U.S. Security Policy Issues
The disintegration of the USSR left in its wake fifteen successor states, each struggling to cope with the demands of statehood and the need to define a role in the international system. After three years of independence, it is by no means certain how many of these entities will be viable states within their present borders. Nor is it clear whether the two largest, Russia and Ukraine, will seek integration with the Western security system. Major factors underlying these uncertainties include:
Growing doubts in the region about the wisdom of the December 1991 decision to dismantle the USSR;
The failure of many new leaders in the region to gain legitimacy in the eyes of their citizens;
Uncertainty within many of the new states regarding their potential to achieve economic independence and political sovereignty (a trend bolstered by a growing backlash against economic hardships and rampant corruption);
Conflicts in the Caucasus and Central Asia; and
A general awakening to the fact that the major Western countries may not be able to reduce the dislocations associated with the transition from a Soviet-style command economy to a market system.
These developments have forced many of the Soviet successor states to re-evaluate their future in the international system. This in turn challenges the West to reassess its own policies regarding these states.
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