1. News Analysis: U.S. Policy on Russia - A Tougher Stance
The New York Times
March 24, 2001
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON, March 23 - The Bush administration has not articulated a broad policy toward Russia, but in thoughts and deeds it has taken a sharp departure from the engagement policies of its predecessor, moving toward isolating Russia and its president, Vladimir V. Putin.
In its first two months, despite a lack of crises before this week's tit- for-tat spy expulsions, the administration has shown apparent disdain for Russia by insisting that it will move ahead on missile defense regardless of Moscow's objections, by rebuffing the suggestion of a summit meeting and showing an inclination to downgrade the status of Russia as a world power.
Gone are the Clinton administration's attempts to transform Russia into a modern state and its "win- win" view of the Washington-Moscow relationship.
Instead, as relations appear to reach their lowest ebb since the end of the cold war, the Bush foreign policy team has designated Russia as a damaging proliferator of weapons, accusing it of selling arms for profit to countries like Iran while squandering billions of dollars of Western aid.
The administration opposes more aid to Russia through the international financial institutions and has asked for a 12 percent cut in American funds used to help Russia dismantle its rusting nuclear weapons.
"The president has not yet articulated a policy toward Russia - and their grace period is running out - but they clearly want to be less ambitious with Russia," said Lee Hamilton, the president of the Woodrow Wilson Center. "The rhetoric level has clearly been ratcheted up. It looks as though the policy will change substantively."
Russia is not alone in facing this tougher stance from President Bush.
The Bush White House has made clear that it will move ahead with arms sales to Taiwan, which the Clinton administration deferred last year and which China has stressed could harm relations between Beijing and Washington.
Rarely, if ever, during the Clinton era were there such combative statements toward Russia as those expressed by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, and his deputy, Paul D. Wolfowitz, in an interview last week with the London newspaper The Sunday Telegraph.
Of the Russians, Mr. Wolfowitz said: "These people seem to be willing to sell anything to anyone for money. It recalls Lenin's phrase that the capitalists will sell the very rope from which we will hang them."
Today, in a speech to the National Newspaper Association Government Affairs Conference, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell described the expulsions as a "stand-alone problem," and said he looked forward to dealing with Russia on a range of issues.
The Bush administration is choosing to take a more bellicose approach as the gap between Russia and the United States in power and wealth widens. "American and Russian elites live in radically different worlds, and they are intent on building radically different ones over the next decade and beyond," said Thomas E. Graham Jr., a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who formerly served as a diplomat in the embassy in Moscow.
Russia, he said, is a state in decline. "It is mired in self-doubt and an identity crisis," he said. "It fears it is being marginalized, and yet it aspires to be a world leader. This asymmetry precludes a wide-ranging, substantive relationship of equals, corrupts communications, and fuels suspicions."
But in what the Russians viewed as provocative, the Bush administration is pressing ahead with a meeting between a ranking official in the State Department on Russia policy, John Beyrle, and Ilyas Akhmadov, the foreign minister of the separatist Chechen leadership against which Moscow has waged a 17-month-old military campaign.
The Russian government has protested strongly in advance about the meeting. Apparently in some deference to those objections, the two officials are scheduled to meet outside the State Department building on Tuesday. But Mr. Beyrle is of considerably higher rank than the Russia desk officer whom the Clinton administration sent to meet with Mr. Akhmadov last year.
In a stylistic touch that said much about Russia's position in the universe of the Bush administration, Mr. Rumsfeld delivered a speech on missile defense in Germany last month to defense specialists but failed to mention Russia and left before the Russian delegate, Sergei B. Ivanov, spoke.
Like the Clinton administration, but more clearly and aggressively, the Bush foreign policy advisers have said they plan to expand NATO, a move that Russia believes is intended to belittle and contain it.
Many of the senior Bush appointees - from Mr. Wolfowitz to Stephen J. Hadley, the deputy national security adviser - were board members of the United States Committee on NATO, a group dedicated to the expansion of the alliance perhaps as far as the Baltics.
2. Get Over It, Mr. Bush - the Cold War Has Finished
Ivo Daalder and Fiona Hill
International Herald Tribune
March 24, 2001
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON The Bush administration's decision to expel 50 Russian diplomats on charges of spying underscores the extent to which the Cold War framework still dominates foreign policy thinking at the highest levels in the United States.
Consider these recent statements: According to President George W. Bush, Russia "may be a threat, if they decide to be, but they're not the enemy." Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, said, "I sincerely believe that Russia constitutes a threat for the West in general and our European allies in particular." Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary, said of missiles: "Russia is an active proliferator. They are part of the problem." And this from Secretary of State Colin Powell: "The approach to Russia ... shouldn't be terribly different than the very realistic approach we had to the old Soviet Union in the late '80s."
It is, as one wag put it, as if someone pushed the pause button in the early 1990s when these officials last left office and was only now allowing the tape to roll again.
While the tape may have paused, the world did not and Russia has moved forward in fundamental ways. True, Moscow still controls thousands of nuclear weapons, with many still pointed at the United States. Russia retains an impressive nuclear, chemical and biological weapons infrastructure. And its sales of advanced technologies to third countries is still cause for worry, not to mention the persistence of an active internal and external security service.
But it would be foolish to focus just on the similarities when the differences are so great. Russia today is not the Soviet Union of the late 1980s, or even the Russia of the early 1990s. While Russians - as many as 80 percent according to a recent poll - may feel nostalgic for the Soviet years, it is the stability and predictability of life they miss, not the superpower standoff or the restrictions and excesses of Soviet communism.
Russians today enjoy the basic freedoms - of speech, of assembly, of religion - that are the hallmarks of a free society. Russia has dismantled the command economy, transferring most economic power to private hands. And for all its faults - which are many - the Putin administration can at least take credit for forging a political consensus in favor of far-reaching economic reforms that, if implemented, may put Russia on the road to prosperity.
In emphasizing weapons, spies and traditional security issues in its bilateral relations with Russia, the Bush administration is trying to transpose yesterday's agenda into tomorrow's world. That misses the point. Russia is not the Soviet Union - at home or abroad. It his given up global pretensions, even accepting a painful retreat from the Balkans and the Baltics. And the thrust of its foreign policy is in new directions. Russian policy today is carefully calculated from a position of weakness to maximize economic advantage as well as enhance security.
Russia's interests lie close to home and are pragmatic. Relations with Europe are emphasized over the United States because an enlarged European Union will soon account for 50 percent of its trade. Visits to former friends, like Cuba, stress repayment of debts to Russia. Weapons sales to Iran are sources of hard cash, not geostrategic moves to outflank Washington. In spite of concerns about enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, it is EU expansion that is the most crucial development for Moscow because it has direct relevance to Russian prosperity.
In security terms, Russia's focus is on the former Soviet republics and the states on its southern flank around the Caspian Basin. Here, Russia sees itself caught between a rock and a hard place - NATO to the west and chaos to the south. But economic interests are closely tied to security and Caspian energy resources are a significant element in Russian calculations for exports to Europe. With Washington challenging Moscow's monopoly over energy transportation routes and its commercial aspirations, the Caspian Basin has become a flashpoint in U.S.-Russian relations.
These tensions do not have to result in the kinds of crises that beset U.S.-$ Soviet relations. But defusing these tensions will require the administration to abandon the language of threats and the focus on weapons that dominated the "realistic approach" if the 1980s.
The Bush administration must accept that foreign policy toward Russia, as elsewhere, should be based on the world of today. The spy scandal is too much of a diversion back to the world of yesterday. return to menu
3. Remarks by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell at the National Newspaper Association's 40th Annual Government Affairs Conference
The Washington File
March 23, 2001
(for personal use only)
We are also reaching out to a great country called Russia, a nation that is finding its own way, that is trying to firm up its democracy, to improve its economy. We want to be good friends with Russia. We are not standing back from Russia, we are not looking for ways to offend Russia, but we have made it clear to our Russian counterparts that it is a mature relationship, and we have to speak candidly to one another.
I have already met with my Russian colleague, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. I met him in Cairo a few weeks ago. We had an excellent set of discussions covering all the issues of interest between our two countries. I have spoken to him several times on the phone. Dr. Condi Rice, our distinguished National Security Advisor, has had the same kind of relationship with her counterpart, Sergei Ivanov. President Bush has spoken to President Putin, and we are looking forward to having broad dialogue with the Russian Federation across all the areas of agreement and disagreement.
It will take a little time before we can begin. We are still in the process of reviewing our policies, establishing our strategies. We are still in the process of bringing a new team on board. I don't wish to comment on the confirmation process except to say that, as of this Friday, I am beginning my third month as Secretary of State, and I am still the only confirmed official in the Department of State in the new Administration. So it takes a little bit of time, but those officials are now getting confirmed and pretty soon our team will fill out and we will be in a better position to engage with Russia.
There was a problem this week, a problem that had to be dealt with, a problem that was not found out about because we were around one night saying, you know, let's find out some way to poke the Russians in the eye. Quite the contrary. We found a problem having to do with a spy by the name of Mr. Hanssen, an American spy. And as we examined that case and as we also examined a continuing problem that we have had with Russia concerning the level of their intelligence presence here, we decided that we had to respond. And we did respond. We responded in a way that was measured, realistic, practical. And as far as we are concerned, that ended the matter. It was not part of a great scheme; it was a stand-alone problem we had to deal with. We didn't shrink from it, we didn't walk away from it; we dealt with it in a realistic way.
And I had a long talk with Minister Ivanov last night about it, and he of course expressed his view on it in very, very strong terms, and they said more about it in the last few hours. And we will get through this because the world needs a good relationship between Russia and the United States. The world needs us to explore all of these issues together, and we will be exploring all of these issues of concern -- bilateral relations, trade relations, regional problems, weapons, missile defense -- all of those will be discussed.
And so it is a very complex world we are living in, and I have gotten it by the tail. I am being dragged around. And I'm telling you what, it is exciting and it is fun. And sometimes I get a little tired at the end of the week. This day, this Friday, I'm feeling pretty good. You guys have turned me on. I'm okay. (Laughter.)
Q: Thank you very much, Secretary Powell. Elise Labott from CNN, if you'll afford a question from your loyal State Department press that covers you every day. You spoke about Russia and some events this week. The Russians made a tit-for-tat today, expelling some of our diplomats. Do you think that this is going to continue, this tit-for-tat, and how is this going to affect US-Russian relations?
And if I might also ask you about something else you said in your speech about China, and that you spoke about a lot of difficult issues. It comes to light that a high-level colonel in the Chinese Army defected in December. Did this come up during your meeting with the Chinese Vice Premier? The Chinese are looking for access to this colonel. And what is happening here?
SECRETARY POWELL: It didn't come up -- on the second point -- it didn't come up in my meetings with the Vice Premier, and I don't think it came up in his meetings with the President.
The situation is that the Chinese asked us last December to locate an individual who was missing. We located that individual, made sure that the person is in good health, made the Chinese aware of his presence. And that is as far as I would like to go. This is a matter that belongs in other Cabinet departments, so I think I'll stick to my knitting in the State Department.
With respect to the Russian action, I have received instructions from -- or I received information from our Embassy in Moscow that the Russians have indicated they will be taking action. We don't really know the specifics of that yet. They haven't identified anyone or any names yet, so we will have to wait and see how that plays out. As far as we are concerned, the action we took the other day was all we are planning in this matter. We will see what the Russians are going to do and what the nature of their action is.
I don't think this really throws us into some new deep thaw. Let me illustrate how broad the relationship is by saying at the same time all this was unfolding last night, and everybody was writing stories about what is going on and how terrible it's going to be, our Space Command was working with Russian authorities to make sure we all knew where the Mir was going. And as it flashed across the southern sky last night, it was the United States Space Command, working with Russian technicians in Russia, in the Republics of Russia and their various installations in Russia, cooperating as they do all the time on this kind of activity.
This morning, when I got word that the Russians were about to take action, I thought it might be appropriate to call our Ambassador in Moscow, who is a very old and dear friend of mine and one of the very best members of the Foreign Service, Ambassador Jim Collins, to just sort of talk him through it, knowing that this could cause a lot of consternation within our Embassy.
But I couldn't find Jim. I got the Deputy Chief of Mission and had a good conversation with him. Ambassador Collins was in Irkutsk about to get on the trans-Siberian express to take a train ride through Siberia because he had a long-planned trip of going along the trans-Siberian and stopping at cities and towns along the way to talk to Russian citizens about America.
So our relationship continues, and we will see what we can do about isolating this one incident, but we will wait to see the totality of Russian response.
President Bush, asked March 23 by reporters to comment on Russia's decision to oust U.S. diplomats in reaction to the U.S. decision to oust 50 Russian espionage agents, said: "We did the right thing. They can make whatever decision they deem necessary. Our country took the right course of action."
The administration's message, said Bush, was "that we will be firm and consistent in our foreign policy."
Asked if he was worried that "this tit-for-tat" situation could get out of hand and hurt U.S.-Russian relations, Bush said:
"No, I believe we can have good, strong relations with the Russians. They'll just understand my administration is one that takes firm positions when we think we're right. That doesn't preclude the ability for Mr. Putin and me, for example, to meet at some point in time and have a good, honest discussion about common interests, areas where we can work together, and be able to discuss our disagreements in an open and honest way."
Bush made the comments while on a visit to Portland, Maine, where he gave a speech promoting his budget and tax-reduction program for the nation.
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, traveling with the President, said, "We're aware of what Russia has said it will do. The President considers the matter closed." return to menu
5. Ties Strained Before Spy Scandal
Susan B. Glasser
March 23, 2001
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW, March 22 -- The diplomatic confrontation between the United States and Russia that erupted this week demonstrates just how much the two countries have parted ways in recent months, ushering in a renewed era of testy, suspicious and arms-length relations, according to politicians and analysts here.
While it may be premature and inflammatory to call this a second "Cold War," that was the imagery invoked today by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and just about every member of parliament who found his way to a television camera.
And they made clear that the finger-pointing was about much more than the U.S. decision to expel 50 Russian diplomats. Indeed, even before the latest rupture, tensions have flared in the two months since President Bush was inaugurated over issues from U.S. missile defense plans and proposed NATO enlargement to Russian arms deals with Iran and its human rights record at home.
To many Russian political leaders, the spy scandal will be more easily overcome than the prospect of revived nuclear tensions between the two Cold War rivals.
"I don't think it's good for a new administration to start with a cold attitude toward Russia," said Viktor Pokhmelkin, a leader of the liberal Union of Right Forces in Russia's parliament.
Like many others here, Pokhmelkin argued in an interview that the espionage tit for tat is really just a pretext for a Bush administration bent on abandoning the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and starting a new nuclear confrontation. "The main purpose is escalation of the arms race," he said. Dmitri Rogozin, who chairs the international affairs committee in the State Duma, agreed: "They are trying to pressure us on national missile defense issues."
Regardless of Bush's intentions, their comments are a reflection of how much relations have soured since the heady days after the breakup of the Soviet Union, when Russia vowed to create a Western-style free-market democracy and the United States clamored to help.
With the election of former KGB spy Vladimir Putin as Russia's president a year ago, it was already long since clear that the former enemies had not succeeded in becoming allies.
Early on, Putin signaled a new distance from the United States, traveling from Western Europe to North Korea to rally opposition to missile defense and arguing at every turn against a "unipolar" world in which the United States is the only superpower. Putin's government won a conviction against alleged U.S. spy Edmund Pope, making him the first American found guilty of espionage charges here since U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers in 1960; Putin later pardoned the American.
Even so, Russian political analysts and Kremlin insiders just a few months ago were welcoming the return of a Republican to the American White House, believing that a Bush presidency would offer them a respite from the idealistic but often intrusive lectures from President Bill Clinton about how to build a post-Communist democracy.
But the Kremlin's hopes quickly turned to recriminations when various members of the new Bush team started speaking out.
Twice already, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has called Russia a "proliferator" of nuclear arms. CIA Director George J. Tenet infuriated Russians by calling them a threat in congressional testimony. Even the lectures on democracy have not subsided, with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell urging Putin's government to halt its campaign against Russia's only independent television network.
Last week, Russian National Security Council chief Sergei Ivanov returned from Washington empty-handed, having failed to secure an early meeting between Putin and Bush.
Russians across the political spectrum are now arguing that, taken together, those events add up to a Bush administration bent on demonizing and isolating Russia at a time when Putin has just begun trying to reassert Russia's influence in international affairs.
"It's another example of someone trying to hit our heads very painfully," said Alexander Gurov, a committee chairman in the Duma, or lower house, and a former top official in the Soviet Interior Ministry. Bush "wants to show off and show his attitude, his patriotism and how strong and firm he is."
"I think President Bush wants to say to the new president of Russia, 'You should know your own place,' " said Viktor Ilyukin, a Communist member of the Duma. Russia may be "weak now," he said, "but at the same time we are still a great power and we would like the United States to respect us."
But even with the supercharged rhetoric, Russian politicians continued to express hope that Bush and Putin are both pragmatic politicians who will pull back from a confrontation that Russia can ill afford and the United States can hardly want.
"We are far away from the Cold War," Ilyukin said. "It didn't bring anything good or positive to anyone." Added Gurov: "Some people are already beginning to describe this as the beginning of a new Cold War. I don't think so. This will lead us nowhere."
In the end, the Cold War rhetoric may be scary enough to stop a new Cold War in reality.
"For a few days or weeks, we're going to be engaged in a shouting match," said Sergei Rogov, head of the Institute for USA-Canada Studies. "But I hope both sides will cool it down and [not] allow it to get out of hand." return to menu
B. Russian-Iranian Relations
1. Arms deal alarms Mideast adversaries
The Associated Press
March 26, 2001
(for personal use only)
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Iran's latest arms deal with Russia, underpinned by a surge in its oil revenue, has troubling implications for its neighbors, almost all of whom are embroiled in quarrels with Tehran that could turn violent.
Moscow and Tehran insist the deal is for defensive purposes only, but the United States, itself a big weapons supplier to the region, has expressed alarm. News of the latest agreement came during a four-day visit to Moscow this month by Iranian President Mohammed Khatami. Russia agreed to supply $7 billion worth of weapons over the next few years and to complete Iran's only nuclear reactor by 2003.
Iran covets Russia's missile technology and its Su-25 warplanes that could narrow the gap with its U.S.-supplied Gulf Arab neighbors. In a single deal last year, the tiny United Arab Emirates placed a $6.4 billion deal with the United States for 80 F-16 fighter planes.
A Russian official visiting Washington recently didn't mention warplanes when asked about the Iran arms deal. "All defensive," insisted Sergei Ivanov, Russian President Vladimir Putin's National security adviser. "Personnel carriers, tanks, anti-air missiles, which are very legitimate."
But Russia already has helped Iran tip the regional naval balance by selling it three Kilo-class submarines, the only subs owned by a Gulf country, and between 1989 and 1999 it supplied a reported $5 billion worth of weapons to Iran, the bulk of Tehran's recent purchases.
Iran's military ambitions are not new. They can now be realized, however, because of a windfall from oil revenues.
Russia makes no secret of its need for big customers to prop up its flagging defense industries. By engaging with Iran, a major and influential player in the region, Moscow also retains powerful influence in the Gulf and beyond.
But weapons sales to Iran raise concern because the Islamic Republic is less stable now than at any time since it rose out of the 1979 revolution.
Religious hard-liners who still believe in holy war and exporting the revolution are waging a power struggle with pro-Khatami reformists.
Despite a thaw with Iraq, neither country can forget their devastating 1980-88 war. Across the Gulf, Iran is locked in a territorial dispute with the Emirates. Ties with Turkey are strained over Tehran's support for rebel Kurds and Ankara's military ties with Israel, Iran's arch foe.
In 1998, Iran came close to war with Afghanistan's Taliban rulers following the killing of seven Iranian diplomats and an Iranian journalist by renegade Taliban troops. And then there's the Middle East conflict. Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said in December that his country would retaliate in an "astounding and unexpected" way if Israel attacked Syria or Lebanon.
Iran has built and tested a number of missiles. Its latest, the Shahab-3, has a range of 800 miles and can reach Israel or U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. Israeli leaders repeatedly warn that Iran is close to developing a nuclear weapon, despite denials by Tehran. Ignoring U.S. concerns, Russia is building Iran's only nuclear reactor at a power plant in the city of Bushehr.
Both countries insist the technology cannot be used to make bombs, and point out that Israel too is reported to have nuclear warheads, plus the missiles to deliver them. Russia has said Iran agreed to sign up for a second nuclear reactor during Mr. Khatami's visit.
Moscow disregarded a 1995 agreement with Washington that called for a ban on more arms sales to Iran.
"It is not wise to invest in regimes that do not follow international standards of behavior," Secretary of State Colin Powell said March 14, criticizing the latest arms deal with Iran. The Russians, he said, should not be "investing in weapons sales in countries such as Iran which have no future." return to menu