THE UKRAINIAN INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM AND PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: NEAR TERM IMPL

Created: 11/20/1991

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

The Director of Centra] Intelligence

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EXECTJTTVE BRIEF

The Ukrainian Independence Referendum and Presidential Election: Near Term Implications

ecember, voters will approve Ukraine's declaration of independence by an overwhelming margin; Ukrainian parliamentary leader Kravchuk is likely to be elected president, but possibly onlyunoff election against Rukh candidate ChornovU.

No matter which presidential candidate wins, Ukraine will nol joinew union or participate in Interrepublic structures If they limit its sovereignty. Interethnlc and interrepublic tensions will inevitably rise, but there is an even chance that Kravchuk can manage those tensions-

Kravchuk is unlikely to inhibit the growth of democratic institutions, but he willel'tsln-style approach to economic reform. The spillover effect of Russian "shockowever, will force Kravchuk either to erect interrepublic trade barriers or to follow Yel'tsin's example.

Ukraine probably will establish its own armed forces within the limits of the CFE agreement. It will not agree to transfer the nuclear weapons on its territory to sole control of Russia but probably would agree to joint responsibility for command and controliew toward eliminating the weapons altogether.

Thit Executive Brief is based on the findings of Intelligence Community representativeseeting heldt was produced by the National Intelligence officer for die USSR and coordinated with representatives of CIA, DIA, NSA, andR.

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ecember, voters will decide whether to approve the Ukrainian parliament's declaration of the republic's independence. They will also cast then-ballots in the first direct popular electionkrainian head of slate. Those two votes willatershed in Ukraine's modern history. Formal independenceoregone conclusion, but the political and economic viability of the new state will depend largely on the quality of its leadership and the degree of political consensus that emerge after the elections.

Probable Outcomes

The Independence referendum will pass overwhelmingly and probably will receive majority support even In Ihe russified areas of eastern and southern Ukraine.

| moreoters In Ukraine supportdeclaration, and overof tbe residents in almost allmost russified regions will vote forin Crimea, whichnd was part of

majority is likely to vote yes.

The frontrunner in theelection,Leonid Kravchuk, may bea runoff election within twoRukh-endorsedCbornovil. Kravchuk isprevailne-on-one contest.Kravchuk will

win at least pluralities in all but the strongly nationalist western regions of Ukraine, Chornovil's political base.

How Independent?

No matter which candidate wins the presidency, the Ukrainian government Is likely to move vigorously to carry out the popular mandate for independence.

It will putull court press for international recognition, which it is likely to receive quickly from several East European countries, the Baltic States, Israel, and Canada. It will also demand full participation in international organizations and such multilateral forums as CSCE.

It is unlikely to participate in any loose political union. This stance will diminish the prospectsiable confederation will last because Russia will have little interestonfederation without Ukraine.

It wfll insist on the full trappings of economic sovereignry--induding its own currency, banking system, and customs-even in the unlikely event the Ukrainian parliament ratifies its membership in the interrcpublic economic community.

Ukrainian politicians realize that full independence cannot occur overnight. Kravchuk wouldore gradual and pragmatic course than would Cbornovil, who has called for complete independence withinonths. Kravchuk is unlikely to backtrack from the pro-independence stance he took during the election campaign, but he would be more likely than Cbornovil toialogue with other republics on economic and security cooperation. Kravchuk also would be more inclined to

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maintain strong ties with Russia and to try to protect the interests of ethnic Russians living in Ukraine.

Kravchuk thus far has deftly kept tbe Crimean separatist movement at bay, and be bas worked closely with Yei'tsin to defuse potentially divisive issues in Ukrainian-Russian relations.

Chomovfl would be more likely than Kravchuk toonfrontational stance in disputes with the Russian government

Eveo under Kravchuk, however, tensions between Ukrainians and Russians will increase. The most serious potential for conflict is in Crimea. Despite indications that tbe region will vote for Ukrainian independence, the efforts of Crimean Russian separatists to establish an independent republic or to rejoin the Russian federation will persist. Furthermore, as Kravchuk acts to mollify the Russians, tensions will increase with tbe Crimean Tatars, whose demands for an autonomous republic directly challenge Russian control over the reins of power.

Political and Economic Reform Prospects

The transformation of Ukraineore pluralistic parliamentary system will broaden and deepenecember. Kravchuk intends totrong executive presidency, but he is also cornmitted to transforming the Ukrainian Supreme Sovietmaller, more effective professional parliament.

Chornovil would move even more quickly to setestern-style parliamentary democracy. Political parlies are currently weak, but they probably will grow in importance as regional elections scheduled for next March draw nearer and as the possibility of elections next yearew republic parliament becomes more likely.

Nevertheless, authoritarianism Is far from dead In Ukraine. The former communist party has been weakened but not destroyed, and it is positioning itself to become the defender of those who will suffer the mostransitionarket economy. Right-wing antidemocratic alternatives, currently not muchactor in Ukrainian politics, wilt also become more politically attractive if economic conditions seriously deteriorate.

Whether Ukraine takes quick and serious stepsarket economy will depend in pan on who wins the presidential election.

taunch anucommunist, wants to destroy the vestigeslanned economy as soon as possible. He wouldrogram of rapid privatization based on the slogan "enrich yourselves."

Kravchuk has endorsed economic reform in principle, but he is probably the least market-oriented of the seven candidates running for president. He has emphasized the need for economic stabilization over quick marketization and wants liberalized prices and private properly to be phased in gradually.

Ukraine's economic ruturc will also depend in large measure on iis relations with other republics, especially Russia. Kravchuk's economic agreement with Yel'tsin and his willingness to continue an interrepublic dialogue wilt help prevent debilitating trade disruptions.Ukraine's economic relations with other republics will be strained as it sets up its own monetary, financial, and trade systems. In addition, Kravchuk will be tempted to respond torice Uberalizatlon by applying more severe restrictions on cross-border trade to prevent an outflow of cheaper Ukrainian goods. Such go-it-alone policies would fall, however, and likely force the Ukrainian government to free prices Itself.

Defense Issues

Both major candidates are serious about transforming Ukraineuclear free state, in part because of Western concerns over control of Soviet nuclear weapons. Cbornovil has moderated his earlier position advocating Ukraine's retention of nuclear weapons. Either candidate probably would negotiate with Russia and whatever central government emerges to remove nuclear weapons from Ukrainian territory and/or destroy them. Neither candidate would be likely to agree to transfer the weapons to the sole control of Russia.

Should tensions between Ukraine and Russia escalate sharply, Ukraine may try to hold on to some weaponsargaining chip.ove, however, would seriously complicate Kiev's relationship with the West

The creation of general purpose units subordinated exclusively to the Ukrainian government Isatter of time.

An agreement between Moscow and Kiev on the home-basing of conscripts would result in units manned largely by Ukrainiansew years, particularly if overall force levels in Ukraine are reduced from current levels.

Kravchuk appears inclined to move graduallyubstantially smaller military thanan force authorized by the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Chornovil advocates moving more quickly to the establishment of separate Ukrainian armed forces.

The future Ukrainian government intends to accede to the CFE and START agreements, but Ukraine's status under tbe treaties and the procedures for ratification and implementation are unclear. Ukraine is unlikely to participate in tbe impending USSR Supreme Soviet votes on the treaties, but it probably will be willing to enter into politically binding agreements to honor treaty provisions.

Looming Dangers

Kravchuk can probably manage the near-term problems of Ukraine's transition to independence, but the creationtable, democratic, and secure state is by no means assured. Although Ukraine's economic problems are less severe than those of most other republics, conditions would deteriorate rapidly if the bilateral agreement with Russia breaks down and trade warfare increases between the republics. Under these circumstances, food and fuel shortages in Ukraine during the winter would be much worse than we now expect. Such developments probably would fan ethnic tensions within Ukraine, erode popular support for Kravchuk's government, and eventually threaten the stability of Ukraine's fledgling democracy.

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