The Middle East
in the New International Order:
Gorbachev, the Russian Federation,
and the Rediscovery of the United Nations
The Soviet Union's relationship with the United Nations underwent a major change in the period 1985-91. From a stance of profound caution, punctuated by bursts of overt hostility to the organization, Moscow had moved by the end of the Gorbachev years to a position in which, in declaratory policy terms at least, it had become one of the U.N.'s staunchest supporters.
Opposition to peacekeeping operations by U.N. forces, a hallmark of Soviet approaches from 1956, had subsided to such an extent that the U.S.S.R. was even advocating the establishment of permanent standby forces under U.N. Security Council control ready for rapid deployment to the world's tension points. There was even talk in the late 1980s of support for the use of U.N. monitoring teams to supervise independence referendums in the Union Republics. In a series of initiatives on a wide range of matters, from global environmental conservation to the proposed establishment of U.N. naval peacekeeping forces, the Soviet Union was, moreover, giving Western countries a signal of the degree to which its program of internal restructuring, however uncertain the future, was intimately bound up with a fundamental reorientation in Moscow's approach to international organizations.
As the leading successor-state--or "continuer-state"--of the former U.S.S.R., the Russian Federation took its place in the U.N. Security Council for the first time at the end of December 1991. Despite the rejection of the ideological base of the Soviet Union as a determinant of foreign policy, Yeltsin made clear the fundamental lines of continuity of Russia's U.N. strategy with that of his predecessor at the Security Council summit held in January 1992. Referring to the United States and other Western powers as Rus