A. US-Russian Relations
1. Let's Not Freeze Russia Out, New York Times (04/26/99)
2. Experts Say U.S.-Russian Relations At 15-Year Low, Reuters(04/26/99)
B. Russian Reprocessing
1. Minatom Lobby For Spent Fuel Intensifies, Bellona (04/23/99)
A US-Russian Relations
Let's Not Freeze Russia Out
New York Times
April 26, 1999
(for personal use only)
LONDON -- Since the NATO campaign against Yugoslavia began,Western leaders have tried to persuade Russia to help mediate asettlement and get them out of the hole they have got themselves in.
There is every reason to include Moscow in negotiations. While officialRussian rhetoric has been white-hot against the bombings, Westernofficials know that the Yeltsin Government's policies have been a greatdeal calmer.
A settlement could give NATO the appearance of victory withoutrequiring an all-out war against the Serbian nation -- a war that theWest seems unwilling or unable to undertake. Such a diplomatic successfor the Russians would also help rebuild relations with Moscow andstrengthen the Government against anti-Western forces there.
For it to work, however, we must give Moscow something concrete tooffer Slobodan Milosevic rather than simply telling Russia to demandYugoslavia's surrender. The latest Yugoslav peace offer via the Russianenvoy, Viktor Chernomyrdin, involving a United Nations force, isinadequate in itself. Nonetheless, we can almost certainly use it as thebasis for further talks, with Russia as the mediator. And StrobeTalbott, Deputy Secretary of State, who is to meet with Mr. Chernomyrdinthis week in Moscow, should use the offer as a starting point in asearch for a settlement.
In fact, we can trust Russia to make a serious effort to deliver areasonable settlement. Though strongly critical of NATO, both PresidentBoris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov have announcedthat Russia has no intention of getting involved militarily in theconflict. Aside from sending humanitarian aid to Yugoslavia, Russia'smost aggressive act has been to dispatch one warship to the scene toobserve the goings-on. Most critically, Russia has not lifted the armsembargo against Yugoslavia, nor moved to break economic sanctionsimposed by the United Nations.
At a time when NATO pilots are under fire from Yugoslav weaponrymade in the Soviet Union, the importance of this Russian restraintcannot be overestimated. It provides an obvious example of why we needto preserve a working relationship with Russia. While it is extremelyunlikely that Russia will ever use its enormous arms stocks directlyagainst the West, the risk that it will arm people and states capable ofattacking us is all too clear. Predictably, one result of the NATOcampaign has been the Russian Parliament's refusal to hold furtherdebates on ratification of Start 2.
We also need to recognize that Mr. Yeltsin and Mr. Primakov havepreserved their moderate stance toward NATO in the face of a risingtide of real popular fury in Russia. Russia is not an ally ofYugoslavia, as many seem to believe. During the Croatian and Bosnianwars, Russian nationalists and Communists produced much rhetoric aboutancient ties with "our Serbian Orthodox brothers," but it cut verylittle ice with the great majority of the people. This was true despitethe parallels between Serbia and Russia in the 1990's: both are dominantnations in multinational states that then broke up, leaving largepopulations of ethnic minorities stranded outside their "homelands."Despite this connection, Russians, especially in the educated elites,seemed to recognize that the Serbs had committed atrocities and that itwould be foolish for Moscow to sacrifice its interests on their behalf.
All that has changed since the NATO campaign began. For the first time,the overwhelming majority of ordinary Russians are strongly interestedin what is happening in the Balkans and are passionately opposed toNATO policy. For the first time, these feelings are shared by a majorityof Russia's educated youth, including many who were previously bothstrongly pro-Western and utterly indifferent to the Yugoslav wars. To alesser extent, this is also true in Ukraine, Romania and other Orthodoxcountries.
This is not just about "hurt Russian pride," in the patronizing phraseused by too many American diplomats and commentators. In the Russianperception, Moscow gave up enormous territories and military positionsfrom 1989 to 1992 without receiving anything like the financialcompensation or strategic guarantees that it could have had if it hadnegotiated on the basis of ruthless Realpolitik.
The Russians trusted the West to share Mikhail Gorbachev's vision of anew order of respectful and non-conflicting relationships between thetraditional European powers.
In recent years, educated Russians have become increasingly angry atwhat they see as the double standard the United States applies ininternational affairs. Americans preach democracy to Russia but followpure geopolitics and economic interest when it comes to making friendswith ruthless dictators in Central Asia. The United States preaches openmarkets to Russia but plays a zero-sum game against Russia overCaspian oil pipelines. Washington complains about Russian militaryexports but arms Turkey to the teeth with surplus American weapons.
In addition, Russians believe that the United States is hypocritical: ithas demonized Serbia for conducting ethnic cleansing but has acquiescedin the same atrocities by Croatian forces armed by the United States. Ithas given de facto support to the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army,while turning a blind eye toward Turkey's ruthless campaign to suppressKurdish rebels. And whenever Russia has had the temerity to disagreewith NATO, Western promises to consult with Moscow have provedempty.
With the NATO attack on Yugoslavia, however, an important barrier hasbeen broken as far as Russians are concerned. For the first time, NATOhas not just showed bias but openly violated longstanding internationalconventions. As Russians see it, this could herald future NATOinterventions in the former Soviet Union. It would thus be insane forMoscow to trust NATO to pursue a balanced and objective approach infuture disputes.
Kosovo presents NATO with a set of appallingly unwelcome choices.The wrong decision could lead to serious NATO casualties, a ruined andbitterly hostile Serbia, international terrorism by Serb extremists anda Russia so bitterly alienated that it will sponsor those terrorists.The West's own interests demand that we try to find a way out of thismess, and that we ask Russia to help us do so.
Experts Say U.S.-Russian Relations At 15-Year Low
April 26, 1999
(for personal use only)
HARRIMAN -- U.S.-Russian relations have deteriorated to theirworst level since the fall of the Iron Curtain, partially because of NATO's inclusion of three former Soviet bloc nations and its bombing of Serbia, academics say.
"We are at the worst position in relations since just before (former Soviet President Mikhail) Gorbachev" (1985-1991), said MarshallGoldman of Harvard University at a recent conference sponsored by both Columbia and Harvard Universities.
While Russia and the United States have had disputes over the military campaign in Kosovo, the gulf between the dominant nuclear powers began long before Serbian President SlobodanMilosevic started clearing Kosovo of more than 535,000 ethnic Albanians, academics say.
"The Russians have assumed that much of Western policy, led by the United States,...was designed to diminish Russia, to displace Russia and force its influence back," said RobertLegvold, former director of Columbia's Harriman Institute.
"This was brought to a fine point by NATO's recent expansion, but it is a misreading of U.S. policy. Right now the situation is bad and getting worse, and a thing like Kosovo," exacerbates it,he said.
NATO accepted Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into its fold on March 12.
"The expansion of NATO was a profound mistake," said Marshall Shulman, a retired international relations professor at Columbia.
Besides NATO issues, Russia's economic collapse on Aug. 17, 1998, when it devalued its currency, the ruble, and announced a debtmoratorium, threw a nation of 153 million people into a destabilized and disoriented state.
"There is now a displaced resentment and anger at not being able to make ends meet in Russia," Shulman said. "It is an anxious time" in the history of U.S.-Russian relations.
"All of the leaders of Russian liberalization are associated with the Americans, and right now Russians are not happy with America," Said Aleksander Livshits, a former economic advisor to President Boris Yeltsin who stepped down in the wake of the financial crisis.
Russians associate the failure to build a market economy with America'sinfluence in shaping its economic reforms.
Additionally, anti-Americanism has grown rapidly in Russia, as theUnited States is seen as the main force behind NATO's decision tobomb Yugoslavia, conference participants said.
Russians from across the political spectrum are supporting their fellowOrthodox Christian Slavs in Serbia.
"Russia is in a state of suspended animation, politically, economicallyand there won't be any reforms, nor will there be upheavals before the(presidential) elections" in June 2000, Livshits added.
In Legvold's view, America is suffering from "Russian fatigue" caused byRussia's inability to fix its own problems.
"We are bored by them, frustrated by them and at the core this is aproblem of indifference that is leading to a widening of therelationship," he said.
Russia has interpreted this "fatigue" as a willingness to let it fail,shattering the view that the country was too big to be allowed to gounder.
"In the early 1990s we met and got to know all of the reformers, andthen they were gone and we don't know where they went," saidRepresentative Howard Berman, a California Democrat and senior member ofthe House International Relations Committee.
"The Russian Duma, with its resurgent Communists, nationalists,anti-American sentiment, plus delays in ratifying START 2" make dealingwith Russia difficult, he added.
The Duma, or lower house of the Russia Parliament, has repeatedlydelayed ratification of the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty(START), most recently to protest NATO's bombings of Serbia.
START 2, a bilateral agreement concluded in January 1993, would cutboth America's and Russia's nuclear weapons arsenals to a maximum of3,500 warheads each by 2003.
Berman admitted that Washington's focus on foreign relations has shiftedaway from Russia and toward China, as business interests are drawn tothe world's most populated country and away from a financial cripple.
"To some degree (there is) a feeling among a small minority ofcongressmen that Russia is still a major potential threat," Berman toldReuters. Berman stressed, however, that he did not subscribe to thisview.
One ray of hope for bolstering relations, Legvold said, "is that we arevery close to achieving a new Conventional Forces in Europe agreement,which I think is a very important step in managing the next phases ofNATO and NATO expansion."
The CFE was a cornerstone of security during the Cold War, limiting thenumber of tanks, artillery pieces, aircraft and other non-nuclear armsthat state could hold and deploy.
B. Russian Reprocessing
Minatom Lobby For Spent Fuel Intensifies
April 23, 1999
(for personal use only)
Despite U.S. resistance and Russian laws against radioactive wasteimports, Russia's Nuclear Energy Minister shows maniacal persistencesoliciting support for the idea
More evidence of the determination of Atomic Energy boss, YevgenyAdamov, to amend Russian environmental law in favor of spent nuclearfuel imports appeared in a March letter obtained by Russia's biggestNGO, Socio-Ecological Union.
In the letter addressed to Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, Adamovexpounds the merits he believes exist in the import and reprocessing ofspent fuel from the world's nuclear reactors. Adamov encourages Primakovto consider that the world's nuclear power plants generate 10,000 tonsof spent fuel annually, the Russian reprocessing of which would net hugesums of money.
"Management of this fuel has a potential of $10-15 billion a year,"Adamov wrote, and concluded by suggesting the only roadblock to adollar-green paradise is current Russian environmental legislation.
SEU's Vladimir Slivyak, who obtained the letter, told Bellona Web thatthe letter was just a continuation of Adamov's promotion of the idea inthe government.
In December 1998 U.S. Energy Secretary, Bill Richardson, turned down aproposition from Adamov for the storage and reprocessing of US spentnuclear fuel in Russia. Richardson reportedly cited a violation of U.S.non-proliferation policy in his rejection of the idea.
Tom Meartens, the American consul, confirmed the stated position of hisgovernment in a response to an SEU query. He wrote: "In accordance withour non-proliferation policy, the U.S. does not engage in plutoniumprocessing for either nuclear power or nuclear explosive purposes andopposes the shipment of U.S. spent fuel to other countries forreprocessing."
Adamov's proposal included the option of storing reprocessed wastepermanently in Russia or sending it back to the U.S., as Russianregulations currently require. It came shortly after Minatom signed aconfidential protocol with German and Swiss companies which outlined aplan for shipments of spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste from Europeto reprocessing and storage facilities in Russia.
Environmental law faces May onslaught Russian Environmental Law (Sec 3,Art.50) prohibits the import of foreign nuclear waste. Presidentialdecree No. 733 dated 29 June 1995 obliges Minatom to return anyradioactive waste generated during the reprocessing of spent fuel to itscountry of origin within 30 years.
Minatom hopes to change the way spent fuel is classified under existinglaws - from waste to resource or raw material - creating a loophole inenvironmental legislation through which spent fuel imports could pass.
Recent statements from Adamov suggest a concerted attack onenvironmental legislation is about to begin. Russian Duma member anddeputy chair of the Parliamentary Environmental Commission, VladimirTetelmin, told Bellona Web that plans to divide nuclear waste and spentnuclear fuel do exist for a revised edition of Russian EnvironmentalLaw. He said it would not bring about the import of foreign spent fuel.
"Waste from reprocessed spent fuel will be returned to the country oforigin according to Russian legislation," Tetelmin told Bellona Web. "Idoubt Western Europe would have it (spent fuel) back, therefor therewon't be any contracts."
Telinin's assurances might sound foolhardy if Minatom is encouraged by alegislative victory that establishes a benign legal meaning for spentfuel. Tempted by such success, Minatom would likely seek a final victoryby abolishing the presidential decree forbidding the permanent storageof foreign reprocessed nuclear waste.
"Minatom has crafty ways of misleading the Russian government in anattempt to turn the country into a world nuclear dumpsite. We appeal toall the state bodies responsible for the security of the country to stopimmediately the criminal activity of Nuclear Minister Yevgeny Adamov,'an SEU press release quoted Slivyak as saying.
Minatom's activities have already received support in the Duma. Minatomlobbyists maintain that the logic behind importing radioactive waste isto secure funds for solving radiation safety hazards in Russia.
"We will have a minor increase of nuclear waste in comparison to what wehave today by importing it to Russia, but this minor amount will help usto tackle the rest of the shit (radioactive hazards),' a Minatomlobbyist argued.
Most Duma members are apt to subscribe to Minatom's logic amid thecountry's continuing economic crisis.