Created: 9/19/1984

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Director of Central In.tllicmer

The USSR and the Third World

Key Judgments


The USSR and the Third World

Warning Notice Sensitive Intelligence Sources and Methods Ir (WNINTEL)

NATIONAL SECURITY INFORMATION Unauthorized Disclosure Subject to Criminal Sanctions





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this estimate is issued by the director of central intelligence.

the national foreign intelligence board concurs.

The following inteMgeiKe wganizationt participatedthe preparation of the Estimate:

troiAoc-ey.e-iic InleCgme*Ih* Nahorwi Seeuriry Agency, andiMiSgncc crgoniiolion of Ihe OvpanrwM of Slow

A/to Participating:

thel Staff torOeporlmenl of tht Arm, The Diroelor of Navalarln*n( of Ihe Novy The Anitlanf ChJrf of Staff. IntriligerKc, Depoftmenl of eho Air force The Oir*elor of Intirlbgenca, Hoodquorlen, Morim Corpi



1 J

scope note

Despite theeconomic, cultural, andthe Third World, the USSR since the time of Lenin has viewed ithole andeak link of the West and has fashioned policies to gain influence there. These policies have undergone some changes reflecting Soviet adjustment to changed circumstances in the Third World and Soviet capabilities for exploiting new opportunities. This National Intelligence Estimate examines Soviet policies toward the Third World in the lastears and assesses the outlook for the remainder of.


The Third World will continue to be the most volatile arena of US-Soviet political struggle in the coming years. Its inherent instability will continue to present the USSR with tempting targets to expand Sovietat Western expense. We believe that Moscow, despite an array of obstacles and constraints, will seek as vigorously as it has in the recent past to press its decades-old strategy of Third World penetration.

Moscow's efforts in the Third World began in earnest inlthough the USSR in some instances failed conspicuously, as for example in Indonesia, Ghana, Sudan, and Egypt, Soviet influence and presence in the Third World have expanded considerably. This overall Soviet advance has bolstered the USSR's claim tolobal power, and has created new threats to US and Wesiern interests. Now the Soviets have:,

Access to distant air and naval facilities in some eight countries.

Military assistance programs in somedditional Third World countries.

Treaties of friendship and cooperation withhird World associates.

An increased capability to mount airlift and sealift to distant places.

New pro-Soviet regimes in southern Africa. Central America, and South and Southeast Asia.

Substantial means for undercutting US interests in the Third World by encouraging and supporting opposition groups,and insurrection.

These Soviet gains were facilitated by the emergence of exploitable opportunities, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and Central America, by inhibitions of US policy in the immediate post-Vietnam period, by the USSR's growing military capabilities, andore subtle blending of tactics.

Over the years, Moscow has refined and improved such techniques and instruments of policy as:

willingness to dealide ideological range of govern ments and opposition groups

The exploitation of residual Third World anticolonialism and anti-US sentiments in particular areas.

The training and education of increasing numbers of Third World students, military personnel, and political cadres.

Friendship treaties to symbolize and dramatize the Soviet presence in the Third World.

An increase of arms sales to the Third World.

The use of active measures.1

The use of naval and airlift capabilities to "show tbe flag" and, in the absence of major opposition, to project limited power into the Third World.

Since thehe USSR has also given special attention to other techniques:

The sale of more sophisticated weapon systems to favored clients.

The extensive employment of intermediaries to trainservices, to provide technical aid, and (in the case of the Cubans) to deploy combat troops in defense of certain Third World regimes.

Perhaps most important, more emphasis on the training of intelligence and security services and the provision of Praetorian guards to bolster client regimes and institutionalize Soviet influence, in the hope ofepetition of earlier setbacks.

For the future, the primary Soviet objectives in the Third World will continue to be:

obtain political support from Third World entitieshe United States and the West or at least to weaken their tics to

the West.

1 The Soviei ternexmnei ti oted to diMirifubh Influence opentMmi from (in'muie ind OMMermtelllt**ce. Soviet, active neuureiHi villa by virtually every elemeM of tbe Sonet [arty and flatc flructute and Mpptemcu traditional diplomacy. They include muWpuUUoo ot the media, written or col diiinformation, uie of foreum Commune! partis and fronU. eUndeatine radio, economic tttMtlo. military operaltotu. and other poCtical Influence operation*

To promote the creation of Marxist regimes closely allied with the USSR, and to protect those regimes, especially from internal opposition.

To gain, or deny to the West, access to naval and air facilities that would be useful in promoting Moscow's foreign policy goals and that could be used in some crisis or wartime situation.

To divert and distract the United States by sponsoring or supporting challenges in themajor, some minor.

To establish commercial relations, so as to acquire hard currency and cheap raw materials, and pave the way for closer political lies.

To prevent China from enhancing Us role in the Third World.

Over the longer term, to enhance Soviet access to regions rich in strategic raw materials, and to create the potential to hinder Western access

In pursuing these objectives, the Soviets have continued toamong Third World regions according to their strategic value:

The Middle East and Southwest Asia region has always been and remains by far the USSR's most important Third World target primarily because of its proximity to the USSR and its centrality to the larger East-West struggle. We expect,lo see Moscow place great emphasis in ihe years ahead on broadening its influence with Arab states and exploiting any opening for penetration of Iran.

In South Asia the Soviets have the ability to bring military force to bear. Their occupation of Afghanistan has put Soviet forces on the border with Pakistan for the first time, and increased their ability to threaten Iran. But armed resistance by Afghan rebels has obliged the USSR to concentrate on preserving the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. The Soviets are also maintaining their dose relations with India, and are trying to induce that country to bring pressure against Pakistan in order toIslamabad's support of the Afghan resistance.

Southeast Asia is important to Moscow because of its potential for containing China.

Africa and Latin America are of Less direct strategicto Moscow, but are useful sites of influence for diverting US resources and fortifying an image of expanding Soviet power. Central America is particularly useful in this context.

In pursuit of these objectives, Soviet strategy will in particular


and control of radical regimes. Both directly and through intermediaries the Soviets will want to make Marxist revolutions irreversible in thoseAngola.


Mozambique. Afghanistan, andare currently threatened by insurgents.

use of intermediaries, especially East Europeans and Cubans For their own reasons the Cubans are likely to continue to provide combat troops to prop up regimes like those in Angola and Ethiopia, and to be on tbe cutting edge of support to revolutionary regimes in Central America. Moscow's other associates will continue to furnish the USSR valuable services on occasion in the form of base rights, support of insurrection, and

the applying of military, political, and subversive pressures.

Supply of sophisticated weaponry to certain Third World states, such as conventionally armed short-range ballisticmore advanced fighter aircraft, and modern navaland systems, which might alter, but not necessarily upset, local or regional balances of power, and will probably require reassurance by the United States and matching support to its own regional friends.

Military-political use of the USSR's expanding military power, Soviet military capabilities in distant areas of the Third World have improved, but remain constrained by certain limitations and deficiencies of equipment, organization, and forceThese deficiencies are likely to limit major Soviet advances into distant areas within the* time frame of this Estimate. Nonetheless, the Soviets are working to overcome theseNew systems likely to come into the inventory in theill widen the range of Soviet options in distant areas and will complicate US policy in the Third World.

Soviet refusal to curb Third World activities in the interest of better relations with the United States. Although the Soviets realize that their aggressive actions have carried some costs and have affected the overall approach of the West toward the Soviet Union, we do not expect the threat of political or economic sanctions will prevent the Soviets fromajor opportunity toey area such as Iran or the Arabian Peninsula.

Constraints and vulnerabilities the USSR will face in the Third World wilt influence its strategy and prospectsreater extent than during the. Moscow's successes in the Third World have also created vulnerabilities that may lead to Soviet setbacks- To an important degree tbe USSR's successes in the last decade were due to

special circumstances. In future Third World efforts the Soviets will confront an array of obstacles, including:

Tbe renewed US effort to oppose further Soviet and pro-Soviet advances in the Third World; and the inability of the USSR to match Ihe much greater power protection capabilities of the United Slates

The new imperial problems created by the USSR's successes in. There is now much more of an investment to protect. The Soviets are involved in the defense of certain pro-SovietEthiopia. Mozambique. Afghanistan, andof which arc confronting varying degrees of active insurgency.

An almost certain rise of economic distress in many parts of the Third World, and an unwillingness on the part of the USSR to furnish needed assistance, investment funds, and markets for Third World exports. Il is possible that one or more Third World countries may lurn to the USSR for financial aid and may even repudiate debts to Western creditors Most Third World governments, however, will almost certainly consider that their economic expectations can be best met if they cooperate with the international lending agencies (from which the Soviets are frozennd will look to the West for economic succor.

Crowing economic difficulties within the USSR, complicating Soviet efforts to bear the sharply rising burden of supporting Cuba, Vietnam, and other costly associates in the Third World (and Easternhis type of constraint will probably not be great enough in itself, however, to deter the Soviets from taking on new clients if particularly promising opportunities

Aindeedamong Third World leaders not lo permit Soviei or pro-Soviet elements to gain influence over their countries'esire to use the USSR without becoming fatally caught in its embrace. This will apply as well for the USSR's own clients. These entities are more than Soviet agents; they have their own policy aims, some of which will on occasion conflict with Soviet aims.

The Soviets, nevertheless, still view the Third World as the Achilles' heel of the West, and wilt persevere in their efforts to enhance their power and influence there. Although the specialofre not necessarily repeatable. the instability andurmoil likely to prevail in much of the Third World in the


will assure lhc Soviets abundant opportunities to make advances. The Soviets will continue to give top priority to efforts lo gain influence in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Soviet willingness to probe for openings and advantages in an area of such high sensitivity to both the USSR and the West will inevitably give rise to risks of miscalculation and possible superpower confrontation.

Bui Soviet prospects for success in the Middle East as well as in the rest of the Third World will depend more than ever on the interplayumber of new factors, some of wiilch will be beyond the direct control of the Kremlin OAtcisionrnakers:

The capability of the Soviet Union to deploy forces and provide advanced weapons to countries in distant areas will continue to grow. But acquisition of modern militarygives relatively weak countries the ability to challenge limited deployments of modem naval and atr power.

Another variable is the capability ol the USSR lo cope with low-intensity warfare of the type nowumber of Soviet client states If is by no means certain that all pro-Soviet regimes can maintain power in their own countries.oviet client regime were to be overthrown by anti-Soviet insurgents, orompromise with the internal opposition by ousting the Soviets, the consequences for Soviet prestige in the Third World would be adverse, but hard to assess at this stage.

Turbulence in the Third World will not be easily controlled and may precipitate events that neither superpower would find desirable It is even conceivable that lhc United States and the USSR will find themselves taking parallel actions to prevent escalation of some conflicts, especially in volatile areas andas the Koreas, or (hit Iran-Iraq or Lebanon-Syria-Isracl arenas. In the matn, however, the Soviets will see regional troubles as presenting opportunities to advance Soviet power.

Thereossibility that,ariety of obstacles, particularly the intractability of the Third World lo great-power dictates or more vigorous US political and military actions to combat their influence, the Soviets might deliberately restrain their actions in some low-priority area to buy lime for later opportunities, or in deference to larger East-West concerns However, they would be very unlikely to see thisermanent rclrenchment. They would in no case accept explicit limitations on tlieir claimed prerogative to expand their power in the Third World.

seeder 1

In sum, we believe the Soviets will continue lo see their actions in the Third World primarily as an essential element of East-West rivalry. The Soviet approach will oblige the West to address the challenge of Soviet power and more sophisticated tactics, but this should not obscure tbe social and economic problems that pave the way forpenetration. This means that the key external variables determine ing Soviet Third World prospects will be the stability or lack of it in Third World societies; the economic health of the United States, Europe, and fapan; and the durability of US internationalist foreign policy, mtlttary strength, and national will to commit considerable power and resources to the Third World arena.

Original document.

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