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Johnson's Russia List
19 January 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
I am in Petersham, Massachusetts with my father Russell for
the rest of the week. My mother Irene passed away yesterday.
Also: my new boss at the Center for Defense Information, just-
retired Senator Dale Bumpers, will be giving the closing argument
in the Senate impeachment proceedings on Thursday afternoon.
1. AFP: Pay Russians, not creditors, Communists say in budget veto threat.
2. AFP: Kremlin line on Yeltsin's health fails to convince some.
3. Richard Hellie: Question re oil.
4. Patrick Armstrong: A Modest Question re democratic traditions.
5. Moscow Times: Jean MacKenzie, CONFESSIONS OF A RUSSOPHILE: Laughs Over
6. Matthew Rendall: Four Russian foreign policy fallacies.
7. Robert Devane: Re: 3021-Blundy/Status of Women.
8. Edward B. Hodgman: Re: George Will on Russian culture.
9. The Moscow Tribune: John Helmer, THE GURU'S ADVICE. (Re US-Russia
10. Alexei Arbatov: BRIDGING THE GAP IN WESTERN-RUSSIAN SECURITY AGENDAS.
11. AP: Russia Denies Defaulting on Loans.]
Pay Russians, not creditors, Communists say in budget veto threat
MOSCOW, Jan 19 (AFP) - Russia's opposition Communist Party insisted Tuesday
that the government devote even less money this year to paying off foreign
debt and warned that it would attempt to veto the 1999 budget if it did not
get its way.
Communists locked horns with the government as deputies debated
amendments to the budget which would leave the cash-strapped authorities
with even fewer resources to pay off some 17.5 billion dollars (15.1
billion euros) of foreign debt that matures this year.
Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov told reporters that his faction had
proposed a string of amendments to the controversial finance bill in order
to switch more of Russia's scant reserves into social spending and away
from debt servicing.
"We will vote for the budget on second reading but only if our
amendments are taken into consideration," Zyuganov said, as deputies
gathered Tuesday to debate the budget for a second time. A first reading
secured overwhelming backing in the State Duma lower house on December 24.
Deputies approved one such Communist-sponsored motion, earmarking an
additional 2.5 billion rubles (108 million dollars, 93 million euros) for
industry, with the money to be siphoned off from other spending that
included debt servicing commitments.
Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov immediately warned that the Communist
amendment risked gutting the budget altogether.
"Such an amendment makes it meaningless to continue examining the
budget," Zadornov said.
A second motion up for vote involves switching seven billion rubles away
from debt servicing and into social welfare spending on children.
But Zadornov warned that foreign debt servicing provisions could not be
cut further than 9.5 billion dollars (8.2 billion euros) outlined in the
budget. Moscow hopes foreign creditors will make up the remaining eight
billion dollars (seven billion euros).
"If we cut this amount or fail to pass the 1999 budget we run the risk
of not receiving new credits," Zadornov was quoted by Interfax as saying.
Despite the stand-off, economics chief Yury Maslyukov insisted he was
confident that deputies would approve the budget. Parliament extended its
session into Tuesday evening to leave time for the vote.
The bill needs a third and fourth vote and approval from the upper house
and President Boris Yeltsin to become law.
The budget debate comes on the eve of a crucial visit to Moscow of an
International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission.
The IMF is already concerned that the budget is not rigorous enough, and
one parliamentary source told AFP on condition of anonymity that "if two or
three of the Communist proposals are adopted, you can kiss goodbye to the
The original budget drawn up by the government provided for spending of
575 billion rubles (some 25 billion dollars, 22 billion euros) against
revenues of 474 billion rubles -- a tight deficit equivalent to 2.5 percent
of gross domestic product -- plus a slate of tax-slashing measures
Kremlin line on Yeltsin's health fails to convince some
MOSCOW, Jan 19 (AFP) - The first thing Boris Yeltsin's chief-of-staff did
upon hearing of the president's latest hospitalization was to call Russian
news chiefs in for a pow-wow.
"(Nikolai) Bordyuzha was not entirely open, but he said: 'What I will
tell you is the truth, and you can figure out for yourselves the things I
keep quiet about'," Moscow Echo radio editor Alexei Venediktov recalled.
"He said this would remain his future approach," the Russian journalist
recounted. "The Kremlin has little incentive to lie now -- what difference
does it make if this time it is Yeltsin's stomach, his head or his heart?"
Yeltsin, who turns 68 on February 1, was hospitalized yet again on
Sunday morning after suffering from "fairly serious blood loss" incurred
during a stomach ulcer attack.
Many Moscow journalists say that the Kremlin has since displayed a rare
show of glasnost (open-ness) about Russia's best-kept secret -- that is,
the true nature of what is ailing Yeltsin.
Following the candid talk from Yeltsin's chief-of-staff, the Moscow
media were flooded by interviews with Kremlin doctors, who in grave tones
detailed the state of the suffering Russian president's innards.
The Kremlin also promptly cancelled a scheduled visit to France,
conceding that Yeltsin was in no condition to fly at least until the spring.
This was a far cry from the days when Yeltsin's heart attacks and other
mysterious vanishing acts were written off by poker-faced aides as due to
mild colds, chills or fatigue.
But old bad blood between journalists and Yeltsin's entourage has left
some Moscow newshounds unconvinced that the Kremlin's latest show of
frankness is entirely sincere.
"The Kremlin's information is incomplete and does not dispel all of my
suspicions," said Tatyana Koshkaryova of Nezavisimaya Gazeta.
Koshkaryova edits a privately-owned newspaper that has became notorious
for its exhortations calling on Yeltsin to resign before his term expires
The paper asked why Bordyuzha, who heads Russia's Security Council,
should have chosen just this time to visit the base of an elite Russian
paratrooper division if everything was indeed fine with Yeltsin.
"The latest diagnosis may be true, but this is probably only the tip of
the iceberg," Koshkaryova said. "I think the truth (about Yeltsin) is so
scary, they would prefer to keep silent."
Another news editor said his sources informed him several days before
the hospitalization of Sunday that Yeltsin's health was again bad.
"The Kremlin has learned to present its Yeltsin health reports in a more
believable way," said the political editor of Izvestia, Andrei Kolesnikov.
"A certain degree of mistrust remains," he said, "although this latest
diagnosis looks like the real thing. They have become slightly more open
The Moscow Echo radio's Venediktov -- one of Moscow's most reliable
Kremlin-watchers, who reported of Yeltsin's November 1996 heart operation
well in advance -- said the Kremlin was learning from its errors.
"They made a decision several months ago to open up," Venediktov said.
The explanation for the Kremlin's new glasnost may be simple.
After Russia's finances collapsed last August and the Constitutional
Court ruled that Yeltsin could not seek re-election, the president in
effect became a lame duck.
As a result, most of the Yeltsin aides who had pushed him to seek
another term have since quit in order to back other contenders' campaigns
for the succession.
And those left in the Kremlin, tired of its reputation for twisting
information, decided to adopt a new, more truthful line.
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999
From: richard hellie <email@example.com>
Subject: Question re oil
I have an recent-historical question which may interest others, if
anyone has the answer. I am writing right now because I'm reminded of the
issue by your dispatch 3018 with its reference to Caspian oil. Everyone
has known about Caspian oil for a century, and I have difficulty imagining
that much additional has been learned since 1991.
Here is the issue: It was claimed by a number of people that the
late (Brezhnev-on) Soviet Union managed to hold only as long as it did
because of the Samotlor oil field. In the early 1990s a number of
"specialists" were quoted as saying that the Soviet Union would not have
collapsed at that time had "another Samotlor oil field" been found.
Yet now it is alleged that the Caspian oil field is huge, I would
assume even bigger than Samotlor.
Question: Why was this now known a decade ago? If it was known a
decade ago, why was it not developed? My own assumption is that, if the
Caspian oil field was known a decade ago, it was not developed because
Moscow was reluctant to pour resources into "non-Russian areas."
Is there anyone out there who has some facts on why the Soviet
Union neglected to develop the Caspian oil field?
The answer should tell us quite a bit about not only at least some
of the reason why the Soviet system collapsed, but also about the nature
of the late Soviet system itself.
Professor of Russian History
Chair, Russian Civilization course and College program
Director, East European, Russian, and Eurasian Center
Send mail to: SS Box 78
Office: SS 204-A
Phone: (773) 702-8377
FAX: (773) 702-7550
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999
From: Patrick Armstrong <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: A Modest Question
Now that, once again, the JRL is attracting pieces
that argue that Russia has been on the wrong track
since Peter (or is it Rurik?), has no democratic
tradition, the wrong "culture", no free enterprise
and so on, has anyone thought to wonder what was being
said about Germany in 1945?
Exactly the same thing, in fact, with all the same
historicist arguments. (An easily available
illustration is AJP Taylor's "The Course of German
History" written in 1945. The whole book is
written to push his thesis that German history
leads to Hitler the way "a river flows to the
Just how long is the "democratic tradition" of
Japan, Italy or (to take a more recent
example)Spain? Every one of these countries has, in
recent memory, been one with "no tradition or
culture of democracy etc". In fact, not very many
countries would pass a "democratic tradition" test
over (as Woland might say) such a laughably short
term as a century.
So if history says that Russia
can't get there from here, how did the Germans and
the others do it? Or is there a historical law
that says that history only predetermines Russia?
Dept of National Defence Canada
Diplomat in Moscow 1993-1996
January 19, 1999
CONFESSIONS OF A RUSSOPHILE: Laughs Over the Lubyanka?
By Jean MacKenzie
The U.S. impeachment spectacle would be painful to watch under any
circumstances. But combine American political hypocrisy with Russian
smirking cynicism and the whole mess becomes pretty close to
I don't mind the tasteless sexual jokes - Russian commentators have
not come up with anything worse than what you can find on a random
Jay Leno show. I don't even mind the NTV reporter who blandly
inserted into what was meant to be a news story the "fact" that the
most serious charge against U.S. President Bill Clinton - lying
"just once" to the grand jury about his sex life - was laughable.
I suppose when your own president is under investigation for
genocide and the economic ruin of an entire country, a bit of
red-blooded, good ol' boy high jinks and an "aw, shucks"
unwillingness to fess up can be dismissed as pretty insignificant.
But I draw the line at this week's "Kukly" - the political satire
puppet show that ranges from brilliant to way beyond dreadful.
It begins with Clinton, locked in a very Soviet-like prison, being
summoned from his cell by a warden who looks suspiciously like
Viktor Anpilov, the rabid ultra-Communist. The prisoner is called
simply "41" and attempts by a bewildered Clinton to say that he is
not just "41" but the 41st president of the United States, are met
with stony silence - as well they should be, since Clinton is the
42nd president, not the 41st.
In any event, poor old 41 is taken off to be interrogated, by a
standard bad cop-worse cop pair composed of the two Gennadys -
mild-mannered Seleznyov and the harsher Zyuganov, both, of course,
Communists. What follows is a long bit of silliness, beginning with
the prisoner's name. Russian comedians have had a field day with
Clinton, finally settling on "Klin Blinton," a variation that has
people rolling in the aisles.
The first name, "Klin" is the Russian word for "wedge," with its
various Freudian overtones, while the surname is based on "blin" -
which in theory just means pancake, but is the standard euphemism
for a naughty word that means "whore" and is used where English
speakers normally utter their own favorite four-letter expletive.
I suppose it is marginally amusing to have Blinton forced to sign a
confession to unlawful carnal knowledge of female figures from
Monica Lewinsky to the queen of England, with even a hint of nasty
doings with the Statue of Liberty. But just as Blinton is about to
be shot in a musty Lubyanka basement, Clinton wakes up, clutching a
copy of "The Gulag Archipelago" to his chest.
I find it more than a bit troubling that Russians can have such a
good time with the Stalinist Terror. I know that, in this case, it
is just part of an ongoing war between the communists and the media,
but it hints at a much deeper problem.
Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russians have been
tying themselves in ideological knots trying to foist 80 years of
mistakes off on a small group of Bolsheviks.
But Russia, after all, was not invaded by little red martians in
1917. They were taken over by an idea - an idea that took hold,
grew, and bore poisonous fruit. There were millions of victims, but
there were also millions of executioners, from guards in the
extensive labor-camp system to neighbors who wrote denunciations
either because they feared for their own safety or because they had
a greedy eye on the next-door apartment.
The kind of national soul-searching and repentance, however
imperfect, that Germany underwent after the war is conspicuously
Try to imagine a German television show making chuckles out of, say,
an American Jew dozing over a copy of "Mein Kampf" and dreaming of
I don't see a way for Russia to move forward until it has spent some
time trying to understand what mix of fear, envy and anger allowed
it to create the communist regime. A quick look at Russia's
"democratization" process, along with the wholesale crony banditry
that passed for privatization should convince even the casual
observer that this country is doomed to repeat its past until it
comes to terms with it.
This point of view has made me terribly unpopular at parties.
Russian friends begin shouting before my first sentence is out of my
"I have nothing to repent!" is the most common response. "I was not
a communist, I was a victim, like everybody else."
Maybe that's the problem: A nation of victims in unlikely to come up
with much in the way of solutions.
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999
From: Matthew Rendall <email@example.com>
Subject: Four Russian foreign policy fallacies
Four fallacies of recent Russian foreign policy:
(1) Arms control is a favor Moscow does for the United States.
After the Anglo-American bombing raids on Iraq, the government (and Duma)
shelved the START II treaty. But if the treaty was worth ratifying before
the bombing raids, it is worth ratifying after them--unless the raids
somehow transformed the military balance, or changed Russian expectations
about the United States' willingness to carry the treaty out. It's hard to
see why either should be the case.
(2) New U.S. sanctions against Russian institutions of higher
learning are "blackmail." Blackmail is threatening to hurt other people,
not refusing to have dealings with them. The United States is under no
international legal obligation, so far as I know, to engage in any trade or
aid to Russia at all. Whether the sanctions are reasonable, fair, or
productive is a separate matter.
(3) The need for "multipolarity." Most international relations
scholars who have seriously examined the issue think that several great
powers make war more likely (though arguments have been made on both
sides). True, bipolarity or unipolarity are more fun when you're one of
the poles (and if the Soviets had won the Cold War, U.S. scholars would
surely have discovered new virtues in multipolarity). Still, if the world
really became multipolar again, it would probably grow more dangerous.
Russia's elite may be willing to run this risk, but it should at least
acknowledge the possible downside. In any case, such ambitions are
quixotic: Russia is unlikely to be one of the rising powers that challenge
(4) If Russia isn't a superpower, it's not a power at all. Thus
*Segodnya* claimed that the air strikes on Iraq showed that "Russia has the
same influence on world affairs as any Third World country." But if that's
true, then France and China also have no more influence over world affairs
than does Madagascar. In fact, Russia is a major European, post-imperial
state that can punch about the same weight internationally as France, and
might someday--if it can solve its internal problems--enjoy much the same
cultural prestige and influence. There are worse things.
From: "Robert Devane" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: 3021-Blundy/Status of Women, Fashion Models
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999
Economist, husband, father, owner (of a doggy)
Response to Anna Blundy's piece on Russian Women (JRL 3021)
I found Ms. Anna Blundy's diatribe on Russian women, modelling, and
prostitution bizzare, and devoid of a grasp on reality in this country.
First, let me say that the reason that many Russians call the Radisson
Slavjanskaya "Radisson Chechenskaya", is not that it is a "flashy modern
hotel" as Ms. Blundy describes it. The place is a dive, and it looks like
an awkward combination of New Jersey mall and a place of confinement for
fellons. Its only redeeming feature is the American House of Cinema. I
simply point this out to highlight the fact that "beauty is in the eye of
Second, Ms. Blundy's grossly generalizing statements about all attractive
looking Russian women having nothing better to strive for than a
materialistic marriage or prostitution is ludicrous, and makes one wonder
whether there isn't a bit of projection there. In my three years of living
in Moscow, I have had plenty of opportunities to witness Russian women
striving to excell in business, arts, social causes, etc. Moreover, I dare
say that most Russian women DO have alot more to look forward to and strive
for than the two narrow choices offered by Ms. Blundy. I find it bizzare
that Ms. Blundy would so easily offend the many women in Russia who work
very hard in medicine, finance, law, engineering, and many other fields,
and find their work very rewarding.
Third, insofar as marriage is concerned, Ms. Blundy apparently does not
allow for the possibility that an attractive young Russian woman would
marry someone for reasons other than his money. Bummer! I guess I'll have
to have a serious talk with my very attractive Russian wife. Apparently our
very happy marriage has been nothing but a facad. She MUST have thought
that I was REALLY rich, despite my very candid disclosure to the contrary.
I suppose all expats who have married Russian women (I know you're reading
this), ought to do the same right away!
Fourth, about looks and employability. Let me break it to you gently, Ms.
Blundy. Anywhere in the world, in any profession or occupation, good
looking people fare better than others. This is not simply my assertion,
but rather a concept supported by reams of clinical and other research.
Russia is no exception. But if Ms. Blundy thinks that it's any different in
the good old US of A, she might benefit from visiting the trading floor of
any major Wall Street firm. She will be more likely to find Raisa
Gorbacheva trading Russian Eurobonds, than find a woman that is not
generally regarded as "good looking" by men.
Finally, as I was reading Ms. Blundy's diatribe, I couldn't help but think
that there is something much deeper and personal to her feelings and
perceptions of men, women, and reality. But this is the 1990s. There is
help available for that sort of thing.
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999
From: "Edward B. Hodgman" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: George Will on Russian culture
George Will's statement (JRL 3015) that "Russia is remarkably resistant to
progress, material and moral" shows that he, like many of America's public
intellectuals, cannot think past a Cold War mindset that encouraged blanket
criticisms of Soviet life in the past and now refuses to examine Russia's
real social fabric. His principle argument, that Russian culture is at the
root of its problems today, can be made about the culture of any nation,
including the United States. In fact, Russian culture, as it is actually
lived by Russian citizens, is one reason that Russia's problems have not
deepened into civil war during a decade of wrenching economic and political
Everywhere in Russia there are people struggling to make it - struggling,
in the words of Herb Stein, "to get up in the morning and go to work to do
the best they can for their families." To assume otherwise is to believe
that the heads of Russian households are indifferent to their, and their
children's, fate. Any foreigner who has spent considerable time in Russia
and traveled throughout the country will tell you that Russians are capable
of hard work, the energetic pursuit of life's basic goals, the
determination to succeed, and even motherhood and apple pie, if it comes to
By comparing present-day Russia to London in the mid-19th century, Will
places Russia right where he wants it - as a backward nation incapable of
change. My point is not that Russia's present situation is laudable, or
that change is going to come "in a rush," as Will claims it did in Western
Europe and the United States. But does any Russian city, town, or village
have rivers of raw sewage running through its streets? Does comparing
Russia's present economic statistics to those of Denmark describe the real
wealth of this country? Does Will think that the Russian people themselves
are unaware of the chemical and radioactive wastes that are crippling their
Russians are well aware of the steep socioeconomic challenges they face,
and many of them are bewildered enough to have sunk into apathy. But there
are a small number of politicians and government bureaucrats who care
enough to try and reform public health, education, the economy, and
government itself. There are NGOs and individual activists in cities all
over the country that are pressing, with limited success, for change.
There are thousands of businesspeople trying to keep their enterprises
alive and their employees paid on time. Finally, there are millions of
citizens who are looking for opportunities to better their lives. To write
as if these forces for change did not exist is to perpetuate and encourage
a negative, incomplete image of Russia today. It ignores the work done
quietly each day by so many Russians to educate their children, preserve
their rich cultural heritage, and wade through the economic and social
wreckage left by seventy years of Communist Party rule. Finally, it
encourages a facile and superficial attitude towards Russia among American
policymakers. If culture is the main determinant of social health, it
makes sense to understand what aspects of the former tend to improve the
President, Hodgman Consulting Inc.
Doctoral candidate, University of Rochester
E. B. Hodgman Consulting, Inc.
Ulitsa Pokrovka 11
c/o Post International, Box 654
666 5th Ave., Suite 572
New York, NY 10103
Tel/Fax: (7-095) 925-4691
Date: Tue, 19 Jan 1999
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Helmer)
>From The Moscow Tribune, January 20, 1999
THE GURU'S ADVICE
The printing presses roll out dozens of books every year of motivational
advice for salesmen and dealers.
The bit of advice I recommend (and follow religiously) is: Do something
different every six or seven minutes -- otherwise your audience's attention
will drift off into sexual fantasy.
That may explain what America's steel trade negotiators have been doing for
the Russian Ministry of Trade, distracting their attention, so that they
won't start fantasizing about Russia's real size in the trade world.
Last September, the leading steelmakers of the US started anti-dumping
proceedings against imported hot-rolled steel products from Japan, Russia,
and Brazil. From the instant the complaint was filed with the US Department of
Commerce, the trade with Russia came to a halt. Noone wants to sign a
contract to trade Russian steel into the US market, if the cost of the steel
could be penalized with extra duties, months after the transaction takes
Russia's trade negotiators immediately asked Washington for talks on a deal
that would keep the Russian mills from running out of orders altogether,
but limit the volume of their exports to satisfy the American producers.
For several weeks, the Commerce Department men consulted with their
steel industry constituents, who told them to do nothing. Every day
since September, an American steelmaker tells someone in the Clinton
Administration to do nothing to help Russia.
It's easy for American presidents and would-be presidents to do nothing
for Russia, when that is something for their paying constituents. We also
know that when it comes to following the motivational guru's advice,
President Clinton is a master of performing a different sexual
fantasy every six or seven minutes, to keep his attention from drifting off
So, early this month, when Clinton promised the steelmen he would tell
them what he was going to do about Russian steel, he promised to do nothing.
To be precise, he said he would ask the European Union to accept more
Russian steel than they've already agreed to do -- an impossibility,
even if the E.U. was a voting state in American elections.
Clinton also said he would negotiate a deal to limit Russian steel imports in
the US. How to make sure that turns out to be nothing is the job of two
Commerce Department officials named Bob LaRussa and Joe Petrini. To give them
their due, Bob and Joe are good at doing nothing.
They insist noone on the Russian side breathes a word about the nothing
their negotiations are about. But in leaks to the Washington press,
they have assured American steelmakers just how little they have offered. Last
week, Bob and Joe revealed their best ploy yet. This is an ultimatum:
either the Russians accept there will be no steel trade with the US for
the foreseeable future, or Bob and Joe won't agree to meet with them
for another round of negotiations.
You'll wonder at this. How is it possible for the Americans to pull off
such a one-sided bargain?
The answer is buried in the guru's advice about doing something different
every few minutes.
What Bob, Joe, the Clinton Administration, and the American steelmakers
have given the Russians is three conditions: a limit on the volume of new
steel exports to 500,000 tons (that's about one-quarter of the 1997 level);
a minimum sale price of $305 per ton (that's about 50% higher than the current
market price); and a moratorium on all new steel trading for one year
from the day the deal is done.
It's the second condition that's the trick. If Russia's mills
accept this price, they won't be able to sell a single ton of steel,
let alone 500,000 tons. And if they manage the impossible, condition no. 3
ensures it won't happen before the year 2000.
Finally, Bob and Joe sent Moscow the message last week: Don't bother
packing your bags for another round of talks, until you are ready
to agree to these terms.
In short, by manufacturing the appearance of negotiating to resume
Russia's steel trade, the Americans have distracted everyone's attention
from their real objective -- to negotiate nothing.
THE 7TH CARNEGIE INTERNATIONAL NON-PROLIFERATION CONFERENCE
January 12, 1999
BRIDGING THE GAP IN WESTERN-RUSSIAN SECURITY AGENDAS
Remarks (as prepared) of Alexei Arbatov, Duma of the Russian Federation.
Alexei G. Arbatov was born in Moscow on January 17th, 1951. He graduated
from Moscow State Institute for International Relations in 1973 and was
accepted as postgraduate to the Institute for World Economy and
International Relations (IMEMO) of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.
Since that time he published extensively on security, defense and arms
control problems, both in Russia and in the West.
Since 1994 Arbatov has been a member of the State Duma, Russian Parliament,
elected by the federal list of Russian main democratic party "YABLOKO".
Political Council. On the Defense Committee he is responsible for the
elaboration of the defense budget and processing of arm control treaties.
He also stays on part-time basis as the head of Center for Political and
Military Forecasts of IMEMO.
Arbatov is married and has a daughter.
There is no sense to pretend any longer, that presently, a decade after the
end of the Cold War, Russian and Western security priorities are the same
or of the same order. They are different, because the objective situation
of Russia and the West is different and so is the experience of the last
ten years. Friendly relations between the leaders of the two nations cannot
help in resolving these differences and rather are a handicap by making a
tough and pragmatic bargaining more difficult.
Beside domestic instability and decline, Russia feels vulnerable in the
south, threatened in the west, potentially endangered in the east, and
progressively inferior at the global strategic level. The West is
domestically robust, invulnerable and superior vis-a-vis Russia, but
terrified by the prospect of WMD and missile technology proliferation to
the rouge regimes in the Third World, or even to the terrorist groups.
Hence, to avoid further controversies and disintegration in all arms
control and security regimes, at a "grand bargain" level, Western
concessions to Russian on the security issues which are most important to
Moscow, should be linked with Russian concessions on the problems most
important to the USA and its allies.
1. Diverging perspectives.
Non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of
delivery is a set of regimes which no more occupies a top place in the list
of Russia's security priorities. In contrast to what was practiced by the
USSR, Russia does not deploy forces outside the former Soviet territory;
the separation of Transcaucasus and Central Asia has geographically moved
Russian borders to the North, farther from Asian areas of proliferation
concern. This makes Moscow less scared by limited WMD and missile
capabilities which relatively remote Third World countries could attain.
Also, Russia's own substantial nuclear deterrent provides some guarantee
against possible WMD attack launched by any state proliferator against the
national territory (or what was the national territory until the end of 1991).
On the other hand Russia's growing strategic nuclear inferiority to NATO
and conventional forces inferiority to NATO and China, against the
background of unprecedented economic crisis, disintegration of the federal
regime and proliferating conflicts across post-Soviet space, including
Russia's own territory, - all those are much higher on the Russian list of
Meanwhile, non-proliferation plays much larger role for the Western
countries. Traditional concerns about Moscow's nuclear and conventional
superiority and potential aggression faded away. On the other hand,
European and Japan's reliance on the US security guarantees makes
non-nuclear states more sensitive to possible blackmail from potential
proliferators. Obtaining WMD and missile technology by certain regional
actors could effectively block the western interventionist options in areas
of vital importance, like the Mediterranean, Middle East and Persian Gulf.
The United States due to its geographic advantages could rely on
non-proliferation as an effective means to prevent threat of missile attack
from the 'rogue' states.
In this sense, for Russia the worst has already happened: its territory has
been within range of nuclear weapons developed by third countries for a
long time: first was Britain, then France, after that China, Israel and
potentially India and Pakistan. To a certain extent, for Moscow this makes
non-proliferation not a very efficient instrument for addressing its
principle security concerns.
However, non-proliferation represents an important, if not unique, tool of
Russia's participation in building the Euro-Atlantic security architecture.
Russia's abundant stockpiles of nuclear and chemical arms, weapons
materials and technologies, WMD and missile production capabilities and
know-how make it a vitally important participant in any non-proliferation
efforts. Without Moscow's involvement, such regimes would hardly become
sustainable. This situation opened for Russia doors of various prestigious
Western clubs, and, simultaneously, provided it with convincing arguments
that could be used for promoting its interests in other areas.
2. Russian security agenda.
For Russia the growing imbalance in strategic weapons is of serious
concern, since this is one of very few, if not the only, remaining pillar
of its status and role in the world. There is a commonly accepted
perception in Moscow, that without this pillar it would be ignored by the
West altogether (or worse in the view of communists and nationalists:
treated like Yugoslavia or even Iraq.)
Without robust nuclear deterrent Russia would feel still more vulnerable
facing conventional superiority across its borders in the west and in the
east and proliferating local conflicts in the south. From Moscow's angle
the START III negotiations are aimed at correcting deficiencies of the
START II. As a matter of fact, the value of START II is not so much in its
terms, but in its opening the door to the follow-on treaty. First, in order
to avoid expensive build-up of single-warhead ICBMs Moscow wants an
agreement on lower ceilings, much below the limits of 2,000-2,500 deployed
strategic warheads that were agreed upon during the US-Russian summit in
Helsinki in March 1997. Preferable ceiling now looks closer to 1000,
otherwise reviving MIRVed ICBMs would be much harder to resist (apart from
another possible reason: US unilateral withdrawal from the ABM Treaty).
Second, in Russia's eyes the new treaty must solve the problem of
asymmetric breakout capabilities. Under the START II, the United States
does not physically destroy the majority of their weapons: they fulfill
reductions largely by downloading, i.e. removing warheads from their
missiles and converting part of strategic bombers for the so called
non-nuclear missions. The warheads are not physically destroyed but kept in
storage. It permits, if necessary, up-loading back to missiles quickly. As
a result of such redeployment, the United States could easily reconstitute
their strategic forces to a size even exceeding the START I ceilings.
Russia, on the contrary, has to destroy physically vast majority of its
missiles in the course of reductions, which puts it in a very
Finally, Moscow wants to achieve more tangible assurances, than those in
START II provisions, that the US would not eventually withdraw from the ABM
Treaty in a unilateral mode. No doubt, Indian- Pakistani nuclear debut in
1998, as well as probable China's reaction of accelerating its strategic
program, would largely contribute to this probability. China's build-up on
its own terms would radically change Russia's strategic environment, since
in the extreme case China might be able to inadvertently achieve something
close to nuclear parity with Russia after 2010. In parallel
India-Pakistani-China's offensive missiles deployment would make some kind
of US national strategic defense unavoidable.
Although in Helsinki the two Presidents agreed to synchronize deadlines for
implementing both START II and START III by December 31, 2007, Washington
refuses to initiate formal negotiations on the new Treaty before the START
II enters into force. In its turn, Moscow is ready to commence the actual
START II reductions only upon getting some certainty with regard to START
III. The situation is further complicated by disputes between the executive
branches and legislators in both countries. As a result, the future of
strategic arms control remains uncertain.
Recent US-British air-strikes at Iraq took Russian Duma communists off the
hook: under the pressure of the coalition government of Evgeni Primakov
they had been bracing themselves for voting for ratification of START III
in December 1998. However, if there is no further deterioration of
US-Russian relations or newregional crisis with ensuing unilateral Western
use of force this issue would reappear sooner or later.
In the meantime the compromise could be based on the following points.
Russia declares that even in the absence of ratified START II it will go
along with reductions according to its schedule and verification will be
insured by START I procedures. The United States, in its turn, should go
along with intensive and full-scale START III negotiations with the
principle goal of reducing the warhead levels down to 1000-1500 by the year
2010. As soon as the new treaty is negotiated Russia will ratify
simultaneously START II and START III and the United States will at the
same time ratify START III and 1997 New York protocols (on theater missile
defense and START II extension schedule).
Also, there must be an agreement, that the USA would not unilaterally
withdraw from the 1972 ABM Treaty. If the security situation requires, the
revision of the Treaty and development and deployment of strategic
ballistic missile defenses should be cooperative between the USA and
Russia, which may be joined by their allies.
Another problem is theater nuclear weapons and US forward based systems in
Europe. The 1997 Helsinki summit opened the door for formalizing tactical
nuclear arms control arrangements made in 1991 unilaterally by President
Bush and President Gorbachev, as well as incorporated in 1997 into
non-binding NATO-Russia Founding Act. The United States and Russia agreed
that negotiations covering tactical nuclear weapons as well as long range
sea-launched cruise missiles could be conducted separately from the START
III. Russia's approach to the issue is shaped by two main considerations.
On the one hand, it is interested in binding provisions that would prevent
NATO nuclear deployments in new member states and could lead to the
dismantlement of the US long range sea-launched cruise missiles. On the
other hand, Russia's tactical nuclear weapons balance not only nuclear
forces of the other side, but also superior NATO (and China's) conventional
Thus, real progress in building legally binding tactical nuclear arms
control regime could be strategically linked with forging a satisfactory
compromise at the CFE adaptation talks. Moreover, there are significant
technical challenges in= negotiating tactical nuclear arms control
agreement. Here, very different principles of control and accounting will
be needed comparing to the strategic arms control. In the latter case, the
counting rules and verification provisions were focused on deployed
delivery systems, whereas all carriers of tactical nuclear weapons are dual
use, and warheads attributed to them are not constantly kept on delivery
vehicles. Thus, the future agreement would require controlling nuclear
storage sites, which is much more sensitive than monitoring airfields,
missile and submarine bases. It would also require verification measures on
warheads dismantlement, which is also an extremely sensitive issue;
besides, their development could take certain time. Hence, it would be
expedient to continue the separation of strategic and theater nuclear arms
Another important step could be aimed at formalizing the Founding Act
provision on nuclear non-deployments on the territories of the new members
and across the whole area of Central and Eastern Europe. For Russia, it
would represent legally binding and verifiable guarantee against such
deployments. In exchange, NATO would receive a guarantee that the nuclear
weapons would not be returned to Belarus or Kaliningrad region. The
agreement would also consolidate the, international non-proliferation
regime: new nuclear free zone would be de facto established, and for the
first time a part of the territory of the nuclear power could be proclaimed
a non-nuclear weapon sanctuary.
The enlargement of NATO should be de facto, if not de jure, channelized
into predominantly political parameters, without involving considerable
military alterations. This could hardly be translated into any formal
commitments, as initially requested by Russia, but could be assured by some
agreements. The CFE Treaty adaptation should be accompanied by significant
(50%) reductions of the existing personnel and TLE limits. This would be
the most impressive argument against Russia's fears and suspicions
associated with NATO's push eastward.
There is no possibility, neither any need for Russia to maintain parity
with the whole of NATO in post-confrontational Europe (in contrast to
demands of the West with respect of the East in the 1980's). However, the
goal should be that the enlargement of NATO reduces rather than increases
its military advantage over Russia. Otherwise, suspicions and
non-cooperative moods would be hard to avoid in Russia.
Russia should also be more actively involved in the modernization of the
armed forces in East Central Europe. This would alleviate Russia's
military-industrial complex opposition to NATO enlargement and could shift
domestic political perceptions of this issue. The interests of potential
western suppliers might suffer, although not excessively: they would keep a
monopoly on all sophisticated equipment, whereas Russia's involvement would
be focused upon more traditional items, such as heavy weapons.
Tactical ballistic missile defence Russia might become an extremely
important joint pan-European project. This would be an essential step
towards minimizing Russia's concerns on the erosion of the existing ABM
limitation regime. Even more importantly, Russia's re-emerging threat
perceptions with respect to NATO would be thus practically eliminated
(since joint air and missile defence is by definition only possible between
non-enemies). Also significant is the fact that Russia's involvement into
the project would by no means be symbolic - its superb S-300 and S-400
systems might eventually constitute its core.
3. Western security agenda.
In response to Western concerns, first of all, Russia must establish much
more stringent domestic control on the export of nuclear/chemical materials
and equipment, missile and dual use/sensitive technology. Russia's strict
adherence to the Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a nuclear weapon state,
and its membership in several multilateral discriminatory export control
regimes, like Wassenaar agreements, MTCR, NSG, is indispensable to secure
Western cooperation on Russian security concerns.
Without reneging on Russian-Iranian or Russian-Indian cooperation, Moscow
should be more sensitive to Western objections. This nuclear cooperation,
as well as analogous deals of the West, must be more transparent and a
subject for stringent IAEA control regimes. In particular Russian and the
USA (preferably together with China) should jointly apply pressure on India
and Pakistan with the aim of putting all civilian and military nuclear
projects of India and Pakistan under comprehensive IAEA controls to insure
cut off on the production of weapons materials. In the same way India and
Pakistan should be induced to join CTBT to curtail the missile-nuclear arms
race on the sub-continent. If necessary, those regimes may be made more
comprehensive and restrictive, and in this whole area Russia should go
along with respective demands of the West.
Besides, Russian-Western cooperation on nuclear materials, as well as their
joint projects with third parties should be enhanced still more. In this
regard, commercially motivated complications in implementing the US-Russian
Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) Deal (the United States' buying 500 tons of
HEU from dismantled Russia's nuclear warheads), should be avoided. One
other area of important cooperation is dismantling of decommissioned
nuclear powered submarines in Russian northern region and Far East. This
may bind Russia and the West much closer and with fewer domestic
controversies, than elimination of nuclear warheads.
Russia Denies Defaulting on Loans
January 19, 1999
MOSCOW (AP) -- Despite missing large payments to foreign creditors, Russia
still denies that it has defaulted on its international debts, the finance
minister said today.
``Russia won't agree to the default. We're sure that we can reach an
understanding'' with creditors, Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov said in
Western investors declared Russia in default on its debts to the London
Club of commercial creditors last month. Since then, government officials
have repeatedly engaged in semantic arguments to say that the country is
not in default.
The London Club was expected to announce today whether it will demand a
faster repayment of about $23 billion in loans. Russia has also missed
payments recently on its debt to the Paris Club, a group of government
Russia's total foreign debt is about $150 billion, and $17.5 billion comes
due this year. The government said it hopes to repay about $9.5 billion
this year and restructure the remaining $8 billion.
Meanwhile, the government is trying to win approval for an austere budget
designed to help lift Russia out of its worst economic crisis since the
Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Parliament's lower house gave initial approval to the budget last month,
but Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov said he wanted to see more spending
on social welfare programs.