The Soviet Far East Buildup and Soviet Risk-Taking Against China

by Harry Gelman

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An examination of factors that have influenced the evolution of the Soviet force buildup in Siberia, Central Asia, and the Soviet Far East under the Brezhnev regime. The report also tracks the changing Soviet view of the risks involved in the use of force against the People's Republic of China during the buildup, the development of Chinese military programs, the changing Chinese political scene, and China's evolving relationship with the United States. To this end, the study examines Soviet behavior and probable calculations in the three short Asian military crises of the Brezhnev era in which the security interests of the United States, China, and the Soviet Union most sharply interacted: the 1969 Sino-Soviet border crisis, the 1971 India-Pakistan war, and the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese hostilities. Probable assumptions the Soviets hold regarding their present and future force structure in the Far East are outlined. The report concludes by weighing the security implications of three broad alternatives for Sino-U.S. relations over the next decade: the relations remain unchanged, sharply decline, or significantly improve.

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