This report focuses on two divergent scenarios faced by Russia in the wake of its financial crisis of August 1998. Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov expected either a vicious cycle of decline and possible collapse in government or an economic management scenario following outlines of an agreed action program that makes imperative fundamental changes in the Russian financial system. The success or failure of Russia in dealing with this crisis may have more effect on the pursuit of peace and prosperity by the United States than any other foreign policy crisis.
After several years of relative peace in Central Asia and southern Russia, Islamic extremist movements have become more active in Russia and in Central and South Asia, threatening stability in the region. Although numerous factors might account for the upsurge in activity, several of these movements appear to have connections to the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban regime in Afghanistan. These linkages raise questions about whether the United States, as part of a broader effort to promote peace and stability in the region, should continue to engage the Taliban regime, or strongly confront it. This report will be updated as events warrant.
NATO's Partnership for Peace program seeks to encourage eligible states, above all the states of the former Warsaw Pact and the former Soviet Union, to build democracy and undertake greater responsibilities in international security. The program could open the door to, but does not promise, NATO membership. U.S. and NATO relations with Russia are likely to be the determining factor in deciding whether states move from Partnership to NATO membership.
In fiscal year 1994, the new states of the former Soviet Union became collectively the second largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance made available from all sources. Whether and how the assistance program is helping to bring about democratic systems and free market economies is increasingly a question of interest to Congress and the public at large.
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