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Johnson's Russia List


March 20, 1999    
This Date's Issues: 3099 3100  

Johnson's Russia List
20 March 1999


Program on New Approaches to Russian Security
Conference Report 
December 4, 1998 Policy Discussion 
Washington, D.C. 
By: Celeste A. Wallander ( 
Director, Program on New Approaches to Russian Security 
Associate Professor of Government, Harvard University 

Begun in February 1997, the Program on New Approaches to Russian Security
(PONARS) is a network of younger scholars who analyze Russia's security
policy and its role in international affairs. Through annual conferences at
Harvard University and in Washington DC, these experts focus on
understanding the process of state-building, the development of societal
interests and international linkage formation, and their effects on the
emergence of Russia's national security interests and policies. The program
sponsors a working paper series, policy memos targeted at government
analysts, an email network and this website, which currently features
detailed information on the participating scholars with links to their
institutions and publications, the full text of PONARS policy memos, a list
of working papers published, and an index of related (international
relations/political science) sites. The project is directed by Celeste
Wallander from Harvard University's Davis Center for Russian Studies. The
participants are leading researchers in their fields who have finished
dissertations blending conceptual analysis with empirical research in
primary materials. Many teach at US colleges and universities. PONARS is
currently under consideration for funding to include more Russian
participants, particularly scholars at Russian universities and analytical

On the 4th of December, 27 members of the Program on New Approaches to
Russian Security hosted a meeting with participants from the Washington DC
policy community on the political and economic situation in Russia and its
implications for US-Russian relations. PONARS members are younger social
scientists, primarily university professors at leading American and Russian
colleges and universities. The premise of our meeting was that these
scholars' current research should be of interest to those within the US
government who deal with policy toward Russia, and the broader policy
community as well. To facilitate a productive discussion, specific comments
were off-the-record: this is a report of the general points covered in the
course of the meeting. 

Sources of the 1998 Financial crisis

Understanding the Russian economic crisis that dominated the headlines in
August-September 1998 requires distinguishing between the long-term and
short-term causes. In the short term, the crisis was caused by the
spreading effects of the Asian financial crisis, and by the misguided
attempts in 1998 to defend the ruble primarily through intervention in
currency markets in the absence of genuine macroeconomic policy
improvements. Second-guessing the IMF on its advice to support the Russian
ruble remains contentious, with some considering it to have been doomed
from the start and others pointing out that it was a reasonable decision to
have made under risky conditions, one which might have furthered the cause
of reform. 

On the one hand, the Russian government and the IMF were right to focus on
a stable ruble as a necessary condition for economic reform and prosperity.
IMF policies aimed at fiscal stringency have been much criticized for
inflicting pain on Russian society, particularly its poorest and most
vulnerable. Yet the effects of an unstable ruble ultimately hit the
vulnerable of Russia's society. Inflation destroys savings, erodes the
value of fixed payments such as pensions, and raises the price of imported
goods--including Russia's substantial and growing food imports. On the
other hand, a significant cost of the attempts to strengthen the ruble was
reducing the competitiveness of Russian industry. How to balance the costs
and benefits of a currency's relative strength is always a matter of
national political choices. 

Those who disagree on this balance nevertheless tend to agree that the IMF
granted financial resources to the Russian government without requiring the
full range of necessary reforms. Policies that the IMF advocated were
partially implemented: these were largely policies that imposed costs on
the weak and powerless in Russian society. When Russian citizens blame the
IMF for the economic and social pain arising from wage arrears, reduced
social services, and the lack of investment in economic infrastructure,
they are justified in part because it was the IMF that pressured the
Russian government to cut its expenditures. 

The problem with Russian reform is not really that the government followed
IMF advice, but that the government did not follow IMF advice when it came
to implementing reform in areas that would cost Russia's powerful economic
interests. Since 1992, those politically well-positioned have been able to
exploit their special access to conduct foreign trade indirectly subsidized
by state resources, buy Soviet enterprises at cut rates and strip their
assets, shift assets abroad while failing to pay wage arrears, use bank
deposits for speculation in currency and government bond markets, and avoid
paying taxes either with government assent or de facto. 

Compounding the failure to implement a package of macroeconomic reforms,
the IMF--pressured by the US government--made a bad situation worse by
releasing credits even though the Russian government had not met the
performance criteria. In financing the Russian government's failure to
create a stable, transparent, and reliable rule of law to govern the market
economy (such as measures for bankruptcy and a reliable and fair tax
system), these policies made it easier for the government to avoid the hard
battles it needed to face. 

In short, the crisis was no crisis at all, but the result of political
failures in the area of long-term policy. The reason the ruble appeared
stable for a time was market confidence based on the apparent capacity of
the Russian government to juggle its books reasonably well and to keep
deficits in check with infusions of financial assistance and short-term,
very liquid, private international financial resources. As with any
speculative venture, a lot of people made a lot of money, but very many
lost. Though the IMF should not be excused from the policies it advocated
and the effects of its advice, the real source of Russia's economic crisis
is the failure of the Russian government to implement fundamental political
and economic reforms. Therefore, Russia's apparent economic failure is
actually political. 

Implications of the crisis 

The international community should not provide financial assistance to the
Russian government in the absence of fundamental political reform. In
particular, the IMF should not grant the next $4.3 billion it has been
negotiating with Russia since September 1998, and the US should not
pressure the IMF to do so. The IMF has little, if any, credibility left
with the Russian government. The likely effect of any financial assistance
package at this time would be to enable the Russian government to once
again put off tough political choices, and the funds would likely
disappear--as did those disbursed last summer--into the foreign holdings of
Russia's practiced economic speculators. In the last decade, financing for
Russia has very often meant resources siphoned off by powerful private and
government interests. 

An alternative would be to consider relief of the some $40 billion in
Soviet era debt owed to foreign governments. This debt will probably never
be repaid in any event, and a political case can be made on the basis that
the Russian people should not be shackled with burdens of the Soviet past
as they try to escape the Soviet political economic system. This would
reduce the current financial pressure on the Russian government without
increasing its indebtedness. 

At the same time, reform advice must become more politically sophisticated.
Successful reform means that there will be losers, but there will also be
winners. The trick is to understand Russia's political landscape in order
to comprehend which political powerful actors have an interest in
particular political and market reforms. For example, it is in Gazprom's
interests to stabilize the ruble, if only because it sells some 60% of its
gas on the internal Russian market, in rubles. It is in this financial
giant's interests that the ruble be a stable currency and that its
customers are able to pay its bills. 

For the same reason, it may not be wise to attempt to completely and
immediately sweep away the system of barter payments, since this system
sustains some 50-70% of Russian trade. While barter is the result of
institutional failures perpetuated by the Russian government rather than
inexorable economic logic, and it is inefficient and non-transparent
(making it difficult to, among other things, assess and collect taxes
fairly), it is a reality in an economic system where accepting some payment
(even of reduced value) is better than no payment at all. Eliminating
barter will be the result of long-term stabilization of the Russian
economy, not its precondition. 

The Russian State: Strong or Weak? 
The failure to establish political institutions necessary for a functioning
market economy leads inevitably to the question of the nature of the
Russian state. On the one hand, the Russian state retains aspects of its
Soviet predecessor. Russia retains a substantial internal security
apparatus, the state has a hand in much of the economy (which remains in
important respects quasi-private), and the regime has proven willing to use
violence against its own citizens in the war in Chechnya. 

Yet for the most part, the Russian state is clearly incapable of performing
most of the important tasks necessary to the functioning of a modern state
in an advanced, globalized economy. The national government is very often
incapable of implementing its policy decisions. The government cannot
reliably collect taxes, enforce contracts, regulate or arbitrate according
to unbiased and non-personalistic rules, control its borders, pay its
employees (including soldiers), or pay its international debts. Unlike
other poor countries, Russia does not lack the material and human resources
for economic well-being. Russia is rich in natural resources, in industrial
potential, in scientific and technological sophistication, and in human
capital. What Russia lacks is a political system that can allow individuals
and organizations to manage their economic life in a way that serves
societal needs and interests. 

It is now clear that Russia needs the state to protect civil society
against narrow private interests, the mafia, and state corruption. Because
the state has failed to perform the functions of protecting society and
economic relations, an organized mafia exercises justice, offers
protection, and even collects a form of taxes. For Russia to prosper and
become stable, the state must reclaim these functions in the context of
democratic control by society. In Mancur Olson's well-known turn-of-phrase,
Russia's roving bandits (criminals) must become stationary bandits (a
democratic order and rule of law supported by societal and economic forces
whose interests the state serves). 

One source of the Russian state's weakness is its lack of autonomy from the
very narrow and powerful economic and financial interests that have
profited from de-Sovietization of the economy. A functioning state needs to
be responsive and answerable to its society, but it cannot be the captured
agent of a narrow set of economic interests whose efforts are focused on
their own short-term gain. The purpose of democratic elections is to keep
government responsive to the broadest range of societal interests, but just
as important is the rule of law, which insures that government policy (or
inaction) is not crafted to serve the narrow interests of a powerful few.
The West has too often focused on democratic elections in Russia. These are
a necessary but not sufficient condition for the functioning of a modern
democratic state. In Russia, we see the results of a system in which
periodic elections are generally free and fair, but the administrative and
executive institutions of the government are penetrated by narrow and
virtually unregulated interests. 

Therefore, Russia has not a weak or strong state, but an arbitrary state.
One of the formative central features of any state is the set of boundaries
between formal and informal, legal and illegal activities: when these
boundaries are blurred the state becomes weak, and corruption further
weakens the state. A functioning state should have the capacity to manage
these complex boundaries. Since 1991, Russia has seen the erosion and
corruption of the political institutions necessary for managing these
boundaries in all areas of government--executive, legislative, and
judicial--and in all spheres of society. 

Russia's arbitrary state is not legitimate: since the Russian state does
not serve society's interests, Russian society by and large does not
identify with it. Illegitimate states generally rely on force, violence,
and intimidation to maintain order. This lack of societal legitimacy and
identification then impedes Russia's search (so evident since 1991) for its
national identity. Without legitimacy derived from serving the needs and
demands of Russia's society, this debate on political and national identity
has centered on appeals to Slavic identity, Eurasianism, and ethnic
definitions of citizenship. Furthermore, it impedes the devlopment of a
civic (that is, inclusive and non-ethnic) nationalism in Russia. 

Uncertainty and instability in Russian politics and society 

There is a tendency in the West to attribute Russia's political and
economic problems to vague notions of culture and the sense that Russians
simply do not understand how market economies and democracies work.
Although culture plays an important role in all areas of politics and
society, it is simply not the case that Russians are responding
irrationally to the incentives and environment they face. 

In fact, Russians are responding quite rationally to the vicious cycle of
uncertainty with which they are confronted. If ordinary people think it
likely that there will be massive changes in their social environment, it
is perfectly rational for them to not make long-range investments in the
existing system. This failure to make investments itself then impedes reform. 

Rational actors behave differently in the short term than they would in the
long term. The basis for US policy has been the assumption that to get
Russia to behave like a market economy, one needs to create incentives to
invest. But in a revolutionary context, individuals will not make long-term
investments, neither in the economic realm, nor in political institutions
such as political parties. For the past ten years, there has been no
confidence in Russia about the future that lies ahead. There is no
assurance about property rights, so managers and owners of formerly Soviet
enterprises strip assets rather than invest. Instead of creating stable
private property as privatization was supposed to achieve, handing over
post-Soviet enterprises to private actors resulted in stripped-down,
worthless industries that cannot possibly be the basis for economic growth.
Owners keep workers on payroll to guarantee political supporters. They do
not pay taxes: why do so since they are not certain there will be a
government in the future? 

The effects of uncertainty are increasingly recognized in looking at the
economic situation in Russia. But it is crucial now to understand that the
same conditions and calculations exist in the political realm. The rule of
law requires investment in a long-term political process, which nonetheless
depends on short-term support. Furthermore, there is a social cost to this
uncertainty. The Russian people live in an environment of constant stress,
which exacts a debilitating toll in health and social terms. 

Even if one is not concerned about the Russian economy and the social
well-being of its citizens, Americans ought to be very concerned about the
effects of this pervasive uncertainty on Russia's current political
situation. With Yeltsin clearly exiting the scene and both presidential and
parliamentary elections due in the next two years, choices about leadership
and regimes at this time will have long-standing effects on Russia's
political system. The problem is that in an uncertain environment,
ideologues and demagogues offer certainty and truth; ideologies propose a
long-term future in which to be certain. Ideologues offer a reason to think
in the long run. It is not by accident, to use the common Russian phrase,
that the two most successful parties (the Liberal Democratic Party led by
Zhirinovsky and the Communist Party led by Zyuganov) are led by ideologues. 

Therefore, rather than throwing up its hands and concluding that Russia has
to be left to sort out its own irrational culture, the US government might
instead consider how its own policies and advice have contributed to
Russia's pervasive environment of uncertainty. By neglecting Russia's
social welfare safety net and a civil society in which Russian citizens can
see that their participation and input makes a difference in their lives,
the US has not helped to diminish Russia's post-Soviet revolutionary

Governance in Russia: The Regions 

Quite simply, there is no question that to understand politics in Russia,
one has to understand politics in the regions, and between the center and
the regions. A great deal of power has devolved to regional governments,
either through negotiated bilateral treaties and agreements, or through
informal or de facto devolution of policy responsibility to regional
governments. Regional governments sometimes seek to seize power and
competencies from the center, especially for control of private and state
economic assets. However, in many instances regional governments have
acquired new responsibilities by the failure of the central government to
provide necessary social services, wages, support for military forces
deployed within the Russian federation, and so on. 

A closer look at Russia's regions helps to explain the political obstacles
to reform. For example, why have Russia's regional leaders blocked the move
to allowing bankruptcy? Since the central government has abandoned much of
its responsibility for providing social welfare guarantees, local
governments have had to assume this task. Since Soviet enterprises were
always much more than economic institutions--among other things they were
the source of important social services--shutting down such an enterprise
means shutting down local welfare provision, which further increases the
burdens on regional and local governments. So politicians and provincial
managers do their best to prevent bankruptcies, and use devices like
barter, sending workers for forced vacations, and postponing payment of
wages to keep firms open. This leads to a very strong local network of
enterprise managers and regional political leaders, supported by local
populations, which prevents market reforms from being implemented in the

The current economic and political situation underscores the
regionalization of Russia. In the aftermath of ruble devaluation, shortages
of food, medicine, and heat plagued many of Russia's more distant and poor
regions. These regions have been cut off by a central political apparatus
preoccupied with its own leadership and macroeconomic problems, relegating
the attempt to find solutions to regional governments, few of which have
any resources to address the problems. 

To a substantial degree, Russia's regionalization was necessary for reform
in both the political and economic spheres. Local politics can empower
society and create a stable basis for democracy, while private investment
works by going where economic growth looks promising rather than by being
centrally directed. To some extent, marketization and democratization were
sure to lead to decentralization. 

The problem is not regionalization, it is the lack of institutional
linkages that regulate the ties between the regions and national
government. Functioning federal systems do not merely devolve power to
subnational political institutions; they do so in a manner that makes the
different responsibilities of central and subnational governments clear,
that ensures all important responsibilities are covered by some responsible
agent, and that provides a process for deciding which level of government
prevails in case of disputes. Some of these rules are on the books in
Russia, but they are rarely observed or enforced, and many do not exist. 

This would make for poor public policy under any circumstances. In a period
of deep political and economic reform it creates havoc. The tasks facing a
Russian state that is supposed to be leading the transformation to a
democratic market society are formidable. Without the capacity to implement
politically contentious and economically painful policies, failure is all
but certain. 

Markets need some minimal level of state regulation, contracts, and
property rights. It is good to have regions competing with one another, but
by the same token there have to be consistent rules of the game. At this
moment, Russia faces the problem of finding a balance between letting some
regions flourish and creating minimal standards at the national level.
There has to be a competent center creating a stable and transparent
macroeconomic and macro-legal system for all. 

However, our growing recognition that reform needs to be implemented by the
central government, and that markets function when created and regulated to
some extent by the state, should not distract us from understanding that
Russia's future and hope for growth lies in the regions. The Russian
economy will never grow while only 8 of 89 regions can be considered to be
net donors to the federal budget (and by a realistic count, only 3
regions). Change and growth will not occur across the board, but that is
not to be expected. As with all countries, some regions will innovate and
grow faster than others. 

One policy implication of Russia's experience with regionalization is to
give up on setting up model regions to serve as examples for the others,
because this simply has not worked. Instead, policy might be directed to
encouraging investment in regions through private investment. Of course,
Russia is not a very attractive investment prospect right now. But if world
markets are opened to regional governors, they are going to want to keep
them open, since prosperity will bring jobs and a tax base that translate
into political support. In the face of economic growth, even conservative
governors may come to favor opening to the international economy. 

Politics in Russia: Leadership and Elections 

Nothing is going to be resolved in Russian politics and the economy until
after parliamentary and presidential elections, scheduled for 1999 and
2000, respectively. This means that politics are focused on positioning for
the elections, not on solving Russia's economic problems. Given Russia's
political instability, Primakov has managed relatively well, and succeeded
in diminishing some of the uncertainty. His strategy has been not to solve
the fundamental and contentious economic problems, but rather to focus on
putting out fires and keeping the country together until elections take
place. This requires him to keep a coalition together, and precludes any
serious steps toward tackling Russia's political and economic problems. 

However, there are costs to this strategy. The economic situation is likely
to get worse, and the inevitable question is whether the political system
can hold together long enough for elections to take place. Although
apparently healthier than Yeltsin, Primakov is no long-term answer to
stable leadership--he is older than Yeltsin. The assassination of Galina
Starovoitova suggests that the rules of political competition--already
rather brutal--may be at risk of breakdown. The perennial question of
whether Yeltsin can survive is now complicated by whether something else
intervenes, including extra-constitutional or violent action. 

Even without such extreme scenarios, this is a very risky period. If
important decisions on economic fundamentals are put off and the social and
economic situation worsens, arguments that we are already hearing in Russia
for authoritarian leadership to put matters right may mean that even a
democratically elected president could choose to rule through dictatorship
to restore order. 

As time goes on, it becomes more and more difficult to predict who will run
and who may win in Russian elections. Assuming that economic conditions
worsen over time, most known candidates--notably Primakov and Moscow mayor
Yuri Luzhkov--will be blamed for conditions and will fare worse. As a
result, anti-system candidates--even those whom we cannot now
anticipate--may be able to appeal to anger and despair at the "reforms" of
post-Communist Russia. In particular, we must keep in mind that we are
trying to understand a political situation when not only the major actors
are changing, but also the political institutions. The assumption that the
political context is stable is a poor base for predicting even the near
future in Russia. 

To the extent that we can predict the presidential and parliamentary
electoral context for the next two years, two points are important to keep
in mind. First, a left-right divide is no longer important in Russian
politics, and will not form the basis of political competition or
campaigns. The end of that type of polarization tends to help candidates
who can occupy the middle. Second, we must be careful to distinguish
between parliamentary and presidential elections. Each is structured by
different rules: parliamentary elections entail party lists and
proportional representation rules (as well as single member districts),
while presidential elections are based on a single up or down vote.
Parties&emdashsuch as the Communist Party of Russia&emdashthat do well
under parliamentary election rules have not done well in presidential
elections. Success in parliamentary elections should not be seen as a
harbinger of a presidential victory. 

Furthermore, the timing of elections matters. Both parliamentary and
presidential elections could come earlier than scheduled if the Duma were
dissolved or if Yeltsin should die or be declared unable to serve.
Luzhkov's presidential ambitions could be damaged if parliamentary
elections precede presidential elections, because his newly formed party
could do poorly and make Luzhkov look bad. In contrast, Alexander Lebed may
well do better the more distant are presidential elections, because as
conditions worsen, his anti-system, personalistic claim to be the savior of
Russia is enhanced (although, as time goes on, evidence of his incompetence
as governor of the Krasnoyarsk region grows). 

One important development is the weakening of all parties that have
competed at the national level to date. It appears that regional parties
may be gaining ground in their place. Some regional governors have recently
pushed to eliminate the use of party lists and proportional representation
in favor of all single member districts in Duma elections: this would
obviously have the effect of strengthening parties that can compete only on
a very local level, at least at first (the long-term effect of single
member districts is always to favor the development of a small number of
large national parties). 

Finally, it is important to keep in mind that the military did not play a
role in the political maneuvering in August and September, and it remains
unlikely to play any direct role in leadership politics over the next few
years. Despite the terrible conditions in the Russian armed forces and
despite the political activities of certain military figures such as
Alexander Lebed, the Russian military continues to stay out of politics.
This is true of the military as a whole: it is not a unified political
force that might back one political leader over another, or launch a coup
of its own. This is also true of its various component parts, which have
not fragmented to ally themselves with different political actors. 

Implications for US-Russian Relations 

The Russian government and the Russian people are responsible for their
choices and their future. Assistance can and must be just that: aid in
supporting the economic, social, and political choices Russians make. Too
often in American policy, there has been a tendency to point to the
objectives rather than the means. While the United States may have its own
sense of the shape of a future Russia it seeks, it cannot aid Russia in
getting there in the absence of those difficult national choices on the
part of Russia itself. The question is whether Russia's own aspirations
remain in line with American interests, and therefore warrant US support. 

There is little question among most social scientists studying Russia that
the end point sought by the majority of Russians is to be a prosperous,
democratic country in the style of the West. This does not mean that
Russian society seeks to become just like the United States. For one thing,
there are many models of prosperous democracies, and many of them (such as
France, Germany, and Japan) are quite different from the US in important
respects. Furthermore, it is inevitable that the form of democratic and
market institutions in Russia will reflect the history and culture of that
country. Given that Russian history and culture are very different from
those in the American case, Russia's political-economic system will be

Without question, the experience of the last seven years has undermined
these objectives. At the very least, there is more of a focus on how Russia
is different from the West than on how it is related to it. Anti-western
sentiment is significant, and one can no longer dismiss negative aspects of
Russian culture such as anti-Semitism as solely fringe or extremist
elements. American policy can no longer afford the illusion that because
the Soviet system has been abandoned, Russia is on a rapid, linear
transition to a robust market economy. Even without the failures of the
Russian political system in the past seven years, the transition would have
been long and painful and the precise shape of reform impossible to map
with certainty. 

The obvious conclusion is that what matters is the long-term process, and
that ultimately the United States has little direct influence on that
process. Russia needs a healthy and active civil society that can hold its
government accountable. It needs both mechanisms and the know-how to compel
its government to enforce laws on the books that would establish a level
playing field and provide for the entire range of social and political
protections, enabling people to compete and cooperate productively. 

In fact, American policy has become more sensitive to these long-term and
indirect processes. There are programs to support education in Russia,
small groups operating on the local level to provide social services, legal
advice and training, and very long-term cooperative scientific endeavors
such as the space station. There is a growing recognition that Russia's
economy cannot be reformed through simply turning away from Soviet
industrial cities and regions and leaving them to die, given the lack of
labor mobility in the country and the political support for communist and
extreme nationalist parties in these regions when they are seen to be
without hope. Experience is beginning to show that when economic incentives
for private foreign investment and trade are crafted at the regional level,
the political incentives shift: even the governor of Pskov (a member of
Zhirinovsky's LDPR) has been active in seeking economic cooperation with
the Baltic states because the economic incentives and payoffs are so great.
American government support for private investment in the regions is not as
high profile as IMF crisis interventions, but it will target these
long-terms processes and incentives. 

Of course, the problem for American policymakers is that they are forced to
live in the short term as well. Despite the financial meltdown and
IMF-centered policy, the US has succeeded in other areas of short-term and
direct cooperation with Russia that might serve as a guide. Programs to
support Russia's control of its nuclear facilities and materials are
concrete examples of success, and the more recently developed programs to
assist the development of Russia's border controls--and especially the
personnel and management of them--promise to build on these lessons.
Peacekeeping in Bosnia--whatever one may think of the success of its
primary mission--has been remarkably successful in forging direct and
practical military-military collaboration. More generally, most official
and unofficial programs for US-Russian military-military contact are seen
by their participants in positive terms. 

This raises the question of whether these programs targeted to concrete and
usually immediate areas can offer any lessons for the more difficult task
of long-term American assistance to Russia. One lesson is that these
programs work when there are definable, professional, self-interested
Russian partners for the American agencies implementing the assistance
programs. Although this may be easier to do in the short term, it is not
impossible in the long term. Working with regional political leaders and
institutions to support private investment and involvement in international
trade is probably more tractable than trying to open the entire Russian
economy, as long as one can identify regions with competent leadership and
something to be gained from trade. Supporting Russian educators helping
local social and citizens' groups to learn about the laws on the books and
how to hold government accountable is similarly practical and concrete.
Thinking of ways to create long-term incentives through the World Bank and
USAID for the emerging Russian small business community should not be
impossible given the American experience in creating government support for
its own small businesses, or the very rich and successful experience of
European countries after the second world war. 

It is clear that a strong sense of impatience and helplessness is beginning
to develop in American policy. On issues from NATO enlargement to START II
to the ABM treaty and national missile defense, the assessment seems to be
that Russia is weak, dependent on western financial assistance, and likely
to reduce its nuclear and conventional military capabilities anyway.
Clearly, Russia does not pose a threat to American security, so a policy of
containment is not relevant. But a choice still has to be made between
engagement and neglect. 

Recognizing that the next two years will see the passing of the Yeltsin
leadership, with all its strengths and weaknesses, it is in American
interests to keep Russia engaged with the West. Given the political battles
to come and the economic pain that is far from over, it remains important
not to close off the bases for Russian integration into the West. This has
come into question in the last year because of the economic crisis and
evidence of how very far Russia has yet to go in establishing the kind of
market economy that can compete and work well with other advanced western
economies in the global economic system. 

But integration need not take place only or even primarily through
international economic institutions. Russia is a member of many of the most
important international political and military institutions, and its
geopolitical interests and weight remain greater than that of most
countries. Further NATO enlargement in the near term is probably unlikely
for other reasons anyway; exclusion of Russia from the most important
multilateral political-military decisionmaking forum is another good reason
for slow deliberation before further changes. Russian national security
doctrine now clearly states that Russia's security problems come from
within. However, efforts to quickly enlarge NATO further, coupled with
military NATO peace enforcement operations in Yugoslavia, focus Russia's
security elites on scenarios in which NATO might threaten or use limited
military force against Russia for political pressure and influence. 

Russia is weak, it is true--all the more reason, then, that Russia needs
partners. Russia's financial needs are enormous, and the interests and
incentives to seek profitable deals through foreign trade are in place. If
the West in general and the United States in particular are not available,
by design or through misguided beliefs that Russia need not be engaged,
Russia will seek partners elsewhere. We have already seen this, with the
strong interests of many Russian firms in selling conventional military
equipment and advanced technology necessary for weapons of mass destruction
to buyers like Iran and Iraq. At a time when American security concerns
focus on these pariah states, American policies should not be--as they
sometimes seem--bent on making Russia an excluded pariah state itself.
American policymakers should recognize that US-Russian disagreement in many
areas of policy is actually disagreement about the means, and that
underlying common interests and agreement about fundamental security
interests remain. 


Program on New Approaches to Russian Security
Program Members

•Deborah Yarsike Ball (Lawrence Livermore): military politics; political
beliefs and attitudes of Russian Officers; civil-military relations;
assessing the protection of fissile material in the former Soviet Union
•Douglas Blum (Providence College): environmental politics, conflict, and
interdependence in the former Soviet Union 
•Eva Busza (William and Mary): militaries and democratization
•Jeffrey Checkel (Universitetet i Oslo): Norms, ideas, transnational
linkages; human rights, citizenship, minority rights in Russia, Ukraine;
institutional analysis 
•Renee de Nevers (MacArthur Foundation): democratization and ethnic politics 
•Matthew Evangelista (Cornell University): economic sources of conflict
within Russia and the CIS; transnational linkages; conversion and the role
of the military-industrial sector in Russian economic and security policy.
•Vladimir Gelman (European University, St. Petersburg): contemporary
Russian politics in terms of political science theories; regional and local
politics; federalism; legislative politics; political parties and elections 
•Henry Hale (Kennedy School, Harvard): CIS relations; federalism; Central
•Stephen Hanson (University of Washington/Seattle): democracy; parties
•Yoshiko Herrera (Harvard University): politics of economic institutions
and economic transformation, regionalism, and comparative political economy
with an emphasis on the Former Soviet Union 
•Fiona Hill (Kennedy School, Harvard): security relations and issues in the
•Ted Hopf (Mershon Center, Ohio State University): security cooperation;
national identity formation and relations within the CIS •Stuart J. Kaufman
(University of Kentucky): civil-military relations, military reform,
militarization of ethnic conflict in the former Soviet Union 
•Oleg Kharkhordin (European University, St. Petersburg): the Stalinist
heritage and its influence on contemporary Russian politics and culture;
relevance of the Orthodox Christian background for building civil society;
and links between the concepts of nation and nature as a ground for
fighting the spread of ethno-nationalism 
•Mark Kramer (Harvard): Russian relations with Eastern Europe 
•Andrew Kuchins (Stanford University): Russian and Asian security 
•Pauline Jones Luong (Yale University): politics in Central Asia 
•Michael McFaul (Stanford University): domestic politics and Russian
foreign policy; political parties and coalitions 
•Sarah E. Mendelson (Fletcher School, Tufts University): domestic politics,
democratization, and Russian foreign policy; learning, ideas, and foreign
policy change 
•Arkady Moshes (Institute of Europe): Russian relations with the former
Soviet Union 
•Vladimir Orlov (PIR Center, Moscow): 
•Nikolai Petrov (Carnegie Center, Moscow): social- and political-geographic
studies, regional development problems, ethnic-territorial claims and
conflicts, and electoral studies 
•Alexander Pikaev (Carnegie Moscow Center): 
•Eduard Ponarin (European University at St. Petersburg) nationalism,
formation of ethnic consciousness, ethnic minorities, the role of
generational succession in social change, and methodology of social sciences
•Vadim Radaev (Instituteof Economics, Russian Academy of Sciences):
Economic sociology, Sociology of Entrepreneurship •James Richter (Bates
College): Russian leadership politics, Russian nationalism and identity
•Alexander Sergounin (University of Nizhnii Novgorod): international
relations, political science, history and theory, international security,
foreign policymaking 
•Regina Smyth (Penn State): Russian politics and political parties 
•Nikolai Sokov (Monterey): nonproliferation; CIS politics 
•Steven Solnick (Columbia): Russian reform and regionalism
•Valerie Sperling (Clark University): state-society relations in Russia;
social movements and Western aid 
•Ekaterina Stepanova (Carnegie Center, Moscow): US and Russian foreign,
defense and security policy, regional conflict regulation and peacekeeping 
•Randall Stone (Rochester): political economy; trade; international
integration; and reform. 
•Kathryn Stoner-Weiss (Princeton University): regional politics in Russia 
•Brian Taylor (University of Oklahoma): civil-military relations 
•Dmitri Trenin (Carnegie Center, Moscow): the Russian military and military
reform; Russian-Baltic relations; and Russia's role in European security 
•Astrid Tuminez (Independent Consultant): Russian nationalism 
•Vadim Volkov (European University at St. Petersburg): historical
sociology; problems of state and violence; sociology of everyday life; and
politics in cultural context 
•Celeste A. Wallander (Harvard): security institutions; European security
and Russian foreign policy 
•David Woodruff (MIT): Russian and comparative political economy,
methodology of comparative politics 
•Kimberly Marten Zisk (Barnard College): defense industry; comparative
civil-military relations; Russian strategic trade issues 


Program on New Approaches to Russian Security
Policy Memos
Available at

1.The economization, rationalization, and normalization of Russian foreign
policy, Celeste A. Wallander 
2.The Russian Military Outside Politics: a Historical Perspective, Brian
3.Main Problems for Civilian Control of Military Budgets in Russia, Boris
4.The Pending Crisis in Russian Civil-Military Relations, Deborah Yarsike
5.The Domestic Politics of NATO Expansion in Russia: Implications for
American Foreign Policy, Michael McFaul 
6.Short-Term Compromises and Long-Term Dangers for Russian-American
Security Cooperation, Mathew Evangelista 
7.Contact Lenses: Transparency and US-Russian Military Ties, Kimberly Zisk 
8.Domestic Politics and Russia's Caspian Policy, Douglas Blum 
9.Russia's International Integration and Caspian Sea Oil, Fiona Hill 
10.Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia, and Baltic Security, Mark Kramer 
11.The Emerging Sino-Russian Strategic Partnership and Eurasian Security,
Andrew Kuchins 
12.The Next Step in Democracy Assistance to Russia: Targeting Military
Reform, Sarah Mendelson 
13.Promoting a Strong Civil Society: US Foreign Assistance and Russian
NGOs, James Richter 
14.Empowerment, Ricochets and End-Runs: Russia's Integration with Western
Human Rights Institutions and Practices, Jeffrey Checkel 
15.Russia's Fiscal Veto on CIS Integration, Henry Hale 
16.Russian-American Relations in the Post-Cold War Environment, Andrei
17.The New Tribalism and America's Russia Policy, Stuart Kaufman 
18.The Coming Unemployment Crisis in Russia, Stephen Hanson 
19.Russia and the WTO: The Work to be Done, Michael Rosenbaum 
20.Russia In Search of Itself: Nationalism and the Future of the Russian
State, Astrid Tuminez 
21.In Its Own Image: Toward a Re-conceptualization of Central Asia, Pauline
Jones Luong 
22.Strategies For Energy Development In Central Asia: International
Implications, Pauline Jones Luong 
23.Domestic Structure, Economic Growth, and Russian Foreign Policy, Nikolai
24.Could Norway Trigger a Nuclear War? Notes on the Russian Command and
Control System, Nikolai Sokov 
25.Current Russian Views on US-Russian Security Relations and Military
Reform, Sarah Mendelson 
26.Foreign Funding of Social Movements in Russia , Valerie Sperling 
27.Value Tradeoffs and America's Caspian Policy: Energy, the Environment,
and Sustainable Development, Douglas Blum
28.Russia's Strategic View: Diminished Threats and Diminished Capabilities,
Deborah Yarsike Ball 
29.Russia's Relations with NATO: Lessons from the History of the Entente
Cordiale, Nikolai Sokov 
30.The Russian National Security Concept: A Liberal-Statist Synthesis,
Celeste A. Wallander 
31.Clinton's Moscow Mission, Michael McFaul 
32.Options for Resolution of the Conflict in Abkhazia, Stuart Kaufman 
33.Russia's Financial Meltdown: Causes and Policy Responses, Randall Stone 
34.Why Military Dissatisfaction Is Not a Threat to the Russian State,
Kimberly Marten Zisk 
35.The Current Russian Economic Crisis is Neither, Pauline Jones Luong 
36.Policy Lessons from the Russian Economic Crisis, Randall Stone 
37.US Policy and Russia's Economic Plight: Lessons from the Meltdown, Mark
38.The Russian Barter Debate: Implications for Western Policy, David Woodruff 
39.Central Weakness and Provincial Autonomy: The Process of Devolution in
Russia, Kathryn Stoner-Weiss 
40.Breaking the Vicious Cycle of Uncertainty in Post-Communist Russia,
Stephen Hanson 
41.Primakov in Context: The Myths and Realities of Russia's New Prime
Minister, Jeffrey Checkel 
42.The Regionalization of Autocracy in Russia, Henry Hale 
43.Nuclear Weapons and Russia's Economic Crisis, Nikolai Sokov 
44.Yeltsin's Latest Military Reform Initiative: Operational-Strategic
Commands, Eva Busza 
45.The Rise and Fall of the Russian Internal Troops? Brian Taylor 
46.Why and How the US Should Aid Russia, Michael McFaul 
47.Strategies for US Democracy Assistance to Russia After Market Failure,
Sarah Mendelson 
48.International Institutions and Russian Security Cooperation, Celeste
49.The Political Costs of Western Investment in Russian Spin-off Companies,
Kimberly Marten Zisk 
50.The US Second Line of Defense: Preventing Nuclear Smuggling Across
Russia's Borders, Deborah Yarsike Ball 
51.Promoting Activism or Professionalism in Russia's Civil Society? James
52.Russia and Regional Multilateral Security, Andrew Kuchins 
53.Russia's Caspian Policy Under Primakov, Douglas Blum 
54.Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Applying Lessons from Soviet Disintegration
to the Russian Federation, Henry E. Hale 
55.The Company They Keep: Some Observations on Russian Management, Astrid
S. Tuminez 
56.The IMF-Russian Negotiations and Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,
Nikolai Sokov 



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