Center for Defense Information
Research Topics
CDI Library
What's New
CDI Library > Johnson's Russia List

Johnson's Russia List


April 12, 2000    
This Date's Issues: 4453 4454  


Johnson's Russia Lit
12 August 2000

[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Putin wants end to dispute over military reforms.


4. RFE/RL: Paul Goble, Demonization And Its Discontents.
5. Voice of America: Worldnet program on RUSSIA UNDER PUTIN.
(Robert Reilly with Anders Aslund, Paul Goble and Ariel Cohen)

(Foreign policy questions for Sergei KARAGANOV, Viktor SERGEYEV,
Vladimir LUKIN, Kamaludin GADZHIYEV, and Mikhail DELYAGIN)]


Putin wants end to dispute over military reforms
August 11, 2000
By Martin Nesirky

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin told his Security Council
Friday he wanted to end a damaging defense dispute over military reforms
that could change the face of Russia's armed forces and nuclear arsenal. 

Russian news agencies said the Security Council meeting, chaired by Putin
and covering controversial changes that would mark a shift in strategy,
started at 5:00 p.m. (1300 GMT). It is likely to last well into the evening. 

``I have been rather patient with regard to the discussions inside the
defense establishment and in general,'' Interfax news agency quoted Putin
as saying at the start of the meeting. 

``That's okay. But today we must draw a line under this discussion and take
a balanced decision and draft a plan to bring it about.'' 

Thursday, a Defense Ministry source told Reuters the Security Council --
which has an advisory but influential role -- was likely to urge Putin to
cut land-based nuclear missiles and merge the rest of the Strategic Rocket
Forces responsible for them with the air force, as in the United States. 


That would be part of a much larger restructuring of the armed forces from
2001 and could involve cuts in troop numbers from 1.2 million to 900,000.
The aim is to cut costs and divert savings to conventional forces. 

``The well-being of our citizens as well as the state's security depends on
the right solution,'' Putin said in televised remarks. ``We already spend
huge amounts on defense needs.'' 

The reform proposals, if Putin backs them, would be a lop-sided compromise
in a surprisingly public dispute between Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev and
the Chief of General Staff, Anatoly Kvashnin. 

In his opening remarks, Putin did not say what form the changes would take
but he said they had to be properly funded. 

``Otherwise they will be carried out just as the military reforms have been
in the past 10 years,'' he said, alluding to the intermittent, half-hearted
nature of the changes under his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin. 

Putin said defense spending was far from perfect, with pilots rarely flying
and sailors shore-bound for lack of funds. 


But he said it would be wrong to build up a vast arsenal of weapons. He
said that had been one reason for the collapse of the Soviet Union and that
many of those weapons were now in enemy hands, being used against Russian
troops in Chechnya. 

``Our task is to work out the future development of the armed forces up to
2015, taking into account the state's needs and means,'' Itar-Tass news
agency quoted Putin as saying. ``All our actions should be economically

If the proposals are accepted, they would mark a major shift in strategy
and result in three branches of the military -- land, sea and air -- rather
than four, including the Strategic Rocket Forces. 

Kvashnin has favoured deep cuts in the Strategic Rocket Forces and a merger
with or even absorption into the air force as a way to divert cash to
ground troops. Sergeyev has argued against major missile cuts and for a
merger of all three nuclear wings under one command, but not the air force's. 

While Kvashnin does not look to have got his way entirely, he appears to
have gained the upper hand over Sergeyev, a former missile commander. 

But Putin's remarks at the start of the meeting were a barely veiled rebuke
to both of them. 

Kvashnin has made little secret of his desire to succeed Sergeyev, although
Putin is unlikely to reshuffle the military leadership at Friday's meeting.
There have been rumours he might ditch both men and appoint a civilian
defense minister. 

The reforms would lead to a greater emphasis on the hitherto neglected
submarine-based deterrent and be tacit acknowledgement that Russia cannot
afford to keep a superpower-size arsenal. 

Defense experts say Russia has about 750 intercontinental ballistic
missiles, most in silos or on mobile launchers. A few dozen are
railway-based. All but 20 were deployed more than a decade ago before the
Soviet Union collapsed. 

There are about 3,500 land-based warheads. Submarine-launched and
air-launched cruise missiles or bombs bring the total number of warheads to
about 6,000. 

The overall number could be cut as low as 1,500, the Defense Ministry
source said. That would be in line with or even below Russian proposals for
START-3 arms talks with the United States.


Source: NTV, Moscow, in Russian 0430 gmt 11 Aug 00

[Presenter] Today Russian Security Council will gather in the Kremlin. The 
reform of the armed forces is the main item on the agenda. 

[Omitted: known details of debate on reform] 

[Presenter] The guest of our studio in Red Square is former Security 
Secretary and Russian State Duma Deputy Andrey Kokoshin. Good morning, Andrey 

[Kokoshin] Good morning. 

[Presenter] Do you expect the debate around the Strategic Missile Troops to 
stop after today's Security Council session? 

[Kokoshin] Well, it can be expected, although I believe that [Chief of 
General Staff Anatoliy] Kvashnin's proposals are broader and more large-scale 
that just the issue of the future of the Troops. In fact, he has come forward 
with his variant of the reform. I believe that this should have been done but 
not in the form it had taken from the very beginning - I mean the public 
nature of the debate between the Defence Minister and the Chief of General 

[Presenter] What is to be done to stop the debate? To avoid another scandal? 

[Kokoshin] I believe that the Security Council and the president should set 
clear benchmarks for the army reform we have started more than once but was 
bogged down in redtape or in sabotaging the president's decisions. Among them 
I can name the decisions I was trying to reach in 1997-98. 

First and foremost, we should decide on defence expenses. Some time ago we 
tried hard to have the president decide [as received] on 3.5 per cent of the 
GDP to be spent on defence purposes until the end of the new decade. However, 
this decision was not put into practice. What we have now is 2.6 per cent of 
the GDP, which means that the military budget is losing 60bn dollars [as 
heard]. We should define ways of compensating the money. We should allot 
money for combat training which is not even mentioned in the national defence 
budget. It is necessary that servicemen's pay and allowances be considerably 
increased. It is necessary to implement the budget and increase expenses on 
research and development, to set the future of the armed forces' rearmament. 

I do hope that today's meeting will discuss the main positions on the topic 
if not take decisions. Within the framework of these decisions, other issues 
related to nuclear, and not only nuclear, restraint of aggression should be 
decided on. 

In my opinion, there is too much attention paid to the Strategic Missile 
Troops as such. We should be talking about the sea-launched and the 
air-launched components of nuclear forces. We should integrate everything, we 
should take into account every warhead to secure the nuclear shield. 

The additional R60bn [as heard] we could have received for the armed forces 
and defence industry - is a very important issue. 

[Presenter] Thank you very much. 

[Kokoshin] You are welcome. 


Source: Kavkaz-Tsentr web site, in Russian 11 Aug 00 

11th August: The blast which occurred in Moscow's Pushkinskaya Ploshchad 
[Pushkin Square] is the work of the Kremlin, the prime minister of the 
Islamic Government of Dagestan, Sirazhdin Ramazanov, has said. He recalled 
that back in August 1999 the joint command of the Dagestani mojahedin warned 
that preparations were under way for terrorist acts in Russian towns. 
Afterwards there were explosions in Moscow and Volgodonsk. The Dagestani side 
directly indicated that terrorist acts would be organized by the Russian 
Federal Security Service. 

Sirazhdin Ramazanov stressed that the security service of the Islamic 
government had information about the Federal Security Service preparing 
several other terrorist acts in towns in central Russia. Public transport and 
hospitals might be the targets of these attacks. 

Sirazhdin Ramazanov said that according to his information, the perpetrators 
of these actions might be Avars and Dargins from among criminal elements who 
are promised freedom in return for their services to the Federal Security 

In addition, it is assumed that some perpetrators will be detained and 
proclaimed so-called Wahhabis who underwent training in "[Chechen commander] 
Khattab's camps". Sirazhdin Ramazanov did not rule out that the Federal 
Security Service might organize a large terrorist act in Makhachkala [capital 
of Dagestan]. Information about this is available and being checked 
currently. The aim of the terrorist act in Makhachkala is to arouse 
anti-Chechen and anti-Islamic hysteria. The Russians will continue to attempt 
to split the Muslims of Chechnya and Dagestan, Sirazhdin Ramazanov believes. 


Russia: Analysis From Washington -- Demonization And Its Discontents
By Paul Goble

Washington, 11 August 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Tuesday's explosion in Moscow has 
thrown into high relief the gulf that exists in Russia between those who are 
prepared to play on prejudices against the Chechens and those who recognize 
the dangers of demonizing an entire people. 

Immediately after the blast, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov said that there were 
"many indications" that Chechen rebels were responsible for the bombing. But 
less than 24 hours later, President Vladimir Putin backed away from such 
assertions when he noted on national television that "it is very wrong when 
we brand one nation, because criminals, terrorists above all, do not have a 
nation or a belief." 

This difference in approach reflects a longstanding difference in the 
attitudes and calculations of the two men. Since at least October 1993, 
Luzhkov has played on the prejudices of some Russians against people from the 
North Caucasus. In the wake of the conflict between then-President Boris 
Yeltsin and the country's parliament, Luzhkov issued a decree expelling from 
the Russian capital "people of Caucasian nationality."

He has regularly invoked its provisions in the years since that time, most 
recently during what was called Operation Whirlwind at the start of Moscow's 
second campaign in Chechnya. And because his decree was enforced with the 
assistance of federal authorities, many other localities followed his lead 
and sought to deflect popular anger by moving against the Chechens.

And Luzhkov's playing to popular prejudice and extremist nationalist 
attitudes in this case appears to be part and parcel of his larger agenda 
which has included demands that Moscow seek the return to Russia of all or 
part of Crimea from Ukraine.

Whatever his personal views, Putin by way of contrast has been much more 
cautious in this regard.

Part of the reason for that appears to lie in his understanding that sweeping 
attacks on the Chechens as a whole, or on Muslims as a group, could 
complicate Russia's relationship with the West and with Muslim countries as 
well as Moscow's ties with its own, increasingly numerous Muslim minorities. 
When he launched the campaign in Chechnya last year, he initially made some 
sweeping statements about the Chechen nation, but he quickly backed away when 
it was pointed out that such remarks which suggested that Moscow was 
interested in exterminating the Chechens as a group were not playing well 
either in the Middle East or in Western Europe.

Another reason for Putin's caution appears to be his understanding that a 
broad attack on the Chechens as a whole has the effect of driving those 
Chechens who might be willing to cooperate with Moscow into the hands of 
pro-independence Chechen groups and thus of complicating his efforts to end 
what he has called his campaign against terrorism. 

Indeed, immediately after this week's explosion, Shamil Beno, an official in 
the pro-Moscow Chechen interim administration, said very publicly that 
comments like those of Luzhkov threaten stability both "in Chechnya and in 
Moscow itself." Beno's words were echoed by other Chechens, including those 
opposed to Moscow's rule in that North Caucasian republic.

And yet a third reason for Putin's relatively cautious approach is that many 
Russians are not persuaded by official charges that the Chechens are 
responsible for this or earlier terrorist acts in the Russian Federation. 
A poll released two weeks ago, for example, found that 50 percent of Russians 
did not believe government claims that the Chechens were behind the attacks 
on apartment buildings in Russian cities a year ago. And a survey of more 
than 5,000 Russians the day after the bombing found that slightly more than 
one-third of them did not think that the Chechens were to blame for the 
latest explosion. 

These poll results suggest that many Russians are not prepared to accept 
charges like those made by Luzhkov without evidence. Many appear to take this 
position because they believe that the authorities must offer real evidence 
first while others do so because they fear, on the basis of past experience, 
that sweeping attacks on the Chechens could lead to attacks on other groups 
or become the justification for a new authoritarianism.

For all these reasons, Putin's reaction to the explosion in Moscow this week 
is likely to prove more politically prudent than the dramatic comments of 
Luzhkov, evidence of both the Russian president's pragmatism and the 
increasing unwillingness of Russian citizens to accept in the absence of 
clear evidence whatever the authorities say about Chechnya -- or indeed, 
about anything else. 


Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2000 
From: Bob Reilly <breilly@IBB.GOV>
Organization: U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau
Subject: On the Line VOA/Worldnet program/RUSSIA UNDER PUTIN

Dear Mr. Johnson,
I thought the script to this recent VOA/Worldnet program would be of
interest to your subscirbers.
Best regards, 
Bob Reilly

Voice of America

Anncr: On the Line - a discussion of United States policy and contemporary
issues. This week, "Russia Under Putin." Here is your host, Robert Reilly.

Host: Hello and welcome to On the Line.
Since winning election in March, Russian President Valdimir Putin has moved
quickly to consolidate power and reassert Russian influence abroad. At
home, he has reined in Russia's regional leaders and vigorously prosecuted
the war in Chechnya. Earlier in the summer, the arrest of Vladimir
Gusinsky, the owner of Russia's only independent television network, was
taken as further evidence of a crackdown on the press, even though Mr.
Gusinsky was subsequently released. Mr. Putin has sought to reinvigorate
Russian diplomacy with trips to China and North Korea. Some observers worry
that Mr. Putin is showing authoritarian tendencies. Others say that,
without a basic reorganization of the Russian government, further reform
would be impossible.

Joining me today to discuss Russia under President Putin are three experts.
Anders Aslund is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace. Paul Goble is director of Communications and
Technology at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and a former State Department
specialist on the Soviet Union. And Ariel Cohen is a senior policy analyst
at the Heritage Foundation and author of Russian Imperialism: Development
and Crisis. Welcome to the program. 

Anders Aslund, this far into Mr. Putin's presidency, how do you rate him in
the area of your specialty, which is Russian economic reform?

Aslund: I think it is quite incredible how much he has done. He has shown
an extraordinary political ability to get everything through on the tax

Host: Everything being?

Aslund: In particular, the thirteen percent flat tax, the income tax for
next year, cutting the payroll tax quite substantially, and getting the
second part of the tax code through the Duma and the Federation Council,
which means that the Russian tax system will be cleaned up. This is the big
tax reform that we have been waiting for for years that has now been done
in no time.

Host: Paul Goble, from the political side, how do you assess these changes
in terms of the 
Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, the consolidation of
power from the regional governors, and other political changes?

Goble: In his first few months, President Putin has certainly achieved a
lot on paper. There have been a lot of laws passed. There have been a lot
of decrees issued. Some of them point in a good direction, some in a bad.
But the problem is that a lot of them have not been implemented yet, and
there is an awful lot of resistance.

Host: Isn't that the whole point of his reforms, streamlining the
government so these things can be implemented?

Goble: If he wants to implement everything he talks about, it could be very
frightening. Just greater efficiency, just greater order, by themselves are
not virtues. It is what purposes you are going to put that greater
efficiency and greater order to. People make a very good case that Russia
has been in such disorder that some reestablishment of order is a necessary
precondition. The question is: is this reestablishment of order under Putin
going to lead to the foundation of a more open, civil society, or is it
going to be the basis for a return to a more authoritarian political system
as Russians have known in the past.

Host: And what is the answer to that question?

Goble: My view right now is that there are too many disturbing signs that
he is prepared to go back to much more authoritarian approaches than we had
had in the last few years. 

Host: Let me take a quote, in which President Putin said, "Russia was
founded as a super-centralized state from the very start. This is inherent
in its genetic code, traditions, and mentality." Actually that was said
before the March elections. Does a statement like that worry you, Ariel Cohen?

Cohen: Yes, of course. With what we have seen so far, just building on what
Paul Goble mentioned, is a crackdown on the media, the forcing of the sale
of the only independent T-V channel [N-T-V] and independently held media
company to Gazprom, on the board of which the representatives of the
Russian government are a majority. So it will be indirectly state-owned.

Host: Do you mean Media Most?

Cohen: The Media Most sale.

Host: May I ask you, in addition to Mr. Vladimir Gusinsky's arrest, who was
then released, President Putin is saying that a free press is essential to
the development of democracy.

Cohen: A free press is not achieved by apparently forcing the owner to sell
to the government. Furthermore, we have news that an environmental
activist, Mr. [Alexander] Nikitin, may be retried after the Supreme Court
of Russia basically forced his acquittal. We see statements by Putin's
close political allies and advisers that Russia is moving to something they
call a managed democracy. It will be managed by the Kremlin. So both
internally and externally in the area of national security, defense and
foreign policy, we see rapprochement with North Korea, a trip to Libya, a
visit from Iraqi officials, a visit from Serbian officials who are under
sanctions, and Putin's incessant talking up of the navy as basically, of
the major military services, for power projection.

Host: Let me get Anders Aslund's response to that. Are you disturbed by
this recentralization of power? Or do you see it as essential to implement

Aslund: Let me put it like this. I do not think that Putin's instincts are
very democratic. But I think that Russian society is sufficiently strongly
pluralist to take this down. And I think that the Gusinsky affair is a good
case. It generated an enormous outrage, and Gusinsky was freed after three
days. Gusinsky has financial problems. In any case, this is a man who has
invested a lot and has got far too little revenue. So I think that Gusinsky
is a person who anyhow would go bankrupt, after seeing his business strategy.

Goble: Putting him in jail did not help.

Aslund: No, but what we heard then was that he is going after Gusinsky
because Gusinsky is against him. And after that Putin has quickly moved
against all the oligarchs. And all these people have made money in not very
acceptable ways. And Putin has done more against more of them than anybody
could have expected. So my sense is the governors need to be reined in.
They are being reined in and they are becoming accountable. This is fully
democratic. There are quite a few statements, as you say, Ariel, that are
not acceptable. Yes, it is unfortunate that the K-G-B people are there. I
think that they will be reined in.

Host: Paul Goble?

Goble: Anders makes a very good point. Putin's intentions, Putin's personal
style, is not democratic. This is a man whom we know more about than any
Russian leader in a very long time, when he is just entering office. His
impulses, his statements, are very disturbing. The question is whether he
can implement those things. The question is: where is Russian society? Some
people see the events of the last decade as having created a countervailing
power that no one can resist. Other people don't. My own guess is that it
is sector by sector. I'm very disturbed by what is happening in the
electronic media. The moves against the oligarchs who did use the media to
promote their own interests but also created some balance within the press,
is very frightening because if there is no competitive media, there will
not be a competitive politics. The fact that he chose to make a deal with
the Communists early on, with the Unity faction and the Communists, who, in
effect, froze out competitive fights at the parliamentary level raised real
problems with where he is going. I don't think he can control the governors.

Host: On the other hand, he now has a Duma that has passed, as Anders
Aslund said, this quite extraordinary thirteen percent flat tax.

Cohen: Nobody is saying Putin is going back to the Communist model of
economy. I agree with Anders Aslund fully that we are not going back to a
1985 economic model. There are these things in Russia that are worrisome.
And in terms of the governors that have to be reined in - Anders, among
other things, what I do is the rule of law. And unfortunately, the ability
of the president through the prosecutor general, whom he controls, in a
country that does not really have an independent judiciary, to fire
governors on the pretense of either a criminal investigation or one
violation of the federal laws - this is not a rule of law. This is
vertical control and the Kremlin is talking about reinstating vertical
executive power and that power is very quickly becoming pretty much the
dominant, the hegemonic political power. There are no checks and balances,
or these checks and balances are being dismantled by Mr. Putin.

Host: I just want to remind our audience that this is "On the Line." And we
are discussing today Russia under president Putin with Anders Aslund from
the Carnegie Endowment, Paul Goble from R-F-E/R-L, and Ariel Cohen from the
Heritage Foundation. Anders, do want to respond to that remark from Ariel

Aslund: Yes. What we are seeing in Russia is an enormous reaction, which
shows that there are checks and balances. To me, Putin is pretty easy to
read. This is a man who looks upon the marginal cost and the marginal
utility of each action. And he is very politically skillful. He won't do
these stupid things because they cost too much, because you would have too
good an argument against him if he really did it. So therefore he won't
give you that pleasure. He will stop short of it.

Host: Paul Goble?

Goble: He is not living within the constitution, not living within
democratic principles, but in terms of what one can get away with. Gusinsky
was released relatively quickly because there was an international outcry
about him. Had some other oligarch gone down, people in the West would have
pointed to the corruption that they were involved in. On the Chechen war,
which was very popular initially, it is a lot less popular right now. The
polls from Russia suggest that more people would like to see negotiations
than a continuation of the fighting.

Host: On the other hand, President Putin's popularity continues in the
stratospheric realm.

Goble: I think that is largely, one, name recognition and two, the fact
that he has been on the international stage. And I think many Russians like
the idea of a leader who looks vigorous and is prepared to stand up for
Russia. I think that is a very popular thing in most countries. On the
other hand, if you go beyond this generic feeling that here is a strong
leader and start asking about specific policies and specific approaches,
Putin's support is a whole lot less, not only in Moscow, but elsewhere.

Host: But in terms of the rule of law, Ariel Cohen, when you listen to
President Putin speak and he says, our strategic policy is the following:
Less administration, more free enterprise, more freedom to produce, to
trade, to invest. And he recognizes quite clearly that "high taxes,
arbitrary actions of functionaries and criminal elements" have been the
things that have undermined the Russian economy. So isn't his theoretical
grasp of the problem right on the mark?

Cohen: Well, maybe theoretically, maybe in the realm of words, but in the
realm of deeds, it looks like - actually while moving on all fronts
simultaneously, Putin manages to create more mess and more political
instability than a managed, a more deliberate, slower reform that played up
the strengths of the emerging civil society, played up the strengths of the
judiciary -- that would be much more helpful.

Host: But what about the economy, when you have seven percent growth,
inflation under twenty percent and the tax reform? 

Cohen: The Russian leadership recognized, starting from Mr. Putin himself,
Prime Minister [Mikhail] Kasyanov, Deputy Prime Minister [Alexey] Kudrin,
that the so-called prosperity is driven by oil revenues. It is a ripple
effect of the 1998 devaluation. The Russians are very concerned that there
will be a slowdown. And once there is a slowdown and the revenue to the
government declines, it's more difficult to prosecute the war in Chechnya.
It's difficult already. It's more difficult to fuel the economy through
military orders. I don't think that policy is going to work. So I think the
instability in the regions with the regional elite's being alienated, with
the media elite being alienated, the ongoing war in Chechnya, this all
builds up the potential of a crashing failure for Putin maybe two or three
years from now.

Host: Is that true in the economy, Anders Aslund?

Aslund: I don't agree at all here. What we are seeing is that the economy
is really booming ahead. The consensus forecast for this year is that
there would be growth of one to two percent. So far, it has been over seven
percent this year. Clearly, it won't be less than six percent.

Host: What about Ariel Cohen's statement that this is driven by higher oil

Aslund: Of course, it helps and the devaluation helps. But that is not all
of it. Barter has fallen by almost half. Arrears are totally under control
and have fallen in real terms by three-quarters. Bankruptcies have risen.
What we are seeing now is a sharp real restructuring. The industries that
are moving ahead most - it's light industry; it's metallurgy; it's
pharmaceuticals. This is not an oil and gas boom we are seeing in the
economy. It is something much more. And we are seeing now that
transportation, retail trade and everything is growing at a pace with G-D-P
[gross domestic product]. And the government is talking it down so that
they don't create big expectations.

Cohen: There is news coming out that the tax cut is aimed at getting the
economy out of the gray and black sector into the light and then they are
going to raise the taxes. I hope this is just the rumor mill in Moscow.

Aslund: Deputy Prime Minster [Victor] Christenko said the other day that
the thirteen percent flat tax will stay constant for three years for certain.

Host: I want to make sure we get to the subject of how President Putin is
going about reasserting Russia's role in the world because of his
performance at the G-8 summit in Japan, his appearance in North Korea,
China, and, as Ariel Cohen mentioned, an upcoming trip to Libya. What does
this all mean?

Goble: I think you have to look at two different parts of what Putin is
trying to do. On the one hand, I think that most of the leaders of the G-7
countries were very impressed that finally we have a Russian leader who
does not just bluster, who is well briefed, who is very disciplined, who is
able to interact with people at the highest levels and do it quite capably.
They may not agree with him, but this is a much more effective leader than
Boris Yeltsin was at the end. And I think that the evaluations that we've
heard coming after Okinawa is that this is an effective leader. Not that
this is necessarily a man who is going to do what we want or what we would
like to see. The other half of the picture, which I think is very much more
disturbing, involves Putin's effort to make the alliance of the aggrieved.
All of the countries that have been sort of on the outs with the West have
been the particular object of Mr. Putin's attentions. He has received the
Serbian representatives, despite international sanctions against them. The
Iraqis have been in Moscow, Tareq Aziz last week. You have a possible Putin
visit to Libya. You have Putin going to North Korea. You have all the
countries that have been identified as rogue states, or now "states of
concern" in Washington, are where Putin is going to. That isn't a very
attractive view from the point of view of the Western powers when you see
the Russian government not building alliances so much with Germany or
France or Britain, but alliances with the people who are angry at the
international community. And that raises serious problems.

Host: Why is he doing that, Ariel Cohen, when the thing he needs the most
is investment from the West?

Cohen: I think Putin is trying to alleviate Russian weakness by playing up
Russian strengths in the developing countries, especially in "states of
concern." We did not mention Iran yet. Russia is building up the Iranian
nuclear potential, including the nuclear power stations, the Iranian navy,
supplying submarines and, allegedly, according to some reliable
publications, is selling nuclear weapons technology to Iran. If this is the
case and Iran goes nuclear with Russian help, it changes the prognosis for
the oil prices. It changes the ability of Iran to block exports of oil from
the Persian Gulf. It may change the global economic situation. And Russia,
of course, benefits because Russia is a high price oil exporter. Prices for
oil from thirty to forty dollars would benefit Russia. 

Host: As Russia is also selling a lot of military high technology to China,
Anders Aslund, are they doing this just because they need the hard
currency, or is there some strategy behind this that they wish to
complicate the world for the only remaining superpower, the United States? 

Aslund: If you are in Putin's position and you want to utilize the cards
you have, which are the unused cards, there might be a more benign
interpretation of it. But I keep it open for the time being. It looks very
much like Putin is going where he does not see any resistance. We can see
with regard to the Western countries that it was a clear priority list. Who
has said the least about Chechnya - Japan - comes first. Who has made the
second least amount of trouble, Britain; third, the U.S. And then, France
misbehaved most; it came last. So I think that it is very much going for
the least resistance and trying to exploit potentials that have not been
utilized, but the question remains: is this malign or just opportunism?

Host: And what is the answer to that, Paul Goble?

Goble: I think it is both. I think that, on the one hand, Putin wants to
use these attachments to put pressure on the major Western countries to be
more agreeable. Clearly, there was a signal after the G-7.

Host: What would be more agreeable?

Goble: For example, that you have something to trade away. If you are doing
something that people don't like, you can offer to stop it in exchange for
considerations of various kinds. That's what a weaker power has to do. This
is the [Foreign Minister Prince Alexander] Gorchakov strategy of
late-nineteenth century Russia revived at the beginning of the twenty-first
century. The problem is, though, as governments always discover, you find
yourself often controlled by your client states. The states that you are
reaching out to end up getting you involved in things far beyond what you
may want. And your ability to back away from them in a particular case is a
lot less than you would like. So I think that, while Putin may or may not
have a malign intent - I tend to think he does - the involvement with these
kind of countries, at least in the next five years or so, is going to lead
to a malign confrontation with Western countries and especially the U.S.

Host: I'm afraid that's all the time we have this week. I would like to
thank our guests -Anders Aslund from the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace; Paul Goble from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; and
Ariel Cohen from the Heritage Foundation -- for joining me to discuss
Russia under President Putin. This is Robert Reilly for On the Line. 


Moskovsky Komsomolets
August 8, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
Which way is more advantageous for Russia: towards the 
East or towards the West? 

Sergei KARAGANOV, head of the Council for Foreign Defence 
- The question of whether our country must go East or West 
is a traditional question. However, it is inadequate.
Russia has no choice - whether to go East or West. Our country 
must pursue an active policy in both directions.
Unfortunately, in the last few decades, beginning with the 
1960s and partly in the 1990s, Russia did not carry out an 
active policy in the East. This direction was lost for us.
Over these years the West and the East have become a single 
whole in many respects. Russia, however, has lost 70 or 80 
years of history. While the West and the East have come closer 
to each other, we have remained at the same level. Over that 
time, especially after the war, the eastern countries have made 
a big leap forward. Although differing by the methods of 
development, Japan, Korea and China are similar in the 
directions of their efforts. So, today this question is 
senseless in many respects. But historically Russia is linked 
with the West. As soon as it rolls back from it, it gets into a 
twisted state as a large centre of gravity exists there. 
Russia is now carrying out the policy of the 21st century 
but in many respects, both in social and economic terms, we are 
still at the beginning of the 20th century. The problem of 
contemporary Russia is not its movement towards some direction 
but its economic growth and the search for its ideals. Each big 
country must have its own way. Germany and the USA have their 
own way. We need it all the more so as Russia is not waited 
anywhere or invited to any organisation, especially today. But 
the worst role which Russia may choose is the role of a buffer 
between the West and the South, the repetition of the 
Mongol-Tartar developments. Afghanistan, Pakistan and India are 
the region which irradiates instability. But we cannot but 
carry out an active policy there. 

Some think that Russia is still a great power while others 
believe that we have long been referred to third world 
countries. Can Russia, in your opinion, return the lost status? 
What is necessary for this? 
Viktor SERGEYEV, an expert of the Fund of Strategic 
Developments, director of the Centre of International Studies, 
Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the 
Russian Federation: 
- I believe that while Russia possesses nuclear 
containment forces, it will not lose in the near future the 
status of a great power. Of course, if the economic situation 
develops the way it developed in the 1990s, Russia will in the 
final account lose its former position. So far, the former 
status helps us very much. The position of the West on Chechnya 
did not develop according to the Kosovo scenario only thanks to 
our nuclear containment forces. 
It is true, though, that many politicians confuse imperial 
ambitions with the status of the great power. The first means 
the imposition of a country's point of view on other states of 
the world and the second means impossibility to solve a 
pressing international issue without taking into account its 
opinion. Of course, a great power may sink into an overt abuse 
of imperial ambitions as the USA does, for example. However, it 
is inappropriate for Russia to demonstrate its imperial 
ambitions in the coming years. 
To preserve the status of a great power, military force 
alone is not enough in contemporary world. As distinct from the 
past when the might of a state depended on the number of 
soldiers, the technological equipping of the army is of 
decisive significance today. We all remember the surprising 
victories of Israel over Arabs and the Falkland crushing defeat 
of the 15,000-strong Argentine force by 1,800 British marines. 
To sum it up, in addition to its multi-million army Russia 
needs an economic breakthrough. Let us take Japan whose 
military budget accounts for 1% of the national budget. Of 
course, at first this money was not enough. However, today the 
Japanese economy can be compared to the US economy by its size 
and the army of the country of the rising sun is one of the 
strongest in the world. 
In my opinion, to develop the potential which Russia 
acquired in the 20th century at the expense of great sacrifices 
and undermined in the 1990s, it needs to develop economic 
market institutes. I mean, first of all, the banking system. 
Without the existence of normal banks, no one would invest 
money in Russia. We shan't be able to make even Russian 
depositors invest into the country's development without these 
institutes. Secondly, we need to have normal stock exchanges - 
a barometer for investors. You can judge for yourself: you 
can't invest funds in a factory without knowing its real value. 
We have all the rest for economic growth. First of all, 
this is the huge human potential. Russia remains one of the 
most educated countries in the world. Why can't, for example, 
developing countries catch up with the developed ones? This is 
because they do not have well-educated specialists capable of 
developing technologies. A lot of money is needed to train 
them. For example, if Russia had had the same level of 
education as in 1913, several dozen trillion US dollars would 
have been required to bring it to modern standards. Apart from 
that, as distinct from the developing countries, Russia has the 
requisite infrastructure for economic growth. We don't have to 
build factories, ports, aerodromes, hotels, etc. What has to be 
done is only to create normal market institutions that would 
enable the economy to grow at the rate of 10% annually during 
the next 10-15 years. These rates are necessary for Russia to 
keep its status of a great power and preserve a country as 
such. Stagnation is very dangerous for Russia. It may lead to 
the disintegration of the state. 

What niche does Russia hold in the world? How will the 
West react, if Russia begins to get clearly oriented to the 
Vladimir LUKIN, vice-speaker of the State Duma, Yabloko 
- Russia's niche in the world is ambiguous today. It is 
based on two things: the real forces of contemporary Russia and 
recollections of the former might of the USSR.
Unfortunately or fortunately, the shadow of Hamlet's father is 
still present on the world scene. Objectively, today Russia is 
treated with greater respect than it deserves, if we proceed 
from its economic and technological assets. Apart from that, 
the nuclear factor, of course, also plays a considerable role:
if anything happens we can smash everyone. Although they do not 
think so badly about us, they still take this fact into 
account. It is not possible to speak about any uniform opinion 
of the West and the USA about Russia. The West has too many 
faces. There are a lot of centres of influence and interests in 
the USA, too. But speaking in very general terms, Russia is 
considered as an important factor in the sphere of security.
Their internal discussion is about whether Russia is a factor 
of stability or a revisionist factor, the same as was Germany 
in the late 1920s and the early 1930s. Contradictory 
conceptions in relation to Russia are the reaction to this 
unsolvable dilemma: the combination of containment with 
At the same time, no country is ready to make room on the 
world scene, including the USA. America, of course, may decide 
that Russia's participation is useful in some definite actions 
and will even be ready to share positions with it. But in the 
last few years the following trend has revealed itself in the 
USA: to seek such share-in patterns ever less frequently and 
aspire ever more frequently for unilateral actions. This does 
not exclude, however, a light and superficial imitation of 
collective actions. 
As for the orientation to the East, the West will perceive 
this as a big folly on the part of Russia. The most interesting 
thing is that such policy is perceived as nothing else but 
pro-Western because it means something like a capitulation to 
the West in the entire space. And this throws the whole of 
Europe up to Kiev into the arms of America.
Besides, this policy does not hold prospects because we are not 
the most needed partner for the East. We need an active but not 
an exclusive eastern policy. 

Is the USA ready to make some room for Russia on the world 
scene? Will it allow it to occupy more or less significant 
place in the world? 
Kamaludin GADZHIYEV, professor the Institute of the World 
Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of 
- There is an opinion that the USA has remained proudly 
alone at the top of power over contemporary world where it can 
do everything it wants and that the USA is a world policeman.
To my mind, this is not quite so. The USA today is one of 
equitable partners of the other centres of power: Japan, China 
and Russia, the military might of which, from the viewpoint of 
mutual destruction, is equal to the military might of the USA.
The only power of the world, which can today reduce to ashes 
the USA from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean is Russia. And 
this will be so, until Russia has the possibility to destroy 
the USA at least one time and it is already not important how 
many times the USA can destroy us. This is the case when the 
arithmetical equality hardly changes anything. 
In the period of the previous world order the countries of 
Europe and Japan were tied to the USA and NATO because there 
was an evident external threat coming from the USSR.
Today there are already no reasons for any country to tie 
itself to any other state or a group of states. The said 
countries will soon realise their national interests without 
looking back at the USA, which, of course, will remain a 
considerable factor in the policy of all the countries of the 
world but not the main one. Russia can calmly build today its 
relations with Japan, China and Germany, and with the USA, of 
course. In its turn, America can, like all the other countries 
in the world, enter into open alliances. That is why, it is 
impossible today to speak about a world policeman in the person 
of the USA which can or cannot allow Russia to do something. 
As China continues its ascent, Japan will increasingly 
intensify its relations with Russia - economic, political and 
cultural. It is obvious that with time South Korea will also 
get involved into that process. When the East European 
countries overcome the imperial complex - the fear of being 
enslaved by some empire - the Russian, the Austrian-Hungarian 
or Ottoman empire - then they will get interested either 
voluntarily or involuntarily, by virtue of objective economic 
and political factors, in establishing closer ties with Russia. 
There are two points of view in Europe as to how build 
relations with Russia. One of them is to leave it alone with 
its problems - not to help it but, on the contrary, contribute 
to the fragmentation of the Russian Federation, its utmost 
weakening so that a lot of small principalities emerge on its 
territory, for example, in the form of a confederation. At the 
same time, most European researchers perceive Russia as a 
factor of preserving stability in the entire post-Soviet space 
and the main partner of Western countries in their 
geo-political interests. The West cannot but take into account 
the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, its politicization, the 
development of China and India which already in ten years 
surpass China by the size of its population. Realising all 
this, most European researchers assign to Russia the role of 
one of the pillars of the emerging world order, without which 
security and stability in Europe are unthinkable. 
As for US researchers in the field of geo-politics, the 
opinion of Samuel Huntington is very indicative. In his book 
"Clash of Civilisations" he singles out among others the Slavic 
civilisation into a separate centre of the world where Russia 
occupies the central place. Correspondingly, he calls Russia 
the main partner of the West in counteracting the Islamic 
fundamentalism and the rising Confucian civilisation, to which, 
in his opinion, not only China but also Japan belongs. 

Russia has been experiencing for more than ten years now 
the crisis brought about by the sharp transition from one 
system (socialism) to another. Will the systems crisis end with 
the election of the new President or will there begin a new 
turn of the crisis brought about by the destruction of those 
few things which Russia has achieved over that period? 
Mikhail DELYAGIN, director of the Institute of 
Globalisation Problems: 
- The systems crisis of the Soviet society goes back to 
the early 1960s when the Khrushchev democratisation came up 
against the limits of the rigid political system. After that 
this crisis was compensated for at the expense of the large 
safety factor in the form of petro-dollars, which gave the USSR 
another 15 years, and experiments with cost accounting.
In the economy it broke out in the middle of the 1980s and 
ended with the destruction of the Soviet economy. The systems 
crisis of the new Russian economy began in 1995 when the 
government disastrously tightened its financial policy (budget 
expenditures decreased by one-third) and thus lost the 
possibility to begin the restoration of the real sector of the 
With Yeltsin's stepping down, the systems crisis will not 
disappear anywhere - it has been caused not by the personality 
but by the fundamental social and economic, political and 
institutional factors. The advent of Putin has caused a 
noticeable shake-up in society and I believe that it will 
continue. The state will be relentlessly renewed - without this 
even the country's mere survival will be impossible. The 
structure of property will change - not because it will be 
purposefully re-distributed but by virtue of objective 
political factors. On the other hand, economic problems linked, 
in the first place, with the poverty of the population and the 
investment crisis in the electric power engineering, oil and 
gas sectors will continue to intensify. 
However, a further strong destabilisation can hardly be 
expected. Putin will not create new crisis factors - he will 
have to deal with the growing systems crisis brought about by 
the activity of his predecessor. If he manages to cope with his 
duties, and this is quite possible, Russia will make a leap 
forward. If he fails, the system will begin to fall apart 
already in 2004-2005. Moreover, since we have to deal with 
highly inertial processes, the country's way of development 
will be determined already this year or the latest - at the 
beginning of next year. 
In the coming five years three severe crises await Russia: 
the debt crisis in 2003 when foreign debt payments will grow by 
1.6 times - from about $10 billion to $16 billion; the 
investment crisis in 2004-2005 when the irreplaceable wear of 
equipment will lead to the retirement of capacities in electric 
power engineering. And the irreplaceable exhaustion of deposits 
will bring about a disastrous "gas pause" and the fall of world 
oil prices expected by virtue of the development of world 
political, economic and technological processes in 2005. 
The greatest danger for us today comes from our own state 
which, on the one hand, is morally ready to overcome the 
consequences of its economic errors by rough political methods 
and, on the other hand, does not notice the presence of 
structural problems which in principle cannot be solved with 
the narrow financial methods of governance employed by it. As 
long as the state shuts its eyes at these prospects, it has no 
chances of overcoming the systems crisis. But the radical 
renewal of the government expected this autumn generates new 



Return to CDI's Home Page  I  Return to CDI's Library