REGIONAL ISSUES AT THE NOVEMBER MEETING: GORBACHEV'S OPTIONS

Created: 11/6/1985

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DIRECTORATE OF INTELLIGENCE

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Regional Issues at the November Meeting: Gorbachev's Options

Summary

Moscow expects President Reagan to raise the Issue of Soviet bloc nilitary activityhird World Marxist-Leninist states at mis Movember meeting with General Secretary Gorbachev, andreparing for this. Soviet authorities see the President's three-stage proposal for resolving conflict In these countries, which he presented in his address to the UN General Assembly,esign to shift the focus of world attention away from SDI, undercut the Soviet global propaganda campaign keyed to "star wars* and nuclear holocaust, and justify armed aid to "counterrevolutionaries." The Soviet leadership throughoutasteady resolve to defend Its gains In the states mentioned by theCambodia, Ethiopia, Angola andhas viewed consolidation of client regimes In these countries as an essential element In expanding Soviet Influence in the Third World. Gorbachev Is not deviating from this line. While the Soviets probably believe that time Is working in favor of consolidation of these regimes, they are aware of their present weaknesses and will try to ignite political backfires aimed at deflecting or reducing further outside support of anti-Marxist Insurgencies. HpjBlJJJ

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fortunes in the Third World.

At the November meeting Gorbachev will have no interest In settling the armed conflicts In these "socialist-oriented" countries on the terms proposed by the President. For tactical reasonss conceivable, although unlikely, that Gorbachev might suggeston entirely differentinsurgencies In Afghanistan, Angola or Nicaragua. He will either to promote arms control objectives or to contain the "costs ofsignificant concessions to the United States on Third world issues, although such considerations could affect his decision on whether toow-key approach to the regional conflict problem or look to score propaganda points at this meeting. Conceivably he might seek to constrain the supply of mobile surface-to-air missiles and other weapon systems to insurgents fighting against Soviet clients. It Is possible that he will present "tension reduction" proposals designed to spotlight areas of US vulnerability and capitalize on potential longer-term opportunities the Soviets see to advance their

1. President Reagan's address to the United Nations General Assembly put Moscow firmly on notice that the United States intends at the November meeting to pursue vigorously the question of Soviet bloc military activityfghanistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Angola and Nicaragua. This message could hardly have comeurprise to Soviet policymakers;

levertheless, the Soviet press response demonstrates that the move was an unwelcomed development. Soviet authorities see this step as an initiative designed to shift the focus of attention away from SDI, undercut their global propaganda campaign keyed to "starnd pave the way for further US support of anti-Marxist insurgencies. They themselves have no Interest whatever In settling the armed conflicts In these five "Socialist-oriented" states on the terms proposed by the President, which they must read as an Invitation to dismantle Soviet influence, abandon clients and repudiate support for Third World radicalism in return for more economic aid from the West.

Marxist-Leninist Clients and Soviet Third World Policy

2. Consolidation of pro-Soviet Marxist-Leninist regimes in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Angola and Nicaragua is an essential element of Moscow's continuing broad-gauged strategy for Increasing Its influence in the Third World and acquiring new political and military bases from which to expand Soviet influence further. Levels of Soviet military and economic assistance to these regimes have fluctuated considerably over the past five years, with economic aid clearly being squeezed by declining growth of Soviet GNP. The constant factor has been a

basic Soviet determination to make Marxist revolutions irreversiblehese countries. The tactical changes made in each case--in levels of assistance and Soviet bloc military partic1pat1on--have been based principally on the client's degree of peril and on the Kremlin's judgment of what risks the traffic would bear.

3. Soviet military assistance in recent years to client

"Socialist-oriented" Marxist-Leninist regimes has been substantial:

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In Afghanistan, the USSR increased the number of its troopsennow) and has taken more forceful measures to suppress the urrection's growi

In Cambodia. the USSR hasey role in supporting Vietnamese occupation of the country. Soviet military aid to Vietnam has levelled off in the past three years to0 million annually. Without Moscow's extensive economic aid (an estimated il billionanoi would have been hard pressed to maintain the level and intensity of its pressure in Cambodi

.-thiopia. of the S3 billion worth of arms provided by the USSRoscow sent3 billionnd3 billion-

d enabled the Ethiopians to mount, for the"uccessful counterattack against Eritrean insurgents and to rapidly recapture lost territory.

Iflthe USSR1 has suppliedillion in military assistance. Soviet military assistance rose considerably3

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Deliveries fell off4 (probably due to Moscow's displeasure with Mozambique President Machel's signing of the Nkomati Agreement with Southut they hav< increased

economic assistance

In Angola. the Soviets have clearly beefed up their

raisin93 deliveries ofHilton)0 million

4. Soviet actions over the past months have affirmed Gorbachev's apparent intention to protect these client regimes. Like his three predecessors, Gorbachev seems willing to furnish such military support as appears necessary--at least in the absence of great risk or significantly Increased costsensure their survival. The USSR does face serious operational and logistical problemsonducting counter 1nsurgency wars at great distances and In unfamiliar situations, but these ventures are not that costly. Soviet military assistance, while large bsolute terms isexcept for Afghan 1the margin of existing Soviet force structure, stockpiles, and military production.

Moscow's concern over the possibility ofUS Initiatives in the Third World, the Sovietto believe that the United States and others who seekSoviet efforts there are hemmed tnarietywhich, over the long run, will work againstopposition to Soviet aims. At the same time,probably think they will be able to profit fromtrends now visiblehe international environment:

he fundamental shift in the regional "correlation of forces outheast Asia that could arise with the loss of US basesheppines--wlth oruccessful communist revolutionhat country.

he accelerating potential for serious revolutionary activity in South Africa.

Growing frustration over the US rolehe Middle East peace processossibly growing Inclination of moderates In the region to accept moreoviet role.

orth/South tensions resulting from the debt problem and

possible revolutionary upheavals, especially inmjpmmmj

Soviets are well aware, however, of the shortof their client states: economic crisis. and leadership institutionalization, andto Insurgent attack. They know Washingtonsteadily Increased support for some resistancecan see Washington is in the midstolicy debateof that assistance to other Insurgent groups. reference in the President's address to supportresistance forces is probably read by the Kremlinaccurate indication of the administration's intent tot insurgencies if this is

7. Under these circumstances, the Soviets almost certai

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ttempt to continue to provide client regimes with levels of military assistance deemed adequate to prevent serious insurgent challenge to client governments.

eek to generate political pressures that will deflect further outside support for Insurgencies in client states.

lay for timehich to strengthen political, social and economic controlshese regimes,

ry to distract world attention from the anti-Marxist

insurgencies by focusing on areas of US vulnerability and Soviet opportunity.

Runup to the November Meeting

Between now andovember Moscow will publicly attack President Reagan's proposal, strive to impose its own terms of reference on discussion of regional Issues at the meeting, and lay the groundwork for subsequent exploitation of whatever positions Gorbachev advances in his talks with President

Theoretically, Moscow could consider strengthening Gorbachev's hand in the talks by attempting toajor military or political defeat beforehand on freedom fighters in one or more of its client states. Practically, however, time Is running out and opportunities to scoresychological victory are not evidentevenoscow did decide to risk more publicity for its Involvement in counter-insurgency efforts and to expose the steel beneath its current efforts to appear

main arenas of Soviet activity, thus, are likelypropaganda and more finely tunedctive measures"). The most authoritativedate to the. President's comments on regional conflict 1naddress has been Gorbachev's speechovember at aEthiopian chief Menglstu. Gorbachev did not addressproposals directly, but

sserted that the charge of Soviet machinations in

Ethiopia and elsewhere in the Third World was an attempt to cover up US interferencehese countries, obstruct their ties with the Soviet blochinder their free and independentistract world attention from US encouragement of Israel and South Africa, and avoid addressing the nuclear arms control issue.

probably will wait to see how auchthe President gets before deciding whether aorebefore the November meeting to put the United Statespropaganda defensive. Thus far, the Sovietsby statements from soae Western leaders andGandhi that the primary focus of the Novemberbe arms control, not regional conflicts. Ifproposal does not achieve muchthe Soviets could very well decide to playownown prop area--hoping others wi 11 1gnore it or writeashetorical maneuver. |

Soviet Behavior at the November Meeting: Gorbachev's Options

Secretary Shultz's recent trip to Moscow,reportedly dismissed US efforts torder to get the talks back to arms control. that, whatever It might wish, it cannot preventStates from raising the issue of regional conflict at the November meeting. Gorbachev's choices(a) acceptance or not of any "linkage" betweenin the Third World and achievement of Sovietthe bilateral US/USSR relationship, including arms (b) whether therenything at all to beeven discussing the possibility of negotiationsin one or more of the five Soviethe President's address; (c) how actively toPresidentalking about regional conflict; andbeyond the meetlng--what the best way is to turn conflict theme against the United States.

linkage with the US/USSR Bilateral Relationship andalks

are no compelling reasons fromto give up gains already achieved in thecountries or elsewhere in the Third World out ofenticing Washington to agree to more favorable terms 1n Soviet America watchers would hardlyenough to offer their leadership assurances aboutconcessions might gain from Washington, and Gorbachevnot be able politically to "give away thevenwanted to, which he does not. The Sovietractical matter, however, that there 1sbetween flagrant Soviet support ofactivities in the Third World andof arms control Issues. For this reason it mayto exercise tactical caution in its support of,of, counterlnsurgency effortsts client states;may choose at the November meeting to argue that it hasprudently with respect, for example, tothe Pakistan border or to military supply of Nicaragua. of linkage at the November meeting by the Unitedpressedommitment to future responsible behavior,will probably restate their general principle ofrevolutionary movements. But conceivably they mightcalculated ambiguity or assertions that "revolutionexported" could be perceived in this context by theas tacit consent to restrain specific possibleexample, military supply of guerrillasor the New Peoples' Army in the Philippines.

Deflecting the Issue?

previous exchanges with Western leadersdealt with their attempts to raise Third World issueslistening and quietly reiterating Soviet positions. do the same with the President at the Novemberhe could reaffirm agreement that theforeign ministers continue and institutionalizebegun this year on regional issues. The objectiveto terminate the discussion as quickly as possible andto arms control. trategy would help muffleconflict theme, display Soviet "statesmanship,"potential tensions that might arise between the USSRregimes if serious talks were Initiated with the However, the strategy would not provide much offor post-meeting propaganda and active measureswould leave the Initiative with Washington.

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a more activist stance, Moscow Bight useof regional Issues at the aeetlng to scoreagainst the United States while attempting tounease with appearing to act hypocritically or Picking up themes alreadyovietcould try to put the President off balance byhim of instigating "state terrorism* againstto the USSR, of preparing to crank up aid to the"puppet" Savimbl, of supporting South African racismagainst its neighbors, of working with Israel Interests, of backing military dictatorshipshilein Latin America, or of exacerbating Thirdby deploying nuclear-armed vessels throughout Such an approach Bight win kudos for Gorbachevelements in the Soviet elite, but wouldunwanted controversy over Soviet blocin the Third World and might be seen byas likely to spoil an atmosphere at themoreconduclve to American concessions on arms control

Recasting the Entire Debate

An obvious option open to Gorbachevo try to put the USno win" position by presenting "constructive" "tension-reduction" proposals that are not transparently self-serving, but acceptance of which would constrain US military power projection capabilities, weaken US political Influence, and enhance the Soviet presencehe Third World. If Washington decided to accept the proposed negotiating agenda, so much the better from the Kremlin's standpoint. But Moscow's main aim would be to position itself to (a) link US rejection of the proposals with US "bellicosity* in "star wars" and use this Indictment to fanmer1canismestern Europe and the Third World, and (b) to advance political Initiatives in the Third World calculated to exploit US

The statement Issuedeetlng of leaders of the Warsaw Pactate October, together with Gorbachev's responseetter from the Club of Rome on the International arms trade andovember speech, probably provide some clues about the Items that would be Included inet of "tension-reduction" proposals. We might see calls for:

code of conduct" for the Third World based on "respect for national Independence and sovereignty, nonuse of force or the threat of force. Inviolability of borders, territorial integrity, peaceful solution oftc.

esumption of the conventional arms transfer talks.

SEckLI NUI UKH HUL-OMTUAC T

n international effort to effect dismantlement of

foreign military basesithdrawal of forces from foreign territories.

he convening under UN auspices of an international conference on the Arab-Israeli dispute.

n Invitation to the US to join with the USSR in promoting an Asian Collective Security pact.

Recognition of "zones of peace" and nuclear free zones In the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, Africa, Indian Ocean and South Pacific.

pproval of principles of North/South trade that paid Hp service to the Third World's "New International Economic Order" initiative,

egotiations under UN auspices dealing with the Third World debt problem.

pproval lobal program for sharing high technology.

We rate the chances of the Soviets presenting some set of "tension-reduction" proposals at the November meeting about fifty-fifty. Whatever the particular mix of proposals may be, the package would be designed not only to deflect attention from President Reagan's regional conflict agenda, but actively to advance longer-term strategems of capitalizing on the perceived opportunities noted just above. Q

Negotiating One or More Conflicts Mentioned by

rom Moscow's perspective, the President's proposal Implies actions which are either in fundamental opposition to Soviet interests, or are unlikely to succeed:

romotion of negotiations between client Marxist regimes and insurgents. The Soviets have tried but apparently failed to achieve negotiationsthiopia; they are probably uninterested in either having such talks or pressuring Cuba to engineer them in Angola and Nicaragua; and they are probably skeptical about the prospects of achieving serious talks with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, or between the two opposed Cambodian factions even if they wanted to pursueack.

emocratization of these five states. This path wouldomplete reversal of efforts by the Soviets and

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their bloc partners to build single-party Marxist-Leninist systems of rule.

ithdrawal of bloc military support of clients, with

verification.Pursuit ofove would lead to

collapse ofclient regimes in at least Afghanistan and

Angola, serious loss of Influence with Vietnam, probably

loss of presencethiopia, and major conflict with Cuba.

" Expanded trade and aid relations between client regimes ana Western partners.While the Sovietsertain amount of such intercourse as unavoidable and even desirable, their long-term objective is precisely to reduce the structural economic dependence of their clients on the West and strengthen integration of those countries in the Soviet bloc. J

19. Perhaps the only positive aspects of the President's

OB,Ho-cow sare Its implicit acceptance of theole in the Third Worlduperpower and potential co-guarantor with the United States of agreements, and acceptance fut,Mnon;1ntervention principles that might constrain future US actions. Conceivably those pluses, supplementing more concrete cost/benefit calculations (including the benefits to be

ViBipI* De1n? lien to be engagedegotiating process with Wash1 ngton) rmTght lead Gorbachev to explore talks about some of the Insurgencies mentioned by the President. It is difficult to Imagine why Moscow would broach the subject of Ethiopia or Cambodia, but scenarios Involving the three other countries are not totally implausible:

fghani stan. The objective here would be to draw or create tlie Illusion of drawing the United States into discussion of "guarantees" before the initiation of talks between the Karmal regime and the Mujahedeen, with the aim of eroding Pakistan's confidence in US staying power and Pakistani resistance to direct talks with the Afghans, and creating doubts among the Mujahedeen about the continuation of external support.

ngola. The Soviets might restate their theoretical acceptance of at least partial Cuban evacuation fromn return for withdrawal of South African support for UNITA, combined with Implementation ofuaranteeing free electionsamibia supervised by the Uh. The gain wouldrobable SWAPO victory in Namibia; but the Soviets probably would doubt that the US could deliver the South Africans, and they would feel that the MPLA could not handle UNITA one-on-one even though they might be more heartened by FAPLA's performancehis year's offensive.

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icaragua/El Salvador. Any Soviet counter-proposal here would be conditioned by the need for gaining Cuban and Sandinista collaboration, which could well prove an Insuperable obstacle. No doubt the Soviets would be prepared to trade withdrawal of Western support for the Afghan freedom fighters for Soviet withdrawal of support from the insurgency in El Salvador; buts difficult to conceive how they would visualizeeal being consummated. The Soviets might see hints of it, however,seful active measures tactic aimed at undercutting Pakistani resolve. Similarly, while they would see consolidation of Sandinista powericaragua as far more Important than legitimation of limited participation of the FMLN in electoral politics in El Salvador, they might see hints of talks between Moscow and Washington about reciprocal incorporation of insurgents Into the political process of both countrieseans of sowing doubtentral America about the US commitment to El Salvador, and encouraging CongressiorK^^ooopsition to further US support for the contras.

20. The level of sophistication and destruct1veness of weapon systems introduced Into Third World conflictsuestion which Soviet policymakers inevitably must address. As we suggest below,s conceivable they might see some utilityroaching this issuelobal level in the contextroposal to renew the conventional arms transfer talks. But they also might see an advantage in raising the questionegional basis. acker of counterinsurgency warfare in the five countries mentioned by the President, the Soviets now have an obvious Interest in reducing the flow to insurgents of anti-armor weaponryurface-to-air missiles and heavy machineguns capable of downing helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. The problem from the Soviet standpoint would be to find something toor tacitlyrestraint on the part of their opponents. Itonceivable that Soviet policy planners might entertain the possibility of offering to trade continued restrainthe bloc's supply of such weapons to guerrillas Salvador for future restrainteapons available to the contrasicaragua. Less plausible wouldoviet attempt to gain US agreement to seek restraint in the types of weapons that might get to Insurgents in Afghanistan or perhaps evenngola by means of an offer of Bloc restraint, for example. In overall military delivers to Nicaragua or of Soviet restraintactive pursuit" along the Pakistan border. It is highly unlikely that the Soviets would initiate discussion of US restraint anywhere in return for an understanding, however vague, about possible future Soviet non-supply of arms to South African dissidents or Communist insurgentshe Philippines.

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