This Date's Issues: 3365 •
Johnson's Russia List
28 June 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Business Week: Will Clinton Go to Russia?
2. AFP: Russia rolls back arts funding by 75%.
3. Baltimore Sun: Bob Caldwell, Gorby: tanned, rested, wary. Russia: The
last leader of the Soviet Union looks back at the endgame of the Cold War
and its chilling aftermath.
4. Sarah Mendelson: "Exporting democracy."
5. The Globe and Mail (Canada): Geoffrey York, Kremlin kills corruption
probe of highly placed officials.
6. The Guardian (UK): Jonathan Steele and Tom Whitehouse, Russian troops
may be too few too late. Peace force: Paratroopers' arrival fails to reassure
7. The Electonic Telegraph (UK): Cold War warrior scorns 'new morality.'
Whatever happened to wars fought in the national interest? Boris Johnson
talks to Henry Kissinger.
8. Robert Donaldson: Kosovo Had High Cost.
9. Stratfor: Kosovo Conflict Accelerates Formation of Russia-China
10. Reuters: Russian Ex-Minister Says Chechen War a Mistake.
11. Itar-Tass: Union of Russia, Byelorussia to Prove
12. Itar-Tass: Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Meets Public in
13. Itar-Tass: Communists Not to Have Majority in New
14. AP: Official: National Russian oil company not a good idea.]
July 5, 1999
Washington Outlook: Capital Wrapup
Will Clinton Go to Russia?
Eager to rebuild relations with Russia after Kosovo, President Clinton wants
to visit Moscow this fall. The next U.S.-Russia summit was supposed to take
place in Washington, but aides say Boris Yeltsin appears too weak for the
trip. Before the powwow, Clinton wants the Duma to approve the SALT II
treaty. And Yeltsin wants congressional repeal of the Jackson-Vanik law, a
cold war measure designed to speed the emigration of Soviet Jews.
Russia rolls back arts funding by 75%
MOSCOW, June 28 (AFP) - Russia's impressive network of museums, theaters and
other cultural institutions, long victimized by chronic cash shortages, can
expect only one-fourth of the state financing they previously received,
Russia's culture minister announced Sunday.
Arts funding fixed by federal law at two percent of the annual budget will be
slahed this year to just 0.5 percent, Vladimir Yegorov said at a news
The culture ministry is responsible for allocating federal monies to the
restoration of historical monuments and to the country's hundreds of world
renowned museums, theaters, and arts institutes - from the Bolshoi theater
and the Conservatory in Moscow to the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg.
In spite of the broad range of cultural institutions largely dependant on
state money, arts funding came only to some 0.12 percent of total budget
allocations in 1997, at the height of Russia's short-lived economic boom.
June 27, 1999
[for personal use only]
Gorby: tanned, rested, wary
Russia: The last leader of the Soviet Union looks back at the endgame of the
Cold War and its chilling aftermath.
By Bob Caldwell
Bob Caldwell is editorial page editor for The Oregonian of Portland, Ore. He
was in Russia this month with a group from the National Conference of
MOSCOW -- On a sweltering afternoon in the first heat wave of Russia's
summer, the room at 49 Leningradsky Prospekt is an oven.
The lights are off and, as the shadows of late afternoon engulf the building,
the room and its occupants bake in the dark.
This is, as Russians might say, "normal."
Electricity and air conditioning, like government and the economy, are things
you can't take for granted in post-Soviet Russia.
These days, Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, winner of
the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize and loser of the Cold War, works out of an office
here, in a hulking, gray building with a discreet hammer-and-sickle emblem
over the door, halfway between the Kremlin and the international airport.
In this edifice of the past, Gorbachev -- tanned, tailored and sophisticated
-- is more than a little out of place.
But he makes no note of his surroundings as he leads a group of American
editors through his version of the history of the past decade.
His account of his political demise and the dissolution of the old Soviet
system is equal parts self-justification and self-criticism. He acknowledges,
for example, mishandling key aspects of perestroika, the restructuring effort
he led within the Communist party and public life in the Soviet Union in the
last half of the 1980s.
"We failed, particularly where the consumer market was concerned," Gorbachev
said. "People were standing in lines and blaming perestroika. I blame myself.
I tried to fight on two fronts. Against the reactionaries among the
nomenklatura on one hand and, on the other, the democrats led by [Boris]
To Gorbachev, the events of August 1991, when the Soviet system collapsed on
itself, led directly to the events of August 1998, when the financial house
of cards created by the new Russian system fell in.
Now, he says, the Russian nation is in dire straits.
"The situation is bad; I'd even call it very bad," Gorbachev said.
Gorbachev sees a focus on short-term politics and political gain as one of
the chief culprits in fumbling away much of the promise of economic and
political reform in Russia during the past decade.
The other culprit in Gorbachev's morality play is his political nemesis,
"Yeltsin, from the very start, was reckless," Gorbachev said. "He thought if
Russia was to abandon the other republics [of the Soviet Union], Russia could
move very fast in reform. But our union was not like Europe. With the Soviet
countries, we were a unit, and [Yeltsin's actions] resulted in a kind of a
Yeltsin's second mistake, in Gorbachev's view, was to follow Western advice
and try to make economic reforms take place quickly.
"It was a kind of neo-Bolshevism," Gorbachev said. "The Bolsheviks said, 'We
need to catch up to the West,' so they tried to do it overnight. Yeltsin, in
his own way, wanted to do the same thing. He was sure he had God on his side.
He pushed by any means.
"The result was the breakup of the country."
Now, Gorbachev and others in Russia worry that Yeltsin will not leave office
when his constitutional term expires next year.
He sees the second problem illustrated in the U.S. policy in the Balkans.
For the past several years, starting with its successful drive to remove U.N.
Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the United States "has been trying
to change the entire international equation."
"The U.S.," he said, "is acting arrogantly."
Gorbachev blames President Clinton for pursuing a foreign policy based on
"ignoring the United Nations and international law."
There also is that old Russian paranoia about American intentions underlying
Gorbachev's assessment of U.S. actions in the Balkans.
"[Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic deserves a lot of the
responsibility" for what happened in Yugoslavia, Gorbachev said. "I could
name a dozen similar conflicts in the world, but NATO was silent. The U.S.
acted here because the administration wanted to show the world who was boss.
"There is only one superpower. NATO is its tool," Gorbachev said.
If a false sense of omnipotence led the United States into the war in Kosovo,
it was a sense of inferiority that drove the Russian public reaction to the
race to Pristina by a Russian armored column at the end of the war. To many
Russians, the move was a simple act of assertiveness -- if not that of a
great power, then at least that of a dissenter in the world community.
Gorbachev, out of power and out of the political picture in Russia, was also
a spectator at his country's match with the reigning world power.
He acknowledges that being on good terms with America, and with American and
European bankers, is the only option for his country. He acknowledges, too,
that the United States is the key to peace and stability in the world.
But those things do not translate into an infallible America, or one that is
capable of seeing much beyond its own interests. American world leadership,
he suggests, doesn't confer the right to dictate the outcome of every
argument, every crisis.
To Gorbachev, Russia is quite capable of finding its own way -- even if the
path proves difficult.
Date: Sun, 27 Jun 1999
From: Sarah Mendelson <email@example.com>
Subject: "Exporting democracy"
Dear David: In response to your inquiry on "exporting democracy," I'd like
to draw your attention to a project that colleagues from Columbia
University and I have been running for the last two years with funding
from the Carnegie Corporation. The project evaluates the impact that
Western non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have had on the process of
democratization and the reduction of ethnic conflict in several formerly
communist states in East/Central Europe and Eurasia. We hope to
disseminate the final report of the project in early fall and to post on
the web the 15 case studies on which the report draws. The case studies
analyze the effects of Western NGOs strategies on developments in several
socio-political sectors including:
* political parties and elections in Russia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic
* independent media in Russia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Slovakia
* womens NGOs in Russia, Poland and Hungary
* environmental NGOs in Russia and Kazakhstan
* civic education NGOs in Romania, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan
* conflict reduction in Bosnia, Estonia, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and
The young scholars involved in the project combine practical experience on
the ground, regional expertise and social science training.
I'll just say now that the projects findings are mixed in terms of impact
and point to both the power and the limitations of Western NGOs (and
indeed, that of the international community) in affecting political change
For those interested in our findings, I will post a notice on the JRL when
the final report and the case studies are finished.
Regards, Sarah Mendelson Assistant Professor, Fletcher School of Law and
Diplomacy, Tufts University
The Globe and Mail (Canada)
June 27, 1999
[for personal use only]
Kremlin kills corruption probe of highly placed officials
Head of inquiry into enormous cost of refitting Yeltsin's
official residence and sale of valuable artifacts
is himself up against countercharges
Moscow -- The Kremlin has succeeded in killing an investigation into
high-level corruption in a $488-million (U.S.) project to renovate Boris
Yeltsin's official residence, Russian media have reported.
The corruption probe had threatened to engulf some of the Russian President's
most powerful aides. But the investigation is now frozen and the prosecutor
who launched the probe is himself facing charges in a Kremlin-orchestrated
An audit of the renovation project, leaked to the media this month,
criticized the lavish cost of the repairs to Mr. Yeltsin's official Kremlin
residence. It also found that his administration had secretly sold hundreds
of rare historical artifacts from the Kremlin building, including Joseph
Stalin's office furniture, at bargain-basement prices.
The audit found that the renovation project had cost $14,087 per square
metre. It usually costs $2,000 to $3,000 per square metre to construct or
refurbish top-range office buildings in central Moscow.
The Russian prosecutor-general, Yuri Skuratov, has been investigating whether
Mr. Yeltsin's aides were given bribes in exchange for lucrative contracts for
But this week the Russian Supreme Court authorized an investigation into
alleged abuses of office by Mr. Skuratov. The decision is expected to
sideline the prosecutor, who has feuded with the Kremlin for months.
In a separate move this week, Russia's state television channel cancelled a
long-running program by a muckraking journalist who has exposed some of the
corruption allegations surrounding the Kremlin renovation project. The
journalist accused the Kremlin of trying to silence him.
At the centre of the scandal is one of Mr. Yeltsin's top aides, Pavel
Borodin. As the head of the presidential property department, he controls
assets he once valued at a staggering $600-billion, including the former
property of the Soviet Communist Party.
Mr. Borodin and other Kremlin aides are alleged to have close connections to
the Swiss firm Mabetex, which has won hundreds of millions of dollars in
building contracts from the Kremlin, including about one-fifth of the
contracts for Mr. Yeltsin's residence.
Mabetex has also helped build a luxurious country home for Mr. Yeltsin's
daughter, according to several published reports.
This month, a Russian newspaper reported that Mr. Borodin and a Mabetex
official had a joint account in a Swiss bank, through which about
$3.5-million has flowed. Other top Kremlin officials also have Swiss bank
accounts, the report said.
Mr. Skuratov, the prosecutor-general, stunned the Kremlin in March by
launching a probe of Mabetex and its links to Kremlin officials. His
investigators raided a presidential office and seized documents on the
Swiss federal prosecutor Carla del Ponte, famed for her probes of drug money
in Swiss bank accounts held by corrupt Mexican officials, has co-operated
with Mr. Skuratov in the Mabetex investigation. She raided the Swiss offices
of Mabetex in January, and later supplied Mr. Skuratov with "valuable
operational information on bank accounts of the presidential entourage," the
Moscow daily Kommersant reported this week.
Mr. Yeltsin has repeatedly tried to sack Mr. Skuratov, but the upper house of
the Russian parliament has refused to approve the dismissal. In another
attempt to force him out of office, Russian state television broadcast a
secretly recorded videotape of Mr. Skuratov in bed with two prostitutes.
Mr. Borodin's department says it spent $488-million to renovate the
18th-century Kremlin residence. Auditors say the true cost could be much
The renovation project, completed between 1993 and 1995, consumed a huge
amount of Russian state funds at a time when the government owed billions of
dollars in unpaid wages and pensions to ordinary Russian citizens.
Mr. Skuratov told a Russian newspaper that he encountered unprecedented
resistance when he tried to investigate the Kremlin renovation contracts.
Under these contracts, "the real volume of work was less than indicated," and
the profits were shared between the Kremlin officials and the construction
firms, he said.
Moscow political analyst Andrei Piontkovsky said the prosecutor's corruption
investigations might be dead now, but they could still be revived in the
future. "It's still very dangerous for the Kremlin," he said in an interview.
"Politically it's a very important issue."
According to the audit, Mr. Borodin's office also sold hundreds of valuable
historical artifacts to unknown private individuals for small sums of money.
Among the mysteriously sold items were the furniture and fittings from the
personal offices of Stalin and other top Communist officials. Also sold were
227 huge crystal and bronze chandeliers, many from the czarist era. The
Kremlin lost a considerable amount of money by failing to auction the
artifacts for the highest possible price, the auditors said.
In an interview with Kommersant last weekend, Mr. Borodin defended the cost
of the renovation project. He said the restored Kremlin building will raise
the spirits of the depressed Russian people.
"The critics say the country is in poverty and we are building luxurious
palaces," he said. "Yes, we do. But remember during the war, when they
continued to shoot movies, despite the hardships. Those patriotic films were
important for the people and gave them hopes for victory. It's the same now.
People will be walking here and they will see that their country is great.
And all of this was done by one man: Boris Yeltsin."
The Guardian (UK)
June 28, 1999
[for personal use only]
Russian troops may be too few too late
Peace force: Paratroopers' arrival fails to reassure fellow Slavs
By Jonathan Steele and Tom Whitehouse in Moscow
The roar of aircraft engines at Pristina airport this weekend, the first
since the end of Nato's bombing campaign, heralded the arrival of some 40
Russian peacekeepers in Kosovo, paving the way for a further 3,600 Russian
troops later this week.
But the arrival of Russian paratroopers has come too late to protect their
fellow Slav Serbs fleeing ethnic Albanian revenge attacks across the
In Belo Polje, a Serb village near the western city of Pec, Italian troops
found the body of a young woman. Her mother said she had been raped by
assailants in the village where foreign reporters witnessed Serb homes being
set on fire and looted by ethnic Albanians.
The Russian peacekeepers may themselves be vulnerable to attack by Kosovo
Liberation Army (KLA) guerrillas, who see the Russians as a pro-Serbian
Activity at Pristina airport was frozen when 200 Russian troops raced into
Kosovo ahead of Nato soldiers two weeks ago and secured the access road in an
attempt by Moscow to have more say in the Kosovo peacekeeping operation.
The first Russian plane arrived on Saturday with 21 paratroopers and 18
technicians. An Ilyushin Il-76 cargo jet flew in yesterday with traffic
control equipment, while Russian armoured personnel carriers escorted trucks
from neighbouring Bosnia with supplies for the paratroopers who seized the
airport earlier this month.
Russia's Interfax news agency reported yesterday that the airport would be
reopened on Thursday under joint Russian-Nato control.
The Russian deployment follows weeks of argument between Russian and western
officials about where they should operate, and under whose command.
Denied their own sector in Kosovo because of fears that this would lead to
the province's de facto partition, the paratroopers will work in zones
controlled by French, American and German forces. They insist on taking
orders only from the ministry of defence in Moscow, which is expected to
coordinate closely with Nato officials in Kosovo and Brussels.
There were signs yesterday that Nato and Russian troops make an odd couple.
British Gurkhas man the first two checkpoints on the approach road to the
airport. "We're protecting the Russians from the KLA," an officer explained
with a smile.
At the next checkpoint three Russians were drowsing in the shade of a small
hut, a radio blasting syrupy Moscow pop.
Moscow insisted on a role in the K-For peacekeeping force, now commanded by a
British general, partly to reassure Serbs, who feel the Russians are less
biased than Nato. But their presence may be too little too late. Looting and
burning of abandoned Serb villages such as Belo Polje continued at the
weekend across Kosovo.
Although the paratroopers' deployment won overwhelming approval from Russia's
parliament in a vote on Friday, fears were expressed over their vulnerability
to attack from the KLA, which has accused Russian "volunteers" of
participating in Serbian massacres in the province before the Nato
The Russian government has complained that Nato peacekeepers have not done
enough to disarm the KLA.
Despite Moscow's determination to have equal say with Nato over control of
K-For, the Kremlin will be hard pushed to back its demands with the cash
necessary to finance its contribution to the peacekeeping operation.
Russia's regional leaders, who make up parliament's upper house, were
persuaded to agree to the deployment only after assurances that the £43m
needed to pay for it would come from central, rather than regional, coffers.
The paratroopers themselves have been keen to go to Kosovo because they are
paid more for service abroad, and their salaries are more likely to arrive on
The Electonic Telegraph (UK)
28 June 1999
[for personal use only]
Cold War warrior scorns 'new morality'
Whatever happened to wars fought in the national interest? Boris Johnson
talks to Henry Kissinger
IT'S just too much: the celestial choirs, the haloes. Henry can't stand it.
Never mind the conduct of the Kosovo war; he objects to "the appalling,
oozing self-righteousness with which it is being presented to the American
public - the distinction also being made by your people between moral wars
and national interest wars".
Before Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, so the spin goes, the world was run by
ruthless men and women who thought solely in terms of realpolitik, or
national interest. The draft-dodger and the CND member grew up thinking
Kissinger's bombing of Cambodia was the quintessence of geo-political
cynicism; how very different from their own unselfish, humanitarian
detonations in the Balkans. One can see why the former Secretary of State is
"I object to statesmen who pretend that there is a new concept that they have
invented, and that the previous centuries have been run by people of lesser
illumination," he says in his Claridges suite and his magnificently studied
Dr Kissinger is over here en route to Warsaw to launch his latest volume of
memoirs, dealing with the Ford years, from 1974 to 1977: the opening to
China, the agony of Vietnam, the fall of Cambodia, the war in Cyprus. It's
all there, an extraordinary first person panopsis. He is the Cold War warrior
whose efforts helped to bring America to her unchallenged global supremacy,
where Russia can no longer obstruct the bombing of Yugoslavia; and yet his
brand of foreign policy is now held to be in some way morally inferior.
The other day Bill Clinton made a speech explaining that the international
community had a duty to intervene all over the world to protect people from
oppression by their governments. Yes, says Dr Kissinger. But where is the
principle? "If you asked would you do it in Chechnya, you'd say no. Would you
do it in Tibet? You'd say no. So where the hell do you do it? Only with very
Well, I say: surely it's not shameful to say you will intervene where you
can, even if you can't alleviate the sufferings of the entire globe.
"Intervene when you can? That is true even in the benighted period that
preceded the present dispensation," says the statesman sniffily.
As for Kosovo, Kissinger doubts whether it really exemplifies a new kind of
uniquely virtuous war. Once Nato had begun, of course, he proclaimed that
"victory was the only exit"; and he makes clear his admiration for the
British role. "The British are the only European nation that like war," he
But he thought the whole business was misconceived. The Rambouillet text,
which called on Serbia to admit Nato troops throughout Yugoslavia, was a
"provocation", "an excuse to start bombing". "Rambouillet is not a document
that an angelic Serb could have accepted. It was a terrible diplomatic
document that should never have been presented in that form."
The Serbs may have behaved barbarously in suppressing KLA terror. But 80 per
cent of the ceasefire violations, between October and February, were
committed by the KLA. "It was not a war about ethnic cleansing at that point.
If we had analysed it correctly we would have tried to strengthen the
ceasefire and not put the entire blame on the Serbs.
"If Milosevic had engaged in massive ethnic cleansing without the bombing, I
would probably have gone along with it. But if you add up all the suffering
and ethnic strife that has followed, and all the consequences yet to happen,
I am not persuaded that another course would not have been better."
So what would you have done? "That's like asking someone who critiques a
painting: How would you have painted it?" he says, but adds: "I would have
strengthened the international observers and let the guerrilla war run its
course, the way they usually do; the way they did in South Africa and
elsewhere, with the exhaustion of the imperial power."
Having begun, however, he would have threatened ground troops from the
outset. He had doubts about the morality of bombing from 15,000ft.
This supposedly moral war, says Kissinger, was also about getting Kosovo off
the evening news. "I believed that there was no overwhelming American
national interest." Of course, he says, some people say that is precisely why
it is so "beautiful". "But that is not something you can tell mothers if
there are actual casualties. You have to relate it to something that is
meaningful to their societies."
What if there aren't any casualties, at least on your side? "Then that's a
great bonus; but if something is moral, then it is presumably of universal
validity and worth dying for. You cannot say that the only moral issues are
the ones with no risk of casualties."
If there is one moral difference between Kosovo and Cambodia, he says, it is
that when he was in power America was prepared to sacrifice American lives
for the sake of justice in other countries. As for the new moral order, "it
is a question of a group of nations claiming to apply a universal
jurisdiction which is not shared by the majority of mankind. It is an
unsustainable policy. It will have to be modified".
Years of Renewal (Weidenfeld, £30) is available at the special price of £24
from our retail partner, Amazon. Click here to order a copy online.
Date: Sun, 27 Jun 1999
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Robert Donaldson)
Subject: Contribution to Johnson's Russia List
Our Tulsa newspaper published an op-ed I wrote, in which I argued a point I
have not seen elsewhere: The Russian deployment to Pristina airport was
intended to preempt NATO's effort to rewrite the terms of the G-8 peace
agreement on Kosovo. Having enlisted the Russians to sell an agreement to
Milosevic that called for a UN-mandated security force with "substantial
[i.e., not exclusive] NATO participation," the alliance was proceeding to
implement an occupation that divided Kosovo into zones run by five NATO
members, freezing the Russians out. I'm not aware that any Western media
have acknowledged the point that NATO was in the process of deliberately
misinterpreting a solemn undertaking that Milosevic had agreed to and the
UN had blessed.
Kosovo Had High Cost
By Robert H. Donaldson
Robert H. Donaldson is Trustees Professor of Political Science at the
University of Tulsa and co-author of The Foreign Policy of Russia: Changing
Systems, Enduring Interests (M.E. Sharpe, 1998).
Hailed by President Clinton as a "victory," the results of NATO's war
against Yugoslavia look slim enough when measured against its proclaimed
objectives. But examined in light of long-term relationships with Russia
-- the "victory" in Kosovo appears to have come at enormous cost.
While no objective observer can excuse Slobodan Milosevic's prewar policies
in Kosovo, most agree that the main effect of NATO's war to stop ethnic
cleansing was instead to intensify it. After 78 days of bombing, most of
Kosovo's ethnic Albanians had been driven from their homes. Kosovo itself
was in ruins, with rebuilding costs to be shouldered by Western taxpayers
estimated in the tens of billions of dollars. Milosevic himself remained in
power, and NATO had surrendered its Rambouillet demand that Kosovars be
allowed to vote on eventual independence. NATO's 50,000 peacekeeping troops
were settling in for a lengthy occupation, facing the challenge of
preventing another round of ethnic cleansing -- this one conducted by the
vengeful Kosovo Liberation Army against Kosovo's Serbian population.
Even as NATO's armies entered Kosovo, their triumph was clouded by the
unexpected prior encampment at the capital city's airport of a contingent
of Russian peacekeeping forces. Initial claims that the move was a mistake
were negated when President Yeltsin promoted the Russian contingent's
commanding general. But Russian experts are convinced that the actual
timing of the troop movements was an initiative taken by the military
leadership. They had been deeply angered by the NATO bombing campaign and
even more profoundly humiliated by Moscow's key role in brokering
Milosevic's agreement to NATO's peace terms. In a startling display of
independence, Moscow's generals created "facts on the ground" in order to
force NATO's adherence to its own peace agreement.
For in fact the deal offered to Milosevic had been a compromise rather than
a restatement of NATO's original terms. Still insisting that the Western
military alliance had no legal or moral foundation for an act of military
aggression against a sovereign state, Russia had agreed to play the role of
mediator only if the agreement called for an international civil and
security presence in Kosovo under the auspices of the United Nations. By
the terms of the agreement, the security forces would have "substantial
NATO participation," but the civil administration in Kosovo would be under
the direction of the UN Security Council. But once NATO had obtained
Russia's and China's UN votes, it proceeded to act as though
"substantial" participation in the peacekeeping force meant an exclusive
As Moscow (and other observers) saw it, Milosevic's consent had been
obtained not simply by the force of NATO's bombs but also by Russia's
promise that Serb residents and shrines would be safeguarded by Moscow's
own participation in peacekeeping. As NATO moved to freeze them out, the
Russian generals sought to preserve this objective with their military
confrontation. But in the end the more moderate Yeltsin prevailed on his
generals to back down. The ultimate terms for Russian participation kept
its forces under Moscow's command but denied Russia a peacekeeping zone of
Needing economic concessions from the West and seeking to retain surface
harmony, the Russian president has swallowed his pride and backed away from
outright confrontation. But the Yeltsin era is nearing an end, with
critical parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled in Moscow in
the coming year. Polls show that only 2 percent of Russian voters have
confidence in Yeltsin, and that anti-Americanism has exploded in the
population since NATO's bombing campaign. Not the much-touted Slavic
solidarity, but outrage over empty American assurances about
expanded-NATO's purely defensive role and resentment an of apparent
American global hegemonism unified all political factions against NATO's
war and have revived Cold War attitudes in much of the Russian population.
Though economically weak, a nation with more than 9,000 nuclear warheads
should not have its interests so blithely ignored. In the face of the
enormous potential risk of alienating Russia, the benefits of Clinton's
"victory" seem all too ephemeral.
Kosovo Conflict Accelerates Formation of Russia-China Strategic Alliance
0117 GMT, 990625
While Russia and China have, for the past few years, been talking about
forming a strategic alliance to counterbalance U.S. hegemony, the conflict in
Kosovo has driven the two countries together at an unprecedented pace. On May
25, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov denied that Russia and India planned
to establish a three-way strategic axis with China as a reaction to NATO air
war against Yugoslavia. "We are against the return of the Cold War and we are
against separating the world into different blocs. There is no question of
forming an axis of rival competing groups," Ivanov said. Only three weeks
later, on June 14, Russian First Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Mikhailov
said that the Kosovo conflict prompted Moscow to strengthen Russia’s
defensive power and look for strategic partners. Mikhailov said these
partners are India and China. Russia and China, neither able to confront the
U.S. alone, were already moving toward a strategic alliance. Kosovo provided
a catalyst that should facilitate the establishment of a formal alliance
between Moscow and Beijing in the very near future.
On June 22, Moscow agreed to sell 72 Sukhoi Su-30 fighter bombers to China.
This unprecedented sale of front line equipment marks the culmination of a
process underway for the past few years – the process of Russia and China
coming together to oppose U.S. global hegemony. With the sale of these top of
the line aircraft, and an agreement in the works to allow China to produce an
additional 250 Su-30s under license, Russia not only confirms its acceptance
of China as more ally than potential foe, but also lays the groundwork for
broad defense cooperation. At very least, the transfer of three squadrons of
aircraft will involve the exchange of hundreds to thousands of pilots,
technicians, and trainers – more so if China begins production of the
aircraft. China is already preparing to produce 250 Sukhoi Su-27s under
While Russia and China have, for the past few years, been talking about
forming a strategic alliance to counterbalance U.S. hegemony, the conflict in
Kosovo has driven the two countries together at an unprecedented pace. During
their May 24 meeting, Chinese Defense Minister General Chi Haotian and
Russian navy chief, Vladimir Kuroyedov, denounced NATO’s bombing campaign in
Yugoslavia. Kuroyedov told Chi the Russian "government, people, and military
forces firmly opposed NATO’s eastern expansion." The two officials agreed on
the need to expand communication and cooperation between their two navies. On
May 25, Kuroyedov met with Chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People’s
Liberation Army (PLA), Fu Quanyou, who said the two countries had a common
position on the Kosovo issue and reject U.S.-led bombing of Yugoslavia and
the attack on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Fu, who is also a member of
the Central Military Commission, said Russia and China both favored pursuing
a multi-polar world and their responsibility was to preserve world peace and
In order to prepare the second informal Russia-China summit between Russian
President Boris Yeltsin and his Chinese counterpart Jiang Zemin, scheduled to
take place in late October or early November in Beijing, Russian Foreign
Minister Igor Ivanov visited Beijing on June 1 –3. In a joint communiqué
issued after Ivanov’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart Tan Jiaxuan, the
two countries said they did not intend to form a military alliance directed
against any country or a group of states. Russia and China announced,
however, that they had outlined "principles for the development of strategic
partnership ties for the 21st century" and were discussing concrete steps
towards "boosting cooperation in political, trade, economic, military,
cultural, and other fields."
On June 9, the deputy head of China’s Central Military Commission, Zhang
Wannian, held talks in Moscow with Russia’s Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin,
Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, and Secretary of Russia’s Security Council
and Director of the Federal Security Service, Vladimir Putin. At the
beginning of the talks, Stepashin said building a strong strategic
partnership with China was one of his country’s top foreign policy goals. The
two sides again reiterated their condemnation of NATO air attacks on
Yugoslavia and said they would boost their political and military
cooperation. Sergeyev and Zhang voiced their opposition to the development of
two missile defense systems, NMD and TMD, by the United States. Zhang said
that the supply of TMD systems to Taiwan by any country would be seen by
Beijing as an attempt to put the Chinese province into Japan’s sphere of
When meeting with Zhang, Putin said, "in light of the rapidly changing
situation in the world, relations between Russia and China assumed a
strategic nature." Further development of military cooperation and arms trade
was the main topic of the talks between Zhang and the leadership of the
Russian Defense Ministry. Following the talks, the two sides signed a
contract for the training of Chinese military officers in Russia.
During Zhang’s June 14 visit to Vladivostok, Russian First Deputy Defense
Minister Nikolai Mikhailov said that the Kosovo conflict prompted Moscow to
strengthen Russia’s defensive power and look for strategic partners.
Mikhailov said these partners were India and China. The Russian Defense
Ministry said China planned to continue purchasing the newest Russian
military equipment, in particular in the aviation and radar sectors. The
equipment should also include submarines, ships, and cruise missiles. The two
countries said they planned to spend about $ 6 billion by 2005 on joint
military research and development projects. Then, on June 22, Moscow agreed
to sell the 72 Su-30 fighter bombers to China.
In less than a month, the relationship between Beijing and Moscow has gone
from the Russian Foreign Ministry dancing diplomatically around the idea of
forming an explicit power bloc to the Russian Defense Ministry calling for
just such a bloc with China. Moscow and Beijing are now openly voicing their
intention to militarily counterbalance the United States. The two countries
have already taken practical steps toward achieving their proclaimed goal.
Russia will cooperate with China in the area of military training and
research and, most importantly, it will supply Beijing with the newest
military technology, including its front line fighters. Russia and China are
done talking the talk. They’re now walking the walk. The alliance is all but
Russian Ex-Minister Says Chechen War a Mistake
MOSCOW, June 26 (Reuters) - The former defence minister who led Russia's
forces into the disastrous 1994-96 war against the breakaway region of
Chechnya says Moscow's involvement was a mistake, in an interview published
In a rare interview with the official military newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda,
Pavel Grachev said the war that killed tens of thousands was one of three
mistakes during his time as defence minister from 1992 to 1996.
"The third mistake was Chechnya," he said. "I repeat again: I never favoured
the introduction of forces and the beginning of military activity.
"This can clearly be proved from various documents. And many generals and
officers who worked in the general staff at the time can confirm this."
He said the first mistake was moving too slowly to cooperate with the
military leadership of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the second
was failing to convince political leaders of the military manpower levels
needed take account of the country's long borders and other factors.
Moscow was humiliated in the two-year war in Chechnya, which resulted in the
region gaining de facto independence from Russia.
Grachev lost his job in 1996 when President Boris Yeltsin sacked him and
other top officials involved in the Chechen war ahead of presidential
elections. He has kept a low public profile since then.
A burly figure once popular in the ranks for his common touch and heroics
during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Grachev has widely been seen as a
prime mover in persuading Yeltsin to send troops into Chechnya in December
1994 to crush the region's secessionist efforts.
Chechen leaders later mocked Grachev for saying he could take the region's
capital Grozny "in two hours."
Yeltsin has since called the war in Chechnya the biggest mistake of his
career and in May appointed former security official Sergei Stepashin, who
played a central role in the conflict, as prime minister.
Grachev works as an adviser to the head of the state arms export agency
Rosvooruzheniye, although in the interview he said he aspired to higher
"You can't say that my current work does not suit me. But I need more
activity, more space," he said. "I can't get used to working eight hours a
day and having days off. I never had this before."
Union of Russia, Byelorussia to Prove Confederation-Aksyonenko.
By Dmitri Kirsanov
MOSCOW, June 27 (Itar-Tass) -- The process of Russia and Byelorussia
integrating into a single union state was in the focus of the talks Russian
First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksyonenko held in Minsk during his
one-day working visit to the Byelorussian capital on Saturday, Aksyonenko
told reporters on board the plane flying him back to Moscow on Sunday.
Aksyonenko pointed out that the process of reunification "will take long,
probably up to several years." The Union of Russia and Byelorussia is
expected to be based on the principles of a confederation. "It is not about
creating a unitary state," Aksyonenko added.
The first vice-premier told reporters that "the talks left not a single
problem unresolved." Aksyonenko further said that "there will be no
restraints imposed either on the sovereignty of both countries or on
authority of their presidents." He did not exclude a possibility of forming
some supranational governmental body in the future union state. He cited as
an example the European parliament and the European Commission.
According to Aksyonenko, the Union state may have common currency, but it
would take rather long to come to it. At the same time, he noted that a
switch-over to a common monetary and currency system was not to be so very
Aksyonenko said he saw the main stumbling-blocks on the way of the countries'
integration in "the legal registration of the Union and harmonizing the
legislations of Russia and Byelorussia."
Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Meets Public in Kaluga.
KALUGA, June 27 (Itar-Tass) - Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Alexiy II
met the public of Kaluga on Sunday. He is visiting the town to mark the 200th
anniversary of the Kaluga eparchy.
The Patriarch spoke of the mounting role of the Church in the life of society
and the demand for centuries-long Orthodox experience of raising younger
The general educational and intellectual level of the citizens of Russia has
much risen and "an Orthodox pastor shall not only have a profound knowledge
of theology but also be well- aware of the public-political life of the
country," the Patriarch said. "Throughout its history, the Church has been
together with the people in the time of joy and the time of trial. That
invariable principle of Orthodoxy is now topical as never before. We must
revive both the Church life and the social service of the Church, restore the
traditions of mercy and charity and lay down a basis for the spiritual
education of children," the Patriarch stressed.
"Much is being said about problems of the younger generation, and the most
difficult problem is narcotic drugs. Its solution is hampered by the
spiritual emptiness, the disconnection and the washed out moral orientation
of the youth," the Patriarch said. "The Church and the school must pool
efforts in the process of education and work out joint methods of the
spiritual and moral training of the younger generation."
The Russian Ministry of Education and the Moscow Patriarchate have formed a
joint coordinating committee to develop the cooperation. "Our society risks
losing its future if we do not pool efforts to strengthen the family and to
stop the propaganda of debauchery," the Patriarch said.
Communists Not to Have Majority in New Duma-Khristenko.
SARATOV, June 26 (Itar-Tass) - First Vice-Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko
said the Communist Party will not have a majority in the new State Duma after
elections in December 1999.
"The Communist Party will be represented in the future Duma. However, it will
not preserve its present majority," Khristenko said after his meeting with
Saratov region governor Dmitry Ayatskov on Saturday.
He believes that the Yabloko movement of Grigory Yavlinsky will undoubtedly
have representation the Duma. As for other political parties and movements,
"the situation (with them) is more complex and depends on the current
processes in the political arena in Russia."
Khristenko believes that the situation on both sides of the political
spectrum is characterised by the tendency towards creating new public and
political associations whose heads seek leadership and an independent role in
the formation of the new Duma.
He noted that the right-wingers are trying to consolidate and if they
succeed, the Communist Party is likely to lose its majority in the
"I would like very much to believe in this," he said.
Official: National Russian oil company not a good idea
Sunday, June 27, 1999
The planned creation of a Russian national oil company through a merger of
three oil giants will cause more harm than good, a top government minister
The previous government announced plans earlier this year to form an oil
company that would own some of the world's largest reserves of prospected
oil. State-owned oil company Rosneft, state-controlled Onako and the
Russian-Belarusian joint venture Slavneft would form its core.
``The proposed merger ... will bring more trouble than benefit,'' First
Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksyonenko told reporters Sunday, the ITAR-Tass
news agency reported.
Aksyonenko did not indicate that the merger would be abandoned, but said work
on establishing a national oil company had dropped to a low priority for the
Aksyonenko was speaking in Moscow upon return from the Belarusian capital
Minsk, where he met with officials from Slavneft. They had apparently
expressed concern about their _ and Belarus' _ role in the new company,
Aksyonenko, a former railroad chief, unexpectedly vaulted to the first deputy
premier post in a government shakeup last month.
The Russian government would own 75 percent of the new company, which could
extract 58 million tons (425 million barrels) of oil annually, officials say.
The national oil company would also be open to mergers with other Russian
companies that have struggled because of low global oil prices and Russia's
economic meltdown last year.
to CDI's Home Page I Return
to CDI's Library