Dr. Andrei Kokoshin, 1990

Interviewed at the [presumably USA/Canada] Institute: 6 Sept 1990
Interviewer: Gwynne Dyer

Gwynne Dyer: What could be done to move forward the Arctic discussions? An official said in Ottawa that the Kola peninsula could be put on the bargaining table. The Kola peninsula is, of course, where their main nuclear submarines aer kept and it is a very important part of their strategy. The Americans are becoming more aggressive in their development of submarine warfare capability and from the Soviet standpoint, some sort of limitation on anti-submarine warfare would be a good idea and you could compare it to the ABM treaty since submarine preparations could be viewed as preparations for a first strike.

This is something that the Americans could offer in exchange for having the Kola Peninsula in the negotiations.

Gwynne: Don’t you think that the Americans may increase, rather than decrease, their military presence in the waters off Europe, especially when they are removing land based missiles from Europe? Won’t that be their reaction to compensate?

Kokoshin: Yes, Marshal Akhromeyov has just given a speech expressing the concern of the Soviets about this. The Americans seem not to really want disarmament. When they disarm the missiles in Europe they will just be increasing the arms race at sea.

Dyer: What about the WTO, are you afraid it will fall apart?

Kokoshin: No, there is a lot of consensus within it.

Dyer: But what if the things that have been happening in the other E. European countries also happen in E. Germany, what would you do then?

Kokoshin: What happens in one country shouldn’t be extrapolated. All the socialist countries have to work out their own destinies.

The trouble with the arms control efforts of the `70s was that people looked at how many things they could get rid of and now what KINDS of disarmament — what the purposes of the weapons were. But in the 1980s the WTO countries began to evaluate their military policies and needs. Doctrines of reasonable sufficiency, defensive defence, and now minimum deterrence. The relative proportions of different kinds of weapons count. They have cut back on the number of tanks and increased the number of anti-tank weapons. They are reducing the ability for making bridging equipment, the mobility of the forces.

Dyer: How much of the reduction of non-nuclear material is driven by domestic economic considerations.

Kokoshin: Most of the important reasons for it are not economic. IN the 1980s you already found the beginnings of it. All of the new discoveries, were important at the outside, such as the danger of nuclear winter and the impossibility of fighting war in Europe. IN the last war they put too much emphasis on offensive capabilities adn not enough on defensive. But now economic considerations become more and more important. They have had a 90% cut in military hardware and a 14% overall cut in military spending. [MS: Note: These figures don’t sound right to me.]

Dyer: Compare the previous military cuts to the ones going on now. Khrushchev cut more than have been cut so far yet, but there is more anxiety now because people perceive the economy to be worse, whether or not it really is.

Kokoshin: Yes but those cuts took place at a time when there was a real labor shortage and we were making some expansions in the economy, but now there have already been improvements in productivity. You don’t see it on the grocery shelves, but there really are fewer people in the work force and producing the same amount. That is a result of perestroika. We will have to have a retraining program, particularly for the service sector, which is far underdeveloped.

The Russian Quest for Peace and Democracy, by Metta Spencer, published by Lexington Books