Russia Wants More Troops in the South

Yesterday I published a post on Russia’s moratorium of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty. Today I received many emails about it, and below I share one comment from a close, unnamed Russian colleague: The suspension is not about ratifications – it is about flank limitations. To put simply, Russia wants more troops in the South than is allowed by the treaty – and that is a major concern. Baluyevsky said so yesterday. It is much more important than Kosovo or Iran. A serious concession on flank limitations might make the treaty acceptable. Iran is a bargaining chip, and Kosovo is an issue apart, more inportant for Russia as a symbol than to the US as a matter of pragmatic policies. It is Clinton administration left-over, for Bush it is not that important – he just needs to be seen to get something there. A compromise may be in the books. The real issue is Iraq – flank limitations. The way it is done (the moratorium) is significant. Putin is dismantling the cold war settlement. The first was YUKOS. Emboldened by the lack of reaction, he proceeds cautiously with the moratorium. There are two elements to moratorium: it is unilateral and it is reversible, as Kosachev took pains to point out yesterday. The reversible part, I think, is not meant to mark the moratorium as a bargaining chip, (marking bargaining chip as a “bargaining chip” makes it loose much of its value), but as a precaution if Americans would decide to take the stand against the new revision of the cold war settlement. They will not, of course. Other things will follow soon – let us wait for the next spring. All this is a grand preparation for fulfillment of Putin’s life mission – the ultimate reversal of the cold war results – restoration to Russia of most of the territories of the former Soviet Union.