Sergei Blagovolin (military data), 1992

Sergei Blagovolin. Interview at IMEMO, May 25, 1992
Interviewer — Metta Spencer

Spencer: I read an article that you had written some time ago about military policy. It seemed to be a precursor to many other changes in military doctrine. Can you tell me about your personal journey?

Blagovolin: Well, it was a long way, and unlike some of my colleagues, I cannot tell you that for many years I was already prepared for new thinking. No. For many years I worked in military studies; I used to be in a department of IMEMO which was completely closed, as we called it, although it was inside the structure of the Academy of Science. It was a classified department that worked exclusively for the General Staff. Our duty was to provide a professional analysis of many military problems and first of all the scare of the military buildup in the United States and other NATO countries. When I was almost a boy, it was very attractive for me to participate in such studies. But personal contacts also plays an important role in the professional fate and from this point of view, I was quite lucky because I was close to the former director, Academician Inozemtsev, who died ten years ago. He was one of those who tried to find a new way of thinking, a new assessment, a new approach to a whole range of security problems. Unfortunately, he was unable to do everything he wanted, and to implement it because it was too early. It was too early. It was only the late seventies and the early eighties, and he died ten years ago. It was also part of the price he paid for his attempt to find a new way of thinking in security studies. He was one of those fathers of the first detente. I was in the close circle around him. We began to find a new possibility for assessment of military threat — what it looked like really, what is ony a fairy tale, what is true, what can we say about the nature, the size, and the ultimate goals of ths Soviet military buildup. And then, in 1979 or 1980, when we received first —the completely unexpected (for us) results — it was beginning of the new thinking for us, who were involved in the research forces in this field in the Soviet Union. It was really the turning point in our own way of thinking.

MS: In 1980?

Blagovolin: Maybe a little earlier— 1979. It ‘s a very simple thing why these years because we just finished a big research program, together with General Staff, about the new features in the military preparation of the United States and the NATO countries. And for us, especially when we received some, let’s say, completely classified facts and figures about Soviet military preparations, it became more or less clear that we are the country or WTO organization — who really tried to build an offensive military power, and not NATO.

Of course, for us it was a very difficult event to access this assessment internally. And of course, a lot of things were connected very closely with this situation [that is the outside] because it was a part of our life in this country which was for many years absolutely untouchable! It was impossible even to try to change something.

But then, as I told you, very soon unfortunately Academician Inozemtsev died, after a year and a half of very tough struggle for political survival. It was a very well known story in this country, his struggle against Mr. Suslov, Mr. Grishen and many others, but suddenly he died.

MS: Had he survived, was he secure or had he lost his conflict with those forces?

Blagovolin: Well, it was like a spy movie because it was an attempt to accuse him that in IMEMO he tried to organize, not a conspiracy, but a kind of political plot against the leadership — that he tried to collect here persons who were against the party line. So it is difficult to answer you in a short way, but it was a year and a half of a real struggle for political survival. And he succeeded politically, especially when Andropov replaced Mr. Chernenko like the second secretary of the Central Committee. This part of our story that in 1982, if I am not confused, in April, it seems to me, Mr. Andropov was appointed like a Second Secretary of the Communist Party, after his job in the KGB. As you know as the Chairman of KGB. And although I think that in this country we often try to overestimate the new thinking inside the brain of Mr. Andropov, nevertheless, he was simply much more clever than Chernenko and some others. So he tried to help Inozemtsev survive politically. So Inozemtsev survived politically but physically he was absolutely exhausted. He was not a very healthy man. He had a problem with his heart. And then he died. It was an irony of fate, when he was more or less secure from a political point of view, he died. Those of us who were close to him during this period, we know perfectly well that it was the price for his political survival.

Then it was even more important part of my own biography from this point of view because a year after Mr. Inozemtsev died, Alexander Yakovlev was appointed director of IMEMO. Before we were very friends with him and we are now very good friends, and of course he played a unique role in our attempt to reassess the whole scale and nature of military buildup. Of course, he tried to find a completely new basis of thinking in this sphere and I was involved from the very beginning in the process of his activity in this field because he knew I was involved before and, I don’t know why, maybe because of our very good personal relations, though he is much older, as you understand, and we were and we are now very good friends. So my problem was how to fulfill his requests and how to find a fresh view, a completely new approach to all these problems. And so we began to prepare since late autumn 1983 —

MS: That’s when he came here?

Blagaovolin: He came here in July 1983. It was November,1983 when we began to prepare some reports for a person the name of whom you know perfectly well, Mikhail Gorbachev. He was then simply a secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. He wasn’t still [yet?] the Secretary General and was in the process of struggle with some other persons who would be number two in the party, but nevertheless he was very much interested in problems of security. So we began to prepare for him some papers, some reports, simply to educate him. It was his request because he told us absolutely frankly that he was to some extent illiterate professionally from the point of view of security problems. So his request was, please, help me. Show me what is really happening. What is the real balance of power? What is the real size and scale? The science of military buildup in the Soviet Union or WTO and in NATO. And of course we tried to do it because he was very close with Yakovlev. And so our first attempt to prepare some documents which were maybe a kind of first step to new thinking in this sphere of security.

MS: If I may interrupt you, Yakovlev moved directly from Canada to IMEMO. Was that as a result of his relationship to Gorbachev or was he moved by someone else?

Blagovolin: It is a long story. There was a year when our Central Committee and Politburo was unable to find a new director for IMEMO because it was part of a very complicated political game, who would be director of IMEMO because previously the director of IMEMO by definition was the closest adviser of Central Committee and Politburo on such problems as foreign policy, security, and so on. So it was, as we called it, “nomenklatura politburo.” Only the politburo has the right to appoint the director of IMEMO. It was a year time period it was a very tough struggle. So I think he was maybe a second birth here in Moscow because he was in Canada for eleven years. It was an exile as you may know. His more or less close relationship to Gorbachev after Gorbachev’s visit to Canada was a part of the whole story, but also a result of many other facts and factors. Because he had then a lot of friends in the Central Committee— persons he had worked for many years before he was appointed as Ambassador to Canada. And then as I know, it was an idea that some assistants to key figures in the politburo also knew him very well and tried to have him return to Moscow because it was absolutely clear for everybody that we were, in one way or another, approaching the turning point because simply all our leaders were so old, so ill, that it was clear that now it is time to collect all brains here in Moscow, try to do everything possible. Even some more or less conservative persons understood that it is time to try to find somebody who will be able at least to answer some questions because now it is very difficult even to imagine the [brain dead?] who were placed here before the year 1985. It was something unbelievable. Unbelievable! Unbelievable! It was a historical museum and nothing more.

I remember perfectly well, it was before the death of Academician Inozemtsev and along with some of my colleagues I helped him to prepare a special report for politburo about some features of the Reagan administration’s security policy. Then returned after his meeting there with somebody — he didn’t tell us who—

MS: In the Central Committee?

Blagovolin: Yes —who was his interlocutor but he returned very angry and told us, “There is simply nobody who can read it! It is impossible. I cannot find somebody who can read it. They are simply unable to understand the sense of this report.” So returning Mr. Yakovlev here was a combination of ___ and rather different factors. Of course, I agree with you that his relations with Gorbachev, because Gorbachev was already among the most influential members of the politburo— but also some other persons who were in a position of assistance of mmembers of the politburo with whom he had worked for many years, and they knew him as very smart, well educated, and a good thinker. So they also advocated him and it helped him to return here. And IMEMO was just a very legitimate place for him because he was already a Doctor of Science. you know, we have two levels, candidate and Doctor. He was already a Doctor, a Professor, and so on, so it was already a legitimate place for him. But it was not possible for him in that time even to think about returning to the Central Committee. It was also part of the answer why IMEMO. And another important idea was, who will use IMEMO like a think tank? Which part of our political forces will be able to use IMEMO in their interests? Because you see, now I have my own independent institute but I can say absolutely frankly that the best brains in this country, for decades, from the point of view of independence (in Soviet Union “independent” sounds a little bit funny but nevertheless, independent expertise) here in IMEMO. So it was always a very serious problem who would be able to use this think tank.

MS: To what extent did you have access to the kind of information you needed for your analysis?

Blagovolin: Oh, you know, we usually used some different sources. First of all, we were able to receive information from Western countries about the Soviet military activity. And then, using unofficial channels of communication, we found it very precise. Very precise! Because some other experts who were unable simply to give us our domestic-made figures, they simply gave us a very important answer: Well, can we use this information. The answer was “Definitely yes! It is very, very well done!”

MS: This would be SIPRI data or U.S. data or what?

Blagovolin: It was US data. It wasn’t NATO data. It was data which were published in reports of Minister of Defense in some Congressional hearings. And also laters, beginning in the year 1985 we received also another source of information, unofficial, but sometimes we were able to receive some real figures from our own military sources but unofficially. It was very interesting story. By the way, now I wrote a book about it.

MS: Oh, tell me about it and I will get it.

Blagovolin: But I don’t know who will publish it. It is a problem here but I want this book to be published first here in Russia. Then maybe it will be published in other countries, but for me it is much more important to publish it here. And you know, well, (laughs) I will tell you the whole story, not the whole story but maybe part of the whole story. In the end of 1985, Gorbachev, who was already secretary of Central Committee, asked us to prepare for him, not a kind of educational document, but a document of the concept and the real situation in the security sphere. But it was absolutely necessary to find some military person, highly professional and very well informed, who will be ready to participate because, as Mr. Yakovlev, well, Sergei, I know you perfectly well, but you’re a civilian, so it’s vitally important that under this document has to be not only your signature but also the signature of a very well informed military person or persons. Maybe you know this name, Mr. Shl’ykov. He worked on my staff for a year or a year and a half. And then he was deputy chairman of the Russian state Security and Defence Committee. You know that before we recently received the Russian Minister of Defence, it was the state committee of Defence and Security in Russian. So Mr.Lopatin also was deputy chairman of this committee. Mr. Shl’ykov, who then, was the head of the department of the military intelligence of the General Staff. Not the KGB, but the military intelligence — the Central Intelligence Department of the General Staff.

And it was Mr. Shl’ykov and his deputy, Mr. Strogonov, who also were among the authors of this document. And we did it in a very interesting way. Mr. Primakov, who was after Yakovlev appointed the director of IMEMO, simply turned a key in the door and so we were absolutely isolated. (Laughs) And he, himself, was on guard! And it was possible to do it only on Saturday and Sunday when the institute was nearly empty. So Primakov himself was on guard and he locked the door on the three of us, I myself, Mr. Shl’ykov, and his deputy, Mr. Strogonov, we were locked in this room to prepare this document. Because it was really a death-blow experience then! Absolutely! And this document was published in only one copy. And then I myself, with Primakov, we brought it to Yakovlev, but we gave him this document, not in his office, but in his car! (We laugh in astonishment.)

MS: You had reason to worry!

Blagovolin: Absolutely! Absolutely! And it was, for Gorbachev, and for us, it was really a very unusual thing. Because it was the first time when we tried to formulate a new concept of relations with the Western world. First, of all, we declared openly that we had no military threat from the West. It was absolutely explosive.

MS: What year was this?

Blagovolin: I will try to be as precise as possible. It was the very end of 1985 or maybe January or February of 1986. But it’s another part of this story, not so funny. Unfortunately, later Gorbachev was unable (I don’t know why, maybe lack of decisiveness, maybe his endless internal contradictions, his endless internal struggle in his attempt to sit simultaneously on two or even three chairs) so we failed to implement, to some extent, some important parts of this concept. But by the way, five years ago we prepared also a first blueprint of military reform. It was 1987, it was already a little bit later and then of course the situation had changed and we did it in a more or less open way. Of course it was not for the public, it was not in the newspapers, but we were not forced to do it in a locked room.

MS: Were these documents to be the plans on which the unilateral cuts were to be made?

Blagovolin: Well, you see, I can’t tell you definitely yet, because there were lots of reasons that forced the Soviet Union to do so, but of course it seems to me that our documents played their role also. I cannot tell you that it was the only reason, because there were economic reasons. The only thing in which Gorbachev succeeded was to try to build new relations with the Western world. It was a part of his effort to find a real understanding, so it was in the air. But as argument, as maybe excuse to some extent, it seems to me that this document played a role.

But, returning to the beginning of our conversation, I would like to tell you absolutely frankly that for me, myself, the whole situation was more or less clear only in the year 1981 or 1982, so I can repeat only again and again that I am not so happy as some of our well-known prominent experts and scholars who now have a legitimate right to declare that during all their life they were completely against the way of Soviet military activity. I wasn’t.

MS: Can you tell me how you came to the view that there was no threat or all the other factors that made you ready for those changes?

Blagovolin: Well, you know, it’s a very serious question and a very serious problem. For many years, we prepared an analysis for the Soviet General Staff — a scientific analysis. Among the maybe especially serious part of this analysis was our estimattion of American military-industrial capabilities — so-called forcible output of military production — weapons systems and so on. And you know, maybe the first bell was for me that I found perfectly well that we simply tried to found out unexisting facts. We tried — not me, but the General Staff and some civilian persons who were in very close relations with them — tried to convince our political leadership that the real size of the American military-industrial capabilities were much higher than they really were.

MS: They were trying to prove the same thing on their side!

Blagoavolin: Well, but it was difficult feedback because these figures were a most argument for our military establishment, especially for Mr. Skinov and his team, who used these figures like the basis for our own military production. I can tell you some interesting things. For example, our assessment of forcible military tank production was 80 thousand tanks a year!

MS: How many were they really producing?

Blagovolin: Well, maybe you know that the highest American tank production was 1200.

MS: I didn’t know that. They probably had figures about as distorted about Soviet military production. I think they knew the truth but they probably were distorting what they publicized.

Blagovolin: American figures? Well, I can tell you only one thing: when we received some real information, not only about Soviet tank production, but also about the size of American production, we were completely shocked because it was only two plants— in Lima, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan. Only two plants produced tanks in the United States. But in all our materials it was shown that they had at least 22 plants. It was done in a very simple way. Our experts included in the American plants all those which produced tanks during World War II, then they added some plants which were also during the time of World War II in active reserve, and then everything which could be, by their own assessment, a reserve in the current situation. It was tens of times higher than the real production. Of course, in some of the other spheres the difference was substantially lower, for example, in the field of airplane production it was not so huge, but nevertheless it also was a very big gap between reality and everything which was down.

So for me, and not only for me but also for some of my colleagues, it was the first strong evidence that something was completely wrong. We are going in the completely wrong direction. We are doing something not useful for our country, as we were convinced many years, and we were so proud. We are participating in such an activity which will help us to defend our country, and so on and so on. Then we were completely shocked because we found that we all were simply liars! But it was terrible because all these were published in so-called “red books” — like in China.

MS: Like Mao’s little red book?

Blagaovolin: These books were special books which were published annually for the Politburo and the highest members of our military forces. And all these figures, with some changes, were on their tables and it was their guideline for their assessment of our own needs. So of course it was the most important step toward understanding that something is completely wrong. Of course, we hadn’t an answer yet on what’s not wrong, or what really will be the right way of choice. But first, the most important step was already done: This is completely wrong. This is not true! Absolute miscalculation, on a huge scale. It’s not 10 or 20 percent or even 50%, but much more serious.

MS: Did you have figures that you now consider correct concerning the percentage of your budget that was spent on the military?

Blagovolin: You mean the percentage of the GNP? You see, it’s very difficult, frankly speaking, even to try to assess, but our own preliminary assessment showed that it was somewhere in between 25 and 30% of GNP in the year 1985-1987, when the highest point was achieved, but please take into account one thing which is very serious for this country, that it’s not only the question of amount, but also the question of quality because all the best resources, all engineers, were allocated into this sphere. So it wasn’t just 25 or 30% of GNP, but it was the best 25% or 30%. Maybe it was already published in some of our other institutes that 60% of our machinery was involved in military production and 80% of the chemical industry.

MS: That was at what point? How soon did you know that?

Blagovolin: Of course, please let me try to recall. Okay, it was first published four years ago, published in open press, but in so-called classified or half-classified papers and reports it was published six years ago. And it was very unusual thing then in this country—

MS: To publish it openly?

Blagovolin: Not only to publish it openly but even to publish it for official use only. Even for such kind of publication it was completely unusual. And of course it was maybe the best page of our professional life when we really tried to find something new and really show what’s undergoing here.

MS: Now, you made these reports to Gorbachev and I wonder to what extent it became part of the public discussion.

Blagovolin: Well, you see, from the beginning of 1987, it became part of public discussion. Of course, not everything. And even now, it is still difficult to overcome the very tough resistance, so even now we have no official figures of our military production. Nothing comparable to the annual report of the Minister of Defence in the United States or for example, even from Japan such publications, we have nothing comparable. Nothing! (He shows me a thick paperback book, The Defence of Japan.) But nevertheless, in the year 1987 it became part of the public discussion — at least the principle problems. Not some facts and figures but the problems of the very sense of military preparation. Is it offensive or defensive? Is it possible for our economy or impossible? Does it help us to return to the civilized world — I don’t like this expression “return to the civilized world” because Russia was always part of the civilized world, but nevertheless return to normal relations with the external world. So it was the year 1987.

MS: Now, obviously you had your opponents?

Blagovolin: Absolutely.

MS: Were they mostly from the professional military? Were they mostly party functionaries?

Blagovolin: You know, it’s a rather difficult question, because of course Marshall Akhromeyev was a person who was completely against our military reform. But we also received some support from our generals, but of course a clear minority. Absolutely. Maybe 10 or 20 percent of them were able or even are able now to understand the real situation. But from the other side we reeived some resistance also from our civilian experts. And not only from those who were on the conservative side, but on the other side because our idea was and is that Soviet Union (now Russia) has to have capable and sufficient military forces. Of course, many times smaller than aduring previous decades. Of course, we have to reduce sharply our military industry many times. But nevertheless, facing numerous new possible threats, taking into account the proliferation of nuclear technology, missiles, and so on and so on, and many other reasons, we have to have much smaller but quite modern and quite efficient military forces which will be able to cooperate with NATO forces, with United STates forces, not against these countries but together.

MS: I understand that is a strong impetus right now, with many people working on how to bring that to pass.

Blagovolin: But you know, it’s a strong impetus because we are entering now, unfortunately, after the end of the East/West confrontation not a golden era, but the era of new threats and new turmoil. So we have to have a kind of insurance. Of course, many times smaller. Many times! Somehow our civilian opponents also try to accuse us that we are a new generation of militarists because we are against the idea that now we can somehow live without strong military forces. I am completely against this idea.

MS: The paper of yours that I read began with a discussion of parity and a statement that, now that we have reached parity, we can talk about making some changes.

Blagovolin: Sure, sure!

MS: I just had a conversation with Sergei Karaganov a couple of days ago and his main argument seemed to be that the idea of parity is silly.

Blagovolin: Now it is absolutely silly. It was useful for us when we tried to introduce openly the idea of serious military reduction, but I completely share this view of my friend Sergei Karaganov that the whole idea of parity is silly. Now what kind of parity, with whom? Parity? Well, please tell me whether somebody in Western Europe tried to think about parity with the United States. Nobody. It’s absolutely a crazy idea. The goalsof, the nature of political and economic relations between these two legs or pillars of European and America, USA, Canada and Europe, nobody would even think about parity. Parity is a kind of relationship between two adversaries and not between countries which try to build friendly relations, try to build a new and cooperative approach to the military security. And we have now to try to appeal to a new common security structure. Of course, it is not so easy to do. It’s impossible to do overnight. But from my point of view it is the ultimate goal of our future relations in security. That’s the idea — to try to build a common structure.

MS: Collective security.

Blagovolin: Collective security. And of course it will allow us also to reduce our level of military preparations.

MS: To what extent have your ideas been realized? There are cuts. Have the cuts taken place on anything like the scale that you anticipated?

Blagovolin: You mean during the Gorbachev era?

MS: Yes and what about now, under your new Russian defense minister?

Blagovolin: Well, what about the Gorbachev era, unfortunately, we got only roughly speaking 25%. Not more.

MS: Of the cuts that you anticipated?

Blagovolin: Not only cuts. You know, our main idea was not simply the cuts in the level of our military preparation or forces, the main idea was to implement deep military reform, including the new concept of national security, from the very beginning to the end — from the concept of national security to the force structure. The whole branch of military preparation.

MS: What are some of the sources of the doctrine itself, the concepts? Can you tell me about some of the discussions that you may have had or some of the analyses or theoretical perspectives of particular people who may have contributed to your notion of the restructuring or reform of the military?

Blagovolin: Well, of course, you see I try to make a distinction because during the initial part of our activity it was simply impossible to discuss with somebody besides this very very small group. Of course, most of the discussing was with Mr. Yakovlev, then Mr. Primakov, then with Marshall Akhromeyev, but it was impossible for us to find a common language. Absolutely. IT was dead on arrival to try to find a common language with him. Then with some representatives from General STaff and some of my friends, Vitaly Shl’ykov. Later, in the year 1987, a very serious contribution also with Andre Kokoshin, who is now deputy minister of defense in Russia. And of course we also found a lot of support from Andre’s side — we are very good friends with him — but it was a little bit later because in the early stage it was the most classified work that I have ever done, though we prepared the reports for the first person in this country.

MS: When I spoke with Karaganov, he described conversations that took place with people like Egon Bahr and Karsten Voight.

Blagovolin: Oh No!!! Frankly speaking, it’s nothing! They were so far from this situation. I can tell you another thing that, later, beginning with the year 1987, we had a lot of serious discussions with some high-ranking representatiaves of American Minister of Defence, even National Security agency — yes, National Security Agency —
General Oldham, maybe you know. He was the head of this security. With some high ranking representatives of official circles in Britain and France. Not in Germany, Germany was later, I was involved the reunification process.

MS: You were involved in that?

Blagovolin: Yes, I was involved, more or less.

MS: I am taking a lot of your time, but briefly, can you say a little about it?

Blagovolin: WEll, I played a small role because I have good personal relations with some people in Bonn and I have a lot of contacts in NATO, so from time to time I was asked to use in my private capacity some discussions. (telephone interruption)

But no, such persons as Egon Bahr, it was so far from us during this time! For us it was another problem — Marshall Akhromeyov, Marshall Yazov, Marshall Sokolov. It wasn’t Egon Bahr who was even a little bit involved in this process. Nobody even knew about these real things, about this real struggle inside. No! It was very interesting for maybe the more or less clear understanding, but it was so far from us. And the real discussions were a little bit later with persons who really knew the real situation in their forces, in their countries. Such persons as like maybe my friend Robert Ellsworth, maybe you know him. Like Robert Dole, with whom I also spent many hours discussing this. In London. In NATO, including Mr. Woerner and Mr. Braun, and _____________, maybe you know him; he is the chairman of the ATlantic Assembly. Some person in NATO and the United States.

MS: That was after you had already got your own plans clear.

Blagovolin: Well, it was after and during the process. Sometimes it is difficult to find a real border.

MS: You said that Gorbachev didn’t manage to move forward as much as you wanted. Can you say a little more about what he failed to do that you particularly —

Blagovolin: First, and I am absolutely confident that it was one of his most vital political mistakes, he refused to go ahead with military reform. If he did it, he could receive the military forces, not like an enemy but like a pillar. Because, you see, he tried to do a very innocent thing. He tried —or I don’t know that he really tried or simply only thought about this possibility, but let us assume that he tried to implement reforms in such huge, in such an exhausted country as the Soviet Union, without any real structure which could support him. He was unable to create support, a middle class or something like this. (Well, of course, I can understand it is a very difficult problem and it takes time. It takes years.) Well, it was absolutely impossible to use party structure as a whole—only some outstanding persons like Yakovlev and Yeltsin and somebody else who simply were in the party, like I myself, like Acadamician Arbatov, Academician Bogolomov, like all these persons, well they were in the party. There were only two ways of life in this country — whether to be a hero like Academician Sakharov , like Solzhenitzen, like Bukovsky, or to be a normal Soviet citizen, to accept the rules of the game and, of course, all of us, we were on this side. That’s why we always have to remember this part of our biography and forget that we were not heroes. We made a lot of concessions, all of us. It is another question what kind of concession, but nevertheless. No, it was absolutely impossible to use party structure as a whole. It was impossible to use KGB structure also. I can only recall some persons from the external service of KGB who really understood the situation. But KGB as a structure was completely hostile to any kind of changes, it was absolutely clear. So the army. You see, it was a real possibility at least to try to find some kind of support from the officer corps, but to do that he had to implement military reform, but he had to replace a lot of high ranking officers with new persons who would be loyal to him and to the new line — to the new — I don’t like this term, the new political thinking, but let’s say it, the new political thinking. But he failed. He refused.

MS: You think he could have done it but he chose not to?

Blagaovolin: He could. He could. He could. Of course. It wasn’t a very simple thing but can you imagine anything that would go simply in this country? I can’t. Every attempt to do everything possible — real attempt — has to be a risk operation. But not to do! But why Gorbachev failed completely? Because he failed to do something real and the same situation took place in this bureau of security because it was a more or less acceptable route of military reform. But again, his attempt not to quarrel with one and not to quarrel with another, and to support simultaneously Yakovlev and Ligachev and so on, it was very typical for him. Of course, he did a lot of very important things, but unfortunately at the very end of his political career, he failed completely.

MS: What is your prospect for the new Russian defence minister and for your proposals?

Blagovolin: Well, we have Andre Kokoshin as the Deputy Minister of Defense and of course, Yeltsin himself also pays a lot of attention to security problems. Of course the situation is changing from day to day. It is difficult to make assessments but by and large, for me, now we are going into the right direction. Of course, much more slowly than it seems to me necessary. But please take into account the very unstable situation in this country — the situation with Moldova, the relations with Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan. Now of course it is much more difficult to implement now than five years ago. It was the only part of serious reform in this country which it was much easier to implement within the framework of the political structure which existed then because it was more administrative change, not political change. Of course, it was political in the long run but from the point of view of immediate actions it was typical kind of administrative _______ and it was possible to implement. Much easier than now, when the military forces are also in a very difficult situation. They are in a very difficult situation. They are under terrible pressure in all regions beyond Russia. So the major problems are how to maintain the control. So of course. But now they lost everything which was already declared. It seems to me we are going in the right direction. But it’s a long way, still.

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