe, Berlin 1995; Kleinheiz, Ralf G.: Die räumlichen Auswirkungen der Liegenschaftkonversion dargestellt am Abzug der Westgruppe der Truppen (WGT) im Land Brandenburg [The spatial effects of property conversion illustrated by the withdrawal of the Western Group of Forces (WGF) in the state of Brandenburg], Euskirchen 1994.

Introduction

reservations on both sides that had to be overcome until finally, in November 1990, with the Charter of Paris, a fundamental document for a new global security order became possible. The article by Hans-Henning Schröder and Christoph Meißner sheds light on the internal Soviet discussions. The new Soviet leadership around Mikhail Gorbachev first had to free itself from the thinking and constraints of the past and overcome resistance from the ranks of the Soviet Army. The goal was to develop a new security architecture in Europe that would renounce the use of force. We know today that this did not succeed in the long term. The contribution by Markus Mirschel and Michael Galbas on the complete Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan draws attention to the accompanying social consequences. Afghanistan certainly cannot be seen as a withdrawal in the proper sense. The whole situation can hardly be compared to that in Central and Eastern Europe. It was more of a military retreat than a withdrawal, or, as it would be called today, ‘ending the military mission’. And yet, in retrospect, when the Soviets left Afghanistan it was like a blueprint for their European withdrawals in the 1990s. The example of Afghanistan can be used to illustrate social consequences as well as problems of acceptance within the army as well as in Soviet society. Christoph Meißner’s contribution describes Moscow’s failed attempt to save the structures of Soviet security policy by transforming the Soviet Army into a coalition army of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The volume’s second group of topics deals with the withdrawal from Germany. Matthias Uhl examines the specific effects that the new Soviet military policy would have on the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSFG). Soviet troops in Germany came to be seen no longer as the front-line defenders of the Soviet Union, but as bargaining chips vis-à-vis the West and NATO in order to achieve national security through international treaties. Alexei Sindeyev shows that the policy Soviet leaders pursued internationally was overwhelmed by events in the GDR in autumn 1989 – particularly the fall of the Berlin Wall. Driven by those developments, decisions were made within a small leadership circle that ultimately led to the complete withdrawal of Soviet forces from Germany. It was important to the author, so much so that the editors could not dissuade him, to present the current relevance of the withdrawal for Russian-European relations in the second part of his contribution. Christoph Meißner and Christoph Lorke examine the political, military, and social framework conditions in their contributions. While Meißner’s article gives an overview of the withdrawal from a German and Soviet/Russian perspective, Lorke’s article deals with the perception of the withdrawal by German society. Whereas people in the political and diplomatic realm were fond of referring to it as a ‘dignified withdrawal’, Lorke describes how, in reality, the Soviet/Russian soldiers leaving for an uncertain future were not always treated with dignity.

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Sascha Gunold’s contribution discusses the hitherto largely unknown intelligence operations of the Bundeswehr. Some of these operations took place in conjunction with Western partners, with the objective of continuing to provide reconnaissance of their former enemy. Markus Hennen submitted a paper on conversion using the state of Brandenburg as an example. The majority of Soviet troops stationed on German soil were in Brandenburg. The properties they left behind sometimes contained heavily polluted areas of enormous proportions. Hennen describes conversion as a long-term task that will probably take several generations to solve. The third part of the anthology is dedicated to the withdrawals from Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. David Kiss first illuminates the withdrawal of Soviet forces from the Hungarian perspective, which is closely interwoven with the trauma of the suppressed popular uprising of 1956. He explains that the withdrawal was accompanied by the search for a new Hungarian security policy, with Hungary actively working to dissolve the Warsaw Pact. It tried to assert its interests in changing bilateral alliances. Barnabas Vajda analyses the withdrawal from Czechoslovakia and the effects it had on the internal development of a country that – in contrast to Germany – was in the process of dividing. Using the example of Fort Komárno, located on the Danube at the Slovak-Hungarian border, he vividly illustrates the difficulty of dealing with the echos of Soviet occupation in Slovakia. Agnieszka Kastory also narrates the withdrawal from Poland from the perspective of domestic political debates, in which the Polish view of the transit of the Western Group of Forces played a weighty role in their withdrawal from Germany. What was at first an uncompromising negotiating strategy on the part of Poland plays a central role in her analysis. All three articles make it clear that the process of negotiating with the Soviet, and later Russian, side was equally difficult for Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland, because neither the Soviet/Russian generals nor their political negotiators had come to terms with the new circumstances. They continued to follow the reactionary patterns of the outdated Soviet supremacy. As was the case during the withdrawal from Germany later on, there was a hard struggle over how to distribute the costs of removing and repairing dilapidated and heavily polluted barracks and military training grounds. The final section of the volume turns to the withdrawals from the former Soviet republics. In contrast to the withdrawal from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Soviet/Russian leadership felt it was being displaced from a region that it perceived as its very own, centuries-old sphere of influence. Its resistance was correspondingly strong, as reflected in ongoing threats and territorial claims that remain unresolved to this day. Each former Soviet republic dealt with its still-powerful Russian neighbour differently. In the Baltic states, where the withdrawal ended at the same time as Germany, on 31 August 1994, it was, as Sophie Momzikoff points out, the problem of the

Introduction

Russian minority. In part, their settlement was interwoven with the stationing of Soviet soldiers; in part, it was citizens of the Soviet Union with Russian roots who had settled there. While the Baltic states wanted to see the former Soviet and now Russian army withdraw as quickly as possible, the Russian government tied this matter to resolving the question of rights for its compatriots. The new governments in the Baltics insisted on strict rules for residence and citizenship, where language skills (in the difficult Baltic languages) became a touchstone, as well as a commitment to the culture and history of the Baltic countries. Only through international mediation, mainly by the United States, could these conflicts be resolved, at least temporarily, and an agreement be reached on the complete withdrawal of Russian troops. Nevertheless, the accession of the Baltic states to the European Union and NATO created further areas of conflict, a subject explored in the article by Dovilė Jakniūnaitė and Valentinas Beržiūnas. They impressively show the political effect of the search for national identity through a recollection of one’s own history and territory, now vacated by foreign troops. In doing so, the authors do not conceal the real and perceived fears that go hand in hand with this, even though, according to the authors, the line between the two cannot always be clearly drawn. The situation is similar in the case of Georgia, which is analysed by David Darchiashvili and Michael Machavariani. Here, the conflicts over Abkhazia and South Ossetia play a central role. Starting from the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the internal political situation in Georgia, which was marked by civil war, the two authors trace the efforts to withdraw Russian troops. In the end, it was not a complete withdrawal, because Russia and its soldiers remained a force for maintaining order in the region. The situation is much the same in the case of the Republic of Moldova. In their contribution, Nadja Douglas and Simon Muschik analyse the problem of Transnistria as that of a ‘frozen conflict’ that ultimately cannot be resolved. Their contribution shows how, over the last 30 years, there have been repeated attempts at a complete Russian withdrawal from the conflict zone. International negotiations and ceasefires have been signed, but Russian troops are still present in the region today. The editors are aware that the studies presented are a matter for debate. We have already had such debates with the authors during the course of editing all their contributions. We sincerely hope that a broad-based academic evaluation will follow. The anthology is intended to fulfil two functions. On the one hand, by presenting current research, it aims to present stored knowledge about the historical events of the departures from Central and Eastern Europe; and, on the other hand, it strives to at least begin to show the perspectives that future historical research on the topic might take up. To conclude, we would like to express our sincere thanks to several people. First of all, to our colleagues at the Centre for Military History and Social Sciences of the

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Bundeswehr, Dr Rüdiger Wenzke and its former director, Dr Jörg Hillmann, both of whom were absolutely critical in producing this volume. We are particularly thankful for the Centre’s generous financial support in printing this volume. The museum and the centre have enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship, which has produced, among other things, online documentation of all locations of the Soviet armed forces in Germany. This resource is always being updated.14 We would also like to thank the German Society for Eastern European Studies, particularly its executive director, Dr Gabriele Freitag, for the indispensable assistance she provided with conceiving a general framework for the volume and the conference that was scheduled for spring 2020. The same applies for the deputy director of the German Historical Institute Moscow, Dr Andreas Hilger, for his tireless contributions to conception and implementation. Special thanks go to the translators of the AV Translation and Interpreting Service (Berlin) led by Alexei Khorkov and to Alison Borrowman. Christina Wheeler, the editor, transformed the contributions submitted to us into easily readable English articles, for which we would like to express our sincere thanks. We would also like to thank the publisher, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, represented by Kai Pätzke, for their extremely effective collaboration and for including our volume in the publishing line-up. Berlin, May 2021

14 http://www.sowjetische-militaerstandorte-in-deutschland.de/, last access: 15 April 2021.

The Context of the Withdrawals from East Central Europe

Tim Geiger

Disarmament and the End of the Cold War The Military-Strategic Background of the International Change, 1985–1991 The Cold War was a political, economic, ideological, and cultural dispute on a global scale, but ultimately a military conflict as well, even if it, fortunately enough, didn’t evolve into a ‘hot’ war – at least not in Europe. Up to the historical watershed of 1989–1990, the entire European continent, especially Germany, was divided into two antagonistic military blocs: NATO and the Warsaw Pact confronted each other with enormous arsenals for nuclear annihilation. In the 1980s, roughly 1.5 million soldiers were stationed within the two German States: In the West, there was the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) army, the Bundeswehr, with about 500,000 men and about 400,000 soldiers from allied NATO troops, half of them were from the United States of America. Alongside these two Western ‘lead nations’ stood troops from Denmark, the Netherlands, Britain, and Belgium in West Germany (all close to the ‘Iron curtain’), as well as French and Canadian forces (in the southwestern backyard of the FRG). In the GDR, there was the Nationale Volksarmee with around 180,000 men and 400,000 soldiers from the ‘Group of Soviet Forces in Germany’ (renamed in 1989 the ‘Western Group of Forces’, WGF).1 More Soviet forces were deployed in Czechoslovakia (80,000), Hungary (55,000), and Poland (40,000).2 In 1980, more than 5000 American nuclear warheads were stored in West German territory alone – no doubt, the highest concentration of atomic weapons in the world.3 According to Valentin Falin, head of the International Department

1 Wieck, Hans-Georg: Bündnispolitik und Nationales Interesse. Wertungen aus politischer und diplomatischer Sicht [Alliance Policy and National Interest. Assessments from a Political and Diplomatic Perspective], in: Thoß, Bruno (ed.): Vom Kalten Krieg zur deutschen Einheit. Analysen und Zeitzeugenberichte zur deutschen Militärgeschichte 1945 bis 1995, München 1995, pp. 507–524, here: p. 517. 2 See Memorandum of the Head of NATO Desk of the Auswärtige Amt (AA, i.e. FRG’s Foreign Office), Dreher, ‘Soviet Troops in Non-Soviet Warsaw Pact Countries’, 23.1.1990, in: Geiger, Tim/Ploetz, Michael/ Hofmann, Jens Jost (eds.): Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (henceforth AAPD) 1990, Boston/Berlin 2021, Doc. 13, p. 60. 3 Memorandum of Conversation (henceforth: MemCon) of Bundeskanzler Schmidt with US President Carter in Venice, 21 June 1980, in: Geiger, Tim/Das Gupta, Amit/Szatkowski, Tim (eds.): AAPD 1980, Munich 2011, Doc. 182, p. 954. According to a GDR-Study the bulk (circa 3800) of the around 6000 Nukes in Western Europe could be found in the FRG, see Weber, Wolfgang (ed.): Die Streitkräfte der NATO auf dem Territorium der BRD [NATO’s armed forces on the territory of the FRG], Berlin (East) 1986, p. 83.

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in the Central Committee of CPSU, in spring 1990, the concentration of weapons in Germany still surpassed the levels of all other countries by a tenfold.4 No wonder that nuclear Armageddon fears were widespread in the 1980s – one primary reason why millions of people in West Germany and other Western countries took to the streets as ‘peace protesters’ in the first half of this crucial decade. Against this background, the fundamental international change that transpired at the end of the decade, namely the End of the Cold War, is even more sensational. How could the vicious circle of armament be broken? How could politicians turn the decade from the mid-1980s to 1990s into the era of arms control and disarmament such that the foundations of European security would be established and cemented for the next thirty years? Certainly, such complex international developments like the end of the Cold War have a plethora of divergent causes. Amongst them is one that can hardly be overestimated: disarmament. Disarmament had a key role in initiating and facilitating the radical political change of the late 1980s/early 1990s. However, the road toward disarmament was a thorny one full of setbacks. The following article is divided into two parts: first, nuclear disarmament is scrutinized, especially the INF Treaty of 1987, the first real disarmament treaty of the Cold War ever, by which an entire category of nuclear weapons was abolished. Moreover, START – the reduction of strategic, namely intercontinental nuclear weapons – will be examined, as well as the controversies about the SNF, the Short-Range Nuclear Forces. The second part of this article is devoted to lesser known but still no less significant problems of conventional disarmament, with the sub-items of the ill-fated Mutual and Balance Forces Reductions (MBFR) talks in Vienna 1973–1989, the Stockholm Conference on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures and Disarmament in Europe in 1986, and the ‘Vienna Talks’ of 1989–1990 with its two components, the ‘Conventional Forces in Europe’ (CFE) and the ‘Confidence- and Security Buildings Measures’ (CSBM).

1.

Nuclear disarmament: Melting down the arsenals of Armageddon

On 12 December 1979, NATO announced its ‘Double-Track Decision’. Here is not the place to recount its genesis and the serious crisis of détente since the late 1970s.5

4 MemCon between Falin and GDR’s Minister for Disarmament and Defence, Eppelmann, in Moscow, 8.5.1990, in: Lehmann, Ines (ed.): Die Außenpolitik der DDR 1989/90. Eine dokumentierte Rekonstruktion [The Foreign Policy of the GDR 1989/90. A Documented Reconstruction], Baden-Baden 2010, Doc. 99, p. 618. 5 Risse-Kappen, Thomas: Null-Lösung. Entscheidungsprozesse zu den Mittelstreckenwaffen 1970–1987 [Zero solution. Decision-making Processes on intermedium-range Weapons 1970–1987], Frank-

Disarmament and the End of the Cold War

In short, the Western Alliance faced a substantial modernisation of the Soviet Union’s intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF), particularly the replacement of SS-4 and SS-5 missiles with only one nuclear warhead, with the accurate, mobile SS20 and its improved range of up to 5500 km and its arming with three individually controllable nuclear warheads. Above all, the SS-20’s range was considered critical: even if deployed beyond the Urals, the SS-20s could hit targets all over Western Europe, but none in the United States. This fact was directly aimed at the most fragile fault of the Atlantic Alliance: it questioned the US guarantee to protect Western Europe with nuclear arms (‘extended nuclear deterrence’). The impending SALT II agreement, with its intended draw at the strategic, namely intercontinental nuclear arsenals of the superpowers, exacerbated the political and military danger of this ‘sub-strategic imbalance’ for the Western European countries. Thus, NATO decided to deploy 572 new American INF (with ranges between 500 and 5500 km in Western Europe) from 1983 onward if previous disarmament talks between the USA and the USSR in Geneva about a reduction their INF weapons failed. That was the core of the ‘Double-Track Decision’: the announcement of a built-up of arms, on the one hand, that would not take place, on the other hand, if the Soviet Union would accept the offer to disarm this category of weapons. Since 1981, however, the Geneva talks did not lead to appreciable results. Thus, in November 1983, NATO started to deploy the first of altogether 108 Pershing II missiles in the FRG, as well Ground-Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCM) in Great Britain and Italy, from 1985 onward in Belgium, as well, and (if only in theory) in the Netherlands. In the end, 464 GLCMs would be stationed in Great Britain (160), Italy (112), in West Germany (96 – in addition to the 108 Pershings), Belgium, and the Netherlands (48 each). In turn, 2400 outdated nuclear warheads were removed from Western Europe in the next couple of years.6 However, the newly deployed missiles were far more dangerous for the Soviet Union, because they reached right into the Soviet heartland. The ballistic Pershing

furt a. M. 1988; Geiger, Tim: Die Regierung Schmidt-Genscher und der NATO-Doppelbeschluss [The Schmidt-Genscher Government and the NATO Double-Track Decision], in: Gassert, Philipp/ Geiger, Tim/Wentker, Hermann (eds.): Zweiter Kalter Krieg und Friedensbewegung. Der NATODoppelbeschluss in deutsch-deutscher und internationaler Perspektive, Munich 2011, pp. 95–122; Geiger, Tim: The NATO Double-Track Decision: Genesis and Implementation, in: Becker-Schaum, Christoph et. al. (eds.): The Nuclear Crisis. The Arms Race, Cold War Anxiety, and the German Peace Movement of the 1980s, New York/Oxford 2016, pp. 52–69; Nuti, Leopoldo: The Origins of the 1979 Dual Track Decision – A survey, in: ibid. (ed.): Crisis of Détente in Europe: From Helsinki to Gorbachev 1975–1985, New York 2009, pp. 57–71. 6 The retreat of 1000 old-fashioned war heads as barter for the new missiles were laid out in NATO’s Double-Track Decision. In October 1983, the removal of another 1400 nuclear weapons in the next six years was announced; https://www.nato.int/docu/comm/49-95/c831027a.htm, last access: 8 April 2021.

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II missiles (range 1800–2000 km) were especially threatening. The Warsaw Pact countries and Western Peace Movements claimed that the flight-time of Pershing II from launch to impact would add up to five to eight minutes whereas NATO’s military experts calculated 15 to 20 minutes (what equalled the flight-times of SS20). This difference was due to the fact that the Warsaw Pact’s flight reconnaissance had a lower performance than NATO’s. It thus could verify Pershing II launches only after about 10 minutes – which left only some minutes to react.7 The GLCMs travelled much more slowly but were no less difficult to detect, due to their lowflying height underneath the Warsaw Pact’s radar. The Soviet reaction to NATO’s implementation of its Double-Track Decision was a walkout on the Geneva talks and the deployment of additional Short-Range Nuclear Forces (SNF; SS-12, SS-20, and SS-23) in the GDR and ČSSR.8 However, the new ‘ice age’ in East-West relations didn’t last long. The Kremlin realized that all hopes to thwart NATO’s rearmament had failed. In November 1984, Ronald Reagan was re-elected for another four years as US president. A waitand-see approach made no sense – particularly because Reagan further promoted his favourite project, a space-based missiles defence system (‘Strategic Defence Initiative’/SDI). Although most experts cast doubts regarding Reagan’s SDI dreams ever reaching reality, the project increased pressure on the Soviet leadership to tackle another, more exacerbated arms race that Moscow could no longer afford. The ailing Soviet economy desperately needed a cutback of its oversized military complex. For the Kremlin, disarmament became a political and economic necessity. At their 7–8 January 1985 meeting in Geneva, US Secretary of State George Shultz and his Soviet colleague Andrei Gromyko agreed to resume AmericanSoviet disarmament negotiations. These Geneva talks would start in March and be structured in three, intertwined groups: strategic offensive weapons (START), Intermediate-Range Nuclear Weapons (INF) and nuclear defensive and Space weapons (SDI/ABM).9 It was providential that a new general-secretary of the CPSU was chosen in the same month: Mikhail Gorbachev, a dynamic leader who differed substantially from his gerontocratic predecessors. Gorbachev realized that fundamental changes with the Soviet system were indispensable. To enable reforms, a dramatic reduction in the USSR’s oversized defence spending was critical: this required a reduction of the

7 Even Security Experts in the West took quite some time to realize the causes of these differences in data; see AAPD 1983, Doc 20, p. 103, fn. 8. 8 Garthoff, Raymond L.: The Great Transition. American–Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War, Washington D.C. 1994, p. 566. 9 Shultz-Gromyko conversations in Foreign Relations of the United States, 1981–1988, Vol. IV, docs. 355–361, pp. 1285–1352. For their joint statement Europa-Archiv 1985, D 60.

Disarmament and the End of the Cold War

Cold War confrontation. Soon, Gorbachev impressed the world with a fireworks display of disarmament proposals. A first summit meeting in Geneva between Gorbachev and Reagan in November 1985 – the first superpower summit after six years – did not culminate in many concrete results. Yet, their leaders learned to trust one another. The two superpowers ‘agreed that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought’. Recognizing the catastrophic consequences of any military clash between the USSR and the USA, the joint statement emphasized ‘the importance of preventing any war between them, whether nuclear or conventional’. Moreover, the superpowers obliged themselves to the ‘the principle of 50 per cent reductions in the[ir] nuclear arms’, but this intent remained vague.10 At the next summit on 11–12 October 1986 in Reykjavik, Gorbachev and Reagan were close to agreeing to the most radical nuclear disarmament deal imaginable – a complete abolishment of all American and Soviet nuclear weapons. Ultimately, it was primarily Reagan’s stubborn adherence to SDI that thwarted this revolutionary step – much to the relief of their political advisors and allies.11 The West Europeans were not consulted at all, although their security fundamentally dependent on America’s nuclear umbrella. According to NATO’s strategy of ‘flexible response’, the West always maintained the option for nuclear strike if, in case of war, the attack of Warsaw Pact’s forces could no longer be checked by conventional forces. Thus, the idea in Reykjavik to scrap all nuclear weapons was a real shock for NATO allies. Nevertheless, Reykjavik was a milestone. Both superpowers agreed that they could abolish intermediate-range nuclear weapons. This became relevant when, in February 1987, Gorbachev agreed to unty the disarmament package upon which the USSR had so far insisted: that no deal in one of the three Geneva disarmament groups could be reached without respective progress in the two other categories. Now, the General-Secretary proposed jumpstarting the INF negotiations – regardless of the standstill at START or Space Talks. Gorbachev accepted the Western approach of an INF ‘zero solution’, that means: a complete abolishment of these systems.12

10 Joint Soviet-US statement on the Geneva Summit, 21 November 1985, https://www.presidency. ucsb.edu/documents/joint-soviet-united-states-statement-the-summit-meeting-geneva, last access: 8 April 2021. 11 For the records of the summit Safranskaya, Svetlana/Blanton, Thomas (eds.): The Last Superpower Summits. Gorbachev, Reagan, and Bush. Conversations That Ended the Cold War, Budapest/New York 2016, docs. 29–33, pp. 180–235. 12 Savranskaya, Svetlana/Blanton, Thomas: The Nuclear Abolition Package of 1986 and the Soviet Road to INF, in: Gassert, Philipp/Geiger, Tim/Wentker, Hermann (eds.): The INF Treaty: A Reappraisal, Göttingen 2021, pp. 71–87, here: pp. 81 f.

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When, back in November 1981, the Reagan Administration had introduced this ‘zero solution’ as the Western negotiation proposal into the Geneva talks, it had been highly controversial: While West Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands had supported it, proponents of arms control within the US administration, especially in the State Department, opposed a ‘zero approach’. They anticipated that the Soviets would reject this radical option immediately, because a zero-option meant that the USSR would not only have to eliminate all its modernized SS-20s; worse, Moscow would even have to scrub its vast superiority in the medium-range scale. And all that merely in exchange for the elimination of far fewer American INF missiles, which had not even been deployed in Western Europe yet (and perhaps never would – due to the fierce resistance of peace protesters). Supporters of a disarmament approach were, thus, afraid that the ‘zero proposal’ was an unrealistic demand that would immediately cause a deadlock in the disarmament talks with the Soviets – as it actually did. That, on the other side, was exactly why hardliners in the Pentagon favoured the ‘zero solution’. At the end, President Reagan endorsed it because zero was simple, clear, and radical – fulfilling his innermost abolitionist beliefs.13 So, in 1987, many politicians in the West were surprised when Gorbachev unexpectedly adopted the Western zero proposal, even surpassing it by proposing a ‘double zero option’: not only Long-range INF (LRINF, ranges between 1000–5500 km) that had thus far been the focus of negotiations, but also Short-Range INF (SRINF, 500–1000 km) should be completely abolished and forbidden.14 The European NATO allies were puzzled, especially the Bundesregierung. The coalition government of CDU/CSU and FDP plunged into its most serious crisis since its formation in 1982, due to controversies around the double zero option. Whereas Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, his liberal party FDP and the opposition parties embraced Gorbachev’s radical disarmament proposals, its Christian coalition partners just wanted to accept an LRINF zero, but rejected an SRINF zero out of fear that this would incur the danger of ‘de-coupling’ Europe from America’s nuclear umbrella. In the end, however, all European allies followed the American quest for an INF deal. The USSR seized the moment. Although the 13 Granieri, Ronald J.: It’s Only Easy in Retrospect: The American Road to INF, 1986–1987, in: Gassert/ Geiger/Wentker (eds.): INF Treaty, pp. 55–79, here: pp. 60 f.; Gala, Marilena: The Euromissile Crisis and the Centrality of the ‘Zero Option’, in: Nuti, Leopoldo et al. (eds): The Euromissile Crisis and the End of the Cold War, Washington D.C./Stanford 2015, pp. 158–175. 14 It is worth noting that until the summer of 1987, the accords were only for a European zero solution, not yet a global one. Both superpowers could retain an equal, maximum of 100 nuclear warheads in their own country, the USA 100 GLCMs in Alaska, and the USSR 33 SS-20s in its Asian section east of the Urals. On 21 July 1987, Gorbachev agreed to completely abolish even this remaining stock of 100 warheads. See Geiger, Tim: Controversies Over the Zero Option: The Kohl–Genscher Government and the INF Treaty, in: Gassert/Geiger/Wenkter (eds.): INF Treaty, pp. 123–153, here: p. 132. For the following, see ibid., pp. 132–144.

Disarmament and the End of the Cold War

Geneva negotiations only addressed American and Soviet nuclear weapons and did not include ‘third county systems’ (like the British or French nuclear deterrent), Moscow insisted that Bonn should abolish its 72 Pershing I a Missiles. This launch system (range 750 km) was part of the FRG’s share in NATO’s nuclear weaponry (Nuklearteilhabe), because in case of war, the Pershing I a would be armed with an American nuclear warhead that in peace-time remained strictly under US custody. With a willy-nilly ‘voluntary renunciation’ of these missiles on 26 August 1987, Chancellor Helmut Kohl paved the way for the superpowers’ deal over INF. This West German concession helped to encourage confidence in the USSR and to thaw the relationship between Bonn and Moscow. On 8 December 1987, Reagan and Gorbachev signed the INF Treaty – the first real disarmament treaty of the Cold War that did not merely limit further growth of weaponry but eradicated and prohibited a whole category of nuclear arms: ground-launched SRINF and LRINF. By 31 May 1991, at the end of the three-year destruction period that started with the INF Treaty’s enforcing on 1 June 1988, 1846 Soviet and 846 American INF missiles were eliminated.15 A cornerstone of the agreement was its profound and meticulously outlined verification system, by which compliance was checked, partly through on-site inspections. This matched the philosophy of the Russian maxim ‘Daverjai, no praverjai’ – ‘Trust, but verify’, which Reagan used to quote ad nauseam.16 In the years up to 2001, shoals of highly specialized technicians, military, and intelligence service men conducted verification missions in the respective other country and filled the sophisticated verification system with information.17 That immensely helped the much-cited trust between political leaders in East and West to grow and solidify. This trust did not blossom unexpectedly and was not based solely on the fact that politicians met more often and found common ground personally and politically. Trust also resulted from these arms control practices and verification structures. Thanks to the broad disarmament forums, even high-ranking military men from both sides of the iron curtain met personally for the first time – this encouraged better mutual understanding and trust. The first common seminar of

15 Gassert, Philipp/Geiger, Tim/Wentker, Hermann: ‘The Reward of a Thing Well Done Is to Have Done It’: The Rise and Fall of the INF Treaty, 1987–2019. An Introduction, in: ibid. (eds.): INF Treaty, pp. 9–40, here: pp. 9, 15. 16 See the exchange between Reagan and Gorbachev at the signing ceremony of the INF Treaty, https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjULZ7iK_JY, last access: 8 April 2021. 17 Richter, Wolfgang: Implementing the INF Treaty. The Elimination and Verification Process, in: Gassert/Geiger/Wentker (eds.): INF Treaty, pp. 277–314.

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NATO and the Warsaw Pact on military doctrines was held in Vienna in February 1990; it was a landmark.18 The INF Treaty was a milestone for ending the Cold War and a core component in the formation of a new security architecture. However, the treaty had its limits: First, it was restricted to ground-launched INF. Air- and sea-launched missiles were not included. Second, the INF Treaty only bound the superpowers, not any other atomic power (like China) – and that, in part, doomed its success in 2018–2019. The Soviet Union had attempted to introduce the British and French nuclear deterrents into the negotiations, but the West always rejected. Third, the INF Treaty addressed only three to four per cent of the global nuclear stockpiles. Critics of the agreement at the time vociferously pointed out these details, which now tend to be forgotten.19 For the European countries and the Soviet Union, however, the INF treaty was, nevertheless, a massive achievement in security. As Gorbachev framed it: ‘By signing the INF Treaty, we had literally removed a pistol held to our head’.20 Thus, the INF Treaty proved that disarmament really could work. Regarding the bulk of nuclear arms – the intercontinental weapons – an agreement was not yet apparent. Verification of a reduced but still enormous missile stockpile was far more complicated than ‘solely’ controlling the complete dismantling and destruction of missiles. In Reykjavik, Reagan and Gorbachev had agreed, in principle, to cut their strategic stockpiles by 50 per cent. How this decision could be executed in concrete numbers in the differently composed arsenals on both sides remained open for expert controversial debates over the next few years.21 At the Moscow meeting of Gorbachev and Reagan in 1988, a Ballistic Missile Launch Notification Agreement was signed to reduce the risk of war by misperception; each side would inform the other at least 24 hours in advance of all ICBM and SLBM launches. The establishment of Nuclear Risk Reduction Centres (NRRC) in both countries as an additional permanent channel of superpower communication, which had been agreed upon in September 1987, fulfilled the same purpose. The new administration of George H. W. Bush delayed the process by reconsidering American policy options (‘pause’). Half a year after the inauguration, they proposed numerous additional verification measures.22 The Soviets responded favourable. At a meeting in Wyoming with US Secretary of State James Baker in September 1989, Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze scrapped the Soviet

18 The Seminar on Security Concepts and Military Doctrines took place in Vienna from 16 to 25 January 1990; see AAPD 1990, doc. 51, pp. 201–207. 19 Gassert/Geiger/Wentker: Introduction, pp. 15 f. (with further references). 20 Gorbachev, Mikhail: Memoirs: New York 1996, p. 444 21 Federation of American Scientists, Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) Chronology, https:// fas.org/nuke/control/start1/chron.htm, last access: 8 April 2021. 22 Memo of Seibert, 10 August 1989, in: AAPD 1989, doc. 243, pp. 1072–1081.

Disarmament and the End of the Cold War

package claim between START and the Defence & Space Talks that had previously complicated an outcome. Another Soviet concession was the abandonment of its illegal, early-warning radar at Krasnoyarsk. Since 1983, the US had accused the USSR of deploying this radar in direct violation of the 1972 ABM Treaty.23 At the Washington Summit (30 May to 3 June 1990), Bush and Gorbachev signed a joint statement that summarized the agreed provisions of a START treaty to be finalized by the end of the year. Both presidents agreed that follow-up-negotiations (START II) should begin as soon as possible.24 On 31 July 1991, Gorbachev and Bush signed the START Treaty – nine years after negotiations began and just five months before the end of the USSR. For the USA (which had not been affected by INF missiles) and for the USSR, START aimed at the very centre of their national security. Their intercontinental nuclear arms were reduced – not by half, but by between 25 and 35 per cent.25 Due to the disintegration of the USSR, START I was not enforced until 1994. By then, it had already been surpassed by the American-Russian START II Treaty (3 January 1993). START II was never ratified and was replaced in 2010 by ‘New START’, which the Biden Administration renewed in 2021 for another five-year period, just weeks before New START expired.26 In 1989–1990, all these future events were, of course, still unknown. More relevant for the end of the Cold War was the Short-Range Nuclear Forces (SNF) controversy that shook NATO in 1988–1989. Many NATO members feared that after the INF ‘double-zero’ solution, Gorbachev would try to completely denuclearize Western Europe by offering a third zero option on SNF. As a result, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher called for a ‘firebreak’ in nuclear disarmament. She, the USA, and others demanded that NATO enlarge and improve its tiny SNF arsenal, which was completely outnumbered by that of the Warsaw Pact. For the Germans, this was unacceptable. In case of war, SNF would ‘only’ devastate Germany (east and west of the border), Poland, and Czechoslovakia. SNF would not threat the primary military aggressor (the USSR). Thus, SNF had no political function (as a means of deterrence) that, according to NATO’s strategy, was the real reason for nuclear weapons. SNF modernisation meant an absolutely unbalanced risk, because in the

23 Baker, James A.: Drei Jahre, die die Welt veränderten. Erinnerungen [Three Years that Changed the World. Memories], Berlin 1996, p. 140 f. For the Krasnoyarsk radar see FAS: Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty Chronology, https://fas.org/nuke/control/abmt/chron.htm, last access: 8 April 2021. 24 For the joint statement on START see Europa-Archiv 1990, D 462–465; Memo on the US-SU summit, in: AAPD 1990, doc. 166, p. 699. 25 For the START Treaty, see https://fas.org/nuke/control/start1/text/index.html, last access: 8 April 2021. 26 Bange, Oliver: A Swan Song: The INF Treaty and Europe’s Security Architecture, 1987–2019, in: Gassert/Geiger/Wentker (eds.): INF Treaty, pp. 315–338, here: p. 328.

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worst-case scenario (war), Germany alone would be whipped out without much detriment to its allies. Furthermore, a SNF modernization from NATO would send a devastating political signal to the East and could endanger the transformation process within the Warsaw Pact where reform communists liberalized Hungary and a non-communist government gained power in Poland. In the SNF controversy, the FRG stubbornly resisted its allies for the first time ever. At NATO’s summit in May 1989, a split of the Atlantic Alliance could only be avoided with a shallow compromise: A decision about SNF modernisation was postponed in 1992, and the focus turned, instead, to a new initiative for conventional disarmament. With the historic upheaval in Eastern Europe in the autumn of 1989, the prospect of German unification since the spring of 1990, and the obvious disintegration of the Warsaw Pact, any necessity for new nuclear armament lapsed. In May 1990, just before the foreign ministers of the ‘Two Plus Four’ met in Bonn for the first time to discuss the external aspects of German unification, President Bush announced that the US would cancel any plans for modernising its ground-bases SNF.27 NATO’s summit in London on 5–6 July endorsed this American waiver for the new SNF. Now, SNF disarmament talks even advanced to an important aspect of the US nine-points-catalogue of security concessions that should sweeten a bitter pill of for the Soviet Union – NATO membership for a united Germany. Apart from SNF negotiations, readiness for immediate, follow-up negotiations regarding conventional forces in Europe (‘Vienna II’) and a renewal of Germany’s renouncement to produce and possess atomic, biological, or chemical weapons appeared on that list, along with the non-stationing of NATO troops on GDR territory, a respectable transition period for the remaining Soviet Forces there up to their withdrawal, a review (change) of NATO’s strategy, a definitive settlement of German borders, economic assistance, and an institutionalization of the CSCE.28 In the end, there were no SNF disarmament talks. In June 1990, the USSR announced the unilateral withdrawal of 140 SNF launchers and 3200 warheads until the end of the year.29 That was the prelude to more Soviet nuclear withdrawals caused by the end of the GDR in October 1990 and by the Warsaw Pact disbanding

27 Speech of Bush in Stillwater, 3 May 1990, https://bush41library.tamu.edu/archives/public-papers/ 1853, last access: 8 April 2021. 28 Memo of Elbe, 23 May 1990, in: Amos, Heike/Geiger, Tim (eds.): Die Einheit. Das Auswärtige Amt, das DDR-Außenministerium und der Zwei-plus-Vier-Prozess [Unity. The West German Foreign Office, the East Germany Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Two-plus-Four-Process], Göttingen 2015, Doc. 101, p. 505. Baker submitted the 9-points-proposal to Gorbachev and Shevardnadze on 18 May 1990, see Last Superpower Summits, doc. 95, pp. 635 f. At the Washington Summit, the US referred again to this list on 31 May 1990, see ibid, doc. 99, pp. 672 f. 29 Memo of Seibert, 9 June 1990, in: AAPD 1990, doc. 172, pp. 718–720.

Disarmament and the End of the Cold War

in March 1991.30 At the end of June 1991, the last Soviet nuclear weapons left Germany.31 With USSR instability increasing, on 27 September 1991, US President Bush announced the withdrawal of all American ground-launched SNFs from Europe, the removal of all tactical nuclear weapons from warships (not covered by the INF treaty), and the approximate two-thirds reduction of nuclear gravity bombs. This left a few hundred rather than thousands of nuclear warheads in Western Europe.32 On 5 October 1991, a shattered President Gorbachev responded in kind – he, too, driven by concerns about a secure control of nuclear weapons in the disintegrating republics. Immediately following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russian President Boris Yeltsin reconfirmed this commitment on 29 January 1992 and even expanded it by announcing the elimination of a third of Russia’s sea-based SNF and half of its ground-launched warheads. Because of their unilateral nature, these ‘Presidential Nuclear Initiatives’ (PNI) were not subjected to any verification procedures. However, with the decommissioning of approximately 17,000 nuclear warheads, the PNIs resulted in deeper cuts into the ‘arsenals of Armageddon’ than what other protracted, multi-year negotiations had accomplished.

2.

Conventional disarmament: From the doomed MBFR to the successful CFE Treaty

The important achievements in the field of nuclear weapons were matched by equally impressive success in conventional disarmament. Unfortunately, this field seldom garners the historiographic attention it deserves. Conventional disarmament had a significant role in facilitating the Cold War’s end. During the Cold War era, it was a generally understood that the Warsaw Pact quantitatively outnumbered NATO. Western forces, however, were believed to be qualitatively better in equipment and fighting force. That these strengths could vanquish the crushing might of the warring East was debatable. Conventional disarmament talks stagnated for years. From October 1973 until February 1989, selected member states of NATO and the Warsaw Pact33 haggled

30 Bange: Swan Song, pp. 329 f. 31 See the article of Sascha Gunold. 32 For the ‘Presidential Nuclear Initiatives’ see Koch, Susan J.: The Presidential Nuclear Initiatives of 1991–1992, Washington D.C. 2012. 33 There were seven ‘direct participants’ on NATO’s side (Belgium, FRG, Canada, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, USA, and UK) and four on the Warsaw Pact side (GDR, Poland, USSR, and ČSSR). Hungary and altogether seven ‘flank states’ operated as ‘indirect participants’. See Haftendorn, Helga: Sicherheit und Entspannung. Zur Außenpolitik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 1955–1982

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over the ‘Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions’ (MBFR) in neutral Vienna without results.34 This failure resulted from a multitude of causes: First, the MBFR’s geographic territory was too narrow. Only forces within the Central European zone of confrontation were covered, comprising the two Germanies, the Benelux countries, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. For the participants in the East, it was dismaying that Paris did not participate in the MBFR negotiations, because since 1966, France was not part of NATO’s military integration. From NATO’s perspective, it was frustrating that the USSR’s western military districts were not included in the negotiations; that meant that the territory where the infamous ‘second echelon’ gathered was beyond any control. Moreover, the burden of geography caused further imparity: resorting to force reductions, the Warsaw Pact could lower its numbers in the treaty zone simply by temporarily redeploying forces – out of the MBFR-covered territory into other parts of the country. For example, Soviet troops in the GDR could be returned to Soviet territory, while, on the other side, US forces would be dispatched thousands of miles across the Atlantic. Worse: the Bundeswehr, NATO’s second-strongest conventional army, would be permanently disassembled (as it could not be redeploy anywhere). Due to this ‘singularization’ of Germany, Foreign Minister Genscher had massive reservations against the MBFR and did nothing to support their success.35 The MBFR’s second flaw was that both military alliances never agreed upon the data of forces they were discussing. The alleged information each side provided regarding its own numbers and those of the opposition were quite disparate: in part, that discrepancy in data occurred because it remained unclear which armoured military units should be included in that data (for example, paramilitary units like the ‘workers militia’, special forces of the Ministry of Interior etc.), but also because, of course, each side minimized the data of its own force levels and inflated that of the other side. Proper verification was not feasible. The MBFR’s third shortcoming was that there was no unanimity regarding the method of reduction: While the Warsaw Pact requested reductions on strictly equal terms, NATO insisted on a proportional scale, because the one with more troops must

[Security and Détente. On the Foreign Policy of the Federal Republic of Germany 1955–1982], Baden-Baden 1983, p. 567. 34 See Hopmann, P. Terrence: From MBFR to CFE: Negotiating Conventional Arms Control in Europe, in: Burns, Richard Dean (ed.): Encyclopaedia of Arms Control and Disarmament, Vol. 2, New York 1993, pp. 970–977. 35 Geiger, Tim: Die Bundesrepublik und die NATO in den Siebziger- und Achtzigerjahren [The Federal Republic and NATO in the Seventies and Eighties], in: Bange, Oliver/Lembke, Bernd (eds.): Wege zur Wiedervereinigung. Die beiden deutschen Staaten in ihren Bündnissen 1970 bis 1990, Munich 2013, pp. 165–182, here: pp. 177 f.

Disarmament and the End of the Cold War

reduce to a greater degree. Thus, the MBFR soon became embroiled in – and then never escaped from – this quagmire. Under the aegis of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) – thus comprising all 16 member-states of NATO, the seven Warsaw Pact countries, as well as 12 non-aligned and neutral States – an additional disarmament forum was opened in Sweden in 1984. On 19 September 1986, after two years of negotiations, surprisingly, this ‘Conference on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures’ could be completed successfully with its ‘Stockholm Document’: this first multilateral arms control agreement since 1975 regulated questions like the announcement of manoeuvres, modalities of manoeuvres observations, fixed regular schedules for military activities, to be declared well in advance, and verification measures. For the first time, the USSR accepted the principle of on-site inspections – even in its own territory. Another breakthrough aspect of the ‘Stockholm Document’ was that General-Secretary Gorbachev acceded to include the European parts of the Soviet Union. For NATO, it was crucial that the area of inspections ranged from the ‘Atlantic to the Urals’, because only this broad ATTU zone afforded insights into the depth of those areas where the ‘second echelon’ would gather. Why did this fundamental change in Soviet attitude happen? Apart from Gorbachev’s reformist ‘new political thinking’, reasons can be found in the ‘revolution in military affairs’ and a changed concept of military planning. In the early 1980s, NATO established new weapon operation systems that clearly improved its fighting capacities: anti-tank rockets, mine throwers, cluster munitions, and more degraded the once terrifying Warsaw Pact tank forces into mobile coffins. With high-tech technology like the far-reaching cruise missiles with an improved conventional blasting power and pinpoint accuracy, NATO could battle enemy reserve forces deep inside the Warsaw Pact’s own territory. The American ‘Follow-On Forces Attack’ (FOFA) concept was exactly that.36 Accordingly, the Warsaw Pact changed its former, offensive war planning into a dispositive that was rectified to a more defensive approach. That change began in the Soviet military leadership even before Gorbachev came to power. The new political authority catalysed this development, which found visible expression in the ‘Berlin Declaration’ through which the Political Consultative Committee (PCC), the

36 Bange, Oliver: SS-20 and Pershing II. Weapon Systems and the Dynamization of East-West Relations, in: Becker-Schaum et al. (eds): The Nuclear Crisis, pp. 70–86, here: pp. 74–80; Krüger, Dieter: Am Abgrund? Das Zeitalter der Bündnisse: Nordatlantische Allianz und Warschauer Pakt 1947 bis 1991 [On the brink? The Age of Alliances: North Atlantic Alliance and Warsaw Pact 1947 to 1991], Fulda 2013, pp. 167–174.

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highest body of the Warsaw Pact, announced the alliance’s new military doctrine.37 For some time, the West remained doubtful that this change was serious.38 The USSR, however, now had not only an economic but also a real military interest in successes of conventional disarmament. In a speech at the United Nations in New York on 7 December 1988, Gorbachev presented a remarkable signal. He announced that by the end of 1990, the USSR would unilaterally reduce half a million soldiers. From the GDR, the ČSSR, and Hungary, six Soviet tank divisions would withdraw; by 1991, the Soviet forces in Eastern Europe would reduce by 50,000 men, 10,000 tanks, 8,5000 artillery pieces, and 800 combat aircraft.39 Other pact members followed suit and announced unilateral forces reduction, including the GDR, for example, with a reduction of its Nationale Volksarmee by 10,000 men.40 In March 1989, just a month after the doomed MBFR talks had ended, two new disarmament negotiations began – again at the Vienna Hofburg. These ‘Vienna talks’ consisted, on the one hand, of negotiations with all 35 CSCE participants about CSBMs – a continuation of the 1984–1986 conference in Stockholm. The second thread of the Vienna Talks was the even more important negotiations regarding the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE), in which all 23 member-states of NATO and the Warsaw Pact participated. That was a first distinct difference between the CFE and the MBFR. The territory covered by CFE was no longer just the narrow conflict zone in Central Europe but also the ATTU zone. Like a Russian doll, the CFE territory was staggered in four ever larger zones, beginning with the inner core area consisting of the MBFR zone (enlarged by Hungary), a central zone (including France, Britain and Italy as well as the four western military districts of the USSR), the extended region (Spain, Portugal, the Moscow, Volga, and Urals military districts) and the flanks region (Iceland, Norway, USSR’s Leningrad and Caucasian military districts, Rumania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey).

37 Bange, Oliver: Sicherheit und Staat. Die Bündniss- und Militärpolitik der DDR im internationalen Kontext 1969 bis 1990 [Security and State. The GDR’s Alliance Policy in the International Context 1969 to 1990], Berlin 2017, pp. 419–422; Krüger: Am Abgrund, pp. 179 f. 38 A telling example of this scepticism is the analysis of the planning staff within the FRG’s foreign office, which just repeated the old beliefs of the adversary’s genuinely offensive war planning. See AAPD 1987, docs. 154 and 192, pp. 768–774, 967–973. 39 Speech in Europa-Archiv 1989, D 23–37. See also AAPD 1988, docs. 357, 359, pp. 1855–1858, 1864 –1869. 40 See AAPD 1990, doc. 13, fn. 18, p. 63; Nübel, Christoph (ed.): Dokumente zur deutschen Militärgeschichte 1945–1990. Bundesrepublik und DDR im Ost-West-Konflikt [Documents on German Military History 1945–1990. Federal Republic and GDR in the East-West Conflict], Berlin 2019, p. 824.

Disarmament and the End of the Cold War

Another improvement of the CFE was that it did not address the MBFR’s controversial levels of military personal but the armaments and equipment of the land and air forces (naval forces and chemical armament was not incorporated in the negotiations). All parties shared the goal that the CFE should result in equal levels that undercut the existing ones for both sides in order to ban once and for all the danger of large-scale surprise attacks. The CFE tackled those five categories of equipment that were considered most dangerous, because they could be used for offensive operations: tanks, armoured combat vehicles (ACVs), heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters. Inside these categories, deals had to be made about absolute ceilings (for each bloc), as well as regional sub-ceilings. The compromise solution within NATO to shift the focus away from tactical nuclear weapons towards radical conventional arms cuts pushed the CFE immensely. The disarmament proposals that the Bush administration initiated in May 1989 included not only the Open Skies initiative (improving verification by agreeing to unarmed and notified surveillance flights over each other’s territories) but also a kick-start for the CFE. Ambitiously lower ceilings for Treaty Limited Equipment (TLE) were introduced and supplemented by the idea of including an additional force level of 275,000 for US and Soviet forces deployed abroad. That equalled a 20 per cent cut of US troops in Europe and a removal of 325,000 men from nonSoviet Warsaw Pact countries. Moreover, a CFE Treaty was to be finalized within the next 12 months.41 In January 1990, the Bush administration further intensified negotiations by proposing even more ambitious goals: American and Soviet soldiers should get cut down to 195,000 in Central and Eastern Europe and amount to a maximum of 225,000 all over Europe: ‘Such cuts would eliminate about a quarter of American troops strength in Europe and the majority of Soviet deployments in Europe outside the USSR’.42 At the Open Skies Conference of NATO and Warsaw Pact in Ottawa in February 1990, the Soviet side accepted these force level reductions. For the USA, this came as a surprise, because that solution was far more beneficial for them than for the Soviets.43

41 For Bush’s initiative, see AAPD 1989, doc. 148 and 150, pp. 659–664, 669–672. It was made public on 29 May and endorsed by the NATO Summit the next day, https://bush41library.tamu.edu/archives/ public-papers/464, last access: 8 April 2021. 42 Zelikow, Philipp/Rice, Condolezza: Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft, Cambridge, Mass./London 1995, p. 170. 43 Baker: Drei Jahre, p. 192 f. In fact, this formula allowed the USA to have 225,000 soldiers all over Western Europe, whereas the Soviet Union was just permitted 195,000 in non-Soviet Central Eastern Europe.

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In the spring of 1990, the Soviet position was strained by the obvious dissolution process of the Warsaw pact. Hungary and Czechoslovakia were pushing intensively for the removal of Soviet forces from their territory. Bilateral treaties of withdrawal were signed with Prague on 26 February and with Budapest on 10 March 1990.44 Until the end of 1991, 73,500 Soviet soldiers would exit Czechoslovakia, and 55,000 Hungary. With the unstoppable rush toward German unity, the USSR would lose an important military ally, the GDR’s Nationale Volksarmee. While outnumbered in personal strength by other Pact states, the NVA, with its remaining 100,000 men,45 was considered a prime ally, due to its outstanding equipment, training, and reliability.46 The Soviet leadership had no doubts that without the GDR and its strong NVA, the Warsaw Pact would end.47 Worse, with the take-over of the GDR, the feared Bundeswehr would be strengthened. At that time, the 450,000 men strong, highly equipped, and well-trained West German army was seen as the strongest conventional force within NATO after the American GIs. Considering the horrific losses in the Second World War, the historic traumas and fears of the Soviet Union were more than understandable. Clearly, the Kremlin would require security assurances in case of German unification, especially if this would transpire under NATO’s aegis. Massive restrictions of German military strength ranked first amongst these required guarantees.48 On the other side, the Federal Government and its Western allies wished to avoid a discriminatory hobbling of Germany, which would occur if Germany alone had to reduce its force levels. Thus, they insisted that a decision concerning the future size of Germany’s military must not resolve in the ‘Two Plus Four’ panel; any

44 Text in Lawrence Freedman (ed.): Europe Transformed: Documents on the End of the Cold War, London 1990, pp. 510–512. See also AAPD 1990, doc. 13, pp. 60–63. 45 Schönbohm, Jörg: Wilde Schwermut. Erinnerungen eines Unpolitischen [Wild Melancholy. Memoirs of an Apolitical Man], Berlin 2010, p. 215. As the AA’s Political Director noted in 31 May 1990, the NVA had ‘160,000 men on the paper, 90,000 to 100,000 de facto’, Gehler, Michael/Graf, Maximilian (eds.): Österreich und die deutsche Frage, 1987–1990 [Austria and the German Question, 1987–1990], Göttingen 2019, doc. 153, p. 625. 46 See AAPD 1986, doc. 36, pp. 216–218; Telegram No 2189 from East-Berlin, 26 October 1986, in: Political Archive of the Foreign Office (PA/AA), B 38 (Ref. 210), Bd. 145216. 47 Meeting Kohl with Gorbachev in Moscow, 10 February 1990, in: Küsters, Hanns Jürgen/Hofmann, Daniel: Deutsche Einheit. Sonderedition aus den Akten des Bundeskanzleramtes 1989–1990, Munich 1998, doc. 174, p. 804, and Galkin, Aleksandr/Tschernjajew, Anatolij (eds.): Gorbatschow und die deutsche Frage. Sowjetische Dokumente 1986–1991 [Gorbachev and the German Question. Soviet Documents 1986–1991], Munich 2011, doc. 72, p. 329. 48 For the following, see Geiger, Tim: Friedensdividende. Abrüstung und der Wandel der Militärallianzen [Peace Dividend. Disarmament and the Transformation of Military Alliances], in: ibid./ Lillteicher, Jürgen/Wentker, Hermann (eds.): Zwei plus Vier. Die internationale Gründungsgeschichte der ‘Berliner Republik’, Berlin/Boston 2021; Holik, Josef: Abrüstung als Wegbereiter der Wende in Europa, Berlin 2017, pp. 27–40.

Disarmament and the End of the Cold War

reminiscence to a Peace Treaty solution à la Versailles had to be avoided (where, after World War I, Germany had been obliged to accept a remnant army of 100,000 men). Restrictions on German force levels should complement concurrent restraints on military manpower in the other European countries and should be negotiated at the CFE talks. Yet in Vienna, of course, the negotiation item was only armament, not manning levels. With the exception of the Ottawa formula for the two superpowers (195,000 men in Central Europe), force levels should be addressed, instead, at CFE follow-up negotiations (‘Vienna II’) that had already been targeted. For the Soviet Union, however, postponing the question of German forces to CFE II was not acceptable. Repeatedly, the Soviets left no doubts that for them, Bundeswehr restrictions were a precondition for both – an agreement on German unity as well as a CFE Treaty. In June, Shevardnadze hinted that a ‘voluntary’ self-commitment of the Bundesregierung for a certain force level would be enormously helpful.49 The disarmament department of the Auswärtiges Amt seized this idea and developed the following plan: a) a binding German self-commitment to reduce its force level that should accompany b) the commitment of all other CFE participants not to increase their present force levels anymore, but c) reduce them in a future CFE-II follow-up agreement.50 This approach proved to be a key to success. Beyond that goal, more incentives had to be found to make continued membership of a united Germany in a renewed NATO acceptable for the Soviet Union. In addition to the renouncement of SNFs, NATO’s Council of Ministers extended in June, as their ‘Message from Turnberry’ put it, ‘to the Soviet Union and to all other [eastern] European countries the hand of friendship and cooperation’.51 That offer was substantiated by NATO’s Summit in London on 5–6 July 1990: NATO announced plans to review its strategy, namely, to rely less on the nuclear deterrent; thanks to the impending CFE Treaty and the additional withdrawals of Soviet Forces from Central and Eastern Europe, this became feasible without any harm to Western security. NATO would reduce its armies and renew its pledge ‘never in any circumstance be the first to use force’. To reflect the changing political role of the Alliance, Gorbachev and representatives of the other Warsaw Pact member states were invited to the North Atlantic Council. To underscore its sincerity in defusing

49 MemCon Genscher and Shevardnadze in Kopenhagen, 5 June 1990, in: Hilger, Andreas (ed.): Diplomatie für die deutsche Einheit. Dokumente des Auswärtigen Amts zu den deutsch-sowjetischen Beziehungen 1989/90, Munich 2011, doc. 32, p. 167. See also Lehmann (ed.): Außenpolitik der DDR, doc. 132, p. 697. 50 Zelikow/Rice: Germany unified, pp. 286 f., 308; Holik: Rüstungskontrolle, p. 72, and Holik: Abrüstung, p. 34 (both with a wrong date); AAPD 1990, doc. 170, fn. 5, p. 713 f. 51 Message from Turnberry, NATO Council, 8 June 1990, https://www.nato.int/docu/comm/49-95/ c900608b.htm, last access: 8 April 2021.

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its previous, controversial stance, NATO endorsed the Soviet proposal of a joint declaration together with the Warsaw Pact countries ‘in which we solemnly state that we are no longer adversaries and reaffirm our intention to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state’.52 All 22 heads of state and government of NATO and the disintegrating Warsaw Pact signed this joint document on the eve of the CSCE summit in Paris, on 19 November 1990.53 At NATO’s London summit, French president François Mitterrand declared that in the next few years, France would withdraw its forces from Germany (except the Franco-German brigade). In 1991–1992, the Forces françaises en Allemagne would be halved.54 Britain, too, announced that the ‘British Army of the Rhine’ (BAOR) would downsize by 50 per cent from its present amount by the end of 1995.55 These pronouncements were quite welcome in Moscow, because they demonstrated that the USSR would not be the only power to withdraw forces from a united Germany. All these steps facilitated the breakthrough to German unity, which was finally achieved with the visit of Chancellor Kohl to Moscow and the Caucasus on 15–16 July 1990. Next to the commitment of generous economic and financial assistances, a satisfactory agreement regarding the future German Force level was negotiated. Kohl and Gorbachev agreed that Germany committed itself to a maximum of 370,000 Bundeswehr soldiers. Because the Vienna CFE talks only addressed land and air forces, specifically, in the German case, these troops would total no more than 345,000.56 This bilateral commitment was mandated on a multilateral level by an according declaration from Foreign Minister Genscher, on 30 August 1990 at the CFE plenum in Vienna. GDR’s Premier Minister Lothar de Maizière, as acting Foreign Minister, confirmed this with an additional declaration, as well.57

52 Declaration of NATO’s summit in London, 6 July 1990, https://www.nato.int/cps/de/natohq/official_ texts_23693.htm?selectedLocale=de, last access: 8 April 2021. 53 Declaration in Auswärtiges Amt (ed.): Deutsche Außenpolitik 1990/91. Auf dem Weg zu einer europäischen Friedensordnung. Eine Dokumentation [German Foreign Policy 1990/91. On the Way to a European Peace Order. A Documentation], Bonn 1991, pp. 258 f. 54 For Mitterrand’s declaration in London, 6 July 1990, see https://www.vie-publique.fr/discours/127532-conference-de-presse-de-m-francois-mitterrand-president-de-la-republiq, last access: 8 April 2021; Franco-German consultations in Munch, 12–13 September 1990, in: AAPD 1990, doc. 310, pp. 1308 f. 55 Letter of Prime Minister Thatcher to Kohl, 24 July 1990, in: Deutsche Einheit, doc. 368, pp 1410 f. Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands also announced the reduction of their troops in Germany, see Memo of AA’s NATO desk, 1 October 1990, PA/AA, B 14, Bd. 151238. 56 Meeting Gorbachev – Kohl in Archyz, 16 July 1990, German MemCon, in: Deutsche Einheit, doc. 353, pp. 1355–1367; for the Soviet Memcon, Gorbachev und die deutsche Frage, doc. 104, pp. 470–488. 57 Amos/Geiger (eds.): Die Einheit, doc. 147, pp. 681–684.

Disarmament and the End of the Cold War

The CFE Treaty – signed by all CSCE heads of states and government on 19 November 1990 in Paris – was a landmark that certified the end of the Cold War, just as did the ‘Charter of Paris’ of the CSCE Summit, two days later. According to the Soviet negotiator-in-chief, the CFE Treaty is ‘the most far-reaching nonnuclear arms-control agreement in history’.58 Certainly, the CFE Treaty was a real transformer, because for the first time, conventional parity of East-West forces was codified on a drastically reduced level. In fact, however, the ‘Eastern bloc’ had already ceased to exist; Western diplomats admitted that, since the summer of 1990, the Western Alliance negotiated nearly solely with the Soviet Union, whereas her former allies from Eastern Europe often sided with Western positions.59 For practical reasons and in order not to delay a swift completion of the agreement, all parties abided with the out-dated bloc-to-bloc approach from 1989. The CFE Treaty ruled that, henceforward, neither NATO nor the Warsaw Pact side would exceed a level of 20,000 tanks, 30,000 ACVs, 20,000 heavy artillery, 6800 combat aircraft, and 2000 attack helicopters. Within the ‘blocs’, there were further allocations for national quotas. Altogether, until the mid-1990s around 60,000 heavy weapon systems got destroyed.60 The united Germany was held accountable for all TLE of the GDR; thus, Germany came second to the USSR in absolute numbers in arms reductions. With regard to the army size, Germany had the largest portion of reductions amongst all CFE participants.61 The CFE Treaty established a large-scale and sophisticated system of vigilance, reporting, and intrusive verification. The ‘Vienna Document’ on CSBM of 17 November 1990 supplemented the treaty’s provisions.62 Both these regulations removed the threat of a large-scale enemy surprise attack on all participants through including detailed provisions for regular information exchanges regarding the participants’ forces. Thousands of on-site inspections took place in the following years. In 1992, the Open Skies Treaty, functioning as a third pillar of verification, completed the new security architecture for a post-Cold War era.

58 Grinevsky, Oleg: The Story Behind the Picture, in: Newsweek, 22 November 1993, p. 19. 59 Telegram CFE-Delegation, 20 July 1990, in: AAPD 1990, doc. 231, p. 989. 60 Hartmann, Rüdiger/Heydrich, Wolfgang/Meyer-Landrut, Nikolaus (eds.): Der Vertrag über konventionelle Streitkräfte in Europa. Vertragswerk, Verhandlungsgeschichte, Kommentar, Dokumentation [The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. Treaty, History of Negotiations, Commentary, Documentation], Baden-Baden 1994. 61 Meyer-Landrut, Nikolaus: Entstehung des Vertrags über konventionelle Streitkräfte in Europa und die Herstellung der deutschen Einheit [Emergence of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and the Establishment of German Unity], Bonn 1992, p. 49. 62 For the ‘Vienna Document 1990’, see Bulletin der Bundesregierung 1990, pp. 1493–1504.

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3.

Concluding remarks: Back to the future!

The 1980s started with a serious crisis of détente. By the end of the decade, the Cold War was over. A broad network of East-West arms control and disarmament negotiations and agreements facilitated this remarkable change. At the beginning of the 1990s, the CSCE Charter of Paris optimistically proclaimed ‘a new era of democracy, peace, and unity in Europe’.63 The Cold War belief that each win for one side would automatically bring loss for the other side seemed to be overcome by the positive acclamation of ‘common security’ for all. Unfortunately, the new ‘all-European security system’ didn’t ensue – for various reasons that shall not be addressed here. Again, in parallel to an accelerating deterioration between Russia and ‘the West’, the formerly elaborate network of arms control and disarmament agreements, which was entrenched in the Cold War’s last years as Europe’s trusted security architecture ever since, has unravelled steadily since the turn of the millennium. In December 2001, US President George W. Bush renounced the ABM Treaty of 1972, which had been the foundation block of all later Soviet–US disarmament agreements. In 2007, Russia withdrew from the CFE Treaty. Nowadays, the ‘Vienna Document’ on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures (last overhauled in 2011) is seriously outdated, but all attempts to modernize it have failed. The vicious cycle of collapsing treaties accelerated in October 2018, when US President Donald J. Trump announced that the USA would withdraw from the INF Treaty; since 2014, Washington had complained that Russia would violate the treaty’s obligations. Since 2 August 2019, the INF treaty is formally dead. In November 2020, the Trump Administration quitted the Open Skies Treaty, with Russia following suit in January 2021. In January 2021, only the last-minute extension of New START by Joe Biden’s incoming Administration saved the last surviving Cold War nuclear disarmament treaty that prohibits an uncontrolled, new arms race. Thus, it is long overdue to start anew with the exhausting and arduous endeavour of security and confidence building measures and disarmament agreements – based on the lessons learned from the end of the Cold War.

63 Charter of Paris, 21 November 1990, https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/0/6/39516.pdf, last access: 8 April 2021.

Hans-Henning Schröder, Christoph Meißner

‘New Thinking’ and its Effects on Soviet Foreign and Security Policy

The end of the East-West conflict caught most politicians and political observers in ‘the West’ unprepared.1 Although tensions in Europe between the two blocs had eased in 1975 with the signing of Helsinki Final Act, the conflict between ‘East’ and ‘West’ had intensified again since then, with the USSR’s military engagement in Angola (from 1975) and Mozambique (from 1977) and the 1979 deployment of Soviet troops in Afghanistan. The USA, under President Ronald Reagan, was driving the arms race forward on its side, investing vast sums in the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which focussed on developing technologies that would enable its military to neutralise the threat represented by the USSR’s strategic nuclear weapons. And in this phase of rapid military build-up, amidst a political climate characterised by suspicion and distrust, the new Soviet leadership developed a foreign policy concept that changed the basis of the USSR’s foreign and security policy in 1986/87. Drawing on contemporary Soviet debates and the foreign policy programme of the new leadership around Mikhail Gorbachev, this contribution discusses the path that led the Soviet leadership to this concept, the ‘new thinking’, which was rooted in the recognition that security can only be mutual and emphasised dialogue and cooperation. It investigates the origins of these ideas, how they found their way into the political process and how they influenced political actions. The shift in East-West relations initiated by the Soviet leadership resulted in a treaty on the elimination of intermediate-range missiles in Europe (the INF treaty), a treaty on the reduction of conventional armed forces in Europe (the CFE Treaty), the unification of the two German states (1990), the Charter of Paris for a New Europe (1990) and, in 1991, the dissolution of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation. The post-war order in Europe was completely reshaped over the course of only a few 1 This paper is based on my study: Schröder, Hans-Henning: Sowjetische Rüstungs- und Sicherheitspolitik zwischen „Stagnation“ und „Perestrojka“. Eine Untersuchung der Wechselbeziehung von auswärtiger Politik und innerem Wandel in der UdSSR (1979–1991) [Soviet Armament and Security Policy between ‘Stagnation’ and ‘Perestroika’. An Examination of the Interrelationship between Foreign Policy and Internal Change in the USSR (1979–1991)], Baden-Baden 1995 (Schriftenreihe Bundesinstituts für ostwissenschaftliche und internationale Studien, 18). The source material examined in that study has been reassessed in light of more recent scholarship. This article was translated by Alison Borrowman.

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years, with momentous consequences, including the withdrawal of Soviet/Russian troops from Germany and East Central Europe.

1.

The path towards the foreign policy realignment in the Soviet Union

By the early 1980s, it was no longer possible for the political leadership of the USSR to turn a blind eye to the problems in the country. The strains of an expansive foreign and security policy, the inefficiencies of an economic system that was unable to keep pace with the rapid technological advances around the world, and the concomitant weak growth of the Soviet economy had plunged the USSR into a political and economic crisis. The only way out of this crisis involved comprehensive reform. In 1983, Yuriy Andropov, newly elected General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CC CPSU), began to realign the state’s economic policy. In 1985/86, Gorbachev took up this work and carried it further. However, the economic restructuring had to be coupled with a reshaping of Soviet foreign policy. The assumption was that the leadership under Gorbachev would have to pull back from confrontation in the international arena and end the arms race in order to create the political and financial latitude needed to transform the economic and social system. How, though? The international situation was defined by confrontation. The USSR was still waging a war in Afghanistan, having launched an intervention there in 1979, and another – with the help of Cuban troops – in southern Africa. For its part, the USA was trying to develop a spaced-based defence system, announced by President Reagan in 1983, whose purpose was to deprive the Soviet Union of the possibility of mounting an effective counterattack in the event of a nuclear war. Moreover, American Pershing-II intermediate range missiles had been stationed in Europe in response to the USSR’s deployment of SS-20 type intermediate range missiles, in line with NATO’s Double-Track Decision.2 An international treaty securing a balance of forces when it came to strategic weapons was in place; the Warsaw Pact was held numerically superiority over NATO when it came to conventional forces.3 The earliest speeches given by the new general secretary gave little indication that a major change in foreign policy was imminent.

2 Cf. Gassert, Philipp/Geiger, Tim/Wentker, Hermann (eds.): The INF Treaty of 1987. A Reappraisal, Göttingen 2021. 3 The Soviet military declined to produce solid numbers. Cf. Grinevsky, Oleg A. Disarmament: The Road to Conversion, in: Genin, Vlad E. (ed.): The Anatomy of Russian Defense Conversion, Walnut Creek/CA 2001, pp. 158–207, here: p. 176. The first time that figures of this kind were made public was in connection with the unilateral arms reduction initiative after Gorbachev’s 1988 address in New York. Cf. Pravda, 30 January 1989, p. 5.

‘New Thinking’ and its Effects on Soviet Foreign and Security Policy

Elected General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in March 1985, Gorbachev did not to broach this issue publicly until April, in the context of a Pravda interview on the resumption of talks on arms reduction in Geneva (arranged while his predecessor, Konstantin Chernenko was still in office): ‘Confrontation,’ he said in this interview, ‘is not an inborn defect of our [Soviet-American] relations. It is, rather, an anomaly.’4 Later that month, Gorbachev outlined the action he planned to take next in an address to the April plenum of the Central Committee. In this context, he spoke at greater depth about foreign policy and the international situation. He began his comments on these issues with a warning about the ‘nuclear catastrophe’ that a world war would bring about.5 The threat of nuclear holocaust that the general secretary raised in this address would figure frequently in later speeches, and it was to become a defining element of foreign policy under Gorbachev. In this matter, Gorbachev was able to point to similar concerns that had been expressed by his predecessors. Brezhnev, too, had warned that a nuclear war would result in the destruction of civilisation, and he been quoted approving to this effect by Nikolai Ogarkov, then Chief of the General Staff.6 However, the conclusions drawn from the recognition that a nuclear war could not be waged by the leadership under Gorbachev differed in key respects from those of previous governments. The first steps placing the Soviet Union on track for a change in foreign and security policy were taken at the plenary session of the CC CPSU in April of 1985. Raymond Garthoff drew attention to remarks made later by Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev, who succeeded Ogarkov as Chief of the General Staff, suggesting that the plenum provided the impetus for a revision of the basic principles of security

4 Gorbachev, M.S.: Izbrannye rechi i stat’i [Selected Speeches and Articles], tt. 1–7, Moskva 1987–1990, here: t. 2, p. 136 [here, in the translation prepared by TASS quoted in the New York Times, 8 April 1985, p. 10 – trans.] 5 Ibid., p. 167; the general secretary avoided the term ‘nuclear war’ in this report and later as well, instead using the term ‘nuclear catastrophe’; this may point to contacts between Gorbachev, or members of his circle, and scientist circles; the question as to the nature of war in the nuclear age had already been a subject of critical discussion among civilian foreign policy experts for some time; in the autumn of 1987, a discussion on the social nature of a nuclear war took place in the journal Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn’; in it, two staff members the Institute for Military History explained that a nuclear war would not be a war in the classic sense of that word and would thus be better described as a ‘nuclear missile catastrophe’ (raketno-yadernaya katastrofa): Kanevskii, B./Shabardin, P.: K voprosu o sootnoshenii politiki voiny i raketno-yadernoi katastrofy [On the Relationship between the Politics of War and Nuclear Missile Catastrophe], in: Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn’, 10 (1987), pp. 120–129; Diskussii. Obsuzhdenii [Discussion. Debate], in: Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn’, 1 (1988), pp. 102–115; also see Schröder: Sowjetische Rüstungs- und Sicherheitspolitik, Chapter 3.3. 6 See also Brezhnev in: Pravda, 24 June 1981; Ogarkov, N.V.: Vsegda v gotovnosti k zashchite otechestva [Always ready to Fight for the Fatherland], Moskva 1982, p. 26.

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policy by ordering the defence council to complete a reassessment of military doctrine within two years.7 In his public statements, the new general secretary sought to strike a balance between criticising the American stance and the clear desire to bring the confrontation to an end.8 He set a new tone in a speech he gave on 8 May 1985, in which he spoke of ‘man’s sacred right to life’.9 Then, in an interview he gave to the news agency Press Trust of India on 18 May, Gorbachev announced a step that could no longer dismissed as mere propaganda: A moratorium on nuclear weapons testing would go into effect on 6 August, the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. The Soviet government came through on this pledge on 30 July 1985, announcing that it intended to unilaterally refrain from all testing of nuclear weapons until 1 January 1986.10 It also proposed that all nuclear powers should honour the moratorium until such time as a treaty on the full and comprehensive banning of nuclear weapons testing could be concluded. The Western states did not take the Soviet Union up on this offer – their distrust in the Soviet leadership was still too great at the time. Early in July 1985, the new general secretary pushed through an important personnel decision: Andrei Gromyko, who had represented the Soviet Union as its foreign minister under Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko and, finally, Gorbachev and had grown increasingly influential over his tenure in that office, was appointed Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR – i.e., as the nominal head of state. Formally a promotion, this reduced Gromyko’s influence on foreign policy substantially. The way was now clear for Gorbachev to appoint a foreign minister whose ideas were more similar to his own, Eduard Shevardnadze. Shevardnadze had long served as First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party and (from 1978) as a candidate member of the Soviet Politburo but was not experienced in foreign policy.11 The new man needed some time to learn

7 See also Garthoff, Raymond L.: New Thinking in Soviet Military Doctrine, in: The Washington Quarterly, 3 (1988), pp. 131–158, here: pp. 134 ff. 8 See also Gorbachev: Izbrannye rechi, t. 2, pp. 176 ff., 183, 184f., 203 ff., 226 ff., 241, 299 ff., 340 ff., 347 ff.; ibid., t. 3, pp. 40 ff., 58 ff., 64 ff., 91 ff. 9 Ibid., t. 2, p. 206. 10 Ibid., p. 227, pp. 334 f.; the moratorium was initially to last until 01 January 1986; for more on the nuclear test moratorium, see Nahylo, B.: The Soviet Military and the Kremlin’s Moratorium on Nuclear Tests, in: Radio Liberty Research, 381/86, pp. 1–5; see also Arbatov, A./Baranovskii, V.: Ekzamen na istoricheskuyu zrelost’ (problema zapreshcheniya yadernych ispytanii) [A Test of Historical Maturity (The Problem of Banning Nuclear Tests)], in: Mirovaya Ekonomika i Mezhdunarodnye Otnosheniya, 11 (1986), pp. 3–18. 11 See also Voennyi Entsiklopedicheskii Slovar’ [Military Encyclopaedic Dictionary], edited by S. F. Akhromeyev, Moskva 1986², pp. 215, 816; cf. Gorbachev: Izbrannye rechi, t. 2, pp. 326–328: Later (2 July 1985), Gorbachev proposed to the Supreme Soviet that Gromyko be released from his post as

‘New Thinking’ and its Effects on Soviet Foreign and Security Policy

the ropes. Hence, no fundamentally new ideas came out of the Foreign Ministry in the next few months. Then came the summit meeting between Gorbachev and Reagan in November 1985, which took place in Geneva. This is where the first signs of a shift in relations between the two blocs began to appear. Neither Gorbachev nor Reagan was able to see beyond their assumptions that the relationship between the USSR and the USA would always be one of competition between two systems. However, the two sides were able to agree on a joint statement recognising that a nuclear war could never be won and must never be fought. They also agreed that neither would seek to establish military superiority over the other.12

2.

The programme for the elimination of all nuclear weapons announced on 15 January 1986

It became apparent that something was afoot in Soviet foreign and security policy in early 1986. In the early days of January, the Politburo and the Council of Ministers decided on ‘a series of foreign policy measures of a principal character’.13 The substance of these decisions was not made public, but one has to suspect that the party leadership was agreeing on the basic outlines of the policy that would later be characterised as the ‘new thinking’. As a result of the internal decision on the realignment of foreign policy and against the backdrop of the stalemate in the talks on arms reductions in Geneva and Vienna, Gorbachev appeared before the public on 15 January 1986 with a programme for the elimination of all nuclear arms.14 The proposals related to three stages of the programme. In the first stage, the USA and the USSR would cut their arsenals of strategic nuclear weapons in half; both sides would refrain from developing a space-based strategic defence system. Both sides would also completely destroy all of their intermediate-range missiles in Europe, while France and England would pledge not to enlarge their missile arsenals. Furthermore, the superpowers would pledge to cease all testing of nuclear

foreign minister and appointed Chair of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet; cf. Tschernajew, A.S. [Chernaev, Anatolii S.]: Die letzten Jahre einer Weltmacht. Der Kreml von innen [The last Years of a World Power. The Kremlin from the inside], Stuttgart 1993, pp. 44 f.; see also Rey, Marie-Pierre: ‘Europe is our Common Home’: A Study of Gorbachev’s Diplomatic Concept, in: Cold War History, 2 (2004), pp. 33–65, here: pp. 42 f. 12 See also Tschernajew: Weltmacht, p. 61; Gorbatschow, Michail [Gorbachev, Mikhail]: Erinnerungen, Berlin 1995, pp. 577–586. 13 Gorbachev: Izbrannye rechi, t. 3, p. 133. 14 Ibid., t. 3, pp. 133–144; the summary of the programme that follows is based on this announcement; regarding the incorporation of earlier Soviet proposals into the programme, see Vachrameev, A.V.: Bor’ba gosudarstv-uchastnikov Varshavskogo dogovora za razoruzhenie [The Struggle of the Warsaw Pact States for Disarmament], in: Voprosy Istorii, 12 (1987), pp. 3–19, here: p. 7.

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weapons. In the second stage, slated to begin in 1990, the other nuclear powers would join in the arms reduction process. The Soviet leadership proposed that all tactical nuclear weapons with ranges up through 1000 km be eliminated during this phase. They also wanted to extend the moratorium on nuclear testing to all states, and a global ban on the development of weapons based on ‘new physical principles’15 . Gorbachev’s plan called for the elimination of all remaining nuclear weapons in the third stage, which was slated for 1995–1999. Thus, were this proposal to have been implemented, the world would have been completely rid of nuclear weapons by 2000. Verification of the arms reduction measures would be carried out both by using national technical means and through on-site inspections. However, the programme retained the linkage of arms reduction measures to an American renunciation of its SDI programme. When presenting the programme to the public, the Soviet leadership also announced that it would be extending its unilateral nuclear testing moratorium to 1 April 1986 and declared its willingness to permit verification inspections on Soviet territory. The Soviet leadership also wanted to move forward with the talks on the elimination of chemical weapons and the Vienna negotiations on conventional arms control. Gorbachev depicted the Soviet proposals as being motivated by the recognition that arms reduction enhanced international security and freed up funds that were needed to solve global problems.16 The programme that the general secretary presented on 15 January was truly a mixed bag: it contained utopian elements, elements that would primarily serve Soviet interests and proposals that actually had the potential to permanently alter the confrontational relationship between the two superpowers. As to the first category, some of the objectives defined in the plan were very far-fetched indeed: the destruction of all nuclear weapons by 2000 was not technically feasible, and the idea that all nuclear powers would join in the nuclear disarmament process was quite unrealistic given the stances of the British, French, Indian, Chinese or Israeli governments. As to the second, some of the proposals lined up well with specifically Soviet security interests: the ban on tactical nuclear weapons, the renunciation of the American Strategic Defense Initiative and of the development of weapons systems ‘based on new physics’ would primarily benefit a power like the USSR, which possessed numerical superiority in conventional armed forces in the ‘European theatre’ but had fallen far behind when it came to technology. The linkage of the arms reduction offer with the renunciation of the USA’s space-based missile

15 This was intended as a reference to ‘enhanced radiation weapons’ (neutron bombs), artificial disturbance of the atmosphere or lithosphere, laser or particle beam weapons and several other types of weapons; c.f. Kir’jan, M.M. (ed.): Voenno-technicheskii progress i Vooruzhennye sily SSSR [Military-Technical Progress and the Armed Forces of the USSR], Moskva 1982, pp. 260 f. 16 Gorbachev: Izbrannye rechi, t. 3, pp. 142 f.

‘New Thinking’ and its Effects on Soviet Foreign and Security Policy

defence programme (SDI) was another problematic in this respect. However, the programme also contained elements in the third category, i.e. starting points for resolving issues that had long been sticking points in the talks on nuclear arms reduction: The Soviet side was now willing to contemplate an arrangement on the ‘zero option’ for intermediate-range missiles in Europe that did not directly include the French and British weapon systems. They had always rejected this idea in the past, insisting that the intermediate-range potentials of France and the United Kingdom should be included in the US count. This opened a path for two blocs to get past the confrontation over security policy which had begun in Europe after the stationing of SS-20s and the deployment of Pershing missiles in accordance with NATO’s Double-Track Decision. The bilateral reduction of strategic missiles and the determination of equal limits on the number of warheads also afforded starting points for serious negotiations. Despite being far from realistic in many key respects, this was a programme intended to jump-start the stalled arms-reduction talks. What is more, it was one that pointed to a new kind of security policy thinking. The reference to ‘global problems’ of equal concern to both ‘camps’ and the idea that more weapons was not synonymous with greater security were destined to play a major role in the Soviet debate on security policy. The American president, Ronald Reagan, welcomed the proposal. Although Reagan emphasised that ‘the place to make real progress in reducing nuclear and other forces is at the confidential negotiating table’17 , he and George Shultz, the US secretary of state, took the proposals seriously. Not everyone in Reagan’s administration or in NATO agreed though; many rejected the proposal, dismissing it as propaganda. The administration was therefore hesitant to respond at first, and some time passed before specific answers to the Soviet proposals were developed.18

17 ‘Statement on the Soviet-United States Nuclear and Space Arms Negotiations’ of 24 February 1986, in which Reagan responded to Gorbachev’s three-stage disarmament plan on 15 January 1986, https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/archives/speech/statement-soviet-united-states-nuclear-andspace-arms-negotiations-6, last access: 15 March 2021. 18 See also Savranskaya, Svetlana/ Blanton, Thomas: The Nuclear Abolition Package of 1986 and the Soviet Road to INF, in: Gassert/Geiger/Wentker (eds.): The INF Treaty, pp. 71–87, here: p. 72. See also the internal US government documents at: https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-book/nuclear-vaultrussia-programs/2016-10-12/gorbachevs-nuclear-initiative-january-1986, last access: 11 February 2021.

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3.

The proclamation of the ‘new thinking’

A few weeks after the arms reduction proposals were announced, the Soviet leadership had presented a comprehensive new foreign policy concept to the public. General Secretary Gorbachev outlined this concept in the Political report of the Central Committee of the CPSU to the 27th Party Congress.19 He told the delegates that civilisation would not survive a ‘nuclear catastrophe’ – i.e. a nuclear war – and a fundamental rethink of international relationships was necessary.20 One had to assume, according to the general secretary, that cooperation on a worldwide scale would be necessary in order to solve global problems that affect all of humanity.21 The answer to this global threat to humanity must lie, he said in an ‘all-embracing system of international security’ that included the military, the political, the economic and the humanitarian spheres.22 Gorbachev identified a number of measures that would facilitate the creation of an international security system of this kind. These included a renunciation of the use of military force as an instrument of policy on the part of all nuclear powers, a cessation of all nuclear weapons testing, the elimination of nuclear and chemical weapons and the renunciation of the development of other weapons of mass destruction and spaced-based weapons. They also included reducing existing military capabilities to the limits of ‘reasonable sufficiency’. Gorbachev envisaged the possibility of using political measures to prevent conflicts before they emerged or at least to de-escalate emerging conflicts before a military conflict erupted: he advocated the recognition of the right of any state to choose its own development path independently, the ‘just political settlement of international crises and regional conflicts’ and the development of measures to build mutual trust. Finally, he called for the creation of guarantees securing states against external attacks and the inviolability of their frontiers. Gorbachev wanted the political measures aimed at conflict resolution to be flanked by mechanisms to balance conflicting economic interests. The general secretary proposed that action be taken to eliminate discrimination in international relationships and to ban all economic blockades and sanctions other than those imposed by the world community. He called for a new world economic order that would guarantee equal economic security to all countries. Finally, Gorbachev wanted to build bridges between nations through cooperation

19 On the internal deliberations regarding the foreign policy concept on the eve of the party congress, see Tschernajew: Weltmacht, pp. 58 f. 20 See also XXVII s’’ezd Kommunisticheskaya Partiya Sovetskogo Sojuza. 25 fevralja–6 marta 1986 g. Stenograficheskii otchet [XXVII Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. 25 February–6 March 1986. Stenographic report], 3 tt., Moskva 1986, t. 1, p. 24; see also ibid., p. 41. 21 Ibid., pp. 40 f. 22 See also ibid., pp. 97 ff.; as well as the representation that follows in the text.

‘New Thinking’ and its Effects on Soviet Foreign and Security Policy

in areas like culture, science, education and medicine, cooperation in the realisation of human rights and the battle against apartheid, racism and fascism and in the humanitarian sphere. Gorbachev’s list offered openings for serious negotiations on matters of both military and economic policy, as well as on general policy issues. The address made it clear that the Soviet leadership was ready to abandon the rigid stance in East-West relations it had maintained in the past. What is more, the foreign policy program that the General Secretary of the CPSU sketched out in his report signalled a change in how it intended to deal with international problems. Rather than relying on a policy of strength, the new Soviet leadership intended to focus its foreign policy on dialogue going forward. Foreign Minister Shevardnadze picked up on Gorbachev’s report in his own speech at the Party Congress, delivering a cogent summary of the principles of the ‘new political thinking’.23 Asserting that a dangerous gap had opened up between the traditional understanding of political tasks and the hard realities of the nuclear age, he pointed out that the policy of confrontation was absurd given the nature of modern weapons of mass destruction. He also noted that economic and technological developments had placed all states in a relationship of mutual interdependence, in which no government could act without considering the interests of its counterparts.24 In essence, Shevardnadze’s address boiled down to the assertion that foreign policy must recognise the realities of the day, meaning: the destructive power of modern nuclear weapons, the fact that their deployment was counterproductive as they would end up destroying the world they were supposed to protect, and the complexity of modern societies, which depended on the economic and technological exchange with one another and were rendered so vulnerable by this interdependence that the use of military means no longer made sense. Thus, the purpose of foreign policy was to reduce confrontation and call for the just settlement of conflicting interests of states. Conflicts, he argued, should be resolved politically, not militarily. ‘The primary principle is to approach the security problem as an exclusively political one and to solve it on the basis of equality, reciprocity, and universality.’25 When presenting the principles of the ‘new thinking’ at the party congress, the general secretary put forth four theses intended to serve as the basis of a new, flexible security policy:

23 XXVII s’’ezd KPSS, t. 1, pp. 410 f. 24 Ibid. 25 Ibid., p. 415 [here, as translated in Foreign Broadcast Information Service/Joint Publications Research Service: Worldwide Report. Arms Control, Arlington/VA 1986, pp. 82–83], https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/ pdfs/ADA355488.pdf, last access: 22 March 2021.

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1. It is not possible for any country to safeguard itself through military means alone. Security is a political issue, and thus must be attained through political means. 2. Security can only be mutual in the context of relations between the USSR and the USA. There is no such thing as unilateral security. 3. The national interests of the United States are not identical with those of its military-industrial complex. Cooperation with the USA is possible and necessary.26 4. International relations must be conducted in a ‘civilised’ manner, irrespective of social, political and ideological ‘contradictions’. This requires extensive cooperation and an all-embracing system of economic security.27 As the old-guard foreign-policy players around Gromyko, now the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, offered no substantive comments on the description of the new foreign policy concept put forth by Gorbachev and his allies, the latter were able to have the party congress approve the principles of the ‘new thinking’.28

26 In this respect, Gorbachev was departing significantly from the traditional propaganda demonising the West; he emphasised this point again in the address he gave to mark the 70th anniversary of the October Revolution, when he asked whether the laws of an interconnected and integral world could influence capitalist behaviour in such way as to limit its pernicious effects and whether capitalism might be able to function without militarism; Gorbachev, M.S.: Oktyabr’ i perestroika: Revolyutsiya prodolzhaetsya [October and Perestroika: The Revolution Continues], in: Pravda, 3 November 1987, pp. 2–5, here: p. 5; Gorbachev’s answer was that the attempt must be made – and was being made. 27 Gorbachev listed these four points in his address to the party conference, XXVII s’’ezd KPSS, t. 1, pp. 86–88. 28 See also ibid., t. 1, pp. 530 ff.; in May of 1986, A.F. Dobrynin put forth an interpretation of the ‘new thinking’ that both Gorbachev and Shevardnadze picked up on; Dobrynin (after many years as ‘Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary’ in Washington) had been appointed Secretary of the CC CPSU and Director of the CC CPSU’s International Department in May 1986 (and thus was Shevardnadze’s opposite number within the party structure); his appointment underlined the seriousness with which the Gorbachev administration was pursuing the change in foreign policy; on his address, cf. Dobrynin, A.F.: Za bez-yadernyi mir navstrechu XXI veka [For a Nuclear-Free World Towards the XXI Century], in: Kommunist 1986, pp. 18–31; Dobrynin address, on problems relating to peace and the prevention of nuclear war, was given at the 2nd All Union Conference of Scientists; that it was published in the theory journal of the CC CPSU, the ‘Communist’, soon thereafter underlines its importance; it was subsequently printed again – this time in a version containing additions by the author – in: Fedoseev, P.N. (ed.): Mir i razoruzhenie. Nauchnye issledovaniya. Spetsial’nyi vypusk. Materialy II Vsesojuznoi konferentsii uchenych po problemam mira i predotvrashcheniya yadernoi voiny (Moskva, 27–29 maya 1986 g.)[ Peace and Disarmament. Scientific Studies. Special issue. Proceedings of the II All-Union Conference of Scientists on Peace and Prevention of Nuclear War (Moscow 27–29 May 1986)], Moskva 1986; the references in this paper are taken form this version of the address, which includes allusions to events occurring between

‘New Thinking’ and its Effects on Soviet Foreign and Security Policy

4.

The ‘new thinking’

The term ‘new thinking’ quickly became a household word. First presented in a public context in early 1986, the principles of the ‘new thinking’ came to dominate the international foreign policy discussion. There was one point on which the debate in this area differed from that on economic reform: while in the latter context, one heard fierce criticism of Brezhnev-era policy, people were more reticent when it came to condemning the foreign policy of that era. This reticence remained until 1988, when proponents of the new direction in foreign policy began to feel that their position was strong enough to allow them to openly criticise the foreign policy under Brezhnev. The Central Committee itself conducted a policy re-evaluation in preparation for the 19th All-Union Conference of the CPSU and during the actual conference in June 1988. In his report, General Secretary Gorbachev explained that foreign policy had concentrated too strongly on the use of the military in its pursuit of foreign policy objectives in the past. As a result, the USSR had allowed itself to be drawn into an arms race without weighing up what this or that course of action would cost its people. Gorbachev said that while the threat of war still existed for the time being, there were political means that could be used to counter it.29 Soviet foreign policy was fundamentally reshaped between 1985 and 1988. Gorbachev and his allies developed the basic principles of a new foreign and security policy concept over the course of 1985. Soviet foreign policy turned away from the idea of the class struggle – a lens through which conflict between socialism and capitalism appeared inevitable – and turned away from Marxist-Leninist concepts. Its new focus was on the interests of humanity as a whole. Archie Brown took the view that Gorbachev broke with the past ideologically, in 1987 and drew closer to a concept of pluralism and interdependencies.30 Due to this altered perspective and the re-evaluation of the international situation that resulted from it, the Gorbachev administration developed a foreign policy aimed at balancing interests and eliminating conflict. This policy sought to

May and November of 1986; for more on Dobrynin’s biography, see Sostav Tsentral’nogo Komiteta Kommunisticheskoi Partii Sovetskogo Sojuza, izbrannogo XXVII S’’ezdom KPSS. Chleny TsK KPSS [Members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union elected by the XXVI CPSU Congress. Members of the CPSU Central Committee], in: Izvestiya TsK KPSS, 1989, no. 2, pp. 43–114, here: p. 63; Dobrynin was still ambassador when the party congress was held, in late February/early Mach, cf. XXVII s’’ezd KPSS, t. 3, p. 414; he had taken up the post of CC secretary by the second time the address was printed, in late May, cf. Fedoseev: Mir i razoruzhenie, p. 21. 29 See also Gorbachev, M.S.: O chode realizatsii reshenii XXVII s’’ezda KPSS i zadachach po uglubleniyu perestroika [On the Implementation of the Decisions of the XXVI of the CPSU and the Tasks of Deepening Perestroika], in: Pravda, 29 June 1988, pp. 2–7, here: p. 3. 30 Brown, Archie: Did Gorbachev as General Secretary Become a Social Democrat?, in: Europe-Asia Studies, 65/2 (2013), pp. 198–220, here: p. 205.

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dismantle the confrontation, to intensify international cooperation and by doing so to reduce the financial strains that had arisen from the confrontation between the blocs as well. In this sense, the change in foreign policy supported the efforts to achieve economic reform. Thus, foreign policy reform was an integral part of Gorbachev’s reform policy. The foreign policy concept took shape gradually, as did the ideas on economic policy. The process of crafting the new foreign policy and building a consensus around it was still underway at the beginning of 1986. Gorbachev and Shevardnadze were not in a position to present their ideas to the public until January and February of 1986. And the ‘new thinking’, a quite general concept when it first took shape, continued to be refined and fleshed out, step by step, until 1988. One of its first practical results was the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) on 8 December 1987, which provided for the destruction of all of the USA’s and USSR’s nuclear ground-launched intermediate-range missiles. The Soviet leadership saw this as marking the start of a continuing and coherent policy of arms reduction.

5.

The sources of the new foreign and security policy concept

The switch to the new thinking represented a radical change in Soviet foreign policy. One has to wonder who and what brought about this fundamental rethink. Towards the end of the Brezhnev era, the USSR found itself in an increasingly problematic situation internationally. It was becoming increasing clear that the wars in Afghanistan and Africa and the increase in tensions in Europe that followed the deployment of SS-20 missiles were placing an unsustainable burden on the available resources and were, in the final analysis, alienating the non-aligned states.31 The foreign policy problems reflected the serious internal crisis into which the USSR had slid. The planned economy had proven to be inefficient, Soviet bureaucracy and the exorbitant costs of the arms race32 were impeding social and economic development. It had become clear in the context of the war in Afghanistan that the political system and Marxist-Leninist ideology had lost their credibility and were no longer in a position to defuse the problematic trends within society.33 It

31 On how these were connected, see Adomeit, Hannes: Imperial Overstretch: Germany in Soviet Policy from Stalin to Gorbachev, Baden-Baden 1998, pp. 163–190. 32 See also Davis, Christopher: Die wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Folgen der sowjetischen Militärausgaben [The Economic and Social Consequences of Soviet Military Spending], in: Greiner, Bernd/ Müller, Christian Th./Weber, Claudia (eds.): Ökonomie im Kalten Krieg, Hamburg 2010 (Studien zum Kalten Krieg, 4), pp. 260–278, here: pp. 269–270 . 33 On the loss of legitimacy in the late Brezhnev era, see Sapper, Manfred: Die Auswirkungen des Afghanistan-Krieges auf die Sowjetgesellschaft. Eine Studie zum Legitimitätsverlust des Militärischen

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was Mikhail Gorbachev who stepped up to tackle the long overdue reforms and usher in the restructuring – perestroìjka – of the political and economic system. In order to accomplish this, the leadership under Gorbachev would need room to manoeuvre, and this meant easing the burden of military and arms spending. This, in turn, meant they would have to find a way to put an end to the East-West confrontation. Much of the intellectual groundwork for the change in security-policy thinking that emerged in January 1986 was laid by scientists at the institutes of the Academy of Sciences.34 Earlier in the decade, they had formulated many of the principles that Soviet foreign policymakers drew on in early 1986. The works of Vladimir Lomeiko and Anatoli Gromyko seem to have been particularly influential in this respect. Lomeiko, a journalist and foreign policy expert, and Gromyko, a son of the former foreign minister and himself the director of the African Institute of the Academy of Sciences, had formulated a set of key foreign policy considerations that were then taken up by Georgy Shakhnazarov, a lawyer/political scientist and long-serving employee of the Central Committee, among others.35 The ‘mezhdunarodniki’ – experts in international affairs – had been largely excluded from foreign and security policy decision-making processes during the Brezhnev era, and this had not changed during the brief tenures of Andropov and Chernenko. They were in dialogue with Western authors at a lower level, though. Thus, thoughts of George Kennan, Edward Kennedy, Horst Eberhard Richter, Gerd Bastian and the ideas of the ‘Club of Rome’ and of German environmentalists found their way into the work of Lomeiko and Gromyko.36 Their pamphlet ‘New Thinking in the Nuclear Age’ is said to have sold out within a week of its publication

in der Perestrojka [The Impact of the Afghan War on Soviet Society. A Study on the Loss of Legitimacy of the Military in Perestroika], Münster et al. 1994 (Studien zu Konflikt und Kooperation im Osten, 2). 34 On this subject, see the excellent study by Glickham, Charles: New Directions for Soviet Foreign Policy, in: Radio Liberty Research. Supplement 2/86, September 6, 1986; that Charles Glickham was a pseudonym used by Jeffrey Checkel was asserted by Roger E. Kanet in 1989 and confirmed by Checkel in 1997 (Kanet, Roger E.: Soviet Foreign Policy and the End of the Postwar Era, in: Political Science and Politics, 22, no. 2 (1989), pp. 225–232, here: p. 231, and Checkel, Jeffrey: Ideas and International Political Change. Soviet/Russian Behavior and the End of the Cold War, New Haven, Conn. 1997, p. 164). 35 See also Glickham, pp. 8 f. referring specifically to: Lomeiko, V./ Gromyko, A.: Novoe myshlenie v yadernyi vek [New Thinking in the Nuclear Age], Moskva 1984; compare also Shakhnazarov, G. Ch.: Logika politicheskogo myshleniya v yadernuju eru [The Logic of Political Thinking in a Nuclear Era], in: Voprosy Filosofii 5 (1984), pp. 63–74. 36 See the works cited in Gromyko/Lomeiko, pp. 283 ff.

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in the Soviet Union in an edition of 103,000 copies.37 Thus, when the new Soviet leadership began to take up the ideas of the mezhdunarodniki, they were indirectly taking up the positions of the Western peace movement as well.38 The very circumstance that such ideas could find their way into official policy testifies to a significant change in the power apparatus’ attitude towards experts under Gorbachev.39 In Jeffrey Checkel’s view, it would be wrong to write this down as an automatic result of changes in the international situation and the reform process within the country itself. He sees these more as creating an environment that enabled experts from the institutes of the Academy to become active as ‘policy entrepreneurs’: ‘The appearance of a new ideology of international affairs in Soviet policy under Gorbachev was in no way preordained by a changing international system or domestic modernization processes. Rather, a changing external environment and the advent of a reformist general secretary created a series of policy windows through which aspiring policy entrepreneurs jumped. […] They acted within institutional and political settings that at different times either constrained or enhanced their ability to influence policy.’40 Thomas Risse-Kappen sees opportunities for influence by transnational networks as well in this context, which created a channel for Western ideas to be communicated to the Soviet leadership – a process which would not have been possible without Gorbachev’s reform process.41 In recent years, Svetlana Savranskaya, drawing on materials in the National Security Archive, has pointed out that Soviet military thinking about war in Europe had begun to change long before Gorbachev came to power.42 She cites interviews with Russian military planners and security experts,43 in which they state that the Soviet General Staff had already prepared a plan for the elimination of nuclear

37 Glickham, p. 22, note 27; Glickham bases this on a report in the Washington Post; the Russianlanguage version of the brochure was released for typesetting on 22 June 1984 and for printing on 06 August 1984; regarding the edition, see also Gromyko/Lomeiko, p. 293. 38 See also Risse-Kappen, Thomas: Ideas do not Float Freely: Transnational Coalitions, Domestic Structures, and the End of the Cold War, in: International Organization, 48, no. 2 (1994), pp. 185–214, here: p. 204. 39 Checkel, Jeff: Ideas, Institutions, and the Gorbachev Foreign Policy Revolution, in: World Politics, 45, no. 2 (1993), pp. 271–300, here: p. 272. 40 Ibid. 41 Risse-Kappen: Ideas, pp. 195, 210. 42 See also Savranskaya/Blanton: The Nuclear Abolition Package, pp. 71–87. 43 See ibid., p. 77; compare also Akhromeyev, Sergei/Kornienko, Georgi: Glazami marchala i diplomata. Kriticheskij vzgljad na vnejshnuju politiku SSSR do i posle 1985 goda [Through the Eyes of a Marshal and a Diplomat. A Critical Look at Soviet Foreign Policy before and after 1985], Moskva 1992, pp. 85–88.

‘New Thinking’ and its Effects on Soviet Foreign and Security Policy

weapons in 1985.44 A reassessment of the military situation in Europe was at the root of this: Soviet planners had been growing increasingly sceptical about the Soviet Union’s chances of winning a conventional victory on a battlefield contaminated by nuclear strikes. They were also concerned about the increasing capabilities of the USA and NATO to use air forces to combat a conventional ground offensive.45 This was the phase in which the Western forces were developing their ‘AirLand Battle’ concept, which was intended to neutralise the Soviet superiority in conventional forces through close coordination between air and land forces and the use of air strikes against ground units well behind the line (follow-on forces attack).46 Thus, the military leadership presented its own programme for nuclear disarmament to the party leadership late in 1985.47 The institutchiki and the military’s planners had taken quite different paths but arrived at similar results.

6.

Implementation of the ‘new thinking’ in security policy

The development of a new foreign policy concept created space for the Soviet leadership to rethink the arms and military policy as well.48 The ideas guiding the ‘new thinking’ had direct implications for security policy. Speaking to an audience at an International Peace Forum in February 1987, Gorbachev emphasised the Soviet Union’s willingness to renounce its status as a nuclear power and reduce all

44 Cf. the pages of the National Security concerning the Russia programs, https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/ project/russian-pages, last access: 7 March 2021, particularly the interviews with Russian military officials and security specialists, https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/nukevault/ebb285/index.htm, last access: 7 March 2021. 45 Savranskaya/Blanton: The Nuclear Abolition Package, pp. 73 f. 46 Cf. Almquist, Peter: Moscow’s Conventional Wisdom: Soviet Views of the European Balance, in: Arms Control Today, 17, no. 10 (1987), pp. 16–21; Batenin, Gelii Viktorovich: Idei, plany, perspektivy [Ideas, Plans, Perspectives], in: Pravda, 10 October 1988, p. 6; Canby, Steven L.: New Conventional Force Technology and the NATO-Warsaw Pact Balance: Part I, in: The Adelphi Papers, 198 (1985), pp. 7–24; Eshchenko, V.: Ot ‘ravnovesiya stracha k ravnoi bezopasnosti [From Balance to Security], in: Krasnaya zvezda, 26 July 1988; Flanagan, Stephen J./Hamilton, Andrew: Arms control and stability in Europe: Reductions are not enough, in: Survival, September/October 1988, no. 5, pp. 448–463; Gareyev, Makhmut: Soviet Military Doctrine: Current and Future Developments, in: RUSI Journal, Winter 1988, no. 4, pp. 5–10; Kokoshin, Andrej Afanas’evich: Razvitie voennogo dela i sokrashchenie vooruzhennych sil i obychnykh vooruzhenii [Military Development and Reduction of Armed Forces and Conventional Weapons], in: Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 1 (1988), pp. 20–32. 47 Savranskaya/Blanton: The Nuclear Abolition Package, p. 77. 48 On this topic, compare Meyer, Stephen M.: The Sources and Prospects of Gorbachev’s New Political Thinking on Security, in: International Security, 13, no. 2 (1988), pp. 124–163, here: pp. 155 ff.

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other armed forces to the ‘minimum of reasonable sufficiency’.49 The military took up this term but appear to have interpreted it according to their own lights. Whereas the general secretary spoke of ‘reasonable sufficiency’ and placed arms reductions on the Soviet side front and centre, the military spoke of ‘the sufficiency necessary for defence’ and cutting the ‘military potentials down to the bounds of what is necessary and sufficient for defence.’ Moreover, they drew a direct link between sufficiency and military parity.50 The notion of sufficiency was clearly acceptable to the military leadership only if it was tied to developments in the arsenal and forces of the potential enemy. Regardless of these interpretational differences, however, the notion of ‘sufficiency’ itself as a key concept of security policy. Clearly, the political and military leadership had agreed on a revision of military doctrine in the period between October 1986 and February 1987. The work to devise a new doctrine was underway, though it is evident that not all differences had been resolved. Revision of the military doctrine was on the agenda when the Warsaw Treaty Organisation’s Political Consultative Committee (PCC) met in East Berlin on 28 May 1987. The document ‘On the Military Doctrine of the Warsaw Pact Member States’, which the committee adopted on 29 May 1987, was not itself the military doctrine, but rather a text setting out of the ‘principal guidelines’ of the Warsaw Pact military doctrine.51 Like the CPSU Central Committee’s Political Report, the PCC document starts from the view that war would have catastrophic consequences for life on earth. It defines preventing war as the primary task. In this document, the Warsaw Treaty Organisation pledged that it would not take military action against another country unless it was targeted by an armed attack itself. The WTO also declared that its member states would never be the first to use nuclear weapons. The member states, it stated, did not view any state as their enemy, and had no territorial claims against any state. According to the document, the armed forces of the WTO served only to defend against possible attacks from outside. These armed forces were

49 Gorbachev, M.S.: Za bez-yadernoi mir, za gumanizm mezhdunarodnykh otnoshenii [For a Nuclearfree World, for Humanism in International Relations], in: Pravda, 17 February 1987, pp. 1–2, here: p. 2. 50 Akhromeyev, in: Sovetskaya Rossiya, 21 February 1987, p. 1; Sokolov, in: Pravda, 23 February 1987, p. 2; only a few lines later though, Sokolov referred directly to Gorbachev’s remarks at the peace forum, quoting the relevant passage including the term ‘reasonable sufficiency’; see also Varennikov, V.: Na strazhe mira i bezopasnosti narodov [Guarding Peace and the Security of Peoples], in: Partiinaya Zhizn’, 1987, no. 5, pp. 9–14, here: p. 10. 51 The statement was published inter alia in Soveshchanie Politicheskogo Konsul’tativnogo Komiteta gosudarstv-uchastnikov Varshavskogo dogovora. Berlin 28–29 maya 1987 goda. Dokumenty i materialy [Meeting of the Political Consultative Committee of the Warsaw Treaty States. Berlin 28–29 May 1987. Documents and Materials], Moskva 1987, pp. 7–12; the following remarks are taken from there; the phrase ‘principal guidelines’ is used there, p. 7.

‘New Thinking’ and its Effects on Soviet Foreign and Security Policy

to maintain the ability to deliver a ‘devastating rebuff ’ (sokrushitel’nyi otpor) to any aggressor. In order to do so, they had to maintain a ‘sufficiency for defence’ (dostatochnost’ dlya oborony). In a second, practical, section, the document outlines possible disarmament measures in the areas of nuclear, chemical and conventional arms. One of these proposals was for consultations between NATO and the WTO for the purpose of comparing one another’s military doctrines.52 The Warsaw Pact’s statement on doctrine of 19 May contained the basic political principles for a new military doctrine. The doctrine itself would evidently have to be devised along the principles set out in the statement. This task would not be made any easier by the fact that the document itself papered over a lack of real consensus. However, that the subject should be publicly addressed at all was a first. Also new was the declared objective – the prevention of wars. Followed through to its logical conclusion, though, the definition of this primary objective necessitated a complete overhaul of defence planning – if preventing war was indeed to be the primary objective, the focus must necessarily shift to the actions of armed forces before the outbreak of a war, rather than be on waging the war itself.53 The definition of this doctrinal objective on the political side already necessitated substantial changes on the military/technical side. Thus, while the Gorbachev administration had not managed to draft and push through an integrated concept for a comprehensive revision of military doctrine, it did succeed in inserting several new elements into a joint declaration of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation and in having the Political Consultative Committee issue an official statement formally establishing them. Of fundamental significance in this respect is that the WTO made these doctrinal guidelines public. In addition to being a trust-building step – for the first time ever, the Soviet Union was offering to discuss its military doctrine – this provided the West with an opportunity to inject into its own arguments and perception of threats it faced into the Soviet discussion process. Thus, the 1987 statement on doctrine opened the door to the arms control agreements concluded in the years thereafter.

52 Cf. ibid., p. 11. 53 The task was described in these terms by Larionov and Kokoshin: Kokoshin, A.A./Larionov, V.V.: Predotvrashchenie voiny: Doktriny, kontseptsii, perspective [Preventing War: Doctrines, Concepts, Perspectives], Moskva 1990, here: p. 34; in early 1991, the Chief of the General Staff Academy, Rodionov, commented that it would be difficult not to agree with this approach: Rodionov, I.N.: O nekotorych polozheniyach sovetskoi voennoi doktriny [On Certain Points of the Soviet Military Doctrine], in: Voennaya mysl’, 3 (1991), pp. 2–9, here: p. 7.

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7.

The Soviet leadership rethinks the world

The realignment of Soviet foreign and security policy under newly elected General Secretary Gorbachev changed the international situation with lasting effect. Anatoli Adamishin (First Deputy of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union, 1986– 1990; Head of the First European Department at the MFA, 1978–1986), listed the following among the achievements of the new foreign policy:54 – It put an end to the ideological confrontation between East and West, thus ending the ‘Cold War’. – It put a stop to the arms race and created the basis for a treaty which not only reduced the arsenals on both sides, but also, for the first time, actually eliminated an entire class of weapon systems (intermediate range missiles). – It made possible the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and the settlement a number of regional conflicts. – It normalised Sino-Soviet relations, which had been confrontational in many respects since the Khrushchev era. – It allowed the former member states of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation the latitude to choose their own political systems and development paths and turned the Soviet Union away from the use of military force to prevent their transformation. – In doing so, it contributed to Europe’s transformation into a zone of cooperation whose security was no longer threatened by the possibility of a military confrontation between the two blocs. – It opened the Soviet Union to the rest of the world and the rest of the world to the Soviet people and promoted the Soviet economy’s integration into the global economy. The ‘new thinking’ completely changed the world over the course of just a few years. Instead of confrontation between East and West, there was cooperation, at least for a short while. All this was possible because one side – the Soviet leadership – changed its stance and re-thought international relations. The USA and its allies came to understand that they could take the proposals of the Soviet general secretary seriously, enabling a window of opportunity to open up. Through trust-building measures, the great distrust on both sides could be overcome. The Soviet leadership managed to convince the US administration that they genuinely intended to base their military and security policy on arms control and dialogue. This led to the

54 Adamishin, Anatoly: Noble idealism: Perestroika has won after all, in: Russia in Global Affairs, 13, no. 2 (2015), pp. 45–62; online version: https://eng.globalaffairs.ru/articles/noble-idealism/, last access: 17 August 2020.

‘New Thinking’ and its Effects on Soviet Foreign and Security Policy

agreements on nuclear and conventional arms. The Soviet leadership was thinking even further ahead, though, aiming for a comprehensive security architecture for Europe. One which would render it unnecessary to station troops abroad, because the supreme political principle was that war must be prevented. Gorbachev had been suggesting this when he announced unilateral reductions in Soviet troops and arms in an address to the UN General Assembly in 1988. In line with the new thinking, he had also departed from the Brezhnev doctrine, assuring the WTO member states that they could act as sovereign entities without first consulting the Soviet Union or having to fear Soviet intervention. The complete withdrawal of Soviet troops from Czechoslovakia and Hungary was a natural corollary of this. The end of the Cold War, the reunification of Germany and the dissolution of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation changed the security situation fundamentally, resulting in the withdrawal of troops from Germany and Poland as well. It looked as though the Paris Summit in November 1990 had created the basis for a new security policy in Europe. But the security policy guarantees created at the end of the Cold War were not destined to last for long. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the formation of 15 independent states resulted in yet another new order in Europe; the gradual obsolescence of security policy agreements and guarantees was a long-term consequence of this. After the collapse, the arms reduction and arms control mechanisms that had been successfully forged in the 1980s were abandoned, one by one, including, most recently, the Open Skies Treaty in 2020/21 and the INF Treaty in 2019. Confrontation, military build-up and the threat or actual use of military force became instruments in the policy toolkit once again. Under Vladimir Putin, Russian leadership reverted to a foreign and security policy that had no qualms about military intervention coupled with territorial annexation. Largely owing to Mikhail Gorbachev and his ‘new thinking’, which was based on the recognition that interdependence was a category necessary to an understanding of global processes, formats of dialogue and conflict prevention came into being in a world overburdened with arms in the second half of the 1980s. These now appear to be on their way down the long slow slide into oblivion.

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War Returnees as Transformation Accelerators The Return of the Afgantsy With a media staged act, commander-in-chief Boris Gromov left as the last soldier on 15 February 1989 the Afghan theatre of war and entered a Soviet society in transformation.1 Officially the 40th Army was sent at the Hindu Kush by the Soviet government in December 1979. Over nine years later, the longest military conflict in Soviet history was declared over. The official view was that the objectives set had been achieved. More than 600,000 participants of the Soviet army, the so-called Limited Contingent of Soviet Armed Forces in Afghanistan (OKSVA) and civilian personnel had brought their individual experiences of an armed conflict into the Soviet out of war society.2 A circumstance which caused the USSR’s self-portrayal as a force for peace to totter significantly and accelerated an initially internal Soviet transformation. Until the OKSVA invaded Afghanistan, direct military interventions on the part of the USSR were mainly concentrated in the immediate Soviet sphere of power in Central or East Central Europe (GDR 1953, Hungary 1956, ČSSR 1968). However, declared as internationalist duty, Moscow tried to support also ‘national liberation movements’ in the so-called Third World such as Cuba and Syria with military and civilian advisors, but the Soviet Afghanistan soldiers formed by far the largest contingent of this kind. An interesting factor here seems to be the influence of the ČSSR experience on the intervention in Afghanistan. The official statements in 1968 and 1979 were similar in the points of a national request for help and the influence of the enemy forces from outside. Bilateral treaties were drawn up in the spirit of internationalist duty and the right to collective self-defence, and were

1 Zajavlenie sovetskogo pravitel’stva [Statement by the Soviet government], in: Pravda, 16 February 1989, p. 1. 2 In contrast to the community of Soviet Afghanistan soldiers (in war community), the out of war society includes those civilian and military parts of society without experience of the Afghan conflict area and shaped by the internal Soviet media discourse. See Mirschel, Markus: Bilderfronten. Die Visualisierung der sowjetischen Intervention in Afghanistan. 1979–1989 [Image fronts. The Visualisation of the Soviet Intervention in Afghanistan. 1979–1989], Köln 2019, pp. 14, 121 and 367.

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found to legitimize both statements.3 The experience of immediate success with limited effort was translated into the term ‘Czechoslovakia syndrome’.4 In this context, it should be mentioned that there were also numerous overlaps in personnel with units stationed in the Eastern Bloc, but especially with the ‘Group of Soviet Forces in Germany’ (GSFG/WGF).5 Especially a variety of professional soldiers involved were positioned in the GDR before or as a special ‘performance bonus’, after their service in Afghanistan. However, the majority of the 40th Army in Afghanistan were not professional soldiers, but rather conscripts.6 In contrast to the return of the Forces from Czechoslovakia, Germany, Poland and Hungary from 1990 onwards as military units without real war operations, the final repatriation of the OKSVA was lacking in basic concepts for social reintegration of an army with combat experience. The Afghanistan wartime returnees additionally entered a changing civil space: On the one hand, the interpretation of the intervention as well as the course of the conflict between civil and military circles was at stake. Prejudices, false promises and selected information had made mutual understanding more difficult. On the other hand, the discussion about how to deal with the veterans arose – promises of reintegration clashed with the economic decline of late Soviet society. This paper shows the intensity of the debates about the view on Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. The focus is on the discussions that formed the basis for a social image of Afghanistan in terms of the intervention and on the Soviet Union and its ‘Continuing State’, the Russian Federation. It will be displayed which groups of actors shaped the discourse at that time and in its aftermath. Which (media) strategies were used in this context to change the common narratives or to make them usable for the respective concerns. Further on, it will be shown how the shifted image of the mission in the wake of the return of the soldiers led to sociopolitical changes, in particular with regard to the veterans’ welfare service. It thus sketches the development of the OKSVA from what is perceived as a passive ‘force of auxiliaries’ to a group with its own identity, legal status and socio-political influence. Thus, the mission profiles and legal provisions negotiated in the wake of the events in Afghanistan define the position of former soldiers to the present day.

3 Gasteyger, Curt: Europa von der Spaltung zur Einigung. Darstellung und Dokumente 1945–1997 [Europe from Division to Unification. Representation and Documents 1945–1997], Bonn 2007, pp. 266–267; Allan, Pierre/Bucherer, Paul (eds.): Sowjetische Geheimdokumente zum Afghanistankrieg (1978–1991) [Soviet Secret Documents on the Afghan War (1978–1991)], pp. 155–157. 4 Kalinovsky, Artemy M.: A long Goodbye. The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan, Cambridge 2011, p. 25. 5 The so-called ‘Group of Soviet Forces in Germany’ (GSFG) was renamed to ‘Western Group of Forces’ (WGF) in June 1989. 6 Tamarov, Vladislav: Afghanistan. A Russian Soldier´s Story, San Francisco 1992, pp. 1 f.

War Returnees as Transformation Accelerators

1.

Afghanistan in mind – the struggle for perception

When the intervention in 1979 began, the party and state leadership of the USSR still believed that they could carry out a mission limited in resources and time and thus control the exchange of information and effort. As the intensity and duration of the conflict increased, unfiltered details gained access to the Soviet public, and different views of the confrontation developed. Furthermore, the conflict turned into a sharply increasing burden on the Soviet economic system. In early spring 1988, – the final withdrawal from Afghanistan started only in May – General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev estimated the annual internal costs at six billion roubles.7 Together with possible cost savings resulting from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), the USSR felt able to finance urgently needed internal reforms in its economic system. The United States saw ratification favoured by a rapid withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. Michael Armacost, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, told Diego Cordovez, Undersecretary-General of the UN, in 1987: ‘That [a fast withdrawal] would provide the maximum incentive to ratify the INF Treaty and to discuss START.’8 The initial strategies to transport the conflict in Afghanistan through the media were balanced between the narratives of a strong Soviet army and those of a proletarian internationalism for social transformation. Both perspectives encouraged a misrepresentation of reality. These narratives, disseminated by the media in the USSR, became a heavy burden, especially for the returning afgantsy. In spite of traumatic war experiences, for example, it was not permitted to talk about everyday life in Afghanistan. The instructions of the political officers within the 40th Army were clear and strict: ‘Do not talk about fallen soldiers, because we are a big and strong army; nor about relationships that violate the service regulations, because we are a big, strong and morally sane army, tear up photos, destroy negatives.’9 As the scramble for a media strategy started, the newspapers under the authority of the USSR’s Ministry of Defence presented their views by publishing a number of articles. Krasnaya Zvezda, for example, with 2.2 million copies printed per issue,

7 Tschernajew, Anatoli: Die letzten Jahre einer Weltmacht. Der Kreml von innen [The last Years of a World Power. The Kremlin from the Inside], Stuttgart 1993, p. 172. 8 As mediator, Diego Cordovez led the negotiations which resulted in the Geneva Agreement. See Cordovez, Diego/Harrison, Selig S.: Out of Afghanistan. The Inside Story of the Soviet withdrawal, New York 1995, p. 315. 9 Alexijewitsch, Swetlana: Zinkjungen. Afghanistan und die Folgen [Boys in Zinc], Berlin 2014, p. 74.

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was regarded as its most important representative in the 1980s.10 From 1985 at the latest, the journalistic contents underlined their own narrative; the ‘Shkola Afganistana’ as a school for life.11 In addition, this strategy was supported by an evident upgrading the status of the armed forces. The military tried to change the Soviet perception of Afghanistan. The argumentation of internationalist assistance was heavily suppressed. The ‘bleeding wound’ argued by Gorbachev in 1986 as a negative stigma was strictly rejected by the military leaders.12 Leading military had expressed concerns about the goals set in Afghanistan early on. The General Staff under Nikolai Ogarkov and his deputy Sergei Akhromeyev expressed scepticism and even disapproval of the intervention. To conclude, General Secretary of the CPSU Leonid Brezhnev had insisted on the collective decision of the Politburo.13 The military nevertheless submitted to the party’s primacy. When in December 1979 the first troops of the Soviet army in Afghanistan in the fulfilment of their internationalist duty died, citizens in Moscow, Minsk, Frunze or Dushanbe failed to find information about a short-term military action in the print media.14 In 1980, the first year of intervention, almost 1500 afgantsy lost their lives.15 The Soviet strategists had not really considered the duration of the conflict, the severity of the inner-Afghan resistance, or the amount of US money flowing into the training camps in Pakistan. They had to make the necessary changes of possible strategies at the open heart of an ailing giant. A clear separation of the ‘real life’ in the USSR from the ‘experience in Afghanistan’ was already difficult at the beginning of the conflict. From the mid-1980s, the information monopoly started to dissolve and, in the wake of glasnost and perestroika, collapsed almost completely. In Krasnaya Zvezda, however, the attentive reader

10 Momzikoff, Sophie: The Military Journal Zarubezhnoe Voennoe Obozrenie Under Perestroika (1985–1991). In the Vanguard of Change or a Bastion of Traditional Soviet Military Journalism?, in: The Journal of Power Institutions in Post-Soviet Societies 16 (2014), http://pipss.revues.org/4092, last access: 18 August 2020. 11 Vozvrashhenie [Returning], in: Krasnaya Zvezda, 25 April 1986, p. 4. 12 Politischer Bericht des Generalsekretärs auf dem XXVII. Parteitag der KPdSU [Political Report of the General Secretary at the XXVII Party Congress of the CPSU], in: Gorbatschow, Michail: Ausgewählte Reden und Aufsätze. Februar 1984–Oktober 1985, Berlin/Ost 1985, pp. 272–288, here: p. 280. 13 Kommunist vooruzhennych sil 22 (1990), p. 64. 14 Pravda published its first official information on 13 January 1980. Otvety L. I. Brezhneva na voprosy korrespondenta gazety ‘Pravda’ [Brezhnev to Questions from a Correspondent of the Newspaper Pravda], in: Pravda, 13 January 1980, p. 1. 15 Soviet losses in Afghanistan 1979–1989, http://www.laender-analysen.de/russland/pdf/Russlandanalysen203.pdf, p. 19, last access: 25 August 2020.

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found indirect information about fighting in Afghanistan as early as 1981.16 The media of the political leadership (e.g. Pravda, Komsomolskaya Pravda, Trud) in turn kept their reports almost free of coverage. Official state visits and delegations came to the fore. The confrontation was isolated at a political level. The Soviet Army would not wage a (dirty) war and the targets set would be reached. On the occasion of the completed withdrawal of the 40th Army, it became clear that after nine years of warfare little had changed in the official vocabulary. On 15 February 1989 the front page of Pravda featured a joint address by the Central Committee of the CPSU, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet and the Council of Ministers of the USSR: ‘[...] courageously they have fulfilled their patriotic and internationalist duty. At the request of the Afghan government, they have protected children, the elderly and women, peaceful Kišlaks and cities. They protected the independence and sovereignty of the friendly country. […].’17 In addition, no head of state, none of the four General Secretaries of the 1980s had themselves published together with an afgantsy in newspaper Pravda. Only a few subordinate USSR officials were photographed on Afghan territory (and even less frequently published). It was the representatives of Afghanistan who were summoned to the Kremlin as petitioners or recipients of instructions.18 Soviet policy seemed to keep visually away from the conflict area. Soviet print media remained the most important source of information on events in Afghanistan between 1984 and 1987, with a constant share of over 50 per cent.19 For their own interests, the military tried to use the power of the printed word as well as the published image. In the shape of a media ‘image campaign’, the groundwork was to be laid to provide afgantsy with social participation, recognition and appreciation – after Katherine Franke defined it in modern terms as status-based power.20 The soldiers of the intervention should be deprived of the fear of the civil reality in their changing homeland. The blemish of a passively connoted community of fate was to be discarded and replaced by an afgantsy identity. Where the civilian media held on almost monolithically to the success narrative of internationalist

16 For example: Voevaja ucheva armii i flota [The Army and Navy’s Wartime Training], in: Krasnaya Zvezda, 04 October 1981, p. 1. 17 Obrashhenie CK KPSS, Prezidiuma Verchovnogo Soveta SSSR, Soveta Ministrov SSSR k sovetskim voinam, vernuvshimsja iz Afganistana [Address of the CPSU Central Committee, Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, USSR Council of Ministers to Soviet Soldiers who have returned from Afghanistan], in: Pravda, 16 February 1989, p. 1. 18 For example: Peregovory v Kremle [Negotiations in the Kremlin], in: Pravda, 13 December 1986, p. 1. 19 Levada, Jurij A.: Die Sowjetmenschen 1989–1991. Soziogramm eines Verfalls [The Soviet People 1989–1991. Sociogram of a Decline], München 1993, p. 286. 20 Franke, Katherine: Making White Supremacy Respectable. Again, 21 November 2016, http://blog. lareviewofbooks.org/essays/making-white-supremacy-respectable, last access: 17 August 2020.

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duty, it was difficult to explain the losses of the 40th Army and the experiences from the conflict area by the construction of schools or purely auxiliary services for the Afghan army. The so-called subbotniks, or the use as ‘military gardeners’ to plant avenues of friendship, such as in Kabul,21 were all about the demand for respect that the military thought they deserved. A loss of a positive military image of the soldier should be avoided. A major medial regulation, initiated by high-ranking representatives of the armed forces in July 1985 was an attempt to give a more realistic picture of the Soviet war in Afghanistan. It was also intended to reduce old prejudices from the early years of intervention. The most important new features were ‘the description of heroic deeds in battle, [...] and the facts of their award’, furthermore, ‘individual cases of heroic demise of Soviet soldiers in the performance of their combat tasks’ could be reported.22 Publication rules were extended and clarified on 2 April 1987.23 Structural problems, strategic mistakes or internal fragmentation such as the ‘reign of grandfathers’ (dedovshchina) and the ‘reign of groups’ (gruppovshchina) remained unmentioned. The Soviet Army saw this campaign not only as the last chance to counter the serious loss of legitimacy, but also as a chance to preserve the nimbus of the ‘Soviet Army as a defender of communism’24 . At the same time, it was a challenge to the Kremlin’s policy of trying to clean itself of the ‘bleeding wound Afghanistan’ from the military’s point of view. For the military, reporting in the spirit of glasnost and perestroika was seen as a purely symbolic policy for the world public and as a break from the classic image of communism. By the mid-1980s at the latest, the time had come to launch an offensive media push to limit damage. Thus, the military narrative of soldiers as heroes was strongly expanded. Furthermore, the narrative of the heroes was transferred to the broad military masses in the course of the conflict – the ‘heroes of the skies’ were joined by transport forces as well as military doctors. The medial enlargement with subjects including medical services in the area of operation or at home, additionally enabled an opening towards a military reality. Although pictures of fallen Soviet soldiers remained unpublished throughout, more and more

21 Imeni afgano-sovetskoj druzhby [In the Name of Afghan-Soviet Friendship], in: Krasnaya Zvezda, 17 April 1980, p. 3. 22 Allan/Bucherer: Sowjetische Geheimdokumente, pp. 415–423, here: p. 421. 23 Ob izmenenii nekotorych ogranichenij perechnja dlja rajonnoj pechati, GARF, f. 9425, op. 2, d. 1006, ll. 65–66. 24 Gasimov, Zaur T.: Militär schreibt Geschichte. Instrumentalisierung der Geschichte durch das Militär in der Volksrepublik Polen und in der Sowjetunion 1981–1991 [Military Writes History. Instrumentalisation of History by the Military in the People’s Republic of Poland and the Soviet Union 1981–1991], Münster et al. 2009, p. 80.

War Returnees as Transformation Accelerators

wounded and disabled soldiers found their way into the media coverage.25 The one-sided reporting of the early years took its revenge on the example of the innerSoviet acceptance of the war participants and on the question of their reputation. It was also not uncommon for Soviet society to approach the soldiers with suspicion in the discourse that had become more open since 1985; returning home after being wounded, a major reported on his experiences: ‘I was on holiday and I was accused: You’re sunbathing, fishing, making tons of money. Don’t you? How could people know the truth? There was no truth in the newspapers.’26 After their return, a wall of misunderstanding and an unfeeling attitude on the part of state authorities was encountered. Nationwide experience, the afgantsy made, was to hide their own medals among the veterans of the ‘Great Patriotic War’ during public holidays.27 Some of them did not consider the afgantsy to be ‘real veterans’, as they would not have had experiences in Afghanistan comparable to those in World War II.28 It was an outcome that stood in strong contrast to the media campaign of historical continuity in Krasnaya Zvezda. The editors of the military newspaper tried to identify the actions of the afgantsy with the glories of Soviet military history.29 The goal was to depict an ongoing heroic steadiness of the Soviet Army, which failed both in terms of acceptance among veterans of the ‘Great Patriotic War’ and the realities. Furthermore, during the late years of the conflict, the ‘Shkola Afganistana’ was used to establish a specific path of afgantsy experience. The strategy was to provide the war participants as social avant-garde with interethnic, intercultural and personal unique experiences. These qualities would enable them ‘to do creative work and implement the decisions of the XXVII Party Congress of the CPSU.’30 After an ideological positioning was no longer sufficient, the Soviet Afghanistan soldiers were increasingly provided with promises of social benefits. These were intended to enable them to deal with the inner-Soviet transformation. The broken educational biographies, most of the very young Afghan war-participants had,

25 Vernulis iz boja [Return from the Fight], in: Krasnaya Zvezda, 11 November 1988, p. 4; Po zakonam miloserdija [According to the Laws of Mercy], in: Krasnaya Zvezda, 10 July 1989, p. 4. 26 Alexijewitsch: Zinkjungen, p. 106. 27 Dvadcatiletnie veterany [Twenty-year Veterans], in: Sobesednik 30 (July 1988), pp. 4–5. 28 Sapper, Manfred: Die Auswirkungen des Afghanistan-Krieges auf die Sowjetgesellschaft. Eine Studie zum Legitimitätsverlust des Militärischen in der Perestrojka [The Impact of the Afghan War on Soviet Society. A Study on the Loss of Legitimacy of the Military in Perestroika], Münster et al. 1994, p. 160. 29 For example: Nasha voennaja gordost’ [Our military pride], in: Krasnaya Zvezda, 20 July 1986, p. 1; Nasledniki revoljucionnych tradicij [Inheritors of the Revolutionary Tradition], in: Krasnaya Zvezda, 06 November 1986, p. 1; Vechi biografii boevoj [Things of a Combat Biography], in: Krasnaya Zvezda, 23 February 1989, p. 1. 30 Vozvrashhenie [Returning], in: Krasnaya Zvezda, 25 April 1986, p. 4.

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were to be straightened out.31 At the same time, promises were made to create work opportunities. Also, the division of afgantsy between the megacities of the Soviet West, which was otherwise rigorously applied, should be more relaxed and provided as an incentive.32 The newspapers under the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence, in particular again the Krasnaya Zvezda, highlighted the patronage role of the military leadership over the returning soldiers. The social welfare promised by the party leadership to the afgantsy were increasingly requested. The press published articles about shortcomings, and results were demanded from the podiums of protest and official assemblies.33 At a press conference on 2 July 1988, Lieutenant General Gromov summarised all important aspects of the military’s contemporary position on the intervention. There he said, the Soviet soldiers would have gone through a difficult school of courage and bravery, which would also have been a school of patriotism. In conclusion, he argued that the army had not suffered defeat and called on the Soviet government to take effective measures of assistance.34 All in all, it can be said that the media strategies of both the military and civilian press were not suitable for making it noticeable easier for Soviet Afghanistan soldiers to return to their Soviet homeland. The course was partially set, but the tactic of heroism in the out of war society, for example, was in vain. The finely choreographed staging of the soldier’s heroic narrative petered out in the heated debates on problems within the Soviet army. In 1988–1990, participants in USSR-wide rallies called for an end to violence within the army, the release of all prisoners of war still in Afghanistan, and fundamental reforms of the military system.35 Even the narrative of internationalist duty could in no way represent the soldier’s everyday life in military mission. The public view of the conflict at the Hindu Kush region had shifted on all fronts. The civilian daily newspapers, such as Pravda, for example, felt forced to respond to the representational discourse of the ‘Shkola Afganistana’.36 In relation to political and diplomatic issues, more space in reporting was given to

31 Pridut ‘afgancy’ v klassy [Afghans will come to Class], in: Krasnaya Zvezda, 6 December 1988, p. 2. 32 S dostoinstvom i chest’ju [With Dignity and Honour], in: Krasnaya Zvezda, 18 January 1986, p. 6. 33 V zapadne dolgostroja [Trapped in a Long Construction Site], in: Krasnaya Zvezda, 25 November 1988, p. 4. 34 Vystuplenie general-lejtenanta Gromova B. V. [Speech by Lieutenant General Gromov B.V.], in: Krasnaya Zvezda, 2 July 1988, p. 3. 35 Ne plach’ mama, ume vse pozadi [Don’t cry Mum, it’s all over], in: Krasnaya Zvezda, 29 November 1989, p. 3. 36 Obrashhenie CK KPSS, Prezidiuma Verchovnogo Soveta SSSR, Soveta Ministrov SSSR k sovetskim voinam, vernuvshimsja iz Afganistana [Address of the CPSU Central Committee, Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, USSR Council of Ministers to Soviet Soldiers who have returned from Afghanistan], in: Pravda, 16 February 1989, p. 1.

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the soldier’s life.37 For the afgantsy with the mental and physical wounds of their mission, however, these campaigns, which have moved up the ranks, often remained daydreams. The Soviet society had neither adequate rehabilitation facilities nor the knowledge to deal with the veterans of the war in Afghanistan during that time. Furthermore, both strategies had failed to work on a social sensitivity to realities. The participants of the Soviet war in Afghanistan were wedged between the extreme poles of public discourse – they were lost between condemnation and glorification. Nevertheless, the return of the afgantsy meant a significant change in the image of Soviet policy on Afghanistan – views that were to have a particular impact on legal and socio-political parameters in the years to come.

2.

Social-political changes

In the Soviet Union and later in Russia, the return of the afgantsy led to sociopolitical transformations in the field of welfare as well as political participation and involvement of society, which ultimately culminated in a legally regulated veterans’ welfare. Such developments can often be observed in connection with soldiers returning from wars in different temporal, cultural and geographical contexts.38 However, in the case of the Soviet Afghanistan veterans, these processes had already begun during the intervention. Thus, the changed political and public image of the intervention alongside the deteriorating living conditions in the USSR can be marked as a starting point. The main foundation for governmental aid for ex-combatants in the USSR was an exclusive veterans’ policy. In contrast to the inclusive one, it explicitly honours soldiers for their military service and, for example, grants them special rights.39 The veterans of World War II were one of the most privileged social groups in the Soviet Union.40 In the early stages of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, however, the members of the intervention forces were not entitled to special state recognition for

37 For example: Voinskij podvig [A Military Feat], in: Pravda, 2 March 1988, p. 4; Portrety ljubimych ljudej [Portraits of Loved Ones], in: Pravda, 19 September 1986, p. 6 and Nochnoj boj v kan’one [A Night Battle in the Canon], in: Pravda, 26 March 1988, p. 6. 38 Voß, Klaas: Die Reintegration von Veteranen als Gesellschaftsgeschichte. Ein programmatisches Vorwort [The Reintegration of Veterans as a Social History. A Programmatic Preface], in: Schwerter zu Pflugscharen – Veteranenpolitik und Wohlfahrtsstaatlichkeit, Mittelweg 36. Zeitschrift des Hamburger Instituts für Sozialforschung 24/5 (2015), pp. 3–31. 39 Danilova, Natalia: The Development of an Exclusive Veterans’ Policy. The Case of Russia, in: Armed Forces & Society 36/5 (2010), pp. 890–916, here: pp. 895–896. 40 Ibid., p. 902.

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their service.41 As part of the internationalist duty, officially, the deployment was no combat mission, but a supplemental aid program for the Afghan army in the form of watchkeeping duties or the implementation of training programs.42 From a legal point of view, the military service at the Hindu Kush did not differ from the one in the Soviet Union. These circumstances have changed in the course of the official modified reporting on the mission, which the Soviet military pushed with great emphasis. In January 1983, the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR determined the status of the Afghan war-participants as ‘members of the armed forces [...] who are temporarily located in the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.’43 According to the logic of the exclusive veterans’ policy, soldiers now received special privileges, such as financial compensation for war invalids, preferential allocation of living space or discounts in passenger transport.44 Soviet legislators gradually expanded such grants towards the end of the 1980s, which led to an expansion of state welfare programs. However, these subsidies were not intended as a sign of appreciation for the service and sacrifices made in Afghanistan, but aimed to create a social safety net for those in need. Given the economic decline, one focus of the Soviet political agenda at that time was to improve general living conditions.45 Socially weaker groups should receive state support, which also included the Soviet Afghanistan veterans. As already pointed out by Soviet daily newspapers, at the First People’s Deputies Congress in May 1989, General Secretary Gorbachev also explicitly drew attention to the needs of the disabled veterans from the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, for example.46 Consequently, in June and December, the Congress instructed the Supreme Soviet and the Council of Ministers to take measures in order to solve urgent problems of the former OKSVA-participants, such as the supply of medicine and everyday necessities.47 When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the welfare program for the

41 Danilova, Natalija: Veterans’ Policy in Russia: a Puzzle of Creation, in: The Journal of Power Institutions In Post-Soviet Societies 6/7 (2007), https://journals.openedition.org/pipss/873, last access: 6 September 2020. 42 Grau, Lester W.: Securing the Borders of Afghanistan During the Soviet-Afghan War, in: The Journal of Slavic Military Studies 28/2 (2015), pp. 414–428. 43 Postanovlenie CK KPSS, Sovmina SSSR ot 17.01.1983 N 59–27 [Resolution of the CPSU Central Committee, USSR Council of Ministers of 17.01.1983 N 59-27], pt. 1, https://legalacts.ru/doc/ postanovlenie-tsk-kpss-sovmina-sssr-ot-17011983, last access: 6 September 2020. 44 Ibid. 45 Chandler, Andrea: Democracy, Gender, and Social Policy in Russia. A Wayward Society, Basingstoke 2013, p. 30. 46 See Pervyj S’’ezd Narodnych Deputatov SSSR (2 ijunja 1989), t. 1. GARF, f. 9654, op. 1, d. 21. 47 Postanovlenie S’’ezda narodnyx deputatov SSSR ot 9 ijunja 1989 g. No 39-I, pt. II i VI, [Resolution of the Congress of People’s Deputies of the USSR of 9 June 1989. No 39-I pt. II and VI], https:// www.lawmix.ru/zakonodatelstvo/2578029, last access: 06 September 2020; Vtoroj S’’ezd Narodnych

War Returnees as Transformation Accelerators

afgantsy and other groups of former soldiers comprised over 40 different resolutions and ordinances.48 On that basis, in the course of the disputes about their ‘war experiences’ also involved a struggle for public welfare between the several veterans’ groups. The problem for the afgantsy was that they as a newly appeared status group found themselves at the back of the line concerning the issue of goods.49 Due to the economic decline, the Soviet government was barely able to deliver benefits to deserving persons. In January 1991, the Executive Committee of the Novgorod Oblast reported to the Committee for Invalids of the RSFSR-Supreme Soviet that two Soviet Afghanistan soldiers were on places 23 and 27 of the waiting lists for apartments. In front of them participants of the World War II were listed, some of whom have been waiting for an apartment allocation for over 20 years.50 The extension of social and promotional benefits in conjunction with such problems ultimately laid the foundation for a legally regulated ex-combatants’ welfare. At the beginning of the 1990s, various institutions were engaging in a possible veterans’ law. Commissioned by the Supreme Soviet, the Committee for Invalids and Veterans, finally presented a first draft in mid-1991.51 The aim was to deal with the unclear responsibilities, duplicate structures and different supply rates.52 In this context, economic changes have been a driving force in the preparation of the veterans’ law. In the wake of the economic collapse, the regions and counties were no longer able to fulfil their welfare tasks. Because of this, the Committee for Disabled Persons of the RSFSR-Supreme Soviet spoke out in favour of statutory regulation of benefits, as they would guarantee a social protection mechanism which is independent of ‘inflationary and other economic’ developments.53 In addition, the main purpose of the law was to determine the legal status of veterans, combatants and army-members, as well as their entitlements. At the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, according to a letter written by the organisation War Veterans Committee to the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation, Ruslan Khasbulatov, there were around 1,100,000 former soldiers, who had fulfilled their

48 49 50 51 52 53

Deputatov SSSR: Zakony SSSR, postanovlenija i drugie akty S’’ezda Narodnych Deputatov SSSR, prinjatye s 12 po 24 dekabrja 1989 goda, t. 2. GARF, f. 9654, op. 1, d. 61, l. 266, pt. 4. Komitet po delam invalidov, veteranov vojny i truda, social’noj zashhite voennosluzhashhich i shlenov ich semej (23.03.1992–26.06.1992), t. 1. GARF, f. 10026, op. 4, d. 2194, l. 4. Danilova: Development of an Exclusive Veterans’ Policy, p. 906. Komitet po delam invalidov, veteranov vojny i truda, social’noj zashhite voennosluzhashhich i shlenov ich semej (04.06.1990–20.06.1991), t. 1. GARF, f. 10026, op. 4, d. 2294, ll. 78–81. See Komitet po zakonodatel’stvu (1990–1993 gg.), t. 4. GARF, f. 10026, op. 1, d. 2049. Chandler, Andrea: Shocking Mother Russia. Democratization, Social Rights, and Pension Reform in Russia, 1990–2001, Toronto 2004, pp. 119–123. Komitet po delam invalidov, veteranov vojny i truda, social’noj zashhite voennosluzhashhich i shlenov ich semej (14.01.1992–20.07.1993). GARF, f. 10026, op. 4, d. 2174, ll. 2–4.

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internationalist duty in over 50 countries worldwide after 1945.54 From the previous regulations, however, it was not always clear, which ex-combatants were entitled to claim for benefits at all.55 For example, at the end of 1991, the Committee for Disabled Persons approached the RSFSR’s Ministry of Social Welfare to grant a disability status as an army-member to a female civilian participant of the 40th Army. During her deployment at the Hindu Kush, she had suffered from a permanent damage to her gastrointestinal tract. However, the ministry refused the request, because the person had presumably worked voluntarily as a laboratory assistant in Afghanistan and her illness was therefore not related to a military duty.56 Similarly, as not battle-tested, the GSFG/WGF was also not among those who fell under the exclusive veteran policy. Nevertheless, the soldiers received other benefits in the form of foreign currencies or later housing allocations in Russia, which resulted from the German Treaty and the agreement on the 1994-withdrawal of the Russian troops from German territory.57 With processes of social participation, another field in form of political involvement of Soviet society emerged, in which changes occurred along with the return of the OKSVA-participants. In conjunction with the debates on problems within the Soviet army and the complex difficulties with the state welfare, the afgantsy used the newly gained political freedoms in the USSR for establishing union-wide organisations after the official end of the Afghanistan deployment. They served as an instrument for self-help and soon became an important state-partner for the implementation of welfare tasks. This position, in turn, enabled them as lobby groups to promote the drafting of the veterans’ law. High members of the largest association, the Russian Alliance of Veterans of Afghanistan (RSVA) were involved in the legislative process as external experts, for example.58 Through such activities, the former war participants contributed to the consolidation of the newly emerging political pluralism in the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation. Representatives of other veterans-organisations tried to affect state decision-makers to transfer the afgantsy-privileges to the Soviet participants in the Cuba mission at the beginning of the 1960s, even if this deployment was not based on an official combat operation.59

54 Komitet po delam invalidov, veteranov vojny i truda, social’noj zashhite voennosluzhashhich i shlenov ich semej (14.06.1990–12.08.1993). GARF, f. 10026, op. 4, d. 2243., ll. 17–19, l. 17. 55 Sekretariat Predsedatelja Verchovnogo Soveta RSFSR (RF) R.I. Chasbulatova (1990–1993 gg.) (12.01.1993–16.02.1993), t. 1. GARF, f. 10026, op. 5, d. 141, ll. 123–125. 56 Komitet po delam invalidov (04.06.1990–20.06.1991), ll. 86–88. 57 For example Kowalcuk, Ilko-Sascha/Wolle, Stefan: Roter Stern über Deutschland. Sowjetische Truppen in der DDR, Berlin 2001 [Red Star over Germany. Soviet Troops in the GDR], pp. 225–226. 58 Komitet po delam invalidov (14.01.1992–20.07.1993). 59 Komitet po delam invalidov, veteranov vojny i truda, social’noj zashhite voennosluzhashhich i shlenov ich semej (02.01.1992–06.09.1993), t. 3. GARF, f. 10026, op. 4, d. 2296, l. 82.

War Returnees as Transformation Accelerators

The relevance of such concerns is also evident from the fact that in April 1992, a representative of the Russian Ministry of Economic Affairs warned of social unrest regarding veterans’ benefits, if only one group of former soldiers would be entitled to privileges.60 War returnees indeed did not shy away from pursuing criminal scheming or conducting violence against state institutions as well as infrastructure in order to achieve their goals. Especially in the first years after the war, the CPSU and later the Russian Federation were to see their political legitimacy threatened by the – sometimes violent – demands of the former Internationalist Fighters for material welfare.61 While in numerous former Soviet republics similar veterans’ laws were passed after their independences, as in Belarus in 1992, this was delayed in Russia. There, the political upheavals ultimately contributed to the fact that the approval of the Veterans Act was delayed until January 1995.62 With this, almost six years after the end of the intervention, the afgantsy were finally officially granted the status of veterans of ‘combat operations’ and corresponding funding. However, the Veterans Act did not change the previous principles of the exclusive veterans’ policy. The Committee for Disabled Persons of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR refused to standardize the privileges, since by this, the divergent physical and psychological stresses of combat missions would not be considered.63 In addition, financial aspects had to be accounted for regarding the differentiation in benefits. Several committees and departments from various ministries in board meetings pointed to the high costs of alignment of welfare services.64 For these reasons, despite fallen Soviet soldiers during their deployment in Cuba, this mission was not incorporated in the law as an act of combat.65 Furthermore, the participants in World War II remained the most privileged support group. Likewise, the law could not alleviate the material hardship of the ex-combatants. Similarly to the situation in the Soviet Union, the progressive economic decline in Russia made it simply impossible to pay out the statutory benefits not only to them,

60 Otdel truda, zanjatosti i social’noj zashhity naselenija. GARF, f. 10200, op. 4, d. 1906, ll. 88–89. 61 Reuveny, Rafael; Prakash, Aseem: The Afghanistan War and the Breakdown of the Soviet Union, in: Review of International Studies 25 (1999), pp. 693–708, p. 704. 62 Federal’nyj zakon (12.01.1995): O veteranaсh ot 12.01.1995 N 5-FZ, https://www.consultant.ru/ document/cons_doc_LAW_5490, last access: 06 September 2020. 63 Sekretariat Predsedatelja Verchovnogo Soveta RSFSR (RF) R.I. Chasbulatova (1990–1993 gg.) (22.10.1990–13.04.1992), t. 1. GARF, f. 10026, op. 5, d. 136, l. 38. 64 Komitet po delam invalidov, veteranov vojny i truda, social’noj zashhite voennosluzhashhich i shlenov ich ich semej (30.06.1992–10.09.1993), t. 2. GARF, f. 10026, op. 4, d. 2189, ll. 21–34. 65 See Volkova, Olga: L’goty proxodivshim voennuju sluzhbu na Kube ostavjat prezhnimi [Benefits for those who served in Cuba remain unchanged], in: Parlamentskaja gazeta, 11 June 2018, https://www. pnp.ru/social/lgoty-prokhodivshim-voennuyu-sluzhbu-na-kube-ostavyat-prezhnimi.html, last access: 06 September 2020.

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but also to all privileged groups.66 This also affected the soldiers of the GSFG/WGF. Their repatriation up to and including 1994 exacerbated the problem on the housing market in Russia.67 Since there were also former OKSVA-members in the Soviet Forces in Germany, there was less friction between these groups of soldiers, but more with state agencies. In August 1993, in a letter to Khasbulatov, for example, soldiers of the GSFG/WGF, including eleven Soviet Afghanistan veterans, spoke out against the decision to move forward the withdrawal of troops from Germany from December to August 1994. They justified this with the fact that neither the residential complex assigned to them was completed, nor had some soldiers so far been able to generate enough foreign currency for purchasing property at home.68 The relevance of the Veterans Act therefore lied in another point: It was the end of a veterans’ policy for the participants of other Soviet military conflicts after 1945, which had originated in the return of the afgantsy. This becomes evident at a further aspect as well. The legal regulation of the Afghanistan veterans’ status served not only as a basis for assessing past conflicts, in which Soviet military units were involved like the Civil War in Angola from 1975 to 1992, but also for future ones.69 In November 2002, the status of combat veterans was similarly assigned to participants of armed conflict within the borders of the Russian Federation. For example, the former Russian soldiers of the wars in the North Caucasus received the corresponding privileges, too.70 The same applies to the Russian units of the military operation carried out in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in August 2008 as well as in Syria which begun in September 2015.71

66 Danilova: Exclusive Veterans’ Policy, p. 907. 67 Sapper: Auswirkungen des Afghanistan-Krieges, p. 152. 68 Sekretariat Predsedatelja Verchovnogo Soveta RSFSR R.I. Chasbulatova (1990–1993 gg.) (31.07.1993–21.09.1993), t. 5. GARF, f. 10026, op. 5, d. 145, ll. 81–84. 69 Federal’nyj zakon (12.01.1995), Razdel III. 70 Federal’nyj zakon ot 27.11.2002 N 158-FZ (red. ot 22.08.2004) ‘O vnesenii izmenenija i dopolnenij v Federal’nyj zakon “O veteranach” [Federal Law dated 27.11.2002 N 158-FZ (as amended on 22.08.2004) On Amendments and Additions to the Federal Law ‘On Veterans’], http://www. consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_39746/3d0cac60971a511280cbba229d9b6329c07731f7/ #dst100016, last access: 6 September 2020. 71 Federal’nyj zakon ot 17.12.2009 N 311-FZ ‘O vnesenii izmenenija v Federal’nyj zakon “O veteranach” [Federal Law N 311-FZ of 17 December 2009 ‘Amending the Federal Law “on Veterans”], http://www. consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_94978/3d0cac60971a511280cbba229d9b6329c07731f7/ #dst100009, last access: 6 September 2020; Federal’nyj zakon ot 03.07.2016 N 256-FZ ‘Ovnesenii izmenenij v Federal’nyj zakon “O veteranach” [Federal Law N 256-FZ of 03 July 2016 ‘Amending the Federal Law “on Veterans”], http://www.consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_200575/ 3d0cac60971a511280cbba229d9b6329c07731f7/#dst100015, last access: 6 September 2020.

War Returnees as Transformation Accelerators

3.

Conclusion

The Soviet Union had not only stationed numerous of soldiers in the countries of the Warsaw Pact, but also in the same way sent units to countries of the Third World under the predicate of internationalist duty. By far the largest group of them was the OKSVA. In contrast to the soldiers of the GSFG/WGF or the other internationalistmissions, the return of the afgantsy led to different socio-political transformations in the USSR and Russia. With the increasing number of homecoming soldiers and human losses during the war, disputes over the interpretation of the intervention at the Hindu Kush as a mission of glory or a big fail erupted, which were carried out on the shoulders of the veterans between representatives of society, politics and by leading military. On the social and cultural level, this did not facilitate processes of reintegration of the Soviet Afghanistan soldiers. Although, changes in the field of welfare, and political participation by society occurred, which is often accompanied by soldiers returning from combat. The peculiarities of the Soviet veterans, however, were twofold: On the one hand, this development was closely linked to the change of the Afghanistan image to a heroic combat mission in the Soviet Union. On the other hand, the economic decline was decisive for a forced discourse about the legal regulation of benefits, social protection mechanisms and no less conducive for an upgrading of the status of the afgantsy. Both factors can be seen as part of a system transformation that ended with the collapse of the USSR. At the same time, the double distortion of reality and the supply difficulties also resulted in the emergence of an afgantsy identity, which the former combatants themselves promoted through the consolidation as a status-based power. They appeared on the inner-Soviet parquet of politics as an institutionalized player who until today forms the Afghanistan image and demands recognition and rights for the service.

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The Search for a New Security Structure in Eastern Europe Through the Example of the Dissolution of the Soviet Army

When the Soviet Union finally dissolved at the end of 1991 after a long disintegration process, future prospects for the army required prioritization. After all, the Soviet Army, which had emerged in 1918 as the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army and had secured power for the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War, had always been closely linked to the political leadership of the Soviet Union until its end. The Army could not be dissolved overnight, especially since it had remained intact as a large organisation while the Soviet Union eroded. However, the decisions were made in the political arena. The decisive break was the coup of August 1991. Although the CPSU General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev could return to the centre of power in Moscow after a few days, the formation of independent nation states that had defected the Soviet Union could no longer be reversed. These new states regarded national security as an indispensable feature of their sovereignty and began to amass their own national armies. Only the Russian Federation, which had declared itself sovereign from the Soviet Union in June 1991, attempted to capture these centrifugal forces through a structured transfer of the Soviet Army into a new format. Russia wanted to combine the 8 December 1991 creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) with the preservation of the Soviet security structure in a new guise. The majority of the 11 CIS states, however, saw the confederation as a way to address the economic vacuum that remained after the Soviet Union’s collapse. Security and military issues occupied a secondary role for the CIS, apart from the former Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal. When the CIS was founded, they avoided the question of the future of the Soviet Army whenever possible. For the approximately 4.5 million professional soldiers in the Soviet Army,1 on the other hand, the army’s future was of existential importance. Yet, as a social group, they had remained inactive during the August coup. In principle, taking

1 See Davis, Christopher: Country Survey XVI the Defence Sector in the Economy of a Declining Superpower: Soviet Union and Russia, 1965–2001, in: Defence and Peace Economics, 3/13 (2002), pp. 145–177, here: p. 157.

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up arms to protect their livelihood was plausible.2 However, the officers did not view themselves as political actors, but rather, as recipients of orders from a state leadership, albeit one dissolving before their eyes.3 Thus, the Soviet Army personnel felt abandoned, while the former Soviet republics sought a new political order. This article analyses the search for a new security order during the process of founding the CIS, using the Soviet Army as an example, and explains how, ultimately, there were too few shared positions for the Soviet Army to be transformed into a CIS army, while still retaining a reasonable degree of unity. Indirectly, this failure also had an impact on the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics. Since the manifest end of the Soviet Army in March 1992, the everyday life of former Soviet soldiers has been dominated by uncertain prospects for the future.

1.

Signs of dissolution

The foiled coup against Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow in August 1991 activated a dynamic that intensified the centrifugal forces in the Soviet Union’s republics.4 Whereas only the Baltic states, Armenia, and Georgia had declared themselves independent prior to the coup, afterwards, increasing numbers of republics defected from the union and proclaimed themselves independent. Ukraine left on 24 August 1991, followed by Belarus on 25 August 1991, Moldova on 27 August 1991, Kyrgyzstan on 31 August 1991, Uzbekistan on 1 September 1991, Tajikistan on 9 September 1991, Azerbaijan on 18 October 1991, and Turkmenistan on 27 October 1991. By December 1991, only Russia and Kazakhstan remained. These exits were accompanied by the new countries’ forming their own national security interests, which refused to follow Moscow command. Ukraine, in particular, accelerated the process of nationalisation and the development of its own security structures, when it declared its independence from the Soviet Union on 24 August. On that same day, Ukraine also declared national authority over all Soviet Army

2 The Soviet army made a strict distinction between the full-time officer corps and conscripts. For officers and their families, service in the Soviet army was a way of life that ensured good living conditions and a high social standing. 3 See Taylor, Brian D.: The Soviet Military and the Disintegration of the USSR, in: Journal of Cold War Studies, 1/5 (2003), pp. 17–66, here: pp. 57–60 and Adomeit, Hannes: Der Machtverlust der Sowjetarmee als Zerfallsfaktor [The Loss of Power of the Soviet Army as a Factor of Disintegration], in: Malek, Martin/Schor-Tschudnowskaja, Anna (eds.): Der Zerfall der Sowjetunion. Ursachen – Begleiterscheinungen – Hintergründe, Baden-Baden 2013, pp. 187–202. 4 Regarding the coup, see Lozo, Ignaz: Der Putsch gegen Gorbatschow und das Ende der Sowjetunion [The Coup against Gorbachev and the End of the Soviet Union], Köln et al. 2014.

The Search for a New Security Structure in Eastern Europe

units deployed on its territory and immediately began building its own defence ministry. Clearly, Ukraine regarded the army as an indispensable attribute of its statehood.5 Against this backdrop, the Fifth Extraordinary Congress of People’s Deputies of the USSR convened in Moscow from 2 to 5 September 1991 to address the future of the post-coup Soviet Union. One of the points at issue was the army. The majority of the deputies were in favour of an army with a unified defence area and a common supreme command, despite independent nation states.6 Yet, the option also existed to divide the Soviet Army into national armies that would then convene under one supreme command. Thus, Ukrainian deputy Leontiy Sandulyak, who had been instrumental in drafting Ukraine’s declaration of independence of 24 August,7 insisted on behalf of the Ukrainian delegation that the term ‘unified forces’ (единые Воруженные Силы) be replaced in the resolution by ‘combined forces under one command’ (объединенные Воруженные Силы при едином командовании). However, the chair of the editorial board, Valentin Tatarchuk, would oppose this move when he argued, ‘In order to unite, one must divide. As we agreed it is not possible to divide the armed forces – they should remain under a unified leadership’.8 The Congress of People’s Deputies rejected the Ukrainians’ proposed wording by a majority and chose ‘unified forces’. Undeterred by the decision in Moscow, the independent nation of Ukraine maintained a claim to its own armed forces. On 3 September, while the Congress of People’s Deputies was still in session, Kostyantyn Morozov was appointed Minister of Defence of Ukraine on the proposal of the Ukrainian president. He had previously commanded the 17th Air Army of the Soviet Armed Forces in the Kiev Military District. The Soviet president relieved Morozov of this position on 1 October. Formally, however, he was not dismissed from service in the Soviet armed forces. Gorbachev and the Soviet military leadership in Moscow still believed that the armed forces stationed in Ukraine would remain in the Soviet Army.9 In contrast, Ukraine, as the first Soviet republic, also considered itself a sovereign state in

5 Shaposhnikov, Yevgeny: Vybor. Zapiski glavnokomandujushhego [Choice. Notes by the Commanderin-Chief], Moskva 1993, p. 104. 6 Postanovlenie ot 05.09.1991 g. No. 2391–1 S’’ezda narodnyh deputatov SSSR ‘O merah, vytekajushhih iz sovmestnogo zajavlenija Prezidenta SSSR i vysshih rukovoditelej sojuznyh respublik i reshenij vneocherednoj sessii Verhovnogo Soveta SSSR’, Point 3 and 5, in: Lukashevich, Dmitry (ed.): Vneocherednoj Pjatyj s’’ezd narodnyh deputatov SSSR (2–5 sentjabrja 1991 g.). Stenograficheskij otchet [Extraordinary Congress of People’s Deputies of the USSR (2–5 September 1991) Transcript], Moskva 2018, pp. 297–299, here: p. 298. 7 https://ccl.org.ua/en/position/the-price-of-freedom/, last access: 27 January 2021. 8 Lukashevich: Vneocherednoj Pjatyj s’’ezd, p. 263. 9 Morozov, Konstyantyn: Above and Beyond. From Soviet General to Ukrainian State builder, Cambridge 2000, pp. 146–152, 162–164.

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military terms and no longer wished to submit to the control of the Ministry of Defence of the Soviet Union, which still existed at this time.10 Marshal of Aviation Yevgeny Shaposhnikov, in his capacity as the new Minister of Defence of the USSR, attempted in several meetings to dissuade Ukraine from forming its own armed forces.11 In his view, the security of the now-independent Soviet republics was only conceivable with unified forces under Moscow’s leadership. Boris Yeltsin, the President of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), supported Shaposhnikov’s opinion. The former wanted to maintain all options for the sole inheritance of the Soviet Army and decried dividing the Soviet Army along national lines based on which units were deployed in their respective national territories.12 After the inhabitants of Ukraine confirmed the declared Ukrainian independence by 92.3 per cent in a 1 December 1991 referendum,13 Defence Minister Morozov, who had already been appointed in August, took his military oath to Ukraine on 6 December 1991 as the first Ukrainian soldier. The basic laws regarding the armed forces and their defence of Ukraine were enacted immediately.14 By this time, the independent states of Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, and Moldova had also announced the establishment of their own armed forces.

2.

The CIS: negotiations on the future constitution of the Soviet Army until February 1992

When the Ukrainian people voted unambiguously in favour of the independence of their country, the Soviet Union definitively came to an end. Gorbachev tried to salvage the union until the very last minute by preparing a draft treaty for a Union of Sovereign States again.15 However, after the clear vote from his people, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, who was confirmed in the presidential election that took place at the same time as the referendum, decisively rejected the continua-

10 Heinemann-Grüder, Andreas/Petersen, Maike: Staatsgründung und Militär. Das Beispiel der Ukraine [State Founding and the Military. The Example of Ukraine], Berlin 1992, p. 6. The Baltic states, which were pioneers in the independence movement, only appointed their own Defence ministers in October and November 1991. 11 Shaposhnikov succeeded Marshal Dimitry Yazov as Defence Minister on 23 August 1991. Yazov was instrumental in preparing the August coup. 12 Shaposhnikov: Vybor, p. 113. 13 By far, the most votes against independence were cast in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (42.22%) and the city of Sevastopol (39.39%). 14 Verhovnaja Rada Ukrainy Zakon No. 1934-XII О Vooruzhennyh Silah Ukrainy; Verhovnaja Rada Ukrainy Zakon No. 1932-XII Оb oborone Ukrainy. 15 Gorbatschow, Michail: Erinnerungen [Memories], München 1995, pp. 1093–1106.

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tion of any type of union state.16 Thuso, on 8 December, the Commonwealth of Independent States was founded with the signatures of Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who deliberately acted in opposition to Gorbachev, and Belarusian President Stanislav Shushkevich.17 The primary goal of these three presidents was to institute the end of the Soviet Union and to create a common economic and security space of sovereign states. Although the issue of the army was discussed, it was largely omitted from the founding declaration due to Ukraine and Russia’s diverging positions. The founders of the CIS were only able to agree on the preservation of a common military-strategic defence area and unified control over nuclear weapons.18 This meant that each state could now maintain its own aims. The national defence ministry had already begun its work in Kiev, yet Moscow still thought it could preserve the structure of the Soviet Army. When the CIS met in Almaty on 21 December 1991, the newly founded community grew to include eight more states – the republics of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. This meant that eleven of the 15 former Soviet republics were now part of the new alliance.19 In a declaration, the new members committed to the founding agreement of 8 December. However, the document only contained cornerstones and little by way of specific details.20 For the international community, the nuclear arsenal of the Soviet Army was a crucial issue to be settled, both politically and militarily. In terms of international law, it was important that the now four new nuclear states, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, reaffirm the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In addition, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan declared to withdraw tactical nuclear weapons from their national territories by 1 July 1992 to a central location, where they would be destroyed under joint supervision. This

16 Meissner, Boris: Das Ende der Sowjetunion, der Abgang Gorbatschows und Jelzins „Revolution von oben“. Transformation der „Union der Sozialistischen Sowjetrepubliken“ in „Gemeinschaft unabhängiger Staaten“ [The End of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev’s Departure and Yeltsin’s ‘Revolution from Above’. Transformation of the ‘Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ into ‘Commonwealth of Independent States’], in: Osteuropa 10/1992, pp. 836–857, here: p. 838. 17 Plokhy, Serhii: The Last Empire. The Final Days of the Soviet Union, London 2016, pp. 319–343. 18 Article 6 in Soglashenie o sozdanii Sodruzhestva Nezavisimyh Gosudarstv, 8 December 1991, http:// cis.minsk.by/reestr/ru/index.html#reestr/view/text?doc=1, last access: 27 January 2021; Shaposhnikov: Vybor, p. 126. 19 Georgia, which had already declared independence on 9 April 1991, and the three Baltic states Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which did not see themselves as successor states of the USSR due to the Soviet annexation in 1940, did not attend the meeting. The Baltic states also abstained later, while Georgia was a member of the CIS from 1993–2009. See the contributions by David Darchiashvilli and Michael Machavariani on Georgia and Dovilė Jakniūnaitė and Valentinas Beržiūnas on the Baltic States in this volume. 20 Soglashenie o sozdanii Sodruzhestva Nezavisimyh Gosudarstv.

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was clarified at the next summit in Minsk on 30 December 1991, when all nuclear weapons were placed under the control of the strategic forces and a decision was made to transfer them all to Russia by the end of 1994.21 Immediately after the CIS meeting in Almaty, Mikhail Gorbachev announced that he would be resigning as president of the Soviet Union on 25 December 1991. Under international law, the Soviet Union ceased to exist on 31 December 1991. With this step, Gorbachev also relinquished his position as commander-in-chief of the Soviet armed forces. The codes for the nuclear weapons were handed over to the president of the Russian Federation, Boris Yeltsin.22 In the event of an emergency, he would now decide on the use of nuclear weapons in agreement with the CIS’s three nuclear states and after consultation with all heads of state of the CIS member states. In view of the fact that a decision might require rapid resolution in the event of a conflict, this consensus was not practical.23 Equally explicit clarity was established in Almaty when Soviet Defence Minister Yevgeny Shaposhnikov was appointed as provisional commander-in-chief of the CIS forces until a common solution could be found for the army’s future. At the same time, he was charged with drafting plans to reform the army by 30 December 1991.24 This was a hopeless undertaking, not only due to the unrealistically short deadline of one week, but especially because of the two different camps within the CIS. While Russia, Belarus, and the Central Asian countries favoured unified forces, Ukraine, Moldova, and Azerbaijan wanted to employ the Soviet Army units stationed in their countries to form their own national armed forces independently of the CIS. Shaposhnikov’s plans had to include these different perspectives while also developing new structures for the former Soviet Army. Shaposhnikov returned to the considerations regarding the need to reform the Soviet Union that he broached in the autumn of 1991 as the new Defence Minister. He envisaged a five-year transitional phase in which the required reforms and the increase of national armed forces were to be executed in a regulated process while

21 Article 6 in Soglashenie o sovmestnyh merah v otnoshenii jadernogo oruzhija, http://cis.minsk.by/ reestr/ru/index.html#reestr/view/text?doc=3, last access: 27 January 2021. Despite the declaration of intent, this led to uncertainties until 1994, as Ukraine only wanted to give up its nuclear weapons in return for territorial guarantees. In the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, Russia, the USA, and Great Britain in December 1994 committed themselves in separate agreements with Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine to respect the sovereignty and existing borders of the countries in return for a renunciation of nuclear weapons. 22 On the process of handover, see Plokhy: The Last Empire, p. 376 and Gorbatschow: Erinnerungen, p. 1129. 23 Article 4 in Soglashenie o sovmestnyh merah v otnoshenii jadernogo oruzhija. 24 Protokol soveshhanija Glav Nezavisimyh Gosudarstv, http://cis.minsk.by/reestr/ru/index. html#reestr/view/text?doc=3412, last access: 27 January 2021.

The Search for a New Security Structure in Eastern Europe

safeguarding the interests of the Union.25 He presented his plan to the CIS military experts at a 27 December meeting. He continued to advocate for the subordination of the national armies to a central commander-in-chief. The Ukrainian delegation immediately accused him of attempting to subsume the entire former Soviet armed forces under Russian control.26 Concurrently, a group led by the chair of the Russian government’s Committee on Military Reform had prepared a proposal that was also presented to the CIS military experts on 27 December. It stipulated for the immediate subordination of the armies to national supreme commands, which together would form a CIS supreme command.27 The CIS military experts rejected both proposals. They postponed further discussion of the issue until the first summit of CIS heads of state a few days later in Minsk. On 30 December 1991, the heads of the member states met in Minsk, home of the CIS headquarters, to elaborate the Almaty declaration. The meeting’s second agenda item concerned the military policy of the CIS states, on which there had been no agreement in advance. Shaposhnikov had repeatedly underscored the danger that, in his opinion, an uncontrolled, rapid dissolution of the Soviet Army into national armies would drastically reduce the military potential of all republics. In spite of this risk, Ukraine, Moldova, and Azerbaijan insisted on the immediate establishment of independent national armed forces at the meeting in Minsk. Shaposhnikov, as the commander-in-chief of the CIS and advocate for an orderly transition in the following three to five years, threatened to resign, but Yeltsin changed his mind.28 The agreement signed in Minsk regarding the armed forces and border troops represents the opposing positions that existed. However, since no resolution could be found on individual issues during the consultations, the agreement remained incomplete. Its concrete implementation remained unregulated, and the issue of a structure for the general armed forces was left to be discussed with the armed forces’ commander-in-chief in the following two months leading up to the summit in Minsk in mid-February 1992, held against the backdrop of the right to national armed forces in the member states and the consideration of national legislation.29

25 Shaposhnikov: Vybor, p. 113. 26 Odom, William E.: The Collapse of the Soviet Military, New Haven & London 1998, p. 379. 27 Organograms of both plans printed in Nezavisimaja Gazeta, 31.12.1991, p. 2; Odom: The collapse, pp. 378 and 380 in an English translation. 28 Lopata, Anatoliy: Zapiski nachal’nika General’nogo shtaba Vooruzhennyh sil Ukrainy [Notes of the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine], Kyiv 2014. 29 Article 2 in Soglashenie Soveta Glav Gosudarstv – uchastnikov Sodruzhestva Nezavisimyh Gosudarstv o Vooruzhennyh Silah i Pogranichnyh vojskah, http://cis.minsk.by/reestr/ru/index. html#reestr/view/text?doc=8, last access: 27 January 2021.

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At the beginning of 1992, the Soviet Army was still a large military unit headed by the former Soviet defence minister, Shaposhnikov. The proponents of unified CIS forces, chief among them Russia, continued to hope to gain partners for their vision, even after the Minsk meeting. Apart from the overarching goal of preserving the structure of the Soviet Army, no ideas were presented as to how this could be executed in detail. They neither proposed a plan for financing, nor did they clarify what would happen to those officers who refused to serve in this army. On the other hand, Ukraine, Moldova, and Azerbaijan had completely abandoned the idea of a common army comprising the CIS states. Within the CIS, they only wanted to negotiate regarding the strategic armed forces, though even that still offered much potential for conflict. There were already differing opinions on the definition of ‘strategic forces’. Ukraine, analogous to the American definition, equated ‘strategic’ with ‘nuclear’. Russia, on the other hand, maintained the Soviet definition, according to which, this term meant not only nuclear weapons, but also military units that were needed for strategic defence or that had been established for this purpose. Thus, strategic forces also included air defence and the navy, which from the Russian point of view explicitly included the Black Sea Fleet.30 This was a source of deep-seated conflict that surpassed far beyond military policy decisions. Both Ukraine and Russia claimed the fleet, which had considerable military potential and, in 1991, was larger than the naval forces of any European NATO member. In addition, the Black Sea Fleet also held a large emotional attachment, as Yeltsin repeatedly emphasised with reference to the long Russian tradition.31 This fleet was ultimately divided between Russia and Ukraine, but only after a protracted process that ended in 1997 and involved multiple agreements. In addition to its inherent military potential, there was always the issue of control of the military strategic space in the Black Sea, as well as the territorial status of Crimea and the sovereignty of the troops stationed there. The dispute over the status of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol on the now-Ukrainian Crimean peninsula led to an imprecise definition of what was meant by ‘strategic forces’ in the CIS negotiations. Now, the term was said to refer to military formations and facilities armed or equipped with strategic nuclear

30 Weber, Bernd: Das explosive Erbe der Sowjetunion. Sicherheitspolitische Problemfelder und verteidigungspolitische Absichten in der GUS und den Nachfolgestaaten der Sowjetunion [The Explosive Legacy of the Soviet Union. Security Policy Problem Areas and Defence Policy Intentions in the CIS and the Successor States of the Soviet Union], in: Osteuropa 8/1992, pp. 652–668, here: p. 655. 31 Malek, Martin: Die Schwarzmeerflotte zwischen Einheit und Teilung [The Black Sea Fleet Between Unity and Division], in: Osteuropa 5/1993, pp. 441–451, here: pp. 442–444.

The Search for a New Security Structure in Eastern Europe

weapons, as well as to units accompanying the use of nuclear weapons and other units designated by the negotiating parties.32 At the summit in Minsk, it became apparent that Ukraine viewed the CIS merely as an instrument to solve the economic problems that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. Defence issues, in contrast, were viewed as a national security problem. Thus, Ukraine was not interested in a coordinated approach to the former Soviet Army. For Ukraine, national security meant protection, especially from Russia, which ruled out cooperation with Russia. In the first six months after the founding of the CIS, Ukraine participated in 23 of the 47 economic agreements of the confederation, but only in 11 of its 41 military-policy agreements.33 Ukrainian President Kravchuk specified in Minsk that Ukraine had no interest in the continuation of the Soviet Army as a unified army of the CIS states. He had the agreement on general armed forces and border troops set forth that Ukraine would build up its own armed forces from 3 January 1992, because by this time, the Ukrainian army was already well on its way to being institutionalised. Although this contradicted the transitional period of two months agreed in the agreement, everyone accepted the stipulation. The three military districts of the former Ukrainian Soviet Republic – Kiev, Carpathia, and Odessa – were dissolved at the beginning of 1992, and the soldiers stationed there were subsumed under Ukrainian command.34 This action was supported by a corresponding order from Shaposhnikov, the former Soviet defence minister and now commander-in-chief of the planned CIS forces. He explicitly ordered all land forces of the former Soviet Army stationed in the now-sovereign Ukraine to place themselves under the command of the Ukrainian army, even as he continued to sharply criticise the pace of Ukraine’s actions.35 In the process, nearly one fifth of all soldiers refused to take their soldierly oath to Ukraine. They preferred to quit the army and return to their home republics, which were now sovereign nation states. They left by the end of March. Most of them were conscripts (45,500 out of 54,000 soldiers). Yet, 8600 officers did not join the Ukrainian army

32 Article 1 in Soglashenie mezhdu gosudarstvami – uchastnikami Sodruzhestva Nezavisimyh Gosudarstv po Strategicheskim silam; http://cis.minsk.by/reestr/ru/index.html#reestr/view/text?doc=9, last access: 27 January 2021. 33 Moskovskij gosudarstvennyj institut mezhdunarodnykh otnoshenij (ed.): Sodruzhestvo Nezavisimych Gosudarstv: processy i perspektivy. Doklad Centra mezhdunarodnykh issledovanij MGIMO [Commonwealth of Independent States: Processes and Perspectives. Report of the MGIMO Centre for International Studies], Moscow 1992, p. 26. 34 The commanders of the three military districts were relieved of their posts on 27 January 1991, after they had not shown their unconditional support for an independent Ukraine and its army in an important meeting in Kiev on 9 January, according to the Ukrainian version. See Morozov: Above and Beyond, p. 276. 35 Odom: The Collapse, p. 383.

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either. Four-fifths of all soldiers stationed in Ukraine stayed, however. According to Defence Minister Morozov, Ukraine generously payed the travel and resettlement costs of those who did not join the Ukrainian army. He viewed this step as an appropriate accompaniment to an ultimately amicable settlement of Ukraine’s unilateralism within the CIS.36 What flowed smoothly for the land forces did not succeed for the fleet. As early as 3 January 1992, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence sent the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Igor Kasatonov, a coded telegram requesting the fleet take an oath to Ukraine. At nearly the same time, the CIS High Command also desired the fleet’s allegiance, and the Russian Federation demanded the swearing in as well. The supreme commander refused all these requests due to the unclear command situation.37 Against this backdrop, the CIS heads of state met for a working meeting in Moscow on 16 January 1992. The focus was the dispute over the Black Sea Fleet, which had peaked with the question of the oath. However, the social circumstance of the officers, which seemed insecure to many, also became an issue. At the meeting, all eleven member-states signed a strategic armed forces’ oath. After that point, soldiers swore loyalty to their home states with an additional commitment to respecting the laws of the state and member state in which they performed their military service. A new issue in the negotiations at the CIS level arose regarding the social consequences for members of the army who did not wish to transfer to a national army or return as soldiers to their now sovereign republics. There was no Soviet Army to take care of them. Yet, the events in Ukraine had suddenly revealed the legal and social problems that the negotiating politicians had dismissed until then as secondary. Even now, the interest of politicians was only strong enough to warrant a declaration of intent, in which they identified the legal status, the housing issue, and the social benefits for the members of the Soviet Army as problems to be resolved as quickly as possible. One day after the CIS meeting, on 17 January 1992, an officers’ meeting38 was convened at the Kremlin in Moscow. This event had been planned for some time, but now it had acquired an unexpected urgency due to the specific problems. Some 5000 delegate-representatives from all parts of the armed forces met with Shaposhnikov as chair. Present from the CIS were Russian President Yeltsin, Kazakh President Nazarbayev, and the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence of 36 Morozov: Above and Beyond, pp. 191–192. A statistic about this numbers: ibid., p. 256. 37 Pulverfaß Fahneneid [Powder Keg Oath of Allegiance], in: Moskau News, 2/92, p. 1. 38 On the tradition of officers’ meetings in Russia, see Tihomirov, Artem: Oficerskie sobranija v Rossii. Konec XVIII–nachalo XXI veka [Officers’ assemblies in Russia. Late XVIII–early XXI century], St. Petersburg 2010.

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Uzbekistan, Niyazmatov. At the request of the officers, the meeting was broadcast live on television. This allowed the officer corps of the former Soviet Army to draw public attention to their demands. Concurrently, the course of the meeting also demonstrated a fear of the future and the chaotic conditions that prevailed in the military.39 The officers protested vehemently against the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Army, as well, for which they still perceived proprietorship. The political decisions made in Minsk to dissolve the union and the army, the unclear professional and social prospects for the soldiers and their families, and the debate about the oath dominated the discussion. The majority opinion believed that the unified Soviet Army had to be saved. Above all, Ukraine and its President Kravchuk were criticised sharply and repeatedly for striking out alone. Against the backdrop of the conflicting interests in the CIS, the officers present demanded decisions, not tactical games. Commander-in-Chief Shaposhnikov viewed his primary responsibility as preventing a confrontation between the army and the political leadership of the CIS states.40 When there were repeated demands in the hall for a vote on the unity of the army, he prevented this by declaring that voting would make no sense because of the political realities, since his demands had not been heard in Minsk. His aim now was to salvage as much of the unified army as possible. Against this backdrop, at the end of the meeting, a supporter of the August 1991 coup demanded Shaposhnikov’s resignation. However, the attempt by a small group to remove Shaposhnikov failed when his air force supporters declared that every single one of them would exit the hall. This would have destroyed the unity of the army at its own meeting. Moreover, the army would have lost its only representative who forcefully defended the soldiers on the political stage. Shaposhnikov was invited back into the hall and received a standing ovation from the officers. This gesture signalled that he had the backing of the majority of the officer corps regarding the decisions reached at the negotiations in Minsk to transfer the armed forces to the CIS heads of state. The meeting demonstrated to what degree the soldiers felt abandoned by the political decision-makers. Above all, they were angered by the uncontrolled dissolution of the Soviet Union and the nationalisation of the army, which, in their view, was propelled too quickly. Their social and financial hardships and uncertain future only encouraged their feeling of abandonment. Shaposhnikov sympathetically tried to explain to the officers that the armed forces could no longer exist in their present form. The army was not an autonomous entity, but one that would have to adapt to a changed environment. The fact that the officers accepted his appeal and did not 39 Schmidt-Häuer, Christian: Jelzin bleibt auf Kurs. Auch die frühere Sowjetarmee achtet die Autorität [Yeltsin Remains on Course. The Former Soviet Army also Respects Authority], in: Die Zeit, Nr 5/ 1992. 40 Shaposhnikov: Vybor, p. 139.

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take up arms, as a few of them threatened, attested to Shaposhnikov’s authority in the army. On 14 February 1992, the heads of state met for another summit in Minsk. The main topic was the question of whether to have unified forces in the CIS based in the former Soviet Army. The eleven member states had made no progress on this point at their last meeting in late December 1991. Instead, they had given themselves a two-month deadline for consultations, which was now about to expire. The time had come to reach a decision; the problem was not to be postponed again. However, existing disputes had developed further, especially in Ukraine, and all of the participating states knew this. So, right at the beginning of the meeting, Ukrainian President Kravchuk reiterated his well-known position: ‘Unified forces can only function in a unified state system’.41 A joint army of the CIS states, he argued, posed a threat to democracy in Ukraine. This was now stronger language. Up to this point, Kravchuk had only been concerned with creating a Ukrainian national army, a goal that he had actively pursued during the two-month recess. Meanwhile, the Russian Federation had embraced the antithesis of the Ukrainian position, although the Federation still knew how to successfully present itself as the advocate of several states. It represented the CIS states that wanted to use the summit to form unified CIS forces from the Soviet Army. Wisely, Yeltsin, as Kravchuk’s opponent, maintained the option to create a separate national army during the discussion, although he considered this to be the very last option and ultimately the most undesirable one.42 In the light of the situation, which had been muddled from the beginning, eight states nevertheless spoke out in favour of amassing a general purpose, joint armed forces during a transitional period. However, the states did not provide a binding timetable for this task. Formally, Shaposhnikov, who had previously only operated in a provisional capacity, was confirmed as commander-in-chief. By dividing the armed forces into those that were directly subordinate to the General Staff of the Unified CIS Forces and those that were under national sovereignty and were to be made available to the General Staff solely for operational purposes, the agreement accommodated those states that were already assembling their own national armed forces or had announced plans to do so. With only six points, the agreement was concise and said nothing about the armed forces’ future structure or financing.43 It was obviously a compromise of individual

41 Donath, Klaus H.: Zerfall der Sowjetarmee unabwendbar [Disintegration of the Soviet Army inevitable], in: taz, 15.2.1992, p. 2. 42 Ocherednoj Sammit v Minske s momenta predydushhego u SNG problem ne ubavilos’ [Another Summit in Minsk since the Previous one has not Reduced CIS Problems], in: Nezavisimaja Gazeta, 14.02.1992, p. 1. 43 Soglashenie mezhdu Respublikoj Armenija, Respublikoj Belarus’, Respublikoj Kazahstan, Respublikoj Kyrgyzstan, Rossijskoj Federaciej, Respublikoj Tadzhikistan, Turkmenistanom i Respublikoj

The Search for a New Security Structure in Eastern Europe

negotiating points that revealed the desire to reach a fundamental agreement. It was sufficient to at least proffer a solution. However, it did not specify how this solution would function in concrete terms. Ukraine, Moldova, and Azerbaijan stuck to their position from December 1991 and did not sign this agreement either. They wanted national armies outside of a CIS alliance at all costs. If the proposed CIS forces were ever to solidify, they would comprise about 80 per cent of the former Soviet Army. However, any future CIS security policy would lose the strategic space of the CIS states not included in the agreement, especially the territory of Ukraine; this term could not be re-negotiated in the future.44

3.

The end of CIS-Forces through the foundation of national armies

Confronted with the results of the February summit in Minsk, Yeltsin observed with increasing clarity that, despite his previous efforts, it would probably not be possible to transform the structures of the Soviet Army into unified CIS forces.45 On 16 March, he signed a ukase for the establishment of a separate Russian ministry of defence and national Russian armed forces.46 This made the Russian Federation, along with Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, one of the last three countries in the CIS to initiate a national army.47 One of the first steps in establishing national military units was the official subordination of Russian troops stationed in Germany, Poland, Cuba, and Mongolia to the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation on 4 March 1992.48 Since these approximately 400,000 troops abroad were already financed by Russia, Yeltsin’s decision did not provoke any resistance.49

44 45 46

47 48

49

Uzbekistan o Silah obshhego naznachenija na perehodnyj period, http://cis.minsk.by/reestr/ru/ index.html#reestr/view/text?doc=33, last access: 27 January 2021. Weber: Das explosive Erbe der Sowjetunion, p. 655. Odom: The Collapse, p. 384. Ukaz Prezidenta Rossijskoj Federacii ot 16.03.1992 g. No. 252 O Ministerstve oborony Rossijskoj Federacii i Vooruzhennyh Silah Rossijskoj Federacii, http://www.kremlin.ru/acts/bank/1029, last access: 27 January 2021. In Tajikistan there was a bloody civil war, so that an army was only officially established in April 1994. Ukaz Prezidenta Rossijskoj Federacii ot 04.03.1992 g. No. 248 O perehode pod jurisdikciju Rossijskoj Federacii voinskih formirovanij, nahodjashhihsja na territorii Germanii, Respubliki Pol’sha, Mongolii i Respubliki Kuba, http://kremlin.ru/acts/bank/1006, last access: 21 February 2021. The troops were subordinated to the United Forces until the establishment of a Russian army. The troops in the Baltic States, which had already been designated under Russian jurisdiction on 27 January 1991, were still immediately placed under the United Armed Forces of the CIS without reservations. Rasporjazhenie Prezidenta Rossijskoj Federacii ot 06.01.1992 g. No. 6-rp, O Gosudarstvennoj komissii pri Prezidente Rossijskoj Federacii po jekonomicheskim voprosam, svjazannym s vyvodom

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This prepared for further developments when the heads of the CIS member states convened again in Kiev on 20 March 1992. The agreement achieved in Minsk in February was to be clarified here; this would enable a final, extensive negotiation of unresolved questions regarding military policy. Under Russia’s leadership, fundamental documents were signed for the general-purpose unified forces during the transition period. Four of the eight initial signatories had already decided to establish independent national armed forces instead of the unified CIS forces and, thus, withdrew from the agreement.50 However, since there were still units that required coordinated subordination until the end of the transition period, a supreme command and a general staff of the unified CIS forces, as well as their sub-units (strategic and general use), were officially established. Its support structure was the former Soviet Ministry of Defence, which had not yet been dissolved and, due to a lack of decisions within the CIS, had been unofficially serving as the supreme command of the CIS armed forces. Due to national interests, it remained impossible to agree on joint financing for the armed forces, which meant the running costs were paid for by the Russian Federation, as in the past.51 Meanwhile, in the Russian Federation, Yeltsin’s ukase of 16 March resulted in concrete steps towards a Russian ministry of defence. The ukase left the future form of the ministry undetermined. As a result, a state commission, formed on 4 April52 to establish the Russian Federation’s ministry of defence, army, and navy, initially discussed two options. One of them had a structure based on the CIS High Command, and the other had a fundamentally new format. Decisions were drafted into law within a month, by May 1992.53 As Russia was the sole financier, a decision was accorded in favour of building on the structures of the CIS High Command. This was to be reduced to a level necessary for coordinated command of the troops operationally subordinate to the CIS High Command. The Ministry of Defence of

50

51

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53

Zapadnoj gruppy vojsk iz Federativnoj Respubliki Germanii na territoriju Rossii, http://kremlin.ru/ acts/bank/708, last access: 16 February 2021. Belarus, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The delegations from Ukraine, Moldova, and Azerbaijan did not participate in the discussions on military issues, because they had signed nothing in Minsk. Schröder, Hans-Henning: Vereinte Streitkräfte und nationale Armeen. Zum Wandel der sicherheitspolitischen Lage in der Gemeinschaft Unabhängiger Staaten [United Forces and National Armies. On the Changing Security Situation in the Commonwealth of Independent States], in: Osteuropa 8/1992, pp. 669–679, here: p. 675. Rasporjazhenie Prezidenta Rossijskoj Federacii ot 04.04.1992 g. No. 158-rp O Gosudarstvennoj komissii po sozdaniju Ministerstva oborony, armii i flota Rossijskoj Federacii, http://kremlin.ru/ acts/bank/1161, last access: 27 January 2021. Vgl. Zyganok, Anatolij: Istorija sozdanija Rossijskoj armii. Transformacii i zadachi perehodnogo perioda [History of the formation of the Russian army. Transformation and transitional tasks], https://nvo.ng.ru/nvo/2019-09-06/1_1060_army.html, last access: 15 October 2020.

The Search for a New Security Structure in Eastern Europe

the Russian Federation moved into the CIS High Command offices and utilized existing structures. Shaposhnikov relocated to the building that housed the former Supreme Command of the Armed Forces of the Warsaw Pact with a reduced staff.54 This process also affected the formation of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. Although the deliberations of the state commission were initially based on the CIS’s planned security order, in the process of establishing the Russian military structure in April 1992, the advocates for a unified national army outside the CIS structures prevailed.55 In his ukase on the armed forces, Yeltsin had actually assumed that the Russian armed forces would generally be subordinate to the unified forces of the CIS. However, when the corresponding founding documents were signed at the beginning of May 1992, the army was said to no longer be subordinate to a CIS structure, only to the Ministry of Defence.56 The amassing Russian armed forces were recruited from the Soviet Army units in the Russian territory and from the groups stationed outside the CIS under Russian jurisdiction.57 The Western Group of Forces (WGF) stationed in East Germany was to play a key role in the new army. In the Soviet Army, the WGF was considered the largest combat unit and one of the best equipped. After taking office on 18 May 1992, the new defence minister, Army General Pavel Grachev, repeatedly emphasised that the WGF would form the core of the new armed forces of the Russian Federation.58 The CIS states’ lack of participation undermined the already-weak, generalpurpose armed forces. Plus, Russia, the successor state to the Soviet Union with the largest military potential (about 55 per cent) had now withdrawn from the agreement on general armed forces during the transition phase, as well. By July, there were no more troops that could be placed under the general staff for the general-purpose unified forces. The transition period, as it had been called in Kyiv, was finished. The general staff was disbanded on 6 July 1992. National security structures prevailed over unified CIS structures. Ukraine, Moldova, and Azerbaijan had thus achieved the goal that they had pursued originally. The greatest point of conflict with regards to dissolving the army was now resolved, and an agreement

54 Walter, Franz: Rußlands „neue Streitkräfte“ [Russia’s ‘new armed forces’], in: Osteuropa 5/1993, pp. 413–428, here: pp. 416–417. 55 For the process, see Zyganok: Istorija sozdanija Rossijskoj armii. 56 Ukaz Prezidenta Rossisskoj Federazii o sozdanii vooruzhennyh sil rossii 1992, http://kremlin.ru/ acts/bank/1279, last access: 21 February 2021. 57 These included the troops in the Baltic States, Germany, Poland, Mongolia, and Cuba, as well as the Trans-Caucasian Military District in Georgia and the 14th Guards Army in Moldova. 58 Radio Volga from 19 May and 7 June 1992, see the archive of Bernhard Mroß in the Museum Berlin-Karlshorst: Mroß-MBK 57/Mroß-MBK 58. In an interview with the chief interpreter of the German Liaison Command to the WGF Bernhard Mroß on 25 January 2021, the latter confirmed that the following sentence was often expressed in the WGF: ‘ZGV jeto “peredovye” chasti novoj rossiskoj armii’. [The WGF is the ‘vanguard’ of the new Russian army.]

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could be arranged for joint financing of the CIS Supreme Command. This required additional funding, as the CIS would still have to manage further strategic forces with the nuclear weapons and the national troop units voluntarily subordinated for operational purposes. The Russian Federation assumed the majority of expenditures (65 per cent), while each of the other ten states covered 3.5 per cent.59 After the Russian Federation also saw no future for the high command in June 1993 and stopped funding it, it was dissolved in September and transformed into a ‘Staff for the Coordination of Military Cooperation’ at the end of the year.60 The dissolution of the Soviet armed forces and their national distribution was, thus, largely complete. Only the division of the Black Sea Fleet remained a residual conflict between Ukraine and Russia until 1997. With the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in spring 2014, this conflict once again became an urgent issue.

59 Soglashenie ob organizacii dejatel’nosti Glavnogo komandovanija Ob’’edinennyh Vooruzhennyh Sil Sodruzhestva Nezavisimyh Gosudarstv na perehodnyj period, http://cbd.minjust.gov.kg/act/ view/ky-kg/17671/10?cl=ru-ru&mode=tekst, last access: 27 January 2021. 60 Reshenie o Shtabe po koordinacii voennogo sotrudnichestva gosudarstv – uchastnikov Sodruzhestva Nezavisimyh Gosudarstv, http://cis.minsk.by/reestr/ru/index.html#reestr/view/text?doc=293, last access: 18 October 2020.

The Withdrawal of Soviet/Russian Forces from Germany

Matthias Uhl

The Armed Forces in Germany in the Changed Soviet Defence Strategy Under Gorbachev

This article aims to provide a brief overview of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSFG) during the 1980s in the area of tensions between perestroika and the new orientation of Soviet military strategy towards defence operations. The main issue here is how Gorbachev’s disarmament proposals affected the structure and tasks of Soviet troops in the GDR. These actions also demonstrate that the political leadership of the Soviet Union no longer regarded its troops in East Germany as a military factor for securing the USSR’s fore field but increasingly saw in them a possibility for achieving a settlement with the West and NATO by reducing their strength. This goal was also to be served by the new defence doctrine of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, which now focused on defence and, for the first time, made the prevention of war the most important goal of the military efforts of the Eastern military alliance. Nevertheless, it was precisely these efforts that increasingly eroded the position of Soviet troops in the GDR, and it could no longer be precluded politically that the GSFG might withdraw completely from GDR territory at some point.

1.

The Group of Soviet Forces in Germany in the 1980s: strength and order of battle

In the 1980s, Soviet troops in the GDR formed the largest grouping of forces of the Soviet army outside the USSR. The divisions, regiments, and battalions of the GSFG were in a state of permanent operational readiness. This meant that more than 14,000 Soviet soldiers in the GDR were on combat duty every day, with 40,000 men and officers guarding the more than 777 garrisons of the troops. In the air and on the military airfields, more than 1400 fighters and helicopters, refuelled and fully armed with ammunition, were ready for immediate combat operations. Dozens of missiles equipped with nuclear warheads were waiting to be fired within seconds against the assumed enemy in the West.1 Since the mid-1970s, the GSFG had continued

1 Boltunov, Mikhail: ZGV – gor’kaja doroga domoj [ZGV – Bitter road home], St. Peterburg 1995, p. 98.

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to develop its nuclear and conventional combat forces.2 The armament of Soviet troops in the GDR was primarily aimed at constantly increasing offensive capacities. The transfer of the 10th Tank Division in March 1983 from its previous location in Krampnitz near Potsdam to Altengrabow, 100 kilometres to the West, also served this purpose.3 In 1981, a Soviet tank division had about 2000 more men than in 1968; at the same time, it had exchanged parts of its armoured personnel carriers (APC) for a total of 150 BMP infantry fighting vehicles (IFV), which could follow the tanks in any terrain without delay. The number of artillery pieces of the division had increased from 36 to 126, all of which were also equipped as self-propelled guns. During the same period, the USSR military leadership increased its motorized infantry divisions from 188 to 266 tanks, from 420 to 520 infantry fighting vehicles, and from 11,200 to 13,750 soldiers.4 In 1980 the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan led to the withdrawal of the 6th Guards Tank Division from Wittenberg. In order to compensate for this loss of offensive fighting power, in 1982, the 6th Guards Motorized Rifle Division in Bernau was converted to the 90th Guards Tank Division, and the 14th Guards Motorized Rifle Division in Jüterbog, to the 32nd Guards Tank Division, bringing the total number of GSFG tank divisions to eleven. At the same time, the subordination of some divisions changed, so that, for example, the 3rd Shock Army stationed in the Magdeburg area was transformed into a ‘thoroughbred’ tank army.5

2 CIA Intelligence Report: The Soviet Motorized Rifle Division and Tank Division: Organisation, Size, and Logistic Capability, November 1970, on: https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/DOC_ 0000969826.pdf, last access: 16 November 2020; Militärischer Lagebericht Ost, Jahresabschlussbericht 1975 (undated), BArch, B 206/144, pp. C 3–11; Kowalczuk, Ilko-Sascha/Wolle, Stefan: Roter Stern über Deutschland. Sowjetische Truppen in der DDR [Red Star over Germany. Soviet Troops in the GDR], Berlin 2001, pp. 114–123. 3 Mahler, Gerhard: Sowjetische Truppen in Deutschland. Konventionelle Bedrohung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland [Soviet Troops in Germany. Conventional Threat to the Federal Republic of Germany], Kiel 1988, p. 33; Lippert, Günter: Die GSTD: Speerspitze der Roten Armee [The GSFG: Spearhead of the Red Army], in: Internationale Wehr-Revue, 20 (1987), pp. 553–559. 4 Vgl. Ploetz, Michael/Müller, Hans-Peter: Ferngelenkte Friedensbewegung? DDR und UdSSR im Kampf gegen den NATO-Doppelbeschluss [Remote-controlled Peace Movement? GDR and USSR in the Fight against the NATO Double-Track Decision], Münster 2004, pp. 33–34; Pilster, HansChristian: Russland-Sowjetunion. Werden, Wesen und Wirken einer Militärmacht [Russia-Soviet Union. The Emergence, Nature and Impact of a Military Power], Herford 1981, pp. 266–267; CIAReport: Readiness of Soviet Forces in Central Europe: Implications for a Rapid Transition to War, September 1987, pp. 5–19. 5 See Reorganization of Soviet Ground Forces in Germany (U) – An Intelligence Assessment, August 1983, on: https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/1983-08-01b.pdf, last access: 16 November 2020; Drogovoz, Igor’ G.: Tankovy mech Strany Sovetov [Tank Sword of the Land of the Soviets], Moskva 2003, pp. 350–382.

The Armed Forces in Germany in the Changed Soviet Defence Strategy Under Gorbachev

The fact that, even in the mid-1980s, the Soviet military strategy for war in Europe, despite the constant increase in conventional combat power, was still primarily geared to the use of nuclear weapons was demonstrated in 1982 by the stationing of two missile brigades equipped with the 900-kilometer-long range SS12/22 (TR-1) missile system. At the height of the NATO Double-Track Decision and retrofitting debate, the Soviet armed forces in the GDR had more than 400,000 men at their disposal, equipped with some 8000 tanks, 10,000 armoured vehicles, 5000 artillery pieces, 700 combat aircraft, 350 helicopters, and 220 ground-to-ground missile systems. The Soviet troops stationed in the GDR thus ‘continued to form a cornerstone of the system’ and secured the ‘real socialism’ established there.6

6 Arlt, Kurt: Sowjetische Truppen in Deutschland [Soviet Troops in Germany], in: Diedrich Torsten/ Ehlert, Hans/Wenzke, Rüdiger (eds.): Im Dienst der Partei. Handbuch der bewaffneten Organe der DDR, Berlin 1998, pp. 592–632, here: p. 616; Fes’kov, V.I./Kalashnikov, K.A./Golikov, V.I.: Sovetskaja armija v gody ‘cholodnoj vojny’ (1945–1991) [Soviet Army in the years of the ‘Cold War’ (1945–1991)], Tomsk 2004, p. 34; Tarnname „Kolybel“. Sowjetische Atomraketen in der Oberlausitz. Eine geschichtliche Aufarbeitung der Stationierung der 119. Raketenbrigade und der 2454. Beweglichen Raketentechnischen Basis in den Jahren 1984 bis 1988 in Königsbrück und Bischofswerda [Codename ‘Kolybel’. Soviet Nuclear Missiles in Upper Lusatia. A Historical Review of the Stationing of the 119th Missile Brigade and the 2454th Mobile Missile Technical Base in Königsbrück and Bischofswerda in the Years 1984 to 1988], Königsbrück 2016, pp. 15–27.

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Table 1 Overview of the armies, divisions, brigades and independent regiments of the GSFG, status 30 January 19827 GSFG/Armies

Divisions

Independent Brigades / Regiments

GSFG

34th Artillery Division (Potsdam)

119th Missile Brigade (Königsbrück), 152nd Guards Missile Brigade (Strelitz-Alt), 164th Missile Brigade (Drachhausen), 175th Guards Missile Brigade (Altoschatz), 133rd Guards Air Defence Missile Brigade (Jüterbog), 157th Air Defence Missile Brigade (Primerwald), 163rd Air Defence Missile Brigade (Taucha), 202nd Air Defence Missile Brigade (Magdeburg), 252nd Air Defence Missile Brigade (Gera), 40th Radio Technical Brigade (Wittstock), 45th Radio Brigade (Merseburg), 35th Independent Guards Landing Assault Brigade (Cottbus), 1st Guards Engineer-Sapper Brigade (Brandenburg), 6th Signal Brigade (Frankfurt/Oder), 118th Signal Brigade (Wünsdorf), 119th Signal Brigade (Leipzig), 132nd Signal Brigade (Treuenbritzen), 3rd Guards Special Forces Brigade GRU (Neu Thymen), 82nd Radio Technical Special Brigade (Torgau), 48th Supply Brigade (Kummersdorf), 62nd Supply Brigade (Fürstenwalde), 57th Military Construction Brigade (Forst-Zinna), 814th Air Defence Missile Regiment (Rehagen), 197th Signal Regiment (Wünsdorf), 27th Pontoon Bridge Regiment (Apollensdorf), 29th Electronic Warfare Regiment (Schönwalde), 71st Electronic Warfare Regiment (Schönwalde)

3rd Shock-Army (Magdeburg)

7th Guards Tank Division (Roßlau), 10th Guards Tank Division (Altengrabow), 12th Guards Tank Division (Neuruppin), 47th Guards Tank Division (Hillersleben)

36th Missile Brigade (Altengrabow), 385th Guards Artillery Brigade (Planken), 49th Air Defence Missile Brigade (Planken), 42nd Supply Brigade (Magdeburg), 105th Signal Regiment (Magdeburg), 36th Pontoon Bridge Regiment (Magdeburg), 115th Tank Regiment (Quedlinburg), 178th Helicopter Regiment (Stendal)

8th Guards Army (Nohra)

27th Guards Motorized Rifle Division (Halle), 39th Guards Motorized Rifle Division (Ohrdruf), 57th Guards Motorized Rifle Division (Naumburg), 79th Guards Tank Division (Jena)

11th Missile Brigade (Weißenfels), 390th Artillery Brigade (Ohrdruf), 18th Air Defence Missile Brigade (Gotha), 116th Supply Brigade (Altenburg), 91st Signal Regiment (Weimar), 65th Pontoon Bridge Regiment (Merseburg), 119th Tank Regiment (Bad Langensalza), 194th Radio Technical Special Regiment (Weimar), 336th Helicopter Regiment (Nohra)

7 Order of Battle-List of the GSFG, 30 January 1982 – declassified 30 January 2013 (The author thanks Mr A.I. Yasakov for providing the document).

The Armed Forces in Germany in the Changed Soviet Defence Strategy Under Gorbachev

GSFG/Armies

Divisions

Independent Brigades / Regiments

20th Guards Army (Eberswalde)

6th Guards Motorized Rifle Division (Bernau), 35th Motorized Rifle Division (Krampnitz), 25th Guards Tank Division (Templin), 32nd Guards Tank Division (Jüterbog)

27th Missile Brigade (Neues Lager), 387th Guards Artillery Brigade (Altes Lager), 67th Air Defence Missile Brigade (Elstal), 6th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade (Berlin), 117th Supply Brigade (Eberswalde), 6th Guards Signal Regiment (Eberswalde), 44th Pontoon Bridge Regiment (Frankfurt/Oder), 337th Helicopter Regiment (Mahlwinkel)

1st Guards Tank Army (Dresden)

20th Guards Motorized Rifle Division (Grimma), 9th Tank Division (Riesa), 11th Guards Tank Division (Dresden)

181st Guards Missile Brigade (Kochstedt), 308th Artillery Brigade (Zeithain), 53rd Air Defence Missile Brigade (Nobitz), 41st Supply Brigade (Dresden), 3rd Guards Signal Regiment (Dresden), 68th Pontoon Bridge Regiment (Dresden), 147th Tank Regiment (Plauen), 253rd Radio Technical Special Regiment (Merseburg), 225th Helicopter Regiment (Brandis)

2nd Guards Tank Army (Fürstenberg)

21st Guards Motorized Rifle Division (Perleberg), 94th Guards Motorized Rifle Division (Schwerin), 207th Motorized Rifle Division (Stendal), 16th Guards Tank Division (Neustrelitz)

112nd Missile Brigade (Genzrode), 290th Artillery Brigade (Schweinrich), 61st Air Defence Missile Brigade (Staats), 118th Supply Brigade (Ravensbrück), 5th Guards Signal Regiment (Ravensbrück), 69th Pontoon Bridge Regiment (Rathenow), 138th Tank Regiment (Primmenwald), 145th Tank Regiment (Gardelegen), 221st Tank Regiment (Ludwigslust), 250th Radio Technical Special Regiment (Stendal), 172nd Helicopter Regiment (Parchim)

16th Air Army (Wünsdorf)

105th Fighter Bomber Aviation Division (Großenhain), 6th Guards Fighter Aviation Division (Merseburg), 126th Fighter Aviation Division (Zerbst)

239th Helicopter Regiment (Oranienburg), 11th Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment (Neu Welzow), 294th Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment (Allstedt), 931st Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment (Werneuchen), 226th Mixed Aviation Regiment (Sperenberg)

71st Fighter Aviation Corps (Wittstock)

125th Fighter Bomber Aviation Division (Rechlin), 16th Guards Fighter Aviation Division (Damgarten)

This becomes particularly apparent, for example, with the 8th Guard Army stationed in Thuringia. In the event of war, this body of troops was intended, in accordance with the plans of the Soviet General Staff, to break through the ‘Fulda Gap’ – an area between the Hessen-Thuringian border and Frankfurt/Main, that contains two corridors of lowlands through which tanks might have driven in a surprise attack to gain crossing of the Rhine River – defended by the American forces in the Federal Republic and to advance to the Rhine as quickly as possible. In the mid-1980s, this large unit reached the peak of its military importance and combat strength. In 1986, its four divisions and support units with about 90,000 men had a total of 1235 T-80 tanks; the 8th Guard Army had been fully equipped

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with the most modern Soviet main battle tank since the beginning of the 1980s, along with 1892 infantry fighting vehicles, 414 self-propelled guns, 144 guns, and 137 attack helicopters. In comparison, the 8th Guard Army alone had fifteen battle tanks more than the entire French land forces, and a total of five Soviet armies were stationed in the GDR.8 The constantly high operational readiness of the GSFG is to be emphasized. Its units were essentially filled to 100 per cent capacity with personnel and equipment. Ammunition and fuel were available for up to 90 days of combat. Almost the entire personnel were in constant readiness for action in the barracks or on the corresponding military training grounds. The time of alerting, namely, the time from triggering the alarm to moving into the concentration areas located near the garrisons, took not hours but only a few minutes. Even the highly trained divisions of the National People’s Army of the GDR took up to two hours to leave their barracks in case of an alarm. Moreover, the divisions, regiments, and battalions of the GSFG were deployed in such a way that the planned attack and defence positions could be taken without major troop transfers. Above all, the network of ostensible chain-march routes, which stretched over the entire territory of the GDR and had a length of more than 11,500 kilometres, allowed a covert deployment as far as the staging areas along the border with the Federal Republic of Germany.9 This is why, the forces of the GSFG were considered, until well into the 1980s, according to the former commander of the 3rd Shock Army and later chief of the Soviet land forces, Army General Valentin Varennikov, ‘as a shield that, after the first blow was fended off, turns into a sword of revenge that smashes every opposing formation and advances through all of Europe to the Bay of Biscay within a month’.10 The enormous penetrating power of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany was primarily due to its extensive nuclear armament. In 1982, the Soviet troops in Germany had a total of 24 nuclear warhead support units, as shown in the following table. This means that these troops, primarily referred to as Mobile Repair Technical Bases (PRTB), were responsible for the storage, maintenance, transport, and handling of nuclear warheads or atomic bombs. Each of the five armies of the GSFG had two PRTBs subordinate to it; five additional Mobile Repair Technical

8 Fes’kov/Kalashnikov/Golikov: Sovetskaja armija, pp. 32–34; Kak eto bylo. Perevooruzhenie novymi tankami GSVG 1973–1990 [How it was. Re-arming new GSFG tanks 1973–1990], on: http:// www.offtop.ru/spanther/v6_571240__.php?of2641=2ac77f188ecdbfd7d9443648f7d3d467, last access: 16 November 2020; Kopenhagen, Wilfried: Die Landstreitkräfte der DDR [The Land Forces of the GDR], Stuttgart 2003, pp. 39–40. 9 Frank, Hans: Die Westgruppe der Truppen (WGT) [The Western Group of Forces (WGF)], in: Naumann, Klaus (ed.): NVA: Anspruch und Wirklichkeit. Nach ausgewählten Dokumenten, Hamburg/ Berlin/Bonn 1996, p. 340. 10 Varennikov, Valentin: Nepovtorimoe, Kniga 3 [Unique, Book 3], Moskva 2001, p. 7.

The Armed Forces in Germany in the Changed Soviet Defence Strategy Under Gorbachev

Bases were directly assigned to the GSFG command, and the 16th Air Army had seven nuclear warhead support units that provided nuclear bombs and warheads for their fighter planes. Further nuclear weapons were stored in the two central depots of the 12th Main Directory of the USSR Ministry of Defence in Lychen-II and Linda.11 It was not until 1987, that a military rethinking slowly began under the influence of Gorbachev’s reform policies, a re-evaluation that was symbolized in mid-1989 by the renaming of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany to the Western Group of Forces (WGF).12

2.

Gorbachev, his military reform and the new Soviet defence strategy

In 1986, at the 27th Party Congress of the CPSU, Gorbachev proclaimed a strategy of an adequate defence, which was to lead to a new relationship between the existing offensive and defensive forces for the Soviet militaries and, shortly afterwards, for those in the Warsaw Pact. The focus was thus no longer on the offensive in the territory of the supposed enemy, but on strategic defence. This was accompanied by a new way of thinking regarding questions such as ‘how can war be prevented’, ‘how can the strategic balance be secured’, ‘what is the connection between a defensive strategy and military development’, and so on.13 For Gorbachev’s perestroika, it was also crucial, above all, to limit the arms race. For the first time, he posed the question of what significance the military-industrialacademic complex should have in the new political system of the Soviet Union and what role it should play in the country’s economy. It was clear to him, that

11 See Order of Battle-List of the GSFG, 30 January 1982 – declassified 30 January 2013 (The author thanks Mr A.I. Yasakov for providing the document). Lychen-II and Linda, which were under the 12th Main Directory of the USSR Ministry of Defence, responsible for nuclear armament, could each store up to 160 nuclear warheads and atomic bombs, respectively. Some of them were intended for transfer to the East German Army (EGA) in the event of war. See Voennyj atom. Chraniteli jadernogo mogushhestva derzhavy [Military Atom. The Guardians of a Nuclear Power Country], Moskva 2017, pp. 208–221; Nielsen, Harald: Die DDR und die Kernwaffen – Die nukleare Rolle der Nationalen Volksarmee im Warschauer Pakt [The GDR and Nuclear Weapons – The Nuclear Role of the National People’s Army in the Warsaw Pact], Baden-Baden 1998, pp. 116–117. 12 See Burlakov, Matvej P.: Sovetskie vojska v Germanii 1945–1994 [Soviet Forces in Germany 1945–1994], Moskva 1994, pp. 80–81. 13 Kokoshin, Andrei A.: Soviet Strategic Thought, 1917–1991, London 1999, pp. 184–189; Jones, Christopher: Gorbaščevs Militärdoktrin und das Ende des Warschauer Paktes [Gorbaščev’s Military Doctrine and the End of the Warsaw Pact], in: Diedrich, Torsten/Heinemann, Winfried/Ostermann, Christian F. (eds.): Der Warschauer Pakt. Von der Gründung bis zum Zusammenbruch 1955 bis 1991, Berlin 2009, pp. 245–271.

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Table 2 List of GSFG Nuclear Warhead Support Units – Status 30 January 1982 No. Unit

1

FPN

11th PRTB nd

PRTB

Location

Subordinate

Start in the GDR

11817 Altenhain

8th Guards Army

1959

92846 Kapen

1st Tank Army

1959

2

52

3

261st PRTB

11649 Torgau

GSFG

1959

4

400th independent PRTB

73259 Lychen-2

12th MD MO USSR

1966

5

409th independent PRTB

73274 Linda

12th MD MO USSR

1966

6

451st PTRB (covert as 526th Mobile Aircraft Repair Facility)

26095 Werneuchen

16th Air Army

1963

7

634th PRTB (covert as 3304th Avionics Depot)

53150 Lärz

125th Fighter Bomber Aviation Division

1961

8

1092nd PRTB (covert as 3308th Avionics Depot)

66683 Brandt

16th Air Army

1966

9

1587th RTB (covert as 528th Mobile Aircraft Repair Facility)

21149 Großenhain

126th Fighter Aviation Division

1972

10

1648th PTRB

57851 Altengrabow

3rd Shock Army

1962

11

nd

1652 RTB (covert as 331st Signal Repair Facility)

23298 Nobitz bei Altenburg

6th Guards Fighter Aviation Division

1972

12

1655th PRTB

38673 Halle/Angersdorf

8th Guards Army

1962

13

1656th RTB (covert as 527th Mobile Aircraft Repair Facility)

23318 Groß Dölln

16th Fighter Aviation Division

1972

14

1677th PRTB

38690 Wurzen

1st Guards Tank Army

1966

15

1694th PRTB

45291 Bad Freienwalde

20th Guards Army

1962

16

th

1699 PRTB

57845 Rederau

GSFG

1962

17

1842nd PRTB

80512 Vogelsang

GSFG (152nd Guards Missile Brigade)

1982

18

2454th PRTB

82431 Neues Lager (Königsbrück)

GSFG

1982

19

2618th PTRB

78559 Wilmersdorf

20th Guards Army

1961

20

th

2620 PRTB

47982 Hohenleipisch

GSFG

1963

21

2952nd PRTB (covert as 3263rd Avionics Depot)

66698 Finsterwalde

105th Fighter Bomber Aviation Division

1966

22

3272nd PRTB

55543 Vogelsang

3rd Shock Army

1961

23

th

3274 PRTB

73654 Wulkow

2 Guards Tank Army

1961

24

3397th PRTB

57842 Dannenwalde

2nd Guards Tank Army

1962

nd

The Armed Forces in Germany in the Changed Soviet Defence Strategy Under Gorbachev

the problems of perestroika could not be solved without reducing the horrendous military and armaments expenditures. As a result, in February 1988, the Soviet party leader instructed that the issue should be examined regarding how strong the USSR’s armed forces should be in order to guarantee the country’s security. Anything beyond this requirement was to be reduced in the future. As a result, in 1989, for the first time since the early 1960s, the share of defence spending within the USSR’s state budget declined.14 From the beginning of his rise to power, Gorbachev continued his efforts to diminish the military’s influence and increase the party’s control over the armed forces of the Soviet Union. He achieved this primarily by appointing Dmitry Yazov as defence minister. He and his foreign minister, Eduard Shevardnadze, took advantage of the fact that the landing of West German aviator Matthias Rust on Red Square on 28 May 1987 had exposed the previous military leadership around the conservative defence minister Sergei Sokolov. Only two days later, Gorbachev removed his previous minister and replaced him with Yazov, who was compliant, and the Soviet party chief also increased the party’s influence on the armed forces. At the same time, more than 300 generals opposed to the reforms of glasnost and perestroika were dismissed from the Soviet army.15 Although the new USSR defence minister was supposed to advance perestroika in the Soviet army, he had no influence of his own politically, since he did not belong to the Politburo, the party’s closest leadership circle. It was precisely the supposedly weak and hesitant Gorbachev who succeeded in establishing comprehensive and efficient control over the Soviet Army. He reduced the military’s influence on national security issues, even against the resistance of the generals, whose number he reduced from over 6000 to 1200, and pushed through noticeable budget cuts. At the same time, Gorbachev created an easily controllable supreme command, headed by Defence Minister Yazov and Chief of General Staff Sergei Akhromeyev, who was replaced

14 Zolotarev, V.A./Saksonov, O.V/Tjushkevich: Voennaja istroija Rossii [Russian Military History], Moskva 2002, pp. 621–623; Sovetskaja voennaja moshh ot Stalina do Gorbacheva [Soviet Military Power from Stalin to Gorbachev], Moskva 1999, p. 105; Schröder, Hans-Henning: Der sowjetische Militärhaushalt in den Augen des Generalstabschefs [The Soviet Military Budget in the Eyes of the Chief of General Staff], in: Osteuropa, 1/40 (1990), pp. A34–A40. 15 Chernyaev, Anatolij (ed.): V Politbjuro ZK KPSS. Po zapisam Anatolya Chernyaeva, Vadima Medvedeva, Georgya Shakhnazarova (1985–1991) [In the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee. According to recordings by Anatoly Chernyaev, Vadim Medvedev, Georgy Shakhnazarov (1985–1991)], Moskva 2008, p. 189; Umbach, Frank: Das rote Bündnis. Entwicklung und Zerfall des Warschauer Paktes 1955–1991 [The Red Alliance. Development and Disintegration of the Warsaw Pact 1955–1991], pp. 339–340.

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after his December 1988 resignation by Army General Mikhail Moiseyev.16 Yazov, in particular, was considered an easily influenced and obedient minister who was insufficiently prepared for his new position. Since he hardly held any independent positions, he increasingly fell under the influence of Foreign Minister Shevardnadze, especially regarding international security issues.17 At the end of 1988, Gorbachev decided to initiate an extensive disarmament program. In the future, the decisive criterion in the armed forces would no longer be size, but quality. Military expenditures, which were two and a half times as high as those in the United States, were to be drastically reduced in order to give perestroika any chance of succeeding. To this end, the armed forces of the Soviet Union, which numbered almost six million men, 63,900 tanks, 76,520 APCs and IFVs, 66,800 self-propelled guns, artillery, and mortars, 12,200 fighters and helicopters, and more 435 fighting vessels, had to be reduced by more than 500,000 men, because, in order to maintain the number of conscripts among the low-birth cohorts, the military had to consider recruiting 17-year-olds. In the eyes of the Soviet head of party and state, the extensive and highly aggressive Group of Soviet Forces in Germany also posed a threat to the credibility of the new military and security policy of the USSR:18 ‘In the GDR, we have a powerful armoured attack group. Plus, resources for building pontoon bridges. As long as all this is hanging “above them”, how can they, the Americans and the others, believe in our defence doctrine?’19 In addition to the Soviet troops in the GDR, the groups of the armed forces in the other socialist states were also to be reduced. For Hungary, Gorbachev even saw the danger that a complete withdrawal of the Soviet forces stationed there could be expected in the foreseeable future.20 After all, the Soviet party leadership had known since the mid-1980s that the Hungarians’ aspirations for greater independence could hardly be countered.21

16 CIA-NIE 18 November 1989: The Soviet System in Crisis: Prospect for the Next Two Years, November 1989, p. 21, on: https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP94T00766R0002000800020.pdf, last access: 16 November 2020. 17 See, for example, the Politburo meeting of 25 March 1988, in which Yazov also participated: V Politbjuro ZK KPSS, pp. 300–305. 18 Wentker, Hermann: Die Deutschen und Gorbatschow. Der Gobatschow-Diskurs im doppelten Deutschland 1985–1991 [The Germans and Gorbachev. The Gorbachev Discourse in Double Germany 1985–1991], Berlin 2020, p. 282; Tschernajew, Anatoli: Die letzten Jahre einer Weltmacht. Der Kreml von innen [The Last Years of a World Power. The Kremlin from the Inside], Stuttgart 1993, pp. 223–225; Istorija voennoj strategii Rossii [History of Russian Military Strategy], pod. red. V.A. Zolotareva, Moskva 2000, p. 414. 19 Chernyaev, Anatoli S.: Shest’ let s Gorbachevym [Six Years with Gorbachev], Moskva 1993, p. 256. 20 Tschernajew: Die letzten Jahre einer Weltmacht, p. 225. 21 Chernyaev, Anatoli S.: Sovmestnyj ischod. Dnevnik dvuch epoch. 1972–1991. 1984 [A Joint Exodus. Diary of two Eras. 1972–1991. 1984], p. 25.

The Armed Forces in Germany in the Changed Soviet Defence Strategy Under Gorbachev

Thus, on 7 December 1988 in New York, Gorbachev announced at the UN General Assembly a Soviet Union unilateral disarmament initiative. Within the next two years, the Soviet head of party and state announced that the USSR wanted to reduce its armed forces by 500,000 men. In agreement with the Warsaw Treaty, the Soviet Union had also decided to withdraw six tank divisions from the GDR, ČSSR, and Hungary, with more than 50,000 soldiers and 5000 tanks, as well as air assault and stream crossing units, by 1991.22 For Gorbachev, however, it was also clear that the Soviet Union needed military strength. In the future, however, this should serve only for the Union’s own security and not as a potential, offensive threat, as has been the case in the past. For it became increasingly clear that without a reduction in the armed forces and the arms industry, the planned reforms in the Soviet Union could not be realized.23 At the same time, it became evident that Gorbachev’s revolutionary domestic and foreign policies posed a substantive threat to the conservative military. The power, influence, and resources of the armed forces were increasingly curtailed, and the independence of the military regarding important issues was further restricted. Gorbachev countered the danger of a conservative revolt from the armed forces, however, by further limiting their position and reducing military autonomy through defence policy, in order to give the foreign ministry and political experts more latitude in this policy area. The suppression of the military was vital for the implementation of perestroika and glasnost and, above all, for the restructuring of the ailing economic system, because only by shifting scarce resources from the arms industry to civilian industry would the success of modernizing socialism be feasible. With the transformation of Soviet power structures in 1989, the legislature also prevailed in gaining greater control over the defence budget and other military issues.24 It remains unclear whether the Kremlin had not already determined a futility in the continuance of the Western Group of Forces in the GDR at that time. Nonetheless, on 30 July 1989, Department XVIII of the Ministry of State Security reported that an employee in the military section of the GDR State Planning Commission had been forewarned during conversations with officers of the WGF that the Soviet Union would withdraw its troops by the end of 1995. Members of the Procurement Department of the Administration for Government Contracts had also received identical information.25 This was the first time it became apparent that the presence

22 Wentker: Die Deutschen und Gorbatschow, p. 282 23 Tschernajew: Die letzten Jahre einer Weltmacht, p. 226. 24 Taylor, Brian D.: Politics and the Russian Army. Civil-Military Relations, 1689–2000, Cambridge 2003, p. 215. 25 Information of HA XVIII of MfS, 30 July 1989, published in: Büttner, Stefan/Ebert, Martin: Wie der Kreml die DDR aufgab [How the Kremlin gave up the GDR], in: Fliegerrevue X; Militärluftfahrt in der DDR, Berlin 2013, p. 134.

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of Soviet troops in the GDR was apparently not a law of nature. The possibility of a withdrawal of the Soviet Union’s armed forces from the East German state seemed to appear on the political horizon for the first time, even if hardly any of the parties involved actually believed such a project could be realized. What initially appeared more than merely a surprise was confirmed by the last commander-in-chief of the Western Group of Forces, Colonel General Matvej Burlakov. In an interview shortly before his death, Burlakov said: ‘The withdrawal of our troops from Europe began even before my appointment as commander-in-chief of the WGF – as commander-in-chief of the Southern Group. There were no particular complaints to me in this regard, and the Minister of Defence of the USSR Yazov decided to conduct a practical exercise for the leaders of the Western Group of Forces, the Northern Group of Forces and the Central Group of Forces, using the example of the group under my command. The Deputy Minister of Defence Army General Pyotr Lushev was appointed as the leader of the exercise in Hungary. For two days, we presented the preparations for the withdrawal, showed the course of concentrating the troops’ and the loading of the equipment. For this purpose, a special assembly point was developed in the Western Carpathians. Everything went successfully. “I will present the results to the minister and, Matvej Prokopyevich prepare you for it; soon, we will have to withdraw the Western Group of Forces as well. Your experience is good”, Lushev said then. That was in June 1989’.26 A month earlier, Gorbachev’s foreign policy adviser Anatoly Chernyaev had already noted in his diary after a conversation between the Secretary General of the CPSU and US Secretary of State James Baker that the Soviet Union could now finally ‘withdraw from Eastern Europe’.27 This was a major break from the earlier Brezhnev Doctrine, under which the internal affairs of the satellite states were tightly controlled by Moscow. At the end of October 1989, the Soviet party and state leader finally even announced the so-called Sinatra Doctrine. In the future, it was to be possible for every member of the Warsaw Treaty to decide on its political and social future without the USSR. A military protection of the Soviet apron would thus have become obsolete sooner or later. In his memoirs, the former Chief of General Staff, Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev, likewise criticized that the question of the withdrawal of Soviet troops should have been discussed in the inner circle of leadership as early as 1986/87 in order to be able

26 Proshhaj Germanija! Neizvestnye podrobnosti vyvoda zapandnoj gruppy vojsk [Good By Germany! Unknown Details of the Withdrawal of the Western Group of Forces], on: http://oficery.ru/security/ 3632, last access: 16 November 2020. 27 Chernyaev, Anatoly: Proekt. Sovetskaja politika 1972–1991 gg. vzgljad iznutri – 1989 [Project. Soviet politics 1972–1991 from the inside – 1989], p. 15 on: https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/rus/Chernyaev.html, last access: 16 November 2020.

The Armed Forces in Germany in the Changed Soviet Defence Strategy Under Gorbachev

to take appropriate measures to take up the units in the Soviet Union. This should have included appropriate planning and the provision of the necessary resources. The USSR’s Ministry of Defence did not feel capable of administering the necessary steps alone. Moreover, there was a lack of coordination between the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the problems that would result from the withdrawal from Eastern Europe.28 At the same time, Gorbachev endeavoured to establish his military concepts regarding the future defence strength of the Soviet Union in a new military doctrine. His primary concern was to emphasize the defensive character of the Soviet Union’s military efforts. The corresponding theoretical considerations were elaborated by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR and aimed to ensure that the main goal of military efforts in the interim was not to prepare for war but to prevent it: ‘Because the catastrophic consequences of a nuclear war mankind would be threatened with extinction, the question of preventing a war has also been included in the draft Military Doctrine of the Warsaw Treaty. It is important to highlight the defensive nature of the doctrine, since the opposing propaganda is constantly invoking the alleged military superiority of the Warsaw Treaty and its strategy of aggression’.29 As early as the end of 1986, the new, principal guidelines of Soviet military doctrine were examined and approved by the USSR Defence Council. These guidelines also formed the basis for the new military doctrine of the Warsaw Pact.30 Consequently, the new military doctrine of the Warsaw Treaty was also defensively oriented: ‘The military doctrine of the Warsaw Treaty States is decadently defensive in nature. We will never be the first to begin a war. […] Our defence must be prepared and carried out in such a way as to ensure that we not lose or forfeit any territory. Active defence must, therefore, begin at the border between NATO and the Warsaw Treaty. We cannot lose 100 or 200 km of territory before beginning our counterattack. Rather, every foot of ground of the Socialist states must be doggedly defended’.31

28 Akhromeev, S.F./Korienko, G.M.: Glazami marshala i diplomata. Kriticheskij vzgljad na vnejshnuju politiku SSSR do i posle 1985 goda [Through the Eyes of a Marshal and a Diplomat. A Critical Look at Soviet Foreign Policy Before and After 1985], Moskva 1992, pp. 183–184. 29 Explanation of the Warsaw Pact’s New Military Doctrine by Sergei Akhromeyev at the Chiefs of Staff Meeting in Moscow, 18.5.1987, BArch, DWA-1/40373, pp. 130–131. 30 Voennaja istorija Rossijskogo Gosudarstvo: Cholodnaja vojna v dvuch tomach. Ot Potsdama do Mal’ty [A Military History of the Russian State: The Cold War in two volumes. From Potsdam to Malta], Moskva 2014, pp. 357–358; Generalny shtab Rossijskoj armii: istorija i sovremennosti [The General Staff of the Russian Army: History and Modernity], Moskva 2006, pp. 335–336. 31 Soviet Explanation of the Warsaw Pact’s New Military Doctrine at the Chief of Staff Meeting in Moscow, May 18–25, 1987, in: Mastny, Vojtech/Byrne, Malcolm (eds.): A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, New York 2005, pp. 559–560.

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In the fall of 1987, the military leadership of the Soviet armed forces once again explained the requirements of the new defence doctrine in detail to the heads of the general staffs of the Warsaw Pact member states: ‘All measures have to ensure strategic military parity and a reliable defence. The main method of defence against aggression will be countermeasures and retaliatory strikes (meeting engagements). The role of defence is increasing. […] In order to lose as little territory as possible, a steadfast defence must be organized. Therefore, the main line of defence must not be at 20–40 kilometres from the state border, as it used to be, but only 5–10 kilometres, or else directly at the border’.32 In accordance with the new military doctrine, the Soviet Union’s defence planning now envisaged that the first military measures to counter aggressions against Warsaw Pact territory could be executed by groups of troops and armies of Warsaw Pact states without the deployment of Soviet troops in the depths of the Soviet Union. Concurrently, Soviet military doctrine still assumed the complete defeat of the assumed enemy and the achievement of victory under all conditions, with the result that there were sometimes considerable contradictions between official military doctrine and the military strategy of the USSR.33 Due to the very limited Soviet documents available, it is hardly comprehensible how the GSFG/WGF reacted to the requirements of the new Soviet military doctrine. From various exercises and manoeuvres with units of the East German Army (EGA) from the mid-1980s onward, however, it seems apparent that the Soviet troops in the GDR increasingly abandoned the idea of being the spearhead of the Soviet army in the ‘conquest’ of Western Europe. Akhromeyev underscored this in March 1988 during a conversation with Heinz Kessler, the defence minister of the GDR. He emphasized that the task of the GSFG was now to conduct the first defence operation against a possible NATO attack. For this reason, he would discuss questions with the command of the Soviet troops in the GDR regarding further operational-tactical training, pioneer development of the defence positions, and decentralization of the air forces.34 In late 1988, the Soviet ambassador to the GDR, Vyacheslav Kochemasov, informed the East German head of party and state, Erich Honecker, that the USSR would withdraw four tank divisions from GDR territory by the end of 1990. Furthermore, the command of the Soviet armed forces planned to transform some independent tank regiments into motorized rifle regiments. However, the remaining divisions would be reinforced in terms of personnel, compared to the current

32 Summary of a Consultation of Chiefs of Staff in Moscow, 14 October 1987, BArch, AZN 32659, p. 67. 33 Istorija voennoj strategii Rossii, pp. 409–410. 34 Memorandum of Akhromeev-Kessler Conversation, 19 March 1988, BArch, AZN 32666, p. 118.

The Armed Forces in Germany in the Changed Soviet Defence Strategy Under Gorbachev

strength, and would receive additional artillery and anti-tank weapons. Furthermore, their structure would be revised to correspond to the defence tasks assigned to them. The withdrawal of additional units without significant requirement for the defence of the GDR and fighting capability of the Soviet forces in Germany was also planned. As a result of these measures, according to Kochemasov, the numerical strength of the Soviet forces in the GDR would be reduced by 50,000. Moreover, the USSR wanted to withdraw more than 5000 tanks from the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany. In compensation, the Soviet ambassador announced that the number of defensive weapons of the GSFG would be increased.35 Consequently, the personnel strength and conventional equipment of the Soviet divisions stationed in the GDR increased again. At the end of the 1980s, the 94th Guards Motorized Rifle Division comprised more than 15,500 men equipped with 274 tanks, 455 APCs and IFVs, 90 self-propelled guns, 36 122mm guns, 54 grenade launchers calibre 120mm and 18 multiple rocket launchers BM-21. A few years earlier, the division had commanded manpower of 11,500 soldiers and maintained 188 tanks and about 300 infantry fighting vehicles at its disposal.36 Consequently, it was no longer the task of Soviet troops in the GDR to advance westward as quickly as possible in the event of war, together with the GDR and Polish armed forces, nor to occupy large portions of the Federal Republic, the Netherlands, and Denmark. Rather, the GSFG was now to ensure the implementation of a front defence operation for the territory of the GDR. The GSFG and the EGA were to form together the 1st Front of the Warsaw Pact in case of emergency, which consisted of five armies for the 1st Echelon and two armies for the 2nd Echelon. Thus, the 1st Echelon also included the 5th Army of the EGA, which was to defend the Dassow-Wittenberge section, while the 2nd Guard Tank Army and the 3rd Shock Army had to safeguard the further GDR territory up to the Harz Mountains. The 3rd Army of the EGA, together with the 8th Guard Army, finally assumed protection for the area south of the Harz Mountains up to the triangle of the German Democratic Republic-Federal Republic of Germany-Czechoslovakia.37

35 Record of Conversation between Erich Honecker and Heinz Kessler, 4 December 1988, BArch, DVW-1/32663, p. 156. 36 Lautsch, Siegfried: Zur Planung realer Angriffs- und Verteidigungsoperationen im Warschauer Pakt. Dargestellt am Beispiel der operativen Planungen der 5. Armee der Nationalen Volksarmee der DDR im Kalten Krieg (1983–1986) [On the Planning of Real Attack and Defence Operations in the Warsaw Pact. Presented by the example of the operational planning of the 5th Army of the National People’s Army of the GDR during the Cold War (1983–1986),], in: Military Power Review, 2/2011, pp. 20–33, here: p. 29; Lenskij, A.G./Zybin, M.M.: Sovetskie suchoputnye vojska v poslednij god Sojza SSR. Spravochnik [Soviet Ground Forces in the Last Year of the Soviet Union. Handbook], St. Peterburg 2001, pp. 85–86; Pilster, Russland-Sowjetunion, p. 267. 37 Wenzke, Rüdiger: Die NVA und die Polnische Armee als Koalitionsstreitkräfte auf dem europäischen Kriegsschauplatz in den 1980er Jahren. Operative Planungen, Konzepte und Entwicklungen [The

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The 1st Guard Tank Army and the 20th Army, however, were to be available as reserves for counterattacks. During these changes in the defence planning, for the first time, GSFG troops were placed under the military command of the GDR armed forces. Thus, in the event of war, the 5th Army of the EGA included not only the 8th , 19th , and 20th Motorized Rifle Division and the 9th Armoured Division of the EGA, but also the 94th Guard Motorized Rifle Division of the GSFG, as well as the 138th and 221st independent tank regiment of the 2nd Guard Tank Army.38 The new defence concept of the Soviet armed forces also changed the role and significance of the GDR territory. Until then, region had been regarded primarily as an important concentration, deployment, and passage area for Warsaw Pact forces, as well as a base for extensive supply operations, and was intended to ensure an attack by the troops and their rapid advance into the NATO states’ territory. Now, the GDR itself had become a front and combat zone. However, the deeply staggered defence of GDR territory that the Soviet military leadership favoured did not correspond with the ideas of the GDR party and state leadership and the EGA command. Accordingly, SED General Secretary Erich Honecker expressed his dissatisfaction with the fact that during GSFG exercises, the assumed opponent was granted corresponding combat successes and terrain gains on GDR territory.39 Thus, the Chief of General Staff of the Warsaw Pact, Anatoly Gribkov, had to admit that, according to the plans of the GSFG, the Soviet troops in the GDR were to withdraw from the German-German border in the case of 100 to 150 kilometres, ‘so that the staffs and troops could work out counter-attacks and finally also the counter-offensive in order to destroy the invaded enemy’.40 Finally, the GSFG and the EGA agreed to plan defence operations as far west as possible on the Federal Republic of Germany border, with the Soviet side assuring the deployment of appropriate cover forces in the border region.41

38 39 40

41

NVA and the Polish Army as Coalition Forces in the European theatre of war in the 1980s. Operational Planning, Concepts and Developments], in: ibid. (ed.): Die Streitkräfte der DDR und Polens in der Operationsplanung des Warschauer Paktes, Potsdam 2010, pp. 97–125, here: pp. 123–124. Lautsch: Zur Planung realer Angriffs- und Verteidigungsoperationen, p. 21. Wenzke: Die NVA und die Polnische Armee, p. 125. Gribkow, Anatoli: Der Warschauer Pakt. Geschichte und Hintergründe des östlichen Militärbündnisses [The Warsaw Pact. History and Background of the Eastern Military Alliance], Berlin 1995, p. 65. Lautsch, Siegfried: Über die Entwicklung der Kriegskunst der Warschauer Vertragsorganisation in den 1980er-Jahren [On the Development of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation’s Art of War in the 1980s], in: Österreichische Militärische Zeitschrift, 4/2017, p. 444.

The Armed Forces in Germany in the Changed Soviet Defence Strategy Under Gorbachev

3.

Conclusion

It was a fact that the star of the Soviet armed forces in Germany darkened in the late 1980s. The Group of Soviet Forces in Germany was increasingly unsettled by developments in the Soviet Union and the GDR. Gorbachev’s proposals for the withdrawal of extensive Soviet troop contingents from the GDR had demonstrated that the previous status of the Soviet Army’s most powerful armed forces group was no longer unchallenged. Even the deviation from the previous strategy of attack to a new military strategy, which was now focused exclusively on defence, did not assuage the tensions within the GSFG. It became increasingly apparent, however, that the USSR’s political leadership regarded its troops stationed in the GDR as a bargaining chip that could support a noticeable reduction in tensions with the West in order to offer perestroika and glasnost an economic chance after all. However, it would take the collapse of the SED regime for Gorbachev to redeem this chip.

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Alexei Sindeyev

The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Germany An Event from History or from Current Politics? After their victory over Nazi Germany, Soviet forces were stationed in East Germany.1 This was done on the basis of decisions made at the Allies’ Yalta Conference, in the Potsdam Agreement (1945), and in the Agreement on the Temporary Stay of Soviet Armed Forces on the Territory of the GDR (1957). Although the troops withdrew between 1991 and 1994, the story of their withdrawal has not been fully written to this day.2

1.

The withdrawal of troops in the context of German reunification

The story of the Soviet troop withdrawal began on the day the Berlin Wall fell. Subsequent events, and especially the Portugalov mission, prompted Chancellor Helmut Kohl to make German reunification, and thus Soviet troop withdrawal, a reality as quickly as possible. In late November 1989, Nikolai Portugalov, a staff member of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, travelled to West Germany. In a private conversation, he informed Horst Teltschik, an adviser to Chancellor Kohl, that Moscow allegedly had nothing against the reunification of Germany – an assertion that did not reflect the facts.

1 First under the name Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany (GSOFG), from 1954 Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSFG) and from June 1989 on Western Group of Forces (WGF). 2 The following publications are relevant in this context: Hoffmann, Hans-Albert/Stoof, Siegfried: Sowjetische Truppen in Deutschland. Ihr Hauptquartier in Wünsdorf: Geschichte, Fakten, Hintergründe [Soviet Troops in Germany. Their Headquarters in Wünsdorf: History, Facts, Backgrounds], Berlin 2013 (Chapter 5.5, 8.1 and 8.2); Kowalczuk, Ilko-Sascha/Wolle, Stefan: Roter Stern über Deutschland. Sowjetische Truppen in der DDR [Red Star over Germany. Soviet Troops in the GDR], Berlin 2010; Morré, Jörg/Büttner, Stefan: Sowjetische Hinterlassenschaften in Berlin und Brandenburg [Soviet Legacies in Berlin and Brandenburg], Berlin 2014 (There are primarily 10 places associated with the subject of the article); Satjukow, Silke: Besatzer. „Die Russen” in Deutschland 1945–1994 [Occupiers. ‘The Russians’ in Germany 1945–1994], Göttingen 2008 (on the renaming of the troops: p. 305). Thanks to the last book, the debate about liberators and occupiers does not seem to be over yet.

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With the presentation of the ten-point programme, Chancellor Kohl rushed ahead in the Bundestag on 28 November 1989 and caught Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev by surprise. To this day, we can only guess who in the Kremlin had bypassed Gorbachev and assigned Portugalov with his task.3 Gorbachev knew nothing about it, as the Germans belatedly realised. In Bonn it was clear that Moscow was divided on the German question. This could be exploited by exerting pressure at times, creating facts with a reference that the process was already underway at other times, or sometimes by promising help and even partially providing it. Everything served the purpose of reunification. In order to not endanger that purpose, it was necessary to support Gorbachev and hope that he would get his economic problems under control to some extent. It was not until 26 January 1990 that Gorbachev invited a small group of confidants to the Kremlin for a strategic conversation on the German question. He categorically ruled out NATO membership for the reunified country, because the ‘presence of our armed forces will not allow that. And we can withdraw them when the Americans withdraw their forces too. But they will not do so for a long time to come. And Kohl must reckon with that, just as he must reckon with the fact that it will take a few years to absorb the GDR economically. So. Both we and you [Western partners – A.S.] have these years at our disposal. Let us use them wisely. And let us prepare for a Pan-European Meeting at the highest level in 1990.’4 Gorbachev’s strategy was based on the highly controversial assumption that the Soviet Union, in spite of its own problems, would have enough time to fit German reunification into a European security transformation. This strategy would probably only have worked if the reunification process had followed a peace treaty and the Allies had agreed to negotiate it amongst themselves, without Germany’s participation. At the Kremlin, Minister of Foreign Affairs Eduard Shevardnadze argued for a different approach. The ‘main question for Kohl now is the “treaty community” leading to a confederation of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic. We don’t need to get involved in the discussion on reunification. That is not our business. Let the GDR present initiatives. But when it comes to

3 In his book Horst Teltschik names Valentin Falin and Anatoly Chernyaev. Teltschik, Horst: 329 Tage. Innenansichten der Einigung [329 days. Inside Views of the Unification], Berlin 1991, p. 44. Orally, he describes the process somewhat differently. Portugalow had told him that his mission had been approved from the very top. 4 Galkin, Aleksandr/Chernyaev, Anatolij (eds.): Mikhail Gorbachev i germanskij vopros: Sbornik dokumentov, 1986–1991. [Mikhail Gorbachev and the German Question: Collection of documents, 1986–1991], Moskva 2006, p. 308.

The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Germany

armed forces, we should only have a discussion with the United States.’5 Apparently, Shevardnadze believed that socialism could still be saved in East Germany and that the Americans had not quite seized the opportunity that lay before them. The head of the KGB, Vladimir Kryuchkov, also present at the Kremlin, saw Soviet troops as ‘a factor in the Pan-European process’.6 Aleksandr Yakovlev, a member of the politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, went one step further and said, without explaining what he meant, that ‘America needs our forces in the GDR much more than we ourselves do.’7 According to the notes of Gorbachev’s security policy adviser Anatoly Chernyaev, no one wanted to publicly object to Gorbachev. And so he concluded: ‘Our society is the most rotten of all societies like it. And nothing will save it. We ourselves have begun to transform it. And we must continue to hold on to it, move forward and not lose the initiative. Treading water is disastrous. [...] The situation we are now in is like the ‘Peace of Brest-Litovsk No. 2. If we don’t get a grip on it, we will be in danger of [...] having half the country cut off again. [...] Of course the GDR must be let go [original: выделить]. It is a special case. It is not Romania. Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Hungary are interested in us. They are going through an illness, but they cannot run far away [original: уйти, in the sense of ‘move away from the Soviet Union’ – A.S.] […]. The most important thing now is to drag out the process, whatever the final goal (reunification) may be. The Germans and Europe and the USSR all need to get used to this goal. [...] Incorporate the German question into the Vienna Process. [...] The presence of our armed forces in Germany is closely connected with the Vienna Process. And tell Kohl not to run ahead. In this respect, we can come to an understanding with everyone. [...] Tell Akhromeyev to prepare for the withdrawal of forces from Germany.’8 The strategy was inconsistent due to many issues that were barely related to one another. Firstly, his own ‘rotten’ society was strangely drawn into the argument, as if the internal success of perestroika was essentially dependent on foreign policy and German reunification.9 Secondly, the Soviet leaders fear of their society could be felt clearly because they had to get used to reunification in the same way as ‘the Germans and Europe’ and they did not seem mature enough to face facts.

5 6 7 8 9

Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid., pp. 309–311. Kowalczuk and Wolle have a different opinion. They write about the influence of the peaceful revolution in the GDR: ‘At stake were both the internal Soviet power structure and the political world order – the two could no longer be separated.’ See Kowalczuk/Wolle: Roter Stern, p. 213.

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Thirdly, there was the fear of a new Peace of Brest-Litovsk.10 This made the situation even more complicated because they first had to understand who (or what) might have such explosive power as to quickly smash the Soviet Union, whether from the inside or the outside. Especially when three countries from the socialist camp were going to ‘go through an illness’, and nothing stood in the way of consolidating the country on a new foundation, as it was officially termed. Or were the state structures, in Gorbachev’s opinion, already so ineffective in early 1990 and was the desire for independence of the member states of the Soviet Union so strong that the USSR was on the verge of disintegrating?11 In that case it would not have been worth developing such a Germany strategy. It would have been more helpful to make maximum demands from the beginning and to adopt an uncompromising course of action, as this would have brought more results in the end. Fourth, there was probably a hope that the renewed socialist camp would remain in place with the exception of East Germany. At the same time, however, the Treaty of Warsaw in its old form was not viable anymore; how else could one explain the preparatory plans for the withdrawal of troops and the instruction to Gorbachev’s military adviser, Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev? There was certainly a hope that the withdrawal from Germany would take place in parallel with that of the Americans. Fifth, the rebuilding of a security architecture in Europe was a lengthy process which, precisely because of its complexity, was difficult for both the Germans and their Western allies to reconcile with the reunification of the country. The only real prerequisite for accelerating this build-up lay in a tactical confrontation with the West, which was something that had to be pursued very carefully, however. Sixth, even though Gorbachev’s confidants expressed agreement on 26 January 1990, the disunity revealed by the Portugalov mission had not been overcome. This strategy of fear, hope and wrong assumptions had little chance of success. A whole series of documents testify to this today. On 30 January 1990, in a conversation with the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of East Germany, Hans Modrow, Gorbachev still held on to this argument: ‘Frankly, there are more and more indications that the USA would like to play the German card. They are worried about the prospects of their own position in Europe’s future. Western European integration does not suit them and certainly not the integration of the whole of

10 Editor’s note: A weakened Soviet Russian government had to sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on 3 March 1918 with the German Reich to its disadvantage. Among other things, this included extensive cessions of territory by the new Moscow rulers. 11 It should not be forgotten that in 1989 there had been national movements in many Soviet republics that had different ideas about their own sovereignty. But on 14 March 1990, Gorbachev was elected by the Congress of People’s Deputies as the first and only president of the USSR. The special rights of the CPSU were abolished and a multi-party system began to emerge in the USSR.

The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Germany

Europe. They are apparently also considering the possibility of unifying and neutralising Germany, even if that were to end in the complete withdrawal of American forces from Western Europe.’12 On 10 February he told Kohl, ‘If we unilaterally withdraw all forces from the GDR, then you will not keep NATO [together] either.’13 On 18 April, the head of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Valentin Falin, wrote to him expressing his concern that, ‘Every effort is being made not only to prepare the ground for NATO’s plans with regard to the GDR and the Warsaw Pact, but also to arbitrarily change the situation now and limit the USSR’s chances of resisting them. [...] Recently, NVA of the GDR practically halted the combat-readiness of the air force in the interest of the Warsaw Pact.’ In addition to this, according to Falin, there was ‘the inspiration of demonstrations of the “will of the people” and an intolerable psychological climate around the Soviet forces in the GDR to deal with.’14 In contrast to Falin, Anatoly Chernyaev tried to convince Gorbachev in a memorandum from 4 May 1990: ‘The number of armed forces from the West and East and various other forces in Europe at present does not affect the real security of the Soviet Union. [...] Our real security will be determined at the Soviet-American negotiations. [...] It seems that the USSR is currently more interested in the West’s support for perestroika than ever before. [...] It seems that the Soviet Union is interested in reaffirming its belief in the reality of the European process, its belief that a new era is dawning, an era of confidence, in which fears of more invasions, aggressions, military conquests and the like will disappear. [...] And suddenly, right in this moment, we demonstrate absolute irreconcilability on the basis of arguments that seem strange from the standpoint of New Thought and a new military doctrine.’15 Chernyaev’s version and advice met with Gorbachev’s approval. He presented to the public the idea of German membership in NATO and in the Warsaw Pact. As expected, the USA rejected this, since the West had already agreed on a common line. The Germans played an important role in this. In May 1990, West German minister of defence Gerhard Stoltenberg visited Washington and assured US leaders that withdrawing from NATO was out of the

12 13 14 15

Galkin/Chernyaev: Mikhail Gorbachev i germanskij vopros, p. 320. Ibid., p. 352. Ibid., pp. 403–404. Ibid., p. 425.

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question for a united Germany because it would weaken NATO as a whole and the Treaty of Warsaw organisation was on the verge of disintegrating anyway.16 In May, the defence minister of East Germany, Rainer Eppelmann, confirmed to Bild newspaper that Moscow would only accept Germany’s membership in NATO if it was limited to political cooperation.17 The French, who had left the alliance’s military structure in 1966 and thus had a similar experience themselves, thought this was feasible.18 Stoltenberg therefore felt compelled to draw Paris’s attention to the USSR accepting Germany’s NATO membership in the near future. On 31 May 1990, at a meeting between President Gorbachev and President Bush at the White House, Soviet-American negotiations reached a point where the disadvantages of the strategy chosen in January became obvious. This showed the USSR the limits that the West did not want to go beyond under any circumstances. Of course, security guarantees to the Soviet Union played no role in this. Gorbachev expressed optimism: ‘On a practical level, a united Germany could declare that it would honour all of the obligations it had inherited from both West and East Germany. And that the Bundeswehr would be subordinate to NATO as before, while the armed forces of the GDR would be subordinate to the government of the new Germany. At the same time, Soviet forces would remain in the territory of the present GDR for a transitional period, and all this could be supplemented with an agreement between the Warsaw Pact and NATO. [...] Let’s say that we would welcome a change in NATO’s doctrine as early as the next meeting of the organisation [original ‘block’ – A.S.].’19 Bush responded coldly to this, stressing the difference between the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ troops: ‘Maybe I shouldn’t say this, but I don’t think it’s correct to draw parallels between the withdrawal of Soviet forces from countries where they are no longer necessary and the prospect of a reduction in the American military presence, which is welcomed by virtually all Europeans and is a factor in stability.’20 Bush also threw in a remark that must have been particularly painful for Gorbachev: ‘[...] one needs to take into account the unusual pace of the unification of Germany. After the successful conclusion of a vote within the framework of Two Plus Four, the new Germany will be within reach. But it will only be able to rely on NATO at this time.’21

16 Boltunov, Mikhail: ZGV – gor’kaja doroga domoj [ZGV – Bitter road home], https://www.litmir.me/br/?b=177900&p=3, last access: 10 December 2020. 17 Ibid. 18 Lappenküper, Ulrich: Mitterrand und Deutschland: Die enträtselte Sphinx [Mitterrand and Germany: The Unraveled Sphinx], München 2011, p. 290. 19 Galkin/Chernyaev: Mikhail Gorbachev i germanskij vopros, p. 470. 20 Ibid., p. 471. 21 Ibid., p. 473.

The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Germany

This presented Gorbachev with a choice. Either he could accept Germany’s NATO membership and, de facto indirectly, Bush’s idea that there was no real alternative to NATO in Europe, or he had to put on the brakes and try to stop reunification in its tracks, with the consequence that the Soviet Union would lose urgently needed sources of funding22 and his own reputation would suffer. As compensation, however, Soviet troops would have been able to remain in East Germany. However, as Falin indicated, provocations against them would have to be expected. The pressure on Gorbachev increased. On 8 June, during a visit to Moscow, Prime Minister of the UK Margaret Thatcher spelled out Gorbachev’s dilemma very clearly in a conversation with him: ‘The process of German unification, which is proceeding with growing speed, is a reality that will intensify after 1 July of this year, when the agreement on economic and monetary union, which is most important for the future of this country, comes into force. [...] I am convinced that their role in Europe [the role of the Soviet Union – A.S.] will grow immeasurably when they [the USSR – A.S.] have completed the process of perestroika and become stronger in economic terms. But it is necessary to maintain American forces as insurance.’23 Thus, the Soviet Union was devalued by Thatcher to the level of a weakening regional power. This all but ruled out any early change in relations between the USSR and the Western European states and NATO, because the Americans would have to stay in Europe ‘for the sake of security’. On 15 July 1990, in a conversation with Kohl that marked a decisive departure from the positions taken in January, Gorbachev had to admit that his position had changed ‘in light of an analysis of the facts’. After he had spoken these words, it was important for him: a) to agree minimal conditions that would delay NATO expansion into East Germany; b) to establish good working relations with the Germans in order to implement the withdrawal of troops as smoothly as possible and with the help of financial support from Germany; c) to ensure relations of partnership with the new Federal Republic of Germany in future; d) to develop the Vienna Process and bring it to a successful conclusion. Three of these tasks were future-oriented and could only be settled between the heads of state and government. The withdrawal of troops was not a high-priority task, and as such it was not allowed to become a disruptive factor in Soviet-German

22 In 1990, the real gross national product in the USSR had fallen by 5% compared to the previous year. In 1991, the downward slide continued with a minus of 20%. 23 Galkin/Chernyaev: Mikhail Gorbachev i germanskij vopros, pp. 482, 484.

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relations. The Soviet, and later Russian, military were therefore presented with a fait accompli by the country’s political leadership and rightly felt that they had been ignored.24 On 12 September 1990, the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany was signed in Moscow, marking the end of the Two Plus Four negotiations and contractually regulating German reunification. Bilateral agreements and treaties between the Soviet Union and West Germany followed at a rapid pace. On 25 September, there was the Agreement on the Settlement of Certain Matters relating to Berlin; then, on 9 November, the Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the USSR on Good Neighbourliness, Partnership and Cooperation, and the Treaty on the Development of Comprehensive Cooperation in the Field of Trade, Industry, Science and Technology. Somewhat earlier, on 12 October 1990, the Treaty on Conditions for the Temporary Stay in and Modalities for the Phased Withdrawal of Soviet Forces from the Territory of the Federal Republic of Germany was signed. The latter changed the legal basis. The Group of Soviet Forces in Germany was now a foreign army in foreign territory.25 The West German government financed the withdrawal with DM 12 billion and provided the Soviet Union with an interest-free loan of DM 3 billion. ‘On 13 September 1990, at a press conference in Bonn, Federal Minister of Finance Theo Waigel announced the details. Of the DM 12 billion, 7.8 billion was earmarked for the construction of housing for soldiers, three billion for the upkeep of Soviet troops from 1991 until their withdrawal at the end of 1994, and one billion for transport costs. The additional loan of three billion would have a term of five years, he added.’26 On 16 December 1992, Chancellor Kohl and the new Russian president, Boris Yeltsin, signed a joint declaration in which, among other things, the date of withdrawal agreed in the treaty of 12 October 1990 was moved forward by four months to the end of August 1994. In return, Russia received an additional DM 550 million for housing construction.27 As is well known, the troop withdrawal was ultimately

24 Kowalczuk and Wolle write the following about Gorbachev’s reasons for distrusting the army: ‘However, since the conflicts of the later 1980s, the Soviet army in particular seemed to be a stronghold of backward-looking forces that mourned the Soviet Union as a world power.’ See Kowalczuk/Wolle: Roter Stern, p. 219. Therefore, the army leadership was tasked by Gorbachev with, among other things, implementing a new military doctrine. In this way he was able to keep them away from the current policy on Germany. See also Satjukow: Besatzer, pp. 20–21. 25 Christoph Meißner put it differently: ‘tolerated guest on German soil’. Meißner, Christoph: Der Truppenabzug aus Ostdeutschland [The Withdrawal of Troops from East Germany], https://specials. dekoder.org/abzug-vyvod/truppenabzug, last access: 29 December 2020. 26 https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-de/aktuelles/die-kosten-fuer-den-sowjetischentruppenabzug-474548, last access: 12 December 2020. 27 More about the housing programme at: Kowalczuk/Wolle: Roter Stern, pp. 225–226.

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completed on schedule on 31 August 1994, when the last Russian soldiers and officers left German soil.28

2.

Lessons Russia learned from the troop withdrawal

Lessons were not learned immediately or consistently and, of course, not just because of the withdrawal. But the withdrawal marked the beginning of the view that a fear of Russia would remain, and that the domestic tasks of EU countries would take precedence over cooperation in Europe. Based on this observation, it is necessary, when looking at the lessons of the withdrawal, to briefly explain some of the consequences for domestic and foreign policy. 2.1

Three consequences for domestic policy

1. Crises and periods of transition are often accompanied by weakness, chaos and problems. The political and economic problems of the Soviet Union were no exception. The problem of finding accommodation in Russia for the newly withdrawn troops was one of the characteristics of transition and chaos. This explains the longing for stability that one finds in Russian society, with stability being a value in itself. This is particularly visible when one looks at different generations. While the older generation values stability, the younger ones value diversity and freedom of life. These characteristics, stability, diversity and freedom, are two sides of the same coin, which does not make governance any easier and significantly increases the role of national identity in consolidating the unity of the country. 2. The withdrawal showed clearly that many things were not handled as originally planned. The most important of the eleven Russian-German working commissions formed to implement the treaty of 12 October 1990 were behind schedule in carrying out their work and only delivered results after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. There was such inadequate transparency on the Russian side that the so-called ‘zero solution’ (troop assets in return for compensation for ecological damage)29 is still criticised from time to time today. There was also a lack of professionalism and money for lawyers, because the sums for ecological damage

28 Cf. also ‘Affront in Dresden’ and ‘Abschied aus Berlin’ in: Satjukow: Besatzer, pp. 12–17. 29 The third point from the Yeltsin-Kohl Declaration of 16 December 1992: ‘The immovable assets built at the expense of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on land which is German property shall be handed over to the German authorities. In connection therewith, both sides waive mutual claims that would have to be examined in accordance with the applicable agreements [...].’, https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-de/service/bulletin/besuch-des-bundeskanzlers-in-derrussischen-foederation-vom-14-bis-16-dezember-1992-791660, last access: 12 December 2020.

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presumed by the German side could have been contested in the courts with multiple expert opinions and lawsuits. This would probably have led to the correction of the original claims. In addition, there was no article in the treaty stipulating that ongoing court proceedings regarding the treaty or property issues would extend the date of withdrawal by the time needed to complete those proceedings under normal circumstances. The German state apparatus worked almost perfectly at all levels, whereas the Soviet one was not familiar with the realities of the market economy and mostly ran behind. Thanks to this and many other examples, it was therefore believed that Russia had to create a new functioning state apparatus and temporarily accept bureaucracy as an inevitable consequence. Advancing the development of the country’s administration in a professional manner was a matter of far greater importance, it seemed. 3. Upon their return, officers were confronted with numerous day-to-day problems, as the state either fulfilled its obligations only partially or not at all. The last commander of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, Colonel General Matvej Burlakov, later said disappointedly in an interview: ‘The image of the officer corps and the prestige of the military as a whole have undoubtedly suffered.’30 Russia had to rebuild the army and raise its prestige in society. At first this was done in baby steps and then, after accelerating under Defence Minister Sergei Shoygu, the process was seen as Russian militarisation, even though the country’s military budget was and is much smaller than that of the US, the other NATO countries and China.31 2.2

One important consequence for foreign policy

It took a long time before Russia internalised the thoughts that Margaret Thatcher had expressed in 1990. There was the notion that she had only been talking about the USSR, not Russia, because Russia was a new country. The newly elected Russian president, Vladimir Putin, tried to simultaneously strengthen the country’s sovereignty while still showing openness to global processes. In 2000, he noted that Russia ‘is participating in all of the world’s processes, including economic globalisation.’32 In 2002, he stressed that ‘fierce competition for markets and investments,

30 Proshhaj, Germaniya! Neizvestnye podrobnosti vyvoda Zapadnoj gruppy vojsk [Goodbye, Germany! Unknown Details of the Withdrawal of the Western Group of Forces], https://www.oficery.ru/ security/3632, last access: 29 December 2020. 31 Editor’s note: In 2019, Russia ranked fourth in the world in military spending with a total of USD 65.1 billion, behind the United States of America (USD 732 billion), China (USD 261 billion) and India (USD 171.1 billion). See the Database of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), https://www.sipri.org/databases/milex, last access: 15 March 2021. 32 Putin, Vladimir: Poslanie presidenta Federal’nomu sobraniyu, 8 July 2000, http://www.kremlin.ru/ events/president/transcripts/21480, last access: 15 December 2020.

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as well as for political and economic influence’33 accompany these processes. In his view, Russia’s ‘due place’ depended on the country ‘growing faster than the rest of the world.’34 He did not consider competition to be an obstacle in this regard, since ‘relations in the modern world [...] are determined by serious [...] real and potential threats.’35 The basis for cooperation was always there. From Putin’s point of view, renouncing the logic of the Cold War had to lead to the recognition of Russia’s independent path. About half a year after taking office, he said on 8 July 2000: ‘For a long time we have been trying to decide either to follow the advice of others, to use foreign aid and loans for development, or to rely on our own individuality, our own strengths [...] The only real decision for Russia is the decision to be in the position of a strong country [...] Strong not in opposition to the international community or against other strong states, but alongside them.’36 A year later he said more specifically that ‘our international partners’ consideration of and respect for Russia’s national interests is a basic principle for us.’37 In 2003, he argued, ‘Russia is interested in a predictable global order. Only this type of order can ensure global and regional security.’38 It was no secret that the country ‘understand[s] the Commonwealth of Independent States as a sphere of [...] strategic interests’ and ‘assumes that Russia is a zone of national interests for the Commonwealth of Independent States as well.’39 At the time, there was also talk of ‘broad-based rapprochement and real integration with Europe.’40 So there was the option of working with Putin publicly and behind closed doors. At the very least, what he said should have been taken seriously and a serious, concrete offer should have been made with the objective of building a joint European security system. As a result, it is unprofessional to now claim that Putin’s position and the course of action he has chosen are a surprise. Compared to the period of the troop withdrawal, it is now the West that has become unprofessional. Its excessive demonisation of Putin, a politician who is

33 Putin, Vladimir: Poslanie presidenta Federal’nomu sobraniyu, 18 April 2002, http://kremlin.ru/ events/president/transcripts/21567, last access: 15 December 2020. 34 Putin, Vladimir: Poslanie presidenta Federal’nomu sobraniyu, 26 May 2004, http://kremlin.ru/ events/president/transcripts/22494 last access: 15 December 2020. 35 Putin, Vladimir: Poslanie presidenta Federal’nomu sobraniyu, 16 May 2003, http://kremlin.ru/ events/president/transcripts/21998, last access: 15 December 2020. 36 Putin: Poslanie 8 July 2000. 37 Putin, Vladimir: Poslanie presidenta Federal’nomu sobraniyu, 3 April 2001, http://kremlin.ru/events/ president/transcripts/21216, last access: 15 December 2020. 38 Putin: Poslanie 16 May 2003. 39 Ibid. 40 Ibid.

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fighting hard for Russia’s place and role with no new and unfamiliar methods and means, is a sign of this. Since Russia’s path has already been chosen in the medium term, and the lessons have been learned to some extent, it is appropriate to conclude that the withdrawal of its troops is history. Incidentally, this did not rule out from the socio-political discourse pointless curses directed at Gorbachev and the myth about the West’s security guarantees and its alleged promise not to expand NATO to the East. Overvaluing that would be one-sided and wrong at the very least, because social pluralism (Russia is an increasingly pluralistic society) has different colours, requires and sets different priorities. One can argue about whether the West acted correctly at the time by renouncing a European security system with Russian involvement. One thing remains undeniable: The reality has changed. And there is a need for new approaches and new solutions.

3.

A look into the future or the current significance of troop withdrawal

Questions about the future, about goals and wishes, and about current and future tasks require answers. Since humans try to understand and explain the modern world with the help of memories, impressions, opinions, positions from the past (experience), and on this basis creating ideas for the future, there is a danger of politicising the historical context. In the triad of the past (often perceived as the only certain thing), the present (perceived as a strange mixture) and the future (perceived as a mere dream), the second link is particularly vulnerable. The paradox is that the less one doubts the evaluation of the present, the less chance there is of making correct decisions concerning a shared destiny, and the less one works on a common dream and a common perspective. In the face of uncontrolled globalisation, politicians often lose sight of the big picture and the line of direction. As a result, they deliberately narrow down things that are held in common to easy-to-understand spaces, processes and procedures and then propagate that as the only available option. New lines of separation emerge, which come to be seen as objective the longer they exist. On the one hand, this makes it easier to use national potential; on the other hand, it is difficult to overcome these lines of separation and achieve common interests. Unfortunately, people more often choose to fight for positions and try to test and hit each other in their weak areas. This makes them dig their trenches deeper. Nevertheless, there is no point in moaning about recent developments. It is much more important to ask ourselves what unites us concretely and what our common dream can and must look like in concrete terms.

The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Germany

In this way, we will hopefully stop blaming each other and will look at the present more from the future, as we ought to. This will give us the chance to calmly assess whether it is reasonable for us to gamble away this shared future and whether it is sufficient to replace this dream of the future, when it is concretely worded, with national and narrowly defined regional projects. It is a matter of political, social and scientific maturity. The problem is that we Europeans (in the broad sense of the word) are not dealing with this concrete common dream. We are drifting apart fast. This trend can be seen not only in the relations between Russia and the European Union, but also in the dividing lines within the EU. Political maturity is the willingness and the ability to work out visions of the future, to propose concrete projects, to promote broad-based European dialogue, to professionally put appropriate means to work, and to fight vehemently for the desired results. Social maturity is having the interest and aspiration to challenge policy, to organise and support alternative places for dialogue, and to present a whole range of visions. Scientific maturity is a more complicated phenomenon in this context. Yet one thing is clear: In the 21st century more than ever before, Europe needs a systematic contribution to multifaceted objectivity, to understanding one another, and to communicating with each other. There is no doubt that it is normal to be different yet still think and act together. However, it is not yet part of the norm this century for what is shared to survive despite our differences and for this commonality to facilitate future development and common action. Our European societies can get used to the fact that differences unite, not divide, if those differences are handled properly. In this context, the memory of the Soviet troop withdrawal remains an incentive for us to develop and achieve a common, concrete European project in a muchcomplicated situation and a much-complicated world.

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The Withdrawal of the Western Group of Forces from Germany

1.

Introduction1

On 31 August 1994, the last unit of the Western Group of Forces (WGF) left German soil after 49 years. The group had been set up by a directive from the headquarters of the Red Army high command immediately after World War II ended. With effect from 10 June 1945, the group comprised the troops of the 1st Belorussian Front and other smaller units as a military occupation in Germany (Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany).2 From 1954, it was called the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSFG), but this did not change its function or its mission. It was not until 1989 that the group was renamed the Western Group of Forces. This was done analogous to the other Soviet troop contingents in Poland (Northern Group), Hungary (Southern Group) and Czechoslovakia (Central Group). The Soviet soldiers who were stationed in East Germany were always special. They were equipped with the latest military technology and their numbers never fell below 300,000 men, because they were at the nexus of the Cold War. The soldiers in the Western Group were the elite of the Soviet armed forces. Together with the National People’s Army of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the Polish People’s Army, the Western Group formed the 1st Front of the Warsaw Pact. But it also acted internally. Units of the GSFG suppressed the mass protests of 17 June 1953 in East Germany, they marched into Czechoslovakia in August 1968, and they posed a serious threat to the opposition movement in Poland in 1980. With the change of policy in the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev, the function of the Western Group changed. Interventions in the internal affairs of the Warsaw Pact states were no longer planned and a general easing of tensions set in. As a result of the INF Treaty, the Soviet Union withdrew two missile brigades 1 This article is a fundamentally revised and extended version of an article published in 2016 in the exhibition catalogue Deutsch-Russisches Museum Berlin-Karlshorst (ed.): Der Abzug. Die letzten Jahre der russischen Truppen in Deutschland. Eine fotografische Dokumentation von Detlev Steinberg, Berlin 2016. 2 Directive of the STAVKA of the Supreme Commander to the Commander of the Armed Forces of the 1st Belorussian Front on Renaming the Front to Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany, 29 May 1945, published in: Russkij archiv: Velikaja Otechestvennaja Vojna: Bitva za Berlin (Krasnaja Armija v povershennoj Germannii), Tom 15 (4–5), Moskva 1995, pp. 419–420.

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from East Germany in 1988, which had been stationed in the GDR in the wake of the NATO Double-Track Decision. In addition, Gorbachev had announced the unilateral withdrawal of six tank divisions with 50,000 soldiers from East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary in his speech to the UN on 7 December 1988. During East Germany’s Peaceful Revolution in autumn 1989, the Western Group remained in their barracks. The socialist regime in East Germany collapsed, giving rise to an historic opportunity to overcome the division of Germany. This process involved not only the two German states, but also the four victorious powers, which still claimed occupation rights. The modalities of German unity were negotiated in a ‘Two plus Four’ format. As a result, the Two Plus Four Agreement was signed on 12 September 1990. An immediate consequence of German unity was the withdrawal of Soviet, and from 1992 onwards, Russian, troops. The following article presents the legal framework and the practical implementation of the withdrawal, as well as the difficulties and successes of this military and diplomatic operation. Finally, the current perception of the withdrawal in Germany and Russia is discussed.

2.

Treaties and conditions

Negotiations for the reunification of Germany brought the presence of Soviet troops in the united Germany onto the agenda. Article 4 of the Two Plus Four Agreement, stipulated the withdrawal of the Soviets’ Western Group of Forces by the end of 1994. With the signing of the Treaty on Conditions for the Temporary Stay in and Modalities for the Phased Withdrawal of Soviet Forces from the Territory of the Federal Republic of Germany (AAV) on 12 October 1990, a bilateral arrangement was reached regarding the stay and withdrawal of Soviet soldiers in the reunified Germany. This agreement put a limit on the ‘temporary stationing’ that had been agreed with the German Democratic Republic in the Stationing Agreement of 12 March 1957. On 9 October 1990, just a few days prior to the signing of the AAV, an Agreement Between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Soviet Union Concerning Certain Transitional Measures had been signed.3 The exchange of a note verbale on 26 September 1990 had provisionally put the AAV, which had been agreed in large parts, into force until the signing on 12 October 1990 and final exchange of the documents of ratification on 6 May 1991.4

3 Agreement Between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Soviet Union Concerning Certain Transitional Measures, published in Bundesgesetzblatt (BGBl.), Teil II, Nr. 48 from 29.12.1990, pp. 1654–1659. 4 Note verbale of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Soviet Union, published in BGBl., Teil II, Nr. 36 from 05.10.1990, p. 1255. On 21 December 1990 the German Bundestag approved the AAV

The Withdrawal of the Western Group of Forces from Germany

While the AAV regulated the legal basis, the Transitional Measures dealt with the Federal Republic of Germany’s financial commitments to the Soviet Union regarding the troop withdrawal. In total, the withdrawal of the Western Group of Forces was supported with funding of about DM 15.5 billion. The German federal government committed itself contractually to providing DM 3 billion for the maintenance and withdrawal of the WGF. Furthermore, it granted the Soviet Union an interest-free loan of another DM 3 billion. For the withdrawal itself, the German government provided Soviet forces with DM 1 billion, which was to be spent on transport and port fees and similar costs associated with the withdrawal. Another important element of this agreement was the provision of DM 7.8 billion to support a housing programme in the European part of the Soviet Union for the withdrawn troops. In order to enable Soviet soldiers and officers leaving the army to integrate into their homeland as quickly as possible, the German government provided a further DM 200 million for training and retraining programmes. In December 1992, another DM 550 million was added. The AAV and the Transitional Measures provided a framework for withdrawal that had to be filled with life after reunification. This required close cooperation on both sides. As agreed, a mixed German-Soviet commission was created for this purpose. Initially, this commission was chaired by the State Secretary of the Federal Foreign Office, Franz Bertele (from June 1992, Claus-Jürgen Duisberg), and the commander-in-chief of the WGF, General Boris Snetkov, (from 14 December 1990, Colonel-General Matvej Burlakov). The Commission met every three months and held its first constituent meeting on 27 November 1990 at the Federal Foreign Office in Bonn. Its task was to find a mutually agreeable solution to those contentious issues that the committees and working groups set up during the course of the AAV were unable to resolve.5 This political body was assisted by a permanent military element. As early as the day on which Germany was formally reunified (3 October 1990), the German Liaison Command to the Soviet Forces in Germany of the Bundeswehr (later, the German Liaison Command to the Western Group of Forces) was established and started its work on 4 October 1990. The basic idea of this command was to be present on site with territorial commands to ensure a smooth exchange of information with the WGF through good and personal contacts, as well as to control compliance with the obligations of the contract. According to Article 4 of the AAV, the head of the Liaison Command, Major General Hartmut Foertsch, was the West German government’s authorised representative for determining and

and on 2 April 1991 the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. Announcement of the entry into force of the Agreement and the Treaty published in BGBl., Teil II, Nr. 15 from 08.06.1990, p. 723. 5 Rules of Procedure of the Joint Commission, BArch, BW 55/926.

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coordinating the withdrawal.6 Likewise, as a soldier, Foertsch had a mandate to represent the interests of the Federal Minister of Defence vis-à-vis the WGF High Command. During the course of the withdrawal, the Liaison Command developed into the most important instrument of coordination and review on the German side, although there were regular disputes with the Foreign Office regarding competence, as the latter saw itself as the representative of German interests in international agreements. In preparation for the tasks ahead and possible problems, the Bundeswehr sought advice from the Czech Executive for Securing the Withdrawal of Soviet Forces (ESW), which had been created as a liaison element on 20 February 1990 in the wake of the Central Group’s withdrawal from Czechoslovakia. On 7–8 November, the Chief of the Executive of the ESW Major General Svetozár Naďovič briefed a German delegation in Prague mainly on the problems of planning the upcoming military transports and subsequent handovers of the properties. Based on his experiences during the withdrawal of the Central Group, he considered it necessary to point out to his German counterparts the problem of environmental damage on the Soviet properties. A visit by the Liaison Command with Major General Foertsch at its head followed at the beginning of December 1990. The German delegation was also taken to a Soviet property to see the environmental damage for themselves.7 The experiences of the Czechoslovakian military were taken seriously. Yet the environmental issue still led to repeated disputes in Germany during the first two years of the withdrawal. These disputes were only settled by a supplementary agreement at the end of 1992. The WGF High Command in Wünsdorf, headed by Army General Boris Snetkov, showed no signs of wanting to implement the AAV. Instead, Snetkov expressed this view to Deputy Minister of Defence Pyotr Lushev: ‘I will not implement the withdrawal! Marshal Zhukov founded the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, the most famous army leaders expanded it, yet I, the 15th commander-in-chief, the unknown General Snetkov, should dissolve it?! I can’t do that!’8 Snetkov was relieved of his post prematurely. Colonel-General Matvej Burlakov was originally supposed to replace Snetkov upon his retirement, which was not scheduled until May 1991. That was now brought forward. Burlakov, who, as head of the Southern Group, had already organised their withdrawal from Hungary to his superiors’ complete satisfaction, became the new commander-in-chief of the Western Group

6 See the instructions for the head of the DtVKdoWGT, Political Archive of the Foreign Office Berlin (PA AA) B38 (ZA), Bd. 198380. 7 See Naďovič, Svetozár et al.: The Great Withdrawal. Withdrawal of the Soviet-Russian Army from Central Europe, 1990–1994, Bratislava 2005, p. 63. 8 Arzamaskin Y. N./Kozlov, A. V./Nedbajlo, B. N.: General Armii Boris Snetkov. Portret bez retushi, Moskva 2005, pp. 98–99; also published in: Krasnaya Zvezda, 25. Februar 2000, p. 4.

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on 14 December 1990.9 The WGF’s attitude towards the German liaison command changed abruptly. On 11 January 1991, a complete withdrawal plan for the years 1991–1994 was presented to the German-Soviet working group on preparing and coordinating the scheduled withdrawal. It provided for the withdrawal of 30 per cent of troops and technology from Germany annually from 1991 to 1993 and the final 10 per cent in 1994.10 This was a massive logistical task. In fact, the Soviet/Russian withdrawal from Germany is considered history’s largest-ever movement of military forces in peacetime. Some 540,000 soldiers and civilians from the WGF returned home.11 122,678 pieces of equipment had to be removed, including tanks, aircraft, helicopters, and vehicles ranging from heavy trucks to light jeeps. In addition, there were 2,602,000 tonnes of so-called material-technical equipment, of which about a quarter was ammunition (677,032 tonnes).12 According to official figures based on a survey conducted by East Germany’s Ministry of National Defence on 31 July 1990, the Soviet armed forces vacated some 1,026 properties. However, the East German government had never been able to actually confirm the properties or the material stored in them for 40 years.13 In the course of the withdrawal, according to the Liaison Command, 480 more military properties were added that had remained hidden from the authorities of the East German government.14 The Federal Minstry of Finance even assumed a total of about 3500 Soviet properties, because it added about 2500 smaller properties that had not been in direct military use (mainly residential properties).15 All of the properties were handed over to the West German finance offices after they had been vacated and thus became the property of the Federal Republic.16 According to the plans of the Western Group, 80 per cent of transports were to be handled overland with a transit through Poland (and from 1992, Belarus as well). But the route through Poland became prohibitively expensive when the Polish government more than doubled the transit fee per freight car from DM 60 to

9 Proshhaj, Germanija! Neizvestnye podrobnosti vyvoda Zapadnoj gruppy vojsk [Goodbye Germany! Unknown details of the withdrawal of the Western Group of Forces], http://oficery.ru/security/3632, last accsess: 11 March 2021. 10 Quarterly withdrawal plans and the overall withdrawal plan, BArch, BW 55/100. 11 This figure is based on information provided by the Soviet army. The German side adopted this official figure, which could not be verified in the process of the withdrawal. 12 Closing Balance of DtVKdoWGT 1994, PA AA B38 (VAS), Bd. 386a. 13 PA AA B38 (ZA), Bd. 194809. 14 German Liaison Command to the Western Group of Troops, Overall Balance, BArch, BW 55/21. 15 Federal Ministry of Finance of 19 January 1994, PA AA B38 (ZA), Bd. 184922. 16 For details on the example of Brandenburg, see the article by Markus Hennen.

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DM 130 in January 1991.17 The background to this was that the Polish government wanted to exert pressure on the Soviet government in negotiations for the quickest possible withdrawal of the Northern Group of Forces from Poland.18 The WGF, with the support of the German side, responded to this diplomatic solo-effort by rerouting. As a result, a large part of the withdrawal was handled by sea instead. The Mukran-Klaipeda ferry connection developed into the main route for the withdrawal of the Western Group, through which about 60 per cent of all equipment was removed.19 After a Polish-Soviet withdrawal agreement was signed in October 1991, the Polish government made concessions, so that from 1992 onwards the main route of withdrawal from Germany was rail transit through Poland. In 1993/ 94 it exceeded 50 per cent.20 One of the first large Soviet units to be withdrawn from Germany was the 73rd Tank Regiment of the 8th Guards Army. It left its station in Weimar (Thuringia) in February 1991. The withdrawal from Thuringia was completed one and a half years later. On 21 November 1992, the Thuringian state government held an official farewell ceremony in Weimar. Saxony’s state government in Dresden had officially said goodbye to the last of its Soviet soldiers on 18 August 1992. The mayor of Dresden expressed his feelings with the less-than-diplomatic words that the withdrawal ‘does not fill us with sadness.’21 But in doing so, he expressed quite accurately the mood in large parts of the German population, which wanted to see the unloved Soviet army leave German soil as soon as possible. Only after the last soldier had left in 1994 did a certain degree of empathy develop in retrospect. This had to do with the relations between East and West Germans, which had greatly deteriorated in the meantime. In view of some disappointments that arose in the course of German reunification, many citizens of the former East Germany directed their attention to their irretrievable past life in East Germany. They did so primarily to distinguish

17 Mroß, Bernhard: Sie gingen als Freunde … Der Abzug der Westgruppe der sowjetisch-russischen Truppen 1990–1994 [They left as friends ... The Withdrawal of the Western Group of Soviet-Russian Troops 1990–1994], Harrislee 2012, p. 83. 18 See the article by Agnieszka Kastory. 19 Burlakow, Matwej: Wir verabschieden uns als Freunde. Der Abzug – Aufzeichnungen des Oberkommandierenden der Westgruppe der sowjetischen Streitkräfte [We say Goodbye as Friends. The Withdrawal – Records of the Commander-in-Chief of the Western Group of Soviet Armed Forces], Bonn et al. 1994, pp. 45–46. For the ferry connection see Klietz, Wolfgang et. al. (eds.): Mukran – Honeckers Superhafen. Gespräche über einen Seeweg im Kalten Krieg [Mukran – Honecker’s Super Port. Conversations about a Sea Route in the Cold War], Elmenhorst 2020. 20 Comparison of transport volume 1991–1994, PA AA B38 (VAS), Bd. 386a. 21 Quoted from Satjukow, Silke: Besatzer. „Die Russen” in Deutschland 1945–1994 [Occupiers. ‘The Russians’ in Germany 1945–1994], Göttingen 2008, p. 13.

The Withdrawal of the Western Group of Forces from Germany

themselves from West Germans. Feelings of solidarity with Russia that awakened after 1994 are still built upon that today.22 The August 1991 coup in Moscow against Mikhail Gorbachev briefly caused uncertainty on the German side. Brandenburg’s prime minister Manfred Stolpe immediately rushed to the military’s headquarters in Wünsdorf to ask General Burlakov about the position of the Western Group. Burlakov assured him that the contractual obligations towards Germany would be strictly adhered to. This settled the most important matter for the German leaders.23 Even the collapse of the Soviet Union and the sovereignty of its constituent states could not jeopardise the withdrawal. As early as 4 January 1992, Boris Yeltsin, as president of the Russian Federation, stated that his country would honour all obligations under the AAV and the Transitional Measures, although at that time the legal succession of the Soviet Union had not yet been clarified.24 This was followed on 6 January 1992 by the establishment of a State Commission under the President of the Russian Federation on economic issues in connection with the withdrawal of the Western Group of Forces from the Federal Republic of Germany to the territory of Russia.25 Lastly, on 4 March 1992, Yeltsin issued a decree placing troops of the former Soviet forces still stationed in Germany, Poland, Mongolia, and Cuba under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation.26 The AAV was thus interpreted as a German-Russian agreement immediately after the break-up of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991 and implemented in accordance with its provisions.

3.

Environmental damage and housing construction

Two issues dominated negotiations during the withdrawal, both at the political and military level: environmental protection and housing construction. For the German side, having already been forewarned by their Czech colleagues, identifying environmental degradation at the properties was of particular importance. Article 7 of the Transitional Measures provided for the asset value of Soviet real estate to be

22 See Eine Fernbeziehung [A Long Distance Relationship], in: Sächsische Zeitung vom 29. Juli 2019, p. 3. 23 Burlakow: Wir verabschieden uns als Freunde, pp. 93–103. 24 Balance 1991, BArch, BW 55/20. 25 Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of 06.01.1992, No. 6-rp, http://kremlin.ru/acts/ bank/708, last access: 20 February 2021. 26 Decree No. 248 of the President of the Russian Federation of 04.03.1992, On the Transfer of Troops Stationed on the Territory of Germany, the Republic of Poland, Mongolia, and the Republic of Cuba under the Jurisdiction of the Russian Federation, http://kremlin.ru/acts/bank/1006, last access: 20 February 2021.

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offset against German claims for compensation, with only the remaining amount to be paid out to the Soviet side. But even the property value itself was disputed. The Western Group put it at a total of DM 10.5 billion because it included all of its investments over 40 years in its calculations. The German side, which used the current property prices at the beginning of the 1990s as a basis, estimated the value to be much lower. Moreover, the Germans automatically assumed that the total value of damage would be higher than the sale price of the properties and that there would be no profit to be made for the Western Group. In response, the WGF systematically attempted to cover up environmental damage in order to achieve higher property valuations. This became a source of continuing dispute. As early as December 1990, the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) had suspected that the WGF might begin disposing of chemicals improperly because of the high costs of proper disposal.27 Almost from the outset, German authorities tried to document pollution in as much detail as possible. At the beginning of 1991, IndustrieanlagenBetriebsgesellschaft GmbH (IABG) was commissioned as a testing and analysis centre founded and funded by the Federal Republic of Germany.28 Since site visits were not always possible because the WGF often blocked access to its properties, at times environmental damage could only be recorded from the air, which made it quite incomplete. But it was very important to the German authorities to record the damage as quickly as possible, for reasons that included being able to avoid immediate hazards.29 This shows how quickly the experience of consultations on pollution with the Czechoslovakian side in November and December 1990 were incorporated into the withdrawal process in Germany. The Western Group had an exaggerated and unrealistic idea of the value of their properties.30 It was also wishful thinking to some extent, because the money raised from the sales was to be invested in housing construction in the Soviet Union. Regardless of this, Soviet soldiers had a hard time comprehending what the Germans meant by environmental damage. In the Western Group’s image of itself, there was nothing worthy of reproach. In an interview with the WGF military radio station ‘Volga’ on 26 February 1993, Burlakov claimed that ‘many of the cleanest areas in East Germany today are to be found on military training grounds of the WGF.’31 According to him, some 20,000 soldiers were deployed during the withdrawal years

27 Message from the BND of 9 January 1991, BArch, BW 55/362. 28 IABG project ‘Identification of suspected contaminated sites on the properties of WGF’, BArch, BW 55/228. 29 Environmental damage to real estate assigned to Soviet troops of 20.02.1991, BArch, BW 55/228. 30 Duisberg. Claus J.: Der Abzug der russischen Truppen aus Deutschland. Eine politische und militärische Erfolgsbilanz [The Withdrawal of Russian troops from Germany. A Political and Military Success Story], in: Europa-Archiv, 16/1994, pp. 461–469, here: p. 467. 31 ‘Volga’ from 26.2.1993, BArch, BW 55/228.

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for the purpose of cleaning up environmental damage.32 It is difficult to assess how much of these statements were for reputation management and how much, in the Russian understanding, corresponded to honest efforts. After all, the WGF had distributed 200,000 Russian-language manuals, produced by the Germans and entitled ‘Environmental Precautions Prevent Ecological Contamination’, among the troops.33 And an international workshop on ‘Contaminated Military Sites’, held in Berlin in September 1993, was intended to raise environmental awareness at the command level. All four former occupying powers took part in this workshop in order to discuss their experiences and problems.34 Burlakov even had 200 Russianlanguage copies of the educational film Spare the Environment: Environmental Awareness in NATO distributed in the WGF.35 However, this film was probably the best example of how the two sides failed to correctly perceive each other. The German side had wrongly assumed that, since the Cold War was over, there would be no problem in distributing a NATO film to soldiers who had served for decades in a highly ideological army where NATO was the enemy. Neither brochures nor workshops were capable of changing the environmental awareness of Russian soldiers, so that repairing the damage they did to the environment continues to this day. Education without incentives proved to be ineffective. It would have made more sense to devise a procedure that would have rewarded the WGF financially for preventing and detecting environmental damage. Disputes over the environmental damage and the related value of the properties could not be resolved in the meetings of the German-Soviet or German-Russian working groups. Ultimately, it was a visit by Chancellor Helmut Kohl to Russian president Boris Yeltsin on 16 December 1992 that clarified the problem at the political level. In a joint declaration, it was determined that both sides would renounce mutual claims in the future. This was called the ‘zero solution’. As a sign of goodwill and accommodation, the Russian government undertook to complete the withdrawal ahead of schedule by 31 August 1994, four months earlier than agreed in the Two Plus Four Agreement. In return, the German government paid an additional DM 550 million, which had to be earmarked for the reintegration of troops returning to Russia.36 This arrangement was a blessing for the rest of the withdrawal, since the biggest point of contention was now off the table. But there is

32 ‘Volga’ from 26.2.1993, BArch, BW 55/228. 33 Progress report on environmental protection issues for the 6th meeting of the Joint Commission on 16 June 1992, PA AA B38 (ZA), Bd. 184732. 34 Programme: International Workshop on Military Contaminated Sites, PA AA B38 (ZA), Bd. 184921. 35 Balance 1992, BArch, BW 55/20. 36 See points 2 and 3 of the joint declaration by Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl and President Boris Yeltsin, signed in Moscow on 16 December 1992, in: Europa-Archiv, 5/1993, pp. D98–D100, here: p. D99.

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still the question of why it did not happen much earlier. As early as the beginning of August 1990, the last foreign minister of East Germany, Markus Meckel, had spoken with the West German foreign minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, about a lump sum that could be paid to the Soviet Union for its properties. This sum, he said, was better calculated politically than on the basis of market prices. However, this idea, though it sounds clever in retrospect, did not find its way into the AAV, and Meckel complained that East German politicians’ expertise was left out of the AAV negotiations.37 Another attempt at a political solution was made by the diplomat Franz Bertele in his capacity as head of the mixed German-Soviet commission. On 30 May 1991, he suggested to the State Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Dr Peter Klemm: ‘Perhaps the problem could be settled by establishing, in connection with further aid to the Soviet Union, that compensation for the buildings erected by the Soviets and our damage claims are approximately equal, with the result that neither side can demand compensation from this state of affairs.’38 This wording is very similar to what appeared in the agreement that was signed in December 1992. But it still took a year and a half to get there. After the zero solution was agreed in December 1992, the withdrawing WGF changed its behaviour. The soldiers began to dismantle as many things as possible in the buildings that could be of use to them back home. Cables, pipes, radiators, windows, bathroom ceramics, and taps were particularly popular. The self-image of the Western Group, which had always been proud of its self-sufficiency, played an important role here. In addition, Burlakov, its commander-in-chief, told his soldiers ‘to take everything with them if possible, because practically everything could be used at the new barracks in Russia.’39 The German authorities had not reckoned with this. Stunned, they complained to Burlakov with reference to the AAV.40 Their complaints went unheeded, and later those responsible on the German side no longer wanted to hear anything about their protests. Major General Foertsch was magnanimous when the withdrawal was complete. In most cases, the buildings had been gutted and renovated from the ground up anyway, so the illegal dismantling of them was of no consequence.41 With the money agreed upon in the Transitional Measures and the additional DM 550 million from December 1992, the Russian side was given a total of about

37 Meckel, Markus: Zu wandeln die Zeiten. Erinnerungen [To Change the Times. Memories], Leipzig 2020, pp. 412–413. 38 Letter from Franz Bertele to Dr Peter Klemm, 30.05.1991, PA AA B38 (ZA), Bd. 184728. 39 Burlakow: Wir verabschieden uns als Freunde, pp. 27–28. 40 Letter Duisberg to Burlakow of 4 March 1993, BArch, BW 55/228. 41 Foertsch, Hartmut: Beginn einer Partnerschaft? Deutsches Verbindungskommando zur WGT [Start of a Partnership? German Liaison Command to the WGF], in: Information für die Truppe 8/1994, pp. 14–24, here: pp. 23–24.

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DM 8.5 billion to reintegrate troops and help with housing construction in their homeland. This was based on a Soviet programme that provided for the construction of four million square metres of housing between 1991–1994.42 From the outset, the goal was to build at least 36,000 flats with a total of two million square metres of living space at 35 locations in the European part of the Soviet Union. This corresponded to about 50 per cent of the entire programme. The other half was to be financed by the Soviet/Russian side, which was never addressed again in the dispute over housing programme during the course of the withdrawal. Four construction combines with an annual production capacity of 100,000 square metres were to be created for this purpose. The Soviet Ministry of Defence, and that of the Russian Federation starting from 1992, acted as the client and was supported by a German-Soviet/German-Russian planning office. The construction contracts were awarded to general contractors, with most of the contracts going to German, Turkish, and Finnish companies.43 The construction combines were supposed to be an investment in the future that would enable production of affordable housing even after the withdrawal. Their completion was originally scheduled for the end of 1992 but this was delayed, and in August 1993 they were expected to be completed in late 1995 or early 1996.44 In addition, the German side agreed to give companies from the new federal states at least 20 per cent of the value of construction projects financed by German money, either in the form of actual construction work or purchased building materials.45 This provision was intended to give a boost the new federal states, which were economically depressed after the collapse of East Germany and heavily impacted by the stationing of the Soviet army.46 But there were major obstacles when it came to implementation. The timetable had to be amended because no construction work could begin in the winter of 1990/91 due to the weather conditions that are typical of that time of year. Although project planning and tendering were carried out as quickly as possible, Soviet military personnel returning home in February 1991 still had no flats available to move into. When distributing the flats, administrators also had to take into account that troops were returning from Afghanistan, Hungary and Czechoslovakia in 1989–1991, and they were competing with the soldiers from the WGF for a very limited supply of housing. Troops withdrawing from Mongolia and Poland

42 43 44 45 46

Agreement on some transitional measures, p. 1656. Housing Programme CIS: Locations, as of 07.03.1994, PA AA B38 (ZA), Bd. 184741. Housing Programme CIS, 30.08.1993, PA AA B38 (ZA), Bd. 184739. Housing Programme CIS: Locations, as of 06.10.1993, PA AA B38 (ZA), Bd. 184739. Housing programme CIS – fulfilment of the 20% clause for East German companies by Haka Oy, PA AA B38 (ZA), Bd. 184741.

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in 1992–1993 had to be provided with housing too.47 In this mixed situation, exacerbated by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the difficulties associated with it, many members of the Western Group were left empty-handed. Of necessity, some of them camped in tents in the open countryside. A striking example of this is a helicopter squadron that, after returning to Yefremov, some 400 kilometres south of Moscow, had to spend the winter in their parked helicopters at temperatures of -40°C, because the housing promised to them was not ready.48 Admittedly, this is an extreme example that cannot be generalised. Burlakov put the issue of housing construction on the agenda as early as 22 October 1991, at the fourth meeting of the Joint German-Soviet Commission in Berlin. There he tied the pace of withdrawal to the progress of housing construction, saying that the withdrawal from Germany could not occur until accommodation was secured in Russia. Although the German side showed understanding, it rejected the linkage on the grounds that delays in housing construction were not the responsibility of the German side. This was true in substance, but Burlakov still thought he could put pressure on the German side.49 He subsequently did not miss any opportunities to put the issue of housing construction on the agenda.50 At press conferences and in joint meetings or political discussions, he repeatedly brought up the unsatisfactory living conditions of his soldiers after their return home.51 This certainly had to do with the fact that he hoped for greater financial support from the German side for the withdrawal and the construction of housing. Of course, the proportionate participation of the Soviet/Russian side in the housing construction programme was no longer mentioned.52 The collapse of the Soviet Union led to additional turbulence in the matter of housing. Since the troops were originally supposed to be housed mainly on the western border of the Soviet Union, i.e. in Belarus and Ukraine, most of the locations were planned there. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, a new allocation of locations had to be planned as most of the troops moved further east into the Russian Federation. Consequently, negotiations between the new, sovereign states of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine started at the beginning of 1992, but they did not produce a workable result until December 1992.53 As a result, Russia received

47 Kaiser, Gerhard/Herrmann, Bernd: Vom Sperrgebiet zur Waldstadt: Die Geschichte der geheimen Kommandozentralen in Wünsdorf und Umgebung [From Restricted Area to Waldstadt. The History of the Secret Command Centres in Wünsdorf and the Surrounding Area], Berlin 20074 , p. 182. 48 Mroß: Sie gingen als Freunde, pp. 60–62. 49 4th Meeting of the Joint German-Soviet Commission on 22.10.1991, PA AA B38 (ZA), Bd. 184729. 50 Burlakow: Wir verabschieden uns als Freunde, p. 127. 51 Naďovič et al.: The Great Withdrawal, p. 142. 52 German Liaison Command to the Western Group, Overall Balance, p. 31, BArch, BW 55/21. 53 Ibid.

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32 new housing estates, Belarus received seven, and Ukraine received four. The number of flats increased, a fact that was taken into account in the supplementary agreement concluded by Kohl and Yeltsin in December 1992. A total of 46,000 flats were built at 43 sites: 34,635 in Russia, 5,938 in Belarus, and 5,170 in Ukraine.54 By mid-1994, however, only 20,000 of these had been completed.55 The last flats to be completed as part of the housing construction programme were handed over to Russian soldiers in the town of Nachabino near Moscow on 9 October 1996, about two years after the withdrawal from Germany had been completed. Of the construction combines, only two were completed in Belarus and Russia. Ukraine and Russia had each foregone the creation of one combine in favour of more housing.56 German military and political leaders always spoke of a very good result.57 But if one may ask the returning soldiers about their perceptions, their assessment would probably have been a little different. After all, the German side completely ignored the ways in which the Soviet/Russian ministry of defence awarded contracts, things that the Germans had no insight into. There is evidence that some of the flats did not go to members of the Western Group.58 The exact number can only be determined through files in the Russian ministry of defence, but there is no way of accessing them. Another form of help, from the perspective of the Germans, was a retraining programme they offered for the soldiers being withdrawn. It was funded with DM 200 million and was intended to help WGF soldiers discharged from military service after their return home to integrate into civilian work. The programme began in 1992. Fifteen training centres in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan were to train discharged soldiers in commercial and technical professions. But onsite measures were implemented at 32 garrisons in Germany as well. The soldiers were able to receive advanced training from German instructors, especially in the realm of commercial bookkeeping and accounting. Initially, all military personnel were targeted, but by March 1992 this retraining had shifted its focus from enlisted ranks to just officers and non-commissioned officers who had served for a longer period of time.59 On the Soviet side, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs was in charge, while on the German side it was the federally owned Kreditbank für

54 Housing Programme CIS: Locations, as of 07.03.1994, PA AA B38 (ZA), Bd. 184741. 55 Duisberg, Claus J.: Das deutsche Jahr. Einblicke in die Wiedervereinigung 1989/90 [The German Year. Insights into the Reunification of 1989/90], Berlin 2005, p. 357. 56 Housing Programme CIS: Locations, as of 06.10.1993, PA AA B38 (ZA), Bd. 184739. 57 See ibid., German Liaison Command to the Western Group, Overall Balance, p. 31 and Naďovič et al.: The Great Withdrawal, p. 146. 58 Naďovič et al.: The Great Withdrawal, p. 147. 59 Training and retraining of Soviet military personnel, PA AA B38 (ZA), Bd. 184743.

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Wiederaufbau (KfW).60 A total of over 13,650 officers and their family members, who were explicitly included in the programme, took part in these courses in Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.61

4.

Phenomena accompanying the withdrawal

During the entire withdrawal, i.e. until August 1994, service operations continued in the Western Group. This was of great importance to Commander-in-Chief Burlakov, because: ‘In many years of service I have learned that if troops are inactive or they pursuit trivial things, their mood sinks rapidly.’62 Article 6 of the AAV had stipulated that military training could continue in all WGF units and formations. And until the disintegration of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, recruits did indeed continue to be drafted for service in the Western Group and trained accordingly in Germany. The German population living in the neighbourhood of Soviet barracks did not appreciate this because, despite the agreed withdrawal, there continued to be nuisances from training flights, gunnery training, and tanks. The people had already had to endure these nuisances for over 40 years, with GDR state agencies systematically suppressing complaints about Soviet military operations. During the withdrawal phase, the German liaison command therefore tried to have a calming effect on the mood of the German people by imposing various conditions such as shooting times, prescribing driving routes, making it compulsory for military convoys to register, and scheduling rest periods for air operations. In this context, the joint German-Russian Airspace Coordination Unit (LUKO), played an important role. This section of the German armed forces brought together 120 air force soldiers from both sides. It was located in the third military compound in Wünsdorf, which also housed the staff of the WGF’s 16th air army. Since Soviet troops had exercised de facto military air control of East Germany and conducted their flights as they pleased63 , it was hard for them to accept that, after German reunification on 3 October 1990, no flights could be conducted without first registering them with the German authorities.64 But Article 7 AAV had clearly established German sovereignty over airspace. As a result, LUKO regulated all military, civil

60 DM 200 for Red Army soldiers willing to learn, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, Nr. 178 (3/4 August 1991), p. 34. 61 Duisberg: Der Abzug der russischen Truppen, p. 464. 62 Burlakow: Wir verabschieden uns als Freunde, p. 23. 63 For this see Finke, Julian-André: Hüter des Luftraumes? Die Luftstreitkräfte der DDR im Diensthabenden System des Warschauer Paktes [Guardians of the Airspace? The Air Forces of the GDR in the Warsaw Pact Service System], Berlin 2010. 64 Naďovič et al.: The Great Withdrawal, p. 139.

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and international flight movements (except scheduled flights) in the airspace over the former East Germany. From October 1990 to 29 April 1994, 536,611 flights were coordinated between the Bundeswehr and the WGF. More than 90 per cent of these flights (about 500,000 flights) were due to service operations and, to a lesser extent, the withdrawal of the Western Group. International disarmament had an impact on the implementation of the withdrawal too. With the signing of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) in Paris on 19 November 1990 and its entry into force on 9 November 1992, the Warsaw Pact, later the successor states of the Soviet Union, undertook to reduce their amount of tanks within the framework of arms control. In a pragmatic move, the Western Group decided that this disarmament could already begin on German soil. Around 30 per cent of their armoured combat vehicles were not removed at all but dismantled on the spot. Under the eyes of international inspectors, a total of 2632 vehicles were destroyed from August 1992 onwards. When scrapping was finished on 20 May 1994, the WGF was officially removed from international arms control ‘as no longer posing a military threat’.65

5.

Disagreements and final farewell

A farewell ceremony in Berlin on 31 August 1994 officially ended the Russian troops’ stay in Germany. Prior to this, the troops had already received dignified farewell ceremonies at the state level. These were usually combined with the farewell ceremonies for the armies stationed in the federal states. This was the case in Saxony-Anhalt on 5 December 1991 (at Magdeburg), in Thuringia on 21 November 1992 (at Weimar), in Saxony on 18 August 1992 (at Dresden), in MecklenburgWestern Pomerania on 28 April 1993 (at Schwerin), in Berlin on 25 June 1994, and in Brandenburg on 2 July 1994 (at Potsdam). The WGF itself said goodbye to Germany with a military parade at its headquarters in Wünsdorf on 11 June 1994. But before the final farewell took place in Berlin, some misunderstandings had to be cleared up. Chancellor Kohl had offered the WGF two small ceremonies in Weimar and Berlin. In Kohl’s eyes, Weimar stood as a symbol of the centuriesold cultural ties between Russia and Germany. The WGF and its commander-inchief, Burlakov, however, knew nothing of Weimar and felt being shunned to the countryside. The Buchenwald concentration camp just outside Weimar had been liberated by American troops in April 1945. Until 1950 it served as the NKVD Soviet Special Camp No. 2, where more than 7000 people died of hunger, malnutrition, and disease. This was something they preferred to ignore, as it did not fit into

65 Mroß: Sie gingen als Freunde, p. 213.

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the framework of a ceremonial farewell. Burlakov had already stated in 1993 that ‘the official farewell ceremonies had to be similar in scale and protocol to those of the American, British, and French troops stationed in Berlin.’66 However, after negotiations between the Russian president and the German chancellery, it was determined in May 1994 that while the WGF would be seen off in Berlin, it would not happen in a joint ceremony with the three Western allies. In the German public sphere, which was dominated primarily by West German journalists and politicians after reunification, a very clear distinction was made between the occupying power (the Soviet Union) and the protecting powers (the USA, Great Britain, and France) after the Cold War ended. And so 31 August 1994 the Russian commander-in-chief gave his last status report at Gendarmenmarkt in the centre of Berlin. The climax of the ceremony was a joint march, including the laying of a wreath by an honorary formation of the WGF and the Bundeswehr at the Soviet memorial in Treptower Park before Russia’s President Yeltsin and Germany’s Chancellor Kohl.67 This ceremony produced images that are still associated with the farewell today. In addition, a concert took place that day at the Konzerthaus at Gendarmenmarkt and wreath-laying ceremonies were held at the Soviet memorial in the Tiergarten and at the Neue Wache, the Federal Republic of Germany’s central memorial to the victims of war and tyranny. The next day, the commander-in-chief of the WGF, Burlakov, took his leave at the airfield in Sperenberg. He took down the flag of the Russian Federation at 11:58 am. In his last military ceremony on German soil, Burlakov handed the folded flag to Russian defence minister Pavel Grachev, and less than ten minutes later the plane departed for Moscow. It left behind 3276 soldiers and a remnant of equipment, mostly trucks, which returned to Russia in 25 planes and 22 trains between 1–9 September.68 On 9 September 1994, a final flight from the civilian airport of Berlin Schönefeld left the territory of Germany with 45 generals and officers under the leadership of the Chief of Staff of the WGF, Colonel General Anton Terentyev.69 In retrospect, Russian military officials spoke of a flight from Germany. Burlakov attacked his own country’s politicians, accusing them of not having taken the army into consideration.70 Marshal Viktor Kulikov, the Warsaw Pact commander-inchief from 1977 to 1989, referred to all of the withdrawals from East-Central Europe

66 Burlakow: Wir verabschieden uns als Freunde, p. 128. 67 The Soviet Memorial in Berlin-Treptow is one of the largest memorials in Germany. It was inaugurated on 8 May 1949. The site has great symbolic significance, expressed in the central statue of the Liberator, which is a widespread symbol in Russian commemorative culture. 68 Report of the Liaison Command 1994, BW 55/21 and a graphic list of the last trains and flights of the WGT in the private archive of Rainer Rodig, which the author was kindly allowed to view. 69 Mroß: Sie gingen als Freunde, p. 286. 70 Proshhaj, Germanija!, http://oficery.ru/security/3632.

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as follows: ‘I would say it bordered on criminality. The decision to pull troops so quickly out of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and especially Germany was rash and illconceived.’71 On the other hand, German politicians and military officials focused on the logistical feat and the dignity of the withdrawal, which was supposed to be a good start for mutual relations.72 On 9 September 1994, the withdrawal of the Western Group of Forces, perceived by some as a flight and celebrated by others as a dignified withdrawal, ended the 49-year stay of Soviet/Russian troops in German territory.

71 Interview with Kulikov in Labetskaya, Ekaterina: ‘Marshal Kulikov: “Voennye byli slishkom poslushnymi”’ [Labetskaya, Ekaterina: ‘Marshal Kulikov: “Militaries were too obedient”’], in: Vremya MN (Moscow), 6 September 1999, p. 2. 72 Vgl. Naďovič et al.: The Great Withdrawal, p. 153; also Duisberg: Der Abzug der russischen Truppen pp. 468–469. The commander of the liaison command, Foertsch, and the Chief of Staff of German Liaison Command, Colonel Otto Freiherr Grote, later said that it had not been a masterpiece and that the withdrawal could have been faster with the existing transport capacities. Only internal factors in the Soviet Union, such as housing construction, would have reduced the pace. See Interview with Generalmajor Hartmut Foertsch, in: Ehlert, Hans: Regionale militärische Umsetzung. Planung und Aufbau des Bundeswehrkommandos Ost und der Abzug der Westgruppe der sowjetischen Truppen, in: Ehlert, Hans (ed.): Armee ohne Zukunft. Das Ende der NVA und die deutsche Einheit. Zeitzeugenberichte und Dokumente, Berlin 2002, pp. 233–238, here: p. 235. Freiherr Grote, Otto: Die Westgruppe verlässt Deutschland. Der Abzug aus der Perspektive des Chefs des Stabes des Verbindungskommandos zur WGT [The Western Group leaves Germany. The Withdrawal from the Perspective of the Chief of Staff of the Liaison Command to the WGF], in: Deutsch-Russisches Museum Berlin-Karlshorst (ed.): Der Abzug. Die letzten Jahre der russischen Truppen in Deutschland. Eine fotografische Dokumentation von Detlev Steinberg, Berlin 2016, pp. 74–89, here: p. 89.

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Shaping and Negotiating the Withdrawal Soviet/Russian Troops as ‘Strangers’ in Unified Germany

1.

Introduction

‘Withdrawal with dignity’ (Abzug in Würde) was the leitmotiv and the highly symbolic claim of the German and Russian, later Soviet, side in order to shape the withdrawal modalities in a harmonious, bilateral, consensual manner and, thus, model the end of the Cold War in a respectively affirmative manner. However, numerous points of friction arose from this lofty claim and in the course of implementing political guidelines and negotiating various interests. These, in turn, reached varying degrees of sharpness and indicated different areas of conflict. This article examines these various conflict dimensions and its deductions delineate important historical and geostrategic conditions that refer to the specifics of a divided and united Germany. Before 1990, both Germanys were members of the opposing military alliances NATO and the Warsaw Pact; this is a striking distinction compared to the other states of the former Eastern Bloc. The collapse of the Warsaw pact marked a step towards a world political change that would revolutionize the European and global landscape and also significantly shape the process of withdrawal. The framework conditions for this exit were fixed in intergovernmental agreements: Article 4 of the Two Plus Four Agreement set the date for the removal of Soviet troops from the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany. The departure of the Western Group of Forces (WGF) was to be completed within four years. This required ambitious logistical, infrastructural, and organizational solutions, because the troops comprised around 550,000 people, about a third of whom were civilians who were scattered around 1115 locations throughout eastern Germany.1 This magnitude underlines the role of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) as a strategic outpost at the western far reaches of the Soviet sphere of power. At the end of the 1980s, Soviet troops occupied 777 barracks at 276 locations in the territory of the former GDR. Most of the sites were located in the territory of the present-day federal state of Brandenburg, where the supreme command of the group of Soviet-armed forces in Germany was located in the village of Wünsdorf.2

1 See http://sowjetische-militaerstandorte-in-deutschland.de, last access: 03 November 2020. 2 For the history of Wünsdorf, see Kaiser, Gerhard/Herrmann, Bernard: Vom Sperrgebiet zur Waldstadt. Die Geschichte der geheimen Kommandozentralen in Wünsdorf und Umgebung [From Restricted

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The GDR’s military objects numbered in excess of more than 1000 military training areas, covering 243,015.46 hectares, around 2 per cent of the GDR territory. These locations had to be cleared and relinquished to the German administration, with more than 2 million tons of ‘material and technical equipment’ requiring relocation.3 On August 30, 1994, four months earlier than originally planned, the largest peacetime troop transfer was finally completed. This was an enormous, logistical undertaking and an unprecedented demilitarization of land and property. This transitional period between the completion of German unity and the final withdrawal of the last units from Germany also required the moderation of any possible conflict situations. On 9 October 1990, one week after the German unification, a transition agreement was signed for this purpose, defining the conditions of the ‘limited stay and the modalities of the planned withdrawal of Soviet troops from the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany’ (entry into force on 12 October 1990). This agreement considerably restricted the legal rights and practices of Soviet troop units’ actions and activities on German ground; for example, bans were imposed on the movement of troops on public roads, low-level flights, and flights on Sundays and holidays. The German Liaison Command to the WGF – a department of the German army – communicated and represented the interests of the Federal Ministry of Defence to the Soviet Army and reviewed the progress of these new rules. The work of the command was not only to accompany the withdrawal and to document or respond to any violations of the agreement, but also to address complaints from the civilian population. In addition to the Liaison Command, a German-Soviet (respectively Russian) ‘joint Commission’ was organized to monitor compliance with the agreement and arbitrate any disputes. In some respects, this institution’s work was modelled on that of the GDR-USSR Mixed Commission – not so much in terms of personnel and even less so in ideology. This compliance and arbitration commission was established under the 1957 Stationing Agreement and held its 49th and final meeting on 28 September 1990. It was entrusted with a number of disputes that occurred continuously during the process of withdrawal, with background

Area to Forest City. The History of the Secret Command Centres in Wünsdorf and the Surrounding Area], Berlin 2010. For an overview of the Soviet troops in the GDR, see Kowalczuk, Ilko-Sascha/Wolle, Stefan: Roter Stern über Deutschland. Sowjetische Truppen in der DDR [Red Star over Germany. Soviet Troops in the GDR], Berlin 2010. For the history of the withdrawal, see, among others, Meißner, Christoph: Der Abzug der Westgruppe aus der Perspektive deutscher Quellen [The Withdrawal of the Western Group of Forces from the Perspective of German Sources], in: Deutsch-Russisches Museum Berlin-Karlshorst (ed.): Der Abzug. Die letzten Jahre der russischen Truppen in Deutschland. Eine fotografische Dokumentation von Detlev Steinberg, Berlin 2016, pp. 56–73. 3 List of properties used by the WGF on the territory of the GDR as of 31 July 1990, Political Archive of the Foreign Office Berlin (PAA), M 38, ZR 263/98.

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noises of varying volume.4 Nonetheless, complaints and contractual violations were not uncommon; on the contrary, the Liaison Command distributed ‘problem lists’ internally, in cooperation with the police and the public prosecutor’s office. These reports included problems of varying dimensions and, thus, reflected the complexity of challenges: Specifically, they included questions of financing, the environment, social, economic, and human rights aspects, violations of airspace or the War Weapons Control Act, delays in the housing program, transport problems, and special incidents, such as alleged arms sales, theft, compliance with road safety regulations, desertions, and shootings.5 This range of categories impressively illustrates the diverse challenges faced in implementing the contractual requirements and guidelines. Based on this observation, the controversial nature of the ‘withdrawal with dignity’ and its causes centres this article. The postulate of a dignified farewell, which is highly significant in terms of symbolic politics, refers to different levels of debate (subtle and open, publicly registered and internally negotiated), which is why historians are called upon to critically question this claim and address its tensions. This essay argues that the process of attributing ‘foreignness’ lies at the roots of many conflicts that military leaders on both sides faced. The development of this mode of attribution itself occurs partly in the period before 1989 and partly in the early phase of transformation, a time characterized by confusion and disorder.

2.

The changing image of ‘the Russians’: Conflict dimensions in public and internal exchange

Signs of unrest accompanied the withdrawal from its very beginning. As a result, ‘withdrawal with dignity’ – a term significantly influenced by Hartmut Foertsch, head of the liaison command between the German and Russian armies,6 and formulated in the Two Plus Four negotiations – was anything but self-evident. The withdrawal was not only an internal negotiation between German and Russian military personnel but also a process of great interest to a large portion of German society. Even before the collapse of the GDR, from a cultural point of view, the Soviets or Russians often left rather ambivalent impressions on the East Germans. The German-Soviet ‘friendship’ was the official framework before 1989 state doctrine and was reflected not only in political-military cooperation, but also in everyday life, namely, in the form of the Society for German–Soviet Friendship (Gesellschaft 4 See the protocol: PAA, M 11, ZR 4697. 5 Saxon State Chancellery, list of problems for Major General Foertsch, 19 February 1991, BArch, BW 55/01. 6 The Russian side considered the fact that his father Friedrich Albert was, among other things, a major general on the Eastern Front during World War II to be indelicate.

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für Deutsch-Sowjetische Freundschaft). However, in reality, the politically instrumentalized term ‘friends’ was ambiguous and seldom more than a clichéd official phrase or, at best, limited to the officer corps, though there were isolated, individual relationships between members of the Soviet army and the local population; sometimes love relationships and families also emerged from these contacts.7 This prehistory explains the attribution of (new) strangeness after 1989–1990, when the Soviet past had suddenly become part of a lost history. The perception of cultural differences and the specific conditions for the stationing of troops – including the strict distance and isolation from the Germans to prevent possible fraternizations with the civil population as much as possible – were decisive in the way that soldiers were perceived in the period after the fall of the Wall. From the very beginning this transformation from imposed friendship to new foreignness received a high level of public attention, particularly in the mass media, whose treatment of the topic and the themes associated with the media’s own logic (focusing, scandalization, dramatization, and others) led to latent background noises of varying volume over the course of the intended dignified farewell. This, in turn, influenced the perception of the process itself. The way in which the topic was reported especially in the print media (which was headed primarily by West German journalists and chief editors in both West and East Germany) had a highly symbolic value. That is why the influence of press coverage on the modalities of withdrawal should by no means be underestimated, because the ideas that media conveyed had a decisive influence on the perception of the troops. These contemporary reports help to reconstruct the symbolic modes of attribution and categorization and can be seen as a microcosm of the production and reproduction of existing, traditional, negative anti-Russian stereotypes and cultural patterns of interpretation. The communicative and symbolic treatment of ‘Russians’ in the public arena provides indications of positioning struggles and hierarchical relationships in unified Germany, which, in certain contexts, are still felt today: What was considered ‘German’ in these highly dynamic times experienced an unmistakable reinterpretation, while what was considered ‘foreign’ – whether West German ‘reconstruction workers’ or migrants, such as asylum seekers from the Balkans, the Soviet Union, or countries outside Europe – tended to be perceived as a threat. In terms of the concept of nation, identity, politics of memory, and the relationship between ‘us’ and ‘them’, the early 1990s brought similar alterations, which, as a result, reveal often contradictory and

7 Behrends, Jan C.: Sowjetische „Freunde“ und fremde „Russen“. Deutsch-sowjetische Freundschaft zwischen Ideologie und Alltag (1949–1990) [Soviet ‘Friends’ and Foreign ‘Russians’. German-Soviet Friendship between Ideology and Everyday Life (1949–1990)], in: ibid./Lindenberger, Thomas/ Poutrus, Patrice G. (eds.): Fremde und Fremd-Sein in der DDR. Zu historischen Ursachen der Fremdenfeindlichkeit in Ostdeutschland, Berlin 2003, pp. 75–100.

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complex contemporary narratives of the Russian withdrawal and the legacy of the Soviet/Russian troops. Matvej Burlakov was the WGF’s last commander-in-chief and, thus, the main person responsible for the withdrawal on the Russian side and one of the central figures in the process. In an interview with the WGF’s radio station ‘Volga’ in February 1993, he described the press coverage as ‘serious defamation’ and resolutely rejected the media’s accusations. Instead, he appealed for German-Russian cooperation to be maintained and not influenced by such background noises in order to guarantee a smooth withdrawal: ‘We Russian soldiers take the warmth of the German people with us and leave a part of our hearts, even a part of our lives behind. I hope that most Germans will also think of us with warmth’.8 This assessment must be placed in the context of the GDR media’s unimpeded presence and consistently positive reporting until 1990 (in recent years and especially with the ban of the Soviet magazine ‘Sputnik’ in 1988 with noticeable cutbacks), a condition that was to change diametrically in the months following the fall of the Wall and especially after reunification. The importance of press and public relations work in order to promote targeted ‘prevention of disruptions’ was repeatedly addressed in discussions with the German side, in which the relationship with the German civilian population was already characterized early on as ‘an emotionally marked rejectionist attitude’ – here, the statement is to be interpreted certainly also as warning call that neither side endanger the dignified departure ideal. This sensitive relationship very aptly describes the ‘indigenous-external’ knowledge mentioned above and also explains the increase in sporadic riots and attacks on members of the WGF. This aggression led to even greater restrictions of non-service contacts, as negative effects on the discipline of the troops were feared.9 These perceptions, as well as the observation and regulation of the withdrawal of troops, were essentially structured by the foreign political events of the time. The developments and their scope were nearly impossible to predict: The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the resulting, increasing uncertainties on both sides made the external circumstances of the withdrawal considerably more difficult. It can be assumed that the self-esteem of many soldiers suffered from the developments and from the fact that they were no longer ‘liberators’ and ‘victors over fascism’, but, rather, were temporarily tolerated and annoying guests, faced with growing uncertainty regarding further developments after the repatriation (for example,

8 Soldier transmitter of the WGF ‘Volga’, 26 February 1993, BArch, BW 55/228. For the background and the media strategy of the Russian side see Lorke, Christoph: Contested Spaces, Contested Memories: Images of Post-Soviet-Military Bases in Reunified Germany, in: Český lid/The Czech Ethnological Journal 4/106 (2019), pp. 439–461. 9 Liaison Command to the Federal Ministry of Defence, 30 January 1991, BArch, BW 55/01.

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future uncertainty, lack of housing, and financial hardship due to inflation) while, at the same time, losing their reputation. The fact that the troops were forced to take a defensive stance had apparently further burdened the already difficult withdrawal. The members of the WGF were forced to adapt to completely foreign administrative and economic structures in a highly dynamic and abrupt process of upheaval, dramatic economic changes, and road traffic regulations. Whether the Liaison Command was actually capable of estimating the extent and scope of the necessary adjustment processes cannot be clarified here, but, from German ministerial representatives, it was assumed that ‘naturally, errors and imperfections’ by the Russians were to be expected under such conditions. These rapid conversions and adjustments, which the Federal Ministry of Defence sought to support through interculturally oriented seminars on such topics as the changed view of history, state-building, the multi-party system, federalism, and the market economy, were a topic of discussion on the German side.10 According to the ministry’s observation, the same applied to the presumed difficulties in maintaining the discipline of the troops and widespread demotivation – a threat of premature return to the homeland could dwindle in view of the developments – as well as possible nationality conflicts between ethnic groups.11 The tension that arises from this statement is explicit: being sensitive, demonstrating understanding for one’s counterpart and making concessions if necessary, but also observing the withdrawal with a healthy degree of scepticism. There was a dilemma between the enforcement of German law here and empathy for the withdrawing soldiers there, apparently not always an easy balancing act that the German side had to juggle. This sceptical distance was questioned particularly with regards to the amount of ammunition in Soviet storage, which, in the opinion of German observers, did not correspond, to a considerable extent, to reality. The reliability of submitted figures did not, as the Federal Ministry of Defence recommended in summer 1993, warrant a scenario in which the Liaison Command should ‘show up’ the WGF.12 Apart from these insecurities regarding quantities, there were other events that tested German-Russian cooperation from the start. In particular, the noise of Russian airplanes and military vehicles, reckless drivers, drunken soldiers, arson, inadequate signage of properties, burglaries, and reports of various crimes

10 Business trip report: German information seminar for WGF’s members, 28 April 1992, BArch, BW 55/34. 11 Balance sheet 1991 (March 1992), BArch, BW 55/20. 12 Liaison Command to the Federal Ministry of Defence, Assessment of the problems to be expected in the final phase of the WGF’s withdrawal, 17 August 1993, BArch, BW 55/393.

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including murder were also internally observed, documented, and discussed in detail.13 False promises and divergent expectations were by no means limited to internal negotiations. In particular, the dimension of presumed violence on the Russian side has been repeatedly addressed publicly by the mass media, which again suggests its strong influence on the public. In 1991, the Federal Criminal Police Office registered 30 crimes involving Russian soldiers every week.14 Reports of prostitution, arms trafficking, and deaths under sometimes-mysterious circumstances created the image of ‘morality-lessness’, chaos, and confusion.15 Furthermore, there were news regarding the existence of 30,000 tons of poison gas,16 the unclear fate of up to 80,000 tons of ammunition,17 and rumours about the mistreatment of soldiers by officers, unsolved murders, and illegal arms trade. Particularly around Wünsdorf, there was significant media hype, which at times led to the Russian side confiscating all ‘Propusks’, permits required for entrance.18 The media coverage and the apparently pent-up anger against ‘the Russians’ led to the German population committing vandalism and various outbreaks of violence. Anti-Soviet slogans such as ‘Russians out!’ on the walls of barracks and even attacks on soldiers, their families, and children were by no means rare, and often a harrowing ordeal. In 1990, a total of 163 incidents were registered, and in 1991, this number almost doubled. In October 1993, Major General Subochev counted the number of illegal acts on the German side at 1,038 in 1992 and at 993 in the first nine months of 1993, plus 918 intrusion attempts. Claus-Jürgen Duisberg, the chairman of the German-Russian joint commission, assured the press that the German side was taking the problems seriously. However, he also pointed out that

13 See for the ministerial perception File note: Problems of troop units/units of the Commonwealth of Independent States armed forces in the Federal Republic of Germany with emigrants, 15 October 1992, BArch, BW 55/34; see also incidents with members of the former Soviet armed forces and selected events: BArch, BW 55/49. 14 „Den Rückzug nicht gelernt“. Der Kapitalismus zersetzt die Moral der sowjetischen Streitkräfte in Deutschland [‘Not learned the retreat.’ Capitalism corrodes the Morale of the Soviet Forces in Germany], in: Spiegel, 10/1991, pp. 144–156. 15 For example, Angreifer von GUS-Truppen erschossen [Attackers shot dead by CIS Troops], in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 13 April 1992. 16 For example, Bonner Regierungskreise bestätigen: Sowjetische Giftgas-Lager bedrohen die DDR [Bonn Government Circles confirm: Soviet Poison Gas Stockpiles threaten the GDR], in: Berliner Morgenpost, 10 July 1990. 17 Wo sind 81,000 Tonnen Munition geblieben? [Where have 81,000 tonnes of Ammunition gone?], in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 16 February 1994. 18 For examples of sensationalism, clues to criminal machinations, connections to the red light milieu, the statement that the Wünsdorf area was a main criminal spot, and a large amount of voyeurism, see BArch, BW 55/49.

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crime was generally on the rise (in Brandenburg, the crime rate had increased by 30% in 1992) and that there had also been attacks by Russian soldiers. Nevertheless, he explicitly emphasized that there should be no offsetting of the crime figures.19 This and other statements probably complicated the declared goal to establish constructive, factual, and trusting talks, to ensure that the Soviet soldiers ‘leave us with good memories’.20 These developments also explain Burlakov’s distrustful view of the media’s coverage of the events. According to him, the German press was not blameless in these incidents, as the media reports undoubtedly inflamed the population’s anger. Mutual observations and accusations regarding various omissions were often accompanied by scepticism and mistrust that embedded itself in the permanent interplay between publicity and internal negotiations. These challenges were constant companions of the withdrawal process. The negotiated withdrawal’s complicated mediation between internal and external actors is impressively illustrated through the Russian deserters, who represented the allegorical loss of control and presumably spread chaos everywhere. This rapidly emerging, overall impression was a major factor in the perception of the withdrawal of the troops, at least on the German side. Finally, the treatment of deserters became a major strain on relations, since there was great uncertainty on the German side regarding this politically explosive and legally complicated matter. The Foreign Office considered the question of the ‘intensity of the reference to the right of asylum’ to be ‘particularly sensitive’.21 Even though Burlakov considered these men criminals, their punishment had to comply with German and international law, which, in some cases, led to further complications. However, the feared wave of asylum seekers did not materialize: In total, 252 applications were filed, which can be attributed both to the draconian measures taken against the soldiers and to the increasingly strict German asylum laws.22 Public and media interest in the internal affairs of the former Soviet properties was great, not only because of the numerous myths and rumours as a result of their more or less complete isolation from the society. After the Russian withdrawal, the barracks were often in a dilapidated state and sometimes in extremely poor conditions. Local politicians and the media urgently warned people to not enter

19 The 10th meeting of the Mixed Commission, 8 October 1993, BArch, BW 55/04. 20 State Secretary Bertele at the constituent meeting of the Mixed Commission on 27 November 1990, BArch, BW 55/03. 21 Political Department, German-Soviet residence and withdrawal agreement, here: Treatment of Soviet deserters, 11 February 1991, PAA, B 86, Vol. 1877. 22 Bange, Oliver: Die Sicherheitspolitik Moskaus und der Stationierungsalltag in der DDR. Vorgeschichte und Beginn des Abzugs von 1983 bis 1993 [Moscow’s Security Policy and Everyday Stationing in the GDR. Prehistory and Beginning of the Withdrawal from 1983 to 1993], in: Deutsch-Russisches Museum Berlin-Karlshorst: Abzug, pp. 37–55.

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the facilities, because they feared fatal accidents, especially with children. That was sadly confirmed by injuries or even deaths caused by found ammunition.23 This spread discontent among the local population and confirmed the distress regarding these ‘un-places’. The problem of garbage and decay became a central theme for various local and supra-regional publics that accompanied the withdrawal of the troops. However, in addition to the fear of strangeness and the unknown, these places and the local activities during the retreat always resonated for a part of the local population. A particularly striking example is the implementation of regulations that were issued for open flight shows. These events repeatedly caused irritation on the German side. On such a day in Finow (Brandenburg) in August 1991, a Lieutenant of the Liaison Command noted traffic chaos, disorder, and safety gaps in the flight operations area, ‘questionable manoeuvres’, ‘serious organizational shortcomings’, and ‘uncertain to incompetent’ acting German authorities.24 Even though a process of professionalization gradually began to occur, such days constantly sowed doubts for the German observers. For example, an event was planned for 23 February 1992 in the Thuringian city of Altenburg with 5000–6000 spectators. Not only was the show was not coordinated with the local authorities, but the observation that the local population was ‘in a state of greatest uncertainty’ after previous events also raised concerns. Nevertheless, the Liaison Command recommended the show to avoid any negative public impressions of the WGF. Such events served to demonstrate an intact sense of self-worth, as a means of targeted self-expression, argued the Commission. Following this line of reasoning, the approval was, from the German point of view, a positive indication of an effort to improve relations.25 The sometimes indignant, angry reactions among the locals demonstrate the difficult role of the Liaison Command as a mediator. The municipal administration of Nobitz – a district of Altenburg, where the airport was located – referred to the ‘terrible experiences with such events in the past’ and appealed, with regards to the health of the inhabitants, for a stop to all air shows. An open day would be fine, they argued in a letter, and would certainly reduce many prejudices, but ‘flights have, however, become sufficiently familiar to the people living here over the past decades and would only be seen as a threat and as cynicism towards an emerging peaceful future’.26 The Liaison Command also received clear protestations from the

23 For example, in August 1992, a 16-year-old died in Neuruppin (North Brandenburg). Note, 10 August 1992, BArch, BW 55/395. 24 Lieutenant Colonel Wilhelms/Liaison Command, Report on the visit to the ‘Open Day’ in Finow on 18 August 1991, BArch, BW 55/17. 25 Liaison Command to the Federal Ministry of Defence, 16 January 1992, BArch, BW 55/17. 26 Letter of the municipal administration Nobitz to the Liaison Command, 7 February 1992, BArch, BW 55/17.

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local ‘Citizens’ Committee Nobitz’, which demanded in a particularly harsh manner: ‘Refrain from this flight day, take care of an early withdrawal from Germany. Leave the airfield and barracks in a proper condition, especially in the environmental area!’27 Complaints about aircraft noise were not new; already were already commonplace before 1989.28 As in Altenburg, the recent past, perceived as threatening and, in many respects, regressive, served to justify present modes of action. The military aspects of this conflict were unmistakable but, by no means, the only reasons for conflicts in the local area. Elsewhere, there were repeated reminders of care and negligence on the part of the Russian leadership concerning ecology, which, in turn, could endanger the safety of the German population. At the beginning of 1991, the German Federal Intelligence Service noted an ‘extreme risk of environmental pollution’, including the documentation of 40,000 tons of inadequately stored decontamination solutions. Due to the costs, removal was not expected, rather, an improper disposal.29 The German side could not easily make distinctly clear demands with regard to the ecological dimension without offending the other side by acting insensitively or even endangering the ‘withdrawal with dignity’. Thus, the German side’s actions can be described as quite cautious and tentative – but not without demonstrating quite openly that they were convinced of a modernity or knowledge advantage in ecological terms. For example, at a meeting between Federal Environment Minister Klaus Töpfer and Burlakov in June 1992, 200,000 Russian copies of the environmental handbook were distributed to WGF soldiers.30 In October of 1992, the German side agreed to support a two-month seminar for Russian officers, including environmental protection training. The aim was to encourage consideration of an environmentally friendly withdrawal in addition to military, technical, and organizational issues.31 This optimism soon came to an end. The next summer, it became apparent, that the Russian side refused this assistance. No further seminars occurred.32 Yet, illegal waste disposal and supposed lack of environmental awareness (or, given the time and costs involved, insufficient consideration for proper disposal) were not the only problems that could result from the interaction of population perception with the actions of Russian troops. In countless letters to the editor

27 Letter from the Citizens’ Committee Nobitz, 15 February 1992, BArch, BW 55/17. 28 See, for example and only for the year 1989, Stasi Records Agency (BStU), HA II 29994. These and other files also deal with cases of rape, traffic accidents, missing soldiers, and other incidents. 29 Federal Intelligence Service, Note, 9 January 1991, BArch, BW 55/362. 30 Conversation with Burlakov at the Federal Environment Ministry, 23 June 1992, BArch, BW 55/373. 31 Letter Töpfer to Burlakov, 16 October 1992, BArch, BW 55/373. 32 Liaison command, Discussion of uncertainties and problems with the WGF until the end of the trigger, 20 July 1993, BArch, BW 55/393.

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and articles, local residents protested, sometimes intensively, with submissions and letters of complaint against noise, the use of firearms, airspace violations,33 grenade splinters, and gunfire.34 These complaints and the fear for personal and public safety may have existed before, but now, after the fall of the Wall and before reunification, they were expressed with an unprecedented openness and were documented throughout the republic. Whether due to the discharge of engine and waste oil into waters, to the abandonment of tanks on march roads, or to plane crashes35 , these occurrences caused a ‘great annoyance’ among large portions of the resident population.36 The concentration on ‘horror stories’ in the media and the consequent bias was, according to Burlakov, an inevitable result.37 Nevertheless, the elimination and treatment of environmental damage was a protracted issue. Overall, the assessment of the environmental impact of the Soviet occupation demonstrates considerable differences in perception on both sides. The negotiations regarding household and hazardous waste and scrap metal proved to be extremely difficult. All efforts to reach a tripartite agreement, as the German side had envisaged, remained unsuccessful.38 Crime, desertion, and environmental damage –these issues were not only observed internally and viewed with concern but also recognized by the wider public. The barracks and their residents appeared in many media reports as sources of danger. However, little by little, the reports focusing on strangeness and rejection also included more differentiated perspectives, especially towards the end of the withdrawal period. As a result, the aspect of foreignness was diffused, at least partly. While the former citizens of the GDR engaged in a frenzy of consumption, the Russian soldiers faced an unexpected future. This imagined and, for many, real 33 Cf. for example the tradition in BArch, BW 55/19. 34 For example, „Wenn die Russen ballern, wackelt mein ganzes Haus“. Einwohner bangen um ihr Leben [‘When the Russians fire, my whole House shakes’. Residents Fear for their Lives], in: Berliner Morgenpost, April 9 1992. See also Liaison Command to Lieutenant General Podgorny, reports about special incidents near WGF shooting ranges, 10 September 1992, BArch, BW 55/259. 35 Measures after crash of military aircraft, checklist, 1 July 1991, BArch, BW 55/18. There is also a list of crashes that is not to be reiterated here. Interesting, however, are the possible consequences of media coverage. Presumably, such incidents could trigger a high degree of interest and further uncertainty. For example, Flugzeugabsturz wirft Fragen auf. Sind wir bei Katastrophen geschützt? [Plane Crash Raises Questions. Are we Protected in Catastrophes?], in: Schweriner Volkszeitung, 21 September 1992. 36 Excerpts from reports by chairmen of the councils of the districts to the Prime Minister, PAA, M 11, ZR 319394. 37 Broadcast ‘Volga’, 26 February 1993, BArch, BW 55/228; see the few exceptions, like: Die Russen gehen – der Dreck bleibt. Immer mehr Deutsche kippen ihren Müll auf GUS-Liegenschaften ab [The Russians leave – the Dirt Remains. More and More Germans Dump their Garbage on CIS Properties], in: Märkische Oderzeitung, 13 May 1992. 38 See the considerations in BArch, BW 55/229.

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identity crisis was an increasingly public topic, particularly when observed in the context of a combination of first contact with Western money, Western goods, and the suggestion that these people were not accustomed to a ‘capitalist way of life’. Contemporary reporting also noted an increase in poverty, referring to people who begged for cigarettes or money, illegally cut wood, searched the garbage for uneaten food, or stole potatoes or sheep from the fields to supplement their diet. Despite the use of derogatory terms such as ‘Russian bazaar’ (Russenmarkt), which increased the discrepancy between ‘here’ (united Germany) and ‘there’ (Russia), an understanding of this narrative, based on compassion as well as pity, became increasingly filtered through the other existing narratives in the last months before the final withdrawal.39 One indicator is the observation that, from 1993 onward, the public’s attention was increasingly focused on the work of the Support Fund (Unterstützungsfonds: requests for operations and partial or complete assumption of treatment for serious illnesses).40 This new phase of mutual (re)rapprochement was also reflected in the many ‘open days’, which guaranteed transparency and sought to overcome uncertainty on both sides. The local farewell ceremonies fulfilled multiple functions: they were a stage for the display of cheerfulness and ultimate harmony and should be understood at least as a revival (hardly shared by all German citizens) of the ‘friendship’ narrative. Conversely, the idea arose to organize a farewell party on the federal level for the Russian troops as a single event at the Weimar National Theatre rather than as a joint function with the British, US, and French armed forces in Berlin. The proposal was doubly explosive: not only was the event located outside of Berlin, but also its proximity to the Buchenwald concentration camp, which the Soviet occupying power usurped parts of as a Special Camp No. 2 after 1945 until 1950. This was another footnote not to be underestimated in the series of German missteps, even though this idea was soon dropped. Chancellor Helmut Kohl, in particular, was against a joint and equal withdrawal of all Allied forces from Germany. Other farewell event organisers also recommended that the status of the Western allies be emphasized in a special way, and that the celebrations should be held separately in time and space, but that the Russian side should be given an appropriate ‘withdrawal with dignity’.41 The process of saying ‘goodbye’ was not an act completed in a short period of time or with a single major event. Rather, there were also joint

39 For example, Der ungeordnete Abzug. GUS-Soldaten ohne Moral und Disziplin [The Disorderly Withdrawal. CIS Soldiers without Morale and Discipline], in: Hamburger Abendblatt, 13 January 1993. 40 See the many newspaper reports in BArch, BW 55/190, 202, 206. 41 Note on the farewell of the WGF, 8 April 1993; see already the earlier considerations: Major General Wiesmann to Foertsch, 29 October 1992, BArch, BW 55/08. To differentiate clearly in terms of time and space ‘appropriately’ between the two enactments: These considerations were repeatedly

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excursions for Russian and German students to memorials and sights in different cities, concerts of music corps, cultural programs, smaller festivities, and receptions, as well as ceremonial farewells from individual barracks. Moreover, ceremonial events and receptions took place on the ‘Day of Victory’ (Wünsdorf, 7 May), as well, including a presentation of the German-Russian society ‘Memorial and Museum Berlin-Karlshorst’ (10–11 May) and a celebration of German-Russian friendship at the same place (2–3 July).42 Nevertheless, until a few weeks before the actual farewell ceremonies, the events left the Russian side with a bitter response, as the events were perceived as humiliating and, according to Burlakov, as ‘unbalanced and degrading’, compared to ones for the Western Allies: The official farewell with a highly symbolic wreath-laying ceremony at the Soviet memorial in Berlin-Treptow and the performance of the specially composed song ‘Farewell, Germany, we give you our hand’ could not hide the fact that the day was experienced as a ‘second-class departure’.43

3.

Concluding remarks

Subjective and ambivalent media reports, myths and rumours, outbreaks of violence committed by the German population, mutual observations and accusations, as well as scepticism and mistrust, the case of Russian deserters, and environmental damage: The withdrawal of Russian troops from East Germany was accompanied by a long list of potential and actual problem areas and characterized by a complex mixture of mutually influencing and intensifying dimensions of conflict. These complicated and impeded the envisaged, dignified framework, and even the official farewell, which, in retrospect, was rather mixed in preparation and implementation, could improve very little. Conversely, key protagonists on the German side perceived the overall process as ‘almost peaceful and dignified’.44 Others regarded the

emphasized in the Foreign Ministry in the spring of 1993 at the latest. See the notes from June/July, PAA, B 86, 2134. 42 A complete list can be found in: Farewell of the allies Berlin/WGF and new federal states, 22 February 1994, BArch, BW 55/08. The 12th meeting of the Mixed Commission, 22 April 1994, BArch, BW 55/04. See, for example, Ost-SPD: Alliierte sollten gemeinsam verabschiedet warden [East-SPD: Allies should be jointly adopted], in: Berliner Morgenpost, 9 May 1994. Differentiation – but no discrimination: This was the tenor of Rudolph, Hermann: Die Anstrengung des Abschiednehmens [The Effort of Saying Goodbye], in: Tagesspiegel, 6 March 1994. 43 Abschied in zwei Klassen [Farewell in Two Classes], in: Neues Deutschland, August 31 1994. 44 Foertsch, Hartmut: Der Abzug der russischen Streitkräfte aus Deutschland [The Withdrawal of Russian Armed Forces from Germany], in: Thoß, Bruno (ed.): Vom Kalten Krieg zur deutschen Einheit. Analysen und Zeitzeugenberichte zur deutschen Militärgeschichte 1945 bis 1995, München 1995, pp. 463–471.

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withdrawal as a ‘political and military success’ and were convinced that the mutual understanding of the ‘peculiarities, sensitivities and ways of thinking’ for both sides had grown steadily in the years since 1990.45 Yes, the label of a ‘withdrawal of dignity’ was not only a symbolically rhetorical and affirmative harmonization, but also a moniker associated with a forward-directed perspective. In concrete terms, this term’s purpose focused on the future for the Eurasian security architecture and on the active shaping of that future accordingly. However, these statements’ positive evaluations correspond only partially to the dimensions of memory culture and to contemporary, controversial moderation in the media and the public. They cannot hide the countless indiscretions on both sides, the divergent expectations and deviating concepts, misinterpretations, and the multitude of misunderstandings.46 These (mis)communication processes, which characteristically flanked the period of withdrawal, were accompanied by a ‘public opinion’ that was both emotionally and normatively highly charged, overlaid with traditional ballast, disorientation, and uncertainty. In the first few years after the fall of the Wall and the implementation of German unity, public opinion itself was in a kind of ‘process of self-discovery’. Especially in a time marked by a rapid change of values and a realignment of normative and political-ideological concepts, many Germans felt threatened by foreign ‘occupiers’. The interpretation of non-German ethnic groups as ‘foreign’ had a considerable influence on the perception and interpretation of the Soviet heritage and the Russian present. The role of the Soviets in the GDR and the narrative of ‘friendship’ were now vehemently contested. In a culture of distrust in the GDR, ‘the Russians’ resembled ‘foreign friends’. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, anti-Communist resentment then paved its way quite unabashedly, which also found expression in antipathy. This attitude, however, succumbed increasingly to other assessments of the presence of Russian troops since 1992–1993; after initial confrontational or even aggressive rejection, more frequently empathy was demonstrated increasingly with the knowledge of a manageable, temporary phase leading up to withdrawal.47 As this article has attempted to delineate, the withdrawal of the Russian armed forces can be interpreted as a barometer for the complex sensitivities in the young ‘unified society’. During this period, the negotiation as well as processing of the

45 Duisberg, Claus J.: Der Abzug der russischen Truppen aus Deutschland. Eine politische und militärische Erfolgsbilanz [The Withdrawal of Russian Troops from Germany. A Political and Military Success Story], in: Europa–Archiv 16 (1994), pp. 461–469. 46 Satjukow, Silke (ed.): „Die Russen kommen!“ Erinnerungen an sowjetische Soldaten 1945–1992 [‘The Russians are Coming!’ Memories on Soviet Soldiers 1945–1992], Erfurt 2005. 47 E.g. Hénard, Jacqueline: Zwei Waffenbrüder aus feinem Porzellan. Von der Befindlichkeit russischer Soldaten in Deutschland [Two Brothers in Arms made of Fine Porcelain. On the State of Russian Soldiers in Germany], in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 7 January 1994.

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memory of the recent past was at the forefront; the role of the GDR and its legacies, including ‘Soviet’ aspects, were at stake. As a result, the public space was filled with quite traditional ‘images of Russia’, together with often catchy, almost monotonous master narratives regarding the supposed inevitabilities of history. On the one hand, the retreating occupiers and on the other hand, the ‘success story’ of the happily reunited Germans often underpinned many print media reports with antiCommunist resentment, sometimes as a continuation of earlier perspectives and sometimes as an expression of new freedom of opinion. After the euphoria over German unification had largely evaporated, these views again altered. In the face of mass unemployment, deindustrialization, and the spreading fear of the future, disillusionment became increasingly apparent. Thus, this essay’s analysis indicates to what extent the military bases and their inhabitants were historically changeable areas in which perceptions regarding the past as well as the present and future could be negotiated – a process that persists to this day.

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‘Withdrawal Under Observation’ How German Military and Foreign Intelligence Contributed to the Withdrawal of Soviet/Russian Forces from Germany, 1990–1994

1.

Western Military Intelligence against the Soviet Forces1

‘Cold War intelligence was military intelligence’.2 If one researches the history of the Western military intelligence community during the Cold War, one will soon recognise that the Soviet military potential was its centre of interest. For decades, the famous Western intelligences services of US-American agencies like this CIA, NSA, and DIA, or the British DIS and MI63 were focused on ‘Soviet Military Power’.4 They utilized the entire spectrum of intelligence methods for obtaining the required data and information: conducting covert operations and running field agents (Human Intelligence – HUMINT); penetrating the military and political communication (Signal Intelligence – SIGINT); and analysing satellite images (Imagery Intelligence – IMINT). One of the most important territories for the Western intelligence community in military terms during the Cold War was the German Democratic Republic (GDR), where more than 300,000 Soviet soldiers were deployed. However, what made this territory so difficult to penetrate was the

1 This article is based on the dissertation project: ‘Withdrawal under observation: Bundeswehr and Bundesnachrichtendienst during withdrawal of Soviet/Russian Forces from Germany 1990–1994’ (‘Abzug unter Beobachtung. Zur Rolle von Bundeswehr und Bundesnachrichtendienst beim Abzug der sowjetischen/russischen Truppen aus Deutschland 1990–1994’). The dissertation was supported by the Bundeswehr’s Centre for Military History and Sociology and University of Potsdam. Besides archival records, former members of armed forces and intelligence services contributed to the project. Many of them, for understandable reasons, cannot be mentioned. 2 Morrison, John N. L: Intelligence in the Cold War, in: Cold War History, 4/14 (2014), pp. 575–591, here: p. 576. 3 CIA: Central Intelligence Agency (USA); DIA: Defense Intelligence Agency (USA); DIS: Defence Intelligence Staff (UK); MI6: Military Intelligence, Section 6 (UK). 4 The ‘Soviet Military Power’ was an annual publication of the DIA between 1981 and 1991, analysing and reporting of the Soviet military potential. A DIA, Soviet Military Power video delves into legacy of DIA’s historic publication. http://www.dia.mil/News/Articles/Article/689282/soviet-military-powervideo-delves-into-legacy-of-dias-historic-publication/, last access: 9 October 2020. Since 2017, it has been published again, not only looking at Russia but also China and Iran. DIA, Military Power Publications. https://www.dia.mil/Military-Power-Publications, last access: 5 November 2020.

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East German secret service, the Ministry for State Security (MfS, also known as ‘Stasi’), which was eager to counter military espionage against the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSFG) or the East German Army (EGA).5 In the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND)6 , the Federal Intelligence Service, was – and still is – responsible for foreign and military intelligence. Due to several reasons, the BND could offer only limited intelligence on GSFG and was, thus, rather dependent on their US, British, and French partners. For them, the BND turned out to be far too infiltrated by the MfS over the years, which led to an unequal intelligence relationship. As a result, the BND was seldom involved in common allies’ HUMINT activities, as operational security might have been compromised. Nonetheless, the BND was respected for its analytical capacities and competence. In addition, the Western allies, USA, Great Britain, and France, had an extra resource to execute military intelligence in occupied GDR. Shortly after the Second World War, the Anti-Hitler Coalition had begun to disintegrate. The division of Germany was about to become a juncture for the beginning of the Cold War. While, during wartime, the allies were able to communicate with one another, the situation in occupied Germany was more difficult, especially with regard to military aspects. To avoid further escalations, a more institutionalised channel of communication among the military in the East (Soviet Army) and the West (British, US, and French Forces) was needed. Therefore, the four allies established the Military Liaison Mission (MLM) on a reciprocal legal basis in 1946. The staff of each Western MLM had to be accredited by Soviet Forces’ headquarters and so did the headquarters of the Western Allies with Soviet MLM staff. The entire MLM organisation was based on a reciprocal principle. In the case of the Western MLM, consisting of the USMLM, BRIXMIS, and MMFL,7 their accredited members (‘Tourers’) were permitted to drive through the GDR and observe the Soviet and East German Army. In doing so, the MLM could monitor and control the activities of their respective opponent. In addition, they obtained information on any military activity in the GDR. Due to their freedom of movement and their quasi-diplomatic status,8 the 5 In GDR, the MfS was the first responder for counter-espionage against Western intelligence activities, whereas the Soviet KGB was rather focussed on interior intelligence issues within GSFG. However, the MfS and the KGB cooperated intensively. 6 The Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) was formed 1956 out of the so-called ‘Organisation Gehlen’, which was led by a former Wehrmacht’s Intelligence Officer Reinhart Gehlen. See Wolf, Thomas: Die Entstehung des BND. Aufbau, Finanzierung, Kontrolle [The Emergence of the BND. Structure, Financing, Control], Berlin 2018. 7 United States Military Liaison Mission (USMLM); British Commanders-in-Chief Mission to the Soviet Forces in Germany (BRIXMIS); mission militaire française de liaison (MMFL). 8 Only the respective accrediting headquarters were allowed to ‘judge’ the members of one MLM. The respective local police (e.g. Volkspolizei in the GDR) was not allowed to act against MLM. They had

‘Withdrawal Under Observation’

MLM evolved into military intelligence assets.9 In truth, they were legal spies, obliged to wear uniforms and drive designated cars. Their movement was only limited by Permanent Restricted Areas (PRA), which had to be announced by their respective headquarters. Both the Western and the Soviet MLM were successfully collecting information about their primary military opponent. Thus, the Soviet forces in the GDR had become the major reconnaissance target of the Western MLM Tourers. This overt intelligence approach eventually became successful and effective, although it was operationally limited. However, members of the Western MLM, especially the accredited tourers and the analysts, were culminating decades-long knowledge regarding Soviet ground and air force in the GDR. Most likely, there has never been had any other intelligence asset in the NATO intelligence community that well informed about the GSFG/WGF. They could deeply penetrate the GSFG/WGF system by various means: observing military columns and exercises, analysing registration numbers and field post numbers, and even attempting to exploit local population as human sources. What they accumulated was a comprehensive understanding of structures, equipment, military planning, level of training, processes, manning, requirements, and other aspects of Soviet military deployment in the GDR.10 During the Cold War, the German territories were occupied not only by dense military deployments but also by comprehensive intelligence activities – both overt and covert. The four allies were responsible for basic military-political decisions with respect to the divided Germany, which also resulted in certain intelligence responsibilities and, thus, appropriate capacities. In terms of foreign affairs and military policy, the Federal Republic of Germany was limited only in sovereignty. Considering this, the Federal Republic of Germany and its foreign intelligence service, the BND, were recognized, rather, as the ‘little brother’.

2.

Reunification of Germany and Intelligence Gap

Until the Fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, nothing had altered in those constellations: the Western MLM and a rather (unknown) small number of field agents were collecting information; the analytical branches of the CIA, DIA, BND, and so on, were culminating, evaluating, and disseminating intelligence

no legal leverage against the sometimes-aggressive behaviour of MLM tourers in terms of driving or observing. In case of the Western MLM, only the GSFG/WGF’s headquarters was responsible. 9 Aldrich, Richard J.: Intelligence within BOAR and NATO’s Northern Army Group, in: Journal of Strategic Studies, 1/31 (2008), pp. 89–122, here: p. 105. 10 Hoyt, Stephen V.: Cold War Pioneers in Combined Intelligence and Analysis, in: Intelligence and National Security, 4/23 (2008), pp. 463–487, here: pp. 478–481.

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to their respective leadership. Even within the first months of 1990, everything persisted, per status quo. The latest developments even had a positive effect on the mission’s work: The dissolution of the Stasi in January 1990 led to optimal operational circumstances for the Western military liaison missions, as counter espionage disappeared. Yet, events shifted when the withdrawal of the Soviet Forces from Germany became a subject of negotiations for German reunification, the so-called Two Plus Four Process. From February until September 1990, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the GDR (= two) negotiated with the four Allies, the USA, United Kingdom, France, and Soviet Union (= four) on issues of political and military sovereignty. In July 1990, German chancellor Helmut Kohl and Soviet communist party leader Mikhail Gorbachev agreed upon the complete withdrawal of the Western Group of Forces (WGF)11 by the end of 1994. Naturally, the work of the Western military liaison mission would also end by 1994. However, in late 1990, the WGF still consisted of approximately 380,000 personnel plus family members and was the biggest and most capable Soviet force deployment outside the Soviet Union. This force remained a highly valuable intelligence target, but the missions soon realised that the reunification of Germany could mean an early termination of military liaison on German ground. Yet, how did the reunification of Germany actually affect the Western intelligence community in 1990? In fact, 3 October 1990 turned out to be a turning point for the allies, upending the proven constellations. The basis for the turning point was an intelligence gap that would occur with German reunification. Until then, the Western military liaison missions could write a story of success. However, it had to end on 3 October 1990, when, due to the Two Plus Four Agreement, the Western Allies undertook that, as a result, ‘other armed forces of other states will not be stationed in that territory [of the former GDR, where the WGF is deployed until 1994 – S.G.] or carry out any other military there’.12 This paragraph terminated the reconnaissance work of Western military liaison missions. The Western allies feared that an intelligence gap would remain, were there not any additional intelligence activity against the WGF after the abandonment of the GDR. However, Washington, London, and Paris wanted to stay informed about Soviet military developments of which the WGF’s withdrawal was one major aspect. Where would the units of the WGF be deployed afterwards? Who would continue in Russian military service and move up the career ladder? What would happen to the nuclear arsenal that was still deployed in East Germany? Was there a threat of proliferation? There was no doubt that exploiting the withdrawing Soviet and later Russian

11 The Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSFG) was renamed the Western Group of Forces (WGF) in 1989. 12 Two Plus Four Agreement, Article 5 (1), 12 September 1990.

‘Withdrawal Under Observation’

forces in Germany would provide answers to those and further questions. From the Western allies’ perspective, military intelligence must continue under new circumstances after 3 October 1990 anyway. Yet, the question was: how and with whom? Unlike during Cold War, the Western allies were no longer responsible for the treatment of the withdrawing Soviet forces. Now, the Federal Republic of Germany was in command. The deployment and withdrawal of the WGF became a bilateral affair between Bonn and Moscow. Naturally, the former Western allies would hardly accept, under such circumstances, that their mission would cease after 45 years of scouting the WGF.

3.

Preparations for withdrawal

Undoubtedly, the political developments in Germany in the autumn of 1990 did not surprise the Western allies. In fact, they participated and, thus, recognized that Germany would have to shoulder additional responsibility relative to defence and military policy, while the allies would have to relinquish duties. For the USMLM, BRIXMIS, and MMFL, the summer of 1990 was contradictory: On the one hand, the lack of East German counter-espionage offered new operational freedom; on the other hand, the end of military liaison missions became increasingly apparent. Meanwhile, just after Kohl and Gorbachev had agreed to the withdrawal, the BND’s military logistics experts analysed the logistical capacities of the WGF to assess how long the evacuation might take, as this was an essential question for German Federal Government. Chancellor Kohl and his staff required this information for further bilateral negotiations with the Soviet government regarding the legal and financial details of withdrawal. Even though Kohl and Gorbachev had determined that the end state should conclude in 1994, there were further Soviet attempts to enlarge the timeframe for leaving Germany. In that case, the German side could rely on the BND’s assumption that 1994 was a possible year for the withdrawal’s end.13 From the analysts’ perspective, this scheduling was generous.14 What this

13 BND, 33 G, Abzug der WGT in die UdSSR, Stand 07/90, 26 July 1990, BArch, BW 2/23148. 14 The former Chief of Staff of German Liaison Command to the WGF, Colonel Freiherr Grote, concluded that from a logistical perspective, the withdrawal could have been done within a shorter period of time, as there were more transport capacities as actually required by the WGF. Freiherr Grote, Otto: Die Westgruppe verlässt Deutschland. Der Abzug aus der Perspektive des Chefs des Stabes des Verbindungskommandos zur WGT [The Western Group leaves Germany. The withdrawal from the perspective of the Chief of Staff of the Liaison Command to the WGT], in: DeutschRussisches Museum Berlin-Karlshorst (ed.): Der Abzug. Die letzten Jahre der russischen Truppen in Deutschland. Eine fotografische Dokumentation von Detlev Steinberg, Berlin 2016, pp. 74–89, here: p. 88.

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assumption might has underestimated was the challenge, especially for the Soviet Union/Russia, to ensure adequate living space for homecoming soldiers and their families in sufficient time. Yet, in military terms, the assumption of the BND closely approximated the actual trajectory. Further decisions were required from Federal Government: Which German authority was responsible for the WGF’s withdrawal and who should be the direct counterpart to the WGF’s headquarter in Wünsdorf? During the Two Plus Four process and the bilateral negotiations with Moscow, the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) was the leading institution. This status continued during the withdrawal, which was not losing its bilateral character.15 However, practical issues like logistics, finance, and matters of security were organized by other institutions like the Federal Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Finance, the respective state Polices, and so forth. Due to its clandestine character, the BND could not undertake official tasks. However, there was another player in the game of diplomacy, military politics, and intelligence yet to come. The Federal Ministry of Defence in Bonn addressed high-level military concerns that affected German interests. Its staff departments of military politics, military intelligence, and logistics were responsible for general, political, and military issues of the withdrawal. The Ministry of Defence had no personnel for deploying observers in the field. The Federal Foreign Office also lacked proper personnel to resolve such military issues. German diplomats could not monitor and control the behaviour and movements of the WGF, measure the logistical requirements, or explain to a tank regiment’s commander how to adjust exercises with respect to the treaty. Instead, the Bundeswehr became the appropriate tool. Besides diplomats and lawyers, many staff officers from both the Bundeswehr and the Soviet Army (and representatives of their respective Ministry of Defence) joined the previous negotiations for the ‘Presence and Withdrawal Treaty’ in August and September 1990, with two each held in Moscow and Bonn.16 For the first time ever, officers from the Bundeswehr and the Soviet Army negotiated on an equal footing – without involving the three Western Allies. They specified the details of the withdrawal, especially with regard to logistical and time-constrained matters. The result of these negotiations became the legal basis for the withdrawal. Still, formally, a bilateral and, hence, diplomatic process, the Federal Foreign Office remained the official leading institution. Yet, due to its expertise, the military became the major participant. Finally, the ‘treaty of presence and withdrawal’ was signed on 12

15 Biermann, Rafael: Zwischen Kreml und Kanzleramt. Wie Moskau mit der deutschen Einheit rang [Between the Kremlin and the Chancellery. How Moscow struggeled with German unity], Paderborn 1997, p. 712; Grote: Die Westgruppe, p. 80. 16 Biermann: Zwischen Kreml und Kanzleramt, p. 712.

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October 1990 and remained valid until the last Russian soldier has left Germany. The Russian Federation already fulfilled this treaty on 31 August 1994.17

4.

Forming a new intelligence cooperation

In order to avoid an intelligence gap, all three Western allies wished to continue intelligence operations against the WGF. However, without permission from the German government, the price for sole operation might have been far too exorbitant. The BND soon became the appropriate partner for a bilateral intelligence venture. To adapt to the new circumstances, the USMLM was transformed to the purported Combined Analysis Detachment, Berlin (CAD-B).18 The CAD-B was also given the codename ‘Hortensie II’ with reference to the DIA.19 Between autumn of 1990 and spring of 1991, the BND and representatives of the USMLM/CAD-B negotiated the conditions for an intelligence collaboration during the WGF’s withdrawal. They finally determined a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 7 May 1991, signed by representatives of the BND and the United States Army Europe (USAREUR).20 This MoU stipulated the operational details of common operations. This document would become the legal basis for one of the likely most successful collection operations in contemporary military history – the operation ‘Giraffe’. As the Memorandum has not yet been disclosed, it cannot be evaluated, though it is undoubtedly the key document of this intelligence episode. The deal specified that the CAD-B would provide the BND with its comprehensive knowledge about the WGF and tasked the BND’s operatives to gather specific technology or to obtain certain information. Afterward, the CAD-B would analyse the collected information and provide the BND with intelligence – a mutually beneficial arrangement. The BND’s primary, functional contribution to operation ‘Giraffe’ was a rather small unit called the 12YA. The number 12 stood for BND’s HUMINT sub department in Pullach headquarter, whereas YA was a reference to subject area Soviet Union, directly subordinated to the head of sub-department 12. A Bundeswehr lieutenant colonel led the 12YA. From approximately the spring of 1991, the CAD-B

17 In December 1992, Kohl and Yeltsin agreed to advance the end of the withdrawal to 31 August 1994, while Russia received additional financial aid from Germany. 18 Hoyt: Cold War Pioneers, pp. 482–483. 19 Mascolo, Georg: ‘Suche Panzer, biete Lada’, Der Spiegel (49/1997), p. 70. In connection to the CAD-B, the abbreviation ‘Hor-2’ is also mentioned in a letter from the BND to the Bundeswehr. Letter from BND, 33 G, to German Liaison Command to the WGF, Inspection of a former nuclear storage site in Halle/Saale, 27 September 1991, BArch, BW 55/279. 20 Mascolo: ‘Suche Panzer, biete Lada’, p. 68.

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and the 12YA shared a common facility in West Berlin, on Föhrenweg 19-20. During the Cold War, this had been the headquarters of the USMLM in West Berlin; now, it would become the bilateral office for a secret US-German raid against the WGF.21 With a legal base and a proper facility, the bilateral intelligence operation ‘Giraffe’ began.22 With this US-German intelligence engagement in mind, the Soviet-German ‘treaty of good neighbourliness, partnership, and cooperation’ is worth mentioning. Signed on 9 November 1990, this treaty would signify a new beginning for bilateral, trustworthy relations between Bonn and Moscow. Spying on the withdrawing Soviet soldiers would not, of course, have complied with the treaty’s obligations. When the treaty was signed, the UMSLM and the BND had already begun to contrive their intelligence venture. Unfortunately, the recent, limited access to official records of Federal Chancellery and the BND does not clarify whether Kohl was cognizant of the upcoming intelligence operation or if he merely overlooked this antagonism. However, Kohl was certainly aware that the USA has remained Germany’s most important partner regarding defence policy and foreign affairs. Nevertheless, the USA was likely the former ally that had supported the German reunification most. For both the USA and Germany, remaining in NATO was an essential result, or, rather, a condition of the Two Plus Four Agreement. Thus, it would not have been appropriate for the German Federal Government to refuse such intelligence cooperation with their close ally, the USA, at least not this shortly after the end of the Cold War. Naturally, the bond between Germany and the Soviet Union was not terribly strong. Accordingly, Kohl’s administration not only tolerated but also supported operation ‘Giraffe’. Otherwise, this venture would not have lasted until 1996. Clearly, the bonds between Germany and both the French and UK allies were not especially close. While operation ‘Giraffe’ was to be executed, a substantively divergent development unfolded with the follow-on units of BRIXMIS and MMFL. Even though they had somehow continued their intelligence operations against Soviet army in East Germany, after 3 October 1990, they finally failed to arrange an alliance with the German institutions. Thus, Operation ‘Giraffe’ remained unique. However, some British officers contacted the head of the Bundeswehr’s Liaison Command to the WGF in October 1990, just two weeks after reunification, to begin a partnership in military liaison and intelligence with the WGF. Yet, the German commanding general reminded his British partners of the sovereignty Germany had just gained, and that the Two Plus Four Agreement had disbanded the allies’ responsibility

21 Hoyt: Cold War Pioneers, p. 483. 22 The precise date of beginning of operation ‘Giraffe’ is unknown. Approximately, this was simultaneously to the agreement of the Memorandum of Agreement between the BND and the USAREUR.

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with respect to the WGF.23 With this rejection in mind, it is not surprising that no appreciation for the German side was revealed in BRIXMIS’ last annual report of 1990: ‘It is ironic that the Germans are now not able to fill the intelligence gap in the manner envisaged, even though [the] WGF are both vulnerable and themself indicating concern about the state of their nation. This is surely not time for NATO to be losing its understanding of Soviet operational matters’.24 Clearly, BRIXMIS realised that an army in dissolution was a good gateway for espionage. If, without further privileges, BRIXMIS had solely executed intelligence operation against the WGF, this would have risked diplomatic disgruntlements between Bonn and London. Nonetheless, neither the French nor the British government was a great supporter of German Reunification. Perhaps, this resulted in a certain unwillingness to cooperate with any German authority regarding Soviet withdrawal. The British side seemed especially challenged to accept the new German autonomy in military matters. Finally, some of BRIXMIS staff was integrated into the British Intelligence Corps and likely into MI6 activities, but details on those activities are still rare.25 The French MVM also failed to establish an appropriate follow-on unit. Until the summer of 1991, an effort persisted to merge the MMFL personnel and their methods with the French foreign intelligence service Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE). However, this was not practicable. The methods of DSGE and the French MLM were far too divergent and the DSGE lacked an understanding of military environment in the former GDR. Plus, MMFL personnel could hardly been integrated into a secretly operating intelligence service. Likely, the former members of BRIXMIS had comparable issues while transferring into the MI6 or the British Intelligence Corps.26

5.

Raid on the WGF: The BND’s TECHINT and HUMINT approach

In the beginning of 1991, the CAD-B and the 12YA had already begun conducting covert intelligence operations against WGF officers, presumably without negotiating a finalised institutional frame for this venture.27 Within the first two years, the focus

23 Personal remarks of Major General Hartmut Foertsch from 18 October 1990; the document is now in the possession of Colonel ret. Freiherr Grote. 24 BRIXMIS Annual Report 1990, preliminary remark from Brigadier I. L. Freer, p. VIII. 25 Gibson, Steve: The Last Mission. Behind the Iron Curtain, Stroud 1997, p. 224; BRIXMIS Annual Report 1990, p. 81. 26 Geraghty, Tony: BRIXMIS. The Untold Exploits of Britain’s Most Daring Cold War Spy Mission, London 1996, p. 283; Gibson: The Last Mission, p. 220; BRIXMIS Annual Report 1990, p. 81. 27 Estate of Hartmut Foertsch in possession of German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorst: Stellvertreter des Generalinspekteurs an Generalleutnant Schönbohm. Feststellung und Beurteilung

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of operation ‘Giraffe’ was to procure military technology. Based on a given list from the US Department of Defence and the German Federal Ministry of Defence that named numerous technologies, the CAD-B and the 12YA tried to buy or steel as much as they could – so long as the well-equipped WGF was deployed in Germany. Such operations were part of technical intelligence (TECHINT). By analysing foreign armaments, the Western defence industry and the military planning branch could better adapt to contemporary threats. Even shortly after the end of the Cold War, the NATO-Community had to assume that post-Soviet armaments would affect future conflicts. Successful TECHINT operations against the WGF would be of greater benefit.28 For the BND, there was a significant potential to raise its reputation within the intelligence community, perhaps even eliminating its subordinate position. To access the Soviet armament, human sources within the WGF were essential. Thus, the staff of Operation ‘Giraffe’ required the technology’s location and the Soviet soldier with access. At this point, the CAD-B recalled its experiences and knowledge of the WGF and, as a result, was able to identify potential sources. The 12YA agents and the CAD-B analysts planned how to engage their respective human sources. The CAD-B analysts were actually tasking BND operatives.29 Such a close working relationship between the US and German intelligence staffs was unique then and likely had not occurred before. There were several approaches regarding how to persuade a WGF officer to reveal confidential material or even relinquish technology. In many cases, a team consisting of two members of the 12YA appeared to the target as car dealers or businesspersons offering money or exchange deals.30 At that time, Western cars, modern kitchen gadgets, and stereos were very popular among Soviet officers, including their family members. At this early stage of operation, most of the targets did not know that they had already entered a trap set by a foreign intelligence service. Once the deal had been completed and perhaps the initial information had already been transferred, the target was informed that he has become a human source for the BND. Now, it was too late to escape the trap. Later, the BND could

der Lage der Westgruppe der Truppen (WGT), 26 February 1991, p. 1. For more personal remarks on operation ‘Giraffe’, see Bill Schenk, US Army Intelligence Analyst (127), Podcast Cold War Conversations 2020, URL: https://coldwarconversations.com/episodes/, last access: 9 October 2020. 28 Gujer, Eric: Kampf an neuen Fronten. Wie sich der BND dem Terrorismus stellt [Fighting on New Fronts. How the BND confronts Terrorism], Frankfurt am Main 2008, pp. 23, 102. 29 These and following description of operational approach were based mainly on interviews with former CAD-B and BND personnel. 30 Especially in the beginning, some deals were closed almost accidentally and without greater planning efforts, because documents or other materials were simply offered on markets in front of the garrisons. In such cases, the relationship to a human source was not always prolonged.

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use compromising information to pressure the informant so as to continue the arrangement.31 However, there was little risk that the source would expose himself, because severe punishment was likely. After days or weeks of collaborating together, a certain dependency could be established between the BND’s operatives and the source, whereas the 12YA held a stronger position.32 Upon leaving Germany, the lines of communication between the source and the contact agent would become more difficult. As a result, solid communication lines had to be organized before the source returned home. All ‘classic’ methods of clandestine communication were possible, from a ‘dead drop’ to radio transmission, though nothing is known about this. Anticipating that the source would continue his military career within Russian Army, advance hierarchically, and maintain access to confidential material, the BND would enjoy long-term success. Presumably, this was the case with approximately 20 sources.33 Approximately from the second half of the withdrawal process, operation ‘Giraffe’ developed from a solely short-term TECHINT collection to a rather long-term HUMINT venture. The BND eventually recognised that well-placed human sources could be highly valuable, offering the BND exclusive details regarding Russia’s military. In fact, the more units that exited Germany, the less potential there was for procuring military technology that had not yet been made available on the free market. Thus, human sources would no longer be merely a vehicle for TECHINT but a source of information as such, revealing specifics about armament, military politics, and even intelligence services. What the BND had not achieved during Cold War was now within its reach: penetrating Russian high-level military by running various valuable human sources. Yet, was it really a successful raid on the WGF? As far as press articles and interview-partners are concerned, the BND managed to execute both successful TECHINT collection operations and to oversee various human sources. Regulations, strategy papers, computer systems, and modern equipment, like warplanes, helicopters, and even the engine of the T-80 tank were transferred.34 Some of the capture was even exhibited in Pullach headquarter.35 31 Bill Schenk, US Army Intelligence gathering in the unified Germany (160), Podcast Cold War Conversations 2021, URL: https://coldwarconversations.com/episode160/, last access: 28 January 2021. 32 Nonetheless, it was possible that the informant involved the Soviet/Russian counter espionage of KGB/FSB without apprising its contact agents in the BND. If this occurred, the spy could be flipped and then manipulated against German interests. Especially in the late phase of operation ‘Giraffe’, this likely happened. Gujer: Kampf an neuen Fronten, p. 29. 33 Gujer: Kampf an neuen Fronten, p. 28. 34 Ulfkotte, Udo: Verschlußsache BND [Classified matter BND], Berlin/München 2006, pp. 404–405; Mascolo: ‘Suche Panzer, biete Lada’, p. 71. 35 Ulfkotte: Verschlußsache BND, pp. 214–217.

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One of the most adventurous events during operation ‘Giraffe’ occurred in the summer of 1991. Nuclear weapons have always been one of the most sensitive issues of military and technical intelligence.36 Although denied by WGF headquarters, when the withdrawal began, there were still Soviet nuclear weapons stored in East Germany. In the spring of 1991, the BND informed the Bundeswehr military intelligence branch that certain nuclear storage sites within WGF facilities were still active.37 The Bundeswehr then decided to monitor those objects themselves, again emphasizing the new German sovereignty. However, this attempt soon failed, after one Bundeswehr officer was wounded close to an ammunition depot in Altengrabow.38 If the WGF had still been storing nuclear weapons, it would have been the Bundeswehr’s responsibility to administer their withdrawal before instigating a diplomatic issue. Yet, in June 1991, Soviet foreign minister Bessmertnykh stated at a press conference that there were still nuclear weapons left and that they would be removed as soon as possible.39 Meanwhile, the first rail waggons had arrived by ferry port to Mukran, on Rügen Island, and had been distributed to several storage sites. Thus, this became an issue for higher politics. The CAD-B and the 12YA took action, when the nuclear weapons were returned to the Soviet Union. They decided to exploit the railway transports connecting the nuclear storage sites to the port. As the island of Rügen contained only one railway access that created a bottleneck, the specialists of the CAD-B and the 12YA, supplemented by CIA technicians, only had to install special measurement equipment to prove the existence of nuclear radiation within the railway carriage and wait. Information regarding the movement of nuclear freight then arrived from the Bundeswehr and the Deutsche Reichsbahn.40 This is a prime example of Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT). Referring to Norbert Juretzko’s publication and based on interviews with participants, this MASINT operation was

36 Documents from intelligence community concerning the enemy’s nuclear weapons were mostly classified ‘secret’ or ‘top secret’. Thus, most of today’s declassified documents (for example, USMLM annual reports) that previously had been ‘confidential’ contain little or no information regarding Soviet nuclear weapons. 37 BND, Unterabteilung 33, Militärischer Lagebericht Ost, Wochenbericht Nr. 10/91, 13 March 1991, B5, Bl. 52, BArch, B 206/386. 38 Gunold, Sascha: Schüsse in Altengrabow 1991. Sowjetische Wachposten beschießen Bundeswehrsoldaten [Shots fired in Altengrabow in 1991. Soviet Guards fire at Bundeswehr Soldiers], in: Militärgeschichte. Zeitschrift für historische Bildung (2017), pp. 14–17. 39 Fü S III 1, Lagerung sowj. Nuklearwaffen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 01.10.1990, p. 2, BArch, BW 2/25701. 40 Transportleistelle Ost an Fü S V 5, Abzug der WGS, here: zusätzliche Anforderung von Transporten von Klaipeda über Mukran nach Deutschland und von Deutschland über Mukran nach Klaipeda, 13 June 1991, p. 1, hand-written comment with ‘Spezial-Transport?’ (‘special transport?’), BArch, BW 2/25701.

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successful.41 By the end of June 1991, the BND could report to Chancellor Kohl that East Germany was free of Soviet nuclear weapons.42 The WGF lost one of its major assets. The BND was also obtaining certain encryption codes and thus accessed Russia’s secured communication – which, supposedly, the BND did not share with its American partners. Signal intelligence (SIGINT) and especially communication intelligence (COMINT) has always been sensitive and, therefore, of greater national interest. In general, operation ‘Giraffe’ was based on the principle of ‘need to share’, but in terms of SIGINT and also sometimes HUMINT, the credo was rather ‘need to know’. However, those exceptions did not degrade the bilateral character of ‘Giraffe’.43

6.

German military liaison approach

The withdrawal, however, was not only an issue for intelligence. Germany had strategic reasons to somehow support the WGF and cooperate bilaterally, gaining trust from the Soviet/Russian side. Outwardly, this approach appeared the antithesis of effective spying on the WGF. Germany had never possessed such a powerful intelligence culture as the USA or the UK. When addressing withdrawal issues, the BND was not a tool that German officials would have thought to implement first – although the BND would have principally been the first responder to foreign forces, but only from an analytic perspective. Instead, the Bundeswehr soon became the actual first responder, underlining the new German sovereignty regarding defence policy and foreign affairs as well. From the beginning of the bilateral negotiations between Bonn and Moscow in the late summer of 1990 until the final parade in August 1994, the Bundeswehr was the primary agent. By the beginning of 1991, German Federal Ministry of Defence had established a system of liaison actions with the WGF. The German Liaison Command to the WGF44 was enlisted into

41 Juretzko, Norbert: Bedingt dienstbereit, Berlin 2004, pp. 23–55. 42 The BND’s annual report of 1991 mentions the complete withdrawal of Soviet nuclear weapons out of Germany. BND Unterabteilung 33, Militärischer Lagebericht 1991, Entwicklungen und Lagemerkmale, p. 158, BArch, B 206/176. 43 With the support of SIGINT, the BND was, for example, able to better assess the August 1991 coup in Moscow, assuming that the Soviet military would not support the coup and that there was no mobilisation to be anticipated. Schmidt-Eenboom, Erich: Der BND. Schnüffler ohne Nase, Düsseldorf 1993, p. 226. This is proven by BND weekly reporting during the coup: BND, militärischer Lagebericht Ost, Wochenbericht Nr. 33/91 (12–18 August 1991), p. A2, BArch, B 206/388. 44 First name: Deutsches Verbindungskommando zu den Sowjetischen Streitkräften (DtVKdoSowjSK or DVKdoSowjSKD), since September 1992: Deutsches Verbindungskommando zur Westgruppe der Truppe (DtVKdoWGT). DtVKdoWGT, Bilanz 1992, 10 March 1993, p. 4, BArch, BW 55/20.

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service just the day after reunification, 4 October 1990, and responsible to develop and maintain relations with the WGF headquarters.45 Accountable to the Federal Ministry of Defence and Federal Government, the WGF was led by Major General Hartmut Foertsch. He was supposed to maintain contact with his counterpart, WGF Supreme Commander Colonel General Matvej Burlakov.46 Furthermore, Foertsch was the official representative of the Federal Government regarding withdrawal and, thus, was a mediator for high-level issues. His staff comprised around 100 members located in East Berlin. During the spring of 1991, an additional, decentralized liaison organisation to the WGF had been established to support Foertsch’s staff, consisting of almost hundred, mostly lower-ranked Bundeswehr officers. They did the actual liaison work by contacting WGF officers and gathering and sharing information on presence and withdrawal. If problems arose with Soviet/Russian troops, pragmatic solutions were primarily to be found. The range of issues was broad: from negotiating with Polish officials on high transit charges, to simply providing an air force unit with jet fuel. Yet, while operating closely with the WGF, the liaison officers also gathered valuable information. Their superiors tasked them, for instance, with recognising car movements, train loadings, and exercises; gaining information regarding the progress of withdrawal schedules and follow-up deployments; obtaining a first impression of the conditions of a imminently abandoned facility. To bundle the observations and information, the liaison officers had to report regularly to the Bundeswehr’s S2/G2 branch (military intelligence) and to the Liaison Command in Berlin. Even though, the liaison officers belonged to the Bundeswehr’s Territorial Forces47 and, thus, were accountable to the respective S2/G2 branch, they were also professionally subordinated to the German Liaison Command to the WGF in Berlin. The liaison officers in the fields were the sensors of Major General Foertsch’s high-level command. So, the question arose as to whether or not this was the German adaption of former allies’ military liaison missions by merging intelligence and liaison. If so, what role did Germany’s actual foreign intelligence service, the BND, play within these structures? After the Bundeswehr overcame initial difficulties, the liaison approach functioned well, as information was flowing. It was no longer the BND that contributed

45 Although it had been in active duty since 4 October 1990, the official commissioning was ordered on 1 April 1991 by Federal Ministry of Defence. Collection ZMSBw: Organisationbefehl 2/91 (Bw) für die Aufstellung des Deutschen Verbindungskommandos zu den sowjetischen Streitkräften in Deutschland, 14 February 1991. 46 Army General Boris Snetkov was the second to last WGF supreme commander, until 12 December 1990. He was not interested in improving the relations to German authorities. 47 Territorial Forces were part of the Bundeswehr but not integrated into NATO structures.

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primarily to situation reports about the WGF but the Bundeswehr. In this respect, the German foreign intelligence service lost aspects of its monopoly in intelligence on foreign military to the Bundeswehr. Since 3 October 1990, the Bundeswehr had gained military control over the former GDR territory and, thus, was responsible for an area where the WGF was still deployed. The new Bundeswehr’s commanding officers in East Germany, who had become an overnight neighbour of the Soviet army, had to ensure military intelligence. Ideally, the former foe would become a friend. As a result, dispatching liaison officers in uniform also proved a more appropriate mean to execute the BND’s dangerous undercover espionage, which risked less successful outcomes and greater damage. It was essential for the Bundeswehr to win the confidence of WGF officials. The antiquated concept of an enemy had to be dismantled, if relations were to have a positive effect on the withdrawal.

7.

Integration of East German expertise

Based on a new sovereignty, the Federal Republic of Germany indicated that they would handle the WGF’s withdrawal without the ‘help’ of the Western allies. However, with limited military intelligence assets and meagre experience in coping with Soviet officers, the Federal Ministry of Defence and Bundeswehr referred to former GDR expertise: First, the Bundeswehr integrated ex-EGA soldiers to cope with the WGF. In particular, the liaison officers in close contact with WGF representatives had to speak Russian and possess some experiences with the Soviet army. EGA personnel had already been involved in the negotiations period during the summer of 1990.48 Second, the military logistic branches had not only integrated the expertise of EGA soldiers but also involved the East German railways, the Deutsche Reichsbahn.49 As substantive personnel and armament were withdrawn via railway, the Deutsche Reichsbahn’s personnel continued to conduct routine military transports for the WGF. They had to request a rail wagon from the Deutsche Reichsbahn for every single vehicle or military technology requiring one. So, the WGF had to supply detailed information about its transport needs to the German side. The pro-

48 BMVg, Fü S V 5 to Fü S III 1, Abzug der WGT, 28.08.1990, p. 2; BArch, BW 55/92b. Dokumentation Anlagenteil, Anlage 78, DtVKdoSowjSK to Fü S IV 1, Verbindungswesen zu den sowjetischen Streitkräften in Deutschland, 20 November 1990, BArch, BW 2/23148. See also Grote: Die Westgruppe verlässt Deutschland, p. 79. 49 Until 1993, the former GDR’s state-owned railways Deutsche Reichsbahn planned and conducted the rail transports in cooperation. In 1994, it was merged with the former West German railway company Deutsche Bundesbahn to become the Deutsche Bahn AG.

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vided information could be compared amongst the Bundeswehr and the Deutsche Reichsbahn, with the WGF’s announced withdrawal plans. As a result of this continuous analysis, the Bundeswehr was able to provide accurate, short- and mid-term information reports regarding the withdrawal’s progress.50 The Bundeswehr and the Deutsche Reichsbahn worked closely together and exchanged substantive logistical information.51 These details were compelling not only for military logistics and military intelligence branches of the Bundeswehr but also for the BND, especially for the 12YA and its partner unit, the CADB. For them, it was of great importance to discover when a certain WGF unit was leaving. This could possibly determine the point to start a TECHINT or HUMINT operation. The hypothesis behind this approach was that the closer the time of departure became, the more likely a Soviet/Russian officer would commit treason. All of this liaison work and logistics was occurring primarily in the framework of bilateral military relations. This certainly was not the apparent area for secret intelligence services. If the BND wanted to contribute further or to benefit from withdrawal, it had to demarcate its added value. Thus, the BND had to refocus on its own abilities: to apply covert methods and means of information gathering.

8.

The end of ‘Giraffe’

On 31 August 1994, the WGF officially withdrew from Germany. The Bundeswehr successfully accompanied and supported the withdrawal of Soviet/Russian forces and, above all, gathered significant information to provide a current situation overview. Since December 1990, relations between soldiers from the Bundeswehr and the WGF had frequently deepened; some bonds may have survived even to this day. The Bundeswehr was, with no doubt, the appropriate counterpart to the WGF. The Liaison Command to the WGF was officially terminated by the German MoD in September 1994.52 Due to the long-term character of operation ‘Giraffe’, the end of narrative from an intelligence perspective was quite different. The additional benefit of the HUMINT approach was to achieve an effect after the withdrawal.

50 Gesamtbilanz DtVKdoWGT, 20 December 1994, p. 12; Cf. ibid., pp. 83–84, BArch, BW 55/21. 51 DtVKdoWGT, Dezernat 3, Dienstreisebericht zur 25. Sitzung der AG Transport am 27 July 1994, 28 July 1994, p. 4, BArch, BW 55/342. 52 Grote: Die Westgruppe verlässt Deutschland, p. 88.

‘Withdrawal Under Observation’

Regarding the post-withdrawal period, the CAD-B and the 12YA, which reformed as the 13AF, moved to the city of Nürnberg in September 1994.53 As the 12YA had primarily fulfilled the task of obtaining and running HUMINT sources,54 the BND maintained additional accountability for agents in the post-Soviet Union. The US partners were simply not needed anymore. Thus, tensions arose between the CAD-B and the BND regarding responsibilities and other issues of operating human sources in Russia and elsewhere. As a result, the bilateral cooperation between the CAD-B and the BND ended in 1996. One central reason why operation ‘Giraffe’ was also terminated or internally reorganised was that the BND explicitly failed to insure its agents’ secrecy and security. Russian FSB’s counter espionage, the successor of KGB, identified one operative after another, and they were convicted for cooperation with a foreign intelligence service.55 Although it is not apparent whether any of the ‘Giraffe’ sources have remained active, the once extremely successful operation devolved into an intelligence disaster, accompanied by an internal ‘mole hunt’ within the BND. Word spread that the BND’s head of HUMINT department, Volker Foertsch,56 worked for the Russian secret service, and that this might have resulted in the exposure of BND sources. This was never proven true but incurred a sullied reputation for the BND. Furthermore, the story regarding operation ‘Giraffe’ has become public via media reporting.57 Journalists have benefitted from impressive access to the BND, as their reporting contains substantive secret and internal information. Finally, one former member of the 12YA, Norbert Juretzko, published his view on operation ‘Giraffe’ in 2004.58 His book has a rather limited value for historical reconstruction, as the author altered many facts, dates, and locations due to legal constraints. At the very least, Juretzko was convicted for betrayal, having deceived his superiors in Pullach with a false human source.59

53 Mascolo: ‘Suche Panzer, biete Lada’, p. 74; Juretzko: Bedingt dienstbereit, p. 263. 54 There is significant evidence that the CAD-B personnel were conducting covert collection operations in East Germany on their own. Most likely, that was in violation of the Memorandum of Understanding from May 1991. It is not clear whether the CAD-B was also deploying human sources on its own. 55 At least three of them were arrested by Russian courts for espionage; most of the other contacts were somehow lost. Gujer: Kampf an neuen Fronten, p. 28. 56 Volker Foertsch (BND) was the cousin of Major General Hartmut Foertsch (Bundeswehr). There is, however, no evidence that this family relationship had any effect on operation ‘Giraffe’ or the Bundeswehr liaison approach. 57 First public reference can be found in 1996: Das elfte Gebot verletzt, Der Spiegel (5/1996), pp. 79–80. 58 Juretzko: Bedingt dienstbereit. 59 Gujer: Kampf an neuen Fronten, pp. 39–40.

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Conclusion

First, the intelligence aspects of the WGF’s withdrawal are contemporary military and political history in condensed form. They demonstrate pertinent essentials regarding new German sovereignty in the post-Cold War developments of USGerman relations and the attitudes of French and British allies. This sovereignty depended on both the presence of Soviet/Russian forces and the behaviour of US, British, and French allies. Espionage is always a balancing act of respect and trust. For the withdrawing WGF, the Bundeswehr was a trustworthy partner, whereas the BND was a ruthless exploiter of the situation. This ambivalence is typical for foreign and intelligence affairs. Second, military intelligence may not only include the actions of secret intelligence services and forces’ reconnaissance but also the efforts of liaison elements. The case of the withdrawal of Soviet/Russian forces from Germany demonstrates that establishing a comprehensive organisation of overt liaison elements whose representatives will remain in close contact to an opponent entity can largely contribute to a stronger assessment. Non-intelligence measures could quantitatively outstrip the risky HUMINT and TECHINT operations of the BND. However, many collection efforts of operation ‘Giraffe’ would not have been achieved solely by liaison work. Sometimes, only a clandestine penetration of the opponent will attain the required information. When politicians and diplomats cannot determine how to continue, soldiers often prevail. This was clearly the case during withdrawal, when the Bundeswehr soldiers negotiated certain legal or other aspects without immediately involving higher politics. The goal was always to complete the WGF’s withdrawal by 31 August 1994, come what may. For the Kohl administration, removing Soviet/Russian occupying forces was almost a reason for the state to ensure maximum sovereignty. Third, operation ‘Giraffe’ was anything but straightforward. For almost five years, German and US intelligence officers had successfully carried out common TECHINT and HUMINT operations. Perhaps even to this day, the NATO community has benefited from this raid on Soviet/Russian military technology, which has often been used in contemporary conflicts. Only the abrupt end of operation ‘Giraffe’ in 1996 and the BND’s internal affairs prevented this venture from being flawless. Instead, it deteriorated into a disaster. It is not possible to confirm whether there are still human sources that were obtained during withdrawal operations. If not, operation ‘Giraffe’ was only a moderate operational success with respect to HUMINT. Finally, it would be intriguing to compare the withdrawals of Soviet/Russian troops from other European countries with regard to the respective host nations’ forces and intelligence. However, the strategic configuration of the reunited Federal Republic of Germany regarding hosting Western intelligence was very specific in

‘Withdrawal Under Observation’

comparison to Poland, Czechoslovakia, or Hungary, for example. Nonetheless, as the former Eastern Bloc states were about to remove Soviet occupants, new areas were offered to the Western intelligence community. Until further notice, it remains unknown whether the withdrawals of Soviet/Russian forces had been exploited elsewhere. There is also a lack of information considering the fate of convicted BND informants that were most likely jailed for many years. All in all, operation ‘Giraffe’ was an intelligence catastrophe for the Soviet/Russian Army, no matter how many BND informants could be neutralized eventually. The withdrawal of the ‘glorious’ WGF was painful enough for Russian national pride. Being spied on simultaneously made this event even more affrontive in retrospect.

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Conversion in Germany Through the Example of the Federal State of Brandenburg

The reunification of Germany was accompanied by the final withdrawal of the Soviet and, from 1992, Russian Western Group of Forces (WGF) from Germany. The modalities between the Soviet Union and the Federal Republic of Germany were legally established in a residence and withdrawal treaty, which stipulated that all military properties used by the Soviet Army were to be handed over to the German authorities. The number and size of these properties were gigantic compared to those in other countries from which the Soviet Army was withdrawing. A list drawn up by the East German (GDR) government showed 1026 properties as of 31 July 1990. During the course of the withdrawal, 480 additional military areas were added, which had not been recorded by the GDR authorities at the time.1 All together, these approximately 1500 properties covered an area of around 243,000 ha.2 About half of them were located on the territory of today’s state of Brandenburg. One quarter were in the state of Saxony-Anhalt. Two out of five armies of the WGF were stationed in the East German districts of Potsdam, Cottbus and Frankfurt/Oder, which today form the state of Brandenburg – the 20th Guards Army with its staff in Eberswalde and the 2nd Guards Tank Army with its staff in Fürstenberg. In addition, the staff of the 16th Air Army and the high command of the entire WGF were located south of Berlin in Wünsdorf. Some of the largest military training areas in terms of area were also located in Brandenburg: Lieberose (25,500 ha), Heidehof (12,914 ha), Jüterbog (8874 ha), and Döberitzer Heide (5000 ha). Most of the properties, however, were former barracks with their associated infrastructure, such as ammunition depots, vehicle sheds, and fuel depots. In addition, there were numerous smaller firing ranges and helipads. The territory of today’s Brandenburg was also home to several airfields and, last but not least, the WGF’s central military airport in Sperenberg, south of Berlin. Most of the military infrastructure left behind in Brandenburg had been added during two centuries. Several ‘Soviet’ barracks dated from the time of the Ger-

1 German Liaison Command to the Western Group, Overall Balance, BArch, BW 55/21. 2 Kratz, Walther: Konversion in Ostdeutschland. Die militärischen Liegenschaften der abgezogenen Sowjetischen Streitkräfte, ihre Erforschung, Sanierung und Umwidmung [Conversion in East Germany. The Military Properties of the Withdrawn Soviet Forces, their Exploration, Redevelopment and Rededication], Berlin 2003, pp. 32 f.

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man Empire (1871–1918), while others dated from the 1930s, when the German Wehrmacht was preparing for a new war. After this war ended in 1945, the Red Army was able to move into them more or less as new buildings. The WGF headquarters in Wünsdorf was the traditional command centre of the Reichswehr or Wehrmacht (Army High Command). The entire area just south of Berlin had been under intensive military use for centuries. It was a place where not only soldiers were stationed, but where almost every weapons development in Prussian-German military history had been tested.3 Eight of the twelve large training areas in what is now the state of Brandenburg were already in military use before 1945.4 All of these sites underwent another massive expansion during the nearly 50 years that they were in use by the Soviet Army. The area required by the WGF was enormous. So-called military towns, whose primary purpose was to house soldiers’ families, accounted for large areas in addition to the existing restricted military areas. This mainly affected communities in the Berlin hinterland such as Zossen-Wünsdorf, Zehendick-Vogelsang or Jüterbog. In spite of scarce housing for its own population, the GDR had to bear the burden of building for the steadily growing needs of Soviet officers’ families and even the Soviet Army’s civilian employees. Over the decades, however, the Soviet facilities management took less and less care of the properties. Although buildings from the time before the Second World War remained in good condition for a relatively long time, this was not the case for post-war buildings. In the beginning, professionally trained civilian employees maintained and cared for the buildings and associated technical facilities, such as heating plants and waterworks, but this diminished in the 1960s. More and more, Soviet conscripts without specific expertise took care of the properties.5 It is therefore not surprising that when the buildings were handed over between 1991 and 1994, many were in very poor condition due to many years of use without proper professional maintenance as well as years of neglected renovations and

3 Kersten, Olaf et. al.: Garnisonen der NVA und GSTD. Zur Nutzung militärischer Standorte von 1871 bis 2010 [Garrisons of the EGA and GSFG. On the Use of Military Sites from 1871 to 2010], Berlin 2011; Kaiser, Gerhard: Sperrgebiet. Die Geheimen Kommandozentralen in Wünsdorf seit 1871 [Restricted Area. The Secret Command Centres in Wünsdorf since 1871], Berlin 1998; Ibid.: Vom Sperrgebiet zur Waldstadt: Die Geschichte der geheimen Kommandozentralen in Wünsdorf und Umgebung [From Restricted Area to Waldstadt: The History of the Secret Command Centres in Wünsdorf and the Surrounding Area], Berlin 20074 ; Aumann, Philipp: Rüstung auf dem Prüfstand. Kummersdorf, Peenemünde und die totale Mobilmachung [Armament on the Test Bench. Kummersdorf, Peenemünde and Total Mobilisation], Berlin 2015. 4 Beutler Horst: Landschaft in neuer Bestimmung. Russische Truppenübungsplätze [Landscape in New Destiny. Russian Military Training Areas], Neuenhagen 2000, p. 167. 5 Lobeck, Michael/Pätz, Andreas/Wiegandt, Claus-Christian: Standortkonversion in Deutschland – Probleme und Handlungsansätze [Site Conversion in Germany – Problems and Approaches to Action], in: Bericht zur deutschen Landeskunde, Heft 1/68 (1994), pp. 57–84.

Conversion in Germany Through the Example of the Federal State of Brandenburg

repairs. An additional problem came with German reunification. The technical standards that were used for electricity, water, sewage, gas, and telephone supply lines did not generally meet the standards required after 1990. In addition, there was often no technical documentation of installations because they had not been produced due to military secrecy and as a protective measure against espionage. Not only was the initial material situation of the military properties being taken over not the best, there was the additional challenge of having to transition East Germany to a completely new economic and social order at the beginning of the 1990s.6 Since the municipalities had no experience whatsoever in this realm, unconventional and unbureaucratic new routes were often taken to start the conversion and further use of former military areas. At the level of state policy, conceptual foundations first had to be developed and suitable structures put in place. For Brandenburg, its 570 WGF sites covering a total area of around 120,000 ha were only one half of the problem.7 The other half came from the military properties of the GDR. Altogether, the state had an area of about 235,000 ha that had been used purely for military purposes. This meant that about 8% of the state of Brandenburg’s total area was eligible for conversion. Conversion in the sense of converting or repurposing military structures only became a field of work in its own right with the disarmament measures that occurred near the end of the Cold War. Urban and regional planners adopted the term from social scientists in the late 1980s. They had defined the term to mean a search for new conditions that represent an improvement over the old ones. In the course of disarmament measures, the term came to mean converting former military areas and armament plants to non-military use.8 In Germany, the dissolution of the GDR in October 1990 (especially its military structures), and the subsequent withdrawal of the WGF, gave conversion an enormous political boost. The ‘Guidelines for Conversion’ specially adopted by the Brandenburg state government on 25 August 1992 and noted by the state parliament on 30 September 1992 clarified once again what conversion meant: a process of repurposing military resources, structures, and forces for civilian use.9

6 See Lorke, Christoph/Großbölting, Thomas (eds.): Deutschland seit 1990. Wege in die Vereinigungsgesellschaft [Germany since 1990. Ways into the Unification Society], Stuttgart 2017. 7 Arlt, Kurt/Thomae, Michael/Thoß, Bruno (eds.): Militärgeschichtliches Handbuch BrandenburgBerlin [Military History Handbook Brandenburg-Berlin], Potsdam 2010, p. 203. 8 Wieschollek, Stefan: Konversion: Ein totgeborenes Kind in Wünsdorf-Waldstadt? Probleme der Umnutzung des ehemaligen Hauptquartiers der Westgruppe der Truppen zur zivilen Kleinstadt [Conversion: A Stillborn Child in Wünsdorf-Waldstadt? Problems of the Conversion of the Former Headquarters of the Western Group of Troops into a Small Civilian Town], Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC)-Paper 49, Bonn 2005, p. 2. 9 Land Brandenburg, Leitlinien für Konversion im Land Brandenburg, Drucksache 1/1203.

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1.

Initial situation in the state of Brandenburg

All former military areas of the WGF first became the property of the German federal government, not of any of Germany’s states. More specifically, each property was handed over to the Federal Ministry of Finance. Approximately one sixth of all land transferred from the WGF (40,000 ha) remained under federal ownership and continued to be used for military purposes by the Bundeswehr. The largest part (160,000 ha) was to be transferred to private ownership or private use by means of conversion. A smaller area of 23,000 ha had to be returned to what were called ‘former owners’.10 This was because after the properties were transferred back into the possession of the German federal government, it had to check who had owned them before the WGF took possession of them. If, for example, a claim to a property still existed from that time, the property had to be returned to its rightful owner after the WGF had withdrawn. An additional complication in reaching legally correct decisions was that after the war ended in 1945, the law of occupation prevailed, which allowed property owners to be expropriated by the victorious powers without compensation. Thus, the Red Army had taken over a number of properties from the Wehrmacht, i.e. German state property, without any sort of legal act. But even later than that, when there was a formally sovereign East German government, the Soviet Army still appropriated foreign (East German) properties on multiple occasions. Often this was done by arbitrarily extending existing property boundaries. For example, the outer border of a military training area might be enlarged by putting up warning signs many metres in front of the actual land boundary. From this new boundary, civilians or an owner were sometimes denied access by force of arms, because it seemed expedient for military reasons. From then on, the Soviet Army would treat the extended area as its property and consider it to be entirely its property, even at the time of withdrawal. The GDR government tolerated this practice for decades. It was not until 1988/89 that it began to insist on the rights and obligations laid down in 1957’s Stationing Agreement. To this end, it created property catalogues with land boundaries drawn on maps in an elaborate verification process.11 In the 1990s, these cadastres, together with the land registers of the respective municipalities, formed the basis for restoring properties to the ownership of the now-reunified Germany.

10 Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Mittelstand und Technologie des Landes Brandenburg (ed.): Jahresbericht Konversion 1995/96 für das Land Brandenburg [Annual Report on Conversion 1995/96 for the State of Brandenburg], Potsdam 1996; Peter, Johann: Konversion von A bis Z [Conversion from A to Z], in: Brandenburgische Boden Gesellschaft für Grundstücksverwaltung und -verwertung mbH, Fünf Jahre Brandenburgische Boden im Netzwerk der Akteure, Berlin 1999, pp. 7–119. 11 Satjukow, Silke: Besatzer. „Die Russen” in Deutschland 1945–1994 [Occupiers. ‘The Russians’ in Germany 1945–1994], Göttingen 2008, pp. 299 ff.

Conversion in Germany Through the Example of the Federal State of Brandenburg

As a general rule, owners had their land returned to them according to the principle of restitution before compensation. Only if they had no interest in restitution would they be paid appropriate compensation. A plethora of claims arose after 1990 due to this legal arrangement. Because each owner had to prove their claim, examining claims alone took years in some cases and prevented any utilisation of the properties in question through sale, lease, or development. To simplify the handling of legal claims with regard to properties handed over by the Soviet Army, the German federal government concluded an administrative agreement with the Brandenburg state government. This made it possible to transfer all former Soviet military sites to the state of Brandenburg on the basis of the socalled Property Allocation Act (VZOG), which dealt with the correct retransfer of private property.12

2.

Goals and means of conversion in Brandenburg

In February 1994, the federal government offered the states the option to take over, at no charge, those former Soviet military sites no longer needed by the Bundeswehr and other federal authorities. This entailed that the states assume all related rights and obligations. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saxony-Anhalt rejected the offer. But Brandenburg, like Saxony and Thuringia, accepted it. As a result, between 1994 and 1998, about 100,000 ha switched hands and became property of the state of Brandenburg. This included 83 barracks complexes, 89 residential areas (‘military town’/военный городок), 19 airfields, and 45 military training grounds and firing ranges.13 Of these, 17 heavily polluted areas with a total area of 765 ha remained under federal ownership. The Federal Institute for Real Estate Tasks (BIMA) is still responsible for these properties, which it included on a list of contaminated sites.14 In addition, the federal government supported the state of Brandenburg with DM 25 million for the disposal of 960,000 m³ of household waste and 25,000 m³ of hazardous waste.15 Despite these types of relief, Industrieanlagen-Betriebsgesellschaft (IABG) estimated in 1994 that it would cost the state of Brandenburg DM 5.5 bil-

12 Peter: Konversion von A bis Z, p. 105. 13 Figures according to: Answer of the Land Government to the Small Question 1216, Drucksache 6/2849, https://s3.kleine-anfragen.de/ka-prod/bb/6/3089.pdf, last access: 17 March 2021. 14 http://library.fes.de/fulltext/fo-wirtschaft/00373008.htm, last access: 10 January 2021. 15 Schaefer, Karl Wolfram et al.: Internationale Erfahrungen der Herangehensweise an die Erfassung, Erkundung, Bewertung und Sanierung Militärischer Altlasten [International Experience of the Approach to the Recording, Investigation, Assessment and Remediation of Contaminated Military sites], Berlin 1997, p. 126.

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lion to clean up its contaminated sites.16 Transferring ownership of the properties put Brandenburg in a position to control their conversion for the purpose of state planning. Unlike in Germany’s other new states, Brandenburg’s minister-president had already appointed a commissioner for withdrawal and conversion, who was directly subordinate to him while the Soviet troops withdrew. This commissioner, Helmut Domke, had direct access to the minister-president, which streamlined decisionmaking and created an unbureaucratic method for setting up suitable structures to deal with conversion. This proved to be advantageous. A separate task force enabled the commissioner to take action. It was already clear to all observers and participants at this point that conversion would remain a task for national policy for a very long time. After the Soviet withdrawal ended in 1994, the head of the task force for the conversion commissioner, Roland Vogt, became head of the conversion division at the Brandenburg Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Energy (MWAE). Even today, 25 years after the withdrawal, conversion is still not complete in Brandenburg. According to Roland Vogt, it remains a ‘century-long task’. The Brandenburg state government defined conversion as a ‘central task of state policy [...] and a priority problem of structural, economic and social development in Brandenburg’.17 To define its goals more precisely, the Brandenburg state parliament passed the ‘Law on the Utilisation of WGF Properties’ in 1994.18 According to this law, all the former WGF properties that had been taken over were considered special assets and transferred to a property fund created specifically for this purpose. The fund was managed by Brandenburgische Boden GmbH (BBG), which was newly founded by the state as a so-called revolving fund. This meant that proceeds from the sale of land or from leases and other usage agreements had to be used to cover the fund’s property management expenses as well as the planning and development costs for further utilisation of the remaining land. The BBG operated according to commercial principles. Although it acted on behalf of the state government, as a legally independent company (in the form of a limited liability company) it bore all business risks, but also all benefits. It was thus able to act in a profit-oriented manner on the real estate market. A state authority would not have been able to do this due to existing administrative guidelines. Having this legal structure made it possible for BBG to make quick decisions based on market events and thus to act

16 Vogt, Roland: Möglichkeiten ziviler Nachnutzung großer Militärflächen [Possibilities for Civilian after-use of large Military Areas], in: Brandenburgische Umwelt Berichte (BUB) 1/1997, pp. 7–16, here: p. 8. 17 Der Bevollmächtigte des Ministerpräsidenten für die Westgruppe der Streitkräfte und Konversion (ed.): Land Brandenburg: Neuer Ratgeber Konversion 1994 [Land Brandenburg: New Conversion Guide 1994], Potsdam 1994, p. 6. 18 https://bravors.brandenburg.de/de/gesetze-214663, last access: 19 February 2021.

Conversion in Germany Through the Example of the Federal State of Brandenburg

effectively. At the same time, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Energy, which had taken over the tasks of the former commissioner for withdrawal and conversion, provided a policy instrument. The state government pursued six goals within conversion: 1. Meeting urgent housing demand by converting housing formerly used by the Soviets. In the residential areas of towns, buildings formerly occupied by members of the WGF were modernised. This comprised 15,400 flats in apartment buildings. In addition, around 3400 flats were converted from former WGF crew accommodation at barracks in the towns. The conversion and extension work was carried out by private investors, for whom the state government set up a special subsidy programme. From 1993 to 1999, about DM 970 million was used as subsidised loans for nearly 10,000 flats to create affordable housing with rent control. 2. Stimulating investment activity to build up and strengthen economic enterprises. 3. Creating and securing jobs by promoting local and regional development, as well as supporting start-ups. 4. Scattering ownership, especially home ownership, across broad sections of the population. 5. Preserving no-settlement areas and nature conservation areas, improving agricultural structure and rural areas, and developing forestry. 6. Providing compensatory land to support processing of restitution claims under the Property Allocation Act to settle unresolved property issues, including those involving expropriated former owners. In Brandenburg, conversion has been understood as a cross-sectional task that includes the following areas of responsibility: economic development measures to create jobs, training and securing jobs as a social task, urban planning to create housing and associated infrastructure with schools, green spaces, and retail. In addition, the state tried to develop Brandenburg as a location for aviation. For a long time, Sperenberg airfield (south of Berlin), which was critical to the WGF, was considered a potential site for a new international airport for Berlin.19 And the former military airfield in Briesen was slated to be converted into an airport for

19 The disaster of Berlin Airport, which opened after almost ten years of delay and is still riddled with deficiencies, may serve here as a striking example of how complicated conversion is when it takes place in conjunction with committed infrastructure projects that are often driven more by political will than by expertise; see During, Rainer W.: Lachnummer BER. Das Debakel um den Hauptstadtflughafen. Eine Chronik [The Laughing Stock of BER. The Debacle Surrounding the Capital City Airport. A Chronicle], Berlin 2013.

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heavy freight.20 To help preserve the land, the state-owned Brandenburg Natural Landscapes Foundation was established, which has primarily taken care of large areas on the former military training grounds.21 The state gained its first experience with conversion measures in Jüterbog and Neuruppin as part of a pilot project funded by the European Union.22 The project involved fully documenting and recording the real estate and infrastructure of the former military sites in order to determine their potential for urban and regional planning. The pilot study had shown that it was not only a question of selling land, but also of planning the groundwork for sustainable long-term management as residential areas, commercial areas, and natural spaces. This resulted in the first practical steps to prepare the sites for civilian use: finding and removing explosives, dismantling and disposing of unusable infrastructure, making emergency repairs to buildings, and analysing inventory and potential uses with corresponding cost estimates for necessary infrastructure and repairs.

3.

Contaminated military sites

Once it found the political will to use the properties for sustainable urban, economic, and natural purposes, the state had to deal with another area of policy: investigating and removing substances harmful to health and the environment in the soil, water, or even the air. Closely connected to this matter of contaminated sites was and is the problem of explosive ordnance disposal, meaning detecting and defusing military ammunition and explosives.23 The problem of contaminated sites and bomb disposal is significant for all German states, and not only since conversion began. In the new states, the ‘suspected contaminated sites’ identified by IABG at all properties immediately after their handover served as the basis for recording them on former military sites of the WGF. This process involved inspecting the entire site and marking each conspicuous area as a separate suspected site. According to a special report by the Council of Experts

20 This failed, and with further millions of euros in state funding, it became a leisure bathing world that today can only hold its own economically with difficulty; see ‘Tropical Island’ in Wikipedia (german). 21 Beutler: Landschaft in neuer Bestimmung, pp. 13 ff. 22 Ministerium für Wirtschaft des Landes Brandenburg, Referat Konversion (ed.): 10 Jahre Konversion im Land Brandenburg [10 Years of Conversion in the State of Brandenburg], Potsdam 2001, pp. 16 ff. Between 1991–1994, the EU set up the special programme ‘Regions Perpheriques et Actives Fragiles’ (PERIFRA) in its Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with a total volume of around EUR 6.5 million, see ibid., p. 31. 23 10 Jahre Konversion im Land Brandenburg, pp. 29 ff.

Conversion in Germany Through the Example of the Federal State of Brandenburg

on Environmental Issues in 1990, contaminated military sites are ‘old deposits on military properties that pose or are expected to pose a risk to human health or to the protected resources of soil, water and air’.24 IABG began its work during the WGF’s withdrawal phase. It prepared cost calculations for selected properties in order to be able to negotiate with the WGF on the removal of environmental damage.25 In addition, it was to survey, document, and make an initial assessment of areas with possible contamination for all former WGF sites. This also included recommending urgent measures to avert immediate risks to health and the environment. After its initial assessment, IABG then conducted a more in-depth examination of 140 military training areas, 406 barracks, 80 airfields, 147 camps and bunker facilities, and 42 large tank farms. Altogether, this amounted to 815 properties where 33,750 suspected contaminated sites were identified. However, upon closer inspection, it turned out that more than half of the marked areas (18,888 suspected cases or 56%) posed no risk. In just under a third of all marked areas (10,814 sites or 32%), further investigations needed to be carried out. In only 12% of all suspected sites was the environmental damage so bad that immediate action was required. But that was still 4048 individual sites.26 Ultimately, the Federal Ministry for the Environment estimated in 1997 that about 5700 ha were to be classified as confirmed suspected contaminated sites. This was about 2.5% of the total area used by the WGF.27 These figures provide a sense of the scope of the search for contaminated sites and the scope of the contamination that subsequently had to be removed and still has to be removed from those sites. The second major problem was ammunition and explosives that had been left behind. As a rule, Brandenburg classified all areas that the WGF had used for military purposes as suspected explosive ordnance sites. They were only delisted after

24 http://www.r-haas.de/V15.html, last access: 19 February 2021, and Sondergutachten „Altlasten” des Rates von Sachverständigen für Umweltfragen, Drucksache des Deutschen Bundestages 11/6191 from 3 January 1990. 25 Schaefer: Internationale Erfahrungen, p. 136. Article 7 of the Transition Agreement of 9 October 1990 as a legal settlement, provided for the offsetting of the assets of WGT against the damages for the German side (including environmental damage). On 16 December 1992, Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl and the President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin signed an agreement in which both sides waived their claims – the so-called ‘zero solution’. 26 Piper, Gerhard: Umweltgefahren durch Sprengstoffe und Munition [Environmental Dangers from Explosives and Ammunition], in: Antimilitarismus-Information (ami) 5–6/33 (2003), pp. 31–41, here: p. 35. 27 Kuhrt, Eduard et. al (eds.): Die Endzeit der DDR-Wirtschaft – Analysen zur Wirtschafts-, Sozial und Umweltpolitik [End Times of the GDR Economy – Analyses of Economic, Social and Environmental Policy], Opladen 1999, p. 480, fn. 111.

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an appropriate investigation by the explosive ordnance disposal service.28 This is organised very differently from state to state, which has led to inconsistent methods and standards. Since 2009, the Federal Institute for Real Estate Tasks (BIMA) has been committed to improving the efficiency and quality of explosive ordnance disposal nationwide through uniform standards and better financial and technical resources. BIMA had recognised that ‘munitions waste, whether in the water or on land, [is] a problem and a major challenge now and for the future, whether for reasons of hazard prevention or aspects of environmental protection’.29 Against this backdrop, Brandenburg and the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on 24 January 2020 became the first states to enter into a cooperation agreement to implement the so-called Explosive Ordnance Programme.30 The same year, on 17 November 2020, another agreement in this regard followed between Brandenburg and BIMA. Among other things, the agreement stipulates that BIMA will assume all costs related to personnel and material incurred by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Service (KMBD) for the investigation and clearance of areas under federal ownership. BIMA will provide a total of EUR 229 million, and about EUR 133 million of this has already been made available for the next five years. All in all, BIMA has identified 30,810 hectares of federally owned land in Brandenburg that is suspected of containing explosive ordnance (excluding land belonging to the Bundeswehr). Further cooperation agreements with other states are expected to follow, because ‘removing explosive ordnance is and remains [...] a century-long task, a necessity that future generations will also have to deal with.’31

4.

Classification of conversion sites under the building code

Before anyone could answer the question of whether the conversion sites were suitable for subsequent civilian use, the sites had to be classified within the building code. The code differentiates between core areas, peripheral areas, and outer areas. The vast majority of conversion sites in Brandenburg (89%) were located in outer

28 The basic responsibility for explosive ordnance disposal services lies with the Ministry of the Interior of the respective federal state. 29 https://www.bundesimmobilien.de/land-und-bund-vertiefen-zusammenarbeit-bei-erkundungund-raeumung-von-kampfmitteln-cdd61683d121399b, last access: 17 March 2021. 30 Ibid. 31 Fietz, Paul Johannes: Vorwort, in: Bundesanstalt für Immobilienaufgaben (ed.): 3. Kampfmittelfachtagung. Auf dem Weg zu bundeseinheitlichen Standards. Berlin, 27. und 28. Mai 2019, Kronprinzenpalais, Bonn 2019, p. 4, https://cdn0.scrvt.com/8a7fb8c945e2d564ea89e3facb7da507/ 3c820a68503346cf/57c58a36355d/web_Tagungsband20191.pdf, last access: 11 January 2021.

Conversion in Germany Through the Example of the Federal State of Brandenburg

areas, meaning in predominantly forested areas with no connections to infrastructure. Another 10% of the conversion areas were located in peripheral areas and were generally not fully integrated into existing municipal structures, mainly because of the usually large amount of land that they covered. Only 1% of the total conversion area could be considered part of a core area with complete connections to infrastructure. These were usually barracks within towns or residential areas used by WGF members. The state of Brandenburg has met the huge challenges associated with taking over the WGF sites. Using a wide variety of measures and funding instruments, and with considerable financial support from the European Union, it managed to fund the conversion of a large part of this land. More than 90% of the land it took over from the federal government has been sold (as of 31 December 2020, figures rounded). Today, most of the land is undeveloped, with 42% being used for forestry and 20% used as nature reserves without any economic use. Another large part, around 32%, is ‘other’ land. As a rule, these are relatively small plots that are used for memorials, cemeteries, medical facilities, social institutions, educational and research facilities, and renaturation areas. Only 3.5% of the area is used for industry and commerce. An additional 1% of the area is now residential, and another 1% has been used for the construction of sports facilities or parks. 0.5% is used for agriculture, and another 0.5% is general public land. Nearly 10,000 ha of conversion land is still waiting to be put to sustainable new use. Many of these remaining areas are afflicted with too many problems, such that no economic use is feasible in the foreseeable future from a cost perspective. The term ‘big challenges for conversion’ has become common for such areas. Most of these are former military training grounds, which are usually heavily polluted with ammunition residue and contaminated sites. They also include valuable, but longvacant and dilapidated ensembles of buildings and areas that are listed as historic monuments. In addition, such sites are often located on the outskirts of towns and municipalities or in outlying areas as well as in geographically homogeneous subareas. In general, there are special restrictions on any subsequent use of these properties due to their particular composition.

5.

The example of Jüterbog: a century-long task of conversion

In the second half of the 19th century, the provincial town of Jüterbog developed into a central training ground for the German Empire’s artillery. In addition, the town grew into one of the largest German garrisons. The space required by the various armies stationed in Jüterbog grew steadily over 130 years. In 1989/90, the Soviet garrison occupied 10,540 ha, almost two-thirds of Jüterbog’s total administrative area. The town itself was surrounded by military areas. During the time since those

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troops withdrew, much has been achieved in Jüterbog in terms of conversion, but the task is still a very long way from being completed.

Military areas of the Jüterbog garrison around 1990 / conversion, protected areas, listed buildings and wind turbines, as of March 2019, Copyright: 21.3.2019 Stadt Jüterbog, Map basis: OSM-WMS

At the beginning of the 1990s, the Jüterbog military training grounds of approximately 8900 ha were partially contaminated with ammunition residue to a depth of 9 metres. Professionally clearing ammunition and ordnance costs, on average, between EUR 3.50 and 5.00 per square metre. In purely mathematical terms, then, completely clearing the area would cost between EUR 310 and 440 million. Only a

Conversion in Germany Through the Example of the Federal State of Brandenburg

few kilometres to the southeast are the Heidehof military training grounds, which are contaminated to a similar degree and cover more than 12,000 ha. And a few kilometres further east is a site belonging to the former army testing facility at Gut Kummersdorf, founded in 1875, which also covers several thousand hectares. It too is heavily contaminated with munitions. The listed buildings in Jüterbog’s centre have proven to be an advantage for the town’s urban development. Due to its relatively large number of old terraced buildings, Jüterbog was a founding member of the Brandenburg’s association of towns with historic centres in 1992. Since then, the town has benefited from urban development funding for the defined redevelopment areas of the old town and the medieval suburbs, which has helped significantly with upgrading the townscape. There is no funding of this kind for the former military grounds, which are also listed but lie outside the centre. Today’s Jüterbog II district is a particularly obvious example of this, with its neo-Gothic clinker-brick buildings dating from the last decade of the 19th century, which were home to the artillery schools. Despite exemplary redevelopment and revitalisation of some residential buildings and a barracks to make them suitable for older people, there are currently no prospects for subsequent use of large parts of the military town. Yet nearly 300 buildings at the site are listed as architectural monuments. Statistically, Jüterbog has three times as many listed buildings per inhabitant as other towns in the state of Brandenburg. By law, these architectural monuments must be preserved. Even if the buildings are not renovated and inhabited, emergency works to prevent them from decaying consumes such large sums of money that the town administration cannot afford it. Such emergency works also include protecting the buildings against vandalism and theft of materials such as historic tiles, paving stones, and parquet flooring. Restoring areas that were under intensive use by the WGF has become an ongoing task in Jüterbog. Large areas of the former training grounds have not yet been cleared of ammunition remnants. In the heat of summer, this has repeatedly led to incidents of spontaneous combustion and subsequently to forest fires. Not knowing exactly where other explosive remnants are located in the soil makes fighting those fires trickier. In fact, safety protocols prohibit the fire brigade from driving into the facility’s core area, which is particularly heavily littered with ammunition. In other places, technical facilities must be kept in permanent operation to prevent pollutants from entering the environment. In the southwestern area of the New Camp (in World War I the Provisions Office, later the Army Base Administration), a laundry with a dry cleaning service was installed after 1933. The Soviet Army continued to use the facility after 1945 and even expanded it. Decades of laundry and dry-cleaning operations, until it was handed over to the German authorities in 1993, resulted in considerable environmental pollution, especially of groundwater. The detergents and cleaning agents used by the Soviet troops contained

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trichloroethene (TRE), and are now classified as highly toxic and carcinogenic and banned in the EU. The environmental damage that occurred in the area poses an acute risk to the town’s drinking water supply. The BBG has been operating a purification plant around the clock in coordination with the state, the district, and the town of Jüterbog since 2004. The plant, which has been expanded twice since that time, had filtered out a total of 43.6 tonnes of pollutants as of the end of June 2020. With the help of this plant, which is expected to remain in operation for many years to come, many additional tonnes of pollutants will be removed from the groundwater and soil gas. It has been successful at preventing contamination of the town’s drinking water supply thus far. However, this approach has not been successful everywhere. The nearby Jüterbog III waterworks had to be taken off the grid in 2007 because of hazardous chemical compounds in the groundwater. The cost of the purification plant was EUR 6.2 million as of the end of 2020. Its rehabilitation was initially supported by funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and is now financed by the state of Brandenburg. By the time this work is complete, the total cost is estimated to reach EUR 7 million. These are sums that the small town of Jüterbog can only manage with support from third parties, meaning the EU, the federal government, the state, and investors. Another example worth mentioning briefly is the Jüterbog-Damm area. Its barracks and airfield buildings were used for military purposes from 1917 to 1993, with the occasional interruption. The site meets all three criteria of the state’s proverbial ‘big challenge for conversion.’ Located on the outskirts of Jüterbog, the site covers 116 ha and is managed by the BBG, but it cannot be put on the market for the foreseeable future. This is because its listed buildings are located in a nature reserve that lies in a drinking water protected area. In addition, the site is believed to be contaminated. This imposes restrictions on subsequent use and conditions on development, which involve enormous burdens, including those of the financial kind. The long period of vacancy of over 25 years has led to severe damage to the buildings’ materials, and some buildings are now in danger of collapsing. The buildings have to be secured against vandalism on a regular, recurring basis. Their roofs also need to be maintained, and rainwater needs to be drained to stop the buildings from deteriorating further. The entire property’s fencing must be repeatedly checked and repaired when necessary. From today’s point of view, it seems rather unlikely that this site will be converted in the near future given the general conditions there. The emergency works will at least slow down the decay and thus buy time for positive developments that hopefully will come in future.

Conversion in Germany Through the Example of the Federal State of Brandenburg

6.

Conclusion: the status of conversion in Brandenburg today

It has been shown that conversion can be successfully achieved only with a great deal of time and usually a great deal of money. Looking back at more than a quarter century of conversion experience, it can be said that the undertaking is well equipped structurally and good progress has been made in terms of spatial planning and state planning. Brandenburg has created good structures for dealing with the task of conversion. Thus far it has managed to sell about 90.5% of the state-owned land obtained after the federal government took over the land from the WGF. From a strategic point of view, the course has largely been set, but from an operational point of view and from the perspective of particularly burdened conversion municipalities at least, the notion that this is a century-long task has lost none of its weight. This is of course because all of the remaining conversion areas are considered to be those ‘big challenges’ of conversion: areas that, due to their size and level of contamination, still present the affected municipalities with nearly insurmountable problems. The scale of these tasks is so enormous that, in the case of explosive ordnance clearance, they must assume a time horizon of longer than a century. After more than a quarter century of conversion efforts, it is still critical to return the remaining abandoned and degraded areas to their natural state and reintegrate them into the economy.

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The Withdrawal of Soviet/Russian Forces from East Central Europe

Dávid Kiss

The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Hungary and Hungarian Security Relations

The Soviet Union occupied Hungary in 1945. This occupation has influenced the history of Hungary and continues to influence it in terms of security policy to this day. The withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary was a very important event. In addition to this, the country’s security policy situation was very complex in the early 1990s. Hungary’s freedom was in danger because its economic and foreign relations were a disaster, as was its society. This paper focuses on Soviet relations in Hungarian security policy before and after 1990, describing the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary and how the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact affected Hungary’s security situation.

1.

Hungary and the Soviet occupation until the end of the 1980s

In 1945, Hungary was occupied by Soviet troops. The occupation lasted until 1991. On 10 June 1945, on the basis of the troops stationed in Austria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia the Soviet Central Group of Troops was established.1 A peace treaty between Hungary and the victors of the Second World War in 1947 regulated Hungary’s occupation by Soviet troops. The latter were allowed to keep ‘as many armed forces in Hungarian territory as they need, for example, to maintain the Soviet army’s lines of supply with the Soviet occupation zone in Austria.’2 In 1948, the Hungarian government signed a treaty of friendship and mutual assistance with the Soviet Union. This treaty contained arrangements for military cooperation and regulated intergovernmental cooperation. No peace treaty was signed with either Germany or Austria in 1945. The modalities for Austria were regulated in the Austrian State Treaty in 1955. Austria declared itself neutral, which resulted in the withdrawal of the four Allied occupying powers – the Soviet Union, Great

1 Directive of the STAVKA of the Supreme Commander to the Commander of the Armed Forces of the 1st Ukrainian Front on Renaming the Front to Central Group of Forces, 29 May 1945, published in: Russkij archiv: Velikaja Otechestvennaja Vojna: Bitva za Berlin (Krasnaja Armija v povershennoj Germannii), Tom 15 (4–5), Moskva 1995, pp. 421–422. 2 Peace Treaty with Hungary signed in Paris on 10 February 1947, on: https://www.loc.gov/law/help/ustreaties/bevans/m-ust000004-0453.pdf, last access: 5 January 2021.

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Britain, the USA, and France. The intention was to create a neutral buffer zone in the centre of Europe, but the Allied powers could not reach an agreement in the case of Germany. After the Soviet troops were withdrawn from Austria in 1955, the reason given in the 1947 peace treaty for stationing Soviet troops in Hungary no longer applied. The Central Group of Forces was disbanded on 14 April 1955, but the Soviet Troops in Hungary continued to maintain a presence as a special unit without a legal basis. The Warsaw Pact, founded in 1955 mainly by the Soviet Union, did not regulate the stationing of Soviet troops in Hungary, so between 1955 and 1957 there was no legal basis for them being stationed there.3 This meant that the Hungarian popular uprising4 in October 1956 was violently put down by Soviet troops without a legal basis as well. The troops consistend of the special unit which were stationed in the country since 1955 and one division which entered from Romania as well as two from the Soviet Carpathian Military District. After the crackdown in October 1956 from the Soviet troop stationed in Hungary on 24 November the Southern Group of Forces was formed.5 At this time were 119,101 Soviet soldiers in the country, a number that fell to 44,668 by 1989. In 1958, the Soviet head of government, Nikita Khrushchev, gave the Hungarian Prime Minister János Kádár the choice of withdrawing Soviet troops from Hungary if he approved, but Kádár did not want them withdrawn because he was afraid of another revolution.6 It was not until 1957 that the Hungarian collaborationist government under Kádár signed a treaty with the Soviet Union on the stationing of Soviet troops in Hungary. The Soviet and Hungarian general staffs worked out scenarios mainly for Yugoslavia from 1949 onwards and for the western direction from the 1960s onwards. In the event of war, the scenario envisaged the armies advancing through neutral Austria all the way to Sicily. In 1966, the Soviet occupying power informed the

3 Kiss, Dávid: A Munkásőrség története és előzményei [The History and Prehistory of the Workers’ Militia], Budapest 2017, pp. 49–67. On the 1956 Revolution in Hungary: Gáti, Charles: Failed Illusions. Moscow, Washington, Budapest, and the 1956 Hungarian Revolt, Washington 2006 and Békés, Csaba et. al (eds.): The 1956 Hungarian Revolution: A History in Documents, Budapest 2002. 4 Hungarians instead of a popular uprising speak about a revolution. 5 Fes’kov Vitalii et. al: Vooruzhjonnye Sily SSSR posle Vtoroj mirovoj vojny: ot Krasnoj Armii k Sovetskoj. Chast’ 1: Suhoputnye vojska [Soviet Armed Forces after World War II from the Red Army to the Soviet Army. Part 1: Ground Forces], Tomsk 2013, p. 425. After the Second World War, the Southern Group of Troops was formed from the troops stationed in Bulgaria and Romania. After a peace treaty was signed with these two countries on 10 February 1947, the Southern Group of Troops was disbanded on 20 December 1947. 6 Baráth, Magdolna: „Önök mostantól független országok vezetői!” Szovjet csapatkivonás Magyarországról [‘You are the leaders of the independent states from now on!’ The withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary], in: Századok 149/1 (2015), pp. 121–165, here: pp. 132, 145.

The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Hungary and Hungarian Security Relations

Hungarian party leader that it would station nuclear weapons in Hungary. If the Soviets stationed nuclear weapons in Hungary prior to 1966 is still unclear today. Starting from 1987 with the Treaty of Warsaw’s new defence strategy the plans for an offensive were changed, and from that point forward only defence plans were developed further.7 The Hungarian People’s Army played only a secondary role alongside the Soviet army. In this role the Hungarian People’s Army participated in the suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968.

2.

Parallelism of events – the withdrawal of the Soviet army and the formulation of a new Hungarian security policy

2.1

The withdrawal of the Soviet armed forces from Hungary

In 1988, at the 43rd General Assembly of the United Nations (UN), Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, announced the withdrawal of six Soviet armoured divisions from Hungary, the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (CSSR), and the German Democratic Republic (GDR). In Hungary, this reduction was scheduled to take place in the spring of 1989.8 In this first phase, all properties near Hungary’s western border were cleared. More reductions began in April when about 11,300 soldiers and 470 tanks were transferred to the Soviet Union, followed by more in the summer. Some of their nuclear weapons9 were also withdrawn during this period.10 The leaders of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party (Magyar Szocialista Munkáspárt, MSZMP), which had led the Hungarian government under Miklós Németh since 1988, wanted the Soviet troops to be withdrawn as quickly as possible because they feared a coup in Moscow.11

7 Szani, Ferenc (ed.): Magyar Néphadsereg 1956−1989 [The Hungarian People’s Army, in the years 1956−1989], Budapest 2001, pp. 23–50. 8 Baráth: Önök, p. 122. 9 The Soviets did not build rocket silos in Hungary. The Hungarian People’s Army did not have nuclear warheads, only rocket frames. In the event of war, the warheads would have been provided by the Soviets. They also had nuclear bombs that could be affixed to fighter aircraft. 125 nuclear weapons of various types were maintained in Hungary in the following settlements: Császár, Tótvázsony, Tab, Kiskunlacháza and Kunmadaras. By March 1990, all of these weapons had been returned to the Soviet Union. 10 Sz. Bíró, Zoltán: A szovjet csapatok kivonása Magyarországról [The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Hungary], in: História 5–6/31 (2009), pp. 3−10, here: p. 7. 11 Kiss, Dávid/Pap, Zsolt (eds.): Interjúkötet–Munkásőrség [Interviews – The Hungarian Workers’ Militia], Budapest 2017, pp. 78–80.

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In order to start the withdrawal of the Soviets’ Southern Group of Forces as soon as possible, the Hungarian and Soviet negotiators held an initial meeting in Moscow on 2–3 March 1989. Mikhail Gorbachev promised Miklós Németh that he would begin negotiations for the withdrawal. However, he asked the Hungarian Prime Minister to keep this confidential information to himself. On 23–24 March 1989, the General Secretary of the MSZMP, Károly Grósz, travelled to Moscow to begin confidential negotiations on the withdrawal of the entire Soviet army and its nuclear weapons. On 7–8 June, Grósz took Politburo member Rezső Nyers to the Soviet capital, where they held discussions with Gorbachev on the withdrawal. Following these negotiations, the Hungarian public was finally informed of the impending withdrawal. After a resolution in favour of withdrawal by the parliamentary committee on defence and foreign affairs on 5 January 1990, Miklós Németh wrote an official letter to Nikolai Ryzhkov, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, indicating that negotiations on the withdrawal could begin. On 1–2 February 1990, a Soviet and Hungarian delegation12 negotiated the complete withdrawal of the Southern Group of Forces in Budapest. On 10 March, the withdrawal agreement was signed in Moscow by foreign ministers Gyula Horn and Eduard Shevardnadze, but the financial aspects were largely left out.13 As will be shown later, these aspects became another point of contention between the negotiating partners. The Soviet military leadership was not happy about Gorbachev’s reform concepts or the withdrawal because they meant giving up the country’s status as a great power. In parallel with the withdrawal, Hungary informed the Soviet Union that it would withdraw from the military part of the Warsaw Pact. For this to occur, a new independent security doctrine had to be worked out at the end of 1990 and new foreign policy ties had to be established. As a result, Hungary signed several international economic and partnership agreements in 1990. Several papers were written in the general staff and the Institute of Defence Research concerning the new security doctrine. These served as a basis for discussions between the MPs of the parties. The final changes to the documents were made in

12 The negotiating partners on the Hungarian side were: Ferenc Somogyi (State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), László Borsits (Generalstabschef), György Dóró (Vice Chairman of the Planning Office) and on the Soviet side: M. P. Aboimow (Deputy Foreign Minister), B. I. Omelitschew (First Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Soviet Army), V. V. Sitin (Deputy Minister of Finance), M. P. Burlakow (Commander-in-Chief of the Southern Group of Forces). 13 Pándi, Lajos: A kelet-európai diktatúrák bukása. Dokumentumgyűjtemény 1985–95 [The Fall of the Dictatorships in Eastern Europe Documentary Collection 1985–95], Szeged 1996, pp. 284–285; Izsák, Lajos: Pártok és politikusok Magyarországon 1944–1994 [Parties and Politicians in Hungary, 1944–1994], Budapest 2010, pp. 263–272; Rácz, János: Több oldalról szorongatva: Középen. A médiacsata néhány csörtéje (1990–1993) [It is attacked from several sides: In the middle. Some battles in the ‘press struggle’ (1990–1993)], Budapest 2018, pp. 39–63.

The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Hungary and Hungarian Security Relations

the cabinet of the Ministry of Defence.14 The Hungarian MPs and military experts had thus worked out a new foundation. The primary goal was the protection of the country, which was to be achieved with a sufficient army, and with bilateral or multilateral international treaties. Avoiding war, preserving peace and re-equipping the army to protect the country were seen as the core elements of Hungarian security policy. In this geopolitical, security and economic situation, both the government of Hungary’s first freely elected Prime Minister, József Antall, and the opposition wanted to establish a ‘diplomatic network’. The intergovernmental treaties already mentioned developed from this. Hungary’s options were limited, as the Warsaw Pact had already begun to dissolve, but the country could not yet join NATO. The worst situation for Hungary would have been if the Warsaw Pact had continued to exist without it. Due to the arms limitation negotiations in Vienna, the Antall-led government hoped that the other states in East-Central Europe, which were militarily superior, would undergo a proportionally larger reduction of their armies than Hungary.15 While the Hungarian security doctrine was being worked out and its foundations were being drafted, Soviet troops withdrew from Hungary in accordance with the treaty. The Soviet Union and Hungary appointed two government representatives to control the withdrawal. They were charged with registering the properties. An inter-ministerial committee and an inter-ministerial economic committee were also formed from the Soviet and Hungarian representatives, and an operational group was installed between the head of the Hungarian armed forces and the Soviet Southern Group of Forces. Two trans-shipment stations were operated in the towns of Mándok and Tornyospálca, located on the Hungarian-Soviet border, in order to enable a conversion from narrow gauge to broad gauge.16 The withdrawal of the Southern Group started on 12 March 1990 when the first train departed from Hajmáskér station. By June 1990, the Soviets had transferred 13,000 soldiers, 4400 pieces of technical equipment and 85,000 tonnes of armour on 254 trains. Some 100,390 soldiers and their family members, as well as civilian employees, left Hungary between 12 March 1990 and the final withdrawal day on 19 June 1991. The armaments withdrawn included 21,726 wheeled vehicles and 2269 tracked vehicles, 1473 combat vehicles, 860 tanks, 196 tactical ballistic missile defences,

14 AUV 1/51/21/1343/21, Fólió: 975/142. HM Kabinet, 1990. október 18., jegyzőkönyv. 15 AUV 1/55/21/1378/21, HM Kabinet 1990. december 19. Előterjesztés a kormányhoz a Magyar Köztársaság honvédelmének alapelvei és követelményrendszere jóváhagyásáról és a honvédelmi tárca azokból adódó feladatairól. [Proposal to the Government on the Ratification of the Fundamental Military Principles of the Republic of Hungary and the Tasks of the Ministry of Defence]. 16 Helgert, Imre/Mészáros, Gyula: A Magyar Honvédség a rendszerváltás sodrában Néphadseregből–Magyar Honvédség II. [Hungarian Defence Forces in the Wake of Regime Change: From Hungarian People’s Army to Hungarian Defence Forces], Lakitelek 2017, pp. 235–244.

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622 artillery and 17,500 containers. A total of 6000 objects and 7000 dwellings with a total area of 46,000 hectares were returned to Hungary.17 The last train left on 16 June 1991 and Viktor Shilov, the last commander-in-chief of the Southern Group of Forces, left Hungary on 19 June 1991. Soviet soldiers were sad to leave Hungary because the quality of life there was much better than in the Soviet Union. In many cases they had to stay in tent camps after their return because there was not enough living space available. The Hungarian and Soviet officers who served in the Unified Armed Forces of the Warsaw Treaty Organization ended their service in March 1991.18 As of 31 March 1991, the military part of the Warsaw Pact was dissolved. On 8 May 2001, the Hungarian Parliament declared the day on which the last Soviet soldier left Hungary a day of remembrance. Since the financial aspects of the withdrawal were unresolved and Hungary was in financial difficulties after the dissolution of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA), special attention was given to the cost of the withdrawal. Soviet negotiators and the Hungarian government found it difficult to reach an agreement on the financial questions relating to the withdrawal. On 27 May 1957 and 1 April 1958, the financial questions of the deployment were settled in intergovernmental treaties, although the details were left out. Until that time, the Southern Group of Forces had merely rented the properties and flats it used from the Hungarian state. Although they did not have to pay Hungary rent for them, they were responsible for building maintenance and upkeep. However, they systematically ignored this while they were stationed, and when they left, they took with them door handles, sinks and other things that they would need in their new home. They left multiple buildings is disrepair. As the new owner, the Hungarian state had to either renovate the buildings or demolish them. Between 20 December 1990 and 10 June 1991, Hungarian bomb disposal experts, environmental protection experts and military experts examined the Soviet buildings and firing ranges and estimated the damage at 60.2 billion forints (USD 940 million). Later, the empty Soviet properties and buildings had to be secured at great expense. The Hungarian government wanted to sell them gradually, but this did not work out in every case. After the withdrawal, Hungary had to spend years cleaning up the environmental damage.19 Today several properties are still abandoned and awaiting further use. The Soviet Union demanded payment for the value of the properties built by them, while Hungary claimed compensation for the environmental damage caused to the territory where they stood.

17 Ibid, pp. 221–231. 18 Ibid., pp. 235–244. 19 Ibid., pp. 243–251.

The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Hungary and Hungarian Security Relations

Another demand for compensation from the Hungarian side, which was linked to the financial negotiations on the withdrawal, related to persons who had been transported to the Soviet Union as forced labourers after the Second World War20 and for the damage the country had suffered during the course of the failed revolution of 1956. Since the Southern Group of Forces was stationed without legal justification between 1955 and 1957, Hungary sought compensation for the costs incurred during that period. On 20 June 1991, the Hungarian government assessed the total damage inflicted by the Southern Group and the Soviet Union at 100 billion forints (USD 1.56 billion). In order to bring this and other points of contention to an end, the Hungarian and Soviet governments negotiated the financial aspects of the withdrawal from 24 to 28 September 1990 in Budapest. The Soviet negotiators demanded 2.5 billion forints (USD 39.1 million) for the withdrawal and offered to pay compensation for the environmental damage caused. The Hungarian government, however, wanted to have the issue off the table as quickly as possible and offered a so-called zero option. The Soviet commander-in-chief, Viktor Shilov, told the press that Hungary did not want to pay its financial obligations.21 On 6 December 1991, almost half a year after the last Soviet soldier left Hungary, Hungarian Prime Minister József Antall and Russian President Boris Yeltsin negotiated and agreed on a zero option in which both sides dropped their claims. It was not until 11 November 1992, almost one and a half years after the withdrawal was complete, that the document and its two subcontracts were signed. Hungary nevertheless undertook to supply the Soviet Union with medical products valued at USD 10 million and to assist it with housing troops returning to the USSR. What form this support was to take is still unclear today. One subcontract contained an arrangement in which Russia, as the legal successor of the Soviet Union, would not pay the national debt of the latter to Hungary, but would compensate it with deliveries of military equipment. Hungary did in fact receive MIG-29 fighter jets from Russia later. The Soviet negotiating partners wanted to negotiate the agreements on sovereign debt in combination with the financial aspects of the withdrawal, since the Soviets did not want to amortise their entire sovereign debt to Hungary. The Antall government, however, insisted that the negotiating partners sign two separate agreements for the financial aspects of the withdrawal and the issue of the Soviet Union’s public credit. Yeltsin also handed over to Antall several documents concerning the suppression of the 1956 revolution and apologised for the Soviet

20 More at: Bognár, Zalán: „Málenkij robot” A Magyarországról ítélet nélkül Szovjetunióbeli munkára elhurcolt civilek története [‘Malenkij robot’ The Story of Civilians deported from Hungary to work in the Soviet Union without Judgment], Budapest/Kairosz 2018. 21 Helgert/Mészáros: A Magyar Honvédség, pp. 244–248.

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army’s violent intervention.22 This symbolic gesture was important for the further development of relations given that the suppressed popular uprising still brought back painful memories in Hungarian society. The second arrangement concerned the armed forces, with the two defence ministers agreeing on bilateral military relations during the following five years. Russia also agreed to supply weapons components to Hungary.23 2.2

Hungary and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact

While the unilateral troop reductions begun by Gorbachev in 1989 and the subsequent troop withdrawals initially benefited the global security situation, they meant the beginning of the end for the Warsaw Pact. New principles had been adopted at the Warsaw Pact meeting in Bucharest in 1989. On the basis of those principles, the First Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Soviet Armed Forces, Vladimir Lobov, sent the Hungarian general staff a new development plan on 21 March 1991, in which plans up to the year 2000 were described in detail. It is noteworthy that this took place after the signing of the withdrawal agreement. The leadership of the Hungarian army rejected the plan, in which the Soviets envisioned an easing of tensions between NATO and the Warsaw Pact and a reduction in chemical and nuclear weapons by 1995. The Soviet Union’s own plans focused on the development of missiles and space weapons, intelligence, the economy and the arms industry. But the Soviet military leadership had completely ignored the economic and financial situation in Hungary and the Soviet Union. They thought there was parity between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, but they were afraid of NATO gaining the upper hand later, so they planned for the future mainly with defence in mind. Sufficient protection was therefore to be organised by 1995. The Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) negotiations in Vienna were used for this purpose too, in which both sides planned for disarmament. Yet because NATO was still regarded as an enemy, any attack by it was to be repelled in the event of war. These ideas were strong in the Soviet army leadership, and Gorbachev’s policy ran contrary to them.24 22 In July 1990, the Hungarian Parliament demanded an apology from the USSR Supreme Soviet for the 1956 invasion, stressing that the Soviet Union should have withdrawn its troops after the signing of the Austrian State Treaty. See Salamon, Konrád: A magyar ezredforduló krónikája 1989–2009 [The Chronicle of the Hungarian Millennium, between the years 1989–2000], Budapest 2008, pp. 32‒40; Für, Lajos: A Varsói szerződés végnapjai magyar szemmel [The Last Days of the Warsaw Pact from a Hungarian Perspective], Budapest 2016, p. 209; Kiss, Dávid: A magyar haderő átalakítása 1987 és 1992 között [The Transformation of the Hungarian Armed Forces 1987–1992], Budapest 2018, pp. 22–25. 23 Ibid. 24 The Plan of Development of the Warsaw Pact until the Year 2000, 21 March 1990, in: AUV 3/35/ 363/016.

The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Hungary and Hungarian Security Relations

The Soviet army leadership planned with the expectation of an economic upswing in the Soviet Union from 1995 onwards. This was to be accompanied by the development of the Warsaw Pact states’ assault guns between 1995 and 2000, with the aim of enabling a shift to an aggressive military policy from that point forward.25 Anticipating the utopian nature of the Soviet plans, the Hungarian government sought to reduce defence spending. In May 1989, it planned a reduction of 20–25% between 1990 and 1995.26 This situation shows how much the Soviet military remained stuck in old patterns of thinking even shortly before the Warsaw Pact ended. This was regardless of the fact that there had previously been increasing tension in the alliance due to freedom movements in countries of East-Central Europe and East Germany, with Hungarian representatives playing a driving role. The first phase of the Warsaw Pact’s dissolution began at the Political Consultative Committee (PCC) meeting in Moscow on 7–8 June 1990. On the first day, the Hungarian Prime Minister, József Antall, proposed a change in the Pact. Soviet President Michael Gorbachev and the Czechoslovakian and Polish delegations also wanted changes.27 Thus, as a result of the meeting, a committee was organised whose task was to reform the alliance.28 József Antall later recommended a purely political alliance. Lajos Für, the Hungarian Defence Minister, announced that Hungary would not participate in future joint manoeuvres of the Warsaw Pact and that the country would withdraw its delegation from the Unified Armed Forces of the Warsaw Treaty Organization. On 13–14 June 1990, Warsaw Pact defence ministers met in East Berlin for negotiations. At this summit Lajos Für, announced to his Soviet counterpart that Hungary would withdraw from the alliance. The Soviet Union responded by threatening to withdraw security protection for Hungary. The Hungarian delegation pursued a different position that stood in contrast to the development plans in the Warsaw Pact, a position that was to be adopted by Hungary’s parliament a short time later. On 26 June, the Hungarian parliament instructed the government to begin negotiations on withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact. In the first phase, the government suggested the termination of joint manoeuvres, as well as the dissolution of Warsaw Pact military organisations, which entailed Hungary’s withdrawal. At the first meeting of the ‘Commission of Government representatives for Transformation’ – which was founded on 7–8 June 1990 at the PCC meeting in Moscow – in Prague on 15–17 July 1990, several delegations supported the Hungarian recommendation to dissolve the military part of the alliance. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, wanted to reform it. By that time, however, Hungary was already negotiating with 25 26 27 28

Ibid. Record on the defence problems 1989, in: Hungarian National Archives XIX-A-98 165. d. Kiss: A magyar haderő, p. 21. Für: A Varsói szerződés, p. 133; Helgert/Mészáros: A Magyar Honvédség, pp. 145, 180, 191−194.

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Czechoslovakia and Poland on dissolving the Warsaw Pact and maintaining purely political cooperation.29 On 16 August, the Visegrád states, Hungary, the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic, and Poland, that worked very close together on this issue, supported the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact’s military organisations. At the meetings of the Military Council of the Unified Armed Forces held in Bucharest from 2–4 October 1990, the Hungarian representative participated only as an observer. Hungary permanently ended its military activity in the Warsaw Pact as of 1 January 1991, but it did not withdraw from the Pact. At the meeting of the PCC of the Warsaw Pact’s foreign and defence ministers in Budapest on 24–25 February 1991, the military component of the Pact was finally dissolved. The military organisations were dissolved as of 31 March 1991, and on 1 July, at the last meeting of the PCC in Prague, the entire Warsaw Pact was dissolved.30 2.3

Hungary’s new security policy

After years of security policy dependence on the Soviet Union, the Eastern European states fell into a security policy vacuum. This vacuum formed with the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, and it had to be filled with national security policies. Hungary recognised this quite quickly, and, as already described in the section on withdrawal, it worked out its first set of solutions at the end of 1990. On 29 May 1991, shortly before the end of the withdrawal and the final dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the parliamentary committee on defence dealt with security policy at a meeting called by foreign policy mastermind and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Tamás Katona. This meeting was very important for the further development of Hungarian security policy, because many of the points it covered were subsequently implemented. Katona briefed those who attended on the position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, saying that while the Soviet Union would prefer that NATO and the Warsaw Pact be dissolved simultaneously, he believed this to be an unrealistic scenario. He also talked about the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact itself, saying that the treaty was dangerous economically, environmentally and in terms of human rights. With its dissolution, a new security order was emerging. He emphasised: ‘It is natural and necessary for Hungary’s security policy and court system31 to become compatible with Europe.’ In the early 1990s, Hungary did not want to enter into serious ties with NATO, fearing that this would create a sense of 29 Für: A Varsói szerződés, pp.176−187, 198−208; Pietsch, Lajos: Magyarország és a NATO. Magyar Atlanti Tanács [Hungary and NATO. The Hungarian Atlantic Council], Budapest 1998, pp. 12‒18. 30 Salamon: A magyar ezredforduló krónikája, pp. 32‒33, 40; Für: A Varsói szerződés, p. 209; Kiss: A magyar haderő, pp. 22–25. 31 This refers to the judiciary.

The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Hungary and Hungarian Security Relations

isolation in the Soviet Union and subsequent irrational action. It hoped that the Soviet Union would welcome the reforms within NATO, which would weaken the military role of the military alliance while simultaneously increasing the importance of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE). But Hungary also wanted security guarantees in case a coup occurred in the Soviet Union. The Hungarian government could not establish close relations with NATO at first, given that the Western alliance did not want to interfere directly in the politics of the area due to the security interests of the Soviet Union. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, however, Hungary wished to become a NATO member. But this was a lengthy procedure. So bilateral relations with NATO were a very important priority until the country finally joined it in 1999. Katona thought that an organised buffer zone between the Soviet Union and the NATO countries was not a good solution, as this process would have separated Eastern European countries from Western European countries and NATO. In addition, he spoke about how some Soviet politicians had blackmailed states to the west of the Soviet Union by threatening to open its borders, which would have enabled a wave of refugees to roll into those countries. The Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs feared a civil war in the Soviet Union, which is why it wanted to conclude bilateral agreements with the Eastern and Western states.32 From 1990 onwards, Hungary entered into military and economic treaties with its neighbours and with other European states. Relations with its immediate neighbours were important, especially in the case of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Romania. Conditions in the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were a growing concern for the Antall government, since a possible backward-looking policy in the former or a long civil war in the latter would significantly change the requirements for Hungarian security policy.33 Its fears were not unfounded. This was demonstrated on the one hand by the coup in the Soviet Union two months later, which was unsuccessful (a stroke of good luck in Hungary’s view), and on the other hand by the civil wars and wars of independence in Yugoslavia, which began on 26 June 1991 and lasted for years.34 In the process, relations with Hungary’s largest neighbour, the Soviet Union, became increasingly important. One of the main concerns was to sign a basic treaty with the Soviet

32 Defence Committee of the Parliament, 29 May 1991, http://dlib.ogyk.hu/view/action/nmets.do? DOCCHOICE=489357.xml&dvs=1514380014205 360&locale=hu_HU&search_terms=&adjacency=&VIEWER_URL=/view/action/nmets.do?&DELIVERY_RULE_ID=4&divType=&usePid1= true&usePid2=true, last access: 27 December 2017. 33 Ibid. 34 Dévavári, Zoltán: A leghosszabb év – A délvidéki magyarság és az Antall-kormány Jugoszlávia szétesésekor (1991) [The Longest Year – The Southern Hungarians and the Antall Government in the Disintegration of Yugoslavia (1991)], in: Veritas Évkönyv 2019, Budapest 2020, pp. 384–406, here: p. 393.

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Union, but both countries could not agree on the section concerning security policy. Eventually, a treaty was signed in Moscow on 6 December 1991. Tamás Katona characterised the diplomacy of the disintegrating Soviet Union as follows: ‘It is clear that because of the terrible internal difficulties of the Soviet Union, Soviet policy has lost its foreign policy conception. All its attention is turned inward [...].’35 To make matters worse, the European Community was now planning closer cooperation between its members based on a collective foreign and security policy. The Soviet Union saw this as a threat coming from the West and so it wanted to insert the following passage into its bilateral basic treaty with Hungary: ‘Don’t be a member of a pact I don’t like.’36 Yet given its experience with the Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation of 1948, which contained a similar passage, and the pivot towards NATO that had already begun, the Hungarian government did not want to conclude a treaty containing such a passage with any of its eastern neighbours again. Katona also considered the Visegrád Treaty with Poland and the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic in 1991 and the bilateral basic treaty with both states, the signing of other smaller but no less important treaties, and relations with the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) to be important. As a result, Hungarian diplomats were able to establish economic, financial and energy relations with several states in the region and neighbouring states in a short period of time. Examples included bilateral treaties with Romania in 1990, with the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic37 in 1991, and with Austria (on rail transport), Poland (on friendship), Bulgaria (on visa-free entry), and the Soviet Union; recognising the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS);38 and signing the ‘Pentagonal’ Treaty with the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic, Yugoslavia, Austria, and Italy in 1990.39 Hungarian Prime Minister József Antall also signed an Association Agreement with the European Community on 16 December 1991.40 In 1992, the Hungarian government signed a new intergovernmental basic treaty with the independent Ukraine and in 1993 with Slovakia. It had already signed

35 Ibid. 36 Ibid. 37 From 1945 to 29 March 1990 Czechoslovakia, from 1 January 1993 the Czech Republic and Slovakia are sovereign states. The treaty with Romania regulated cooperation between the two armies and the one with Czechoslovakia regulated interstate legal assistance. 38 Szántó, Mihály: A Magyar Honvédség a rendszerváltástól a NATO tagságig (1989−1999) [The Hungarian Land Forces from the Regime change to NATO Membership (1989−1999)], Budapest 2002, pp. 15‒17, 24. 39 The states wanted to expand economic, infrastructural, scientific cooperation and resolve human rights and minority issues. Meeting of the Cabinet of the Ministry of Defence in: AUV 1/55/25/ 1378/25. 40 de Wijk, Rob: A NATO az ezredforduló küszöbén [NATO on the Threshold of the Millennium], Debrecen 1998, pp. 83‒85.

The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Hungary and Hungarian Security Relations

a treaty with Slovakia in 1992, which resulted in both states establishing military cooperation and regular monitoring of each other.41 Bilateral relations with Romania, on the other hand, were very ambivalent at that time, a fact that could be observed in conflicts involving the Hungarian minority in Romania. In 1990, for example, several members of the Hungarian minority were beaten up in the Romanian town of Marosvásárhely. Nevertheless, joint agreements were considered very important here too and so were signed here as well.42 One notable example was the Open Skies Treaty of 10 May 1991, which allowed the two countries to regularly monitor each other from the air. Due to its content, this treaty served as a model for the signing of the Treaty of the Open Skies on 24 March 1992. Some 27 countries of NATO and the former Warsaw Pact were party to this agreement. The intergovernmental and bilateral treaties concerned the military, economy, science, transport, law, and minority rights. Tamás Katona had always pointed out that Hungary needed to expand its diplomatic relations because of its security situation. In addition to bilateral relations, Hungary also managed to establish relations with multilateral organisations such as the European institutions. On 8 June 1990, Géza Jeszenszky, Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs attended a meeting of the Western European Union43 at which Hungary was granted guest status. Partner member status was recommended for Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland in 1992 and signed in 1993. Furthermore, NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries drafted the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) in 1990,44 which came into effect one year later. On the basis of this treaty, Hungary had to reduce its armaments by 510 tanks, 207 artillery and 30 infantry fighting vehicles.45 The CSCE regarded the development of the Conflict Prevention Centre and the meetings of the heads of government of the member states as being of the utmost importance. Hungary also considered the disarmament talks in the UN to be important. In this context, it advocated for the disarmament of the majority of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological and chemical weapons) and ballistic missiles stationed in Europe and strengthening controls on the arms trade.46

41 Szántó: A Magyar Honvédség, pp. 15‒17, 24. 42 Defence Committee of the Parliament, 29 May 1991. 43 The Western European Union was a collective military assistance pact founded on 23 October 1954 by France, Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the Federal Republic of Germany and Italy. The founding documents, the Paris Treaties, entered into force on 5 May 1955. In 2010, the Alliance was dissolved. 44 In January 1989, negotiations on arms reductions began in Vienna. 45 Szántó: A Magyar Honvédség, pp. 15‒23. 46 Ibid.

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Another area Katona drew attention to was economic policy. The dissolution of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) led to the disintegration of economic relations between states, creating a need to organise new marketeconomy relations. Hungary’s largest trading partner was the Soviet Union, and supplies of raw materials and energy from the ex-CMEA countries became uncertain. Another complicating factor was that there were neither bilateral state contacts nor commercial contacts under the umbrella of CMEA. Therefore, the foreign trade enterprises of these countries had to reorganise trade, even though many companies were not dependable or solvent. Due to this catastrophic economic structure, which prevailed in Hungary as well,47 the country had to conclude several economic and financial agreements. The most important goal was economic independence from the Soviet Union and the development of infrastructural connections with the states in the region, as well as a link to international energy networks and storing sizeable reserves of energy and raw materials.48 Since Hungary could not immediately join the European Economic Community (EEC) or NATO, and the region was left with a great power void after the Soviet withdrawal and the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact, and since the country was in a disastrous economic situation, Hungary had to develop new ties with neighbouring countries and other European states. In addition, Hungary needed to slowly move closer to the EEC and NATO, so the Antall government intended to link small but significant treaties to the two organisations. These efforts were successful, but several conflicts lived on. Chaotic conditions prevailed in some of Hungary’s neighbouring countries, leading to a bloody civil war in Yugoslavia. Hungary also had to solve a whole series of economic, social and environmental problems. In retrospect, the political solution to these problems was successful, but difficult. The government managed to improve its international relations as well as consolidate and, little by little, bring lasting improvements to the country’s economic situation.

47 Izsák, Pártok, pp. 260–262. 48 Minutes of the Meeting of the Cabinet of the Ministry of Defence on 24 February 1991, in: AUV 1/55/25/1378/23.

Barnabás Vajda

The Soviet Army Stationing and its Legacy in Czechoslovakia and at Fortress Komárno

1.

Introduction1

For most East European countries, 1989 and the early 1990s were a time of national revival, regained national independence, and huge joy in ‘returning back to Europe’. This was a period of time when East European states established new political and economic links with Western Europe and the world on an almost daily basis. For the Czechoslovakian (in fact, Czech and Slovak) foreign policy, which had revolved around the Soviet foreign policy for decades, ending the presence of the Soviet Army on its soil was understood as an important step in disengagement from the Soviet orbit.

2.

Soviet military in Czechoslovakia 1945 and 1968

Soviet military forces entered Czechoslovakia under special circumstances. After the Second World War, both the American and the Soviet forces departed from Czechoslovakia, an allied winner country, by 1 December 1945.2 Thus, there were no Soviet forces present in the country until Warsaw Treaty Organization (also known as Warsaw Pact) armies invaded during the course of Operation Danube in the summer of 1968.3 Headed and coordinated by the Soviet Army in order to ‘pacify’ the Czechoslovakian political changes, the ‘military intervention of five members of the Warsaw

1 The present study was written in the framework of the scientific scheme: VEGA 2019–2021, No. 1/0163/19: Certain forms of freedom in a totalitarian state – political life, religion, tourism, and media in Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Eastern Europe 1938–1968. 2 Michálek, Slavomír/Štefanský, Michal: Age of Fear. The Cold War and Its Influence on Czechoslovakia 1945–1968, Stuttgart 2019, p. 14. 3 Rychlík, Jan: Každodennost v Československu v období tzv. normalizace [Everyday life in Czechoslovakia in the period of so-called normalization], in: Pažout, Jaroslav (ed.): Každodenný život v Československu. Ústav pro studium totalitných režimu – Technická univerzita v Liberci, Praha/ Liberec 2015, pp. 34–47.

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Pact against Czechoslovakia in 1968’4 was the biggest operation of its kind in Europe since the end of the second World War.5 On the Warsaw Pact side, the undertaking involved 27 divisions (300,000 men at minimum), 800 to 1000 airplanes and helicopters, 6300 tanks, and approximately 3000 canons. The international invasion, which began on 21 August 1968, achieved its political purpose, and Czechoslovakia remained inside the Soviet military and political block. Creating both domestically and internationally acceptable legal grounds for the stationing of the Soviet Army became a lengthy endeavour. On 27 August 1968, Ludvík Svoboda, Czechoslovakia’s president, Alexander Dubček, the first secretary of the KSČ (Komunistická strana Československa or Communist Party of Czechoslovakia), and other Czechoslovakian political representatives (under intense pressure from the Soviets) signed the so-called Moscow Protocol, which included, among other requirements, the acceptance of the presence of the Soviet Army in Czechoslovakia. The Moscow Protocol served as a political frame for the consecutive, mutual Agreement on the conditions of temporary stationing of the Soviet troops on the soil of the Czecho-Slovak Socialist Republic – the most significant document determining Czechoslovakian-Soviet relations for the next quarter of a century. Czechoslovakian Prime Minister Oldřich Černík and Soviet Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin signed this agreement on 16 October 1968. Within two days, on 18 October 1968, the Prague-based Czechoslovakian Parliament ratified the text of the Agreement. At the same time, a special protocol was attached, which stated that the stationing of the Central Group of Forces, as the Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia were officially named, was a necessary defence against Western intrusion, notably from West Germany.6 Under the terms of the protocol, 75,000 Soviet soldiers would be stationed ‘temporarily’ on the territory of the CSSR. From a legal standpoint, the agreement and the protocol became and remained the basis for the placement of the Soviet troops for the next 22 years.7 Even if the legal grounds were established now, the moral basis of the presence of the Soviet troops was uncertain and doubtful in the eyes of the Czech and Slovak public. As noted by Karol Skalnik Leff, ‘the temporary stationing of five Soviet

4 Michálek/Štefanský: Age of Fear, p. 307. See also Bischof, Günter et al. (eds.): The Prague Spring and the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Lanham 2010 and for the Soviet perspective: Pazderka, Josef (ed.): The Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968: The Russian Perspective, Lanham 2019. 5 Michálek, Slavomír: Rok 1968 a Československo – postoj USA, Západu a OSN [The year 1968 and Czechoslovakia – the Position of the USA, the West, and the UN], Bratislava 2008, p. 120. 6 Leff, Karol Skalnik: The Czech and Slovak Republics, Colorado 1997, p. 67. 7 Michálek: Rok 1968, p. 129; also: Londák, Miroslav/Sikora, Stanislav et al.: Rok 1968 a jeho miesto v našich dejinách [The Year 1968 and its Place in our History], Bratislava 2009, p. 229.

The Soviet Army Stationing and its Legacy in Czechoslovakia and at Fortress Komárno

divisions on Czechoslovakian soil occurred as a result of the military occupation of the country after the 1968 invasion and not in accordance with the changed defence strategies toward the West’.8 The Czechoslovakian public was offered an official explanation that the agreement was to protect the country against a presumed NATO threat, but the wider public was well aware that Soviet troops were placed to protect the Czechoslovakian communist regime inside, not the enemy outside.9 The general public mood of anti-Russian sentiments was overwhelmingly expressed in forms of newspaper articles (so long as the freedom of press lasted), on hundreds of homemade posters and painted murals, as well as in the form of political jokes, spread unstoppably during pub chats.10 One of the last public expressions of antiRussian derision took place during a demonstration in Prague on 7 November 1968.11 Thus, the Soviet military presence in Czechoslovakia was strongly linked with the memory of the summer of 1968. Since many (if not most) of the political and economic changes in 1968 garnered huge popular support, most people despised the ‘occupants’ when the Warsaw Pact armies crushed the reforms. The general notion followed that during the occupation, much harm was meted and many personal tragedies ensued. The overall negative attitude of the Czechoslovakian population toward the Soviet Army derived from direct personal experiences.12 Today, it is known that altogether 425 human lives were lost between 21 August 1968 and 25 June 1991, counting only proven lives lost directly or indirectly due to the Soviet Army aggressions.13 Even if these tragedies were not made public at that time, gossip spread quickly.

3.

From 1988–1989: the international context

In order to locate the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Czechoslovakia in 1991 in a broader context, one must examine the issue from both international and national perspectives. Regarding the international context, the change of political systems in Eastern Europe in 1989 was a definitive, historical turning point, even if the change in international relations had already begun prior to 1989. In fact, in the

8 9 10 11 12

Leff: The Czech and Slovak Republics, p. 67. Ibid., pp. 68, 218. Michálek: Rok 1968, pp. 265–286. Ibid., p. 131. Tomek, Prokop/Pejčoch, Ivo: Černá kniha sovětské okupace. Sovětská armada v Československu a její oběti 1968–1991 [Black Book of Soviet Occupation: The Soviet Army in Czechoslovakia and its victims 1968–1991], Cheb 2018, p. 125. 13 Tomek/Pejčoch: Černá kniha, pp. 7, 139–148.

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Czechoslovakian case, in 1988, the Soviet Union withdrew some parts of its armour from Czechoslovakia. Under the terms of the INF Treaty that Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan signed on 8 November 1987, a particular, intermediate rocket launch system (‘85 OTR-22 Temp’) and its belongings were withdrawn from the military range at Libava (situated some 20 kilometres northeast of Moravian city of Olomouc) between January 1988 and March 1988.14 This transfer was already a part of a larger process in accordance with Gorbachev’s overall confidence building policy, and can be interpreted today as an early stage of the withdrawal of the Soviet military forces from the region before the end of the Cold War. One of the most remarkable events that signalled strong political shifts in Eastern Europe, was the declaration of the Soviet Union and its four Warsaw Pact allies, which had participated in the invasion of Czechoslovakia, condemning the ‘1968 military suppression of the Czechoslovakian political liberalization’. Representatives of former ‘occupant countries’ stated in their solemn political declaration on 4 December 1989 that the ‘1968 invasion was a breach of international laws / norms’.15 In fact, for the future, this declaration was the international foundation for the withdrawal. As The New York Times stated then: ‘[…] The Kremlin also agreed today to open discussions with Czechoslovakia on the withdrawal of Soviet troops from that country, linked to broader East-West disarmament negotiations.’16

4.

The year 1989 in Czechoslovakia

The demand for withdrawal of the Soviet troops was one of the very first international political actions of the new, post-1989 Czechoslovakian political establishment. Under pressure from a general strike on 27 November 1989, the fullcommunist Czechoslovakian government resigned on 10 December 1989, and Prime Minister Marián Čalfa created an interim government intended, in fact, for national reconciliation, or Vláda národného porozumenia, in Slovak. Čalfa’s government was a mixture of communist and non-communist ministers, with the communist party controlling only one third of the ministerial seats. As rapid political changes unfolded, by 28 December 1989, a massive reconstruction of the Prague Parliament had occurred, including electing Alexander Dubček as the new Head of Parliament, a huge political satisfaction for the best-known representative of the 1968 Spring. 14 Ibid., p. 125. Find more at: http://www.vhu.cz/pred-triceti-lety-byly-v-ceskoslovensku-rozmistenynosice-jadernych-zbrani, last access: 12 June 2019. 15 Tomek/Pejčoch: Černá kniha, p. 126. 16 At: https://www.nytimes.com/1989/12/05/world/clamor-in-europe-warsaw-pact-condemns-68prague-invasion.html, last access: 12 June 2019.

The Soviet Army Stationing and its Legacy in Czechoslovakia and at Fortress Komárno

It was in this political environment of overflowing enthusiasm that the first publicly demand for withdrawing the Soviet troops popped up on 4 December 1989. Seen through the spectacle of the general East European 1989 euphoria, the demand for the withdrawal of the Soviet forces might have seemed quite unanimous. However, since the entire process was accompanied by intensive international security considerations, and also because political changes transpired in the context of fierce domestic power struggle after 1989, the process was definitively not an issue predestined to succeed. As for the new political establishment, particularly in Prague and around the new president Václav Havel, withdrawal was explicitly one of the primary goals in the international arena. Havel, the founder and the main speaker of the Charta 77 before 1989, had referred to ‘occupation’ many times in his speeches. Now as Czechoslovakian president, Havel argued for the importance of the Czechoslovakian army to ‘regaining the independence of the country’ (14 March 1991) practically in every major speech he gave in these times.17 He stepped up for ‘the independence as a basis for the future’ and for ‘getting rid of the satellite position’ (6 June 1991). In his opening speech at the last meeting of the Political Advisory Committee of the Warsaw Pact countries in Prague on 1 July 1991, Havel openly and distinctly addressed the intention that Czechoslovakia should be integrated into the Western European political, economic, and military communities. It is worth considering the historical machinations the Czechoslovakian foreign policy underwent during these years, commencing with the notion of Czechoslovakia as a non-aligned country, through the possibility of abolishing both military pacts, then, finally joining NATO. In 1989, there was a firm search for a usable security structure that the country could join when the Soviet Army was gone; the actual structure, however, was not yet determined. An early alternative was the collective security network involved in the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe Movement (CSCE). In actuality, both Cold War blocs had used CSCE since the 1970s as a forum for the discussion on international security and as a forum for promoting confidence building measures,18 thus, CSCE appeared for some time to be a reliable network that could maintain Czechoslovakia’s safety. Nevertheless, as the international situation in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe began to escalate after 1989, experts commenced searching for more substantive security structures than the CSCE. On 13 June 1991, for instance, Jiří Dienstbier, the

17 For example: Havel’s speech at the Institute for East West Security Studies Conference [Bardejov 12 June 1991]; at the Meeting on European Confederation in Prague’s Palace of Culture [21 June 1991]; and at An Environment for Europe Conference in Dobříš [1 July 1991]. See https://www. vaclavhavel.cz/en/vaclav-havel/works/speeches, last access: 12 June 2020. 18 Leff: The Czech and Slovak Republics, pp. 219, 221.

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Czechoslovakian Minister of Foreign Affairs negotiated with John Rogers Galvin, the Head of the NATO (Supreme Commander, Europe), while two days later, on 15 June 1991, Luboš Dobrovský, the Czechoslovakian Defence Minister left for a weeklong stay in Washington D.C., where, among others, he met with Richard Cheney who offered ‘help with the transformation of the Czechoslovakian Army’. The contemporary press did not elaborate on these negotiations; nevertheless, it is apparent that the Czechoslovakian political establishment had already established vigorous contact with the Western military structures, and was attempting to manoeuvre its own way toward security. The means for determining the need for US presence as a key element in any security policy may have appeared quite logical, but the actual argumentation was far more complex. Interestingly, in the Czechoslovakian case, the USA appeared not as part of the ‘either Russia or the USA’ dilemma, but presented as a counterweight to Germany’s regional power. This assessment came at the behest of the Czech Institute for International Relations, a traditional think-tank advising Czech decision-makers.19

5.

Homeland political fights

To complicate the evaluation of Czechoslovakia’s role in the Soviet military withdrawal even further, wider international security considerations were embroiled with fierce homeland political fights. Simply, the withdrawal was an issue of national pride. The general sentiment affirmed that the ‘Russians were here. Now they leave. And it’s good’. What is the reason that this withdrawal was a sheer revelation? In Czechoslovakia, there had been a largely positive acceptance of the Soviet Union after the Second World War. However, this mood changed dramatically during the summer of 1968. When the contemporary Czech and Slovak press is researched carefully, both centrally and regionally regarding its contemporary reactions to the withdrawal of the Soviet Army, the Czech and the Slovak population explicitly perceived the withdrawal as a huge relief. To further variegate the already colourful, historical painting of the Soviet Army withdrawal, by analysing the domestic, political, and popular reactions, one can conclude that besides international political considerations, strong national emotions also backgrounded the events. In Bohemia, the extent to which the withdrawal was symbolic can be demonstrated through the story of Božena Fuková. Ms Fuková became famous in October 1968 as one of four members of the Czechoslovakian Parliament who refused to vote for the Agreement between the CSSR and the USSR.

19 Leff: The Czech and Slovak Republics, pp. 223–224.

The Soviet Army Stationing and its Legacy in Czechoslovakia and at Fortress Komárno

When the communist regime fell, she joined the post-1989 Czechoslovakian Parliament, and as a symbolic gesture to her brave opposition in 1968, she was offered membership in a special committee organized to provide ‘public supervision over the withdrawal’ of the Soviet troops.20 Immediately after the regime change, several special committees were established, among them, the office for addressing the consequences of the Soviet forces’ stay in CSFR (in Czech, Úřad pro řešení důsledku pobytu sovietskych vojsk na území ČSFR).21 National sentiments provided a firm context for the Czech–Slovak tensions. One of the most significant issues at that time was that the two parts of the country, the Czech and the Slovakian, had already started to split, primarily due to the Slovakian nationalist movement. By the time of the end of the withdrawal in June 1991, a series of upheavals occurred in Slovakia, the eastern half shook the position of the mutual Czechoslovakian government. This process began immediately with the fall of the communist system in 1989, and can be described as the Slovaks’ journey toward a long-awaited national independence. Indeed, the issue of an independent Slovak statehood stood in the forefront of the political agenda since the very existence of Czechoslovakia, and the new Slovakian political generation, which stepped onto the stage in 1989, regarded the time as ripe for fulfilling their century-long national dream. Mid-1991, when the Soviet troops left Czechoslovakia, was the peak of a constitutional contest between the Czech and the Slovak halves. Peoples’ attention was mostly attracted to this inland tension, which was covered in lengthy detail on the front pages of the central political newspapers. Meanwhile, the news about the Soviet Army’s withdrawal could be found on the second or third pages. For various reasons, Slovakia appeared a bit more politically unstable than Bohemia. After intense domestic political rivalry, Slovakia suddenly faced early general elections (5 and 6 June 1992), which, once again in a very short period of time, upended the political landscape. Soon afterwards, on 17 July 1992, the Slovak National Assembly (the parliament) issued a declaration regarding creating a ‘sovereign state’ as a foundation for an independent state of the Slovak nation. Since from Czech point of view, this was an unfair undermining the ideal of the mutual federative state, and since Slovak independence had clearly already been under way, it was understandable that Czech politicians carefully watched their ‘separatist’ and ‘nationalistic’ neighbour sibling; concurrently, they began behaving according to their own national interests.22 Anti-Russian emotions in the post-1989 period were especially high in the Czech portion of the country, where the leading opposition party, Občianske fórum con20 Tomek/Pejčoch: Černá kniha, p. 128. 21 Londák/Sikora: Rok 1968, p. 230. 22 On the end of Czechoslovakia see e.g. Heimann, Mary: Czechoslovakia – The State That Failed, New Haven & London 2009, pp. 307–312.

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sciously and consistently maintained the withdrawal of the Soviet troops on its political agenda. The question of withdrawal gained special support from the vigorous demands of opposition organization Charta 77, along with the personal appeals of Václav Havel, their internationally renowned leader. Prior to 1989, Charta/ Charter 77 was a political formation that replaced non-existent political opposition within Czechoslovakia and decried ‘occupation’ as a key issue. Charta 77 pressed for the withdrawal of the Soviet troops numerous times in its declarations. Among other occasions, the group demanded the withdrawal of the Soviet troops in its Document No. 18, 1978, that Dr Ladislav Hejdánek, Marta Kubišová, Dr Jaroslav Šabata all signed.23 The issue of the actual withdrawal, and also the strategic steps after the Soviets leaving, perceived differently in the two parts of the country. In the post-1989 Czech political environment, the demand of Charta 77 speakers’ that the Soviet troops leave the country as soon as possible had a special emotional and political message. Some historians argue that this was enacted to ensure that the Soviet Union could not manipulate the withdrawal for blackmail against the country.24 The influence of Charta 77 was explicitly evident in the appointing of the first civilian post-1989 Czechoslovakian defence minister: Luboš Dobrovský, a former Charta 77 dissident, was one of the founders of the political party Civic Forum and a personal friend of Havel.25 After 1989, dominant Czech and Slovakian political representatives shared the idea of joining Western military structures; nevertheless, a tiny communist fraction in both parts of the country overtly opposed any government decision to join NATO. The Czech prime minister Václav Klaus, as well as his Slovak counterpart, Vladimír Mečiar, were proponents of a strong nationhood. Considering the economic impact of the change of the regime on Czechoslovakian weapon industry (the output of this sector fell back by 20% in Czech, and by 90% in Slovakia), the two leaders naturally diverged somewhat in their approaches; for instance, Prime Minister Mečiar devoted considerable energy to creating a ‘special relationship with Russia’.26

6.

The agreement on the withdrawal of Soviet forces in 1990

The official negotiations regarding the Soviet troop’s exit occurred in three rounds. Representatives of Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union convened on 15–17 January 23 Kövesdi, János (ed.): Országos gyász, Csehszlovákia 1968 augusztusában [National Mourning, Czechoslovakia in August 1968], Bratislava 1990, pp. 126–127. 24 Tomek/Pejčoch: Černá kniha, p. 126. 25 Leff: The Czech and Slovak Republics, pp. 217, 239. 26 Ibid., p. 223.

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1990 in Prague, then, on 7 February 1990 and on 26 February 1990 in Moscow. During the last meeting, foreign ministers Eduard Shevardnadze and Jiří Dienstbier signed an Agreement on the Withdrawal of Soviet Forces. During the negotiations, the Czechoslovakian side insisted on its primary political objective, the ‘nulita’, which meant the full annulment of an earlier bilateral agreement from 16 October 1968, a basis document for the legal presence of the Soviet Army in Czechoslovakia.27 The ‘Agreement between the Government of the Czechoslovakian Socialist Republic and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Conditions for the Temporary Residence of Soviet Troops in the Territory of the Czechoslovakian Socialist Republic’, also including the withdrawal of the Soviet troops between the Czecho-Slovak Socialist Republic (CSSR) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was signed on 26 February 1990.28 Under the terms of the agreement included in the contract, the withdrawal was to finish no later than 30 June 1991. Following the agreement, which the Czechoslovakian side regarded as a major stage for disengagement from the Soviet hegemony, around 73,500 Soviet officers and soldiers29 , and about 50,000 family members, along with about 1220 tanks and 2505 military vehicles, left Czechoslovakia. On 25 June 1991, a protocol regarding the end of the withdrawal was signed between the Czecho-Slovak Federative Republic (CSFR) and the USSR, represented by Gen. Rudolf Ducháček (Plenipotentiary of the Government of the Czechoslovakian Socialist Republic for the Withdrawal of Soviet Troops) and General Eduard Vorobyov (last commander of the Central Group of Forces), respectively. The withdrawal, in technical terms, was complete. The previously mentioned Soviet withdrawal from Libava in early 1988 was, undoubtedly, not a public event. Yet, when long awaited political changes occurred in the autumn of 1989, and the ‘Russians left’, this evoked an intense outburst of emotions among the majority of the Czech and Slovak population. Putting rapid, even hectic political and economic changes aside (unemployment in the country was around 20% at that time), the celebrations regarding the end of the Soviet occupation were unanimously and happily welcomed by sheer masses of people. The 27th of June 1991, the day when the last Soviet soldier officially left the territory of the CSFR30 was commemorated in Prague with a huge rock concert that ended with fireworks.31 The withdrawal in late-June 1991 ended a period of 23-years-long ‘occupation’, an unofficial designation by the majority of population who did have direct experience with 1968. It was no surprise in June 1991, when the last Soviet 27 28 29 30 31

Tomek/Pejčoch: Černá kniha, p. 126. Ibid., p. 127. Leff: The Czech and Slovak Republics, p. 217. Tomek/Pejčoch: Černá kniha, p. 128. Leff: The Czech and Slovak Republics, p. 217.

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soldier left Czechoslovakia, that one sensed hardly any sign of mercy, sympathy, or even empathy toward the departing Soviet soldiers. At least, the Czech and the Slovak press indicated no such reaction.

7.

The case of Fortress Komárno

Komárno is a small town in the southwest corner of Slovakia, situated on the left bank of River Danube River, some 100 kilometres east of Vienna and 100 kilometres west of Budapest. The town has been an important hub, not only as a border town and major crossing point between (Czecho)Slovakia and Hungary since 1918, but also as a station for the Soviet Army troops, based there at the local fortress for 22 years, from 1968 until mid-November 1990 when they withdrew.32 After the Second World War, the Soviet Army remained in Czechoslovakia for only a short period of. Nevertheless, after the August 1968 invasion, the Soviet Army deployed permanent troops in Czechoslovakia, including Komárno.33 Here, the local fortress became their headquarter. Fortress Komárno is a huge fortification, in fact, a complex of buildings, consisting of carefully designed dormitories, an officers’ building, a gunpowder depot, as well as other objects, such as wells, storage rooms for foodstuff in almost endless quantity, even a swimming pool, and more – all intentionally built for military purposes. The history of the fortress stretches back to the 15th century, but it was essentially in the late 1880s that the complex of buildings – at that time, in the geographic centre of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy – was hugely strengthened, enlarged, and re-calibrated for the military conditions of the 19th century. Unsurprisingly, in 1968, Soviet military planners selected Fortress Komárno. As a fortification specifically designed for military purposes, the complex stretched along the bank of the Danube, enjoyed direct access to both the river and the town, proved extremely easy to guard or defend, and stood almost completely invisible to outsiders’ eyes. Considering all these advantages, plus its geographically strategic position (right on the Slovak Hungarian state border), Fortress Komárno must have appeared a strategically optimal location.

32 Ozimy, Andrej: Od dočasného pobytu Sovietskej armády po odchod slovenských vojakov. [From the temporary stay of the Soviet army to the departure of Slovak soldiers] Manuscript/doctoral thesis from year 2018, p. 6. For a wider outlook on the ex-presence of the Soviet military in Central Europe, see Seljamaa, Elo-Hanna/Czarnecka, Dominika/Demski, Dagnosław: “Small Places, Large Issues”: Between Military Space and Post-Military Place, in: Folklore 70, 4/2017, pp. 7–18. Available at: http://www.folklore.ee/folklore/vol70/index.html, last access: 10 May 2019. 33 Baka, Igor et al.: Vojenské dejiny Slovenska VII. 1968–1992 [Military History of Slovakia, Part VII], Bratislava 2016, p. 246.

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At the end of the 19th century, the maximum capacity of the fortress was designed for 200,000 troops, even if there were never that many soldiers stationed there at any given time. Yet, the fortress was always immense, with almost endless operational potential. The number of Soviet soldiers garrisoned at the fortress in a military readiness position at any given time between 1968 and 1990 is estimated at 7000 to 8000 men; specific figures have never been published.34 From 1968 on, Soviet Army employed the fortress’ oldest and most contained section, called ‘Old Fortress’ as their ammunition depot, and the newer area, named the ‘New Fortress’, as the garrisons for the 166th Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment, as part of the 30th Guards Motorized Rifle Division.35 Beyond the fortress, the Soviet Army occupied two more military locations near Komárno: a shooting range at Modrany and a pontoon-bridge system at Iža, with both villages located within a one-hour-drive from Komárno. One of the peculiarities of the Komárno situation was that the Soviet Army had already been stationed nearby since 1945, in Fort Monostor, on the opposite side of the Danube River in Hungary, just three kilometres away. The fort housed Soviet regiments, including the 20th Pontoonbridge Regiment, and the 27th Guards Tank Regiment, plus a vast ammunition depot.36

8.

The remembrance of the Soviet military presence

In researching the remembrance of the Soviet military presence in both Czechoslovakia and Komárno, the question can be addressed regarding how the locals remember those times, particularly considering the fact that the Soviet Army was present in the fortress and the town for 22 years. The national press indicates that the end of the withdrawal was what received wide coverage in June 1991. As likely the most emblematic image, the ‘last soldier to leave’ on 27 June 1991 from the airport at Kbely was the image that the national press most preferred. This photograph displayed the Commander of the Central Group of Forces, Lieutenant General Eduard Vorobyov, one of the young officers who invaded Czechoslovakia back in 1968, a symbolic figure once again. Yet, in the years to come, the memory of the ‘occupation’ faded quickly. Only one year later, the story of the withdrawal was already dropped; in June 1992, the Czechoslovakian newspapers were filled with fearful news on the dangerous and turbulent war in Yugoslavia. On the tenth anniversary, in June 2001, one finds no

34 Ozimy: Od dočasného pobytu, p. 1. 35 Tomek/Pejčoch: Černá kniha, p. 468. 36 Germuska, Pál: Vörös arzenál [Red Arsenal], Budapest 2010, pp. 220–231.

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mention of this history, and also, not on the twentieth anniversary, in June 2011. The same holds true for the regional and local newspapers. The memory of the former presence of the Soviet Army faded extremely quickly despite the fact that in the Slovakian part of the country, the Soviet Army was located in several towns, such as Zvolen, Ružomberok, Jelšava, Rožňava, Nové Zámky, and Komárno. Regarding the local remembrance of the Soviet soldiers in Komárno, since 1991 there has clearly not been one single exhibition in the local museum to thematize the presence of the Soviet Army. Despite the long list of professional events that the local Podunajské múzeum v Komárne/Duna Menti Múzeum organized in the post-1989 decades, no documentation indicates that since 1989, there has been any official commemoration of or any scientific conference specifically devoted to the issue of the presence of the Soviet military. There is no evidence of any organized collection of relics and artefacts of their presence in the local museum. The town of Komárno has almost 100 cultural memorials (monuments, sculptures, plaquettes, etc.) on its territory but only a few of them commemorate the presence of the Soviet soldiers. One exception is a plaquette with an inscription on the Slovakian bridgehead of the Danube Bridge that commemorates the participation of the Soviet Army engineering corps at the 1945 re-building of the bridge. In the Komárno Fortress, there are still some painted murals and Russianlanguage inscriptions that should be preserved as a visible, remnant and reminder of this period in the city’s history. Town Komárno is exceedingly proud of its Hungarian and Austro-Hungarian antiquity, less so of the Soviet presence in its recent past. Today, the fortress is primarily a vast, open-air museum that annually welcomes thousands of tourists, mostly from neighbouring countries, such as Hungary, Austria, Germany, and others. Yet, the permanent exhibition almost exclusively concentrates on the 17th century Turkish and the 19th century Austro-Hungarian history rather than the recent period of the Soviet occupation. Certainly, guides mention Soviet soldiers while leading tourists through the fortress’ vast dormitories, but not much more. There has been only one specific scientific collection of local remembrances regarding the Soviet Army presence, an effort conceived and conducted in cooperation with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Vienna, between 2007 and 2012. This research focused on the immaterial aspects of the issue, pursuing an understanding the mental effects of the Soviet military presence at that time.37 In addition, despite the fact that public places in Komárno are quite rich with historical lieu de

37 Results are published in: Vajda, Barnabás (ed.): Államhatár és identitás – Komárom/Komárno [State border and identity – Komárom/Komárno]. Monographiae Comaromienses 3, Komárno 2011; Blaive, Muriel/Oates-Indruchová, Libora: Komárno: A Flagship of Symbolic Politics at the Slovak-Hungarian Border, in: RECEO – Revue d’etudes comparatives Est-Ouest, No. 4/44 (2013), pp. 93–122; Ieda, Osamu (eds.): Transboundary symbiosis over the Danube: EU integration between

The Soviet Army Stationing and its Legacy in Czechoslovakia and at Fortress Komárno

memoires, sculptures, and monuments that commemorate a colourful spectrum of historical events from ancient Roman times to the present, no evidence indicates any commemoration of the Soviet military presence. The conclusion that the history of the Soviet Army’s presence has faded into a collective oblivion seems legitimate. Beyond blaming the Soviet Army for the failure of the Prague Spring, one other factor that aggravates the recollecting is the secretive nature of the Soviet regime. The presence of the Soviet Army in the Fortress was taboo. Nobody knew the number of military and non-military personnel; the amount of bread delivered daily to the fortress remained secret; news and rumours of fugitives and deserters spread. Even today, tourist guides in a certain part of the fortress will describe a particular spot where ‘executions took place’. Furthermore, the locals remember that Soviet soldiers as organic part of obligatory communist celebrations. On 4 April (Liberation of Czechoslovakia 1945), 1 May (International Workers’ Day), 9 May (Victory Day38 ), 29 August (The Slovak National Uprising 1944), and some other politically motivated memorial days, Soviet officers and soldiers were involved in obligatory celebrations of the despised communist regime. They also participated in PR-activities among school children, called ‘pioniers’. Talks with some people who had toured Fortress Komárno during Soviet times, shared personal accounts of ‘brass bands playing music’, ‘tightly kept dormitories’ shown to pioniers, and some dangerous incidents when ‘children broke into remote parts of the fortress’ and even ‘got close to parked tanks’. Pioniers’ visits to the Fortress routinely occurred in the 1970s and 1980s, when groups visited ‘our Soviet friends’ at the garrison in Komárno during organized school trips. Students from 11 to 14 years of age could observe soldiers’ neatly kept dormitories, their tightly pulled bed sheets, and the cleanly swept courtyard. These school trips were part of a carefully organized ideological training for the Slovak youth in order to engage them in cordial relationship with the Soviet soldiers in particular, and with the Soviet Union in general, or with ‘our liberators’ and ‘our beloved friends’ as they were, as part of the state ideology, primarily referred to in the contemporary Czech and Slovak press.39 Naturally, the presence of the Soviet Army had also its dark side. Unlawful firearms use, defections, misconduct, drinking, declining discipline of the troops, especially in the late 1980s, and mainly serious road accidents caused by the Soviet

Slovakia and Hungary from a local border perspective. (Slavic Eurasian Studies No. 27), Sapporo 2014. 38 Victory Day, the end of WWII in Europe, has been celebrated by the Soviet Union, and later Russia on 9 May. Until 1989, Czechoslovakia followed the Soviet pattern; however, since then, it has been celebrated on 8 May in both Slovakia and Bohemia. 39 On official Czechoslovakian state rituals and their ideological background, see Kšiňan, Mihal et al.: Komunisti a povstania [Communists and Uprisings], Kraków 2012, pp. 218–231.

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lorries, and more, were all kept secret at that time.40 Not to mention the environmental bomb that was left behind: the Soviet troops left dangerous pollution and filth in the caves and dungeons of the fortress. In 1990, the Soviets evacuated Fortress Komárno, and for some time, it was used to house the redeployed Czechoslovakian army.41 Only when the Slovak Army left the fortress in summer of 2000 did the local municipal authorities discovered that the Soviet Army dumped a massive amount of rubbish that they produced during their permanent presence into the cellars within the ramparts of the fortress. To convey a rough sense of the immense physical space in question, one must imagine underground corridors, channels, holes, and pits of approximately 20 metres in width and some 12 metres in high, while their total length could be measured in kilometres! What makes the issue even more serious is that some of the discarded rubbish, including crude oil barrels, rubber tires, and more, were considered environmentally dangerous pollution. Damage included illegally erected stock houses and warehouses as well as irresponsible treatment of communal trash in enormous quantity.42 Only then did architecture experts discover the extent of environmental contamination and the ‘poisonous effects of toxic chemicals that had been inadequately disposed of and fuel supplies that remained behind the contaminate soil and ground water’.43 Soviet military installations routinely generated massive environmental contaminations at all 150 sites where they were present. The 1992 Czechoslovakian estimates measured the clean-up costs at two million Czechoslovakian Korunas (USD 69,000) per site; on the other hand, the Soviet Union claimed compensation for the military installations it left behind. Environmental issues were one of two ‘hot’ issues addressed during negotiations between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, over the legal and technical issues for settling the Soviet Army presence.44 Except for the financial compensation required by the Czechoslovakian government, the other key issue was the environment pollution that the Soviet Army caused in and around the garrisons it occupied throughout Czechoslovakia. Since 1993, the Slovak Ministry of Environment has had a register of 33 socalled ‘polluted areas of national importance’, which were inherited after the Soviet Army exited. Since then, most of the rubbish that the Soviet Army left behind has been disposed of (or ‘asanated’ in Slovak terminology). By mid-2017, 24 out of 33 such places have been cleared out, and Fortress Komárno one of them. The

40 41 42 43 44

See Londák/Sikora: Rok 1968, p. 227; also: Tomek/Pejčoch: Černá kniha, p. 94. Leff: The Czech and Slovak Republics, p. 218. Ozimy: Od dočasného pobytu, pp. 5–7. Leff: The Czech and Slovak Republics, p. 218. Leff: The Czech and Slovak Republics, p. 237.

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remaining nine are still awaiting professional, quite expensive renewal.45 The scale of environmental damage wreaked not only on Komárno but also on other postSoviet spots46 , is the main reason why the transformation of former military bases depends on larger processes that require global rather than local attention and efforts. At Fortress Komárno, there was other harm done besides pollution. When the municipality acquired the fortress as its own property in 2000, authorities were shocked to realize the magnitude of the damage that was inflicted on the physical structure of the fortress. Repair works had been executed frequently with extreme carelessness and unprofessionalism, including construction alterations in walls, roofs, and windows; doors and windows were removed forcefully; walls painted red or covered with newspaper tapestry were common discoveries. All these physical damages and alterations, without the permission or even the knowledge of local authorities, caused serious interventions in the architectural heritage of the fortress. One of the many shocking discoveries for the authorities was that Soviet soldiers had trashed the porcelain toilet bowls from Austrian-Hungarian times and replaced them with ‘Turkish toilets’, bare holes with no bowls to sit on.47 Today, Fortress Komárno sits in vast ruin: empty, and frequently abandoned, as there are many days, especially in winter and spring, when no interest for guided tours exists at all. There is little to see or even remember of the Soviet Army’s presence there.

45 TASR news on 21 August 2017. 46 Dominika Czarnecka: Tourism as Remembrance Activity: The International Gathering of Military Vehicles in a Post-Military Base in Poland, in: Český lid/The Czech Ethnological Journal 4/106 (2019), pp. 463–490, here p. 473. 47 Ozimy: Od dočasného pobytu, pp. 3–4.

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International Aspects of the Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Poland and Germany

1.

Introduction

The Polish government proposed that the USSR start negotiations regarding the departure of the Soviet Army from Poland on 7 September 1990, following the clarification of the final nature of the border on the Oder and the Lusatian Neisse during a conference held in Paris in July 1990. The note addressed to the USSR government recommended the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Poland by the end of 1991. This Polish note was not well received, since the USSR government had previously agreed to withdraw the Soviet troops from Germany by the end of 1994 and intended to conclude the evacuation from Germany in the first order and from Poland, only thereafter. For this reason, the Soviet side delayed the beginning of negotiations with Poland until November 1990 so as to next reject the proposed deadline for the completion of the evacuation without offering any other timeframe in exchange. In this circumstance, the Polish government stopped the Soviet military transit transport headed from Germany to the USSR from entering the territory of Poland, which resulted in a diplomatic crisis. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland became an object of pressure exerted by the German and Polish public who expected a speedy evacuation. The tactics adopted by Polish diplomacy were discussed and altered. Poland agreed to consent to the extension of the period of the Soviet troops’ presence in its territory until 1993 and permitted the transit from Germany to begin before negotiating adequate agreements with the USSR. However, Poland did not yield ground regarding the elimination of road transport for the evacuation of the Soviet troops from Germany.

2.

Soviet Forces in Poland 1945–1990

In 1945, operational formations of the 2nd Belorussian Front of the Red Army were stationed in Poland. On 10 June 1945, they were transformed into the Northern Group of Forces of the Red Army (the Soviet Army as of 1946) and remained in the Polish territory under the pretext of securing the Soviet Occupation Forces in

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Germany.1 Only as late as 17 December 1956 was a Polish-Soviet agreement regulating their status signed. This agreement stipulated neither the number of Soviet forces in Poland nor the places where they were stationed; it only declared that these Soviet troops stationed in Polish territory could not violate Poland’s sovereignty and interfere in its internal affairs. Based thereon, a number of agreements concerning a variety of aspects of this presence were concluded, and representatives of the Polish and Soviet governments regarding Soviet Army’s stay in Poland were appointed, with a Joint Committee formed to settle any disputes. The Joint Committee was composed of three delegates from Poland and from the USSR, who determined its regulations themselves.2 In 1989, the Northern Group of Forces was comprised of approximately 50,000 soldiers deployed in 59 locations within 35 garrisons. They were commanded by General Victor Dubynin, simultaneously acting as the Soviet government’s representative in the matter of stay of the Soviet Army in Poland. On 16 October 1990, General Zdzisław Ostrowski was appointed the Plenipotentiary of the Polish government.3 Meanwhile, 337,800 soldiers from the Western Group of Soviet Forces were stationed with families in the territory of the German Democratic Republic. During this time, it was estimated that there are approximately one million people in Poland.4

1 Rogowicz, Krzysztof: Rola Sejmu w wycofaniu wojsk Armii Radzieckiej z terytorium Polski [The role of the Seym in the withdrawal from the territory of Poland], p. 200, www.lazarski.pl/plpobierz/340, last access: 25 January 2017. 2 Rogowicz: Rola Sejmu, p. 201; Umowa zawarta między rządem Polskiej Rzeczpospolitej Ludowej a rządem ZSRR o statusie prawnym radzieckich wojsk czasowo stacjonujacych w Polsce z 17 grudnia 1956 r., Dziennik ustaw, 1957 nr 29, pozycja 127, s. 380. [Agreement between the government of the People’s Republic of Poland and the government of the USSR on the legal status of the Soviet troops temporarily stationed in Poland from 17 December 1956, Journal of Laws, 1957 No. 29, item 127, p. 380]. 3 Rogowicz: Rola Sejmu, pp. 204–205; Pożegnanie z armią. Z gen. Zdzisławem Ostrowskim, pełnomocnikiem rządu do spraw pobytu w Polsce wojsk byłego ZSRR rozmawia Mieczysław Szczepański [Farewell to the army: Mieczysław Szczepański talks with Zdzisław Ostrowski, govermnent plenipotentiary for the state in Poland of the former USSR troops], Warszawa, 1992, p. 33; Hajnicz, Artur: Ze sobą czy przeciw sobie. Polska-Niemcy 1989–1992 [Together or against each other: Poland and Germany 1989–1992], Warszawa, 1996, p. 120, reports that 58,000 Soviet soldiers were stationed in Poland. 4 Minutes from the session of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee, (hereinafter: Senate’s FAC session), 25 January 1991, Archiwum Senatu 29/22, pp. 12–14. I write about this session in greater detail in: Kastory, Agnieszka: Problem wycofania radzieckich wojsk z Niemiec i z Polski w obradach Komisji Spraw Zagranicznych Senatu 25 stycznia 1991 roku [The case of the withdrawal the Soviet Army from Germany and Poland in proceedings of the Senate’s Committee of Foreign Affairs in 25 January 1991], in: Studia Środkowoeuropejskie i Bałkanistyczne, vol. XXV (2017), pp. 155–171; Kosman, Michał M.: Kwestia obecności wojsk radzieckich/rosyjskich w Niemczech w latach 1989–1994 jako problem niemieckiej suwerenności [The issue of the presence of Soviet/Russian troops in Germany

International Aspects of the Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Poland and Germany

3.

Initiation of Talks on the withdrawal of Soviet Forces from Poland

After the Communist Polish United Workers’ Party was removed from power in Poland and the government of Tadeusz Mazowiecki came to power on 12 September 1989, the Soviet leadership considered the possibility that it would soon be confronted with a demand to evacuate Soviet troops from Poland. Yet, during his first visit to the USSR, which took place from 24 to 27 November 1989, Mazowiecki did not broach this issue.5 The Polish government was prompted to adopt an apprehensive stance in terms of the talks on the withdrawal of Soviet forces, due to the position of the government of the Federal Republic of Germany regarding the issue of borders for the future united Germany. On 29 November 1989, Ryszard Karski, the Polish ambassador in Bonn, informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the ten-point program for the unification of Germany announced by Chancellor Helmut Kohl on 28 November did not include a reference to the issue of borders.6 Thus, the Polish government was faced with the need to confirm the border on the Oder and Lusatian Neisse and focused on garnering the support of the occupying powers, including the USSR, in this matter. In this situation, engaging with the Soviets in negotiations on the withdrawal of their troops seemed premature. Arbitrations on this issue could have revealed many contradictions between Poland and the USSR, which would have made it difficult to obtain Soviet support in confirming Germany’s eastern border. Moreover, there was conviction in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that premature demands for the withdrawal of the Soviet forces from Poland could contribute to the weakening of Mikhail Gorbachev’s position in the USSR. The removal of Gorbachev and the takeover of power in the USSR by opponents of reforms would

in 1989–1994 as a problem of German sovereignty], in: Świat Idei i Polityki 2012, vol. 11, pp. 12–37, https://repozytorium.ukw.edu.pl/handle/item/4691, last access: 18 December 2020. 5 Dudek, Antoni: Ewolucja stanowiska rządu Tadeusza Mazowieckiego w sprawie obecności Polski w Układzie Warszawskim oraz stacjonowania na jej terytorium wojsk sowieckich [Evolution of the position of the Tadeusz Mazowiecki government on the presence of Poland in the Warsaw Pact and the stationing of Soviet troops on its territory], in: Dzieje Najnowsze, Yearbook 4/47 (2015), pp. 161–175; Kordas, Jerzy/Kudłaszyk, Andrzej: Polska między ZSRR (Rosją) a RFN (Niemcami) w pierwszej fazie transformacji (1989–1992). Wybrane zagadnienia [Poland between USSR (Russia) and West Germany (Germany) in the first period of the transformation: Selected issues], in: Zeszyty Naukowe WSOWL, Nr. 2/160 (2011), pp. 119–137, here: p. 122; Krogulski, Mariusz Lesław: Okupacja. Armia Radziecka w Polsce 1956–1993 [Occupation in the name of the alliance: Soviet Army in Poland 1956–1993], Warszawa 2001, p. 158. 6 Cologne embassy’s cryptogram on the Federal Chancellor’s 10-point plan of 29 November 1989, in: Borodziej, Włodzimierz (ed.): Polska wobec zjednoczenia Niemiec 1989–1991. Dokumenty dyplomatyczne [Poland towards reunification of Germany 1989–1991. Diplomatic documents], Warszawa 2006, p. 189.

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have a negative impact on the situation in Poland. Gorbachev recalled the Brezhnev Doctrine and was thus the first chairman of USSR to accept the sovereignty of the states in Central and East Europe. His politics were weakening the USSR, and this was in the interest of Poland and Europe. It would be better for Poland to have a weak USSR as neighbour than a strong Russia. During his visit to the United Kingdom, on 12 February 1990, Tadeusz Mazowiecki explained to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that the Soviet forces should be reduced, but it was too early for their withdrawal. He also predicted that the Soviet troops would remain in Germany after the unification. He did not share Thatcher’s fears that these forces could become a threat if Mikhail Gorbachev lost control in favour of the opponents of the reforms.7 The same day, Krzysztof Skubiszewski, the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, informed Eduard Shevardnadze, the Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs, that Poland determined that the number of the Soviet troops stationed in Poland should be reduced and the financial aspect of their stay should be regulated.8 Thus, the Polish government did not react to the ‘Statement of the Government of the USSR on its readiness to hold talks on Soviet troops in Poland’ which the Soviet Pravda daily published on 12 February 1990, expressing a resolve to engage in negotiations regarding the Soviet forces in Poland, as in the case of Hungary and Czechoslovakia.9 At the press conference of 21 February 1990, Tadeusz Mazowiecki declared that the Soviet forces should remain in Poland until the settlement of the German problem, particularly, the border question. He reiterated that stance in an interview for the French Le Monde magazine in March 1990.10 In June 1990, Mazowiecki expressed, in a letter to President Bush, a wish for a gradual withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Poland until their complete withdrawal would be determined as a term of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces

7 A record of a conversation between T. Mazowiecki and M. Thatcher, 12 February 1990, in: Polska wobec, p. 195. 8 A note from the meeting between K. Skubiszewski and E. Szewardnadze on 12 February 1990 in Ottawa, in: Polska wobec, p. 202. On 9 February 1989, negotiations on conventional arms reduction in Europe began in Vienna. As a result, on 19 November 1990, the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces was signed, which set limits for individual NATO and Warsaw Pact types of armaments from the Atlantic to the Urals. The largest reductions were expected in Central Europe. Kukułka, Józef: Historia współczesna stosunków międzynarodowych 1945–1994 [Contemporary history of international relations 1945–1994], Warszawa 1994, p. 431. 9 Strzelczyk, Joanna: Ucieczka ze Wschodu. Rosja w polskiej polityce 1989–1993 [The escape from Eastern. Russia in Polish policy 1989–1993], Warszawa 2002, pp. 67–68, 71–72; Dudek: Ewolucja, p. 167. 10 Krogulski: Okupacja, p. 159.

International Aspects of the Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Poland and Germany

in Europe, negotiated in Vienna.11 The Sejm (Polish parliament) did not question this policy, but the local governments of the cities where the Soviet troops were stationed did.12 Their decision to withdraw as soon as possible was extremely popular in Polish society. Due to Lech Wałęsa, who decided to run for presidential office and demanded a speedy resolution of the matter, this issue became a subject of public debate.13 Jerzy Makarczyk, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, explained the reasons for the delay in the negotiations on the withdrawal of the Soviet army from Poland, stating: ‘First, you fence off the area, and then you clean it’.14

4.

International Situation in Poland after the Two Plus Four Conference in Paris on 17 July 1990

The satisfactory settlement for Poland regarding the issue of a united Germany was adopted at the Paris conference on 17 July 1990 in the presence of Krzysztof Skubiszewski. Admittedly, the provisions agreed to on that date were signed in the form of a treaty only on 12 September 1990, in Moscow; yet, after the Paris agreement, the Polish government had already decided that the time had come to raise the matter of the evacuation of all Soviet forces from Poland.15 Poland decided to engage in negotiations in an altered international circumstance. Due to the progressing emancipation of Soviet republics and the threat of the state’s disintegration, the position of the USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev was weakening. The withdrawal of the Soviet forces from additional countries contributed to a deepening impression of the loss of the USSR’s position as a superpower and incited dissatisfaction among the President’s opponents. Finally, there was a shortage of flats for soldiers returning from Central Europe with their families.16 Moreover, on 16 July 1990, Helmut Kohl and Mikhail Gorbachev agreed

11 A record of a conversation between T. Mazowiecki and G. Bush, 21 March 1990, in: Polska wobec, pp. 242–243; T. Mazowiecki’s letter to George Bush from 12 June 1990, in: ibid., p. 331. 12 Rogowicz: Rola Sejmu, pp. 208–211. The debate resulted from the general situation. Czechoslovakia and Hungary concluded an agreement on the withdrawal of Soviet troops. The negotiations on the reunification of Germany began. This could have caused the withdrawal of Soviet troops from the territory of East Germany. In addition, there were negotiations on the reduction of conventional armaments in Vienna. The danger arose that the USSR would seek bases for its reduced forces in Poland. 13 Krogulski: Okupacja, p. 160. 14 A session of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee, 25 January 1991, pp. 10–11. 15 Strzelczyk: Ucieczka ze Wschodu, pp. 55–61, 72; Dudek, Antoni: Historia polityczna Polski 1989–2002 [Political history of Poland 1989–2002], Warszawa 2013, pp. 70–71. 16 Kordas/Kudłaszyk: Polska między ZSSR, p. 124.

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upon the conclusion of a treaty regarding the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Germany and set the deadline for the completion of evacuation by the end of 1994. The German-Soviet treaty on the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Germany was initialled on 27 September 1990 and signed on 12 October 1990. Germany adopted an obligation to grant the USSR financial aid and build flats for Soviet soldiers returning home for the total sum of approximately 12 billion Deutsche Marks. The Soviet side undertook to settle the matter of regulating the Soviet troops’ transit through the Polish territory.17 Tadeusz Mazowiecki was upset by the fact that this treaty was concluded without informing Poland. On 8 November 1990, in a conversation with Chancellor Kohl in Frankfurt (Oder), Mazowiecki reproached Kohl for not having considered Poland’s position in the talks regarding the evacuation of the Soviet forces from Germany. During this talk he also shared his fears that the USSR would not pay Poland for the transport. He stated that, in such a case, the Federal Republic of Germany should become financially involved. However, Chancellor Kohl had no intention of bearing the costs of the transit through the Polish territory and proposed to address the matter in the context of general economic negotiations. Yet, when Mazowiecki proposed to appoint experts who would prepare cost estimates – Chancellor Kohl was ready to consent, without revealing that any costs were at issue. In turn, he reminded Mazowiecki that the withdrawal of the Soviet forces from Poland and Germany was a common interest for both countries.18

5.

The initiation of Polish-Soviet Negotiations on the withdrawal of Soviet Forces from Poland

On 7 September 1990, the Polish foreign minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski handed the Soviet Ambassador in Poland Yuriy Kashlev a note in which he proposed launching the withdrawal negotiations in mid-September or October 1990. He suggested signing a treaty on the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, a protocol altering the principles of their stationing, and an agreement on reparations for the damages that Poland suffered in connection with their presence in its territory. The Soviet forces were to leave Poland by the end of 1991.19 The Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs received the Polish note reluctantly and did not set any date for starting

17 Information note on consultations of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Poland and the USSR, 4–5 October 1990, in: Polska wobec, p. 432; Cziomer, Erhard: Historia Niemiec współczesnych 1945–2005 [History of modern Germany 1945–2005], Warszawa 2006, pp. 354–356. 18 A record of conversations between T. Mazowiecki and H. Kohl, 8 November 1990, in: Polska wobec, pp. 453–454, 465. 19 Strzelczyk: Ucieczka ze Wschodu, pp. 75–76.

International Aspects of the Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Poland and Germany

negotiations. Only on 11 October 1990, during his visit in Moscow (10–15 October 1990) did Krzysztof Skubiszewski agree with Eduard Shevardnadze to the start of talks in Moscow on 15 November 1990.20 Jerzy Makarczyk headed the Polish delegation. He was accompanied by, among others: General Zdzisław Ostrowski, the plenipotentiary of the Government of the Polish Republic in the affairs of the stationing of the Soviet troops in Poland since October 199021 , Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas, Deputy Director of the European Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Witold Chodakiewicz, Deputy Minister of Transport, and Jan Parys, the general director at the Central Planning Office.22 Jerzy Makarczyk and Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas held the position that Poland has become a fully sovereign state again. In this circumstance, it was impossible to consent and carry out the withdrawal based on the existing agreements with USSR, because they had been imposed disadvantageously, and they did not reflect the new political situation. They wanted the Russians to understand that they were negotiating with a sovereign state, not with a country previously dependent on the USSR up to 1989, lacking its own foreign policy. Jerzy Makarczyk intended to negotiate two agreements: one, on the evacuation of the Soviet troops from Poland and another, for the transit of the Soviet forces leaving Germany. He wanted the Soviet side to understand that Poland should exercise independent and autonomous control over the process of both the evacuation and the transit from Germany. For this reason, he suggested that the evacuation of Soviet soldiers from Poland should be completed by 31 December 1991. He was, admittedly, prepared to move this deadline to the end of the first quarter of 1992, but he wanted the evacuation to be over before the peak of transports from Germany predicted for the end of 1992 and 1993.23 Makarczyk opposed the presence of any Soviet forces in Poland during the transit of the troops from Germany. He suspected that the Soviets would inflate the number of soldiers required (for example, to 25,000) to independently manage the movements of their troops. He was prepared to accept only the presence of communication officers but on diplomatic, not military positions.24

20 Dudek: Ewolucja, pp. 171–172; Strzelczyk: Ucieczka ze Wschodu, pp. 117, 131–132; Rogowicz: Rola Sejmu, pp. 204–205. 21 For his remembrance on the negotiations and the withdrawal, see Naďovič, Svetozár et al.: The Great Withdrawal. Withdrawal of the Soviet-Russian Army from Central Europe, 1990–1994, Bratislava 2005, pp. 235–290. 22 Strzelczyk: Ucieczka ze Wschodu, pp. 117, 131–132; Rogowicz: Rola Sejmu, pp. 204–205. 23 A session of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee on 25 January 1991, pp. 12–15, 21–22, 25. 24 Ibid., pp. 36–37.

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Makarczyk hoped that his proposal would force the Russians to make a counterproposal and, thus, arrive at an advantageous compromise.25 The tools the Polish negotiators prepared to encourage the Soviets into concluding a compromise proved to be entirely useless. The Soviet delegation, with the military representatives occupying dominant role, found the proposed deadline to be completely unrealistic but – contrary to Polish expectations – did not make any counter-proposal. Neither did the Soviet delegation demonstration the slightest willingness to negotiate any compromise. General Zdzisław Ostrowski had the opinion that the Soviet military planned primarily to evacuate combat units by mid–1992 or the end of the year, and then move on to evacuate auxiliary units, and the Soviet military would consistently attempt to implement this plan. Besides, their personal attitudes constituted a hugely significant factor. They found it difficult to accept the change of the Polish position and the fact that Poland was making demands from a position of strength. According to Ostrowski, the fight for the deadline was merely a game on the part of the Soviet delegation, while a change in the negotiation tactics on the Polish side would permit reaching an agreement sooner.26 The matter was further complicated by the Soviet side’s desire to initiate the evacuation from Germany first, and then from Poland only afterwards. This was unacceptable for the Polish negotiators, since it meant prolonging the stay of Soviet soldiers in Poland until as late as 1994. Moreover, the Soviets focused primarily on the use of road transport, and they put forth two routes for approval: one through northern and another through southern Poland.27 In this situation, the talks reached an impasse, which Krzysztof Skubiszewski unsuccessfully attempted to overcome by sending a letter to Minister Eduard Shevardnadze on 18 December 1990. He did not respond to this letter, as his successor Aleksandr Bessmertnykh similarly did not as well. In turn, both the Soviet and German press reported that Poland was hindering the talks to acquire more funding for the transit.28 In this situation, Jerzy Makarczyk decided – in view of the lack of a Polish-Soviet transit agreement – on 1 January 1991 to prohibit Soviet units travelling from by transit from Germany to the USSR to enter Polish territory, with the exception of the routine transports to Kaliningrad.29 During the next round of negotiations held in Moscow on 10 and 11 January 1991, General Victor Dubynin stated that the Soviet Army liberated Poland and would

25 Rogowicz: Rola Sejmu, p. 205; A session of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee on 25 January 1991, pp. 12–14, 21–23, 25. 26 Rogowicz: Rola Sejmu, pp. 205, 212; Strzelczyk: Ucieczka ze Wschodu, pp. 117–118, 134–140; Hajnicz: Ze sobą czy przeciw sobie, p. 121; Pożegnanie z armią, pp. 59–64. 27 A session of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee of 25 January 1991, pp. 21–23. 28 Ibid., pp. 16, 25–29. 29 Strzelczyk: Ucieczka ze Wschodu, pp. 141–142.

International Aspects of the Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Poland and Germany

leave when deemed appropriate, by roads considered appropriate, and in the manner chosen. In the event of obstacles – the Soviet Army would not assume responsibility for the safety of the Polish population. Appalled, the Polish delegation considered breaking off the talks. Ultimately, the crisis was mitigated by the Soviet Ambassador ad persona in Poland, Valentin Koptieltsev, who explained that Dubynin’s statement was of private nature. However, Dubynin published his statement in Znamia Pobiedy, a newspaper addressed to the Soviet soldiers stationed in Poland. From there, this announcement reached editorial offices of Polish newspapers and, thus, the Polish public opinion.30 Outraged, on 20 January 1991, Makarczyk ordered the stop of a Soviet convoy of 220 military trucks headed by transit from Germany to the USSR at the border crossing in Olszyna, so as to increase pressure on the Soviets. The vehicles did not have registration documents and insurance certificates. Customs officers classified the transport as military, despite its official load, according to different sources, of donations from the German Orthodox Church and Bundeswehr en route to the USSR. The incident incited critical comments in German and Russian media, which stigmatised Poland for hindering humanitarian aid. However, the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintained that the Soviet side had engaged in an act of provocation. Prime Minister Jan Krzysztof Bielecki suspected that in this manner the Russians had attempted to manufacture a transport corridor through Poland by way of a faits accomplis.31

6.

Breakthrough in Polish-Soviet Negotiations

The deepening crisis in Polish-Soviet negotiations may have resulted in a delay in the evacuation of the Soviet troops from Germany. Jerzy Makarczyk was convinced, however, that the Germans would understand Poland’s stance. Yet, other members of the government did not share his belief. On 25 January 1991, during a session of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee, a debate on the status of the Polish-Soviet negotiations was held with the participation of representatives of the government and the Senate’s experts from the Centre for International Studies.32 During the session, the need for a speedy completion of the evacuation of Soviet forces not only from Poland but also from Germany was conveyed. The committee also proposed withdrawing the unrealistic deadline for completion of the evacuation and allowing for the presence in Poland of few (two to three thousand) expert Soviet units for 30 Strzelczyk: Ucieczka ze Wschodu, p. 143; Krogulski: Okupacja, p. 164. 31 A session of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee of 25 January 1991, pp. 18–19; Strzelczyk: Ucieczka ze Wschodu, pp. 141–145. 32 A session of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee of 25 January 1991, pp. 16–17.

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the period of the evacuation from Germany. In general, Makarczyk advised the negotiators to be flexible in both issues.33 The Senate’s experts, Artur Hajnicz and Jerzy Marek Nowakowski, feared that the Soviets were planning to skirt the responsibility for the delay in evacuation from Germany into Poland, thus perpetuating the opinion regarding Poland’s obstruction. It was necessary to alter the tactics to shift the accountability for delays onto the USSR.34 Jerzy Marek Nowakowski challenged Makarczyk by stating that he failed to appreciate the European dimension of the problem or a transformation of the situation in the USSR, where opponents of the withdrawal of troops from Central Europe gained prominence. He considered the withdrawal of the Soviet forces from Poland to be a test of its sovereignty, but he anticipated that Poland would fail this challenge, so it would be more advantageous to advance the troops withdrawal process by way of concessions.35 Jerzy Makarczyk defended this hard line in the negotiations, and he emphasized the necessity of concluding the agreements since a small and weak state must have support in the international law. He feared launching the transit without a signed agreement, since once the evacuation began, the Russians would be unwilling to sign any agreement, considering the atrophying ‘civilised European behaviour’ in the USSR. Makarczyk considered the negative opinions in the media as a means to pressure the Polish Government. Thus, he himself intended to explain this to the NATO Secretary General Manfred Wörner and the Western European Union Secretary General Wim van Eekelen, as well as to the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe (22–23 February 1991). He reassured them that the Russians did not manage to drive a wedge between Poland and Europe, as proven by the perspective of Poland’s admission into the Council of Europe after the presidential election.36 Senators spoke at the very end, supporting the possibly fastest withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Poland. In the perfect majority, they doubted the effectiveness of the adopted tactics, because the Soviets did not react well to any pressure, which prompted them, instead, to maintain an uncompromising position. Andrzej Stelmachowski, Marshal of the Polish Senate, suggested that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should consider the reputation of the USSR, particularly since the Soviets experienced a number of failures in the Baltic republics and, moreover, the internal

33 Ibid., pp. 34–35, 72. 34 A session of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee of 25 January 1991, pp. 39, 47–48. 35 Ibid., pp. 40–43, 45–47, 94–95. In his opinion of 31 December 1990, prepared for K. Skubiszewski, A. Hajnicz advised the committee to emphasise the desire for a rapid departure of Soviet troops from Poland and Germany, and to postpone the material issues until later, so as not to create the disastrous impression that Poland wanted to earn money on the transit, in: Polska wobec, p. 470; Hajnicz: Ze sobą czy przeciw sobie, p. 121. 36 A session of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee on 25 January 1991, pp. 60–64, 66, 76.

International Aspects of the Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Poland and Germany

conflict between Gorbachev, the military lobby, and Boris Yeltsin was developing. He advised gestures of goodwill, including the construction of approximately 4000 apartments for evacuated Soviet soldiers, capitalizing on the presence of Polish company Budimex in the USSR.37 Senators criticised the improper actions of certain city mayors who formulated threats to block utility supplies for the Russians stationed in their locations in order to humiliate Soviet soldiers. Conversely, Stanisław Obertaniec, the senator from the Legnickie Voivodeship, where38 the command of the Soviet troops in Poland was located – drew attention to the increased activity of KGB officers who were paying ‘farewell’ visits to the Polish military. He suggested that this was an attempt to recruit informants from the Polish army.39 Finally, a decision was made that the Senate delegation, who were already supposed to travel to Germany to discuss reparations for Polish citizens injured by the Third Reich, would avail this opportunity to explain the Polish position regarding the transit halt.40 The Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee determined that the public should know that Poland did not obstruct the Soviet forces’ withdrawal Soviet forces from Germany, but sought a legal and organisational regulation of this issue.41 The Ministry of Foreign Affairs found itself under pressure not only from internal criticism. On 26 January 1991, Vitaly Churkin, the spokesman for the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that obstructing the convoy with humanitarian aid Poland violated human rights. In turn, on 4 February 1991, Günter Knackstedt, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Warsaw, warned Krzysztof Skubiszewski that the German public might blame Poland for the prolonged impasse in the Polish-Soviet negotiations. ‘Considering the prestige of the Soviet army’, he also advised greater flexibility in some ‘fewer essential points’, within which he included permitting Soviet control of the safety of the transit through Poland. Knackstedt informed Skubiszewski that Minister Genscher was prepared to assist in calculating the costs of the transit based on the Soviet-German arrangements. However, Knackstedt excluded financial assistance. Regarding the matter of the stopped convoy, he emphasised that this was a Polish-Soviet problem, not a German one.42

37 A session of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee on 25 January 1991, pp. 50–51, 73–75. 38 For more information to Legnica: Grębecka, Zuzanna: Legnica 1945–1993. Podwójne życie miasta [Legnica 1945–1993: The two lives of the city], Legnica 2013. 39 A session of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee on 25 January 1991, pp. 78–82. 40 Ibid., pp. 88–89. 41 Ibid., pp. 108–109, 119. 42 Strzelczyk: Ucieczka ze Wschodu, p. 145; Information note of the Minister of Foreign Affairs from the conversation with the German ambassador on 4 February 1991, in: Polska wobec, pp. 471–473.

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7.

Further Polish-Soviet Negotiations

Under these conditions, on 8 February 1991, Poland allowed the trucks stopped on 20 January to pass. Furthermore, a decision was made to place the so-called humanitarian transports on railway platforms and bring them to the USSR border in this manner. After receiving this offer, the Soviet side refrained from sending more such convoys. However, during the fourth round of the negotiations in Warsaw (11–13 February 1991), the Soviets proposed that the evacuation from Poland should be implemented between May 1991 and the end of 1994, so that the USSR could secure the transit from Germany.43 At the same time, on 12 February 1991, the new elected Polish President Lech Wałęsa met with the Soviet chargé d’affaires Lev Klepacki, and following this meeting, on 13 February, Wałęsa called a session of the National Security Council where the hard line of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs found no support.44 From 25 to 27 February 1991, the Senate delegation visited Germany with the mission of presenting the Polish arguments regarding the transit. Senators were convinced that Poland did not want to hinder the evacuation from Germany, but expected cooperation in this matter. The transit through Poland was not to be treated by the countries concerned as a transit through no man’s land.45 During a meeting with Helmut Kohl on 5 March 1991, Jan Krzysztof Bielecki persuaded Kohl that Poland did not intend to delay the transit from Germany, but that this process did not require Soviet forces remaining in Poland. Bielecki reassured Kohl that Poland was flexible regarding the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, but that the USSR should also show goodwill.46 In this context, on 18 March 1991, Krzysztof Skubiszewski decided to start the regular transit before signing the transit agreement. The Polish delegation informed the Soviets about this action during the sixth round of the negotiations (11–12 April 1991). In May 1991, the railway transit of the Soviet troops from Germany began. The Soviets did not present the schedule and were in arrears with payments (since January 1991), even though Poland had lowered the transport rates. Hence, the transit was performed at Poland’s expense, about which Skubiszewski informed

43 Strzelczyk: Ucieczka ze Wschodu, pp. 145–148. 44 Ibid., pp. 147–148. 45 Hajnicz: Ze sobą czy przeciw sobie, pp. 122–123, The Polish delegation was received by: Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany Hans Dietrich Genscher, the President of the Bundestag Rita Süssmuth, CDU Representative Karl Hans Hornhues, SPD Representative Karsten Voigt, Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee Head Hans Streckenen and Bundesrat Foreign Affairs Committee Head Gerhard Schröder. 46 A record of a conversation between J. K. Bielecki and H. Kohl, 5 March 1991, in: Polska wobec, pp. 478–479.

International Aspects of the Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Poland and Germany

Genscher on 17 June 1991. The German minister only expressed his satisfaction with the speed of the evacuation.47 The further course of the Polish-Soviet negotiations was extremely difficult. General Dubynin ostentatiously proclaimed that the evacuation from Poland was an act of goodwill on the part of the USSR, while not an outcome of an agreement between the governments. He presented such a stance on 9 April 1991 in Borny Sulinow, during the official farewell ceremony of twenty Soviet soldiers leaving Poland. Makarczyk attempted, in vain, for Moscow to deny Dubynin’s claims and admit that the departure was a result of arrangements between the Polish and Soviet governments. Further talks48 in 1991 focused on the final evacuation deadline. Poland accepted the Soviet proposal to finish the withdrawal by the end of 1993, along with the Russians’ proposed schedule of departures Russians. Under the agreement initialled on 26 October 1991, the Soviet soldiers’ exit was to occur in two stages: combat units by 15 November 1992, and the remaining units by the end of 1993. The transport would be conducted via rail, sea, and air routes, as well as through designated border crossings. Roads could only be used in individual cases.49 After the dismantling of the USSR in December 1991, exceedingly difficult negotiations between the Soviet and Russian sides concerned financial issues. Poland demanded reparations for ecological damage and devastation of leased facilities, while the Russians expected reimbursement of costs for the facilities they had constructed. In December 1991, the USSR issued Poland a bill of RUB 26,720,959,000 (around USD 100 million) for the liberation of Polish territories from German occupation during the period from July 1944 until March 1945. Poland expressed outrage when presented with bills for transport, food, and electricity. To facilitate financial settlements, they also proposed creating Polish-Russian companies that would assume airports, fuel bases, and car workshops. In this situation, the Polish side decided to adopt the zero-option of waiving mutual claims; the Russian side ultimately accepted this alternative. The entirety of the negotiated agreements, in-

47 Strzelczyk: Ucieczka ze Wschodu, pp. 153, 162; A record of a conversation between K. Skubiszewski and H. D. Genscher, 17 June 1991, in: Polska wobec, p. 536; Information note regarding the visit of J. K. Bielecki and K. Skubiszewski in the Federal Republic of Germany RFN 17–18 June 1991, in: Polska wobec, p. 542. 48 A total of 13 rounds of talks took place until the break-up of the USSR in 1991, alternating between Warsaw and Moscow: 11–13 February, 19–20 March, 11–12 April, 14 May, 14 June, 10–11 July, 24 July, 21–23 August, 26 October, 26–27 November, more on their course, Strzelczyk: Ucieczka ze Wschodu, pp. 160–163, 165–166, 283, 287–288. 49 Dudek: Ewolucja, p. 163; Rogowicz: Rola Sejmu, p. 206; Strzelczyk: Ucieczka ze Wschodu, pp. 154–155, 163, 165, 287; Krogulski: Okupacja, p. 165.

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cluding the Treaty on the Withdrawal of Troops of the Russian Federation from the Territory of Poland was signed in Moscow on 22 May 1992.50 Between 8 April 1991 and 17 September 1993, approximately 56,000 soldiers left Poland, along with 599 tanks, 485 infantry combat vehicles, 467 armoured personal transporters, 390 cannons and mortars, 202 aircrafts, 144 helicopters, 20 missile launchers, 400,000 tonnes of material and technical resources, including ammunition. On 17 September, General Leonid Kovalev, the last Commander of the NGF, reported the end of the withdrawal to Polish President Lech Wałęsa. This was a historic date for Poland, because on the same day in 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland. The evacuation ended with the last train with 24 officers leaving on 18 September 1993 from a Warsaw train station.51 The legacy was an area of 70,500 hectare and 7854 objects, which were handed over to local governments for development. The state treasury acquired some of the land and objects, as did the army. Most of the properties needed renovation. The Act of 1994 regulated the transfer of recovered areas to new owners. The areas located in cities were developed the fastest. However, in rural areas, reclamation was slower. Ecological damage occurred in 21 garrisons and consisted of contamination of the ground with petroleum products and destruction of forests. In the years 2001–2007, local governments received a subsidy of 70 million PLN for recovery purposes. The development of the post-Soviet areas continues until today.52 In addition, on 22 May 1992, the Treaty for the Transit of Troops of the Russian Federation withdrawn from Germany through the Territory of Poland was signed. On this basis, the transports were initially secured via the railroad units of the Northern Group of Forces, and following their withdrawal from Poland, the protection of the transit was to be assumed by the Polish side and a thirtymember Russian military mission assigned for the issues of transit. The transit from Germany ended on 11 September 1994. The territory of Poland was crossed by 441 operational transporters (12,311 carriages), 1736 provision transports (50,810 carriages), while 7972 aircrafts and helicopters flew through the Polish air space. Approximately 113,000 soldiers were evacuated, along with 100 planes and fighter helicopters, 15,000 pieces of various combat equipment, and 443,500 tonnes of material and technical resources. In so far as the transit was generally performed

50 Krogulski: Okupacja, pp. 165–168. 51 Krogulski: Okupacja, p. 175. 52 Czulicki, Maciej: Wybrane aspekty pobytu Północnej Grupy Wojsk Armii Radzieckiej w Polsce w latach 1945–1993 oraz wykorzystanie infrastruktury po jednostkach Armii Radzieckiej po 1993 r. [Selected aspects of the stay of the Northern Group of the Soviet Army in Poland in 1945–1993 and the use of the infrastructure of the units of the Soviet Army after 1993], www.bbn. gov.pl/ftp/dok/ 1945–1993.pdf, last access: 18 December 2020.

International Aspects of the Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Poland and Germany

without hindrance, the settlement of the transport fees was delayed, as the Polish side initially expected.53

8.

Conclusion

The departure of the Soviet soldiers from Poland had a symbolic significance for the Poles. It meant the end of political dependency on the USSR, which had lasted since 1944 and the restoration of full sovereignty in all areas of political life. For Tadeusz Mazowiecki’s government, however, the settlement of the issue of borders for united Germany was the most important. The final confirmation of the PolishGerman border on the Oder and the Lusatian Neisse rivers by Poland and Germany and normalisation of mutual relations between these countries were conditions indispensable for Poland’s departure from the Soviet sphere of power. The USSR ceased to be the guarantor of Poland’s western border and its defender against the German revisionism. Following the successful settlement of the issue regarding the German border, Soviet support was no longer necessary, and the Polish side scheduled a very short time for the Soviet troops’ withdrawal. The sudden change in Poland’s position and their negotiating from a place of strength led to an impasse in the talks and a diplomatic crisis. The errors that the negotiators from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs committed delayed the agreement’s settlement. Conflicts and disputes surrounding the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Poland were not conducive to building positive relations, less so with the USSR, but more so with the Russian Federation.

53 Krogulski: Okupacja, pp. 179–181.

243

The Withdrawal of Russian Forces from States of the Former Soviet Union

Sophie Momzikoff

International Aspects of the Russian Troops’ Withdrawal from the Baltics The Issue of the Russian Minority as a European Question and Internal Matter, 1992–1994 The tiny Latvian village of Marciena enjoys nowadays a certain popularity among nostalgic travellers seeking traces of the Soviet past. Indeed, it hosts a former residential district called Gorodok (‘little town’ in Russian), built for Soviet officers that should work at a new missile base. The base was unfinished, and the Russians had to leave the country after the independence. Gorodok turned into a slum. Today, many ruins of the former Soviet military presence remain in the Baltic region.1 They show a rather hasty withdrawal that began in 1992 and ended in 1994 (apart from two nuclear facilities that were dismantled in 1998). Since their independence in September 1991, the three Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania tried to regain their entire sovereignty. They shared a common destiny and a mutual goal: to get free from the Russian sphere of influence. In turn, Moscow was confronted by a new dilemma. On one hand, it had to maintain good relations with neighbours already eager to join European structures. On the other hand, Russia had to withdraw its armed forces from its former empire. Indeed, there was a widespread perception of decline among Russian public opinion that led to the rise of conservative forces in the country. The ‘Baltic case’ became an important issue in the political debate, as far as Russian military forces stationed there had to be removed. The condition of their departure became from 1992 to 1994 an internal and international matter. This case study focuses on the issue posed by the removal of Russian troops from the Baltic states. Why did Moscow establish a link between the complete withdrawal of Russian military forces from the former soviet republics, and the respect of the ‘Russian minority rights’ there? This paper focuses on the complex articulation between internal and external factors that could explain the evolutions of a Russian position on this issue. It then analyses Moscow’s new strategy towards pan-European institutions such as the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), in order to defend its interests and to justify its policy. The complex management of this diplomatic, military and internal problem also reveals a new 1 Boldāne-Zeļenkova, Ilze: Mārciena – between Legacy and Nostalgia, in: Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore, 70, 2017, pp. 149–170.

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place for Russia in the broader context of a redesigned European balance of powers. This paper proposes an historical approach of this issue, based on new archival evidence.

1.

The situation in 1992. Russian military presence in the Baltics

1.1

From the Baltic Military District to the Northwestern Group of Forces (NWGF)

The Baltic military district (BMD, in Russian, Прибалтийский военный округ) was created during summer 1940 after the soviet annexation of the three Baltic republics. But it was soon dismantled, due to German attack and occupation in 1941. In 1943, it was symbolically reorganized and finally reformed in July 1945. At that time the Baltic military district included Lithuanian and Latvian Soviet Socialist Republics (SSR), now part of the USSR. In 1946, it incorporated the new territory of Kaliningrad and in 1956, the Estonian SSR. The headquarters of the district was in Riga and most of the forces settled in Kaliningrad and in the SSR of Latvia and Lithuania.2 Shortly before the end of the USSR, the BMD was renamed: on 15 November 1991, it became the Northwestern Group of Forces. Throughout their long history, the Soviet forces in the Baltics were powerful. In 1990, 170,000 servicemen (130,000 in 1992)3 , 1300 tanks, 1500 armoured combat vehicles, 800 guns, 170 transport and combat helicopters could be counted. Vilnius was home to the 107th Motorized Rifle Division and the 14th division of the Air defence troops was in Tallinn.4 The Baltic region also hosted vital military facilities for the USSR: in Liepaja, the submarines of the Baltic fleet; in Paldiski, strategic naval installations, in Skrunda an impressive radar, part of the soviet ABM (antiballistic missiles) system.5 According to data collected by the Latvian Ministry of Defence, in January 1993, 70,000 hectares and 681 military facilities belonged to Russia.

2 Postnikov, S.I.: V dalekih garnizonah [In faraway Garrisons], Moskva 2004. 3 Best, Marina: The Ethnic Russian Minority: A Problematic Issue in the Baltic States, in: Verges: Germanic & Slavic Studies in Review (GSSR), 2/1 (2013), pp. 33–41, here: p. 36. 4 Fes’kov, V.I. et al.: Sovetskaja armija v gody ‘cholodnoj vojny’ (1945–1991) [Soviet Army in the years of the ‘Cold War’ (1945–1991)], Tomsk 2004. 5 Yakemtchouk, Romain: Bases militaires et stationnement de troupes à l’étranger en temps de paix. Le cas de l’U.R.S.S./Russie [Military bases and troop stationing abroad in times of peace. The case of the USSR/Russia], in: Annuaire français de droit international 40 (1994), pp. 379–418, here: p. 406; Lane, Thomas/Pabris, Artis: The Baltic States, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, London 2002.

International Aspects of the Russian Troops’ Withdrawal from the Baltics

27,000 soldiers (11,000 officers or warrant officers, 16,000 enlisted) and military intelligence personnel continued to work in Latvia.6 According to the three new sovereign countries official line, since Russian presence was illegal, they asked for a quick withdrawal and financial compensation.7 On the contrary, for Moscow, the 1940 Soviet annexation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania was voluntary incorporation to the USSR, when the second annexation of 1945 was seen as a liberation from the Nazi yoke. But military presence was not the only ‘Russian issue’: the three Baltic countries had to cope with a Russian minority living on their soil, a potential ‘fifth column’. 1.2

The ‘Russian’ presence in the former Baltic republics

As Russian diplomat Valery Polyakov wrote in his memoirs, the defence of the rights of ‘compatriots’ (соотечественники) abroad was a new issue that emerged after the collapse of the USSR. Formerly, he writes, the ‘Russian-speaking diaspora was perceived as a stranger body, that the Soviet power didn’t trust’.8 Moreover, since the Soviet diaspora was mostly made of regime opponents, Moscow could not mobilize this Russian-speaking community to serve its interests. Things changed with the quick fall of the empire. The 25 million ‘Russians’9 were not regime opponents but former Soviet citizens who belonged to a state that did not exist anymore. Besides, the number of ‘Russians’ or perceived as Russians by the new regimes was more important, considering the numerous Russian speakers (part of Ukrainians and Belarussians):

6 These datas are not very different from those publicly given by the Russians to the press by Leonid Majorov, commander from 1992–1994 of the NWGF. 7 http://www.baltasam.org/images/pdf_2012/2nd_appeal.pdf, last access: 4 April 2020. 8 Poljakov, V.G.: О zashhite prav i interesov sootechestvennikov za rubezhom. Vremja reshenij i dejstvij. Primer Pribaltiki (razmyshlenija diplomata) [About protecting the rights and interests of compatriots abroad. Time for solutions and action. Example of the Baltic States. (Reflections of a diplomat)], in: Vestnik RUDN, Serija: Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 1/2 (2002) pp. 29–35, here: p. 29. 9 The Russians abroad were those who were of Russian nationality (in the USSR, there was a distinction between the citizenship and the nationality, which had an ethnical meaning).

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Table 1 Part of Russian speaking population according to 1989 soviet census based on the Soviet notion of ‘nationality’10 Total population

Nationals

Russians

Belarussians

Ukrainians

Russian speaking population (%)

Lithuania

3,690,000

2,924,251

344,455

63,169

44,789

12

Latvia

2,690,000

1,387,757

905,515

119,702

92,101

41,5

Estonia

1,573,000

963,281

474,832

27,711

48,271

35

In Lithuania, the number of so-called Russians was lower: that was not the case with the two other republics. In Estonia, the ratio of Russian speaking population was high: many towns in the Northeast (Narva or Sillamäe), counted 95% of Russians.11 After years of Soviet presence, the new Baltic republics aimed to promote a renewed identity based on an ‘ethnic democracy’ and on the rejection of the Soviet era. In a certain way, these three countries were in a post-colonial status.12 The desire to turn a new page was often coupled with a ‘derussification’ line. Consequently, the language policy was a precious tool to revive local ethnic identity.13 Unfortunately for the Russian-speaking population, its knowledge of the national language was low. A 1989 study showed that in Estonia and Latvia, the amount of Russian population having a good command of the native language was respectively of 15.2% and 22.4%. The ratio was higher in Lithuania, where Russian minority was better integrated.14 For Tallinn and Riga, the problem was even more accurate due to the important retired officers and servicemen still living on their soil. Although many Russian speakers left the Baltic countries (between 1991 and 1993, 56,000 persons, most of them worked for the former soviet military industrial complex)15 , the remaining population was not really welcomed and even deprived of citizenship. Indeed, Latvia and Estonia practiced the jus sanguinis policy, where nationality is determined by the nationality of the parents. Soon after their independence, Latvia and Estonia

10 Boldyrev, B.A.: Naselenie SSSR (Po dannym vsesojuznoj perepisi naselenija 1989 g.) [Population of the USSR (According to the 1989 All-Union Population Census)], Moskva 1989. 11 Archive of the Council of Europe, RMS Historical Archive Collection, AS/Pol (1994) 12: Respect des engagements pris par les nouveaux Etats membres Estonie (M. Bratinka, Hongrie, GDE) [Respect of the commitments made by the new Member States Estonia (M. Bratinka, Hungary, EDG], Strasbourg, 06.04.1994. 12 Smith Graham: The Post-Soviet States. Mapping the Politics of Transition, London 1999, pp. 76–79. 13 Best: The Ethnic Russian Minority, p. 36. 14 https://www.bpb.de/gesellschaft/migration/laenderprofile/58435/integration-of-minorities, last access: 1 September 2020. 15 Lane/Pabris: The Baltic, p. 134.

International Aspects of the Russian Troops’ Withdrawal from the Baltics

passed what Russia called ‘anti-Russian laws’. In Latvia, those who were Latvian citizens in 1940 and their descendants were granted citizenship. In Estonia, the February 1992 law gave citizenship to the descendants of Estonian citizens according to 1938 law.16 Consequently, the number of stateless individuals was high. On the contrary, Lithuanian citizenship laws were based on the jus solis – those who lived in Lithuania in 1989 were given the nationality. In any case, the new republics had to be careful, as far as they had to fit new Western democratic standards, especially the CSCE Copenhagen criteria of June 1990 (human rights, respect for and protection of minorities) if they wanted to join the EU and NATO. They faced a rather complex challenge: to accept the presence of a Russian minority and to protect their recovered identity. 1.3

Beginning the negotiations for a Russian withdrawal

After the August 1991 coup in Moscow, Russian president Boris Yeltsin recognized the independence of the three Baltic republics in September 1991. Nevertheless, the status of the former Soviet forces deployed on the new countries’ territories was not set before January 1992. The Baltic States common aim was now to achieve a quick withdrawal of this foreign military force. Next month, in February 1992, the negotiation process began. But many issues had yet to be clarified. It was particularly the case for the timing of the withdrawal process: how long would Russian troops stay in the Baltics? Russians hoped the process would not start immediately.17 Moscow had already to cope with the withdrawal of troops process from the former Warsaw Pact countries. But that was without counting the Baltic States international pressure. In July 1992, they insisted during the CSCE meeting in Helsinki on a declaration, calling out Russia to put a quick end to its presence in the Baltics.18 Due to international pressure, and considering its wish to see the CSCE become the main European security

16 Chillaud, Mathieu: La démarche stratégique des Etats baltes dans l’architecture européenne de sécurité et de défense: une politique fondée sur une dialectique identitaire et militaire: de la restauration de l’indépendance aux commémorations russes du soixantième anniversaire de la victoire contre l’Allemagne nazie, Université de Montpellier 3 [The strategic approach of the Baltic States in the European security and defence architecture: a policy based on a dialectic of identity and military: from the restoration of independence to the Russian commemorations of the 60th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany, University of Montpellier 3], 15 June 2018. 17 Beyrle, John R.: The Long Goodbye. The Withdrawal of Russian Military Forces from the Baltic States, Georgetown University, Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, 1996, p. 2. 18 https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/3/b/40343.pdf, last access: 13 May 2020.

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structure,19 during his meeting with its Baltic counterparts on 6 August, Russian foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev accepted the withdrawal of Russian troops by 1994, setting nevertheless several conditions20 that did not fit the hopes the Baltic States had formulated (an immediate pull-out of the Russian army)21 : 1/ The presence of Russian temporary bases 2/ No compensations for Russian environmental damages 3/ Help to build homes for demobilized soldiers 4/ Transit rights from Kaliningrad 5/ Compensations for the army facilities 6/ Rights for pensioners 7/ No territorial revendication (on frontiers) 8/ Respect of the Russian-speaking people rights Going back to Russian conditions, the question of the rights of the Russian speaking minority was often linked to the respect of the withdrawal deadline (1994). Other negotiation problems also appeared, but they were not always connected to the respect of the withdrawal timing. Here are some examples. In speech on 29 October 1992, President Yeltsin announced the stop to the withdrawal process and linked this to respect for Russian minority rights. In April 1993, at the UN General Assembly, Russia evoked the need to protect the human rights in the Baltic. In October 1993, President Boris Yeltsin suspended Baltic troops pull-out until the rights of the Russians in the three republics were safeguarded. Then, in January 1994 speech, Foreign Minister Kozyrev worried about the strategic gap left by the future withdrawal of Russian forces possibly filled by forces hostile to Russia. On 9 March 1994, after 17 rounds of negotiations with Estonia, the Russian negotiator in chief Vassily Svirin said the withdrawal date of 31 August, was not accurate anymore. Finally, in a press conference during the G7 summit in Naples (8–10 July 1994) Yeltsin announced he would not withdraw troops.22 During this tense period with Russia, the solidarity between the Balts was not that strong. Their situations regarding Russian military presence were quite different and they hoped for a quick withdrawal. That is why they decided to negotiate separately with Russia. Negotiations between Lithuania and Russia went faster: in September 1992, the Russians accepted 31 August 1993 as a departure deadline.23

19 Moscow wished to build a new security architecture in Europe based on CSCE that would have weakened the NATO’s influence. See Hill, William H: No Place for Russia. European Security Institutions Since 1989, New York 2018. 20 Smith, Mark: Pax Russica; Russia’s Monroe Doctrine: Whitehall Paper Series, 1993, The Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies, p. 30. 21 http://www.baltasam.org/images/pdf_2012/2nd_appeal.pdf, last access: 4 April 2020. 22 Beyrle: The Long Goodbye, pp. 6–9. 23 Chillaud: La démarche, p. 170.

International Aspects of the Russian Troops’ Withdrawal from the Baltics

The negotiations process was complicated by sensitive issues. Russian claimed for financial compensation for the military infrastructure they left behind and Lithuanians asked for environmental damages’ indemnity. But the settlement of these problems was quick since Russians obtained a possibility to transit through Lithuania from Kaliningrad to Russia.24 Moreover, the Russian-speaking population was that numerous in Lithuania and already had obtained citizenship. Finally, Lithuania was not host to major strategic military facilities. The rapid progress of the negotiations with Vilnius generated a split among the three new states: Estonia and Latvia adopted an uncompromising approach towards Russia, which in response got tough on its neighbours.

2.

Linking protection of Russian minority to the troops departure

The Russian minority linkage was seen at the time by many observers as a manifestation of a Russian neo-imperialism, or even worse, of new ethnic diplomacy. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Jimmy Carter’s adviser, evoked a ‘premature partnership’25 with Moscow. During a visit of Strobe Talbott (Ambassador-at-large and special advisor on post-soviet issues to Warren Christopher, Secretary of State) in Tallinn, Estonian leader Lennart Meri told him Russia intended to dupe the West. Although everyone wished for a rebirth of historical Russia, as far as he was concerned, he favoured a split of the Federation in two parts (Siberia and Western Russia).26 In fact, the Russian linkage is more complex than it seems. One must question the real coherence of Russian policy at this time.27 Indeed, the new Russian Federation seemed to follow the events, rather than to control them. As we will see later, Russians were not being the source of any initiative. Furthermore, Russian power was fragile and divided. Among the Soviet Supreme, many hard liners denounced the Atlanticist Foreign Minister Kozyrev and the populist Vladimir Zhirinovsky obtained 20% of the votes in the December 1993 elections.28 Moreover, the public opinion began to see the quick pull out from the former empire as a capitulation. In a March 1993 survey conducted by the Levada Center, 63% of the participants used to regret the collapse of the USSR.29

24 25 26 27 28 29

Beyrle: The Long Goodbye, p. 3. Simonsen: Compatriot Games, p. 772. US Department of State Archives, Visit of the Ambassador Talbott in Estonia, Tallinn, 15.05.1993. Simonsen: Compatriot Games, p. 772. Beyrle: The Long Goodbye, p. 5. https://www.levada.ru/en/2019/01/14/the-collapse-of-the-ussr/, last access: 22 January 2021.

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But did the linkage of Russian minority rights have only internal roots and was a design to please Russian conservative opinion? The archive materials, especially the conversations between Russian leaders and their foreign partners, show what were Moscow’s top priorities at that time. 2.1

Military and financial aspects

The two main Russian concerns in their private conversation with foreign leaders were military and financial. Indeed, the diaspora issue was always linked to military aspects, especially the status of retired militaries. For instance, in a December 1992 letter to French President François Mitterrand, President Boris Yeltsin, besides his desire to protect Russian minorities, asked for a financial help to build homes for demobilized servicemen, what Mitterrand declined.30 In a letter dated 6 October 1993 sent by President Yeltsin to US President Bill Clinton, the Russians revealed that the timing of the withdrawal would depend on their capacity to build homes for soldiers31 . In a telephone conversation to President Clinton (5 July 1994), President Yeltsin raised the issue of military pensioners. Indeed, the Estonian’s demands included the departure of military pensioners under the age of 54,32 considered as a potential threat for the country’s security. In private conversations with the Russians, another military issue was raised. For instance, during a visit to the Soviet supreme in November 1992, the American senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar met with Yevgeny Ambartsumov (chairman of the international questions committee of the Soviet Supreme), Aleksandr Iskunov (vice president of the defence and security committee) and Sergei Rogov (advisor). The Russians said they wanted to leave, but pointed a real risk of explosion in the Baltics if the withdrawal was too quick. They said the US aid to build homes for militaries would be of a great help to prevent a military uprising.33 Finally, according to a report on Estonia issued by the Commission for political questions of the European council, the reason for the Russian pause in the withdrawal process in March 1994 was the lack of payment of 23 million to help build apartments for

30 Lettre de François Mitterrand à Boris Eltsine [Letter from François Mitterrand to Boris Yeltsin], 10.12.1992, in: Prikhodko, S.: Correspondance des présidents de la Russie et de la France, 1991–1999, Moscow 2018, pp. 192 f. 31 US Department of State Archive, From Ambassy for the Secretary from charge Collins, October 1993. 32 Clinton Presidential Library, Telcon with Boris Yeltsin, 05.07.1994. 33 US Department of State Archive, Discussions with Senators Nunn and Lugar in the Russian Congress, November 1992.

International Aspects of the Russian Troops’ Withdrawal from the Baltics

soldiers and the refusal of the Estonian authorities to give permanent residence permits to retired officers.34 In fact, Russia began to raise the question of the Russian minority in the Baltics mainly because of the treatment of its servicemen there. Since the number of pensioners (retired officers, KGB officers) was high (150,000)35 and the new Estonian ‘anti-Russian laws’ excluded the ex-militaries from citizenship, it meant Russia would have to pay for their pensions. In addition, Russia had to deal with a huge military problem, caused by the troops pull-out from the former empire and the military reform that drastically cut the defence budget. The beginning of the Soviet troops withdrawal preceded the collapse of the empire. A period of nearly five months separates the implosion of the USSR from the creation of the Russian army in May 1992. During the interregnum period, the issue was to whom the units stationed in the former republics would give allegiance.36 Russia was confronted with a strategical issue; according to Defence Minister Grachev, 70% of technologies and most advanced arsenals was stationed outside of the frontiers of the Russian Federation.37 Thus, Russia had to bring the substantial nuclear strategic arsenal back home first to avoid its passage under the new republics’ jurisdiction. The logistical aspect was complicated by another problem: during the Cold War, the troops support was provided by the Warsaw Pact.38 Thus, when the withdrawal from the former republics began, Russian Federation had already to pay for the Warsaw Pact dismantlement. In addition, Russia had no proper withdrawal plan, so the process was rather chaotic. A Council of Europe report written by Estonia noticed: ‘Number of sites are abandoned by militaries but are not administratively transferred. Goods and equipment are illegally used by military personnel for cooperatives and private business as well as the resale of nonferrous material.’39 Moreover, aside from troops

34 Archive of the Council of Europe, RMS Historical Archive Collection, AS/Pol (1994) 12: Respect des engagements pris par les nouveaux Etats membres Estonie (M. Bratinka, Hongrie, GDE), Strasbourg, 06.04.1994. 35 US Department of State Archive, Meeting of Vice president Quayle with Estonian Leaders, 06.02.1992. 36 De la Perdraja, René: The Russian Military Resurgence. Post-Soviet Decline and Rebuilding, 1992–2018, Jefferson NC 2018, pp. 73–74. 37 Rossijskie Vesti, 4 January 1993. 38 De la Perdraja: The Russian Military, pp. 73–74. 39 Archive of the Council of Europe, AS/Pol (44) 52: Retrait des troupes ex-Soviétiques (M.Kelchtermans): Informations concernant le retrait à dater du 31 janvier 1993 des troupes étrangères stationnées en Estonie communiquées par la Délégation des invités spéciaux d’Estonie auprès de l’Assemblée parlementaire [Withdrawal of ex-Soviet troops (Mr Kelchtermans): Information concerning the withdrawal of foreign troops stationed in Estonia as of 31 January 1993 communicated by the Estonian Special Guest Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly], Strasbourg, 03.02.1993.

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withdrawal from the former Republics and Warsaw pact, Russian militaries had to overcome the important traumatism generated by the departure from Afghanistan. The impression of defeat was consequently widespread among the military establishment.40 The Soviet, then Russian, authorities tried to negotiate the conditions of withdrawal when possible.41 But despite this foreign financial help, the burden was too heavy to bear. Thus, Moscow would have to pay more pensions for retired soldiers, while it was already unable to pay salaries on time. Indeed, many militaries received their pay (the amount not being adjusted to strong inflation) with a 3 to 6 months delay.42 The problem of soldiers housing was another topic. Indeed, 700,000 servicemen had to return to Russia and the country could not bear this quick and massive arrival. Many soldiers were forced to demobilize and had to find new jobs. Most of all, it became a priority to relocate their families. In a letter addressed to Finance Minister Yegor Gaidar in October 1992, Defence Minister Grachev writes the soldiers want social guarantees on the housing problem but the military budget for 1992 had already been reduced: only 40 million of dollars.43 In the Baltic States, Russian troops were under pressure. Before the independence, they had to cope with the arrival of military units from the former GDR44 and now opposed an unprepared withdrawal. For instance, during a meeting with the American vice-president, the Estonian president Ruutel told his counterpart he felt the commander of the North-western Group of Forces, Mironov, wanted to stay in Estonia.45 The game Russian authorities had to play was complex: on one hand, they tried to take the maximum from the Baltic States, but on the other hand, they should not appear too threatening, as the Balts were, for a long time, under American protection, knowing that the USA had never recognized Soviet rule in the area. In contrast, the Russian minority linkage was a skilful way to discredit the Baltic States who did not perfectly fit Western standards.

40 For the Afghanistan perception see the article of Michael Galbas and Markus Mirschel. 41 Wallander, Celeste: Mortal Friends, Best Enemies. German-Russian Cooperation After the Cold War, London 1999. 42 Sieca-Kozlowski, Elisabeth: L’armée russe: strategies de survie et modalités d’action individuelle et collective en situation de “chaos” [The Russian army: Survival Strategies and Modalities of Individual and Collective Action in ‘Chaos’ Situations], in: Culture et conflits 1997 1/2, 24–25, p. 3. 43 Yegor Gaidar Archive, doc. 1524: Minoborony – Gajdaru Y.T. Ob obstanovke po obespecheniyu zhilploshhad‘yu voennosluzhashhix, vyvodimyx iz gosudarstv Baltii, Zakavkaz‘ya i Srednej Azii [Ministry of Defence to Y. T. Gaidar on the situation regarding housing for military personnel being withdrawn from the Baltic States, the Transcaucasus and Central Asia], 23.10.1992. 44 Interview of Mrs. X., spouse of a former soviet air forces captain in Altes Lager from 1985 to 1990, with the author, 11 December 2018. 45 US Department of State Archives, Meeting of Vice President Quayles with Estonian leaders, 06.02.1992.

International Aspects of the Russian Troops’ Withdrawal from the Baltics

2.2

Internal issue, strategic impacts

Russians officials also favoured the human rights question since it served domestic political objectives. The rise of the conservative wing among the Soviet supreme deputies was obvious by the end of 1992. Many envisioned a progression of the Russian sphere of influence. In the new Russian foreign policy and military doctrines, a distinction was made between ancient republics, called «near abroad», and former satellites of the Warsaw Pact.46 In the Russian newspaper Izvestia, the head of the Defence and Security Committee of the Soviet Supreme, Yevgeny Ambartsumov, asked in July 1992 for a Russian Monroe doctrine,47 referring to the US doctrine of 1823 denying another power the right to intervene in the politics of the Americas. The October 1993 constitutional crisis, that led to a presidential regime, reinforced Boris Yeltsin’s political position but also eroded his legitimacy. The electoral victory of the populists and the communists fragilized Yeltsin’s line. The conservative turn of the Russian foreign policy at the end of 1993 can also be explained by these internal problems. Another strategical objective seems to have motivated the minority linkage tactic: the rapprochement between the Baltic republics and NATO, and the fear of losing important bases in the region. The dissolution of the USSR, opened a new debate: What would European security architecture look like? What would be the place of Russia in Europe? Would it be based on the CSCE? Or on a NATO enlargement? The decision to build a European security, based on NATO, was discussed during 1993, after the election of Bill Clinton at the Oval Office. Two tendencies were opposed among the administration: those who preferred a quick NATO enlargement on one hand, and those who envisioned a ‘Partnership for Peace’48 approach for all the former Soviet bloc, with an eventual long-time perspective of a NATO enlargement. But in Russia, the NATO enlargement perspective provoked extensive discussions. As Yeltsin told Bill Clinton in a letter on 15 September 1993, Russia preferred a CSCE based option.49 Moscow feared to be marginalized, and the NATO expansion to the East could be a risk for Russia. Shortly before the January 1994 NATO summit, where the future of NATO was about to be examined, Minister Grachev reiterated his concerns to his American counterpart. To him, NATO expansion was not a solution and the Baltic States had to understand that Russia was not a threat.50 On the other hand, the Balts seek a Western protection against a hypothetical Russian

46 47 48 49

Smith: Pax Russica, pp. 10–13. Ibid. NATO program of bilateral cooperation launched in 1994. U.S. Department of State Archive: Your Deputies Committee Meeting on the NATO Summit, 14.09.1993. 50 U.S. Department of State Archive: Memcon with Grachev, 05.01.1994.

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threat and did not hide their desire to join NATO. For instance, during a visit of the American ambassador Strobe Talbott in Tallinn (17 May 1993), President Meri asked him with a smile whether he came to sign the integration of Estonia in NATO.51 The Russian minority linkage had some benefits for Russia, proving the Balts were not reliable allies, not devoted to Western values. Furthermore, the Russian military presence on their soil was an obstacle to a further integration in the EU and NATO. But Russia was not in a strong position to negotiate. The country was too dependent on Western credits and the stationing of Russian troops cost was too high to bear.52 Another strategic issue was linked to the complete withdrawal from the Baltics since July 1992: maintaining Russian control over the Skrunda Radar in Latvia and the Paldiski naval base in Estonia. The Skrunda radar was designed to prevent a surprise nuclear attack and was an important part of the Russian ABM system. As a major sea power, Russia was deprived of many strategical bases in the Baltic. The Paldiski naval base was a key piece in the Russian dispositive. Russia argued its right to control these two sites for a while. By this time Moscow would build similar bases on its territory, in order to prevent a strategic gap. Thus, Moscow needed time and sought a leverage to push forward its interests: in this respect, the diaspora argument was a precious card in the Russian game. In fact, the argument was merely declaratory: on the field, Russia was not very active in defending the rights of the so-called Russian minority in the Baltics, whose situation was very ambivalent. For example, many former soldiers or workers envisioned to stay in the Baltics where despite their second zone status, their economic perspective and life conditions were far better than those in Russia. According to 1993–1994 enquiries, ethnic Russians were wealthier than average Estonian citizens. In a 1994 survey among non-citizen Estonians, to the question ‘Do you prefer to join the EU or the CIS?’ 50% of the Tallinn and North-East region inhabitants (mostly Russian speaking) answered EU, 10% CIS and 30% both.53 During a visit of Strobe Talbott in Tallinn in May 1993, the ambassador met with members of the non-official assembly of Russian-speaking representatives. They told Talbott many Russians intended to stay in Estonia, but didn’t always feel welcomed, although they could not speak of a real discrimination. They deplored the lack of a solid integration program, particularly designed to learn the Estonian language. They finally pointed an economic problem for the Russian-speaking community: for example, the amount of the pensions took only into account years 51 U.S. Department of State Archive: Strobe Tablott visit in Estonia, Tallinn, 15.05.1993. 52 Yegor Gaidar Archive, doc. n°1508, Minoborony RF – Gajdaru E.T. O finansirovanii rossijskih vojsk v latvijskih rubljah [Russian Ministry of Defence to Y. T. Gaidar on financing Russian troops in Latvian rubles], 22.09.1992. 53 Lane/Pabris: The Baltic, p. 133.

International Aspects of the Russian Troops’ Withdrawal from the Baltics

spent in Estonia. Nevertheless, they had the impression that the US cared more for them than the Russian embassy did.54

3.

Why did Russia renounce to link the minority question to the withdrawal of troops?

3.1

The new role of the CSCE

The CSCE55 was essentially a discussion forum whose recommendations were prescriptive, since the CSCE vision of security was preventive: it gave a real importance to the settlement of interethnic disputes or minority issues to prevent conflicts. Thus, the CSCE was carefully monitoring the situation in the Baltic. Indeed, two of the ten principles of the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 applied directly to the Baltic crisis issue. Point VII promoted human rights, fundamental freedom, protection of national minorities, and point IV defended territorial integrity of the states. The question of national minorities was also evoked in the Copenhagen document of the CSCE (1990). The nomination of a High Commissioner to national minorities was a sign of the CSCE interest on this issue. In 1992, the Dutch Max van de Stoel was named for a three years term and devoted greater attention to the Baltic issue. A permanent international mission was sent to Estonia. It stayed from February 1993 to November 199356 and settled in Tallinn and the North-eastern provinces. The situation there was not alarming but very volatile. The aim of the CSCE mission was to avoid escalation and to promote dialogue between officials and members of the Russian minority.57 The mission had also to give advice and recommendations to the Estonian and Latvian political elite. But CSCE action was limited: although many among the CSCE team favoured the rapid naturalization solution, the international community had already accepted the principle of a citizenship based on the temporary exclusion of migrants from the soviet era. Nevertheless, considering Latvian and Estonian desire to fit international standards and to join the EU and NATO, CSCE advice was powerful, as we can see in a letter from Max van de Stoel to Latvian Minister Andrejevs: ‘Within the community of CSCE states, the solution of citizenship issue is seen as being closely connected with democratic principles. If the overwhelming majority of non-Latvians in your country is denied

54 U.S. Department of State Archive: Strobe Tablott visit in Estonia, Tallinn, 15.05.1993. 55 By the end of 1994, the CSCE became the OSCE (organisation). 56 Zaagman, Rob: Conflict Prevention in the Baltic States: The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania: European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI): ECMI Monograph 1, Flensburg, April 1999, p. 6. 57 CSCE, 19–CSO, Journal 2, Annex 1.

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the right to become citizen, […] the character of the democratic system in Latvia might even be put under question.’58 That is why the CSCE favoured a rapid integration. For van de Stoel, as he wrote to Estonian Foreign Minister Trivimi Velliste, a real gradual naturalization would grant the loyalty of the Russian community.59 Thanks to the CSCE action, escalation of tensions was avoided, as it was the case in punctual conflicts that opposed local Russian minorities with the central state of Estonia or Latvia. For instance, tensions arose following the adoption by the Estonian parliament of a law on aliens in summer 1993, which made access to citizenship for the Russian minority more difficult.60 Strikes erupted in the town of Narva and groups planned to organize local referendum for autonomy: CSCE helped the executive power to draft a new law.61 But the Baltic issue also revealed the Russian plans to reinforce the CSCE role as the dominant security organization in Europe.62 As Foreign Minister Kozyrev told during his Stockholm December 1992 intervention, United Nations and CSCE were considered as the major cooperation tools for Russia to protect human rights.63 Nevertheless, the withdrawal problem also revealed not only the decisive role of Washington as a powerful mediator between Russia and its former republics, but also its desire to play a dominant role in the region. 3.2

The American mediation: a key role between Russia and Balts

Few months after his election, President Clinton asked Boris Yeltsin if he wanted him to be a mediator to resolve the withdrawal issue.64 During the Vancouver Summit, Clinton announced an assistance program for Estonia: a financial help to build 5000 housings for Russian officers demobilized after 1 April 1993. In a private letter to President of Latvia Guntis Ulmanis, Clinton shared his hope that it would help to resolve the problem.65 This financial help to build housings in Russia was also particularly important: in March 1995, Americans announced a USD 100 million help and a technical support.

58 59 60 61 62 63

Zaagman: Conflict, p. 36. Ibid., p. 29. Ibid., p. 25, doc. 2, p. 42. Ibid., p. 19. Hill, William H: No Place for Russia. European Security Institutions Since 1989,New York 2018. U.S. Department of State Archives, Kozyrev’s Speech in Stockholm, 14.12.1992, New York Times, 17.12.1992. 64 Clinton Presidential Library, Memcon between Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin in Tokyo, 10.07.1993 65 Clinton Presidential Library, Clinton’s answer to President Ulmanis, 20.10.1993.

International Aspects of the Russian Troops’ Withdrawal from the Baltics

The American sought to resolve another issue: the Skrunda radar. On this subject, the American administration managed to convince the Balts and the Russians that the process would take five and a half year: 4 years of Russian presence and 18 months to withdraw (the Balts initially wanted 3 years and 1 year to withdraw, the Russians 5 years and 2 to withdraw)66 , an option accepted by the Russians in January 1994. The US also helped to clean the sites of Skrunda and Paldiski (USD 4 million)67 and gave USD 160 million to build housing.68 This mediation did not preclude pressure. The Congress line towards Russia was hard since the Balts descendants in the United States represented a powerful and active lobby. Therefore, the Congress issued the Byrd amendment that linked American financial aid to Russia with the withdrawal of troops. Finally, this mediation also concerned the Russian minority aspect, a problem raised by the Americans in many conversations with Latvians and Estonians. But Washington let the CSCE cope with this problem.69 Why was the American interest toward the settlement of the withdrawal question so manifest? First, as we can read in an NSC (National Security Council) report,70 ‘the Baltic was now in no one sphere of influence’. American help to build ‘peacekeeping battalions’ in the Baltics, its hopes for a quick Partnership for Peace membership (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were the first to join it) witnessed a desire to prevent Russia to rebuild its former. On the other hand, US strategy was careful: the numerous discussions between presidents Clinton and Yeltsin indicated a manifest desire to associate, not humiliate, Russia, in order to prevent a strengthening of conservative forces that could challenge Yeltsin’s power.

4.

Conclusion

The origins of the Russian linkage were initially designed to please the conservative wing of the public opinion, in a context where Boris Yeltsin’s power was challenged by hostile forces. But it also appeared as a precious tool to negotiate a remaining strategic presence and a financial assistance, in order to support Russian soldiers abroad and to insure their return home under favourable conditions. Finally, the

66 Clinton Presidential Library, Clinton and Yeltsin’s meeting in St Catherine Hall, 13.01.1994. 67 Clinton Presidential Library, President Clinton’s Speech, Riga, 6.7.1994. 68 U.S. Department of State Archive, The Russian minority in the Baltic States, Background, NSC, Speechwriting Office. 69 U.S. Department of State Archive, The Russian minority in the Baltic States, Background, NSC, Speechwriting office, Dep of State, Meeting of Vice president Quayles with Estonian leaders, 06.02.1992. 70 Clinton Archive, The Russian Minority in the Baltic States, Background NSC, Speech writing office, unknown date (probably 1993–1994).

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human rights question would stigmatize the Baltic States, due to their tough citizenship policy and slow down their integration in the Euro-Atlantic structures. But Russian strategy was weakened by many factors: Moscow needed to keep the confidence of its new Western allies, especially the US, who were also its major partner and banker. Russia could not stay too long in the Baltic since the cost was too high to bear. Nevertheless, the Russian minority linkage represented an important shift in Russian foreign policy. Moscow discovered during this crisis two major tools for its new soft power in the region: the protection of the Russian minority rights to keep pressure on its former allies, and the benefit of the CSCE/OSCE’s influence. Nowadays, the Russian minority in the Baltics remains an important geopolitical and internal issue. Riga and Tallinn in particular, are divided between a need to integrate this minority and the desire to protect their fragile national identity. Tensions periodically arise regarding the languages policy, as it was the case in Latvia, in September 2018, after a decision to reform Russian-language schools. Finally, The Russian withdrawal from the Baltics must be seen from a wider angle. Indeed, the whole process was quite different, for instance, from the Russian withdrawal from Germany, which was much more coordinated and concerted. The lack of dialogue let the Balts to cope with the environmental damages caused by the quick removal of the troops. A real disaster followed the destruction of aerial bombs that dumped a large amount of phosphorus on the coast of Kurzeme. Therefore, the legacy of the Russian military presence in the region remains a very contemporary issue.

Dovilė Jakniūnaitė, Valentinas Beržiūnas

Russia and the Baltic States after Regaining Independence

1.

Introduction

In 1993 and 1994, Soviet/Russian troops withdrew from the three Baltic States, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, without, however, disappearing from their lives; Russia stayed on in their collective memories, their security preoccupations, and their foreign and national security policy considerations. There were still many issues to resolve and relationships to build, and as it transpired, this was difficult to achieve. The shaky relations that had prevailed over the years between the Baltic States and Russia became colder and more distant as Russia’s assertiveness and ambitions intensified both in the region and globally. Although during the Soviet period all Soviet Socialist Republics enjoyed equal legal status in the Soviet Union, in reality the status of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Russia differed substantially: Russia was the most important republic, its political elite dominated the governmental structures, and its language was de facto the official language of the whole state.1 The three republics on the shore of the Baltic Sea, the western periphery of the country, were small, ‘nationalistic’ republics that became part of the state after the occupation in 1940. In the final years of the Soviet Union they became the republics most eager and impatient to leave the USSR. The collapse of Soviet Union enlarged and accentuated their differences. Russia was considered the successor state, inheriting its loans, its nuclear weapons and the entire material and symbolic legacy of the USSR. Meanwhile, the three Baltic States re-established their independence, trying to build their institutions and democratic political culture anew and rid themselves of the Soviet past as much and quickly as possible. This article reviews and analyses the role and place of Russia in the Baltic States during the 25 years since Soviet/Russian troops left the countries – Lithuania in 1993 and Estonia and Latvia in 1994. It shows how their foreign and domestic policies have been motivated and driven by a profound fear of Russia, and how their interpretations of the Russian threat, connected to the perception of their painful past (both in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union), consequently 1 Officially, however, in each republic both the language of the republic and Russian were official languages.

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influence their over-sensitive approach towards any hostile action taken by Russia. The article takes a chronological view and identifies the most relevant issues that have defined the relations. It does not intend to cover and evaluate all problems and events encountered by Russia and the Baltic States, the goal being to indicate the key points that have substantially contributed towards the sceptical, cautious and vigilant stance towards Russia.2 The three Baltic States differ in a variety of ways in terms of their political systems, social conditions, and even economic models. Some differences towards Russia have also been emerging among them over the years, mostly in terms of policy choices or some unique contentious issues with Russia. We will make some comments where the differences matter. However, most frequently, even when the examples provided are only from one state, general attitudes towards Russia by the Baltic States and vice versa have been similar.

2.

The bumpy road from the beginning to the end

In order to make the already long history of Baltic-Russian relations more comprehensible, we divide the span of almost thirty years into three periods. The first ten years (1994–2004) were the period when the Baltic States were preparing for integration into the EU and NATO, the second period (2004–2014) developed in the new post-integration environment and ended with the Russian occupation of Crimea. The seven years since 2014 have been years of confrontation between Russia and the West. This period has validated the sceptical and cautious attitude of the Baltic States towards Russia, a view which European states had previously considered an oddity but which has now become mainstream.

2 For more extensive reviews covering various periods of the Baltic States’ relations with Russia see Berg, Eiki/Ehin, Piret (eds.): Identity and Foreign Policy: Baltic-Russian Relations and European Integration, Ashgate 2009; Jakniūnaitė, Dovilė: A Small State in the Asymmetrical Bilateral Relations: Lithuania in Lithuanian-Russian Relations since 2004, in: Baltic Journal of Political Science 4 (2015), pp. 70–93; Muižnieks, Nils (ed.): The Geopolitics of History in Latvian-Russian Relations, Riga 2011; Furman, Ekaterina/Muižnieks, Nils/Pelnens, Gatis: Latvia and the Russian Federation: Twenty Years of Relations, in: Zagorsky, Andrei (ed.) Russia and East Central Europe after the Cold War, Prague 2015, pp. 201–238; Veebel, Viljar: Russian Propaganda, Disinformation, and Estonia’s Experience, Foreign Policy Research Institute, 4 October 2015, http://www.fpri.org/article/2015/10/russian-propagandadisinformation-and-estonias-experience, last access: 21 March 2021; Vitkus, Gediminas: Lietuvos ir Rusijos santykiai 1990–1996 metais [Lithuania-Russia relations 1990–1996], in: Politologija 9 (1997), pp. 56–105.

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2.1

Preparing for Integration (1994–2004)

Almost immediately after Russian troops left, the Baltic States began their demanding journey to become members of the EU and NATO. Membership in the Union and the Alliance implied the desire for a better life and the need to feel more secure by being away from Russia, if not on the map, at least mentally and ‘civilisationally’, to have someone to rely on in case of any threat, and to live with the backing of trustworthy partners. After about a year of initial euphoria in response to Boris Yeltsin’s Russia and its democratisation prospects, politicians in the Baltic States realised that it would take a long time to trust Russia and its decision-makers again, if ever. Many issues emerged: the ‘near abroad’ discourse indicating a willingness to mark Russia’s neighbourhood as its own space, the adoption of military doctrine claiming Russia’s special interest in the former Soviet space, the removal of liberal-minded Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrei Kozyrev in 1996 and the appointment of Yevgeny Primakov who announced the Eurasian ideal for Russia in opposition to the United States and Europe. All this provided reasons in plenty to confirm that seeking security in the West was a rational move. In this section, we first analyse Russia’s sceptical and critical stance towards the integration agenda of the Baltic States, which they clearly saw as fully justifying their decision to be cautious about Russia. During this period two divisive issues emerged, debates on Russian-speaking minorities and debates on history, both of which have been solved, and continue to be the object of pressure and manipulation by Russian authorities and the media. During the first few years, there were some debates regarding the possible foreign and security policy trajectories of the Baltic States, mainly put as the choice between neutrality and a clear alliance with the West.3 However, at the end of 1993 these deliberations were over and the Baltic states jointly confirmed that their states saw NATO as their main security guarantee. The states were also well aware that it would be difficult to ensure their security on their own due to their size, limited economic resources and geopolitical situation. For these reasons, the key priorities of the security policy of the Baltic States after their declarations of independence were the establishment of effective regional and international cooperation mechanisms and the enhancement of interaction with Western collective security structures. None of the states directly claimed that their main consideration was to be guarded against Russia, but there were no doubts that it was all about Russia, its real or

3 Park, Andrus: Russia and Estonian Security Dilemmas, in: Europe-Asia Studies 1/47 (1995), pp. 27–45; Nekrašas, Evaldas: Is Lithuania a Northern or Central European Country?, in: Lithuanian Foreign Policy Review 1 (1998), pp. 1–19.

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imagined (depending on interpretations) threat, and the idea of not reliving the past stories of repeated occupations. The Membership in NATO

For the Baltic States, NATO was considered the guarantor of independence and statehood, while membership in the EU was mostly focused on welfare and a better economic future for the population. The EU integration process was of no lesser importance for the Baltic States than NATO and in the end required much greater efforts in preparation for accession. Russia did not take the EU very seriously and so chose to focus on the process of integration with NATO, which therefore became central to bilateral relations between Russia and the Baltic States. Russia’s prevailing geopolitical thinking and security considerations concerning military competition with the West were the main reasons for adopting this position. However, as it turned out much later, membership in the EU and the EU Russia policy were of no lesser consequence and irritation for Russia than NATO. In 1994, the Baltic States joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace initiative. Since then, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have been actively participating in NATO’s peacekeeping missions and exercises and strengthening tri-national military cooperation.4 The common projects not only increased their defence cooperation but also enabled economic, technological and military interaction between Baltic and NATO institutions. Three Baltic states received invitations to join the Alliance in 2002 in Prague,5 and finally became members in April 2004. Moscow strongly opposed the increasingly close ties between the Baltic States and NATO. Russia’s efforts to prevent the Baltic States from joining NATO started in 1996 when President Yeltsin warned that NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe was not acceptable to Moscow. In his message to the US President Bill Clinton, he said that: ‘Any steps in that [i.e. expansion] direction would directly challenge Russia’s national security interests and undermine European stability and security’.6 The narrative opposing the expansion of the Alliance was also reflected in Russia’s strategic documents of that time.7 NATO’s plans for expansion into Eastern Europe 4 Beržiūnas, Valentinas: Santykiai su Latvija bei Estija ir Baltijos šalių bendradarbiavimas [Relations with Latvia and Estonia and Co-operation between the Baltic States], in: Jakniūnaitė, Dovilė (ed.): Ambicingas dešimtmetis: Lietuvos uzsienio politika 2004–2014 [The Ambitious Decade: Lithuanian Foreign Policy in 2004–2014], Vilnius 2015, pp. 209–227, here: pp. 215–217. 5 Žigaras, Feliksas: Baltijos šalys: saugumas ir gynyba 1990–2002 [The Baltic States: security and defence 1990–2002], Vilnius 2002. 6 Quoted in: Yeltsin Denounces Balts to Clinton, https://jamestown.org/program/yeltsin-denouncesbalts-to-clinton, last access: 21 March 2021. 7 Russian National Security Blueprint, https://fas.org/nuke/guide/russia/doctrine/blueprint.html, last access: 21 March 2021; National Security Concept of the Russian Federation’, https://www.mid.ru/

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were portrayed as a major threat by all principal parties at the time and by the majority of Russian media. In May 1997, NATO and Russia signed the Founding Act. Although it did not give Russia a veto over the Alliance’s enlargement, the document stated that NATO would not deploy large numbers of troops or nuclear weapons in the territories of the new members.8 Nevertheless, Russia viewed the agreements with the Alliance with suspicion. Russian security officials and analysts cited as objections the geopolitical position of the Baltic States and their strategic importance for Russia. According to them, membership of the Baltic States in NATO would mean the US military being deployed too close to the main political and economic centres of Russia. Furthermore, the country would become particularly vulnerable to air attacks.9 The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time, Yevgeny Primakov, while admitting that he did not believe that NATO would attack Russia, warned that the expansion could hypothetically lead to a situation in which Moscow would be forced to behave in a way no one would want.10 In 1997, President Yeltsin even offered Russian security guarantees to the Baltic States in exchange for not joining military blocs or unions. When they refused, Russia put them under economic pressure and suspended border agreements with Latvia and Estonia. In addition, Russia tried to persuade other European countries that Latvia and Estonia were violating the rights of the Russian-speaking population, that the Baltic States allegedly supported Chechen terrorists and that their membership in NATO would undermine the post-cold-war European security structure.11 Russia even threatened to deploy nuclear weapons in the Kaliningrad enclave, and a plan for the military invasion of the Baltic States, if they became members of NATO, was leaked to the press.12 In the Baltic States this was perceived as a clear warning that Russia would use all possible means, including military force, to defend its interests in the neighbourhood.

foreign_policy/official_documents/-/asset_publisher/CptICkB6BZ29/content/id/589768, last access: 21 March 2021. 8 Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation, 1997. 9 Donaldson, Robert H./Nogee, Joseph L.: The Foreign Policy of Russia: Changing Systems, Enduring Interests, Armonk et.al. 2005³. 10 Götz, Elias: Neorealism and Russia’s Ukraine Policy, 1991–Present, in: Contemporary Politics 3/22 (2016), pp. 301–323, here: pp. 308–309. 11 Black, J. L.: Russia and NATO Expansion Eastward: Red-Lining the Baltic States, in: International Journal 2/54 (1999), pp. 249–266, here: pp. 255–259; Oldberg, Ingmar: Reluctant Rapprochement: Russia and the Baltic States in the Context of EU and NATO Enlargements, Stockholm 2003, pp. 21–22. 12 Götz: Neorealism, p. 310.

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The Minority Question

In the context of NATO enlargement, debates about the status and situation of Russian-speaking minorities in Latvia and Estonia featured prominently in Russian criticism. In 1991, Russian speakers made up respectively 30 and 40 per cent of the Estonian and Latvian population. Having deep concerns over the excessive influence of the Russian speakers on political processes, the political leaders of Latvia and Estonia decided not to grant citizenship automatically to residents who had come from other republics of the Soviet Union between 1940 and 1989, when they were still Soviet Socialist Republics. Even though the laws of both countries provided that citizenship could be acquired by passing Latvian and Estonian language and history exams, a significant number of Russian speakers did not take up this opportunity for several reasons. As the representatives of the Russian-speaking diaspora supported the independence aspirations of Latvia and Estonia, they expected to acquire citizenship automatically. In addition, some Russian speakers considered compulsory examinations both in language and history humiliating, while the elderly complained that learning the Latvian and Estonian languages was too difficult for them. On top of that, their attitudes to history differed, i.e. not all Russians acknowledged that Estonia and Latvia had been occupied by the Soviet Union. Those who did not pass the exams or refused to take them became so-called non-citizens. They were subject to certain restrictions, including deprivation of the right to vote, prohibition of work at public institutions, etc. The issue of the Russian-speaking minorities in Latvia and Estonia became a major topic in Russian Baltic policy.13 The Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation 1993 pointed out that improper treatment of Russians in the ‘near abroad’ may be treated as the basis for military intervention,14 and The Foreign Policy Concept of 2000 stressed that ensuring the rights of the Russian-speaking diaspora was a key condition for positive relations with the Baltic States.15 Latvia and Estonia were accused not only of discrimination, but of ethnic cleansing and even of having an apartheid policy. Russia demanded that the so-called zero option be applied, i.e. grant citizenship to all residents, as Lithuania and other former Soviet republics did, or allow dual citizenship. The Russian government was outraged that the decision to treat the Latvian and Estonian languages as the only official languages discriminated against the Russian language spoken by a large number of

13 Herd, Graeme P.: Russia’s Baltic Policy After the Meltdown, in: Security Dialogue 3/30 (1999), pp. 197–212, here: p. 199. 14 The Basic Provisions of the Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation, https://fas.org/nuke/guide/ russia/doctrine/russia-mil-doc.html, last access: 21 March 2021. 15 The Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation, https://fas.org/nuke/guide/russia/doctrine/ econcept.htm, last access: 21 March 2021.

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people. Lithuania was also criticised for its stance towards the Russian language: it was argued that Lithuanisation was carried out to exclude the Russian language from public life.16 Russia not only linked the issue of the Russian-speaking diaspora to freezing the border agreements with Latvia and Estonia but also tried to use it to prevent the Baltic States from acceding to NATO and the EU.17 Russia repeatedly appealed to different international organisations accusing Latvia and Estonia of violating international conventions. When the Western countries disregarded these accusations, Russia blamed them for applying double standards and prioritising geopolitical interests. It should however be noted that the citizenship laws of Latvia and Estonia were also criticised by the EU, the OSCE and other international organisations, so that the states were forced to reconsider their, initially very restrictive, citizenship laws. However, it was perceived by Latvia and Estonia that Russia sought to use national minorities to project its influence and manipulate the mood of the local population, and the Baltic States understood this as a threat to their independence. Debates about History

Another contentious issue, which emerged quickly and resurfaces periodically through the years, is the debate about history. The Baltic States and Russia disagree on a number of issues of historical memory starting with the interpretation of the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States and ending with the establishment of state borders, and the assessment of World War II.18 In 2000, the Russian government published a statement outlining that in 1940 the Baltic States were not forced to join the USSR. According to the document, they joined voluntarily on the basis of international law and allowed the Red Army to enter their territories. Consequently, any talk of the occupation and annexation did not reflect political, historical and legal reality. The Baltic States reacted swiftly and emotionally, not accepting this interpretation and emphasising the fact of occupation and the crimes of the Stalinist regime. They demanded that Russia compensate them for the damage suffered during the occupation amounting to

16 Oldberg: Reluctant Rapprochement, pp. 39–40. 17 Lithuania signed the border treaty with Russia in 1997 becoming the first country in the post–cold war era to have fully settled its border issues with the Russian Federation. However, the ratification process took longer: while Lithuania was quick in ratifying, Russia – only in 2003. Latvia and Russia finalised their borders only in 2007, although the agreement was reached in 2005. The EstonianRussian border treaty has not been ratified as of the end of 2020 because of historical disputes over the Tartu peace treaty signed in 1920 between the two states. 18 Jakniūnaitė, Dovilė, ‘Santykiai su Rusija: dešimt nestabilaus stabilumo metų’ [Relations with Russia: Ten Years of Unstable Stability], in: ibid. (ed.): Ambicingas dešimtmetis, pp. 100–126, here: p. 81.

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billions of euros, and Lithuania has even adopted a law on reparations for the occupation period. The reparations issue has always provoked Moscow’s annoyance. According to Moscow, the resolution passed on 24 December 1989 by the Congress of the People’s Deputies acknowledged that the Molotov–Ribbentrop secret protocols were not legally binding due to their violation of third countries’ sovereignty and independence.19 Thus, Russia considers the case closed; as Russian President Vladimir Putin said in 2005: ‘[the pact] did not reflect the opinion of the Soviet people but was the personal affair of Stalin and Hitler. How can we be clearer and more precise on this point? [...] We think that this question is closed.’20 The problem of different interpretations of history also emerges when discussing the issue of fascist occupation. Russia repeatedly used the narrative of fascism against the Baltic States. It insisted that, although the Baltic States maintained a principled position on Stalinist crimes, such as mass deportations, they did little to address the crimes of the Nazi period and the individuals involved.21 Latvia was particularly criticised in 1998 when it declared the Remembrance Day of the Latvian Legionnaires a public holiday. The day commemorated the Latvian servicemen who fought in Nazi Germany’s SS division during World War II. Russian communists and nationalists did not miss the opportunity to draw the world’s attention to the acts of vandalism against the monuments of World War II in some Latvian cities. It was alleged that a neo-fascist sentiment was spreading rapidly in the Baltic States with the aim of rewriting the history of the World War II and turning Nazi criminals into heroes.22 An obstacle in Baltic-Russian relations for a long time became the transfer of the so-called bronze soldier23 from the centre of the Estonian capital Tallinn to the cemetery in 2007. This was followed by a large-scale cyber-attack against Estonian authorities and financial structures, which turned into riots and showed that historical issues would remain.24 Thus, the Baltic States look at the problem of

19 Laurinavičius, Česlovas: The Role of History in the Relationship between Lithuania and Russia’, in: Lithuanian Annual Strategic Review 2005, Vilnius 2006, pp. 109–125, here: p. 112. 20 Press Statement and Responses to Questions Following the Russia-European Union Summit, 10 May 2005, http://www.en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/22967/print, last access: 21 March 2021. 21 Kramer, Mark: NATO, the Baltic States and Russia: A Framework for Sustainable Enlargement, in: International Affairs 4/78 (2002), pp. 731–756, here: p. 735. 22 Black: Russia and NATO Expansion Eastward, p. 263. 23 The Bronze Soldier is a monument erected by the Soviet authorities in 1947 in Tallinn to commemorate, from a Soviet and Russian perspective, the liberation of Estonia by the Red Army from German occupation in September 1944 and to honour the fallen soldiers of the Red Army. 24 Ehala, Martin: The Bronze Soldier: Identity Threat and Maintenance in Estonia, in: Journal of Baltic Studies 1/40 (2009), pp. 139–158.

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different interpretations of history as threatening their claims of sovereignty, if not physically at least symbolically and emotionally, and also as proof that Russia has in no way changed since its previous historical incarnations, since non-recognition of the occupation seems to reflect the problematic nature of Russia’s relationship with the Soviet era and the view about the Baltic States as their ‘own’ neighbourhood. 2.2. New Members, Same Russia (2004–2014) In April 2004, the three Baltic States became members of NATO and a month later of the EU. The general mood regarding Russia before becoming members and immediately after was optimistic. It was assumed that belonging to the new club would mean that the Baltic States would have less to worry about from Russia, as Russia would be forced to ‘abandon its post-imperial manners and treat the Baltics as “normal” countries.’25 In some sense, NATO membership definitely helped to move away from the Russian claim for its ‘privileged’ sphere of influence and eased some existing threats. Apart from the increased sense of security, NATO contributed to the material security: the airspace of Baltic States was now defended by NATO air police mission ensuring constant surveillance and control.26 However, the optimistic outlook was shattered rather quickly and Russia after all was not removed from their security agenda. Disagreements over history, disputes about minority issues had not disappeared, and moreover other issues were added to the contentious agenda. During that decade, there were differences among the three states in how intensive the Russian threat was perceived: most of the time, Lithuania has been the most vocal and principled critic, while the position of the Estonian and Latvian governments differed a little more, the latter being the softest. In one of the reports reviewing relations between Russia and EU Member States written in 2007, Lithuania together with Poland was called a ‘New Cold War Warrior’ with an overtly hostile relationship with Russia, while Latvia and Estonia were included in the ‘Frosty Pragmatist’ group which focused ‘on business interests, but are less afraid

25 Ehin, Piret/Eiki Berg: Incompatible Identities? Baltic-Russian Relations and the EU as an Arena for Identity Conflict’, in: ibid. (eds.): Identity and Foreign Policy: Baltic-Russian Relations and European Integration, Ashgate 2009, pp. 1–14, here: p. 3. 26 Till 2014 the physical presence of NATO was limited to air-policing, but then it started gradually strengthen its eastern flank in the Baltic States and Poland. Since 2016, each Baltic state (and Poland) has a multinational battalion-size battlegroup on a rotational basis. These battalions are described as the ‘enhanced forward presence’. NATO calls this move ‘the biggest reinforcement of Alliance collective defence in a generation’. See Boosting NATO’s presence in the east and southeast, October 20, 2020, https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_136388.htm, last access: 21 March 2021.

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than others to speak out against Russian behaviour on human rights or other issues.’27 Latvia was the most ‘pragmatic’ in their relations with Russia until 2014. It adopted the most accommodating tone, trying to build ‘relations on a pragmatic and rational basis without emphasizing the contested historical discourses.’28 Tactical and stylistic differences notwithstanding, two main reasons brought all three Baltic States to emphasise the importance of the Eastern dimension of the EU Neighbourhood policy in their own foreign policy agendas. First, they needed to differentiate themselves in the EU foreign policy field by emphasising their unique expertise both in the region and in the process of accession and integration to the EU, expertise which could be passed on to the less experienced (as they were perceived) partners in the East. Second, Baltic States assumed that the more democratic and more pro-European the Eastern neighbours were, the less they depended on Russia and the less they were subject to its influence. The Baltic States therefore strongly supported the regime change in Georgia in 2003 and the Ukrainian ‘Orange Revolution’ in 2004, and have been supporting and promoting EU accession for Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia. Therefore, against this background, the most traumatic event of the period was the five-day Georgian-Russian war in August 2008 after which Georgia lost control of its regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which thus became controlled by, and politically, military and financially dependent on Russia. Later, in September, the President of Russia Dimitry Medvedev defined the principles of Russian foreign policy, one of which concerned regions where Russia has ‘privileged’ interests that it is prepared to defend.29 For the political elites and the population of the Baltic States, the GeorgianRussian war and Russia’s subsequent actions confirmed that Russia posed a real immense threat, and that it could easily attack their countries. For example, the then President of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus stated that ‘Russia’s next victim will be Crimea followed by the Baltic states and South Caucasus.’30 The fact that large Russian-speaking communities lived in Estonia and Latvia was also perceived as a direct threat by part of the Baltic population and an easy excuse for Russia to intervene.

27 Leonard, Mark/ Popescu, Nicu: A Power Audit of EU-Russia Relations, London 2007, p. 2. 28 Beitāne, Anna: A Reassessment of Latvia’s Foreign Policy Strategy Towards Russia After the Ukraine Crisis, in: Latvian Foreign and Security Policy Yearbook 2015, Riga 2015, pp. 55–70, here: p. 59. 29 Reynolds, Paul: New Russian World Order: The Five Principles, BBC News, 1 September 2008, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7591610.stm, last access: 21 March 2021. 30 BNS, V. Adamkus laukia okupacijos [V. Adamkus is waiting for the Occupation], Kauno diena, 16 September 2008, http://kauno.diena.lt/naujienos/lietuva/salies-pulsas/vadamkus-laukia-okupacijos449016, last access: 21 March 2021.

Russia and the Baltic States after Regaining Independence

All in all, the Georgian-Russian war deeply marked the Baltic States’ thinking about Russia and its possible actions. The war took place in the 21st century between two European states and brought the sobering realisation that Russia was prepared to go much further than anybody expected. Another sobering realisation for the Baltic States came several months after the war when Western European states quickly forgot the Georgia situation and started the engagement process with Russia, while the USA launched its reset policy towards Russia. It took another six years and the bloody events in Ukraine for the majority of Western countries to accept that Russia is totally prepared to defend what it considers as its zone of interest. Meanwhile, the direct confrontation between the Baltic States and Russia continued in non-military areas. ‘Memory wars’ continued, as did Russia’s criticism and pressuring of Latvia and Estonia regarding their Russian-speaking population. Russia also increased its pressure on the economic sector, particularly by starting to use energy more actively as a foreign policy tool. The Baltic States have always been greatly dependent on Russian gas and oil – near 90 per cent dependence for oil and almost 100 per cent for gas and electricity until around 2014/15.31 Paradoxically, energy dependence on Russia after EU accession increased, mainly due to the closure of the Ignalina nuclear power plant in Lithuania which was a requirement for Lithuania’s accession.32 Russia has used this dependence to pressure the Baltic States in various ways. For example, it suspended oil supplies to Latvian port operator ‘Ventspils Nafta’ in 2003 before accession to NATO and the EU, to the Lithuanian oil refinery ‘Mažeikių Nafta’ in 2006 in order to put pressure on selling its refinery plant to a Russian company, and partially stopped the oil supply rail route to Estonia in 2007 coinciding with Russian criticism of Estonia’s relocation of the bronze soldier memorial in Tallinn. Such events, as well as the difficulty in bargaining over gas prices with ‘Gazprom’, forced the Baltic States to accelerate the diversification of their gas and electricity supply. Lithuania, for example, has built a liquid gas terminal; all three states began building electricity connections with other countries around the Baltic Sea, and in general, energy independence became one of the national security priorities for all the Baltic States. The emphasis on energy security has become another, albeit less direct, way for the Baltic States to talk about the Russian threat, implying the manipulative way Russian economic policy is used for political means and having quite a few reasons to back up such security considerations.

31 Riva, Gianmarco: The Baltic States and Energy Security: How Else Can the EU Foster Their Energy Resilience in the Face of Russian Pressure?’, in: Ponars Euarasia - Policy Memos No. 665, July 2020. 32 Before the closure, the Ignalina nuclear plant generated around 70 per cent of Lithuanian electricity.

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Thus, despite the hopes and expectations raised by successful accession to the EU and NATO, the Baltic States have not been able to distance themselves from Russia, its actions, and its rhetoric. This was partly related to how the Baltic States perceived Russian foreign policy in the region and globally: Russia was becoming more and more assertive and categorical, and as the Georgian-Russian war demonstrated, more aggressive not only rhetorically, but militarily as well. Such a policy created a context for the feelings of insecurity strengthened by Russia’s direct actions and policies towards Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, which took mainly an economic or rhetorical form, but always served as a reminder that Russia not only remains too close to their borders, but is also far too willing to be involved in the domestic policies and minds of their populations. 2.3. New and Old Fears (2014–2020) As the previous two sections have revealed, Russia has been a dominant player in the foreign and security thinking of the Baltic States since they regained independence. The idea that Russia posed a threat was in general an uncontroversial statement, and political leaders of the Baltic States were vocal and blunt in expressing this view (with Lithuania leading the field). Nevertheless, this did not mean that ideas about pragmatic cooperation in some sectors or the possibility of dialogue were not considered. The securitisation was neither absolute, nor final. However, in general the situation was perceived in fatalistic terms: the geopolitics of the countries and the ‘nature’ of Russia determined this feeling of insecurity. Western partners usually perceived this stance of the Baltic States as an expression of their historical traumas, or sometimes just as some attention-seeking strategy. That perception seemed to the Balts to be a sign of Western complacency or careless pragmatism. 2014 saw a change in this situation when attitudes towards Russia changed throughout Europe. This was mainly due to the Crimean occupation and Russia’s involvement in the war in the eastern part of Ukraine and its support for the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk ‘republics’. These events created a sense of insecurity, not only for the Baltic States, but also for most of the Central Eastern European countries and forced the leaders of the Western European states to accept Russia’s aggressive stance as a fact. Since then, there has been strong mainstream agreement that Russia is a challenger to the EU, if not a major threat. Events in Ukraine and the criticism of Russia provided the Baltic States with the means to demonstrate not only support for Ukraine, but also to demonstrate their moral and principled position vis à vis other, especially Western European states highlighting their acute judgement about Russia.

Russia and the Baltic States after Regaining Independence

However, in public discourse one significant change took place which had not previously been openly and widely discussed – the blatant acknowledgment of the idea that Russia might actually invade the Baltic countries. Using the words of the Estonian Information Board written in 2016, all the positions could be summed up as follows: ‘the policies adopted by the current Russian government will remain the greatest factor threatening the military security of the Baltic Sea region in the near future’ and ‘the use of military power against the Baltic States cannot be entirely ruled out’.33 As of now, this estimation in the Baltic States has not changed much. For example, the Lithuanian National Threat Assessment of 2021 states that ‘Russia’s growing military potential will pose a threat to the national security of Lithuania.’34 The similar Estonian report of the same year explains why: ‘Considering that Russia’s policies in the neighbouring region remain unchanged [...], the coming years will highly likely bring new crises in the region, creating both direct and indirect security threats for Estonia and more broadly for Europe.’35 Usually, the security services also indicate that the probability of direct military confrontation is low, keeping in mind also the added security guarantees that were received from NATO and partners after 2014. Nevertheless, concerns about the destabilising military potential of Russia remain strong. Many factors in Russia’s militarisation have been of concern to observers, such as, Russia’s military reform with comprehensive modernisation, increased defence spending, growing investments in new anti-access/area-denial capabilities, new surveillance and reconnaissance systems, advanced missiles, and ‘Iskander’ tactical ballistic missiles.36 Several extensive military exercises were held close to the borders of the Baltic States to simulate occupation of the states (in 2009 as well as in 2013 and 2017).37 There is also the Kaliningrad issue. Kaliningrad is a small enclave (oblast) located between Lithuania and Poland, which is heavy militarised, serves as a base for the Russian Baltic fleet, has a large military garrison, an air defence system, and where Iskander ballistic missiles were deployed in 2016.38 In addition, Russian transit, both military and civilian, goes through Lithuanian territory. On the one hand,

33 Estonian Information Board: International Security and Estonia 2016, p. 9. 34 State Security Department of the Republic of Lithuania, and Defence Intelligence and Security Service under the Ministry of National Defence: National Threat Assessment 2021, p. 11. 35 Estonian Information Board: International Security and Estonia 2021, p. 7. 36 Smith, Julianne/Hendrix, Jerry: Assured Resolve: Testing Possible Challenges to Baltic Security, Washington 2016, p. 7. 37 Lucas, Edward: The Coming Storm: Baltic Sea Security Report, Washington 2015, p. 9. 38 Reuters: Russia Transfers Nuclear-Capable Missiles to Kaliningrad, The Guardian, 8 October 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/08/russia-confirms-deployment-of-nuclearcapable-missiles-to-kaliningrad, last access: 21 March 2021.

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the enclave itself is vulnerable to various disruptions of services (gas, electricity, and railway connections go through Lithuanian territory). On the other hand, the heavy militarisation of the region is a threat not just to Lithuania: for example, the Iskander missile has a range of up to 500 km, thus being able to target not only Vilnius, but other capitals nearby. Military experts estimate that NATO forces in the region could hardly withstand Russia because of its possibility to control so-called Suwalki Gap39 and therefore easily cut off the Baltic States’ land connection.40 It should be noted that all these objective threats are not totally new: military transit through Kaliningrad has been a vulnerability for Lithuania since the agreement on transit rules was reached in 1995, airspace violations are so frequent that they are not even reported in the media, and we now see the effects of Russian military modernisation rather than its inception.41 It is however the context that has changed: Russian occupation and its interference in the war in Ukraine and consequently NATO’s acceptance of the need for an enhanced military presence in the eastern part of the alliance.42 Additionally, since 2014 it has become more and more apparent that Russia has developed vast information (and disinformation) capabilities for manipulating and exploiting digital space and social media outlets. The hostile rhetoric might not have changed substantially, but the volume and intensity have definitely increased.43 Again, for the Baltic States, Russian efforts to influence their public discourse were nothing new, and had been happening for a decade before. Such tropes as calling the Baltics ‘fascist’, denying Soviet occupation in 1940, criticising the treatment of national minorities, labelling the Baltics ‘russophobic’, single-issue states, ‘puppets’ of the West or of the United States had already been prevalent in Russian media with differing intensity for many years.44 Consequently, over the last several years, the Baltic States have become more vocal, more aggressive and more open in fighting against what they perceive as Russia’s propaganda.

39 Suwalki Gap, in NATO terminology, refers to the around 100 km long Polish border area with Lithuania, which connects the Baltic States with the Polish NATO partner and separates the territory of the Russian exclave Kaliningrad from Belarus. 40 Sukhankin, Sergey: Kaliningrad: From Boomtown to Battle-Station, in: European Council on Foreign Relations (blog), 27 March 2017, https://ecfr.eu/article/commentary_kaliningrad_from_boomtown_ to_battle_station_7256/, last access: 21 March 2021. 41 Jakniūnaitė, Dovilė: Changes in Security Policy and Perceptions of the Baltic States 2014–2016, in: Journal of Baltic Security 2/2 (2016), pp. 6–34, here: p. 19. 42 NATO: Warsaw Summit Communiqué – Issued by the Heads of State and Government Participating in the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Warsaw, 8–9 July 2016. 43 Veebel: Russian Propaganda. 44 Jurgelevičiūtė, Diana: The Issue of Occupation in Lithuanian-Russian Relations: Information Security Aspects’, in: Lithuanian Foreign Policy Review 18 (2006): pp. 56–82; Laurinavičius: The Role of History.

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Concerns about possible Russian aggression, propaganda, and other tools of influence have also affected domestic politics – worries about interference in elections, the impact of Russian media on the population and its attitudes, and the role of Russian business in the Baltic countries. For example, since ‘protecting the rights of Russians’ or ‘Russian speakers’ was the dominant rhetoric during the occupation of Crimea, Russian comments about the situation of Russian speakers in the Baltic States could also be seen almost like a warning in the new context. Although there is little data supporting the idea that Russian speakers would somehow be more supportive of Russian intervention in any of the Baltic States, though they are more pro-Russian than the general population,45 they are still considered the ‘weakest link’. All these factors demonstrate the insecurity of all three Baltic States as regards their territorial integrity and sovereignty, and also underlie how they have affirmed their cohesion and societal resilience when thinking about and dealing with Russia up to the present time.

3.

Conclusions

Ever since relations between Russia and three Baltic States first took form, they have almost never been called friendly or cooperative. There have been times when ideas of possibly improving the relations or re-engagement have appeared or have been seriously discussed. But, as one commentator has noted, the ‘frustrated maximalism’ of the Baltic States could never allow them to accept Russia as anything less than a democratic, European, modern state.46 Anything else meant a massive possibility of Russia staying imperialist and untrustworthy, and therefore dangerous in the eyes of the Baltic States. This attitude towards Russia is considerably influenced by the common past of the countries. The years of war, national oppression and Russification have shaped the attitude towards Russia as the hereditary and particularly dangerous enemy. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were hopes for the improvement of relations between. Indeed, the new leadership of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic supported independence for the Baltic States, but quickly the new Russian government has contributed a great deal to increasing caution of the Baltic States towards Russia. Difficult negotiations on the withdrawal of the Soviet/ Russian army and the demarcation of state borders, accusations against Latvia

45 Saldžiūnas, Vaidas: Lietuvos Tautinės Mažumos Įvertino V. Putiną Ir D. Grybauskaitę [Lithuanian National Minorities Assessed Putin and Grybauskaite], DELFI, 19 September 2016, http://www. delfi.lt/a/72329270, last access: 21 March 2021. 46 Liik, Kadri: Russia’s ‘Pivot’ to Eurasia, http://www.ecfr.eu/page/-/ECFR103_RUSSIA_COLLECTION_290514_AW, last access: 21 March 2021.

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and Estonia of discrimination against Russian speakers living in those countries, different views on history and other issues proved that it was too early, if ever, to consider friendly relations with Russia. Fear of Russia was the main reason for the Baltic States’ desire to become members of the Western security structures. Despite Russia’s assurances that it did not threaten its neighbours as well as its reconciliation with Baltic State membership in NATO and the European Union, Russia’s action and rhetoric contributed greatly to the growing realisation that Russia sought to restore what was formerly known as Russian Empire. Meanwhile, the conflicts in Georgia and Ukraine confirmed that Russia continues its traditional aggressive foreign policy. As the last several years have demonstrated, the Baltic States were right, at least for now, to be sceptical about Russia and in some sense to feel vindicated for staying such ‘cold war warriors’. This situation may possibly change one day, even though it is impossible to imagine what such a future would entail. For the moment, however, Russia remains a massive threat, creating acute existential anxiety for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which continue to focus all their foreign and much of their domestic policy efforts on diminishing this angst in as many ways as possible with their few resources and limited capabilities.

David Darchiashvili, Michael Machavariani

The Empire Fights Back Never-Ending Withdrawal of the Russian Troops from Georgia

1.

Introduction

The Eurasian security architecture during and after the existence of the USSR is highly dynamic. Against this background, the article looks at some military aspects of this process. Namely, the fluctuation of Soviet/Russian military presence in Georgia, understood as a ring in the chain of the regionwide military-political developments. This particular case shows that Georgians have had a nationalist attitude for generations, with mistrust and sometimes hostility towards the Russian military presence. Exacerbated from time to time by certain actions of the military of the USSR and, since 1992, the Russian Federation. Even there were some changes in the Russian leadership the differences in the case of Georgia were more a form than an essence. None of them ever gave up the desire to have military/security dominance in the South Caucasus region. After the USSR started crumbling, four general stages of the transformation of Russian military presence in Georgia can be outlined. 1. 1991–1993 drastic reduction of troops; 2. 1993–1995/96 RussianGeorgian rapprochement was taking place and negotiations on the lease of Russian bases in Georgia; 3. Georgia more and more ‘wanted go to the West, and Russia wanted to stop it’.1 1999–2007 Georgia and Russia were engaged in negotiations over the closure of the Russian military bases and limiting Russian military presence; 4. 2008–till now: After the August 2008 Georgian-Russian war, the states do not have diplomatic relations and Russian military presence on internationally recognized Georgian territory lacks any legal basis for Georgia, as well as for the international community. Given the situation for today, Russian troop withdrawal from Georgia remains unfinished as ever. In a certain sense the Kremlin’s residual imperial sentiment and the Georgian nationalist agenda still confront each-other in a historically developed pattern.

1 Interview with former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Ronald D. Asmus. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 6 October 2009, on: http://www.rferl.org/a/former_US_Diplomat_Chances_ Of_Another_RussiaGeorgia_Conflict_Cant_Be_Ruled_Out/1844989.html, last access: 20 January 2021.

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2.

Historical Background

The USSR was an empire, as far as an empire means a political conglomerate, having a territory of the greatest extent, and many peoples under a single, sovereign authority.2 Or, to put it differently, an Empire ‘[…] is a relationship, formal or informal, in which one state controls the effective political sovereignty of another political society’.3 While their coherence and stability are based on many factors, e.g. the nature and interests of central and local elites, culture, economy as formal, so informal/indirect imperialisms are inconceivable without the projection of military force. The Old Marxist saying that ‘Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun’4 is hardly negligible even in post-modern/post-national times. The USSR was probably an in-between case of formal and informal imperial models. No historical case can completely resemble any theoretical scheme. From Berlin to Ulan-Bator Moscow exerted forms of direct and indirect imperial control. The fact, that civilizational mythologemes of classical empires were replaced by the ideology of international solidarity of the labourers, did not changed much. Moscow, where the central cells of communist elite was located, built its rule on centuries-old Russian nationalist sentiments, paradoxically married to Marxist teaching. Another paradox or, rather controversy, which no empire can avoid, was the simultaneous attempt to assimilate the whole population, living under Moscow’s grip and pay tribute to ethno-national sentiments in various corners of the empire. Willingly or not, the rulers promoted the interest of local nationalist-minded elites in the state of affairs through the policy of so-called Korenizatsiya (indigenization), meaning the promotion of local ethnic cadres in key political positions. With regards of Transcaucasia, Georgia included, ‘the deliberate acceleration of modernizing forces [mass education, urbanization, improved communications and economic development] in the 1920s, combined with policies of “affirmative action” and wide opportunities for national self-expression, resulted in a new confidence among the native elites, including those in the [Communist – D.D./M.M.] party, who raised searching questions about the proper relationship between the centre and the national republics.’5

2 Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, on: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empire#h1, last access: 20 January 2021. 3 Doyle, Michael W.: Empires, New York 1986, p. 45. 4 Tse Tung, Mao: Problems of War and Strategy (November 6, 1938), Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 224. Quotations from Mao Tse Tung, on: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/works/redbook/ch05.htm, last access: 9 August 2020. 5 Jones, Stephen: The Establishment of Soviet Power in Transcaucasia: The Case of Georgia 1921–1928, in: Soviet Studies, No. 4, Vol IX (1988), pp. 616–638, here: p. 616.

The Empire Fights Back

In the first half of the USSR existence, such quasi-decentralised approach to governance even included the military apparatus. Until the 1950s of the 20th century, with a brief interruption in 1938–1941 the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic was allowed to have national military formations. But in fact, such elements of autonomy fell short of sovereignty. The latter was firmly held by Moscow, through the overcentralised ruling communist party, underpinned by the NKVD/KGB political police/security services, the all-union economic machinery and firmly integrated military apparatus, in which the Georgian formations were just drops in the ocean. Even from the beginning of the forceful reincorporation of the independent Georgian republic into the Pax Rossica which became possible through the invasion of the 11th Red Army of Russian Soviet Socialist Federal Republic back in 1921, Georgian national formations were re-established as part of the so-called Separate Caucasian Red Banner Army. Built on the basis of the invading 11th army and under the unchangeably command of Russian commanders. This army formation was put under the overall command of the RKKA – Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army, which in itself was subordinated firstly to Russian Commissariat of Military Affairs and after founding the USSR in 1922, to the Soviet People’s Commissariat of Military and Maritime Affairs and later to the relevant Ministry of Defence. In 1935 the army was converted into the Transcaucasian Military District. By the beginning of the rule of the last Soviet General Secretary, Michael Gorbachev, the main military formations subordinated to the so-called Transcaucasian Red Banner Military District consisted of the 4th Army (deployed in Azerbaijan SSR), 7th Guards Army (Armenian SSR) and the 31st Army corps (Georgian SSR). Besides that, Transcaucasia hosted by that time the 19th Army of the Air Defence Forces and 34th Air Army of the USSR. In total, the district consisted of 10 Motorized Rifle Divisions, 2 Air Divisions and several separate regiments.6 According to some sources, it was one of the largest military groups. Only in the armed forces of the Ministry of Defence, which were destined for the Transcaucasian district, were more than one thousand units. To these one must add the units subordinated to the KGB (namely the border troops) and the troops of the Ministry of Interior.7 Georgia in the 1980s hosted not the whole ground army but only the corps, still it was Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, where the main headquarters of all troops was

6 Fes’kov V. I. et al.: Vooruzhjonnye Sily SSSR posle Vtoroj mirovoj vojny: ot Krasnoj Armii k Sovetskoj. Chast’ 1: Suhoputnye vojska [Soviet Armed Forces after World War II from the Red Army to the Soviet Army. Part 1: Ground Forces], Tomsk 2013, pp. 525–536. 7 Reitor, Konstantin: The Problem of Small Arms Control in the Caucasus After the Demise of the USSR, in: Rynn, Simon et al. (eds.): National and International Norms, Principles and Measures for Controlling Small Arms Proliferation: The View from Russia, Report of a Seminar Hosted by Center for Policy Studies in Russia and Saferworld, Moscow, 6–7 December 2001, p. 26.

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located. In addition, the territory of the Georgian SSR was used by the 34th Air Army with the headquarters in Tbilisi, its main airfields were located throughout Georgia, hosting two divisional headquarters near Tbilisi (Vaziani) and the village of Zemo Kedi in south-east Georgia. According to Spyros Demetriou, only this relatively small country hosted about 100,000 Soviet soldiers.8

3.

The Effect of the Demise of the USSR on Soviet Troops behaviour in Georgia

Georgian national sentiments emerged as one of the strongest internal factors contributing to the political crisis in the Soviet Union. It had direct impact on the deployment for the Soviet army in the region. In April 1989 the Georgian anti-communist, nationalist organisations, which found the fertile ground for operations in Gorbachev-led democratising environment, launched permanent protest rallies in Tbilisi. It was one of the first occasions, when relatively large parts of the Georgian society, especially students, openly demanded Georgia’s independence. The increasingly impotent local communist government handed over the goal of restorating public order into the hands of then leadership of Transcaucasian military district under the command of General Igor Rodionov. On 9 April 1989 Soviet troops under the direct guidance of the commander brutally crushed the protesters. It resulted in two dozen of deaths. The overwhelming majority of them were women. This tragic event led to a complete delegitimisation of the Soviet rule in Georgia and contributed to the eventual fall of the Soviet Union. It all coincided with arms reduction negotiations with the NATO countries and the eventual end of the Cold War, manifested, among other things, in the start of the withdrawal of Soviet troops from East Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the West and Mongolia in the East. Hence, Georgian national uprising, which eventually led to the declaration of its independence in April 1991, was a small but important ring in the chain of the global transformation, which resulted in the German unification, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the emergence of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) on the ruins of the USSR. The Military aspect of such developments is a dependent variable, but a very important one. It had sometimes serious effects on independent socio-political variables that irrevocably changed the security landscape of the European continent. Returning to the Georgian case, it is worth mentioning that the image of Soviet

8 Demetriu, Spiros: Pod Dulom Avtomata: Rasspostranenie Strelkovogo Oruzhija i Konflikty v Gruzii v 1989–2001 godah [At Gunpoint: Small Arms Proliferation and Conflict in Georgia 1989–2001], Geneva 2002, p. 3.

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soldiers chasing Georgian women with military shovels, as 9 April 1989 is imprinted in Georgian memory, formed a template for future Georgian-Russian military encounters. It was the final blow to Georgia’s loyalty to everything Soviet, including the military. Since at least 1991 the Transcaucasian Red Banner Military District started profound reduction of forces. Partially it was caused by big economic, ideological and geopolitical reasons. In 1988 a general reduction of the Soviet armed forces was announced. The USSR was less and less capable of funding its vast military apparatus. This shift coincided and strengthened with the signing of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) in Paris on 19 November 1990, which meant a drastic reduction of conventional forces and armament in Europe. While Transcaucasia was covered by the Treaty, the shrinking of the combat capacities of the regional deployed troops had also other, local reasons. The independence of Georgia, declared by the first post-communist government of the president Zviad Gamsakhurdia on 9 April 1991, who defeated Georgian communists in the first multi-party parliamentary elections, initially was not recognized by neither the USSR, nor any other state. But Gamsakhurdia also prohibited the recruitment of Georgians into the Soviet army. The same processes of independence developed in the neighbouring countries Armenia and Azerbaijan, which fight a long ethnic conflict with each other. This all had a negative impact on the manpower capacity of the Transcaucasian military district. Ethnic conflicts were also on the rise in Georgia, first in the Soviet Socialist Autonomous Region of South Ossetia, and second in the Abkhazian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Elites of both Georgian autonomies tended to maintain the USSR and upgrading their status within the fading empire, fearing the nationalist resolve of the ethnic Georgian majority. The Soviet military stationed in the area had to make choices in such a turbulent environment. One way of reasoning for local commanders of the Soviet units, as well as their Moscow superiors was perhaps to think of the deteriorated security of the military installations. Local ethnic militant groups demanded weapons for their ethnic showdowns, while there was no clear guidance from Moscow how to behave in these circumstances. Among those local ethnic players, Soviet military most disliked Georgians, for obvious reasons: Gamsakhurdia demanded their withdrawal, while unilaterally declaring the secession from the USSR. In September 1991 the Georgian parliament gave Soviet troops the status of occupational forces.9 The government also appealed to the UN that Georgian-Ossetian ethnic clashes in fact constituted

9 Darchiashvili, David: Politikosebi, jariskacebi, mokalakeni [Politicians, soldiers, citizens], Tbilisi 2000, p. 192.

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a undeclared war of the Soviet centre against the Georgian Republic.10 When in December 1991, the mutinous national guard and some other para-military formations launched an armed coup against Gamsakhurdia, his government also portrayed this event as Moscow’s covert intervention. By the end of 1991 Soviet armed formations, stationed in Transcaucasia, suddenly had fallen under contradicting orders from three unintegrated political decision making centres: 1. United Headquarters of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which emerged on the ruins of the USSR in December 1991; 2. recently created Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation and 3. the local independent national governments.11 While it still remains a mystery, whether every action of then Russian command in Transcaucasia were dictated from the already crumbling central governmental agencies in Moscow, it is obvious that first and foremost, those formations would have acted against the will of Gamsakhurdia-like anti-Soviet leaders. When the above-mentioned armed insurrection against Gamsakhurdia started, Soviet commanders were quick to show sympathies towards mutineers. According to many participants of those events, they provided them with ammunition.12 However, there have been cases in the past, when the Russian/Soviet military played into the hands of the Gamsakhurdia government and Gamsakhurdia tried to cooperate with them. In the context of Georgian-Ossetian clashes in the autonomous Ossetian region, the new leadership of Georgia tried to cooperate with these troops in order to restore order in the zone of unleashing ethnic confrontations. Moreover, according to the official information from the Georgian Ministry of Interior, on 17 February 1991, a column of the Transcaucasian military district, which moved along the highway in the South from Tbilisi, reacted on un-identified shooting, turned for few kilometres away from its route and attacked the base of the Georgian regime critical paramilitary formation ‘Mkhedrioni’.13 Gamsakhurdia in that moment benefited from the incident.14 It is not surprising that the political opposition blamed Gamsakhurdia for cooperation with Russian/Soviet military against his opponents. Later on, during the coup against Gamsakhurdia, remobilized Mkhedrionians played an important role in attacking the governmental

10 Newspaper Sakartvelos Respublika [Georgian Republic], No. 42 (2 February 1991), p. 1. 11 Golotiuk, Yuri: SALW control in the post-Soviet space: a decade of experience and prospects for the future, in: Rynn: National and International Norms, p. 15. 12 Darchiashvili: Politikosebi, p. 148. 13 Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), official information, 19 February 1991, in: Newspaper Sakartvelos Respublika, No. 33 (10 February 1991). 14 While still formally under communist rule, unofficial armed formations started to appear in Georgia. Mkhedrioni, which translates as Horsemen, was one of the most notorious among them. Later on, when Gamsakhurdia tried to unite these formations under the officially created national guard or disband them, Mkhedrioni refused.

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building. Ironically, at that time Russian commanders were on their side, providing armament and expertise. The Russian/Soviet military was thus not only interested in self-protection and had a general hatred of anti-Soviet nationalist forces in the periphery, but also participated in local politics. Supporting one local player against another and then changing preferences, they could have been a continuous instrument of centuries old ‘divide and rule’ policy, still preferred by some Moscow circles. The USSR was gone but not those who dreamed about its reincarnation in one form or another. As later developments have shown, namely the simultaneous supply of weapons to both Georgians and separatist Abkhazians, the Russian military leadership and their Moscow masters may have deliberately chosen the tactics of increasing the dependence of local players on Russia by promoting internal state conflict. From the beginning of 1992, when falling under the rule of the provisional military council, Georgia started to receive arms in substantial number from the former Soviet depots. Sometimes, it was done through illegal deals with local commanders, although at the same time, since spring 1992, Georgian-Russian negotiations on division of conventional arms quotas under the CFE-Treaty was going on. On 15 May 1992 Georgian representatives participated in the gathering of the member-states of the new international entity, the Commonwealth of Independent States dedicated to the division of Soviet quotas of the conventional forces. Georgia was not part of the CIS by that time, but under the agreement, signed in Tashkent (Uzbekistan), Georgia received its quotas: 220 battle tanks, 220 APCs, 285 artillery pieces, 100 military jets and 50 military helicopters. It is worth mentioning that Georgia never received a sufficient amount of armament to fill this quota, assigned in Tashkent under the agreement on the principles and procedures of the implementation of the CFE Treaty. Earlier, on 30 April 1992, the Georgian and Russian ministries of Defence signed a protocol, stipulating that by the end of the same year, Georgia would have received the equipment of the 10th Motorized Rifle Division and some other units, located in Akhaltsikhe, as well as the part of the Russian military property, located in Batumi. In its turn, Georgian side agreed on 25 August 1992 to refrain from any hostile actions towards Russian units located still in Georgia and provide them with electricity and other supplies. The sides even envisioned the creation of joint repair enterprises.15 Georgian troops received from Akhaltsikhe more than 100 tanks T-55 probably this was the largest armament input in that turbulent period. Created formally back

15 Information and documents received from the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Parliament of Georgia in December 2020, for instance, the copy of the protocol signed by Minister of Defence Tengiz Kitovani and Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation Pavel Grachev, signed on 30 April 1992; Agreement between the two Ministries on coordination in provision of the security of Russian troops stationed in Georgia, signed on 25 August 1992.

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in December 1990 under the government of Gamsakhurdia, as a national guard, and then, after the declaration of independence, converted into the armed forces, Georgian troops constituted out of a number of semi-autonomous battalions, led by increasingly warlord-like charismatic personalities. Sometimes these commanders acted on their own, even trying to get arms under their personal initiative. Despite the slowly developing legal framework, not all such arms deals were peaceful. At the same time, Russian arms also ended in substantial numbers in the hands of separatist forces, who fought against any government in Tbilisi, with the goal of independence from Georgia and strong ties with Russia. For instance, in the Georgian-Abkhaz war of 1992–1993, while Georgian troops mostly had old Soviet tanks T-55, Abkhazians soon appeared having tanks T-72 most likely supplied by Russian forces.16 Abkhaz analysts argue that then Russian president, Boris Yeltsin was on Georgian side in this war. Even if this was the case, as it was mentioned, power holders in Moscow at that time were anything but consolidated. Abkhaz activist Natella Akaba recalls, that Russian parliament and the military were much more supportive of Abkhaz, as well as Ossetian separatist forces.17 Who were those Russians, quiet openly supported Abkhaz and Ossetian separatists against the new Georgian government that came into power after the removal of president Gamsakhurdia with the same, but relatively hidden, Russian assistance? Since March 1992 Georgia was governed by Eduard Shevardnadze, former first secretary of Georgian SSR and former Foreign Minister of the USSR under Gorbachev. He was invited from Moscow by a military junta and relatively civilianized the government. Although the main difficulties in relations with the remnants of the Transcaucasian Military District were placed on his shoulders. Sometimes the arming of separatist units from former Soviet military installations has been done through corrupt deals on the level of local field commanders and Russian officers. Post Factum, some Russian experts argue that such arms transfer to local players were caused by two factors: 1. New authorities of the main successor of the USSR, Russian Federation, were mostly concerned with the protection of the weapons of mass destruction and issue of the small arms/light weapons was neglected.18 2. While the attempts to create united armed forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States failed, troops of the Transcaucasian Military District were

16 Human Rights Watch, Georgia/Abkhazia: Violations of the Laws of War and Russia’s Role in the Conflict, 1 March 1995, https://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a8274.html, last access: 29 March 2020. 17 Akaba, Natella: The North Caucasus factor in the Abkhaz-Georgian armed conflict of 1992–1993, in: International Alert: The North Caucasus factor in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict context, 2012, pp. 24–30, here: pp. 26–27. 18 Golotiuk, Yuri: SALW control in the post-Soviet space: a decade of experience and prospects for the Future, in: Rynn et al.: National and International Norms, p. 15.

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temporarily (until March 1992) put under the Russian jurisdiction and later declared as the Group of the Russian Forces in the Transcaucasia. Their new command signed the protocols of understanding with the host governments of newly independent republics which stipulated that in certain circumstances armament could have been transferred not to the national, but provincial authorities.19 However, hardly the large transfer of tanks and artillery to separatist forces who fought against internationally recognized governments can be explained by such protocols, even if they existed. Corrupt interests of Russian commanders, as well as residual imperial thinking of their superiors, outlined previously, seem to be more logical explanations for that developments. In the meantime, Russian forces in Georgia were dramatically shrinking in size. By 1993, GRVZ (Gruppa Rosiiskikh Voisk v Zakavkazii/Group of Russian Troops in the Transcaucasia) became a shadow of the Transcaucasian Military District. The most of the weapons have been transferred, sold, looted or taken out. At that period, the Georgian part of the GRVZ counted only 6000 servicemen.20 This number did not include Russian border guards, stationed on the Georgian-Turkish border, as well as units, which were helping Abkhazian insurgents.21 By that time Russian officers did not exclude the complete withdrawal from Georgia. Shevardnadze lifted the offending status of occupational forces from September 1991 but the attitude of Georgian politicians towards Russian military remained by and large hostile, mainly because of the military defeats in Abkhazia caused by serious Russian backing of separatist forces. But at the end of 1993 the situation radically changed.

4.

Towards Russian-Georgian Military Alliance? Joining and then leaving the Collective Security Treaty

As the logic of then and following events shows, radical reduction of Russian military presence in Georgia was hardly caused by Georgian desires. It was time of Moscow’s bewilderment between isolationism, continuous impulses of imperialism, pro and anti-Western attitudes. At the same time, the Russian Federation was experiencing financial difficulties and internal political squabbles between a pro-Western Yeltsin and a traditionalist/communist majority in the parliament, which ended in the coup in Moscow in October 1993. As the situation became clear, Yeltsin’s victorious government factually forced Shevardnadze to join CIS that was led by Russia and 19 Reitor, Konstantin: The Problem of Small Arms Control in the Caucasus After the Demise of the USSR, in: Rynn: National and International Norms, p. 29 20 Mirziashvili, Michael: Georgian Chronicle, June 1993, Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development, Tbilisi 1993. 21 Zakavkazskie voennye vedomosti [Transcaucasian Military Bulletin], No 141 (26 July 1995).

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its military/security dimension the Collective Security Treaty signed in Tashkent on 15 May 1992. As a result, the number of Russian troops in Georgia grew again. The Methodology of forcing Georgia to bandwagon with Russia was the following. In the end of September 1993 Georgian armed units left the capital of Abkhazia, Sukhumi and soon almost the whole territory of Abkhazian Autonomous Republic. These for Shevardnadze dramatic events were accompanied by the return of Gamsakhurdia from the refuge in Chechenia. He established control over his native region Mengrelia in Western Georgia. Gamsakhurdia’s armed supporters took control of the sea-port Poti and moved towards the second largest city Kutaisi. Shevardnadze appeared in one of the worst situations: 1. Governmental troops were in complete disarray after the defeat in Abkhazia; 2. The loss of access to the Black Sea had been a cut in economically vital transport links. Hence, he appealed to Russia for military support, despite the fact that few days earlier he blamed the same Russian troops in backing Abkhazian insurgents and claimed that Georgia would never stand on its knees again. According to the official note from the secretariat of the CIS, on 8 October 1993 Shevardnadze applied for Georgia’s admission to the Commonwealth of Independent States. Its members, and first of all, the Russian Federation, agreed rather fast.22 In December 1993 Georgian government signed all necessary documents, including the Treaty on Collective Security. This rather U-turn in foreign policy of Georgia was preceded by explanatory interviews and parliamentary speeches of Shevardnadze, who tried to explain that after Yeltsin won over Russian parliamentary opposition, Moscow’s attitude towards Georgia would change. Yet, everything was followed by the crisis in his government. Eventually the Georgian Minister of Defence and the head of intelligence service resigned and being substituted by the Russian officers of Georgian origin Vardiko Nadibaidze and Igor Giorgadze. In February 1995 Georgia signed the Collective Security Concept of the CIS, agreeing that it had common military and political interests with Russia. With this signature Shevardnadze also endorsed the renewed idea of the CIS coalition armed forces and joint air-defence system.23 These rather general strategic documents with hardly any clear view with regards of the friends

22 Zakonodatel’stvo stran SNG, Reshenie glavy’ gosudarstv-uchastnikov sodruzhestva nezavisimy’x gosudarstv, ot 22 oktyabrya 1993 goda–3 dekabrya 1993 goda O vstuplenii Respubliki Gruzya v Sodruzhestvo Nezavisimyh gosudarstv [CIS Legislation, Decision of the Heads of State of the Commonwealth of Independent States, 22 October 1993–3 December 1993 on the accession of the Republic of Georgia to the Commonwealth of Independent States], http://base.spinform.ru/show_ doc.fwx?rgn=3938, last access: 6 September 2020. 23 Informacionnyj byulleten‘ Sodruzhestvo [Commonwealth newsletter], 1(18), 1995, pp. 47–51.

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and foes outside, still had a symbolic meaning that Georgia was formally returning to the zone of Russian influence. At the same time, while compromising on sovereignty, Shevardnadze became able to stabilize his rule and getting rid of the most radical internal contestants. In practice, the new security orientation of Georgian government resulted in Russian troops entering the sea-port Poti and chasing Gamsakhurdia’s supporters out. Shevardnadze also hoped that it all would bring Abkhazia back. Despite the fact that deployment of Russian peacekeeping battalion in the zone of GeorgianOssetian conflict in June 1992 did not bring any tangible result in terms of the restoration of territorial integrity, in Spring 1994 Shevardnadze granted the CIS peacekeeper status to the Russian 345th Airborne regiment, which in the recent past was blamed in supporting Abkhazians.24 In January 1996 Georgian delegation at the CIS summit proposed the establishment of temporary Russian military rule on the territory of Abkhazia.25 The Russian-Georgian political rapprochement had particular repercussions on the status and function of the GRVZ and Russian border guards in Georgia. In parallel to entering the CIS, in October 1993 Georgia signed a bilateral agreement on the temporary deployment of the Group of Russian Troops on Georgian territory until 1995 with an automatic prolongation for three more years. The agreement allowed Russian military to use their facilities free of charge. It did not say anything about the number of troops, which could use substantial parts of the military infrastructure in the country together with the Georgian army.26 In February 1994 Georgia also signed an agreement on Russian border guard presence in the country. It stipulated that these Russian troops, deployed on Georgian-Turkish border, would be generally guided by the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Though the agreement did not concretise neither the modality of this guidance nor the duration of the deployment. Georgia was also responsible to cover a part of their costs.27 By 1995 the number of manpower of all Russian military formations, deployed in Georgia, reached approximately 20,000. They were divided among peacekeepers,

24 Darchiashvili: Politikosebi, p. 203. 25 Ibid. 26 Dogovor mezhdu Respublikoj Gruziya i Rossijskoj Federaciej o statuse voinskix formirovanij RF, vremenno naxodyashhixsya na territorii Respubliki Gruziya, Moskva, oktyabr’ 1993, article14–15. Document has been received from the defence and security committee of the parliament of Georgia in 1999. 27 Darchiashvili, David: Rossijskoe voennoe prisutstvie v Gruzii – pozicii storon i perspektivy’, Kavkazskie Regional’nye Issledovaniya, Tom 2, Vypusk 1, [The Russian Military Presence in Georgia – Sides and Perspectives, Caucasus Regional Studies, Vol. 2, Issue 1] Stockholm 1997, http://poli. vub.ac.be/publi/crs/rus/R02-004.html, last access: 20 October 2020.

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border guards and the GRVZ. Though according to Russian sources of that period, in the second half of the 1990s a downsizing started again, because of financial shortage. By the way, in the GRVZ Akhalkalaki and Batumi bases between 60 and 90 per cent of servicemen were local Armenians and Georgians from Ajaria.28 But, besides financial difficulties, there were other, more political or strategic reasons. Obviously, Russian military presence in Georgia served the residual imperial ambitions of the former. Even the peacekeeping operation was openly described by Russian military as a possible tool for maintaining an access to the sea.29 But tensions between Russia and Georgia started rising again and the latter found active support on the international arena, Moscow leaned to more covert influence over the neighbour than costly presence of numerous regular troops would bring. New thinking did not prevail immediately and in 1995 Russia proposed Georgia to sign a new treaty on its troop’s presence for 25 years, which was agreed by Shevardnadze. By that time, since internal politics were stabilised and Shevardnadze consolidated his power, Georgia’s main reason to agree was the still existing hope that Russia could help with the reincorporation of the de-facto lost autonomous regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The fear of Russian retaliation could not be excluded either. The text was initiated by the respective Ministries of Defence. But it included a note, added by Georgia, that the agreement would enter into force only after the restoration of Georgian jurisdiction in Abkhazia.30 Signed in September, the agreement was never ratified. In October 1996 Shevardnadze issued a presidential order on the necessity of the preparation for the protection of maritime borders. In 1997 the parliament of Georgia and Shevardnadze himself intensified the criticism of Russian peacekeepers. In June 1998 Georgia managed to negotiate Russian withdrawal from its territorial waters (except Abkhazian coast) and Georgian-Turkish border. In the same year Russian General of Georgian origin left the position of the Minister of Defence of Georgia and in April 1999 Georgia left the CIS Collective Security Treaty. It all could have been hardly achieved without a lot of complications, if not the Western assistance to Georgian statehood, which vividly revealed itself during the OSCE Istanbul Summit in November 1999, dedicated to the adaptation of the Treaty of Conventional Forces in Europe. By that time the NATO members became increasingly worried by the presence of excessive Russian equipment in the Southern flank, Georgia included. As a result, Georgian government, becoming weary of Russian military presence, became able to be backed by international pressure on Russia. Encouraged first of all by the 28 Ibid. 29 Lapidus, Gail/De Nevers, Renee (eds.): Nationalism, Ethnic Identity and Conflict Management in Russia Today, Stanford 1995, p. 9. 30 Darchiashvili: Politikosebi, p. 207

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United States, Georgia declared that it was against giving up its national quotas of the armament to Russia. The Russian Federation was cornered, since President Yeltsin was not interested to challenge all-European security architecture. Attending the Istanbul conference, the Russian delegation promised the Georgian one to close two bases on Georgian territory (Vaziani base in Tbilisi and Gudauta base in Abkhazia) and negotiate on the fate of two other in Batumi and Akhalkalaki in good faith. Foreign Minister of Georgia, Irakli Menagarishvili reported to the Georgian TV that the country became able to control its own security. In the year 2000 the withdrawal really started.31 But the story of Russian military presence and activity on Georgian soil was hardly over. Besides military and political dimension, the presence of Russian troops on Georgian soil in the 1990s had also social and economic aspects. Slowly but steady the young Georgian army has been receiving plots of the land and buildings, formerly belonging to Soviet troops. For instance, the territory of the 10th Soviet Motorized Rifle Division in Akhaltsikhe was occupied by the Georgian Akhaltsikhe brigade. The Orpolo shooting ground, located near-by, became a main training field for Georgians. But all Georgian armed units never exceeded 45,000 men even on paper. It meant that some of the former Soviet military facilities had been transferred to civilian ownership – whether public or private. In these transactions Georgian commanding officers were benefitting privately. One of the telling examples was the private enterprise NAVAMI, operating former Soviet military repair facilities near the Tbilisi airport. It appeared that the name of the enterprise was composed of the letters of the full name of then-Georgian Minister of Defence, Vardiko Nadibaidze , whose father’s name was Michael. Russian generals were no less smart to profit in these turbulent times. This is not surprising given the widespread image of Georgia under Shevardnadze as a largely corrupt state.

5.

Before and After the August 2008 War

Shevardnadze was unable to finalise the negotiations on two Russian bases in Batumi and Akhalkalaki, as stipulated by the Istanbul agreement, as well as achieve better cooperation or the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers. It all fell on the shoulders of the revolutionary government of Saakashvili, who ousted aged predecessor through the peaceful ‘Rose Revolution’, that unfolded after the rigged parliamentary elections of November 2003. Relations with the new, assertive president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin were tense by that time. While slowly withdrawing from

31 Darchiashvili: Politikosebi, pp. 201–202.

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the agreed bases, Russians with the own war in Chechenia in the back, accused Georgians of creating safe haven for Chechen guerrillas in the mountains. The Russian air force was violating Georgian air space and dropped bombs over the passes to Chechnya. The desperate Shevardnadze even dared to say that he would knock on NATO’s doors. The first meeting of Putin and Saakashvili was not so hostile, but very soon it became clear that their attitudes towards Russian-Georgian relations were even more irreconcilable than those of Shevardnadze and Yeltsin. Russian officials were offering Georgia to establish joint antiterrorist centres on the basis of two remaining military bases. Georgia, in its turn, while not unequivocally rejecting this offer from the beginning, was complaining that the base in Abkhazia was not really closed. At the same time, Saakashvili started trying to fully internationalise the negotiations on the breakaway regions and the formats of peacekeeping. He also tried to attract separatist Ossetians through soft-power means, while at the same time radically increasing military build-up. All of that, plus Saakashvili’s clearly declared goal to join the NATO, infuriated Russians. As a result, not without Russian backing, the situation in the conflict zones was becoming more and more precarious, especially since Saakashvili in 2006 established a direct rule in previously lawless Kodori Gorge, the only part of Abkhazia under Georgian jurisdiction and created pro-Georgian Autonomous Ossetia in parts of that regions which also were not subordinated to the separatists. The Russian response was a refusal of any suggestion to change the conflict regulation formats and to give much open support to the separatist forces. But there also were rare instances of mutual agreement on important issues – the future of remaining Russian bases Akhalkalaki and Batumi being the most important ones. With lots of tensions, including the Georgian parliamentary resolution about creating supply problems if not closed, the sides agreed on dates of their closure. In May 2005 Russian and Georgian Foreign Ministers made a joint statement on the closure until 2008.32 The bases were closed even earlier, but tensions among the signatories, which slowly led to open hostilities, did not end.33 Whatever the reason, it is logical that the Russian president hesitated to open a new front of confrontation with NATO. The fate of Russian bases in Georgia, except peacekeeping forces, had to be decided in accordance with the CFE commitments, undertaken by Russia in negotiations with the Alliance. The irony is that NATO remains critical of Russia’s military posture in Abkhazia. Russia claimed that it closed the military installations there, except those of peacekeepers. Georgia expressed doubts and requested an 32 Machaidze, Rusa: rusuli Bazebis Sakartvelodan gayvanis istoria [The story of the withdrawal of Russian bases from Georgia], in: Iveria, 8 October 2018, http://iveria.biz/1694.html, last access: 8 September 2020. 33 Ibid.

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international inspection. Russia hid behind the Abkhazian separatists, who were not involved in any negotiations on this matter and refused verification demands. Finally, the NATO members refused to ratify the Istanbul summit agreement on the CFE Southern flank, while Russia suspended its participation in the CFE format. As it looks, Georgian and Western accusations were right. According to Russian sources, for instance in 2007 Russians deployed tactical ballistic missiles Tochka-U in Abkhazia, quite close to Georgian controlled territory.34 It definitely had nothing to do with the peacekeeping mission. In the same period Ossetian separatist forces were falling under the command of Russian officers. It all indicates that Putin had chosen a new tactics of maintaining military control and influence over Georgia. Instead of keeping bases in Tbilisi controlled territory, he decided to rely on various more modern tools, much later identified as Hybrid Warfare. One of its components was the further backing of conflict enclaves and maintaining a high level of tensions there. It would help keep Georgia unstable and thus discourage NATO from inviting the country into its ranks. As we see, it also included the presence of Russian military components. The year 2008 appeared as the most dramatic in Russian-Georgian military relations. Only months passed since Russian troops left the main parts of the country and suddenly, in August they returned as invading forces. Estimates of the Russian forces that took part in the invasion differ. According to Georgian experts, between 25,000 and 40,000 Russian soldiers entered the scene via South Ossetia and Abkhazia.35 Russian researchers estimate the strength of the Russian army in South Ossetia on 10 August at 10,000 men, which is numerically in line with Georgian forces. In the same day, about 9000 Russians were already deployed in Abkhazia and attacked Georgian forces from there.36 After 2–3 days of fighting Georgian forces began to retreat. The active phase of the armed conflict lasted from 7–12 August, when French president Nikolas Sarkozy brokered a cease-fire agreement. Nevertheless, the Russian military occupied the town of Gori, cutting off Georgia’s main east-west highway until 22 August. They also remained in the sea-port Poti until 14 September. As a result, Georgian authorities lost control over the pockets in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, that they controlled since the ethnic wars of the 1990s. Russian peacekeepers participated in these events as regular troops. This meant that the Russian-led peacekeeping operation, which had been running since 1992–1994, had lost all meaning. On 26 August the Russian Federation recognized the independence of 34 Lavrov, Anton: Timeline of Russian-Georgian Hostilities in August 2008, in: Pukhov, Ruslan (ed.): Tanks of August, Moscow 2010, pp. 37–75, here: p. 64. 35 Gegeshidze, Archil: The North Caucasus in the 2008 Russia-Georgia War, in: International Alert: The North Caucasus factor in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict context, 2012, pp. 70–76, here: p. 75. 36 Lavrov: Timeline of Russian-Georgian Hostilities, p. 64.

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Abkhazia and South Ossetia, while the Georgian government left the CIS, stopped diplomatic relations with Russia and declared those territories as illegally occupied. Of course, the Russian information campaign trying to justify their military actions was intense. The Georgian government was accused of violating previous peacekeeping arrangements and committing the genocide against Ossetian population. The Russian invasion was portrayed as a response and peace-enforcement. When the dust of the war settled, it turned out that many of the Russian accusations were unfounded. For instance, the EU sponsored special fact-finding mission stated, that ‘[…] the Mission has found that genocide [On the Ossetians, committed by Georgian troops. – D.D./M.M] did not take place’.37 Russia and the Ossetian side claimed that Georgia violated the June 1992 peace agreement with this disproportionate step, while this act was not provoked by Russia, whose regular army only entered the scene the next day. Some Western analysts argued that Saakashvili’s policy towards separatist territories was a ‘classic attempt to use nationalism to deflect attention for its domestic failings’.38 However, Georgia provided evidence (including intercepted telephone conversations of the Ossetian military), that the military column from Russia entered conflict zone and headed towards Tskhinvali posing an immediate threat to Georgian positions between the Georgian-Russian border and the capital of the South Ossetian enclave. The above-mentioned Fact-Finding Mission agreed in principle, that the conflict zone was penetrated by unidentified units from Russia earlier than officially reported.39 As the Economist wrote on this information war, ‘the truth is somewhere in between’.40 It can be endlessly debated, whether Saakashvili had any alternative under the circumstances, not to order Georgian troops to start a military offensive against the adversary. But the fact is that everything took place on Georgian territory, where the Russian military had generations of experience with provocative and illegal actions. Currently on the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which internationally are still seen as inseparable parts of the Georgian state and which constitute about 20% of its territory, Russia has two military bases and border troops: the 4th (in the South Ossetia) and 7th (in Abkhazia). Interestingly, according to independent

37 Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia Report, September 2009, Vol. 1, p.17, available at: https://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/HUDOC_38263_08_Annexes_ ENG.pdf, last access: 8 December 2020. 38 Cooley A, and Mitchell L. No Way to Treat Our Friends: Recasting Resent US-Georgian Relations, in: The Washington Quarterly, Vol 32, Issue 1, January 2009, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/ full/10.1080/01636600802540895?scroll=top&needAccess=true, last access: 10 September 2020. 39 International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia, p. 20. 40 The Economist, The Fog of War, Unraveling the Ossetia Conflict, one Year Later, 13 August 2009, https://www.economist.com/europe/2009/08/13/the-fog-of-war, last access: 12 August 2020.

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researchers, some servicemen from these bases are temporarily sent for the support of Donetsk and Lugansk militias in the Ukraine conflict.41

6.

Conclusion

The USSR ceased to exist long ago but not the dream of the restoration of the Russian Empire. This is evident in the rhetoric and the policies of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, who declares the collapse of the USSR the be the greatest geopolitical catastrophe, which he would reverse if given the chance.42 By and large, despite being presented as a response to fears of NATO and EU expansion into zones of Russian influence, or even because of such prospects, attempts to maintain or restore empire by military/security means continue. The fact of the illegal Russian military presence within the internationally recognized borders of Georgia is telling in this respect. Where they are invited, e.g. in Armenia, Russians may have rational and strategic reasons for deployment, that it can mitigate historical anxieties within the neighbourhood. But in countries like Georgia, they seem to have no other clear strategic mission than to constantly claim that these countries were, are and always will be the Russian backyard. The fear of NATO and especially EU enlargement is no less phantom, as none of these regional actors show any desire to harm Russian national interests. Yet, there is still one logical reason of Russian military policy, if we consider not Russian but its elite interests: That is the fear of so-called coloured revolutions or waves of democratisation. Rightly or not, they are associated with the Western soft power reach into adjacent areas. For this purpose, Russian leadership uses various mechanisms and the military institution remains one of those. The history of Russian bases in Georgia depended on various contingencies, but the main reason for their presence remains broadly intact. As Russian then chairman of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament Vladimir Shumeiko stated back in 1995, the presence of Russian military on Georgian territory means that Russia has staked out this site and there is nothing to reach.43 The article attempted to show that while Gorbachev, Yeltsin and Putin with Medvedev differed in their tactics and attitude towards the West in general or the westernisation of the

41 Proofs of the Russian Aggression: InformNapalm releases extensive database of evidence, 04.12.2018, https://informnapalm.org/en/proofs-of-the-russian-aggression-informnapalm-releasesextensive-database-of-evidence/, last access: 25 March 2020. 42 Osborn, Andrew: Putin, before vote, says he’d reverse Soviet collapse if he could, in: World News, 3 March 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-election-putin/putin-before-vote-sayshed-reverse-soviet-collapse-if-he-could-agencies-idUSKCN1GE2TF, last access: 29 August 2020. 43 Zakavkazskie voennye vedomosti [Transcaucasian Military Bulletin], No. 136 (19 July 1995).

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post-Soviet states in particular, nothing significant changed for Georgia with the changes of government in Moscow. For decades, Russia has vehemently opposed a genuine internationalisation of peacekeeping formats in Georgia’s conflict areas. If that had happened, if Russian peacekeepers had been replaced by genuine UN and/or EU troops, the war of August 2008 could have been avoided.

Nadja Douglas, Simon Muschick

The Withdrawal of Russian Troops from the Republic of Moldova in the Context of International Confidence- and Security-Building Efforts

1.

Introduction

Since the end of the military conflict with the breakaway region Transdniestria, the situation in the Republic of Moldova has been characterised by a ‘negative peace’ that has inhibited the country in its domestic development and international orientation. A key factor in this has been the persisting Russian military presence on Transdniestrian territory since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Even though considerable amounts of ammunition from Soviet-era depots were removed and transported to Russia by March 2004 – due to Russian commitments made during the 1999 Istanbul Summit of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) – the process has come to a halt. To this day, the ageing and potentially dangerous ammunition stockpile in the Cobasna depot continues to be a nuisance and a disruptive factor for the civic population in the immediate vicinity of the depot in Moldova and Ukraine. The Operational Group of Russian Forces (OGRF), whose central task is to guard the depot, remains stationed in the de facto capital Tiraspol and reports directly to the Moscow Military District. Despite repeated declarations by various Moldovan governments on the withdrawal of the host nation’s consent, there has never been a complete withdrawal of Russian troops. Another critical and related issue is the high degree of militarisation along the Dniester river and the lack of military transparency between the Moldovan central government and the self-declared Pridniestrovian Moldovan Republic (PMR).1 Although all armoured vehicles, both Moldovan and Transdniestrian, were withdrawn from the Security Zone (SZ) by 2003, since then there has been no further progress in arms control and confidence- and security-building measures (CSBM). The first part of this article provides a brief historical overview of the legacy of the Soviet 14th Guards Army and the emergence of two separate military structures on the territory of the former Moldovan Socialist Soviet Republic. The role played 1 The two counterparts emerged from a brief but violent armed conflict that took place on the territory of the Dniester autonomous region under Moldovan rule from March to July 1992. The fighting resulted in 900–1000 casualties and prompted Transdniestria to confirm its de facto status as an independent republic, without ever being internationally recognised as such.

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by the Joint Peacekeeping Force (JPKF) and the OGRF will also be examined. The second part deals with OSCE efforts to internationalise the negotiations around troop reductions and military transparency in three stages: first, the active phase of the withdrawal of Russian troops and ammunition as a result of the OSCE Istanbul summit (1999–2003); second, the OSCE initiative to establish a voluntary fund for the removal process (2001–2006); and third, the OSCE proposal for a CSBM package to the sides of the conflict (2005–2007). The third and final part analyses the current deadlock in the negotiation process and the irreconcilable positions of the principal stakeholders. The article concludes with a brief outlook beyond the status quo.

2.

An army falling apart – the legacy of Soviet troops on the territory of Moldova

During Soviet times, substantial military contingents were deployed to the territory of the Moldovan Socialist Soviet Republic, which was part of the Odesa Military District stretching from the Romanian border to the Crimean Peninsula. The 14th Guards Army was the backbone of the western flank. Founded in 1956 as a field army of the Soviet Ground Forces with its headquarters in Chişinău, it was relocated to Tiraspol in 1986.2 In the wake of Glasnost and Perestroika, growing aspirations for selfdetermination were fuelled by pro-Romanian sentiment in Moldova. Yet the autonomous and predominantly Russian-speaking region Transdniestria in the east of the country strongly opposed forced ‘Romanisation’ and disentanglement from the Soviet Union. After the failed coup attempt in Moscow, Chişinău declared its independence on 27 August 1991, and ordered all armed forces stationed on the country’s territory to subordinate to the Moldovan jurisdiction. However, by that time most troops and equipment had already been transferred to the east, where nearly all heavy industry and military installations were located.3 Thus, the newly formed Moldovan Armed Forces4 inherited less equipment. Apart from about

2 Fes’kov Vitalii et. al: Vooruzhjonnye Sily SSSR posle Vtoroj mirovoj vojny: ot Krasnoj Armii k Sovetskoj. Chast’ 1: Suhoputnye vojska [Soviet Armed Forces after World War II from the Red Army to the Soviet Army. Part 1: Ground Forces], Tomsk 2013, pp. 494–495. 3 Graf, Kilian: Der Transnistrien-Konflikt. Produkt spätsowjetischer Verteilungskämpfe und Zerfallskonflikt der implodierten Sowjetunion [The Transnistrian Conflict. Product of late Soviet Distribution Struggles and Disintegration Conflict of the Imploded Soviet Union], Hamburg 2010, p. 181. 4 The 6500 men strong Moldovan Army is manned through conscription and enlistment. Theoretically, there is a share of 58,000 reservists, however, since 1992, citizens discharged from active service and placed in the reserve have never attended a reservist refresher course, see Lins de Albuquerque and

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100 armoured personnel carriers, various artillery and howitzers, it only managed to obtain light airborne tanks.5 An air force was formed from several transport aircraft and helicopters and just 31 MiG-29 fighters. Most of the 14th Army’s 220 tanks, 305 armoured personnel carriers, 31 helicopters and 42 aeroplanes were deployed east to the Dniester, while some went to recently independent Ukraine.6 On 7 December 1991, CPSU General Secretary and Soviet President Gorbachev placed the 14th Army under the High Command of the newly created Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). This structure had ostensibly been set up to administer the legal transition of units and armed forces on former Soviet territories to the respective national armed forces. Despite the ‘CIS’ label, Russia de facto dominated most of the former Soviet structures. Shortly after, the 14th Army Commander-in-Chief Gennadiy Yakovlev was dismissed after actively supporting Transdniestrian separatism by handing over weapons and ammunition from the 14th Army’s stocks. His successor, General Yuriy Netkachev, failed to facilitate negotiations aimed at preventing violence between Chişinău and Tiraspol. On 1 April 1992, Boris Yeltsin placed the 14th Army on Transdniestrian territory under Russian command, disregarding prior agreements with Moldova, and appointed Major General Aleksandr Lebed commander-in-chief.7 In the ensuing fighting between Moldovan internal troops and Romanian volunteers8 against armed self-defence forces on the Trandniestrian side9 in the spring of 1992, Moscow obliged the approximately 9600 men of the 14th Army to strict neutrality.10 At the same time, locals started to rally around military bases east of the Dniester, demanding the handover of weapons. Several Russian units defected

5 6 7

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10

Jakob Hedenskog: Moldova. A Defence Sector Reform Assessment, FOI Stockholm, December 2016, https://www.foi.se/rest-api/report/FOI-R–4350–SE, last access: 29 January 2021. Moiseev, Vitalij: Tanki v Pridnestrov’e [Tanks in Transnistria]. Tankomaster. Nr. 4 (2000). Morozov, Vladislav: Nad Dnestrom i Prutom. [Over the Dniester and Prut] VVC Moldovy. Aviatsia i kosmonavtiki, Nr. 6 (2016), p. 9. Ukaz Prezidenta Rossijskoj Federacii No. 320: O perehode pod jurisdikciju Rossijskoj Federacii voinskih chastej Vooruzhennyh Sil byvshego SSSR, nahodjashhihsja na territorii Respubliki Moldova [Decree of the President of the Russian Federation No. 320: On the transfer to the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation of military units of the Armed Forces of the former USSR located on the territory of the Republic of Moldova], 01 April 1992, http://www.kremlin.ru/acts/bank/1114, last access: 26 November 2020. Adam, Vlad: Romanian involvement in the Transnistrian War. Unpublished Master Thesis at Leiden University 2017, https://studenttheses.universiteitleiden.nl/access/item%3A2627078/download, last access: 26 November 2020. They were supported by Cossacks and Ukrainian nationalists. See Savvateev, Evgenij: Pervaja lokal’naja: Tri monologa ukrainskih nacionalistov, voevavshih za «Pridnestrov’e» [Local One: Three Monologues by Ukrainian Nationalists who Fought for ‘Transnistria’]. 27.4.2017, https:// hromadske.ua/ru/posts/pervaia-lokalnaia, last access: 26 November 2020. Graf: Transnistrien, p. 261.

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to the Transdniestrian side, with the result that some tanks ended up with the assembling Transdniestrian forces. Meanwhile, the formally neutral forces of the 14th Army located along the Dniester river came under fire. After an unsuccessful storming of the army’s military base in the Bendery Fortress and the taking of the city by Moldovan forces in June 1992, local soldiers serving with the Russian troops joined the Transdniestrian forces in droves, taking more equipment and weapons with them. Following intensive clashes and casualties among the 14th Army, in a bid to end the fighting, Major General Lebed launched a massive artillery strike on Moldovan positions on the night of 3 July. This resulted in numerous casualties and a death toll of 112. From that point on, Russian troops took sides in the war’s bloodiest battle yet. Moldovan troops were forced to surrender, and the fighting was brought to an end. On 21 July, the President of Moldova Mircea Snegur and Igor Smirnov, the representative of the Pridniestrovian Moldovan Republic (PMR), were summoned by Yeltsin to Moscow to sign a ceasefire agreement calling for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.11 The task of controlling the ceasefire agreement and monitoring the Security Zone (SZ), a 225 km long and 30 km wide demilitarised stretch on both sides of the Dniester river, was assigned to the Joint Peacekeeping Force (JPKF) comprising forces of the three signatories. Of the total 5500 soldiers, 3100 were from the Russian 14th Army (reduced to 2700 in September 1992) and 1200 each from the armed forces of the Republic of Moldova and the PMR.12 The JPKF is supervised by the Joint Control Commission (JCC), including a joint military command structure. The JCC was also meant to contribute to the peaceful settlement of the conflict by facilitating political dialogue. In addition, a group of military observers was established, with ten observers each from Russia, Moldova, Transdniestria, and after 1995 also Ukraine. In 1993 and 1994, the Russian Army handed over several military objects to the recently established Transdniestrian Army. The 14th Army now focused on recruiting local men and retired Soviet officers living in the region. The armies on the left bank began to cooperate more intensively in the area of artillery exercises, manoeuvres, and supply. Notwithstanding these developments, Russia committed for the first time to withdrawing the 14th Army from Transdniestrian territory at the Ministerial Council of the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) in Stockholm in

11 Agreement on the principles for a peaceful settlement of the armed conflict in the Dniester region of the Republic of Moldova, 21 July 1992, https://www.peaceagreements.org/viewmasterdocument/ 1024, last access: 26 November 2020. 12 Website of the Transdniestrian Delegation to the JCC, http://www.okk-pridnestrovie.org/spravka. htm, last access: 26 November 2020.

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December 1992.13 More details about the status of the 14th Army and the procedure for and timing of a staged withdrawal were to be determined in the course of further negotiations. At the 1994 CIS heads of state meeting, an agreement was reached on the ‘Legal status, procedure and period for the withdrawal of military units of the Russian Federation, temporarily located on the territory of the Republic of Moldova’.14 In April 1995, a directive of the Russian Ministry of Defence renamed the 14th Army the Operational Group of Russian Forces (OGRF) in the Republic of Moldova. After serious disagreements with the military leadership in Moscow on the army’s future and role in the region, General Lebed was suspended from service and the commander-in-chief position was abolished. On 1 July 1995, the OGRF numbered 6489 soldiers, but numbers dropped after organisational reshuffling to 5092 in 1996 and 3010 in 1997.15 Stationed outside the security zone, the OGRF’s primary tasks were to train servicemen to participate in the peacekeeping operation and safeguard weaponry, ammunition, and other material at the Cobasna depot in the northern part of the Transdniestrian territory. By that time, the Moldovan government had already taken the position – for example, at the UN General Assembly in 1993 – that the Transdniestrian conflict served as a pretext for the Russian Federation to prolong its military presence on Moldovan territory.16 It claimed that the 14th Guards Army was the main obstacle to resolving the conflict and continued to demand its withdrawal. By 1999, the OGRF had decreased to just 2600 men. However, large amounts of heavy weapons that fell under the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) and around 40,000 tons of ammunition remained in a depot close to the village of Cobasna. There was a consensus that a further troop reduction could only occur after this ammunition and the other military equipment had been removed.17

13 Neukirch, Claus: The OSCE Mission to Moldova, in: IFSH (ed.), OSCE Yearbook 2003, Baden-Baden 2004, pp. 149–161, here: p. 154. 14 Soglashenie mezhdu Rossijskoj Federaciej i Respublikoj Moldova o pravovom statuse, porjadke i srokah vyvoda voinskih formirovanij Rossijskoj Federacii, vremenno nahodjashhihsja na territorii Respubliki Moldova [Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Moldova on the legal status, procedure and timeframe for the withdrawal of military formations of the Russian Federation temporarily stationed on the territory of the Republic of Moldova], 21 October 1994, https://www.mid.ru/foreign_policy/international_contracts/2_contract/-/storage-viewer/ bilateral/page360/48270, last access: 26 November 2020. 15 14th Army’s veterans’ site, http://www.oa-14.narod.ru/poslevoiny-15.htm, last access: 26 November 2020. 16 Moldova’s Foreign Minister Nicolae Anton Tau at the 22nd Plenary Meeting of the 48th Session of the UN General Assembly, 8 October 1993, https://undocs.org/en/A/48/PV.22, last access: 26 November 2020. 17 Neukirch: OSCE Mission, p. 154.

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General Lebed had pointed out in 1995 that the entire withdrawal process would be extremely costly and time-consuming, since there was enough ammunition to fill 2600 trains and enough explosive materials for 500.18 Nowadays, the official Russian military presence in Transdniestria amounts to around 1300 troops, including 500 designated peacekeepers. The rest is made up of staff in charge of guarding and maintaining storage sites, employees at the Russian headquarters in Tiraspol, and administrative staff. Two peacekeeping battalions rotate once a year, leaving about 380 troops on active duty and the rest in reserve. According to Russian information, approximately 90 per cent of the OGRF are Transdniestrian residents with Russian citizenship, which was proactively granted by Russian authorities to the inhabitants of the region.19 These troops are equipped with small arms and light weapons (SALW), armoured personnel carriers, and other armoured vehicles that are not classed as treaty-limited equipment (TLE) under the CFE Treaty.

3.

OSCE efforts to internationalise the negotiations around troop reductions and military transparency

3.1

First stage: From the Istanbul commitments to political blockades

A key milestone in the negotiations on troop reduction and military transparency was reached in 1998, when the representatives of Moldova and Transdniestria signed the so-called Odesa Agreement. Facilitated by the OSCE, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine as mediators, both sides agreed to limit their respective peacekeeping contingents to 500 troops each.20 The 1999 OSCE Istanbul Summit of Heads of State or Government was important for both the Transdniestrian conflict settlement process and international negotiations on conventional arms control in Europe. The Russian troop withdrawal issue was internationalised and featured prominently on the agenda of the summit. One of the main outcomes was the signing of the Adapted Conventional Forces in

18 Aleksandr Lebed’: Ja sovershenno ne gozhus’ v holui [I’m not fit to be a lackey at all], 17 April 1995, https://sites.ualberta.ca/ khineiko/segodnia_93_95_98_99/1117629.htm, last access: 26 November 2020. 19 Ostrjakova, Elena/PolitNavigator: Moldova trebuet ubrat‘ iz Pridnestrov’ja pridnestrovskikh grazhdan [Moldova demands that Transnistrian citizens be removed from Transnistria], 22 February 2020, https://www.politnavigator.net/moldova-trebuet-ubrat-iz-pridnestrovya-pridnestrovskikhgrazhdan.html, last access: 30 November 2020. 20 OSCE: Odesa Agreement, 20 March 1998, https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/6/d/42310.pdf, last access: 26 November 2020.

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Europe Treaty (Adapted CFE Treaty), which stipulated the reduction of five types of heavy weapons: tanks, combat helicopters, military aircraft, armoured vehicles, and artillery. In Article 1 of the treaty, all participating states pledged not to deploy military equipment on the territory of other states without their consent.21 To encourage NATO states to ratify the treaty swiftly, the Russian leadership committed during the summit negotiations to withdrawing its troops – with the exception of the peacekeeping force22 – and to removing and destroying arms and ammunition (in effect, all CFE-relevant material) on Transdniestrian territory by the end of 2002.23 Paragraph 19 of the Istanbul Summit Declaration instructed the OSCE Permanent Council to expand the mandate of the OSCE Mission to Moldova ‘to ensure transparency of this process and co-ordination of financial and technical assistance offered to facilitate withdrawal and destruction.’ Most NATO states party to the adapted CFE Treaty linked its ratification to the fulfilment of the Istanbul commitments. In some respects, negotiations on conventional arms control in Europe have remained hostage to resolving protracted conflicts in the post-Soviet region since 1999 (NATO states never ratified the Adapted CFE Treaty). Yet, in the context of the decade-long negotiations, it has also been argued that arms control needs to be resumed to create a climate conducive to resolving those territorial conflicts.24 Russia reacted to the non-ratification of the adapted treaty by suspending the CFE Treaty in December 2007. In the period from 2001 to 2003, intense conflict settlement negotiations took place, led by the communist government of Moldova. The newly elected President of the Republic of Moldova Vladimir Voronin saw the resolution of the Transdniestrian conflict and the country’s reunification as a ‘national priority’.25 Several proposals for the federalisation of Moldova were brought into the negotiations.

21 OSCE: Agreement on Adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, 19 November 1999, https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/e/3/14108.pdf, last access: 26 November 2020. 22 This aspect was disputed. Moldovans understood and continue to understand by ‘complete withdrawal’ the OGRF including the Russian peacekeeping contingent, while Russians intended to withdraw the OGRF forces only. The peacekeeping contingent in their view has to remain until the conflict is solved. This opinion is shared by numerous other OSCE participating states, who acknowledge that a peacekeeping force, consisting only of the two conflict parties without a third party, was futile. 23 A partial withdrawal of troops from Georgia until 2001 was also part of the commitment. 24 Douglas, Nadja: The Vicious Circle of Arms Control and Regional Conflict, 20 December 2016, https://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/66502, last access: 26 November 2020. 25 Point.md: Vladimir Voronin: Ob’edinenie Moldovy - glavnyj prioritet moej dejatel’nosti na postu glavy gosudarstva [Vladimir Voronin: Moldova’s unification is my top priority as head of state], 03 October 2008, https://point.md/ru/novosti/politika/vladimir-voronin-objedinenie-moldovi— glavnij-prioritet-moej-deyateljnosti-na-postu-glavi-gosudarstva, last access: 26 November 2020.

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Following the Kyiv Document of 2002,26 a detailed Russian plan for a united asymmetric federal Moldovan state – the so-called Kozak Memorandum27 – was put forward in November 2003. It contained provisions for a constitution that granted Transdniestria and another autonomous territorial unit, Gagauzia, veto rights, gave official status to the Russian language, and outlined the division of competences between the federal subjects. The rejection of the Kozak Memorandum by the Moldovan government after protests and on the advice of its international partners was a decisive factor in the discontinuation of the withdrawal process (the last trainloads of ammunition left Transdniestria for Russia shortly afterwards). Yet notwithstanding this, a confluence of political factors made it difficult for the Russian side to continue the process.28 The second Putin administration and the West became increasingly alienated from each other due to a wave of Western-backed ‘coloured revolutions’ on the one hand and the repression of civil society by the Russian authorities on the other. When the Baltic states joined NATO 2004, Russia perceived this as a threat to its western flank. In 2005, the Moldovan government passed a law ‘On Fundamental Regulations of the Special Legal Status of Settlements on the Left Bank of the River Nistru’29 without consulting with the Transdniestrian leadership. The Transdniestrian side responded by condemning the unilateral step and holding a referendum in 2006 on the de facto republic’s legal status, in which 92 per cent opted for independence from Moldova and unification with Russia.30 It was becoming increasingly evident that the Transdniestrian side was doing everything in its power to prevent the removal of Russian troops and military equipment from Transdniestrian territory.31 Indeed, the presence of Russian troops had become a guarantee of the security of

26 Ukraine from the beginning of the conflict took active part in the negotiations around a conflict settlement. However, the Ukrainian position oscillated between a latent or at times even ostentatious support of the Transdniestrian position and a backing of conflict solutions rather conducive to the Moldovan side under Western-oriented presidents. 27 Russian Draft Memorandum on the basic principles of the state structure of a united state in Moldova (Kozak Memorandum) 17 November 2003, https://www.stefanwolff.com/files/Kozak-Memorandum. pdf, last access: 26 November 2020. 28 Nantoi, Oazu: Itogi i perspektivy razreshenija Pridenestrovskogo konflikta [Outcomes and Prospects for Resolving the Transdniestrian Conflict], Izdatel’stvo ‘Cu drag’, Chişinău 2009, pp. 30–31. 29 Law ‘On Fundamental Regulations of the Special Legal Status of Settlements on the Left Bank of the River Nistru’ 27 July 2005, https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/e/8/16208.pdf, last access: 26 November 2020. 30 The New York Times: Transnistria Votes on Independence, 18 September 2006, https://www.nytimes. com/2006/09/18/world/europe/18RUSSIASUMM.html, last access: 26 November 2020. 31 Gribincea, Mihai: The Russian Policy on Military Bases: Georgia and Moldova, Oradea 2001, pp. 189–190.

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Transdniestrian statehood. This is why any attempt to remove or modify the current security regime is met to this day with suspicion and hostility by the Transdniestrian side. Russia, in turn, tries to appear as an unbiased mediator and guarantor state, while tacitly supporting and effectively hiding behind the Transdniestrian position in order to justify the continued Russian military presence in the region. This military presence represents a strategic asset that ensures Russian influence in the region, and is also a useful instrument in international negotiations centred on geopolitical interests. 3.2

Second stage: Voluntary fund under the auspices of the OSCE and the internationalisation of the expected costs

In December 1999, following the OSCE Istanbul Summit, the OSCE Permanent Council agreed to expand the scope of the Mission’s mandate under paragraph 19 of the Istanbul Summit Declaration.32 In 2001, the OSCE Voluntary Fund was established to expedite the removal and destruction of Russian military equipment and ammunition. The aim was to assist the Russian Ministry of Defence in carrying out the withdrawal/destruction tasks. The fund amounted to about 22 million euros. Initial contributions were made by 17 OSCE donor countries,33 but the lion’s share came from the US budget (approximately 14.6 million euros). In 2002, a Programme Management Cell was established within the OSCE Mission to Moldova to coordinate tasks related to the fulfilment of the Mission’s mandate regarding the withdrawal process. A US officer from the Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) was seconded to the Mission on a rotational basis to monitor the process. The secondments were discontinued in 2018. Approximately 19,000 metric tons of ammunition, about half of the total, was withdrawn in the period from 2001 to 2004. As a result of the 2002 OSCE Ministerial Council in Porto, a year-long extension was granted to the Russian Federation, and efforts to expedite withdrawal were stepped up in March 2003. The destruction and withdrawal of CFE treaty-limited equipment (TLE) held on Transdniestrian territory was actually completed ahead of the initial Istanbul deadline of 31 December 2001.34 The OSCE Mission to Moldova, together with visiting CFE inspectors from other participating states, verified the process of equipment destruction.35 Over 8 million euros from the Voluntary Fund were used to assist the Russian Federation

32 OSCE, Permanent Council, Decision No. 329, PC.DEC/329, 9 December 1999, https://www.osce. org/de/pc/28027, last access: 26 November 2020. 33 Hill, William H.: The OSCE and the Moldova-Transdniestria Conflict: Lessons in Mediation and Conflict Management, Security and Human Rights 24 (2013), p. 289. 34 Hill: The OSCE, p. 291. 35 Ibid., p. 292.

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in meeting its commitments. Out of the four major storage depots for Russian arms, ammunition, and military equipment in Bendery, Dubăsari, Tiraspol, and Cobasna, only the latter two remained.36 Russian authorities stopped the withdrawal process in March 2004 without providing an explanation (see previous section), and thus did not fulfil the Istanbul commitments in a complete and timely manner. However, the Russian Federation repeatedly expressed its commitment to resuming the withdrawal process when the ‘necessary conditions’ were met, using the terminology of the Porto Declaration.37 In the following years, the OSCE Mission to Moldova regularly pressed for a resumption of the withdrawals. Since there was (at least in theory) the possibility that withdrawals could recommence at any time, given the appropriate ‘conditions’, the Mission retained the capacity to support and monitor the withdrawal and destruction of Russian assets in Transdniestria. The Russian Ministry of Defence repeatedly confirmed that the withdrawal of the remaining ammunition could be completed within six months. Occasionally, the Transndiestrian side was blamed for obstructing the withdrawals. The Transdniestrian leader at the time, Igor Smirnov, claimed that the munition belonged to Transdniestria, arguing that Soviet military equipment was inherited by the ‘states’ on whose territory it was deployed.38 The Transdniestrian blockade was a reality, but the Russian argument lacked credibility in the sense that hardly anyone involved in or observing the negotiations believed that the Russians could not put pressure on the Transdniestrian leadership if need be. Later on, it was acknowledged that in the first stage of the withdrawal the Russian armed forces had mainly removed ammunition and equipment that could still be used and only left behind material that appeared to be obsolete. For the Transdniestrian forces, still equipped with older Soviet weapon systems, the remaining ammunition was still expedient, whether for own use or resale.39 Countries contributing to the Voluntary Fund were increasingly unwilling to finance the demolition of material in Russia, with some of them eventually withdrawing their funds from the Voluntary Fund.40 The demolition on the ground was obstructed by Transdniestrian resistance.

36 Ibid., p. 291. 37 Neukirch: OSCE Mission, p. 157; see also Boese, Wade: U.S. Rebukes Russia for Failing to Withdraw Troops from Georgia and Moldova, in: Arms Control Today; No. 34, Issue 1 (2004), p. 38. 38 International Crisis Group: Europe Report N°157, Moldova: Regional Tensions over Transdniestria, 17 June 2004, https://www.crisisgroup.org/europe-central-asia/eastern-europe/moldova/moldovaregional-tensions-over-transdniestria, last access: 30 November 2020. 39 Neukirch: OSCE Mission, p. 157. 40 Ibid., p. 158.

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Locations of the Tiraspol and Cobasna armunition depots, Wikimedia Commons (own edit)

Most of the remaining 20,235 metric tonnes of Russian ammunition remains at the depot in Cobasna, but about 973 metric tonnes are stored at a site located in the Tiraspol airfield (see map). The ammunition stores are guarded and maintained by Russian personnel, with the outer security ring secured by Transdniestrian personnel. Access to the Cobasna depot has been denied to representatives of the OSCE Voluntary Fund Programme Management Cell since 2006.

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3.3

Third stage: OSCE proposal for a package of confidence and security-building measures to the sides of the conflict

In the following years, the OSCE Mission to Moldova increasingly concentrated on demilitarisation efforts aimed at both sides of the conflict. The high costs of maintaining heavily armed forces on both sides of the Dniester were an increasing strain on the public resources of an already impoverished region. Since military transparency and CBSM are an essential cornerstone of the OSCE Mission’s mandate to facilitate a lasting, comprehensive political settlement of the Transdniestrian conflict, these aspects came back on to the agenda. An expert group was established by the Mission in 2005 to review potential measures that could be implemented immediately or in the near future. The package developed by the expert group essentially drew on the Vienna Document, the CFE Treaty, and the sub-regional arms control agreement within the Florence and Vienna Agreements of 1996 (better known as Article II, IV and V of the Dayton Peace Accord). These documents reflect the general challenge of international arms control regimes as commonly agreed between recognised sovereign states. However, in the case of the Dayton Agreement, the accords applied to negotiating parties, namely Bosnia, Herzegovina, and the Republika Srpska, that did not constitute sovereign states.41 Transdniestria is also an entity with no rights as a subject of international law, which means that a different approach is required from the outset to deal with its disputed territorial status (status-neutral approach). The 2005 package of proposed CSBMs consisted of two central documents: 1) the Agreement on the Reduction of Forces, Armaments and Equipment and 2) the Document on Confidence and Security Building Measures. The entire package was tailored to the situation in Moldova and was meant to be implemented step-by-step. Later on, it was conceded that it could also be implemented partially or applied selectively. The package was approved by both mediators and observers and handed to representatives of the sides on 12 July 2005.42 Thus, it was one of the topics discussed in the 5+2 negotiations (OSCE, Russia and Ukraine as mediators, the two conflict parties Moldova and Transdniestria, plus the United States and the European Union as observers) in the period from November 2005 to February 2006. In this context, the Moldovan side produced an ‘Exchange of Information’ document that was in line with the respective protocol stipulations, but the Transdniestrian side failed to respond in kind. Subsequent attempts to engage the Transdniestrian side in constructive discussions on the package remained unsuccessful. 41 Vetschera, Heinz: The Role of the OSCE in the Military Stabilization of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in: IFSH (ed.): OSCE Yearbook 1998, Baden-Baden 1999, pp. 305–326. 42 Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Arms Control – Confidence and SecurityBuilding Measures in Moldova, SEC.GAL/178/05, 28 July 2005.

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After the package had been made public, representatives of the Moldovan government and expert community expressed strong objections, arguing that the OSCE plan would legitimise Transdniestrian forces and put them on an equal footing with Moldovan forces. They also saw it as an endorsement of the presence of the Russian military on Moldovan territory, given the lack of any proposal to internationalise the peacekeeping troops. Subsequently, military attachés from West European states raised questions, for example why the CSBM package had been proposed separately from the political negotiation process, and why Russia should be a guarantor of the implementation process while it was supposed to withdraw its forces from Moldova. While these points ignored the underlying intention of the package, other criticisms of the lack of transparency and coordination in the way the package had been drafted were warranted.43 As a matter of fact, some of the CSBM measures outlined in the package were not entirely new and had already been agreed upon in 2001, but never implemented.44 Nevertheless, by the end of 2007, the CSBM topic was off the table. Several minor achievements can, however, be traced back to efforts in relation to the CSBM package. In 2006, the Moldovan side requested OSCE assistance to manage its SALW and conventional ammunition stockpile.45 The Mission has repeatedly declared that it is also prepared to enter into discussions with the Transdniestrian authorities to explore possibilities of reducing ammunition holdings and improving stockpile management and the security of storage sites on the left bank.

4.

Status quo: Deadlock in the negotiation process and irreconcilable positions of principal stakeholders

Specific dynamics on the ground and, notably, the relationships between the principal actors have changed considerably since the Ukraine conflict began in 2014. The change of the political regime in Ukraine meant that there was also no more tacit tolerance of Transdniestrian actions by Ukrainian authorities. In May 2015, Ukraine

43 Socor, Vladimir: OSCE-Russia military plan for Moldova criticized in Vienna, Jamestown Foundation, Eurasia Daily Monitor, 14 December 2005, https://jamestown.org/program/osce-russiamilitary-plan-for-moldova-criticized-in-vienna/, last access: 30 November 2020. 44 There had been direct negotiations between the Heads of Defence of both conflicting parties since 1998. In 2001, a joint protocol was signed and endorsed at the highest level. It included six concrete measures, among them the establishment of direct lines of contact between Defence Ministries, General Staffs and Operations Branches. 45 OSCE: Republic of Moldova’s efforts in managing small arms and light weapons and conventional ammunition debated at Forum for Security Co-operation, 29 March 2017, https://www.osce.org/ forum-for-security-cooperation/308496, last access: 30 November 2020.

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withdrew from the 1995 Ukrainian-Russian Transit Agreement that allowed the Russian military stationed in Moldova to pass through Ukrainian territory.46 Since then, the rotation of Russian military personnel in Transdniestria has become more complicated. As a consequence of the war in the eastern Donbas region, Ukraine has also sharpened its rhetoric in support of Moldova’s long-standing demand for a full and immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and ammunition from Moldovan territory. Over the last four years, there have been more frequent joint military exercises (OGRF and Transdniestrian forces) in the SZ, mostly during the summer months. In most cases, they happened unannounced and were not authorised by the JCC and thus in breach of the 1992 Moscow Ceasefire Agreement. They caused tensions and prompted fierce criticism from Moldova. The OSCE Mission to Moldova has regularly expressed concern about unsanctioned exercises.47 At the same time, Moldova’s military cooperation with NATO in the Partnership for Peace (PfP) and bilateral military cooperation with the US, for example, in joint exercises at the Bulboaca military training site 30 km from Tiraspol, have in turn prompted criticism from Moscow.48 Following more frequent deployment of military equipment and extended infrastructure in the SZ, in violation of the obligations in the peace agreement and the JCC regulations, the working climate within the JCC has also deteriorated in recent years. Despite meeting regularly, the conflicting sides and their representatives lack a spirit of cooperation and a willingness to find solutions to problems. While the conflict settlement process in the framework of the 5+2 format has gained momentum since 2016 and a number of long-standing measures have made life easier for citizens on both banks of the Dniester, military and security aspects remained largely unaddressed in the negotiation process. At the same time, domestic politics in Moldova have been characterised by increasing divisions and a stagnating political reform process. The government led by the Democratic Party (PDM) from 2016 to 2019, under the effective control of oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc, transformed Moldova into what domestic and external observers began to call a ‘captured state’. PDM also adopted an increasingly anti-Russian policy. Pro-Russian President Igor Dodon, backed by the Socialist Party (PSRM), assumed office in December 2016 and

46 TASS: Ukraine denounces agreement on military transit to Moldova with Russia, 21 May 2015, https://tass.com/world/795920, last access: 30 November 2020. 47 OSCE: OSCE Mission to Moldova concerned about unsanctioned military exercises in the Security Zone, 14 September 2018, https://www.osce.org/mission-to-moldova/395363, last access: 26 November 2020. 48 Sputnik: US Preparing Moldova Forces for Likely Transnistria Conflict – Russian Deputy PM, 7 August 2017, https://sputniknews.com/politics/201708071056256246-us-moldova-trainingtransnistria-conflict/, last access: 30 November 2020.

The Withdrawal of Russian Troops from the Republic of Moldova

opted for a different course, arguing against the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Transdniestria.49 In response, the PDM government embarked on a campaign of denouncing Russia’s continued military presence in Moldova. In 2018, the UN General Assembly passed a draft resolution in Moldova’s favour, calling for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all OGRF troops and military equipment.50 This was accompanied by the reiterated demand from the Moldovan side to convert the current JPKF operation into a multinational civilian mission under an international mandate of the OSCE or the UN. In 2019, as a result of inconclusive parliamentary elections, an unusual coalition between PSRM and the pro-European ACUM alliance, led by Maia Sandu and Andrei Năstase, formed a government. It was short-lived but still managed to revive negotiations on arms withdrawal with Russia. During a visit to Chişinău in August 2019, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoygu brought up the topic himself and, according to President Dodon, proposed restarting the process of destroying ammunition at Cobasna.51 The OSCE immediately signalled support, but the initiative once again withered away. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs once again confirmed its intention in December 2019, but delegated responsibility to Moldova and Transdniestria. Reports by the OSCE Mission to Moldova of truck movements around the Cobasna depot52 gave reason to suspect that a continuation of the withdrawal process would proceed in a less regulated way and would need to be considered separately from the issue of troop withdrawal. In November 2020, Maia Sandu was elected the new president of the country and reaffirmed the need to replace the Russian peacekeepers and OGRF with an OSCE-led civilian observer mission.53 Despite the most recent statements, the positions of the principal stakeholders have not changed significantly in recent years and remain in a sort of status quo.

49 News.ru: Dodon protiv vyvoda rossijskikh vojsk iz Pridnestrov’ja [Dodon opposes withdrawal of Russian troops from Transnistria], 21 September 2018, https://news.ru/economics/prezidentmoldavii-protiv-vyvoda-vojsk/, last access: 30 November 2020. 50 United Nations: General Assembly Adopts Texts Urging Troop Withdraw from Republic of Moldova, Strengthening Cooperation in Central Asia, 22 June 2018, https://www.un.org/press/en/2018/ ga12030.doc.htm, last access: 30 November 2020. 51 RFE/RL: Moldovan President Says Russia Has Made ‘First Step’ Toward Troop Withdrawal, 02 November 2019, https://www.rferl.org/a/moldovan-president-dodon-russia-troop-withdrawal-firststep-/30249426.html, last access: 30 November 2020. 52 OSCE: Response to the Report by the Head of the OSCE Mission to Moldova, 30 April 2020, https:// www.osce.org/files/f/documents/9/6/451654.pdf, last access: 30 November 2020. 53 RBK: Maja Sandu ob’jasnila slova o vyvode rossijskikh vojsk iz Moldavii [Maya Sandu explains words on withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova], 30 November 2020, https://www.rbc.ru/ politics/30/11/2020/5fc4adb69a7947f6d2c8f8e0, last access: 30 November 2020.

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The Russian Federation continues to assert that the 1999 Istanbul Summit commitments are part of the CFE Treaty, which Russia withdrew from definitively in 2015, and are therefore no longer binding. While the United States maintains that the Istanbul Commitments require the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers, other NATO countries believe that the 1992 Moscow Agreement and its amendment in Odesa in 1998 represent a separate juridical basis for the JPKF and place the force outside these commitments. In the official Moldovan view, the JPFK is deployed to the SZ and thus subordinate to the JCC, while the OGRF is located outside the SZ, its units are not subordinate to the JCC, and their presence is therefore illegal. The negotiations around Russian troop reductions and military transparency in the region have gone on for almost 30 years. They are emblematic not only of the protracted process of settling this conflict but also of the various political blockades on the domestic and, even more importantly, the geopolitical level. Over the years, it has become clear that the removal and destruction of any remaining ammunition and military equipment has to precede the withdrawal of troops. The different confidence- and security-building measures that are a prerequisite for both the withdrawal of Russian troops and ammunition and military transparency in the region have to be considered as closely interrelated and should be addressed jointly in any future negotiations. A sustainable agreement that could eventually help to demilitarise the region has to entail security guarantees and compensation for Transdniestria as part of a status-neutral approach as well as clear rules of engagement for external actors in the region and beyond.

Contributors

Dr Beržiūnas, Valentinas is Assistant professor at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at the Vilnius University (Lithuania). Prof. Darchiashvili, David was head of the research department of the Georgian parliament and is professor at Ilia State University in Tbilisi (Georgia). Dr Douglas, Nadja is Research Assistant at the Centre for East European and International Studies in Berlin (Germany). Galbas, Michael M.A. is Lecturer at the Chair of Eastern and South-Eastern European History at the University of Leipzig (Germany), supported by the DAAD Return Fellowship. Dr Geiger, Tim is Research Assistant at the Leibniz-Institute for Contemporary History Munich-Berlin, Department edition of ‘Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland’, Berlin (Germany). Gunold, Sascha M.A. Major of the Bundeswehr, is Lecturer in military history at the Army Officers’ School in Dresden (Germany). Hennen, Markus is graduated economist and managing director of Bruckbauer & Hennen GmbH Jüterbog (Germany). Since 1993 he is involved in conversion tasks in the state of Brandenburg, as a member of ARGE KONVER honorary managing office of FOKUS, the Forum for Conversion and Urban Development in the State of Brandenburg. Prof. Jakniūnaitė, Dovilė is Professor at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at the Vilnius University (Lithuania). Prof. Kastory, Agnieszka Małgorzata is Professor at the Jagiellonian University Krakow (Poland), employed at the Institute of Political Science and International Relations. Dr Kiss, David, is Research Fellow in the ‘The Post-1945 Era Research Team’ at the VERITAS Research Institute for History and Archives Budapest (Hungary).

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Contributors

PD Dr Lorke, Christoph is lecturer at the Department of History at the Westphalian Wilhelms University Münster (Germany). Currently he holds the professorship for Modern and Contemporary History with special emphasis on the history of the 19th century. Machavariani, Michael was a member of Georgian parliament and is doctoral student at Free University Tbilisi (Georgia). Meißner, Christoph M.A. is Research Assistant at the German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorst (Germany). Dr Mirschel, Markus is Research Assistant at the Department of Eastern European History at the Humboldt University Berlin (Germany). Dr Momzikoff, Sophie is associate professor at Sorbonne-University in Paris (France), specialist of Soviet and Russian history. Dr Morré, Jörg is Director of the German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorst (Germany). Muschik, Simon B.A. is Student Research Assistant at the Centre for East European and International Studies in Berlin (Germany). Prof. em. Schröder, Hans-Henning for many years, scientific director of the Research Group Russia/CIS at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin and is now Professor emeritus of political science at the Free University of Berlin (Germany). Prof. Sindeyev, Alexei is Chief Researcher at the Institute of Europe at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow (Russia). Dr Uhl, Matthias is Research Assistant at the German Historical Institute Moscow (Russia). Prof. Vajda, Barnaba is an Associate Professor and senior lecturer at the Department of History at the Faculty of Education at J. Selye University in Komárno (Slovakia).

Acronyms

AAV

Treaty on Conditions for the Temporary Stay in and Modalities for the Phased Withdrawal of Soviet Forces from the Territory of the Federal Republic of Germany ABM Antiballistic Missiles ACV Armoured combat vehicle APC Armoured personnel carriers BArch German Federal Archives BND Bundesnachrichtendienst (Federal Intelligence Service) BRIXMIS British Commanders’-in-Chief-Mission to the Soviet Forces in Germany CAD-B Combined Analysis Detachment Berlin CC CPSU Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union CFE Conventional Armed Forces in Europe CIA Central Intelligence Agency CIS Commonwealth of Independent States CMEA Council for Mutual Economic Assistance COMINT Communication Intelligence CPSU Communist Party of the Soviet Union CSBM Confidence- and Security-Building measures CSCE Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe CSFR Czecho-Slovak Federative Republic ČSSR Czechoslovak Socialist Republic DGSE Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (General Directorate for External Security) DIA Defense Intelligence Agency DIS Defence Intelligence Staff DTRA Defence Threat Reduction Agency DtVKdoWGT German Liaison Command to the Western Group of Forces EEC European Economic Community EGA East German Army ESW Executive for Securing the Withdrawal of Soviet Forces EU European Union FAFIO Federal Armed Forces Intelligence Office FOFA Follow-On Forces Attack FRG Federal Republic of Germany FSB Federal’naya sluzhba bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy Federatsii (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation)

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Acronyms

GDR GLCM GRVZ GSFG HUMINT IABG IFV IMINT INF JCC JPKF KGB KSČ LRINF LUKO MASINT MBFR MfS MLM MMFL MoD MP MoU MSZMP NATO NGF NKVD NRRC NSA NSC NVA NWGF OGRF OKSVA OSCE PACE PCC PDM PfP PMR PNI

German Democratic Republic Ground-Launched Cruise Missiles Group of Russian Troops in the Transcaucasia Group of Soviet Forces in Germany Human Intelligence Industrieanlagen-Betriebsgesellschaft GmbH Infantry fighting vehicles Imagery Intelligence Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Joint Control Commission Joint Peacekeeping Force Committee of State Security Komunistická strana Československa (Communist Party of Czechoslovakia) Longer-Range Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force German-Russian Airspace Coordination Unit Measurement and Signature Intelligence Mutual and Balance Forces Reductions East German Ministry for State Security Military Liaison Mission Mission militaire française de liaison to the Soviet Forces in Germany Ministry of Defence Member of Parliament Memorandum of Understanding Magyar Szocialista Munkáspárt (Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party) North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation Northern Group of Forces Peoples Commissariat of Internal Affairs Nuclear Risk Reduction Centres National Security Agency National Security Council National People’s Army Northwestern Group of Forces Operational Group of Russian Forces in the Republic of Moldova Limited Contingent of Soviet Armed Forces in Afghanistan Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Warsaw Treaty Organisation’s Political Consultative Committee Partidul Democrat din Moldova (Democratic Party of Moldova) Partnership for Peace Pridniestrovian Moldovan Republic Presidential Nuclear Initiatives

Acronyms

PCC PRTB RKKA RSFSR RSVA SALT SALW SDI SED SIGINT SNF SRINF SSR START SZ TECHINT TLE UK UN US/USA USAREUR USMLM USSR WGF WTO

Political Consultative Committee Mobile Repair Technical Bases Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Russian Alliance of Veterans of Afghanistan Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Small arms and light weapons Strategic Defense Initiative Socialist Unity Party of Germany Signal Intelligence Short-Range Nuclear Forces Short-Range Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Soviet Socialist Republic Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty Security Zone Technical Intelligence Treaty-Limited Equipment United Kingdom United Nations United States of America United States Army Europe United States’ Military Liaison Mission to the Soviet Forces in Germany Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Western Group of Forces Warsaw Treaty Organisation

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Index of Persons

Persons mentioned in the annotations are not incorporated in this index. A Adamishin, Anatoly 58 Adamkus, Valdas 272 Akaba, Natella 286 Akhromeyev, Sergei 43, 64, 103, 106, 108, 115, 116 Ambartsumov, Yevgeny 254, 257 Andrejevs, Georgs 259 Andropov, Yuriy 42, 44, 53 Antall, József 203, 205, 207, 210 Armacost, Michael 63 B Baker, James 28, 106 Bastian, Gerd 53 Bertele, Franz 129, 136 Bessmertnykh, Aleksandr 172, 236 Biden, Joe 40 Bielecki, Jan Krzysztof 237, 240 Brezhnev, Leonid 43, 44, 51, 64 Brown, Archie 51 Brzezinski, Zbigniew 253 Burlakov, Matvej 106, 122, 129, 130, 133–136, 138, 140–142, 149, 152, 154, 155, 157, 174 Bush, George H. W. 28–31, 118, 119, 232 Bush, George W. 40

C Čalfa, Marián 216 Carter, Jimmy 253 Černík, Oldřich 214 Checkel, Jeffrey 54 Cheney, Richard 218 Chernenko, Konstantin 43, 44, 53 Chernyaev, Anatoly 106, 115, 117 Chodakiewicz, Witold 235 Christopher, Warren 253 Churkin, Vitaly 239 Clinton, Bill 254, 257, 260, 261, 266 Cordovez, Diego 63 D de Maizière, Lothar 38 Demetriou, Spyros 282 Dienstbier, Jiří 217, 221 Dobrovský, Luboš 218, 220 Dodon, Igor 310, 311 Domke, Helmut 186 Dubček, Alexander 214, 216 Dubynin, Victor 230, 236, 237, 241 Ducháček, Rudolf 221 Duisberg, Claus-Jürgen 129, 151 E Eppelmann, Rainer

118

F Falin, Valentin 21, 117, 119 Foertsch, Hartmut 129, 130, 136, 147, 174 Foertsch, Volker 177 Franke, Katherine 65 Fuková, Božena 218 Für, Lajos 207

G Gaidar, Yegor 256 Galvin, John Rogers 218 Gamsakhurdia, Zviad 283, 284, 286, 288 Garthoff, Raymond 43 Genscher, Hans-Dietrich 26, 32, 38, 136, 239, 241 Giorgadze, Igor 288 Gorbachev, Mikhail 9, 10, 14, 15, 24–29, 31, 33, 34, 37, 38, 41–46, 48–55, 58, 59, 63, 64, 70, 77–82, 95, 101, 103–107, 111, 114–119, 124, 127, 128, 133, 164, 165, 201, 202, 206, 207, 216, 231–233, 239, 281, 282, 286, 299 Grachev, Pavel 91, 142, 255–257 Gribkov, Anatoly 110 Gromov, Boris 61, 68 Gromyko, Anatoli 53

320

Index of Persons

Gromyko, Andrei 24, 44, 50 Grósz, Károly 202 H Hajnicz, Artur 238 Havel, Václav 217, 220 Hejdánek, Ladislav 220 Honecker, Erich 108, 110 Horn, Gyla 202 I Iskunov, Aleksandr 254 J Jeszenszky, Géza 211 Juretzko, Norbert 172, 177 K Kádár, János 200 Karski, Ryszard 231 Kasatonov, Igor 86 Kashlev, Yuriy 234 Katona, Tamás 208–212 Kennan, George 53 Kennedy, Edward 53 Kessler, Heinz 108 Khasbulatov, Ruslan 71, 74 Khrushchev, Nikita 44, 200 Klaus, Václav 220 Klemm, Peter 136 Klepacki, Lev 240 Knackstedt, Günter 239 Kochemasov, Vyacheslav 108, 109 Kohl, Helmut 27, 38, 113–115, 117, 119, 120, 135, 139, 141, 142, 156, 164, 165, 168, 173, 231, 233, 234, 240

Koptieltsev, Valentin 237 Kostrzewa-Zorbas, Grzegorz 235 Kosygin, Alexei 214 Kovalev, Leonid 242 Kozyrev, Andrei 252, 253, 260, 265 Kravchuk, Leonid 80, 81, 85, 87, 88 Kryuchkov, Vladimir 115 Kubišová, Marta 220 Kulikov, Viktor 142

L Lebed, Aleksandr 299–302 Leff, Karol Skalnik 214 Lobov, Vladimir 206 Lomeiko, Vladimir 53 Lugar, Richard 254 Lushev, Pyotr 106, 130

M Makarczyk, Jerzy 233, 235–238, 241 Mazowiecki, Tadeusz 231, 232, 234 Mečiar, Vladimír 220 Meckel, Markus 136 Medvedev, Dimitry 272 Menagarishvili, Irakli 291 Meri, Lennart 253, 258 Mironov, Valery 256 Mitterrand, François 38, 254 Modrow, Hans 116 Moiseyev, Mikhail 104 Morozov, Kostyantyn 79, 80, 86

N Nadibaidze, Vardiko 288, 291 Naďovič, Svetozár 130 Năstase, Andrei 311 Nazarbayev, Nursultan 86 Németh, Miklós 201, 202 Netkachev, Yuriy 299 Niyazmatov, Vilor 87 Nowakowski, Jerzy Marek 238 Nunn, Sam 254 Nyers, Rezső 202 O Obertaniec, Stanisław 239 Ogarkov, Nikolai 43, 64 Ostrowski, Zdzisław 230, 235, 236 P Parys, Jan 235 Plahotniuc, Vlad 310 Polyakov, Valery 249 Portugalov, Nikolai 113, 114 Primakov, Yevgeny 265, 267 Putin, Vladimir 59, 122, 123, 270, 291, 293, 295 R Reagan, Ronald 24–28, 41, 42, 45, 47, 216 Richter, Horst Eberhard 53 Risse-Kappen, Thomas 54 Rodionov, Igor 282 Rogov, Sergey 254 Rust, Matthias 103 Ruutel, Arnold 256 Ryzhkov, Nikolai 202

Index of Persons

S Saakashvili, Mikheil 291, 292, 294 Šabata, Jaroslav 220 Sandu, Maia 311 Sandulyak, Leontiy 79 Sarkozy, Nikolas 293 Savranskaya, Svetlana 54 Shakhnazarov, Georgy 53 Shaposhnikov, Yevgeny 80, 82–88, 91 Shevardnadze, Eduard 10, 28, 37, 44, 49, 52, 103, 104, 114, 115, 202, 221, 232, 235, 236, 286–292 Shilov, Viktor 204, 205 Shoygu, Sergei 122, 311 Shultz, Georg 24, 47 Shumeiko, Vladimir 295 Shushkevich, Stanislav 81 Skubiszewski, Krzysztof 232–236, 239, 240 Smirnov, Igor 300, 306 Snegur, Mircea 300 Snetkov, Boris 129, 130

Sokolov, Sergei 103 Stelmachowski, Andrzej 238 Stolpe, Manfred 133 Stoltenberg, Gerhard 117, 118 Svirin, Vassily 252 Svoboda, Ludvík 214 T Talbott, Strobe 253, 258 Tatarchuk, Valentin 79 Teltschik, Horst 113 Terentyev, Anton 142 Thatcher, Margaret 29, 119, 122, 232 Töpfer, Klaus 154 Trump, Donald 40 U Ulmanis, Guntis

260

V van de Stoel, Max 259, 260 van Eekelen, Wim 238 Varennikov, Valentin 100

Velliste, Trivimi 260 Vogt, Roland 186 Vorobyov, Eduard 221, 223 W Waigel, Theo 120 Wałęsa, Lech 233, 240, 242 Wörner, Manfred 238 Y Yakovlev, Aleksandr 115 Yakovlev, Gennadiy 299 Yazov, Dmitry 103, 104, 106 Yeltsin, Boris 31, 80–84, 86, 88–91, 120, 133, 135, 139, 142, 205, 239, 251, 252, 254, 257, 260, 261, 265–267, 286–288, 291, 299, 300 Z Zhirinovsky, Vladimir 253 Zhukov, Georgy 130

321