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Russia Needs 'strong political will' in US Relations and Within Russia Itself
Moskovskiye Novosti
20 November 2001
Article by Andrey Kozyrev: "What Do We Need From America?"

If we wish to get anything from America, we need to avoid engaging in compromises with the demagogues within the country.

The answer to this question is of fundamental importance at the present time, when talks between the presidents of Russia and the United States are developing with a dynamism that may open a new stage in relations between the two countries.

A reduction in the expenditures and risks (from fires and other technical failures to terrorist attacks) linked with the maintenance of an overly cumbersome nuclear arsenal (subhead). From the viewpoint of our country's security, this task may be resolved by making unilateral reductions to a level of approximately 1,000 units of strategic armaments, which is enough to ensure the ability to contain any potential aggressor. Taking account of a number of factors, including those of a political and psychological order, it would be better if the United States also made such reductions.

A reduction in surplus armaments is also in American interests. However, Washington is setting quantitative and qualitative parameters for itself that do not entirely coincide with our own by force of geopolitical, economic and other differences. The Americans may believe that they need to set high ceilings for the levels of armaments that remain. Just like us they are able to set those ceilings for themselves, but for the same reasons that govern our own choices they prefer to act jointly with us. On the one hand this serves our purpose. On the other hand it makes it more difficult for us to achieve the parameters that we need. The most probable outcome is that the United States will push us to accept higher levels.

The creation of a system of anti-missile defense for the southern and eastern borders of Russia and the CIS (subhead). The primary concern here is the terrorist groups or regimes may seize and subsequently launch a small quantity of missiles.

This task is also better resolved jointly with the United States, especially since President Bush is setting a similar task for America. As a minimum we need to reach agreement with Washington about a new interpretation or modification of the ABM Treaty, which for more than 30 years has been restricting our ability to create just such an ABM system, while the threat of terrorism has been turning into a reality. The best thing for Russia would be cooperation with the United States in the creation, testing and deployment of such systems. This would make it possible to resolve the task much more quickly and at a significantly reduced cost. Together with the Americans we should consider the question of participation - particularly financial - by the European states. These states have just as much of an interest in providing defense against the threat of nuclear missile terrorism from the south-east, and accordingly they have an obligation to share the financial burden associated with such a system, rather than attempting to "get a free ride" by hiding behind Russia and the United States.

As far as ABM policy is concerned the two countries have similar interests that favor cooperation. However, a political fight lies ahead over where the anti-missile defense line will lie. The United States now wants to draw that line somewhere on the approaches to its own territory. But we need the umbrella to cover the CIS. It will also be difficult to overcome opposition from the powerful forces of the American Military-Industrial Complex [VPK]. We can expect them to launch a massed campaign to the effect that it is impossible to trust Russia. They will use any opportunity for this: from spy scandals to accusing Russian military personnel and nuclear scientists of having links with Iraq, Iran and other suspicious clients.

The fight against international terrorism (subhead). It is important that, having settled accounts with Bin Ladin, the Americans should not forget the problem. We need to aim for joint or parallel actions with the United States and the West, in order to isolate, and preferably destroy, other centers of international terrorism and extremism close to the borders of the CIS. At the same time, if the need arises in the future it would be best if the Americans and their NATO allies undertook the military aspect of anti-terrorist operations and Russia limited itself to rear-guard actions and moral and political support, as well as special services assistance.

Facing these real and urgent tasks will enable us to make Russian foreign policy more proactive and eliminate our inferiority complex. The latter is the product of the substitution of the country's genuine interests by imaginary interests devised according to the Soviet principle: "what is good for NATO is bad for Russia" and "an enemy of the United States is my friend". Whereas our genuine interests presuppose that interaction with the United States is not entirely simple but nevertheless completely attainable, these sham interests doom us to a senseless and knowingly futile confrontation with the highly-developed world or, at the very least, alienation from it. This would serve only to intensify our sense of grievance and isolation.

Even though the choice is quite clear, it will be a complex and painstaking matter to implement that choice in terms of practical policy.

Seventy-four years of Soviet policy and the last five years of neo-Soviet policy have left a heavy legacy. If the formulation of Russia's genuine interests shows them to be compatible with those of the United States, many people believe that this represents an impermissible concession to our opponent, while any step toward cooperation with the West is regarded as a loss of independence and a manifestation of weakness. It is impossible to compromise with this demagogy. Experience has shown that concessions to it lead foreign policy into a blind alley and feed the flames of communist and nationalist opposition within the country. This very legacy is the main obstacle preventing Russia from realizing her national-state interests and, in so doing, cooperating with the United States. It is no less important to realize that the custodians of that legacy are concentrated within the Sadovoye Koltso (Garden Ring) in Moscow. The population at large is not remotely concerned with such lofty stratagems - it wants to achieve a standard of living that is somehow comparable to that of the West! The West, and not the East!

We know what we need from the United States. In order to achieve it we need firm political will and, however paradoxical it may seem, not only and not so much in our relations with America as within Russia itself.

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