The UN Security Council passed a draft resolution on Iran drawn up by Britain, France and Germany Tuesday. The European nations give Iran another chance, promising broad-based economic support and benefits in exchange for the suspension of uranium enrichment. Washington is satisfied with the draft, convinced that Iran will turn down the offer, and nothing will save Teheran from sanctions then. Russia approves of the draft in general but tries to bring the nuclear power plant in Bushehr away from sanctions and pushes for the penalties which can damage Western interests rather than its own.
Germany, France and UK have come up with a new initiative to solve the Iranian crisis. The Old World decided to use the stick and the carrot policy in the dialog with Teheran. This time, Iran will be requested not only to abandon the uranium enrichment program, but also to fully and openly cooperate with IEAE inspectors. The West is willing to provide material incentives for the c. For example, Iran can be given a highly favorable trade regime with EU-countries. Europe can also promise Teheran to build energy plants, including nuclear reactors for nuclear power plants.
The amount of possible bonuses is to be discussed. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that the issue would be finally settled at a meeting of foreign ministers of EU member-countries in Brussels next Monday. Details will be worked out for at least one week.
Washington made an unexpected move and agreed to the proposal, strongly supporting it. “It must be a clear signal for Iranian authorities that the international community is united to convince Iran to abandon the uranium enrichment program,” U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said. “We will continue to seek for a binding UN Security Council resolution, but we will wait a couple of weeks until Europeans draft a proposal for the Iranian party, so that they are aware that they have a choice to have a civilian nuclear program,” she said in an interview with ABC.
Analysts explain Washington’s stance of more pragmatical arguments. The White House is sure that diplomacy will bring no results in overcoming the Iranian crisis. Two years of futile talks never convinced Teheran to give up murky nuclear developments. Iran is intransigent about creating its own atomic weapons. Aggressive statements of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadimejad, who first threatened to halt oil supplies to the world market and then promised to wipe Israel off the map, only backs America’s determination to foil Teheran’s plans by any means, including military ones.
However, America’s partners at the Security Council do not share the U.S. approach fully despite the intensions of Iran that Washington clearly sees. Washington gives Europeans a carte-blanche for a peaceful solution. The world community does not demand this time that Iran curtail its nuclear program but simply buys it from Teheran. Nevertheless, the United States is sure that Iran will turn down this generous offer, which will finally prove to everyone that Iran is producing outlawed weapons, as Washington maintains, instead of building civilian energy industry, as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insists. Therefore even staunch defenders of Iran as Russia and China will have to agree that diplomatic means have been exhausted.
The new draft Iranian resolution mentions penal measures along with “the carrot” for Teheran in case it does not accept a hand of friendship. A reference to the notorious Chapter 7 of the UN Charter is to be included on the resolution. The article describes the use of force and international sanctions for violator states. Western diplomats broadly hint that Russia and China, which vehemently opposed it, are ready for a trade-off and may agree to the reference to the punitive chapter of the UN Charter. Yet Moscow and Beijing want to specify it. They think that the reference should be made to Article 41 of Chapter 7 which envisages sanctions, but not to Article 42 that gives the go-ahead to military force. “We are very upbeat. We have never been so close in our views [on the solution to the Iranian issue],” a Western diplomat who spoke on conditions of anonymity said.
Perhaps, it is too early to be optimistic for the West. Moscow does not seem willing to lose billions of dollars after the halt of cooperation with Iran, which will surly happen if sanctions are imposed on the country. Yet both the Kremlin and the Foreign Ministry realize that they will not be able to block sanctions against Teheran without end. There is only one option left. Moscow will try to push for the sanctions that will deal the least possible blow on Russian economic interests. For instance, Russia may try to take a ban on cooperation in peaceful atomic energy out from the list to be able to complete the construction of the Bushehr nuclear plant. Military contacts will obviously have to be given up.
Still, Moscow is not going to pay for the embargo against Iran alone, Kommersant learnt. Russia already has an elegant move in store that will come as an unpleasant surprise for the West. The point is that, speaking about sanctions, European nations and the United States actually mean freezing overseas assets of Teheran, declaring Iranian leadership pesonae non grata, banning air communication with Iran and similar steps. Moscow, in its turn, is set to discuss “a serious embargo” to put a strong pressure on Iran when debating on the list of sanctions. It means banning Iran from selling oil and gas on the world market. Russia will have double benefits in case the initiative is backed. First, the world maker will lose Iranian fuel and will response with sky-rocketing energy prices. Second, Western countries and Moscow’s implacable ally, China, major consumers of Iranian oil and gas, will be at the losing end.
The Iranian president virtually confirmed Wednesday that the new initiative of European countries is only a temporary détente for the Iranian crisis. He said that Teheran will never abandon “its sovereign right to have and develop new technology.” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also accused the United States and other Western countries of monopolizing the nuclear technology market. “Iranian people defend not only their right but rights of other nations as well,” the Iranian president said at a D8 summit of developing countries in Indonesia.
Experts believe that Iran is determined to become a nuclear power and set to use the North Korean example to achieve it. The situation will be brought to the brink of a major crisis, which will make the United States agree to hold one-to-one negotiations with Iran. A pattern similar to six-party talks on Korean nuclear program is also possible. In any case, Teheran will win more time to get ready and finally boast its own nuclear bomb to the West.
It is important to keep in mind several facts when analyzing the debates on the Iranian nuclear file in the UN Security Council on May 9. To start with, on April 28 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, presented a new report on the Iranian nuclear program. IAEA Director General Dr Mohamed ElBaradei reported on some additional Iranian explanations. He also said that some of his previous concerns and suspicions had not been allayed. Moreover, the IAEA has not yet analyzed some of Iran's replies.
The main news so far is that the Iranians are successfully carrying out a pilot uranium-enrichment project, just as they have declared. (As of May 1, enrichment reached 4.8%). By so doing, they are displaying total disregard for the wishes of the world community. Tehran has irritated even those who were eager to help it avoid the dangerous confrontation.
But these were merely "wishes." Under the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran has the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, while readiness to implement voluntary confidence-building measures is not a legal commitment, and their duration cannot be indefinite.
As usual, the IAEA report displayed the unparalleled skills of UN bureaucrats to quote enough arguments to substantiate any position. But the conclusion is obvious - there is no definite evidence of Iran's military nuclear program, and, hence, no reason to submit a resolution on sanctions to the Security Council. As before, its five permanent members are not unanimous on settling the situation.
In his report ElBaradei used a politically correct term "suspension of all enrichment." This is what the EU3 suggested in its initial compromise proposal, which was logical and left much room for maneuver at the talks. But once Condoleezza Rice came into play, this potential carrot disappeared from the EU3 proposal, and was replaced with the term "cessation." In effect, this has frustrated EU3 mediation.
Moreover, it seems that neither the U.S., nor Iran were too unhappy about this failure. Many analysts believe that for all the public statements of U.S. high-rankers, by and large Washington was neither interested in the success of the Moscow proposal to set up for Iran a joint uranium-enrichment center on Russian territory.
Iran's contradictory and dubious attitude to this proposal shows that it has its own plans on settling the situation around its nuclear program.
We know little about decision-makers in Tehran - merely that they belong to a very narrow circle of the ruling elite, the dowreh. But it is abundantly clear that many of them are convinced that U.S. help is indispensable for a comprehensive solution, also involving bilateral relations. Apparently, the recent unexpected U.S.-Indian nuclear deal has made a great impression on the Iranian top leaders and convinced them that in principle it is possible to strike a deal with Bush Jr. without go-betweens.
This is exactly what Washington wants to achieve tacitly. It does not want to allow other countries, even its NATO allies, not to mention the reviving Russia, to take part in solving any major geopolitical problems, particularly when it comes to a former strategic ally and key player on the oil market.
This explains the obvious deadlock of the problem. The clandestine forces are subverting the visible negotiating process.
We see two real scenarios of settling the problem. In principle, they are both peaceful although it is not possible to rule out altogether the use of force or asymmetrical response. But this would be a third scenario - a disaster for the Iranians and Gulf and Mideastern Arabs, which would bring disgrace upon all of its initiators.
Under the first scenario, the Security Council could issue a resolution, which would sound as a warning to Iran. It should not contain any threat of force envisaged by Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. The U.S. and other Western countries have set forth a Chapter 7 draft resolution on implementing large-scale economic sanctions, which Washington has been carrying out without much success for several decades now. But the draft has been compiled in such a way that it is easy to delete all the "extras," or amend it in general. The authors knew beforehand that after Iraq they were not going to receive international permission for the use of force or for far-reaching sanctions.
But a modified Security Council resolution, if adopted, will be no more than yet another step to the settlement of the Iranian nuclear problem. The IAEA should remain the main instrument for exploring the history and real goals of the Iranian nuclear program. It should be given much more time for preparing detailed reports on the matter because the practice of monthly reports does not allow it to conduct thorough inspections and collect the information required for subsequent analysis. Resumption by Tehran of a temporary moratorium on uranium enrichment and implementation of the additional protocol requirements would be a litmus test of Iran's attitude to the opinion of the world community, expressed in the UN would-be warning resolution.
But the protocol is not a cure-all and the world community should continue exploring ways for toughening control over dubious nuclear programs on an agreed-upon basis. Of course, the impatient Pentagon guys and the U.S. "hawk" in the Security Council - John Bolton - would be displeased, but the world community should have a more responsible attitude to the issue of war and peace than the extremists from among the U.S. ruling elite, who are pursuing their narrow self-centered objectives. Iran also has sensible political forces - not just Ahmadinejad, who is in a sense a mirror image of his overseas critics.
Paradoxical as it may seem, but now that the U.S. has moved the case to New York and almost regained its chief designer position in construing a compromise, we can expect more action in the behind-the-scenes bilateral conspiracy. The leading Republicans are well versed in the technique. The same Defense Minister Donald Rumsfeld visited Iraq as a special envoy of President Reagan on December 19-20, 1983. By that time the U.S. and Iraq had had no diplomatic relations for six years. Rumsfeld promised Saddam Hussein to prevent arms supplies to Iran. Interestingly, they met at the peak of the Iraqi-Iranian war; by that time Iraq had been using chemical weapons for almost a year. Donald Rumsfeld was in raptures over Saddam (this fact may prompt the dictator's lawyers to register one more name on the list of their client's references).
It won't be difficult to give up the markedly belligerent rhetoric of today, especially considering that the U.S. paved the way to the construction of joint enrichment plants in the Shah's Iran. The now declassified directive of the U.S. National Security Council No. 292 of April 22, 1975, signed by Henry Kissinger, starts with the decision to allow the use of American materials for the production of fuel in Iranian reactors and its transfer to third countries with which the U.S. was bound by agreements. This was under a Republican administration as well. Iranian experts remember the good old times and many are probably hoping that they will be back.
Prominent American political scientist Robert E. Hunter has succinctly defined the key problem by saying that going to war with Iran was the worst option. He said that the U.S. should offer Iran security guarantees. A few days ago Zbigniew Brzezinski, the patriarch of American "hawks," also criticized the line towards confrontation. Even such a recognized ideologist of the U.S. Conservative establishment as Dick Cheney sounded quite peaceful in Vilnius. There are other signals, so far not so big, pointing to a gradual change in the atmosphere of debates on the nuclear program.
We should be ready for most unexpected turns in the U.S.-Iranian standoff. It is important for us to find effective ways of upholding our political and economic interests in Iran and ensuring the security of our citizens. For the near future, the best option for us would be to find the golden mean, and disassociate ourselves in calculated proportions from both confronting parties.
In the past Gennady Yevstafyev served in the Foreign Intelligence Service and retired in the rank of Lieutenant General. Now he is a senior adviser at the Center for Policy Studies in Russia (PIR Center).
3. "Midnight Now Approaching. ...But Issue of Resolution on Iran's Nuclear Program Remains Open"
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's trip to New York to discuss the conflict situation that has arisen over Iran's nuclear program happened to coincide with VE Day.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry head, the "Six" did not discuss the draft resolution on Iran submitted to the UN Security Council by Britain and France with US support. On that issue Moscow and Beijing are in solidarity. They advocate excluding from the resolution provisions that might justify the automatic imposition of sanctions against Iran.
All White House attempts to pressure Russia and persuade it to abstain in the vote on the hardline version of the Iran resolution were unsuccessful. So the meeting at the Waldorf Astoria discussed not so much the specific and well-known differences in the position of the "Six" countries as the international community's future strategy with respect to Iran. In the Russian minister's words, Moscow certainly advocates that Tehran should observe all the provisions of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. And it expresses concern at the Iranian authorities' refusal to halt uranium enrichment.
has found out from sources close to the talks, however, that highly substantial and in some instances sensational changes have occurred recently in the "Six" countries' positions. Participants in the ministerial meeting admitted off the record that using the "stick" alone on Tehran is proving ineffectual and deepening the crisis. So the possibility is not being ruled out that a resolution will be submitted for UN Security Council examination that offers the Iranians a "positive alternative" to their nuclear programs.
What that alternative will look like, we can only surmise. The West has made repeated attempts in the past to give Tehran an economic interest in abandoning atomic research voluntarily. But always without success.
Some reports say that the "Six" discussed the possibility of adopting a resolution in which the Security Council acknowledges Iran's right to develop peaceful atomic energy. And -- much more important -- agrees to Tehran's plans to enrich uranium on its own territory, under IAEA control. The Iranians, however, will be able to start these operations officially only after the international community's confidence in Tehran's nuclear programs is restored.
Rumors are circulating in the corridors at the "Six" meeting of the supposed existence of yet another previously unknown draft resolution, submitted to the judgment of of the Security Council by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But details of that document have yet to be published. Nevertheless Berlin, like Moscow and Beijing, understands that a hardline resolution will give Tehran a pretext for closing the door completely to IAEA inspectors.
Iran is being given another chance to avoid sanctions and offered compensations for voluntary self-restrictions on nuclear programs. The question is whether Tehran will accept them.
The traditional format of ministerial meetings on the Iranian problem - the five permanent UN Security Council members (Russia, the United States, China, Britain and France) plus Germany (as a member of the European Trio in talks with Iran) - has failed to agree on a UN Security Council resolution on Iran. The Council did not even hold the vote on the draft, which had been scheduled for last Tuesday. Russia and China, which have the right of veto, reiterated their objection at the meeting of the six foreign ministers in New York.
Talks about a new set of proposals to Iran started immediately afterwards. If Tehran accepts the demand of the international community and returns to a "peaceful nuclear program," it will be given some advantages and reimbursements in the political and economic spheres and, possibly, some security guarantees.
Experts from the six countries are still working on the draft resolution. The five permanent Security Council members instructed the European Trio - France, Britain and Germany - to prepare a number of compensations for Iran. According to U.S. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice, the compensations will be based on Russian and European suggestions. The details have not been disclosed.
However, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who on Wednesday arrived in Jakarta with a state visit, has already announced that Iranian people are "outraged" by the "wrong decision" of the international community and that Tehran is determined not to yield to pressure that is forcing it to give up development of new technology. Describing concerns about the Iranian nuclear program as "a big lie," he emphasized that the program was "entirely" peaceful. In other words, the Iranian leader shows no intention of breaking the deadlock. How can the UN Security Council respond?
In the backrooms of the UN headquarters there are rumors that the permanent members have agreed to offer the Iranian authorities some beneficial measures or, if it continues to persist, to introduce international sanctions. Draft sanctions will be worked out by the European Trio.
Moscow is very cautious in commenting on the situation. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the Security Council is working on the draft using the report of the IAEA director general and seeks to send "a signal to Iran on the need to address the serious concerns of the international community." The concerns are caused by Iran's reluctance to respond to numerous demands of the IAEA Board of Governors that it suspend enrichment and answer questions related to its past activities and nuclear program.
At the same time, debates on the form of the resolution are ongoing, Lavrov said.
Russia and China have their own arguments in favor of a diplomatic and negotiated solution of the Iranian problem. They insist that there is still a possibility of such a solution. Yet Tehran should understand that "still" does not mean "always"; it does not even guarantee more or less long term prospects.
5. IRAN'S NUCLEAR GAME: THE END OF TALKS? Moscow has the last diplomatic card to play
Defense and Security/Nezavisimaya Gazeta
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AN UPDATE ON THE IRANIAN NUCLEAR CRISIS; "Iran has joined the Atomic Club," President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said in mid-April. In late April, the IAEA was left with no choice but to inform the international community that Tehran had ignored the call from the UN Security Council to stop uranium enrichment.
Tehran is being insolent, apparently confusing insolence with courage. "I'm saying it officially. Iran has joined the Atomic Club," President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said in mid-April. In late April, the IAEA was left with no choice but to inform the international community that Tehran had ignored the call from the UN Security Council to stop uranium enrichment.
It seems that Tehran's behavior makes diplomatic finesse obsolete. Iran pursues a consistent policy, crossing one line after another. Is the time ripe for abandonment of negotiations and initiation of sanctions and sheer strength of arms - what Washington has insisted on all along? Perhaps. On the other hand, if there is even a slim chance that Tehran will reconsider and return to the dialogue with the international community, this possibility must be exploited.
An impulse, an impetus is needed at this point, something that will not let the doors slam shut for good. It is Russia that may provide such an impetus. Moscow's stand on the matter of what the UN Security Council should do now differs from what Washington and Europe suggest. The good cop - bad cop effect it is probably having on Tehran may come in handy as long as it is properly used. Perhaps, Iran itself would not mind renewal of the dialogue in the hope that Moscow will save it from the UN Security Council has in store for Tehran. This Russian policy is not that bad therefore as long as Russia coordinates its actions with the rest of the UN Security Council.
Now that the situation with Iran is balancing on the edge, Moscow seems to be in possession of the last diplomatic card that may be played yet. Moscow offers the Islamic Republic of Iran participation in the international center for handling nuclear fuel that will be located in Russia and specialize in enrichment of uranium, make elements of the fuel, and handle spent nuclear fuel.
The option is not what I'd call ideal because realization of the project will render the already existing Iranian nuclear facilities unnecessary. All the same, what Russia suggests does not strip Iran of the right to enrich uranium. The Kremlin only offers a more efficient method of nuclear fuel production which is what Tehran officially claims it is after. This is how Russia could advise Iran to consider the idea again now.
For a start, the Iranians should announce that their uranium-enrichment experimental program is completed and that they are prepared to take a break before initiating a new phase of the tests. In the meantime, Tehran should permit the IAEA to reestablish monitoring of its nuclear sites. Being but a renewal of the uranium enrichment moratorium, this pattern will enable Tehran to save face.
Following that, Russia should advise Tehran to take practical steps within the framework of establishment of the international center mentioned above. Russia has made considerable progress in the matter since its talks with Iran this February. It is time to expand the agenda of the dialogue now. The Iranians are obsessed with enrichment to the extent where they forget all about other components and elements of the nuclear fuel production cycle. For example, they forget about how complicated and expensive a solution to the problem of spent nuclear fuel can be. Moscow could emphasize it in an attempt to persuade Tehran that the international center is a convenient solution indeed.
That done, Moscow should remind Iran of the economic benefits the European Trio (Britain, France, Germany) offered it last summer. Ahmadinejad has just been elected the president then, and official Tehran turned the offers down without even contemplating them seriously. In the meantime, what the European Trio suggested is based on the idea of a closer technical interaction and cooperation, including those in the nuclear energy sphere. Had the Iranians taken the trouble to study the offer, they might have found it more attractive than the six-year old technology of uranium enrichment.
In other words, a smart move nowadays may turn the seemingly hopeless negotiations into a productive dialogue. It may only happen, however, if it is not nuclear weapons that Tehran is really after.
Discussion of the future of nuclear energy - even with Russia and Europeans as mediators - may bridge a gap between Washington and Tehran. In the meantime, the United States should stop its transformation into a military machine determined to crush Iran seeing it as the only possible solution to the problem. American policy should boil down to what George W. Bush is talking about - continuation of diplomatic processes.
6. Official Says Russia's Enrichment Offer to Iran Still Valid, No Point in Talks
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Head of the Russian Atomic Energy Agency Sergei Kiriyenko said there is no need to hold talks with Iran on a joint venture to enrich uranium.
Russia's proposal "remains in force, but now there is no need to discuss it," Kiriyenko told journalists on Wednesday.
"Now we're holding diplomatic talks. We have no technical problems with Iran. Additional talks on the joint venture are not being held. There is no need," he said.
Kiriyenko recalled that Russia's proposal "was part of the bilateral package agreement. A decision to this effect was taken to ease tension and prevent uranium enrichment in Iran."
At the same time, he stressed, "Our proposal remains in force because the joint venture will help settle the situation."
Kiriyenko pointed out, "Russia's position remained unchanged - all countries have the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but the international community should ban the proliferation of nuclear technologies."
Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia is confident that "the world community's goal is to keep in effect the non-proliferation regime."
"Russia's stand on Iran's nuclear dossier remains definite and unchanged," he said.
"At the six-party talks the draft resolution on Iran submitted by France, Germany and Great Britain to the UN Security Council was not discussed," Lavrov said.
The European troika offered the draft resolution and Russia did not put forward any new ideas, he said.
If Tehran and the International Atomic Energy Agency cooperate, the settlement of the nuclear problem will be undoubtedly possible, Lavrov said.
7. Russian Analyst Says Iranian Nuclear Program Has Entered 'Irreversible Phase'
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Iran will not accept any proposals from the international community if they are accompanied by the need to reduce its nuclear program, Contemporary Iran Studies Center General Director Rajab Safarov said.
"I think Iran will not accept any proposals if they are tied to the demand that it suspend its nuclear program or that it stop all uranium enrichment activities on Iranian territory, "Safarov told Interfax on Wednesday.
Iran's nuclear program has entered "an irreversible phase," Safarov said in comments on reports that the five UN Security Council permanent members reached an agreement on offering Iran a choice between a number of beneficial options and international sanctions if it refuses to suspend its nuclear program.
The likelihood that the permanent UN Security Council members might reach a consensus in discussing a draft resolution on Iran "is virtually zero," he said.
At the same time, if Russia or another country proposes the establishment of an international uranium enrichment center on Iranian territory under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran will agree to "maximum possible cooperation" with it, and this would make the Iranian nuclear program more transparent to the international community, Safarov said.
8. Iran May Still Accept Russian Uranium Enrichment Offer
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Russia's offer to set up a uranium enrichment joint venture is still a way to resolve the problem caused by the Iranian plans to develop the national atomic energy program, Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Larijani said after a Tuesday meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Theodora Bakoyianni.
"The Russian plan may be fulfilled, but Iran needs some more time for this dialog," he said. "The international community hurried and did not give Tehran a chance to sign the deal: It is not too late to channel the Iranian nuclear dossier into the right direction."
Experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and television reporters are watching the developments in Iran, Larijani said.
"Iran does not want to design a bomb or make it part of the defense doctrine," he said. "It was a mistake to refer the report by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei to the UN Security Council. It is possible to resolve the problem without pressure, but through constructive dialog," he said.
Greece, which is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, welcomes the Russian offer to enrich uranium on its territory, Bakoyianni said. Greece is against nuclear proliferation and thinks that a peaceful solution may be found in case of political goodwill. The minister urged Iran to cooperate with the international community for the benefit of all peoples.
1. $140,000 for the Head of the Divisional Commander: This Was the Value That a Former Subordinate Put on the Life of General Zhikharev, Who Flew Tu-160s With the Defense Minister and Supreme Commander on Board
Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye
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This criminal act shocked the military community no less, probably, than the conviction in 2003 of Colonel-General Georgiy Oliynik, chief finance officer of the MoD, who grabbed hundreds of thousands of dollars from public coffers. It was learned on 11 April that Saratov's Oktyabrskiy District Court had sentenced to five years in a maximum-security prison camp Colonel of the Reserve Viktor Gubanov, former chief of staff of the 22d Guards Donbass Red-Banner Heavy Bomber Air Division (Engels Air Base, Saratov Oblast). He was found guilty under part 3 of Article 33 ("Complicity in a Crime"), clauses "b" and "c" of part 1 of Article 30 ("Preparation for a Crime"), part 4 of Article 162 ("Robbery"), and part 1 of Article 222 ("Illegal Purchase, Transfer, Peddling, Storage, Transportation, or Possession of Weapons") of the RF Criminal Code. The crime would have remained "garden-variety" among the many others that have engulfed the Armed Forces in recent years had its intended victim not been so well known (praise to the local counterintelligence officers that found out in time about the preparations for the heinous crime). Gubanov had conceived of the assassination of General Anatoliy Zhikharev, who until recently was in charge of the above-mentioned force of strategic missile platforms. That same Zhikharev who on 23 August 2003 had flown the Tu-160 with Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov in the co-pilot's seat, and on 17 August 2005, the Tu-160 with President Vladimir Putin, who was in the left, captain's, seat of the same bomber. And it was in August of last year that the ex-chief of staff began to prepare the elimination of his former divisional commander, who had by that time been promoted and had left for Moscow.
CAUSE OF THE 'MORONIZATION'?
According to the regional FSB office, military counterintelligence officers learned in August 2005 that a former serviceman of the Engels Air Division was seeking a partner in crime. The counterintelligence officers pursued a set of investigative activities and established that the organizer was Gubanov, former chief of staff of this air component. The colonel of the reserve, having learned that his former divisional commander was intending, owing to his move to a new place of service, to sell his home, decided to track the moment of sale and, with an aggravated assault, lay hold of the proceeds.
"Officer's honor" evidently prevented Gubanov himself "dirtying his hands". And he acted merely as the person that contracted for the robbery and the "hit". The perpetrator was soon found. The hitman was an officer of the Saratov office of the FSB.
It is hard to say how right Sergey Ivanov is when he states that the present-day TV and mass culture with their propaganda of crime are "moronizing" society, but it would appear that TV crime shows exerted a permanent influence on the former strategic aviator. Gubanov prepared the heinous crime according to all the laws of the genre of contract crimes: he furnished the perpetrator with photographs of General Zhikharev and personally gave instructions as to how best to carry out the criminal design. Right before "H hour"--in the first days of October--the ex-chief of staff brought and handed over to the perpetrator an entire arsenal--two F-1 grenades (fragmentation-pattern range of up to 200 meters), an RGD-5 grenade (killing power upon detonation of up to 25 meters), four flash grenades, and rounds for a Makarov pistol. From the very outset of the preparations for the action Gubanov did not rule out the possibility of Zhikharev's physical extermination.
The next day the perpetrator reported that the transaction involving the sale of the house had been completed, the aggravated assault was a success, and Zhikharev and the purchaser of his home had had to be eliminated. The counterintelligence officer that had acted the part of hitman handed over to his employer part of the sum that he had allegedly managed to obtain. That same moment Gubanov was arrested by task-force members of the FSB office, together with whom officers of the oblast prosecutor's office also had taken part in the operation. As was subsequently ascertained, the amount that had driven the principal to the criminal "exploit" was abour R4 million (approximately $140,000).
Since by the time that the crime was committed Viktor Gubanov was no longer a serviceman (he was discharged the Armed Forces in 2002), he was tried not by a military tribual but by a civilian court. It was an open trial. As Judge Andrey Kotlov believes, since Gubanov, who was pronounced guilty under the above-mentioned articles, did not plead such, it is not inconceivable, therefore, that the judgment will be appealed.
GUBANOV CASE, SYCHEV CASE...
Yes, Gubanov is a former military man, and his crime will not bolster the statistics of the criminal acts of servicemen (one less is good). But the silence of officials of the Ministry of Defense concerning this fact cannot fail to cause bewilderment. Although we can understand officials of the MoD: the "case of Private Sychev," who was crippled by short-timers in Chelyabinsk, is still all the buzz, and here's a new one, and at the most strategic level into the bargain....
This is, after all, a patent disgrace for the military establishment. When the aforementioned Sergey Ivanov speaks of the "substandard" draft contingent, which is all but totally criminal and high and which, nonetheless, replenishes the army ranks every six months, this is one thing. Here the headquarters of a strategic air component was for several years in the charge of a person who, having become a military pensioner, had conceived the robbery and killing of his commander. That is, we are no longer talking simply about the "quality" of the selection for ranking positions of senior officers but about officers to whom the world's most powerful weapons have been entrusted. We recall that four long-range cruise missiles (they all, having negotiated thousands of kilometers, reached the test-range area and destroyed the targets) were launched from the Tu-160 captained by General Zhikharev and in which President Putin was flying.
The MoD is by its silence affording no guarantee, as it were, that even now some force, the Strategic Missile Troops, say, is not commanded by some such "Colonel Gubanov" prepared for the sake of personal gain to "waste" a fellow serviceman that has proven more successful at the social and everyday level. Or capable of some other serious crime.
The court of the Volga Military District tried in May 2005 in that same Engels Long-Range Air Division, incidentally, the "finance officers' case". Seven officers of the finance unit were convicted. According to the details of the investigation, they misappropriated R1.5 million from federal coffers, dispatching hundreds of pilots on forged travel warrants to Vorkuta and Ryazan. The officers embezzled in a year one-third of all the funds that the division needed for travel expenses. The defendants were stripped of their ranks and sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from two to four years. And this in a division that under the leadership of an air ace flying on strategic missile platforms the leaders of the country has been deemed the best in the Air Force.
OFFICER CRIME ORGY
Meanwhile, four days prior to the trial in Saratov, on 7 April, Vyacheslav Lebedev, president of the RF Supreme Court, pointed to the growth of crimes among the officers of the Armed Forces. Speaking in the Federation Council, he observed that 2,211 persons had been convicted as of late among the ranks of servicemen, and one out of every seven of those put behind bars for this crime or the other is an officer (to compare: in 2004, according to Chief Military Prosecutor Aleksandr Savenkov, officers committed "only" one out of every 10 crimes in the army).
The number of convicted officers in Russia has increased ninefold altogether in the 15 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union. This was announced at a February conference of military judges by Aleksandr Beznasyuk, lieutenant-general of justice and president of the Moscow District Military Court (MOVS). He affirmed that "the number of convicted officers continues to grow invariably from year to year." He said that whereas in 2004 some 290 officers were convicted in the Moscow Military District, in 2005 the figure was 368 (a growth of almost 30% in a year). Evidence of a trend. After all, that same Beznasyuk reported in 2003 that whereas in 1996 the number of officers convicted by the courts of the 18 components of the Federation constituting the Moscow Military District amounted to 173, in 2001 this figure had risen to 252, and in 2002, to 268. Whereas in the "unfortunate" 1991 some 41 officers were convicted.
"If things go on this way, we will lose the officer corps," the president of the MOVS said at that time. The "case of Colonel Gubanov" (albeit a retiree) is the latest indicative symptom of this.
Lebedev, president of the Supreme Court, sent a report to the defense minister. It analyzes the causes of this situation and enumerates measures to overcome the extremely disturbing trend that has emerged. "Specifically," Lebedev said in the Federation Council, "our document contains proposals for the drafting of an Officers' Code of Honor and the formation of officers' comrades' honor courts." The country's chief justice believes that the introduction of such bodies in the Armed Forces would contribute to a reduction in the growth in the number of crimes both among commanders and commanding officers and as a whole.
These proposals have been sounded, as it were, on the list of the measures that the MoD itself and society are today proposing for the army's improvement--the introduction of military police in the fighting forces, resumption of the institution of military clergy in the regiments, the efforts of members of the Public Chamber in barracks, and tighter civilian control over the army. The concern is general. Everyone now understands that the Russian Army is in permanent crisis. Only in the "Arbat Military District" located in the center of the capital are there still doubts here, perhaps. Just as in the well-known mordant joke about doctors. Nurse: "Doctor, the patient has died." "What do you say! Did he perspire prior to death?" "He did." "This is very good!"...
Anatoliy Zhikharev--Who He Is
Avn Major-General Anatoliy Dmitriyevich Zhikharev is deputy commander of the 37th Air Army (Long-Range Strategic Aviation) of the RF Supreme High Command (Strategic). He was born in 1956 in the village of Protaleyevo in Kharkov Oblast. In 1973 he graduated from the Orel Flying Club, and in 1978, the Tambov Higher Military Aviation School. He is a graduate (1988) of the Gagarin Military Aviation Academy and of courses of the RF Armed Forces General Staff Military Academy (2003). Starting out as a navigator, he has negotiated all rungs of the officer's flying career. On 25 July 2000 he was appointed commander of the 22d Guards Donbass Red-Banner Heavy Bomber Air Division (Engels Air Base, Saratov Oblast), which he commanded through May 2005. In 2001 the division was deemed the best component in the Air Force. He has logged more than 3,000 hours flying time. He has been granted the honorific "Distinguished Military Pilot of the Russian Federation". Awarded the decoration "For Service to the Motherland in the USSR Armed Forces" III Class and medals, including the Distinguished Military Service medal.
Engels Air Base (Saratov Oblast)
The air base near the city of Engels represents the 22d Guards Donbass Red-Banner Bomber Air Division (BAD). It is supplied with strategic bomber missile platforms and also combat-trainer aircraft. The force is composed of a Tu-160 regiment (11 aircraft, of which one was acquired in 2005) and a Tu-95MS bomber regiment (20 aircraft) and also two Tu-22M3 bomber regiments (20 aircraft each). The Tu-160 missile platform can carry up to 12 cruise missiles with a nuclear payload, and the Tu-95MS, six cruise missiles, and the Tu-22M3 can attack a target with two missiles and also carry up to 69 high-explosive fragmentation bombs (OFAB). As of 2000, the air regiments of the 22d BAD have during exercises accomplished on average 10 quite successful cruise-missile launches annually. In 2003 a group of Tu-160 and Tu-95MS strategic missile platforms accomplished a very long-range flight (with mid-air refueling) and training missile launches in the waters of the Indian Ocean. On 18 September 2003 one Tu-160 crashed and the crew (four persons) was killed during a training flight. A Tu-160 costs, experts estimate, more than $250 million.
2. Russian Parliamentarian Focuses on 'Arms Race' Aspect of Putin's Annual Address
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Mikhail Margelov, head of the Federation Council International Affairs Committee:
"The provisions of the Message (President Putin's annual address to Federal Assembly) are based on an analysis of the contemporary situation in the world. The president pointed out, in particular, that Russia firmly adheres to positions of the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, abiding by international law. At the same time it is rightly emphasized that the arms race is continuing in the world, emerging onto a new level, and preparing mankind for the emergence of new kinds of destabilizing weapons. Arms are being developed in a dangerous direction, provoking 'an inappropriate reaction on the part of nuclear powers.'
"Indeed, despite all the global changes, the production and buildup of arms remains a most important element of world foreign policy, while high budget expenditure on defense remains an argument in the achievement of foreign policy goals. The president pointed to the need for defense spending comparable with other nuclear countries, but so as not to repeat the mistakes of the USSR, whose potential was largely exhausted by the arms race. It is a question of utilizing the country's intellectual wealth, of being capable of producing sophisticated weapons that surpass foreign models.
"It follows from the Message that the country's foreign policy will continue to develop in various areas: That is, Russia remains true to the principle of the democratization of international relations, their multipolarity. At the same time the United Nations remains the load-bearing structure of these relations, although it is in need of reform."
3. United Russia Leaders Welcome Putin Proposals for 'New Stage' of Development
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Putin's demographic project, indeed his megaproject is an ideology for national survival. If we do not invest money in resolving the demographic problem now, we will simply cease to exist as a state, it will be curtains for us; we will not be able to maintain sovereignty over these vast geographical areas in these climatic conditions. This is a truly unifying idea to which no one -- not the Right, or the Left, or the Greens -- is going to object.
The president himself has already pointed to the contradiction in his proposals for saving the nation, by asking those sitting in the auditorium to reach a "considered decision" regarding families with two children. It turned out that some Russians were being told from the Kremlin rostrum how much money they are now going to get for having children while others were left in complete ignorance and were insulted. It is not the president's job to name specific figures; he would do better simply to set the objective: that every family should have two children by such-and-such a year. The rest is up to the government.
I do not agree with the suggestion that, by naming specific figures, Putin dissipated the impact of his speech or strayed from important doctrinal tenets. Quite the contrary: In order to formulate his doctrine for Russia's development he had to elaborate a more detailed strategy -- and that is what he has done. As for the fact that the Address gave little space to foreign policy, Putin made the main point: Nowadays Russia's best friends are once again its army and its navy -- as in the days of Alexander III.
This is the first time Putin has identified the main domestic political problems: He is worried about the public's mistrust of government and business, the demographic crisis, the declining role of moral values in society, and industrial decay. His Address responded fully to these challenges. It is an exceedingly well-timed, bold appeal direct to the people.
I think that today is a holiday for the United Russia party: The proposals aired at the Sixth Congress were incorporated in the Address, and the president devoted two-thirds of his speech to maternity and childhood issues. This was not simply an oration filled with appeals and slogans. Specific measures were put forward: A mother giving birth to a second child receives the material basis for providing that child with housing and education. When we talked about supporting children we were always in discussion with the government about increasing the child-care allowance. It currently stands at a miserly 700 rubles. The amount is now going to increase -- to 1,500 for a first child and 3,000 for a second. That is a manifold increase. We hope that the president's proposals will be implemented effectively. Checking that the proposals are not diluted is now a role for the United Russia party.
The Address clearly formulates the idea that we cannot go on living just on the legacy left to us by the USSR. To remain a world power that structures the surrounding world in accordance with our own national interests it is not sufficient to have vast territories with natural resources to match, the world's sixth-biggest population, and nuclear weapons. What the president was proposing today is a decisive restructuring of the economy from a resource-based to a knowledge-based model, a review of defense doctrine with the emphasis on asymmetrical response, and solutions in the demographic area -- establishing the fact that Russia is starting a qualitatively new stage in its development.
4. Strategic nuclear forces developments remains a priority in national security - lawmaker
Russia & CIS Military Newswire
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In his Wednesday address to the Federal Assembly, President Vladimir Putin indicated specifically what should be done to improve national security and defense capability, Andrei Kokoshin, chairman of the State Duma committee for CIS affairs and ties with compatriots, told Interfax-Military News Agency.
"In general, the address outlines Russia's clear two-pronged course towards ensuring strategic stability, which consists, on the one hand, in optimal development of our own nuclear containment forces and means, and on the other hand, in a more active position concerning armaments limitation and reduction and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," Kokoshin said.
The address paid a lot of attention to the topic of arms limitation and reduction, which, unfortunately, has nearly disappeared from the agenda of global politics and no longer attracts attention of the only superpower, the U.S., he noted.
According to Kokoshin, Russia and China have been offering measures aimed at preventing deployment of weapons, including those of mass destruction, in space over the past few years. "A convention on these issues has been drafted, but it has so far found no understanding among the U.S. and its allies," he said.
"Without any limitations of international legal nature in this sphere, we may face the situation when strategic stability will be considerably undermined," Kokoshin stressed.
1. 'Crazies' Guarding a Nuclear Facility: Zheleznogorsk's Military Unit Holds Russian Record for Number of Deaths
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Anatoliy Borgoyakov, a draftee serving in a local military unit in the city of Zheleznogorsk (located slightly more than 40 kilometers from Krasnoyarsk), hanged himself. In that army unit such tragic incidents have become virtually a daily reality. Each year more than 10 of its soldiers die of various causes.
In October of last year a private hung himself with his belt in the barracks, then a few days later another soldier from the same unit was found hanged in the entryway of a residential building in Krasnoyarsk. In 2004 the ill-fated unit reported one incident of suicide by a soldier and one attempted suicide. The unit's officers have been replaced several times already. The latest commander arrived at his new post about a month ago, but the situation has not improved.
Information about the circumstances surrounding the death of Anatoliy Borgoyakov is extremely meager. All that is known is that his body was discovered in a storage room during morning cleaning in the barracks. The soldier was covered with an army pea coat. At first his fellow soldiers did not touch him; they thought he was asleep. But then they noticed that he had not moved for some time. When they lifted the pea coat they discovered that the young man had hanged himself with the belt of the pea coat. The military prosecutor's office launched a criminal investigation into the soldier's death. The death is believed to have been a suicide.
Over the past two years the unit has been the subject of dozens of inspections that have examined its personnel with a fine-toothed comb. The result was a finding that the time-worn explanation of hazing did not apply in these increasingly frequent cases of suicide. The main reason was the conditions under which the men served or, as military men say, the "quality" of their conscript service. Some of the draftees are neither physically nor psychologically capable of withstanding all the "rigors and deprivations of military service."
The reason being that the unit guards the outer perimeter of Zheleznogorsk Mining and Chemical Combine, one of Rosatom's largest enterprises. The enterprise includes a storage facility for irradiated nuclear fuel and has a working nuclear reactor that continues to produce plutonium. Patrol duty at a closed enterprise is heavy labor. Only a person who is truly strong, both physically and mentally, can stand the strain.
Private Borgoyakov, born 1986, was drafted into the Russian Army in December of last year in the village of Ust-Khoyza, Askizskiy Rayon, Republic of Khakasia. He was a young man from an unfortunate family - his mother died of alcohol poisoning, his father continues to drink and his two older brothers are currently in prison. Nevertheless the draft board deemed him fully fit for military service. His fellow enlisted men considered Anatoliy Borgoyakov odd; he was quiet and withdrawn. Those suspicions were confirmed by an army psychologist; after speaking with Anatoliy Borgoyakov he would not allow the soldier to be issued a weapon. According to Sergey Ponomarev, deputy commander of Military Unit 3377, there are currently 65 soldiers in his unit (almost a company) whose mental health is cause for concern.
For example, prior to being drafted one of those soldiers was a member of a totalitarian sect. While in the army he began making preparations to commit ritual suicide. The young man was sent to a psychiatric hospital as soon as the unit's commanders found out about it. It was after that incident that the unit's commanders decided to order a thorough examination of their soldiers' mental state.
2. U.S. Works With Kazakhstan to Stop Nuclear and Radioactive Material Smuggling
U.S. Department of Energy
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As part of the overall U.S. strategy to prevent nuclear and dangerous radiological materials from falling into the hands of terrorists, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced today that an agreement with the government of Kazakhstan had been signed to create a partnership under the Second Line of Defense program.
U.S. Ambassador Ordway joined Kazakhstan Customs Control Committee Chairman Askar Shakirov in signing the accord. The agreement will pave the way for NNSA to work collaboratively with the Kazakhstan Customs Control Committee to install radiation detection equipment at strategic border crossings throughout Kazakhstan to identify and deter illicit nuclear or radiological materials.
“Establishing strong border security partnerships with willing partners such as Kazakhstan are critical to preventing the smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive materials. The U.S. and Kazakhstan share a strong commitment to keeping nuclear weapons beyond the reach of terrorists,” Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman said.
Under the agreement, NNSA’s Second Line of Defense program will work together with Kazakhstan officials to install radiation detection and integrated communications equipment and train law enforcement officials to detect nuclear or radiological material smuggled inside cargo.
The Second Line of Defense program is a worldwide initiative that uses detection and deterrence to minimize the risk of nuclear proliferation, illegal trafficking and terrorism. It works by installing radiation detection equipment and training personnel at strategic international border locations, airports and seaports.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.
1. Russia: Chemical Weapons Warehouse In Kirov Region Said Not Harmful
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The chemical weapons warehouse in the village of Maradykovo, the Kirov Region, does not cause any harmful effects on the environment or health of the local population, a group of specialists from the St. Petersburg-based institute of hygiene, occupational pathologies and human ecology have said.
The regional center of hygiene has said that the institute' s specialists examined the adult population of the village of Mirny, near the Maradykovo warehouse throughout last year.
"The results of research proved identical to those of the regional center's own annual examination of adults and children in territories close to the warehouse and the chemical weapons elimination complex under construction there," the center's officials said.
Under the national chemical weapons elimination program all toxic chemicals stored at Maradykovo, constituting 17.4 percent of the overall amount of chemical warfare agents, is to be eliminated by 2010.
2. Russia, U.S. lag in destruction of chemical weapons
Paul Foy, Associated Press
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The U.S. Army has destroyed nearly a third of the nation’s stockpile of chemical weapons but said Wednesday it won’t get the job done before an extended treaty deadline of 2012.
Russia, which has the world’s largest stockpile of chemical weapons, is even further behind. It has destroyed only 3 percent of its 40,000 metric tons of chemical weapons, embassy spokesman Yevgeniy Khorishko said.
‘‘Russia will do its best to meet the deadline by 2012,’’ Khorishko told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Along with other countries, Russia and the United States were supposed to finish destroying chemical stocks within 10 years by 2007. Both are asking an international oversight agency for a one-time, five year extension to 2012. And both are expected to miss that deadline.
So far, the U.S. Army has managed to destroy 10,125 of 27,768 metric tons of chemical weapons, said Gregory Mahall, a spokesman for the Army’s Chemical Materials Agency.
The agency offered a few details Wednesday on problems in this country, a month after Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld notified congressional leaders that the U.S. won’t be able to destroy all chemical stocks under the deadline of the treaty ratified by 178 countries.
The agency cited delays caused by state regulators and troubled chemical-weapons incinerators that have had to be shut or slowed down for modifications. It offered no new projection on how long the mission will take to finish after 2012.
A watchdog group says much of the delays have been caused by the Army’s reliance on incinerators in Utah and elsewhere, instead of plants that use water and other chemicals to break down lethal agents. Utah’s incinerator has been shut down for a troubled switch from burning nerve agent to mustard agent.
‘‘History has taught us, in our program and Russia’s, that things don’t always go as you like,’’ said Craig Williams, director of the Chemical Weapons Working Group in Berea, Ky., a group pushing for safe disposal methods.
In this country, the work has been carried out at incinerators in Alabama, Arkansas, Oregon, Utah and at Johnston Atoll in the south Pacific, and at neutralization plants in Indiana and Maryland.
The Army is expected to start construction this year on other plants to neutralize rounds of mustard agent at Pueblo, Colo., and Richmond, Ky., where the Blue Grass Army Depot also is holding VX and GB nerve agent.
The only place expected to finish destroying its chemical stocks by 2012 is a chemical depot in Newport, Indiana, in addition to already completed projects at Johnston Atoll and Aberdeen, Md.
Craig Williams, director of the Chemical Weapons Working Group in Berea, Ky., cited Utah’s plant, 45 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, as a prime example of delays in destroying chemical weapons. The Deseret Chemical Depot has had difficulty draining chemical agent from old shells and tanks before burning agent and metal parts separately - and safely. Once liquid, the agent has congealed over time.
Now an Army contractor wants to burn mustard-agent munitions with most of the agent left in the munitions, after draining only a small amount that can flow out. Utah regulators are reviewing the proposal.
Williams said that to burn even one mustard agent-filled munition could take days, while separately the agent and munition can be burned in hours. Most of the Utah depot’s 6,219 tons of mustard agent is on tanks, which can be drained more easily, but Williams said burning agent and munitions together will slow down the process by years.
Mustard agent is less lethal than nerve agent but harder to burn safely. It releases dioxins and high concentrations of mercury, which can’t be destroyed in incinerators, Williams said.
‘‘They’ve got a lot of problems,’’ Williams said. ‘‘It’s going to take forever, and that’s why these schedules are moving consistently to the right.’’
Alaine Southworth, a spokeswoman for the Deseret Chemical Depot, said it hopes to start destroying mustard agent by late summer but won’t be able to extinguish the stock by 2012.
The Utah campaign started Aug. 22, 1996, when the incinerator began burning 13,616 tons of chemical warfare agents, which represented 42.3 percent of the nation’s stockpile of chemical warfare agents.
State Department spokeswoman Amanda Rogers-Harper wasn’t able to immediately explain Wednesday what sanctions the U.S. could face for failing to destroy its chemical stocks by 2012.
But Williams said the countries that make up the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were unlikely to sanction any members showing a determined effort.
ON THE NET:
U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency: http://www.cma.army.mil/
Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons: http://www.opcw.org/
Chemical Weapons Working Group: http://www.cwwg.org
3. OPCW Director-General Visits Switzerland and Addresses the 6th Chemical and Biological Medical Treatment Symposium
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
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On 1 May 2006, the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter, paid an official visit to Switzerland. During his visit, he opened and attended the Sixth Chemical and Biological Medical Treatment Symposium, held in Spiez, Switzerland. Director-General Pfirter had the opportunity to hold meetings with Federal Councillor H.E. Mr Samuel Schmid, Head of the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports; and Dr Marc Cadisch, Director, Spiez Laboratory.
In his meeting with the Director-General, Federal Councillor Schmid expressed on behalf of his Government, Switzerland’s firm resolve to uphold the Chemical Weapons Convention and its abiding intention to maintain its close cooperation with the OPCW to support the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and to help Member States in their effort to establish civil protection programs against chemical weapons.
Director-General Pfirter expressed his gratitude to Federal Councillor Schmid for Switzerland’s strong commitment to the Convention and its active and effective implementation of the Convention’s provisions that guarantee assistance and protection against chemical weapons for all 178 OPCW Member States. He noted that Switzerland was one of the first countries to offer the OPCW assistance, such as its provision of protective clothing, decontamination, detection and medical equipment, manuals and training courses on chemical weapons protection and decontamination. Director-General Pfirter also commended Switzerland for its exemplary cooperation with the OPCW and Norwegian Government in the implementation of the three-year development program for the Central Asian Member States —Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan— which Switzerland supported by providing practical training for first responders from those countries.
Director-General Pfirter also highlighted the vital importance of the training Switzerland provides to support development of adequate national civil defence response mechanisms by many Member States.
During the course of his visit, Director-General Pfirter also met the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, H.E. Mr Jean-Daniel Gerber, as well as the Secretary of State at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr Michael Ambühl. In their meetings, the Swiss government officials and the Director-General discussed the continuing cooperation between the Swiss Government and the OPCW, focussing on the Organisation’s efforts to ensure the universal and effective application of the global chemical weapons ban.
In his opening address, Director-General Pfirter lauded the continuing success of the Chemical and Biological Medical Treatment Symposium that has held six internationally recognised, large-scale scientific meetings over a period of twelve years. He underscored the meetings’ importance in improving the understanding and effectiveness of medical countermeasures required for defence against chemical and biological weapons, as well as expanding the meetings’ scope to add topics such as international terrorism and the response to mass casualty events. Director-General Pfirter commended the Symposium for its role in bringing together scientists and civil protection professionals from around the world, and in particular for the Symposium’s efforts to support the attendance of scientists from the developing world. Director-General Pfirter noted and acknowledged the vital contribution by the Spiez Laboratory, which organises the Chemical and Biological Medical Treatment Symposium that is held every two years and thanked both the Director of the Spiez Laboratory, Dr Marc Cadisch, and the Director of the CBMT Symposium, Col. Richard Price, for their unflagging dedication to the enhancement of civil protection programs around the world.
1. Putin optimistic on Russia’s role in European energy strategy
G8 2006 Summit Website
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Russia will be able to play a positive part in forming a common European energy strategy, President Vladimir Putin said in his annual state of the nation address.
He emphasized a need for a radical increase in energy efficiency.
“This is an issue of our competitiveness in the context of integration into the world economy. It is an issue of quality of life and environmental security. In the long term, this is the only way to secure Russia’s stable leading position on energy markets,” the Russian president said.
He also said the country’s energy industries should be developed further.
We need to set the stage for faster technological modernization in the energy sector. We need to develop modern refining and processing facilities and develop promising markets. We must also take steps to develop nuclear energy into a sector based on safe new-generation reactors. We need to consolidate Russia’s standing on the world markets for nuclear engineering, making full use of our expertise, advanced technology, and international cooperation,” Putin said.
“The restructuring of the nuclear sector should also be part of the solution,” he added.
2. Russia's nuclear energy to work on safe reactors – Putin
G8 2006 Summit Website
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Russia's nuclear energy should be based on "safe reactors of the new generation"; it is important to "reinforce Russia's position on global nuclear machine-building markets," announced President Vladimir Putin in his annual address to the parliament.
In order to reach these goals, the industry needs to be restructured and concentrate on developing promising energy spheres – hydrogen and thermonuclear power generation, he said.
The President also spoke of the need to "drastically improve energy efficiency." This demand is "not a whim for an energy-rich country, but the matter of our competitiveness at a time of integration with the global economy, the matter of quality of life and environmental security," he emphasized. This is the only way for Russia to secure a stable footing on international energy markets in the long term, he said.
The President believes that Russia has to play its "positive role in shaping a unified European energy policy."
3. Japan to propose energy saving initiatives at the summit
G8 2006 Summit Website
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Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi intends to propose several energy efficiency and saving initiatives at the July 15-17 G8 summit in St. Petersburg.
A wide range of issues pertaining to global energy security has been put at the top of the summit agenda at Russia’s initiative.
Government sources quoted today by the daily newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun say the prime minister will offer the G8 partners to use the Japanese system of Top Runners, introduced in the country in the late 1990s as part of the revision of the law on energy saving.
Under this effective system, the 21st line includes automobiles, computers, refrigerators, television sets and other electricity- and fuel-saving commodities. They were branded top runners and other producers were instructed to follow their example. Under the Japanese law, the government first warns and then fines companies that have not reached the required energy efficiency by the required time.
According to the International Energy Agency, Japan is the absolute leader in the G8 in terms of energy saving and efficiency. It is nearly ten times more energy efficient than China and India, and almost 20 times more efficient than Russia.
The Yomiuri Shimbun writes that Tokyo is pondering the dispatch of Japanese engineers to other countries, including Russia, with the aim of improving their energy saving programs.
Foreign Minister Taro Aso said Japan could offer Moscow relevant know-how for reducing oil consumption. The minister said this would benefit Russia, Japan and the rest of the world.
Koizumi also intends to encourage the G8 partners to use a gas emission reduction technology for coal-burning facilities. Japanese officials say he will speak on behalf of the Tokyo authorities and express their commitment to helping the countries that opt for using this technology.
4. Russian Minister Calls for Joint Efforts To Ensure Energy Security
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Russian Energy and Industry Minister Viktor Khristenko has called upon world leaders to pool efforts for the creation of a common system of energy security.
Khristenko said in an interview with the Financial Times published on Monday that Russia was already working on the project of ensuring energy security in the interests of the world community and was prepared to submit this plan to the coming G-8 summit due in St. Petersburg in July. " Let us hope that the leaders of countries - our G-8 partners who will get together in St. Petersburg will be acting in the same spirit of a serious dialogue and practical cooperation, and will not let the ghosts of the past epoch of the Cold War to thwart the process of the attainment of our common goals," the Russian minister said.
The publication was a reply to the recent statements made by U.S. Vice-President Richard Cheney at an international conference in Vilnius in which Cheney actually accused Russia of using its energy resources for blackmail and intimidation of other countries.
In his publication the Russian minister stressed that the old stereotypes of Russia were slowly dying out, but the West should realize and acknowledge Russia's more mature role and progress it has achieved in recent years, including in the transition to the market economy. Khristenko called to disperse the old impressions and create a new image for cooperation.
1. Russia: Criminal Case Against Ex-Director of Mayak Chemical Works Dropped
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The Chelyabinsk regional court on Thursday dropped criminal prosecution of former director general of the Mayak chemical works Vitaly Sadovnikov.
The decision was made in connection with the amnesty by the 100th anniversary of the State Duma, the press service of the regional court told Itar-Tass.
On March 2, the Leninsky court suspended Sadovnikov after the statement by the Prosecutor General's Office. He was accused under the Criminal Code articles on "violating environmental protection rules during works" and "violating rules of turnover of ecologically harmful substances and waste".
According to investigation, these violations resulted in the dumping of several dozen million cubic meters of liquid radioactive waste into the Techa River in 2001-2004.
They believe that "the Mayak director, having verified information on liquid radioactive waste leaking into open drainage network, did not take real measure to resolve the issue of environmental safety, although he had economic opportunities for it."
Audit checks showed that Mayak posted more than 1.14 billion roubles of net profit in 2001-2004. More than 1.88 billion roubles were derived from contracts with foreign partners and another 2.5 billion from sales of hard currency.
But "instead of resolving ecologic problems, the money was used for keeping the Mayak office in Moscow, and provide assistance to third organization for free or for non-production purposes. Bonuses for the director general topped 1.730 million roubles in the designated period, aside from wages," the Prosecutor General's Office said.
During the probe, Sadovnikov was suspended as director and regional legislator.
After prosecutors dropped criminal proceedings against him, he stated that he was "not interested" in clearing up the issue of his guilt. He said he was planning to work on strengthening the safety of the Techa cascade of water basins which contain the bulk of liquid radioactive waste from the company.
2. Nuclear power key to global energy security - nuclear chief
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The development of nuclear power over the coming decades is key to guaranteeing energy security around the world, the head of Russia's nuclear agency said Wednesday.
Russia has declared energy security its No. 1 priority issue this year for the G8, in which it holds the rotating presidency.
Speaking after President Vladimir Putin's annual state of the nation address, Sergei Kiriyenko said: "Access to cheap energy sources will be a key development issue for many countries."
Nuclear power should be upped to provide 23-25% of Russia's domestic needs, while internationally Russia needs open, fair competition conditions to realize its energy potential, Kiriyenko said.
But he said that in the present-day climate the distinction between peaceful and military use of nuclear energy is very narrow.
"Russia's key position is that broad access to civilian nuclear power must be guaranteed, while at the same time there must be a guarantee that weapons of mass destruction will not proliferate under any circumstances," Kiriyenko said.
"Russia holds this position both in discussions over the Iran issue, and in developing new means to ensure non-proliferation."
Iran has come under heavy international pressure to re-impose a moratorium on its nuclear research program, which some countries say is being used as cover to develop a nuclear bomb. Iran has denied the allegations, and says it is interested only in nuclear power for civilian purposes.
Putin said in his address that Russia supported strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime using current international legislation.
"We stand for the strengthening of the nuclear non-proliferation regime without changing international law," Putin said during his annual address to parliament, adding that Russia has made a significant contribution to maintaining strategic stability in the world.
3. Russia nuclear chief pleased by Putin's support for sector
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Excerpt from report by Russian news agency RIA Novosti
The head of the Russian Federal Agency for Atomic Energy (Rosatom), Sergey Kiriyenko, thinks it is important that President Vladimir Putin raised the need to restructure the nuclear sector for the first time in his speech to the Federal Assembly (two houses of parliament).
"It is important that the president, in setting out in detail the development aims for nuclear energy, has for the first time put forward the task of restructuring the sector. This is the first time that such a significant place has been given to the development of nuclear energy and industry in a programme document setting out the country's future development," Kiriyenko told journalists.
Kiriyenko said that restructuring was a way of achieving tasks already set by the president: "as a minimum to maintain the share of nuclear generation in the country's energy balance at 16 per cent, and to increase it to 22 per cent - to the level of European countries - by 2020".
"This requires us to start building two reactors a year in the country, while we must also take a strong place on the international market for nuclear power station construction. This is no less important because in the next 30-40 years it will not be possible to resolve the issue of stable development in the world without nuclear power," Kiriyenko stressed.
Kiriyenko said that another important point in Putin's speech was his statement that Russia intended to gain fair access for its goods to the world market.
"This is also directly relevant to our sector: as we have said before, the Russian nuclear power sector does not need exclusive rights, but we want to compete on equal terms on the international market and we will push for the abolition of any restrictions on our exporting companies," he said.
(Passage omitted to end: details of Putin's speech)
4. There Can Be No Inertial Development Scenario for the Sector
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The head of Rosatom noted that the agency had succeeded in attaining all of its objectives last year, meeting all of the projected indicators in full. Exports in 2005 amounted to $3.16 billion, the power output of the entire sector was equivalent to 149.4 billion kWh, including 147.6 billion kWh at the nuclear power plants of the Rosenergoatom concern, reactor No 1 of the Tianwan Plant was started up, and 19 nuclear submarine compartments were recycled. The combined civilian product of Rosatom enterprises was 2.6 percent greater than the 2004 product in comparable prices.
S. Kiriyenko also described the sector's financial status as "excellent." Taxes and other payments to budgets on all levels totaled 43 billion rubles, including more than 24 billion rubles for the federal budget. Financial indicators confirm that the sector is not subsidized, because payments to budgets on all levels far exceeded the funds received from the federal budget for the sector's development.
In reference to the main problems the agency is facing, S. Kiriyenko described the current tendencies in nuclear power engineering in detail. An analysis of the situation reveals that even if the service life of today's reactors were to be increased by another 15 years, nuclear power engineering in Russia essentially will cease to exist before 2030. If capacities continue to be incorporated at the present rate, the nuclear power plants will be satisfying only 3.2 percent of the demand for energy by 2030, in contrast to 16 percent in 2005. Because of this, there can be no inertial scenario for the development of nuclear power engineering. This would lead irrevocably to the elimination of nuclear power engineering in our country.
Problems connected with the supply of raw materials and with the handling of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel were also analyzed.
In his forecast for the sector, the head of the agency pointed out the following:
-- the nuclear weapons complex is certain to attain the objectives set by the state and to retain its competitive potential over the long range;
-- the nuclear power engineering complex is capable of attaining objectives and of retaining its competitive potential only over the short range.
The disappearance of nuclear power engineering from the production sector, however, eventually will reduce the efficacy of the nuclear shield.
Obviously, decisions must be made now with regard to the strategy for the development of nuclear power engineering and cannot continue to be postponed. A move to the innovation development scenario will first require the appropriate instruments and resources, however.
One of the principal challenges our country is facing now is the growth of energy consumption, which exceeds the projected rate of growth in our official "Energy Strategy." Furthermore, it has been compound growth in some locations, such as Moscow, Tyumen, and St. Petersburg. If this tendency continues, the average level of electricity consumption will exceed the average level of generation as early as next year, and this could cause a systemic crisis.
S. Kiriyenko defined the following priorities in the development of the sector:
-- the safeguarding of the scientific-industrial foundation of the nuclear defense complex as the basis of Russia's military and political security;
-- the guarantee of nuclear, radiation, and environmental safety;
-- the development of nuclear power engineering as a means of ensuring the country's energy security.
The unity of the resource, enriching, fuel, power engineering, machine building, and scientific components of the sector obviously will be essential. "The sector will not be divided in any way. The sector must be consolidated!" the head of Rosatom stressed. "We now have a rare opportunity for a renaissance in nuclear power engineering. To this end, we must restore the entire unique technological cycle of the Ministry of Medium Machine Building."
In conclusion, S. Kiriyenko said: "We have a state order and the political will of the national leadership for the stepped-up development of nuclear power engineering. I believe we will be able to handle this assignment."
The unification took place at the Kurchatov Institute Russian Science Center, at a meeting attended by S. Kiriyenko, the head of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency, and A. Fursenko, the RF minister of education and science. At this meeting of the institute team, they solemnly signed an agreement on cooperation in the development of priority fields of science and engineering, thereby officially recording the alliance of the nuclear sector and Russian science. A similar document was signed by the two agencies listed above and the Kurchatov Institute.
"I have been waiting for this for 20 years," said Professor Ye. Velikhov, academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences and president of the Kurchatov Institute. "We have worked with nuclear sector personnel in science in the past, but now all of us will be working as a single team. These documents will pave the way for international 'mega-projects' and will represent a step toward the signing of several other extremely important documents." In reference to the success of our domestic science in the world, the academician expressed his certainty that plasma would be produced in the experimental thermonuclear reactor within 10 years, largely on the strength of the concerted efforts of the "pillars" of science -- the Ministry of Education and Science and the Federal Atomic Energy Agency.
The same sentiments were expressed in the statement by A. Fursenko, who described nuclear power engineering as the national sector with the most promise in terms of innovation.
"The nuclear sector's entire strategy is based on a single premise: It has unique market opportunities because of the colossal potential of domestic science," S. Kiriyenko said when he addressed the Kurchatov Institute team. Furthermore, this progress is objectively and vitally necessary. "This means that generating capacities must be built on a mass scale," the head of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency concluded. Capacities for the generation of 40 gigawatts will be needed to attain the goal of not allowing the nuclear sector's share of the national energy supply to dwindle to negligible proportions, and of actually increasing it to 25 percent instead of the current 15-16 percent. This would require the startup of two 1-gigawatt reactors each year. Goals of this magnitude were set only in the Soviet Union. Today Russia has no choice. It cannot choose to do or not to do this, because the very existence of the state depends on it.
"We are not facing this dilemma alone," S. Kiriyenko pointed out. "The situation is the same all over the world. According to some estimates, if world energy consumption continues to increase at the same rate, covering the demand for energy in the next 20 years will necessitate the discovery and development of oil reserves equivalent to 10 times the present reserves in Saudi Arabia. This is impossible, and that is why China plans to build 100 nuclear power plants, India will build 40, France intends to increase its relative amount of nuclear energy from 75 percent to 80 percent, the United States hopes to increase this proportional figure from 20 percent to 25 percent, and Germany is returning to the 'peaceful' atom. According to several forecasts, the power generated by nuclear plants throughout the world will be augmented by 600 gigawatts before 2030."
"We have every right and every opportunity to claim our own segment of this international market," the head of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency stressed, estimating the capacities of the Russian sector at about 60 gigawatts. The Russian nuclear sector must be prepared to build nuclear power plants here and abroad, but some colossal and sweeping objectives will have to be attained first.
"This will be accomplished in part by the organizational reform of nuclear power engineering," S. Kiriyenko went on to say in response to the questions of the institute's scientific associates. "We must build a single, vertically integrated company -- a holding company encompassing machine building, instrument building, the fuel resource cycle, and the operation and maintenance of nuclear power plants, based on a system of management securing its competitive potential in the world market."
The objectives of nonproliferation must be attained today, of course, and Russia is suggesting specific ways of attaining them, including the establishment of international centers, where the technology for enriching uranium and handling spent nuclear fuel will be concentrated, and the unification of scientific potential and personnel training programs.
1. Russian Security Chief Urges US, NATO To Fight Terrorism, Drug Trafficking
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The secretary of the Russian Security Council has urged the United States and NATO to more actively fight against terrorism and drug trafficking in Afghanistan.
The secretary, Igor Ivanov, on Thursday demanded from the coalition troops in Afghanistan more active steps to solve problems of terrorism and drug contraband.
"Directly or indirectly, the Taliban movement is once again raising its head, trying to get into power structures of Afghanistan, and the flow of drugs from that country is growing," Ivanov told reporters.
"The coalition forces directly working in Afghanistan - the USA and a NATO contingent, must act more actively to stop those problems," Ivanov stressed. Ivanov warned that any military action in Iran may blow up the situation in the region and outside it. "Any military action in Iran will lead to consequences that may seriously blow up the situation in the region and outside it," the secretary of the Security Council told journalists.
"Russia has always come out and comes out for political and diplomatic methods for solving the Iranian problem," he pointed out.
Russia could change its national security concept, Ivanov said.
If such changes prove necessary, "respective adjustments to the military doctrine and the foreign policy concept will be made" in accordance with the Russian president's latest state-of-the-nation address to parliament, he said. "Proceeding from expediency, will shall determine how to make such changes," Ivanov added.
"Russia's military and foreign policy doctrines should give an answer: how to effectively fight not only terror, but also the spread of nuclear, chemical and bacteriological weapons, how to stop modern local conflicts, how to overcome other new challenges in the current conditions together with partners," Putin said in his address on Wednesday.
Ivanov said that Russia should be ready in full for repulsion of all threats and changes confronting humanity.
"The talk is about the spread of weapons of mass destruction, local conflicts, the illicit drug turnover, technogenic catastrophes, infectious diseases. All these problems have a trans-border character. For this reason, it is possible to fight them effectively only together," he said.
Russia and its partners are ready, with an active role of the UN, to take necessary measures to rebuff the threats of the 21st century, Ivanov stressed. "Being a nuclear state and permanent member of the UN Security Council, we realise in a full measure the high degree of responsibility that Russia has for maintaining global stability," Ivanov said.
1. A Critical Mass: Why It Has Become Fashionable in the West to Berate Our Country and Unfashionable To Defend It
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Over the past year, especially in recent months, everyone who has been following with anxiety (some, perhaps, with glee) the attitude shown by the West towards Russia has noted a sharp intensification of criticism towards our country and its leadership. Most of the articles written about Russia are negative; very infrequently -- neutral.
Several reports and articles appearing in influential magazines are sharply critical of Russia's policy. Some are even provocative. I have already written about some of these in the pages of Rossiyskaya Gazeta ("Russia and the United States: Back to Peaceful Coexistence," 24 March 2006; "Nuclear Pedants or Provocateurs?", 31 March 2006). One after another, conferences on Russia are convened whose tone cannot help but make us wary. It has become fashionable to berate our country, and out of fashion to defend it. The traditional supporters of rapprochement with our country have become silent, while the aging knights of the Cold War find themselves revived.
True, we must note that Western criticism, American criticism in particular, does not compare with the abusive treatment towards the United States and the West that rings out from our television screens and elicits gloomy consternation.
Be that as it may, the world press has begun to talk about a crisis in Russian-American relations and even in Russia's relations with the West overall.
I have had occasion over the past month to read a great deal and to travel and meet with many people who determine Western public opinion and set policies with respect to our country. Here I will share my -- naturally incomplete -- conclusions from this experience. Naturally, I do not pretend to be the final authority in this regard.
Probably the most important reason for the criticism in the United States is not the situation in Russia itself or Russian foreign policy, but the aspirations of the Democrats, thirsting for power but not in a promising position at present, to deliver maximum harm to President Bush and his administration. Some of the "right" Republicans have joined the "left" Democrats in their attack, beginning a struggle to succeed the president.
Despite obvious failures in Iraq, the White House has made many good moves in the propaganda sphere. First of all, it proclaimed as the main objective and instrument -- "the all" -- of its foreign policy, the struggle for democracy, human rights and individual freedoms throughout the world. I believe that the deeply religious and messianic-oriented American president holds a sacred belief in what he is saying, despite the fact that the specific policy of the United States in a number of instances does not conform to proclaimed ideals, to put it mildly, and the policy of forced democratization of backward countries is simply counter-productive. Be that as it may, the main traditional slogans of the Democrats have been taken away from them, and it is political suicide to attack Bush for Iraq, given his declared course of action to fight Islamic radicalism and terrorism as the principal conflict in the modern era.
Things are not bad right now with respect to the economy. For this reason, certain rivals of the current president have chosen the tactic of using Russia to beat Bush. The substance of this is as follows. Bush is proclaiming a policy aimed at bringing democracy to the entire world, and one of the world's largest countries, headed in fact by his personal friend, "is retreating from democracy in every way."
But this "retreat" is more than just a club used to beat the American president and his secretary of state who, incidentally, have so far been pursuing a general policy of continuation of constructive cooperation with Moscow. Political changes in Russia indeed alarm and annoy the American and Western elites. First of all, these elites do not understand or do not want to understand that these changes comprise an objective reaction to the semi-democratic chaos of the 1990s which threatened to bring down the country. We are seeing a long-predicted conservative consolidation, or counter-revolution, which must take place following every revolution, and the redistribution of property that is virtually inevitable following its distribution, such as took place here. Secondly, a segment of the elite fears the restoration of a centralized state which, in opposing the West, would harshly impose its will, if not against the entire world, at least against many neighbors. Third, reverse fears are expressed that excessive centralization of authority enhances the fragility of the Russian state, which might lead to crisis and a new threat of its collapse -- a greater nightmare than before for many serious strategists against the backdrop of destabilization and radicalization of the "expanded Middle East" and Central Asia, and a China that has grown much stronger. Moreover, no one knows when and where the current post-revolutionary reaction will end. Neither do we, incidentally. Finally, in departing from certain rules and principles adopted in the Western world, at least externally, in allowing unrestrained corruption, and in failing to introduce a "dictatorship of law," we are again gradually becoming "aliens" who will always be suspect. In addition, Russia, like any major country, is always treated with suspicion on the part of the West.
An important, though not often expressed reason for the Russian wave of discontent is our country's new, confident (at times even presumptuous) tone in foreign policy, its noticeable intensification. The state is not really retreating at present, and if not in fact on the attack, it is attempting to strongly assert its position. In the Western capitals, accustomed to gaining endless concessions from Moscow over the past almost two decades, this cannot help but elicit nostalgia for "the good old days."
On top of the criticism of domestic policy changes in Russia, this cause of discontent has led to the emergence of a basically unscrupulous theory that Russia has engaged in the "export of authoritarianism." I do not agree with everything dealing with our support of the status quo along the periphery. (Reforms should long since have been carried out in Belarus). But to demand that Russia pursue a masochistic policy of collapse of the Central Asian republics in the name of democracy is strange, at the very least. We can already see what the "tulip revolution" in Kyrgyzstan has brought about -- a destabilization and criminalization of the country. Moreover, the West has not been very critical of the obedient (but sitting on gas) regime in Turkmenistan or the authorities in Baku.
Here we see that same old geopolitical and geo-economic rivalry revisiting us from past decades and centuries. It is important that we not get carried away by the old passions that would at times lead us into very foolish wars. We must fight for our regional interests calmly, strongly, and consistently. But we should also remember that interests of a far greater order presently unite us with the world of so-called Western countries. At least with respect to prevention of the further spread of weapons of mass destruction, and radicalism and terrorism in the world.
We can and must work to prove that we have a right to the circle of countries around our borders that are friendly to us, and not to other states. Moreover, we can achieve this through entirely civilized means -- first and foremost through our own successful development. If necessary, we can react in opposition -- but this is best without ineffectual actions for show, journalistic hysteria in particular.
There are other reasons as well, quite specific reasons for the increased criticism and dissatisfaction with Russia. One of the most important of these was the action to increase the price of gas sold to Ukraine, a process amazingly unsuccessful from the political and propaganda point of view. We literally "seized defeat from the jaws of victory." This episode is deserving of special attention. I will limit myself to brief comments. Although we had the full moral, political, and economic right to increases prices, we never did find the time to comprehensively explain this to the outside world. Nor did we succeed in explaining Kiev's defiantly obstructionist tactics in the negotiations.
Instead, through a few not always comprehensible statements and pictures of valves being tightened on the pipeline, we allowed Kiev to present itself as an innocent victim of political pressure. The image of an unreliable supplier was created for us (and continues to be) -- a supplier who uses gas in order to exert direct political pressure. There was virtually no such pressure.
I am not a vegetarian in foreign policy. Especially in our increasingly more brutal world that is losing legality and decency. In the present struggle, every country takes advantage of the assets it has. But the sword is quite useful when it is sheathed. When the sword is brandished, an opponent can shield himself or even fight back. We have allowed the impression to be created, almost unanimously, that we are brandishing it.
Finally, the law on non-commercial organizations has to date been inflicting major systematic damage to Russia's image, its international capital and influence. No one knows its content, but everyone is convinced that its goal is to suffocate freedom and the civil society in Russia.
Most terrible of all is the fact that millions and millions of very influential representatives of the intelligentsia in the world news media are convinced of this. They work in these non-commercial organizations -- 95 percent of which are not connected with politics, especially Russian politics. I am convinced that subversive political activity in Russia could be restricted by methods no less effective, but far less politically expensive.
Political and propaganda pressure on Russia is also being exerted for quite specific practical purposes -- for example, to cage the country within a general policy framework with respect to Iran, provoking it to issue harsh reactive rhetoric and damage its image still more. But a country with a poor image in an influential part of the world has less capability to effect foreign policy maneuver. For example, if our relations with the West deteriorate, our position with respect to other powers also grows weaker -- China in particular. In the same manner as poor relations with China in the past appreciably undermined the international standing and capabilities of the USSR.
There are also minor, but substantive reasons for the cooling off. Circles connected with energy, on the one hand, are alarmed at the inadequacy of investments in development of new oil and gas fields and believe that Russia is becoming a less promising supplier. On the other hand, there is dissatisfaction with the restricted ability to purchase Russian energy assets. I think we are seeing an attempt to dislodge the capitalization of leading Russian energy companies.
People who have an entirely friendly and sympathetic attitude towards our country are alarmed at the fact that we are still clearly investing too little in the future and may soon "fall off the cliff" for the same reason applicable to other countries rich in resources -- the "Nigerian path."
Finally, we have virtually no information or propaganda system to accompany our policy and policy planning. Here, I believe, we find ourselves at that same "level." Of course, I do not want to belittle the services of those individuals and organizations that are working to this end. But without systematic, mandatory planning, without a properly operating apparatus within the country and abroad, these are "voices crying in the desert."
The criticism and falling political image of Moscow and Russia do not yet constitute a tragedy. This cannot deal us palpable harm, even if attempts are made behind the rhetoric to adopt a harsh policy. Moreover, this is not very likely right now. But in just a few years, our situation may and probably will become far more vulnerable, taking into account certain international trends. And that is when a poor image may become dangerous. We will look at why this might take place and how we can combat it in a forthcoming article.
The addresses of the last years have set out our main socio-economic policy priorities for the coming decade. Our efforts today focus precisely on the areas that directly determine the quality of life for our citizens. We are carrying out national projects in the areas of healthcare, education, agriculture and housing construction. As you know, the problems in these areas have accumulated not just over a period of years but over entire decades. These are very sensitive issues for people’s lives. We have had to build up considerable strength and resources in order to finally be able to address these problems and focus our efforts on resolving them.
A number of laws were passed in order to implement the proposals set out in the Annual Address for last year (2005). These were laws designed to improve our political system, in particular, the law on the Public Chamber, the law on parliamentary investigations and the law giving the party winning the majority in regional elections the right to take part in the process of selecting the regional governor. We likewise adopted a decision that improves relations between the federal, regional and local authorities.
In other words, we have concentrated over these last years on ironing out the imbalances that had arisen in our system of state organisation and in the social sphere.
Now, as we plan the continued development of our state and political system, we must also take into account the current situation in society. In this respect I note what has become a characteristic feature of our country’s political life, namely, low levels of public trust in some of the institutions of state power and in big business. The reasons for this situation are understandable.
The changes of the early 1990s were a time of great hopes for millions of people, but neither the authorities nor business fulfilled these hopes. Moreover, some members of these groups pursued their own personal enrichment in a way such as had never been seen before in our country’s history, at the expense of the majority of our citizens and in disregard for the norms of law and morality.
“In the working out of a great national program which seeks the primary good of the greater number, it is true that the toes of some people are being stepped on and are going to be stepped on. But these toes belong to the comparative few who seek to retain or to gain position or riches or both by some short cut which is harmful to the greater good.”
These are fine words and it is a pity that it was not I who thought them up. It was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the President of the United States of America, in 1934.
These words were spoken as the country was emerging from the great depression. Many countries have faced similar problems, just as we are today, and many have found worthy ways to overcome them.
At the foundation of these solutions was a clear understanding that the state’s authority should not be based on excessive permissiveness, but on the ability to pass just and fair laws and firmly ensure their enforcement.
We will continue, of course, to work on raising the prestige of the civil service, and we will continue to support Russian business. But be it a businessman with a billion-dollar fortune or a civil servant of any rank, they all must know that the state will not turn a blind eye to their doings if they attempt to gain illegal profit out of creating special relations with each other.
I make this point now because, despite all the efforts we have made, we have still not yet managed to remove one of the greatest obstacles facing our development, that of corruption. It is my view that social responsibility must lie at the foundation of the work of civil servants and business, and they must understand that the source of Russia’s wellbeing and prosperity is the people of this country.
It is the state’s duty to ensure that this principle is reflected in deed and not just in word. I believe that this is one of the priority tasks we face today and that we cannot resolve this task unless we ensure the rights and liberties of our citizens, organise the state itself effectively and develop democracy and civil society.
We have spoken on many occasions of the need to achieve high economic growth as an absolute priority for our country. The annual address for 2003 set for the first time the goal of doubling gross domestic product within a decade. The calculation is not hard to make: to achieve this goal our economy needs to grow at a rate of just over seven percent a year.
On the surface we look to be keeping to our objectives and have had average economic growth of around seven percent for the past three years, but I want to stress that if we do not address certain issues, do not improve our basic macroeconomic indicators, do not ensure the necessary level of economic freedom, do not create equal conditions for competition and do not strengthen property rights, we will be unlikely to achieve our stated economic goals within the set deadline.
We have already begun taking concrete steps to change the structure of our economy and, as we have discussed a great deal, to give it a more innovative quality. I think that the government is moving in the right direction in this regard but I would like to make the following points.
First, state investment is necessary, of course, but it is not the only means of achieving our objectives. Second, it is not the volume of investment that is important so much as an ability to choose the right priorities while at the same time ensuring that we continue following the responsible economic policy we set five years ago.
After a long period during which we ran a budget deficit and faced sharp fluctuations of the rouble’s exchange rate, the situation today is changing dramatically. We must maintain this financial stability that has been achieved as one of the basic conditions for increasing people’s trust in the state and for encouraging entrepreneurs to invest money in business development.
Today’s situation allows us to make a calmer and more sober assessment of the threats that Russia encounters as part of the world system, threats that represent a danger for our internal development and for our country’s international interests.
We can make a more detailed examination of our place in the world economy. In a context of intensive competition, scientific and technological advantages are the defining factors for a country’s economic development. Unfortunately, a large part of the technological equipment used by Russian industry today lags not just years but decades behind the most advanced technology the world can offer. Even allowing for the climate conditions in Russia, our energy use is many times less efficient than that of our direct competitors.
Yes, we know that this is the legacy of the way our economy and our industry developed during the Soviet period, but it is not enough just to know. We have to take concrete steps to change the situation. We must take serious measures to encourage investment in production infrastructure and innovative development while at the same time maintaining the financial stability we have achieved. Russia must realise its full potential in high-tech sectors such as modern energy technology, transport and communications, space and aircraft building. Our country must become a major exporter of intellectual services.
Of course, we hope for increased entrepreneurial initiative in all sectors of the economy and we will ensure all the necessary conditions for this to happen. But a real leap forward in the areas that I just mentioned, all areas in which our country has traditionally been strong, gives us the opportunity to use them as an engine for growth. This is a real opportunity to change the structure of our entire economy and establish for ourselves a worthy place in the international division of labour.
We already feel confident in the mining and extraction sector. Our companies in this sector are very competitive. Gazprom, for example, has just become the third biggest company in the world in terms of capitalisation, while at the same time maintaining quite low tariffs for Russian consumers. This result did not just come about all on its own, but is the result of carefully planned action by the state.
But we cannot pat ourselves on the back and stop here. We need to put in place the conditions for more rapid technological modernisation in the energy sector. We need to develop modern refining and processing facilities, build up our transport capacity and develop new and promising markets. And in doing all of this we need to ensure both our own internal development needs and fulfil all of our obligations to our traditional partners.
We must also take steps to develop nuclear energy, a nuclear energy sector based on safe, new-generation reactors. We need to consolidate Russia’s position on the world markets for nuclear energy sector technology and equipment and make full use here of our knowledge, experience, advanced technology, and of course, international cooperation. Restructuring in the nuclear energy industry itself also aims at enabling us to achieve these goals. We must, of course, also focus work on promising new directions in energy – hydrogen and thermonuclear energy.
We must also take action to make our energy consumption radically more efficient. This demand is not just a whim for a country rich in energy resources, but is an issue for our competitiveness in the context of integration into the world economy. It is an issue of the environmental security and quality of life for our people.
I believe that only in this way can we ensure that Russia maintains a leading and stable position on energy markets in the long term. And in this way, Russia will be able to play a positive part in forming a common European energy strategy.
Our country has an advantageous geographical location and we must make use of this factor to realise our potential in the very promising area of modern transport and communications. The key decision in this respect is comprehensive and interlinked development of all types of transport and communications.
I note in this regard that concession mechanisms create new opportunities for carrying out such projects, and we should start making use of them very soon.
The reorganisation of important sectors such as aircraft- and shipbuilding has been dragging on for an unjustifiably long time. The government must take rapid steps to finally complete work on establishing holdings in these sectors.
It is also extremely important for us to make the right choices in our development priorities for the space industry. We must not forget that the development of outer space is Russia’s protective shield, gives us the possibility of detecting global natural cataclysms at an early stage and is a testing ground for new materials and technology. These and other objectives all require considerable investment to modernise facilities producing equipment for the space industry and to develop the infrastructure on the ground.
Russia has the potential to become one of the leaders in the field of nanotechnology. This sector represents one of the most promising directions for energy conservation and for developing new elements, medical technology and robotics. I believe we must take rapid steps to draw up and adopt an effective programme in this field.
I hope too that the implementation of the government’s and the Russian Academy of Sciences’ joint plans to modernise the science sector will not be no more than a formality but will bring genuine results and provide our country’s economy with promising new scientific developments.
Overall, what we need today is an innovative environment that will get new knowledge flowing. To do this we need to create the necessary infrastructure: technology incubators, technology parks, venture funds, investment funds. We are already doing this. We need to establish favourable tax conditions for financing innovative activities.
I believe too that the state should also facilitate the purchase of modern technology abroad. In this respect we have also taken some steps, first of all, of course, in order to modernise priority branches of industry. In this respect I ask you to analyse the possibilities for channelling resources into the capital of the financial institutions involved in leasing, lending and providing insurance for these types of contracts.
Reliable protection of intellectual property rights remains an essential condition for developing new technology. We must guarantee the protection of copyright within our country – this is also our duty to our foreign partners. And we must also ensure greater protection for the interests of Russian copyright holders abroad.
Russia today needs unhindered access for its goods on international markets. We consider this an issue of more rational participation in the international division of labour and a question of making full use of the benefits offered by integration into the world economy. It is precisely for this reason that we are continuing our negotiations on accession to the World Trade Organisation based only on conditions that fully take into consideration Russia’s economic interests.
It is clear today that our economy is already more open than the economies of many of the members of this esteemed organisation. The negotiations on Russia’s accession to the WTO must not become a bargaining chip on issues that have nothing to do with this organisation’s activities.
In my address for 2003 I set the goal of making the rouble convertible. An outline of the steps to take was set out and I must say that these steps are being taken. I propose today that we speed up the removal of the remaining restrictions and complete this work by July 1 of this year.
But making the rouble genuinely convertible depends in great part on its attractiveness as an instrument for settlements and savings. In this respect we still have a great deal of work to do. In particular, the rouble must become a more universal means for carrying out international settlements and should gradually expand its zone of influence.
To this end we need to organise markets on Russian territory for trading oil, gas and other goods, markets that carry out their transactions in roubles. Our goods are traded on world markets, but why are they not traded here in Russia? The government should speed up work on settling these issues.
As I said before, our growing economic possibilities have enabled us to allocate additional money to the social sphere – investment in our people’s prosperity and in Russia’s future.
The goal of the Affordable Housing project, for example, is to lower interest rates on mortgage loans over a period of two years and almost triple the total mortgage loans made, bringing them to a total of 260 billion roubles.
Another of our national projects allocates considerable resources to the development of agriculture. Work has already begun on programmes to build housing for young higher education graduates in rural areas. We are also developing a system for making loans available to co-operative retailers, small individual land cultivation and large-scale agricultural production enterprises. We are facilitating the purchase of the new technology and high-quality agricultural equipment that is so essential for our rural areas.
Now for a few words on the aims and measures set out in the Education national project. Russia needs a competitive education system otherwise we will end up facing the real threat of having our quality of education not measure up to modern demands. Above all, we need to support the higher education establishments that are carrying out innovative programmes, including by buying the latest Russian and foreign-made equipment and technology.
The government must bring order to the curriculum of vocatonal education schools. This is something that should be done through work together with the business community and social services sector, for whom these institutions are training specialists in the first place.
We need to create a system of objective and independent external control over the quality of the education received, and we need to engage in broad-based and open dialogue with the public to establish an objective rating of universities.
We should not be afraid to expand the financial independence of education institutions, including schools, at the same time raising their responsibility for the quality of every aspect of the learning process and for the final result.
I support our business community’s initiative of financing major universities through special development funds and through the formation of an education loans system. In this respect we need to look at improving the legislation in order to create incentives for such spending and ensure the necessary guarantees. I deliberately have not used the term state guarantees, but there must be guarantees of some kind, and the government can organise this work and put in place the required mechanisms.
Our fourth national project has been started in the area of healthcare and is aimed at improving primary healthcare and prevention and at improving access to high-tech medical services. I want to emphasise at the same time that the money allocated to the national projects accounts for only around 5-7 percent of total state spending in these sectors.
The government and the regional and local authorities must work systematically together on modernising these four sectors and making more effective use of the considerable resources that we already have. If properly organised, all of this work should improve the quality of service in healthcare and education and also make it possible to considerably increase wages for all groups working in these sectors, not only those who are receiving additional payments as part of the priority projects.
Furthermore, starting this year, a large part of the federal budget spending will be focused on the final result. The regional authorities also must begin this work. I deliberately draw the regional authorities’ attention to this point. The government has already taken the first steps in this direction but in the regions nothing is happening.
We must also continue the process of devolution of powers. In particular, the regions should be given part of the investment funds from the federal budget, which are essentially already being used today to finance municipal powers.
It is high time to stop overseeing the construction of schools, bathhouses and sewerage systems from Moscow.
And now for the most important matter. What is most important for our country? The Defence Ministry knows what is most important. Indeed, what I want to talk about is love, women, children. I want to talk about the family, about the most acute problem facing our country today – the demographic problem.
The economic and social development issues our country faces today are closely interlinked to one simple question: who we are doing this all for? You know that our country’s population is declining by an average of almost 700,000 people a year. We have raised this issue on many occasions but have for the most part done very little to address it. Resolving this problem requires us to take the following steps.
First, we need to lower the death rate. Second, we need an effective migration policy. And third, we need to increase the birth rate.
The government just recently adopted a programme for improving road safety. Adopting a programme is easy, now we need to implement it. I take this opportunity to draw the government’s attention to delays and unjustified red tape involved in carrying out these kinds of tasks. I spoke about this issue in last year’s address, and the programme has only just now been prepared.
I am certain that other issues raised in last year’s address are also not always being resolved in the way they should be.
We are taking measures to prevent the import and production of bootleg alcohol. The national Healthcare project is rightly focusing on the detection, prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease and other illnesses that are high causes of death among our population.
Regarding migration policy, our priority remains to attract our compatriots from abroad. In this regard we need to encourage skilled migration to our country, encourage educated and law-abiding people to come to Russia. People coming to our country must treat our culture and national traditions with respect.
But no amount of migration will resolve our demographic problems if we do not also put in place the conditions and incentives for encouraging the birth rate to rise here in our own country. We cannot resolve this problem unless we adopt effective support programmes for mothers, children and families.
Even the small increase in the birth rate and the drop in infant mortality we have seen of late are not so much the result of concerted effort in this area as of the general improvement in the country’s socio-economic outlook. It is good to see this improvement, but it is not enough.
The work we have carried out on social projects over these last years has laid a good base, including for resolving the demographic problem, but it is still inadmissibly insufficient, and you know why. The situation in this area is critical.
Distinguished members of the Federal Assembly, you will soon begin work on the budget for 2007, the year of elections to the State Duma. Understandably, the budget adoption process will be determined in large part by your desire to do as much as you can for your voters. But if we really want to do something useful and necessary for our citizens, I propose that you lay aside political ambitions and don’t disperse resources, and that we concentrate on resolving the most vital problems the country faces, one of which is the demographic problem, or, as Solzhenitsyn put it, the issue of ‘conserving the people’ in the broad sense. All the more so as there is public consensus that we must first of all address this key problem affecting our country.
I am sure that if you do this you will reap the gratitude of millions of mothers, young families and all the people of our country.
What am I talking about specifically? I propose a programme to encourage childbirth. In particular, I propose measures to support young families and support women who decide to give birth and raise children. Our aim should be at the least to encourage families to have a second child.
What stops young families, women, from making such a decision today, especially when we’re talking of having a second or third child? The answers are well known. They include low incomes, inadequate housing conditions, doubts as to their own ability to ensure the child a decent level of healthcare and education, and – let’s be honest – sometimes doubts as to whether they will even be able to feed the child.
Women planning to have a child face the choice of either giving birth and losing their jobs, or not giving birth. This is a very difficult choice. The programme to encourage childbirth should include a whole series of administrative, financial and social support measures for young families. All of these measures are equally important but nothing will bring results unless the necessary material support is provided.
What should we be doing today? I think that we need to significantly increase the childcare benefits for children under the age of one-and-a-half.
Last year we increased this benefit from 500 roubles to 700 roubles. I know that many deputies actively supported this decision. I propose that we increase the childcare benefit for the first child from 700 roubles to 1,500 roubles a month, and that we increase the benefit for the second child to 3,000 roubles a month.
Women who had jobs but then take maternity leave and child care leave until it is one-and-a-half should receive from the state not less than 40 percent of their previous wage. We realise that we will have to set an upper threshold from which this sum is counted. I hope that the government will work together with the deputies to set this threshold. Whatever the case, the total benefit should not be lower than what a woman who did not previously work would receive, that is to say, 1,500 roubles and 3,000 roubles respectively.
Another problem is getting women back into the workforce again. In this respect I propose introducing compensation for the expenses families pay for pre-school childcare. Compensation for the first child would come to 20 percent of expenses, for the second 50 percent, and for the third 70 percent of the average amount the parents actually pay for the pre-school childcare facility.
I draw your attention to the fact that I said that compensation would be for the expenses the parents actually pay and not for the costs for the childcare facility. The regional leaders understand what I am talking about. It is up to the regional and local authorities to ensure that there are enough kindergartens and nurseries to cover demand.
We also need to work together with the regions to develop a programme providing financial incentives for placing orphans and children whose parents are unable to care for them in family care. We currently have some 200,000 children living in children’s homes and orphanages. In reality the number of orphans is far higher, but around 200,000 of them are in children’s homes. It seems to me that foreigners are adopting more of our children than we ourselves are. I propose that we double the benefit paid to guardians or foster parents of children and make it at least 4,000 roubles a month. I also propose considerably increasing the wage paid to foster parents from 1,000-1,500 roubles a month to 2,500 roubles a month. And we should also increase the one-off payment made to families taking in children, regardless of the form chosen for placing the child with a family, to 8,000 roubles, that is, equal to the one-off payment made for giving birth to a child.
I instruct the government to work together with the regions to create a mechanism that will make it possible to reduce the number of children in institutions. We likewise need to take care of the health of future mothers and newborn babies and bring down the infant mortality and disability rates.
I propose that we increase the value of the childbirth certificates that were introduced last year and have worked well so far. I propose that we increase their value from 2,000 roubles to 3,000 roubles for pregnancy centres and from 5,000 roubles to 7,000 roubles for maternity homes.
This additional money should be used for buying the necessary medicines for women and providing a higher quality of medical services. This must take into account the views of the patients themselves, the women, and I stress this point. We need to develop such a mechanism. This is not difficult to do.
We also need to move rapidly to adopt a programme to create a network of perinatal centres and ensure that maternity homes have all the necessary equipment, special transport and other technology they need.
Finally, and most effective in my view, is a measure to ensure material support. I think that the state has a duty to help women who have given birth to a second child and end up out of the workplace for a long time, losing their skills. I think that, unfortunately, women in this situation often end up in a dependent and frankly even degraded position within the family. We should not be shy about discussing these issues openly and we must do so if we want to resolve these problems. If the state is genuinely interested in increasing the birth rate, it must support women who decide to have a second child. The state should provide such women with an initial maternity capital that will raise their social status and help to resolve future problems. Mothers could make use of this capital in different ways: put it towards improving their housing situation, for example, by investing it in buying a house, making use of a mortgage loan or other loan scheme once the child is three years old, or putting it towards the children’s education, or, if they wish, putting it into the individual account part of their own old-age pension.
Experts say that these kinds of state support measures should total at least 250,000 roubles, and this sum should be indexed to annual inflation, of course.
The question arises of what to do with the families who already have at least two children. This is an important question and I am sure that the deputies will come to a carefully thought-through decision in this respect.
Of course, carrying out all of these plans will require a lot of work and an immense amount of money. I ask you to work out the obligations the state would increasingly bear in this case over the years and give the programme a timeframe of at least 10 years at the end of which the state can decide on future action depending on the economic and demographic situation in the country.
Finally, the money needed to begin implementing these measures should be allocated in the budget for next year. This mechanism should be launched starting on January 1, 2007. I also ask you to work together with the government on the implementation procedures for carrying out this programme I have proposed.
Concluding on this subject, I note that we cannot resolve the problem of the low birth rate without changing the attitudes within our society to families and family values. Academician Likhachev once wrote that “love for one’s homeland, for one’s country, starts with love for one’s family”. We need to restore these time-honoured values of love and care for family and home.
While concentrating on raising the birth rate and supporting young families, we must also not forget about the older generation. These are people who have devoted their entire lives to their country, who laboured for their country and who, if necessary, rose to its defence. We must do all that we can to ensure them a decent life.
As you know, we have raised pensions on a number of occasions over recent years, and ahead of the planned timeframe. Next year we will again raise pensions by almost 20 percent overall. The state is allocating considerable money to providing social benefits and guarantees for pensioners and veterans. We need to continue our programme for providing state-funded housing for pensioners and veterans, including through using additional funds that are part of the Affordable Housing project. I ask you to continue focusing on this work as a key priority.
Distinguished deputies and members of the Federation Council,
In order to calmly and confidently resolve all the issues I have mentioned, issues of peaceful life, we need convincing responses to the national security threats that we face. The world is changing rapidly and a large number of new problems have arisen, problems that our country has found itself facing. These threats are less predictable than before and just how dangerous they are has not yet been fully gauged and realised. Overall, we see that conflict zones are expanding in the world and, what is especially dangerous is that they are spreading into the area of our vital interests.
The terrorist threat remains very real. Local conflicts remain a fertile breeding ground for terrorists, a source of their arms and a field upon which they can test their strength in practice. These conflicts often arise on ethnic grounds, often with inter-religious conflict thrown in, which is artificially fomented and manipulated by extremists of all shades.
I know that there are those out there who would like to see Russia become so mired in these problems that it will not be able to resolve its own problems and achieve full development.
The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction also represents a serious danger. If these weapons were to fall into the hands of terrorists, and they pursue this aim, the consequences would be simply disastrous.
I stress that we unambiguously support strengthening the non-proliferation regime, without any exceptions, on the basis of international law. We know that strong-arm methods rarely achieve the desired result and that their consequences can even be more terrible than the original threat.
I would like to raise another important issue today. Disarmament was an important part of international politics for decades. Our country made an immense contribution to maintaining strategic stability in the world. But with the acute threat of international terrorism now on everyone’s minds the key disarmament issues are all but off the international agenda, and yet it is too early to speak of an end to the arms race.
What’s more, the arms race has entered a new spiral today with the achievement of new levels of technology that raise the danger of the emergence of a whole arsenal of so-called destabilising weapons.
There are still no clear guarantees that weapons, including nuclear weapons, will not be deployed in outer space. There is the potential threat of the creation and proliferation of small capacity nuclear charges. Furthermore, the media and expert circles are already discussing plans to use intercontinental ballistic missiles to carry non-nuclear warheads. The launch of such a missile could provoke an inappropriate response from one of the nuclear powers, could provoke a full-scale counterattack using strategic nuclear forces.
And meanwhile far from everyone in the world has abandoned the old bloc mentality and the prejudices inherited from the era of global confrontation despite the great changes that have taken place. This is also a great hindrance in working together to find suitable responses to the common problems we face.
Taking into account all of the above, Russia’s military and foreign policy doctrines must also provide responses to the issues of today, namely, how to work together with our partners in current conditions, to fight effectively not just terrorism but also the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and bacteriological weapons, how to settle the local conflicts in the world today and how to overcome the other new challenges we face. Finally, we need to make very clear that the key responsibility for countering all of these threats and ensuring global security will lie with the world’s leading powers, the countries that possess nuclear weapons and powerful levers of military and political influence. This is why the issue of modernising Russia’s Armed Forces is extremely important today and is of such concern to Russian society.
The addresses of recent years have all dealt with various national security problems. Today I want to look more closely at the current state of the Russian Armed Forces and their development prospects.
These days we are honouring our veterans and congratulating them on Victory Day. One of the biggest lessons of World War II is the importance of maintaining the combat readiness of the armed forces. I point out that our defence spending as a share of GDP is comparable or slightly less than in the other nuclear powers, France or Britain, for example. In terms of absolute figures, and we all know that in the end it is absolute figures that count, our defence spending is half that of the countries I mentioned, and bears no comparison at all with the defence spending figures in the United States. Their defence budget in absolute figures is almost 25 times bigger than Russia’s. This is what in defence is referred to as ‘their home – their fortress’. And good on them, I say. Well done!
But this means that we also need to build our home and make it strong and well protected. We see, after all, what is going on in the world. The wolf knows who to eat, as the saying goes. It knows who to eat and is not about to listen to anyone, it seems.
How quickly all the pathos of the need to fight for human rights and democracy is laid aside the moment the need to realise one’s own interests comes to the fore. In the name of one’s own interests everything is possible, it turns out, and there are no limits. But though we realise the full seriousness of this problem, we must not repeat the mistakes of the Soviet Union, the mistakes of the Cold War era, neither in politics nor in defence strategy. We must not resolve our defence issues at the expense of economic and social development. This is a dead end road that ultimately leaves a country’s reserves exhausted. There is no future in it.
Of course, the question arises whether we can reliably ensure our security in a situation of such disparity with the other leading powers. Of course we can, and I will say how now. I propose that we look at this issue in more detail.
A few years ago the structure of the country’s armed forces was not in keeping with the reality of today’s situation. The armed forces were no longer receiving any modern equipment. Not a single new ship was built between 1996 and 2000 and only 40 new items of military equipment were commissioned by the armed forces. The troops carried out military exercises on maps, only on maps, the navy never left the docks and the air force never got to fly. When the need arose to counter a large-scale attack by international terrorists in the North Caucasus in 1999, the problems in the armed forces became painfully evident.
I remember very clearly a conversation I had with the chief of General Staff at that time. He is probably present here today. In order to effectively repel the terrorists we needed to put together a group of at least 65,000 men, but the combat ready units in the entire army came to only 55,000 men, and they were scattered throughout the entire country. Our armed forces came to a total of 1,400,000 men but there wasn’t enough men to fight. This is how kids who had never seen combat before were sent in to fight. I will not forget this ever. And it is our task today to make sure that this never happens again.
The situation in the armed forces today has changed dramatically. We have created a modern structure for the armed forces and the different units are now receiving modern, new arms and equipment, arms and equipment that will form the basis of our defence through to 2020. This year saw the start of mass defence equipment procurement for the Defence Ministry’s needs.
Naval shipbuilding has got underway again and we are now building new vessels of practically all types. The Russian Navy will soon commission two new nuclear submarines carrying strategic weapons. They will be equipped with the new Bulava missile system, which together with the Topol-M system will form the backbone of our strategic deterrent force. I emphasise that these are the first nuclear submarines to be completed in modern Russia. We had not built a single vessel of this type since 1990.
Five Strategic Missile regiments have already received silo-based Topol-M missiles, and one of our missile divisions will also receive the mobile version of the Topol-M system this year.
Another important indicator over recent years is that intensive combat and operational training is being conducted among the troops. Dozens of field exercises and long-distance sea voyages have been organised. One just finished today.
The result of these changes has been to boost combat spirit and improve the morale of soldiers and officers. We know examples of what it is no exaggeration to call mass heroism among military servicemen and law enforcement personnel.
The changes in the structure of the military budget are also an indicator of change. Defence spending has increased from year to year. An ever greater share of this money is going precisely into improving the quality of the armed forces. Over the coming years we must reach the goal of having at least half of the defence budget being spent on development. Every budget rouble must be spent carefully and for the designated purpose.
I have long since raised the issue of the need to establish a unified procurement and supply system for arms, military equipment and rear support. The government must settle this issue by the end of the year and complete this work and then establish a federal civilian agency with the according powers. I very much hope that this will also have a positive impact on overcoming corruption in the armed forces.
Now I would like to name the main demands regarding the missions our armed forces must be ready fulfil. Over the next five years we will have to significantly increase the number of modern long range aircraft, submarines and launch systems in our strategic nuclear forces.
Work is already underway today on creating unique high-precision weapons systems and manoeuvrable combat units that will have an unpredictable flight trajectory for the potential opponent. Along with the means for overcoming anti-missile defences that we already have, these new types of arms will enable us to maintain what is definitely one of the most important guarantees of lasting peace, namely, the strategic balance of forces.
We must take into account the plans and development vectors of other countries’ armed forces, and we must keep ourselves informed on promising developments, but we should not go after quantity and simply throw our money to the wind. Our responses must be based on intellectual superiority. They will be asymmetrical, not as costly, but they will unquestionably make our nuclear triad more reliable and effective.
Modern Russia needs an army that has every possibility for making an adequate response to all the modern threats we face. We need armed forces able to simultaneously fight in global, regional and - if necessary - also in several local conflicts. We need armed forces that guarantee Russia’s security and territorial integrity no matter what the scenario.
Another important demand is that the armed forces be professional and mobile. I particularly note that we have made the necessary personnel cutbacks over the last five years. The process of bringing the size of the armed forces down to an optimum 1 million servicemen will not require further special cutbacks but will be reached as officers who have served their time take their retirement. This scaling down will be achieved only through cutting back the bureaucratic apparatus. The combat units will not be affected by any more cutbacks.
Changes will also be made to the military command system and the mobilisation system will be improved. By 2008, professional servicemen should account for two thirds of the armed forces. All of this will enable us to reduce compulsory military service to one year.
Once the permanently combat-ready units are all manned by contract servicemen, we must also, starting 2009, begin filling posts for sergeants, master sergeants, and for above-water craft crews on principle of contract service.
The armed forces units stationed in Chechnya are all manned by contract servicemen. As from January 1, 2007, the Interior Ministry troops in Chechnya will also all be contract servicemen. In other words, we will no longer use conscript servicemen at all in anti-terrorist operations.
By 2011 our general purpose forces should include around 600 permanently combat-ready units. A much larger number of such units will be created in fighter plane units and military aviation, in the air defence forces, communications, radio-electronic reconnaissance and electronic warfare units. If need be, we will be able to quickly put into place mobile and self-sufficient units in any potentially dangerous area. Professionally trained units and permanently combat-ready units will form the backbone of these forces.
Service in the Russian Armed Forces should be modern and genuinely prestigious. People serving their motherland should have a high social and material status and benefit from solid social guarantees.
By 2010 we should have definitively resolved the issue of permanent housing for servicemen and by 2012 we should have resolved the issue of service housing.
We also plan a number of wage rises for the military over the coming years. At the same time we are developing the healthcare and insurance system for servicemen. Finally, the issue of increasing discipline among the troops is an equally important task. The political problems of the transition period and the lack of funding meant that the army was essentially just taking what it could get to fulfil its personnel needs, and this also led to worse conditions of service and a drop in the level of combat preparedness.
A huge number of young men of conscript age today suffer from chronic diseases and have problems with drinking, smoking and sometimes drugs as well. I think that in our schools we need not just to educate our young people but also see to their physical and patriotic development. We need to restore the system of pre-conscription military training and help develop military sports. The government should adopt the appropriate programme in this area.
The regional authorities should not just be seriously concerned with meeting conscription figures but are also responsible for ensuring that the recruits satisfy quality requirements, and they should carry out preparatory work in close contact with the armed forces themselves.
Administrative measures alone are not enough to really change the situation. We need to realise that the armed forces are part of ourselves, part of our society, and that service in their ranks is of immense importance for the country and for the entire Russian people.
Reflecting on the basic principles on which the Russian state should be built, the well known Russian thinker Ivan Ilyin said that the calling of soldier is a high and honourable title and that the soldier “represents the national unity of the people, the will of the Russian state, strength and honour”. We must always be ready to repel potential aggression from outside and to counter international terrorist attack. We must be able to respond to attempts from any quarters to put foreign policy pressure on Russia, including with the aim of strengthening one’s own position at our expense.
We also need to make clear that the stronger our armed forces are, the lesser the temptation for anyone to put such pressure on us, no matter under what pretext this is done.
Russia’s modern foreign policy is based on the principles of pragmatism, predictability and the supremacy of international law. I would like to say a few words today about the state of relations and prospects for cooperation with our main partners, and above all, about relations with our nearest neighbours, with the countries of the CIS.
The debate on the very need for and future of the Commonwealth of Independent States still continues to this day and we all have an interest in working on reform of the CIS.
The CIS clearly helped us to get through the period of putting in place partnership relations between the newly formed young states without any great losses and played a positive part in containing regional conflicts in the post-Soviet area.
I stress that it was Russia that helped defuse the tension in many of these conflicts. We will continue to carry out our peacekeeping mission in all responsibility.
The CIS experience has also given rise to several productive economic cooperation initiatives. The Union State with Belarus, the Eurasian Economic Community and the Common Economic Space are all developing in parallel today, based on the shared interests of the partners involved. Together we are resolving the problems that no one else will settle for us. We see in practice that multilateral partnership enables us to do this at much less cost and far more effectively.
The CIS has provided a good basis for the formation of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation that brings together countries genuinely interested in close military and political cooperation.
Finally, without diminishing the importance of the other aspects of reform in any way, I note the particularly promising project of strengthening our common humanitarian space, which has not just a rich historical and human foundation but now offers new social and economic opportunities. Throughout the CIS a difficult but active search for optimum cooperation models is underway. Russia states clearly and firmly that the end result we want from this search is the creation of an optimum economic system that would ensure the effective development of each of its participants.
I repeat that our relations with our closest neighbours were and remain a most important part of the Russian Federation’s foreign policy.
I would like to say a few words briefly about our cooperation with our other partners.
Our biggest partner is the European Union. Our ongoing dialogue with the EU creates favourable conditions for mutually beneficial economic ties and for developing scientific, cultural, educational and other exchanges. Our joint work on implementing the concept of the common spaces is an important part of the development of Europe as a whole.
Of great importance for us and for the entire international system are our relations with the United States of America, with the People’s Republic of China, with India, and also with the fast-growing countries of the Asia-Pacific Region, Latin America and Africa. We are willing to take new steps to expand the areas and framework of our cooperation with these countries, increase cooperation in ensuring global and regional security, develop mutual trade and investment and expand cultural and educational ties.
I wish to stress that at this time of globalisation when a new international architecture is in the process of formation, the role of the United Nations Organisation has taken on new importance. This is the most representative and universal international forum and it remains the backbone of the modern world order. It is clear that the foundations of this global organisation were laid during an entirely different era and that reform is indisputably necessary.
Russia, which is taking an active part in this work, sees two points of being of principle importance.
First, reform should make the UN’s work more effective. Second, reform should have the broad support of a maximum number of the UN’s member states. Without consensus in the UN it will be very difficult to ensure harmony in the world. The UN system should be the regulator that enables us to work together to draw up a new code of behaviour in the international arena, a code of behaviour that meets the challenges of our times and that we are so in need of today in this globalising world.
Distinguished members of the Federal Assembly,
Citizens of Russia,
In conclusion I would like to say once more that today’s address, like previous addresses, sets out the basic directions of our domestic and foreign policy for the coming decades. They are designed for the long term and are not dictated by fluctuations of the moment.
Previous addresses have focused on construction of our political system, improving the state power system and local self-government, have examined in detail the modernisation of our social sphere and have set new economic goals.
Today I have set out our vision of what place we want to hold in the international division of labour and the new architecture of international relations. I have also examined in detail what we can do to resolve the complex demographic problem we face and to develop our armed forces.
The steps proposed are very concrete. Russia has immense development opportunities and huge potential that we need to put to full use in order to better the lives of our people.
Without question we realise the full scale of the work at hand. I am sure that we will be up to the task.
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