THE BALTICS REPUBLICS: MOSCOW WON'T FORCE THEM TO STAY

Created: 1/29/1990

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

The Director ol Central Intelligence Washington.

Intelligence Council

90

EXTXUTTVE BRIEF

THE BALTIC REPUBLICS: MOSCOW WONT FORCE THEM TO STAY

o The current Soviet leadership is not prepared lo use force to prevent the Baltic republics from seceding from the USSR-the only means, in our view, (hat would keep them from leaving.

Gorbachev will still try to devise ways to,inimum,ailie move toward independence and Ideally to come up with some scheme of vastly expanded republic autonomy that would convince the Baits to remain tied to the USSR.

Even so, the Baits-following local and republic elections in the next two months-will press for Independence even more vigorously. As long as they avoid violence, we believe that Moscow will reach an agreement in the next two years with Lithuania first and subsequently Es(onla and Latvia granting the right to independenceransition period of at least several years.

o The major obstacle to this scenario is that the Baits may not want to wall thai long or accept any conditions Imposed bv Moscow, thus forcing a

o Although the Baltic republicspecial case, Independence for them will fuel secessionist movements In Moldavia, the Caucasus republics, and eventually the Ukraine.

Thia Executive Brief reflects the view of the Intelligence Community expressedeeting oo0 It drafted by the National loteffigcoce Officer for the USSR aad coordinated within the Community.

THE BALTIC REPUBLICS: MOSCOW WONT FORCE THEM TO STAY

Baltic republics' drive for independenceritical watershed during the past month. The drama centered on Lithuania but has direct implications for Latvia and Estonia as well. The Lithuanian Communist Party (LCP) challenged the CPSU and Moscow temporized. In the process, the independence movement in Lithuaniaremendous boost and gave the Sovietivid and sobering demonstration of the Lithuanians' deteraiination to go their own way.

An Independent part)

Theecision ath party congress in December to withdraw from the CPSUeven morethe goal of Lithuanian independence from the USSR was the spark. Lithuanian party leaders came under intense criticismuickly convened CPSU Central Committee plenum in late December.

But the plenum's decision to play for time byolitburodelegation to the republic indicated that there was no Central Committee consensus on bow to handle the situation.

In fact, the unanimously favorable readout LCP leaders gave of their meeting with Gorbachev, Yakovlev, and Medvedev in Moscow in early January prior to Gorbachev's visit to Lithuania suggested that at least those three had recognizedarge majority of the LCP is intent on remaining independent from the CPSU.

Gorbachev apparently decided that trying to force the LCP back into the fold would only destroy the local party's political prospects and would leave the Lithuanian political field entirely to the popular front Sajudis. At the same time, Moscow has hedged its bets by encouraging the establishmentump Communist party of Lithuania loyal to the CPSU.

A Peaceful Process

The comments of Soviet leaders during Gorbachev's visit suggest that (he Politburo has reached consensus on foreswearing the nse of force to keep the Lithuanians In the anion.

Gorbachev notedonstitutional mechanism for secession was being drawn up.

Politburo member Ligachev, in an interviewwedish newspaper, said that force isolution in tbe Baltic and that the USSR could live without one or another small republic

Although each leader argued strongly against independence, the above statememsillingness to work out procedures for secession.

Conceding (be possibility of independence and failing to force the Liihuanian COmmunistparty back into the fold will be difficult to reverse,

ecisive swing in the Politburo against Gorbachev, which appears unlikely at the moment, would lead Moscow lo resist this course with force. If it came to this, the leadership would probably attempt to create an inter-ethnic dash, givingaw and order pretext for intervention.

Playing for Time...

Moscow is lefttrategy of trying to delay and sidetrack the forces driving for independence. Gorbachev will attemptlow Lithuania's move toward secession through prolonged negotiations. The draft legislation on mechanics for secession along with negotiations on economic and military relations will be bis primary delaying tactics.

comments in Lithuania on Ihe right of other Soviet republicsay in Lithuania's decision and on

SECP.irrj

compensation that would be due them foreshadowed some of the impediments to secession he is likely to propose in this new legislation.

will use bis powers in the Supreme Soviet and the Congress of People's Deputies to drag the process out as long as possible.

The debate on the secession mechanism is likely to be supplemented with implied threats of economic disaster for the Baits if they try to leave unilaterally. The three republics are most vulnerable in the energy sphere. But the actual use of economic sanctions, rather thanobering effect, would probably further radicalize the situation and prompt Baltic leaders to intensify efforts to achieve independence.

Gorbachev, however, in the end Is likely to depend more on carrots than sticks. He will have no choice but to offer the Baltic republics far more self-rule than Moscow has thus far. This probably will include genuine economic autonomy (complete with separate Baltiche right to enact their own laws, no military service outside the republic, and perhaps some form of separate representation abroad within Soviet embassies.

nlikely to Get It

The major obstacle to this approach is that the Lithuanians-as well as toe Latvians and Estonians-will balk at achieving only autonomy as well as at some of Moscow's economic and security demands and open-ended timetable,howdown.

The Baits will particularly resist attempts to maintain Baltic obligations to serve in the Soviet armed forces and pay taxes to the center or "reparations" for the economic assets tbey will take with them out of the union.

The certain victory of Baltic popular fronts in local elections in February and March and the increasing likelihood of popular referenda on

independence in each republic in the next six months will quicken the pace of events, making it more difficult for Moscow to draw out the process.

The Contrast With the Caucasus The situation in the Baltic republics differs from that in the Caucasusumber of important respects. Exceptrief period of independence during the Russian Civil, the three Caucasus republics have been part of the Russian empireinimum of two centuries, whereas the Baltic republics had twos independent states. The United States and outer Western powers have never recognized the USSR's incorporation of the Baltic states, but they have not questioned Moscow's sovereignty over the Caucasus. Finally, the Baits have avoided the interethnic violence that has plagued the Caucasus over the past two years and that has given Moscow's military intervention there some legitimacy internationally.

Tbe Baltic pcoples-thc Lithuanians in particular-smell independence and they sense wavering in Moscow. If the Soviet leadership attempts only to stall, we believe the newly-elected Baltic governments will become radicalized, significantly increasing the likelihoodnilateral declaration of independence. This couldrisis atmosphere and lead possibly to civil disobedience and the use of force.

Gorbachev and his colleagues want to avoidrospect. They recognize that employing force in the Baltic would certainly destroy perestroyka and the good relationship Gorbachev has built with the West, and could lead to Gorbachev's political demise.

Thus, we believe it much more likely that, as long as the Lithuanians avoid violence,failing to get them to settle forutonomy and seeing the direction of events-will agree1 at the latest, to grant them the right to full independenceransition period or at least several years.

The process of reaching an agreement on independenceransition period is certain to be difficult even if the Lithuanians believe Moscow has conceded the main point. Tbe critical issues will be transition arrangements and the relationship of the new state with the USSR. Moscow will want to: retain some of its military bases; be assured of overflight rights; maintain road, rail, and air access to what would become the exclave of Kaliningrad Oblast; and receive assurances that the rights of the Russian minority will be protected.

Lithuania, for its part would need continued economic ties to the USSR at least until its economy was on its feet and capable of competing in the world economy. This mutual dependence increases the likelihood of an "amicable divorce" that both sides claim

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itects their vital interests-independence Lithuania and security for Moscow.

We judge the chances of Estonia and Latvia obtaining tbe same deal01 to be lower than Lithuania's because of the higher proportion of non-natives in their populations. But once Lithuania went its own way, it would onlyatter of time before Estoniat via, which came into the USSR in the same manner as their Lithuanian neighbor, did so as well.

An Alternative

Although wc believe it to be much less likely, there is some possibility that the Baits would settle for the vastly expanded autonomy Gorbachev is certain to offer. Without giving up the goal of eventual independence, cooler heads in the Baltic conclude thatompromise would give the Baltic republics the necessary time and experience to develop

f

:nuine self-sufficiency. Selling this to the alts would be an uphill battle, unless the Lithuanians came to believe that the Soviet leadership was prepared to use force to prevent secession.

Implications for the Union and for Gorbachev

In granting tbe Baltic republics independence, Moscow would portray itpecial case rectifying an illegal international act of Stalin's. Nonetheless, secessionist movement in other non-Russian republics would be energized.

Moldavia is likely to be the most directly affected. Itellow victim of9 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and its activists are already following the lead of the Baltic popular fronts. Developments across the border in Romania, however, are likely to be an even more important variable affecting the future of this republic

where disgust with Moscow's handling of the various and bloody indigenous ethnic disputes is growing, are also likely to see Baltic secession as opening the way for them. The situation in the region and within each republic is so much more complex, however, that the eventual outcome is more uncertain than in the Baltic.

The independence movement in the Ukraine is much less well-developed, but it, too, could not fail to be affected by the Baits' leaving the USSR.inimum, it would spur demands for

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reatcr autonomy. Independence, Dwever, would be much harder to sell both inside the republic, which has a

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robablc majority of Russians and ussiGed Ukrainians, and to Moscow, given the size of the Ukraine and its importance to the Soviet economy.

Independence for the Baltic republics is not by itself likely to bring Gorbachev down. But it will give his opponents in the party one more failure to useallying point against him.

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