MOSCOW, NOV. 27 -- Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev issued a series of executive orders today preventing the republics from controlling nuclear arms on their territory and sanctioning "the use of arms" against nationalists who attack or harass Soviet troops.
Gorbachev was reacting to a series of incidents in the Baltic republics and elsewhere where nationalists have tried to force army troops to leave their territory.
"This is not democracy, it's a massive outburst," Gorbachev told reporters, referring especially to Latvia's recent attempt to cut off electricity, food and water to Soviet special forces in the republic and to recent anti-military demonstrations in Lithuania.
"We intend to restore order," he added. "If this is not done, our course of reforms will be wrecked."
The minister of defense, Marshal Dmitri Yazov, appeared on the television news program "Vremya" to read the seven-point presidential order. After describing a "breakdown" in order in the country, Yazov said that Moscow would continue to control the country's nuclear arsenal.
Recently, Soviet military officials confirmed that they had removed nuclear arms from the Transcaucasus and other trouble spots in the country.
Some republics' legislatures have angered Moscow with talk of barring Soviet army troops from their territory, banning the Soviet draft and creating their own military forces. Yazov said the Defense Ministry will "continue to determine where the army will be stationed."
Yazov said that in the event of any attacks on Soviet troops, or in the event of attempts by republics to cut off vital supplies to army bases on their territory, soldiers will have the right to defend themselves "with their weapons."
Yazov said that attacks on military monuments and graves would not be tolerated and that the legislature would soon present new laws to "protect" the military.
Especially since the decision to withdraw troops from Eastern Europe and the Far East, the Soviet military has suffered from a crisis of prestige. The Soviet press regularly prints strong criticism of the military -- a phenomenon completely new to the military leadership.
The military also has been accused of resisting reforms and even planning a palace coup. Yazov said the presidential decree also described the military's loyalty to Gorbachev's policies.
These presidential decrees represent not only an attempt by Gorbachev to win confidence among the military leadership but also a means of showing his resolve against independence movements, especially in the three Baltic republics.
Although Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have passed declarations of independence and even begun preliminary negotiations with Moscow on independence, Gorbachev has said he is convinced that any breakdown of the union structure would mean bloodshed. He has introduced a draft of a new Treaty of the Union that would give the republics greater sovereignty but retain a great deal of power in Moscow. The Balts, who have announced an unprecedented joint meeting of their three legislatures in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, on Saturday, say they will not sign the treaty.