The decision of the Yugoslavian parliament
to join the union of Russia and Belarus presented another
puzzle to the international community. What kind of move
was this? - A political gamble for internal use? A real
prospect to create a "Slavic Alliance"? Or the first step
toward the beginning of a Third World War? Here are the
comments of Alexei Arbatov, Deputy Chair of the Committee
on Defence of the State Duma.
"We must not play games committing Russia
into military obligations that we are in no condition
to fulfil. But such obligations of mutual assistance may
directly result from the proposed broadening of the present
union between Russia and Belarus to include Yugoslavia.
As a result of such an alliance, in the current situation,
we must begin a war with NATO.
Now, I admit that NATO may behave in such
a way that it will put Russia in a position that we shall
need to look for partners. And perhaps even a military
union with Yugoslavia will be in our interests. For example,
should NATO elect to move further East, Russia shall move
West. However, such a Russian move may not have a happy
ending for the Serbians. Under such circumstances, Serbia's
neighbours, including Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia
and Albania would ask to join NATO. Should they be admitted,
Belgrade will find itself surrounded in a hostile environment.
The present situation reminds me of the
Cuban Missile Crisis. However, I am not sure the results
will end as happily as in the times of Nikita Khrushchev
and John F. Kennedy. In the current situation, Russia
would not be able to refrain from the conflict. Russia
is now a democratic country with a parliament and mass
media. Russian public attitudes will play a role in decision
making, especially in the case of the entrance of Russian
ground troops and the separation of Kosovo. Then instead
of hundreds, tens of thousands of well-trained Russian
volunteers will be needed in Yugoslavia. There will be
coffins, and Moscow will have to take decisions on the
federal level to support its troops and allies by sea.
Under such circumstances, a military clash with NATO in
the Adriatic Sea is not only likely, it will be inevitable."
To Alexei Arbatov's page