[eDebate] "Are there really cards on Russia?" and other common questions

brian rubaie brubaie
Wed Apr 23 17:39:00 CDT 2008


Apologies again, will have to brief amidst finals week, but I'd like to
address some items for concern I've heard about Russia. I've decided to
remove any editorializing and just post quotes and theories written by
experts. Yes, all these cards are from one good article. However, the
context of this article (a CSIS assemblage) will happen at almost every
think-tank and major international publication as the topic reaches its
formative stages. More importantly, it will happen inside the walls of
Moscow and Washington.

-- Will there be enough stuff to do? Don't we already cooperate on lots of
stuff?
ANDREW KUCHINS, DIRECTOR, RUSSIA-EURASIA PROGRAM, CSIS
["THE PUTIN SUCCESSION: WHAT'S AT STAKE AND WHAT TO EXPECT," Federal News
Service, 2-28-08.]

Now, having regained its financial independence, Russia now faces the
question of how to deal with the changes that took place in the environment
during its period of financial weakness that begin in the late 1980s. And I
think today's Russia regards many elements of the international system that
evolved during that period -- during the period of its time of weakness --
as, to some extent, illegitimate. I think this is most evident on a range of
security issues including Kosovo, the role of NATO, missile defense, the
conventional arms forces treaty in Europe and others where the United States
and the West, but especially the United States, is viewed as having taken
unilateral advantage of Russia during its period of weakness.

-- Will the next president care? Will new policy initiatives be launched?
SARAH MENDELSON, SENIOR FELLOW, RUSSIA AND EURASIA PROGRAM, CSIS, AND
DIRECTOR, INITIATIVE ON HUMAN RIGHTS
["THE PUTIN SUCCESSION: WHAT'S AT STAKE AND WHAT TO EXPECT," Federal News
Service, 2-28-08.]

So from a Western perspective, if Putin stays in this new position and
authoritarian drift continues, we have a lot of policy dilemmas in front of
us. The political trajectory of Russia has long been and continues to be a
U.S. national security concern. Support for the democratic minority in
Russia will be a goal, I believe, continue to be a goal of the next
administration, whether it is a Republican or Democratic administration. But
how and what do we do differently?

-- How will those interact with Medvedev?
SARAH MENDELSON, SENIOR FELLOW, RUSSIA AND EURASIA PROGRAM, CSIS, AND
DIRECTOR, INITIATIVE ON HUMAN RIGHTS
["THE PUTIN SUCCESSION: WHAT'S AT STAKE AND WHAT TO EXPECT," Federal News
Service, 2-28-08.]

"All right, so what do we in the West do about this, and what sort of metric
should we be looking for to keep track if Medvedev, the so- called liberal,
is changing Russia, or if Putin continues essentially on the same
restoration path? And I'm sure that this is not a complete set of metrics
but it's one cut at it.

What I see happening are challenges to the international order through some
of the actions of the Russian government. The Russian government under Putin
has attempted to take advantage of declining U.S. influence and advance a
kind of hyper-sovereign model to replace one that I think really emerged
from the Helsinki Accord to 1976."

-- If Russia is combative in the status quo why would they suddenly reverse
stance?
ANDREW KUCHINS, DIRECTOR, RUSSIA-EURASIA PROGRAM, CSIS
["THE PUTIN SUCCESSION: WHAT'S AT STAKE AND WHAT TO EXPECT," Federal News
Service, 2-28-08.]

So where's the opportunity? Well, I think the Russians have learned that it
is the vagaries of the modern global economy that can pose as great of a
threat to a nation's existence as do military threats. Let's recall that the
Soviet Union survived World War II, but it could not survive a collapse of
world oil prices in the 1980s. During Mr. Putin's tenure, the Russians have
tried to insulate themselves better, making the economy and society as
robust as possible to external shocks as they see it. You can argue about
the effectiveness of that, but I think that's the way they see it.

But I think they've also come to realize that a purely defensive approach,
an inward approach, is not enough. I mean, Russia is inextricably linked to
the international economy. And if growth is to continue, that trend cannot
be reversed and, in fact, it's accelerating as Russian companies and
capitals seek trade investment opportunities abroad.

So, consequently, the Russians will have to play a more active role in
promoting global stability. And I think it's this realization that fuels
many of Mr. Putin's critical comments about the U.S. role in world affairs.

Now, this is much more due, of course, to what's taken place in security
issues. And there's part of the Cold War hangover and there's part of what
U.S. policies that have had an impact on this, of course, in the last 15
years. But I think that Mr. Putin believes that the United States is simply
not capable of keeping the global system stable by itself. And if a crisis
does happen, then, in a unipolar format, as Putin perceives the system,
inevitably the result is going to be an attempt by the dominant nation to
secure its own interest first, even at the expense of others.

-- Why the US? Why bilateral cooperation so soon into the new term?
ANDREW KUCHINS, DIRECTOR, RUSSIA-EURASIA PROGRAM, CSIS
["THE PUTIN SUCCESSION: WHAT'S AT STAKE AND WHAT TO EXPECT," Federal News
Service, 2-28-08.]

MR. KUCHINS: Yeah, we're doing a hell of a good job on that on ourselves.
Hank, I just make one point about the anti-Americanism. And my view on that
is that, I mean, anti-Americanism in Russia, like anywhere, I think it's
much more dependent upon the behavior of the United States than it is on
what the existing regime does to promote anti-Americanism. And the fact is
that anti-Americanism is growing all over the world; Russia is not unique in
that regard. Now, there are unique features of Russia's anti-Americanism
that I think we know about. But, you know, I would beware about jumping to
the conclusion that if a more democratic Russia will necessarily be a more
pro- American Russia. I think that will depend a lot on what U.S. policies
are that are of interest to the Russians.

-- Solvency advocates? Things other than military cooperation?
ANDERS ASLUND, SENIOR FELLOW, PETERSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS
["THE PUTIN SUCCESSION: WHAT'S AT STAKE AND WHAT TO EXPECT," Federal News
Service, 2-28-08.]

And a little bit on the bilateral role here of the U.S.: U.S. has frightful
shortfall of economic agreements with Russia. And I will say one, as I
already mentioned, no Bilateral Investment Treaty, which means that American
companies invest in Russia through subsidiaries in other countries. They
don't want to go through the U.S. because then they have no legal support.
And John talked of Jackson-Vanik. I think it's totally useless. It's a sort
of too heavy an arm ever to use. And it looks so obsolete that it's not
useful. I would prefer just to let it go. My view is very much -- we engage,
we integrate, and then there is another matter when it comes to the
political organizations -- what Sarah has just said.
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