Nikolai Kuznetsov (IR theory), 1992

Interviewer — Metta Spencer while driving a car in Toronto

KUZNETSOV: Okay. I just want to say that the main ideas of the Conference on Security Building Measures as a political mechanism of dampening the tensions between the states and establishing special mechanisms of inter-influence in the military and the political sphere had been worked out in the early 60s and some parts of these mechanisms were already worked out in the 50s and also suggested in the international negotiations connected to the military and political future of postwar Europe. These things as I know were mostly developed by the Germans and English specialists and strategists.

METTA: But were you thinking of Egon Bahr?

KUZNETSOV: No, there was no Egon Bahr at that time, at least in the political military sphere. They were analytical researches made by the institutions like the Institute in Ebenhauser. It is one of the main strategic institutions or strategical institutes in Western Germany, near to Munich. There were a group of [political thinkers] like [Ovenyarlinch?], like [Alistair Buchan?], with people who were connected to those groups and you might see very big books written on this topic between 1963 and 1965. Some people in the Soviet Union argue that it was just scientific speculation and not political moves, not the political reality and that this very thing came to be political reality after the New Political Thinking was declared. But from my point of view this is not true, not only because such kind of measures were already to [be seen] in the Helsinki Final Act, but also because the very developed and very deep political concept of security and confidence building was just laid out as an official political concept by Chancellor Schmidt in 1978 at U.N. Conference on Disarmament. And it was, from my point of view, one of the biggest political moves in this sphere because it really changed the different steps or different measures in the field of confidence and security. Two complex strategies on this field joined or combined measures over the same goal and different spheres because the idea of confidence and security building was broadened by the New Military Political Sphere.

METTA: Can you say that again?

KUZNETSOV: I just said that the idea of confidence and security building measures was applied for the first time only for the military political sphere. And then at the end of the 1970s, at least it was designed and displayed in political spaces and political steps at least in Europe. That this confidence and security building measures was one of the major instruments of the foreign policy and relations between the countries. It has to be applied also in the sphere of economy and other spheres — not only in the Military — so that they will be comprehensive instruments of the foreign policy.

METTA: I don’t know anything about the history of the notion of the of confidence building measures. I mean, it has been obvious thing since people have been discussing it since the beginning of time, but I do not know the history of how those treaties or conferences under the CSCE got promoted. How did it happen? Do you know? Was there some person responsible for pushing the idea or what?

KUZNETSOV: I don’t know who personally pushed this idea but it was the European countries and first of all the Neutral Countries of Europe who were interested in these security (at that time they were called security building measures) confidence building measures. And as I remember, they were the countries of Northern Europe and probably the Federal Republic of Germany. Such states as the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. were restricted against such confidence building measures.

METTA: So in a way as I recall that in the CSCE in general …(cannot understand).

KUZNETSOV: After this because there will be nothing to hear.

METTA: Say it again.

KUZNETSOV: So the idea that the interests of the counterparts have to be respected was included fully in the political military concept worked out by the West Germans and this concept was worked out by the Social Democratic wing and it was called at that time “Security for All.” And after that, already for several years..

METTA: Was that Egon Bahr particularly?

KUZNETSOV: Yes, Egon Bahr, his special task group within the Social Democratic Party worked out this basic concept.

METTA: Do you know where that was published?

KUZNETSOV: I saw some publications in the newspapers and interviews to this point but I didn’t see the file itself of the documents. And I can say that exactly in this very week were all the neutral and non-aligned countries in Europe that take part in the CSCEs process, because frankly speaking they were the most interested countries in the development of such a strategy and the development of such approaches. And if I know, the most active countries in this very sphere were first of all Sweden, then Austria, partially Switzerland and Finland—but Finland, I don’t know how you say it in English, had a policy of low profile. That was the policy of Finland at that time and that is why I think these ideas were not so very well known out of Finland. So, it means what we are calling now the common security, where all the parties respect the interests of all the counterparts, this idea came and was established also at the end of the 70s at least, but it was established as a political idea on a political level, but as a scientific idea it was established much earlier, of course.

Then we are speaking about the publications and the official speeches of the Soviet researchers in the conferences or in the meetings on those very points. We became very similar 5 or 6 years after these ideas had been started or launched in Western Europe under the CSCE process or another way. So when we are speaking about the interdependent world, you know that this very idea is one of the basic principles of the so-called “New Political Thinking.” Probably you have mentioned that the first official publication on this very question was I think made in September of 1982. It was the first article at all made by Mr. Genscher in English and the journalists joked that Genscher already knows English and can write something in this language.

METTA: The journalist joked what?

KUZNETSOV: The journalist joked that he at least studied English well so that he could write any article somewhere in English. So this very article was published in one of the American journals. I don’t know exactly where. I think it was in International Security or something like this. It was called exactly “ The Western policy Towards the Interdependent world”.

METTA: The Western Policy?

KUZNETSOV: Yes. So it was the appeal to the whole West to coordinate the foreign and other policies in a situation when the world became interdependent fully or almost fully. We did not speak of interdependency until 1986 at least. So there can be many other examples, probably smaller ones, which can show that our main political science and political thinking is one step back from the ideas which were developed in the Western countries and in the European countries, first of all. I can say that this is probably because the political science in the Soviet Union was of course mostly ideological science and was under very strong control.

METTA: Isn’t it true that Moscow State University only recently acquired a Department of Political Science?

KUZNETSOV: I can’t say its not only Moscow University but very different institutions (I mean educational institutions) have started to open these departments now for political sciences. And i can say that first of all it is very popular now. At this time you will not find any journalist who will not say that he is a politologist. From the other point of view, what did people have to do with all the departments that taught history of the CPSU? they were changed and called the departments of political science.

METTA: I see. When?

KUZNETSOV: Recent 2 years.

METTA: I see. Because I mentioned it to Olga. You know I am doing a book with Olga Medvedkova, who was a member of the Moscow Trust group and she lives in Columbus Ohio now. So I was there in a conference… We can turn this off now….

So tell me again. How did that happen?

KUZNETSOV: I just told that some researchers who could find a special way how to do it, they tried to bring the ideas of the Western Political science to the Soviet Union as quick as possible and in such a big amount as was possible, and they found a way of publishing of books of criticism , for example, the criticisms of the Western theorists of the foreign policy, or the criticisms of the western political theories, and so on. Where there was part of real criticisms over the quotations of the Soviet leaders and so-called researchers and the main part of the book was just quotations with

METTA: Excerpts.

KUZNETSOV: Yes, summaries of the books that were published in the other countries.

METTA: That’s wonderful!

KUZNETSOV: In any case, I tried to recall all these names I know of. I know the names of the persons who tried to develop the original theories and original political science in the Soviet Union, and not only to repeat what was said in the other countries. Exactly I can mention such persons as Mr. Shakhnazorov, who is now one of the advisors to Gorbachev. I can’t say that I personally did like what he did, but in any case he did something special. There was a science at least.

METTA: Can you name any of the articles in which he showed some of the originality?

KUZNETSOV: You see, the best things were not the articles but the book. The book which was published in the ’80s which was called “The Coming World Order” or something like this.

METTA: Was it published in English?

KUZNETSOV: I don’t know exactly. Then I know two more persons who worked in our high school for International Relations and exactly in the centre where I worked for 6 years. They are two persons with very interesting backgrounds. Both of them were at the time being officers in the KGB. The first of them was fired from the KGB because he made some criticism against the official policies in a drinking party. The other one just went from the KGB. I don’t exactly know where they used to work there but they were researchers. And after they left the KGB, they worked at this High School for International Relations. And they held exactly that the political theory was a theory of International Relations and they applied systems analysis to International Relations and Policy. So I don’t know if there were any open publications made by them but there were special publications inside the High School.

METTA: Ah, you mean they were not published in public journals and professional…?

KUZNETSOV: At least with their real scientific ideas. So one of the very interesting persons works in the Institutes of International Relations and World Economy of the Academy of Science.


KUZNETSOV: Yes, exactly, IMEMO. His name is. Shit, I forgot his name. He has a Italian name. He is Italian, by nationality. Probably I will be able to remember it later on when I look into my storage. So there is a person who now works in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There is a special department of Assessments and Planning in the Foreign Ministry. And he is one of the main researchers there.His name is, just a minute. The name of another one person is Daniel Proector.

METTA: What does he do?

KUZNETSOV: He works mostly with military political questions or the possibilities of establishing a new Europe and a new political order in Europe with the lessons of the Second World War for the New Political Thinking.

METTA: By about what year did it become clear to you or did you begin to take for granted that the Soviet Union would not invade another country, Poland or GDR or any other place if they left the Communist side? When did you begin to see that intervention was just not on the cards any more?

KUZNETSOV: You, you mean me personally?

METTA: Yeah, you personally.

KUZNETSOV: I began to see after only it was not the case.

METTA: Because I have talked to people who were in government or close to government, who were advisors and so on, and they said, we knew years before that it would be impossible to invade. We couldn’t possibly go into Poland. That was obvious. But I don’t know when it became obvious to everyone.

KUZNETSOV: It did not become obvious to everyone, I don’t think so at least. And I can explain their words in such a way that after the Helsinki process and after the establishment of the CSCE system might have obligations and so on. It was really difficult to invade. And after the Afghanistan, people knew what kind of reaction there would be it was hardly to wait for a new invasion. But it could be hardly awaited from the normal politician probably but I personally could not say that I was sure that the party leaders would not do it. Because, I don’t know, it seemed to me that they were ready to do it, at least at the beginning of the Solidarity Movement in Poland, where troops concentrated at the Polish border, fully ready to come into the country. It was so. There were the A-1 Division from Belorussia and —

METTA: They were actually deployed, ready to. . .

KUZNETSOV: Yes, the soldiers were fully uniformed and got in so-called, I don’t know how you say it in English. Ya, something like dry food for the soldiers for one or two days before the operation began.

METTA: Was this known publicly?

KUZNETSOV: No, not very much. Just through the personal connections.

METTA: Oh, so you knew some people who were there.

KUZNETSOV: Yes, of course. And after that I met one of my school friends who was exactly in one of the divisions there.

METTA: And he thought he might have to go.

KUZNETSOV: At least they were ready, and the order was to be ready. So it was in the ’80s, I mean in the beginning of 80s, whereas now — frankly speaking, I was not sure that our party leadership, not Gorbachev personally, but the party leadership as a whole, would be restricted against such invasions or military steps. I wasn’t sure at all.

METTA: This is off the subject but do you think that if they had been ordered to go into Poland, would there have been any resistance on the part of the Army?

KUZNETSOV: I don’t think so.

METTA: Because I remember…

KUZNETSOV: Frankly speaking, they did not need to just invade because there were already some troops there and it could be done as if they were coming to do manoeuvres or something like that.

METTA: Ah, I remember Prague in 1968, people threw themselves in front of the tanks, you know threw themselves on the ground to stop the tanks. And the first group of tank drivers did stop and as I understand it, they then got another group of tanks from a place where most of the people were not Slavic and so they could not talk to the people in Prague. And those guys just went ahead and drove over anybody who tried to stop them. And that’s why I wondered if you thought that Soviet tank drivers would have hard time going ahead and repressing Polish people this time or in 1980.

KUZNETSOV: I don’t know, but in any case the drivers did not want to drive over any people lying on the ground. It had nothing to do with opposition for the invasion. It was just normal for a human being not to kill anybody who doesn’t want to kill you. In any case, even when we say that the Soviet Army was one of the conservative forces in the Soviet society and was used exactly to support the conservative regime of the Party leadership. In any case nobody told the soldiers that they had to shoot or to kill civilians. They did not have such orders.

METTA: Well, in Prague they did. Maybe not shoot to kill but definitely to go ahead and drive your tanks over anybody to go wherever you are supposed to go.

KUZNETSOV: Yes, of course, I mean that when they were trained or they were in the usual atmosphere, they didn’t have any sign or any order to prepare operations against just civilians. It was just clearly unusual for them.

METTA: Okay thank you.

KUZNETSOV: At least I remembered the name of one of the Professors. It means the Professor from the IMEMO. His first name is Elgis. His last name is Posenyekov. The last name of the person who works for the foreign ministry still and also for the Foundation of the National Security. (It is one of the newest foundations in the Soviet Union. ) So he is Artyom Sergiev.

METTA: Just a few notes. That was Kuznetsov, but I have other things that I want to record. When I talked to Semeiko, he said that his preference for the President of the Russian Republic would have been Bakatin, who actually ran for office against Yeltstin. But he said that he did not vote for him. He voted for Yeltsin instead, just because he thought it might, anything he could do to help the Yeltsin victory which was already likely, he thought was worth doing and he could not do anything to help Bakatin win. Kutznetsov told me that Bakatin was a very strange person. Apparently he was having to defend something about the Ministry of Interior and he had to make a speech in response to some questions. He was so inarticulate he sounded ridiculous, but he sounded great later on. He thought it was inconceivable that the same guy could have made both kinds of speeches.

Semeiko said that he had known Yanayev, that they had attended the same Edinburgh Conferrence at one time some years ago in the early ’80s and that Yanayev just sat there with his arms folded and didn’t say a thing until the end. I can’t remember what he said that he did at the very end after it was all over. May be I can remember to ask him.

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