May 14, 2002 | Backgrounder on Russia
When President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet for summits in Russia and Rome later this month, they will have an opportunity to define a new framework for U.S.-Russia strategic relations that extends beyond the war on terrorism. Such a framework could lay the foundation for a new 21st century security architecture while facilitating Russia's integration into the European-North Atlantic security and economic environment.
Given Russia's proximity to Western Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Far East, and in light of Putin's decision to line up with the United States in the war on terrorism,1 establishing closer cooperation with Russia will have significant benefits for U.S. national security and regional and economic interests. Closer cooperation with Moscow is vital, for example, for isolating such terrorism-supporting states as Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and North Korea and for slowing the transfer of Russian military technology to China.2
At the summit meetings in St. Petersburg and Moscow on May 23-26 and at the NATO-Russia summit in Rome on May 28, President Bush and President Putin will focus on matters of security and economic policies. In Moscow, they will sign a formal treaty that calls for deep cuts in nuclear arsenals on both sides over the next 10 years. Both leaders are committed to ending the legacy of the Cold War by reducing the strategic nuclear arsenals of their countries to around 1,700 to 2,200 deliverable warheads each. Such a commitment will also be required in cooperative efforts to reduce the threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), to increase security in regions of common interest, and to increase trade to strengthen economies.
The treaty to reduce U.S. and Russian offensive nuclear arsenals is compatible with currently projected U.S. security requirements. These requirements, however, could change with little warning. As a result, reductions should proceed cautiously and the process should permit flexibility. The treaty allows flexibility by limiting its duration to 10 years, by pacing the reductions within the 10-year period, and by allowing either party to withdraw from the treaty with three months' notice. Another welcome sign of this flexibility is the agreement not to require the destruction of the warheads or to impose limitations on missile defenses.
On May 6, Under Secretary of State John Bolton called for the United States and Russia to sign a political declaration on the New Strategic Framework that would cover not just strategic offense and defense systems, but also nonproliferation and counterproliferation.5 Such a framework should promote cooperation to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state armed with ballistic missiles. The Administration should be ready to offer an economic quid pro quo for Russia's actions, such as participation in building the components of ballistic missile defense systems and expansion of civilian space launch quotas.
In the past, the forum provided by the 1997 Permanent Joint Council often turned into a venue for Moscow to air its frustrations with NATO actions, such as the Balkans operations.7 Today, the joint NATO-Russia peacekeeping activities in that region demonstrate how these two sides can cooperate. Top U.S. generals, such as Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Joseph Ralston8 and Commander in Chief of Central Command (CENTCOM) General Tommy Franks, routinely praise Russia's cooperation with the United States and NATO.9 The NATO-Russia Council should be seen as a first step on the road to greater security integration between Russia and the North Atlantic alliance. The President also should invite President Putin to address the NATO summit in Prague in November.
Russia exports over 1.8 billion barrels of oil and 6.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year. It is the world's largest exporter of natural gas and second largest exporter of oil.10 Together with the countries of Eurasia, it could catch up with Saudi Arabia as a leading oil exporter by 2010.11 U.S. export development agencies, such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the Export-Import Bank, and the international financial institutions, could assist foreign investors by insisting that the rule of law be honored and contracts upheld. A boost in Russia's energy exports also would provide its European and Far Eastern customers with additional energy security in the event that OPEC continues its policy of high prices and production cuts.
The U.S. statute known as the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which denies Russia most favored nation status, is a relic of the Cold War. It was passed in 1974 when the Soviet Union severely limited emigration. Congress suspended application of the amendment after the Soviet Union collapsed. At the Russia summit, President Bush should express his support for a permanent lifting of the Jackson-Vanik restrictions, which Congress could accomplish by attaching an amendment to trade legislation.
The forthcoming U.S.-Russia summits offer both countries a unique opportunity to launch a strategic partnership that would assure greater security in the 21st century. At the summit meetings, both President Bush and President Putin should focus on casting off the baggage that has hampered U.S.-Russia relations in the past, such as Moscow's ties with Iran and Iraq and other states that sponsor terrorism.
The two leaders will put to rest the legacy of the Cold War by signing a strategic treaty to reduce their nuclear arsenals. Most important, they should expand joint actions in the war on terrorism, as well as establish goals for NATO-Russian cooperation and support policies that further integrate Russia into the global market.
Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. is Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies, and Baker Spring is F. M. Kirby Research Fellow in National Security Policy, in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation.
1. "Russia Embraces U.S.-Led Effort," Associated Press, September 25, 2001, at http://wildcat.arizona.edu/papers/95/26/05_4_m.html.
2. For additional information on this issue, see Ariel Cohen, "The Russia-China Friendship and Cooperation Treaty: A Strategic Shift in Eurasia?" Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1459, July 18, 2001.
4. Brenda Shaefer, "U.S.
Needs Russia to Help Contain Iran," at
latimes_022102.htm; see also "Russia to Pursue Nuclear, Military Cooperation with Iran," Agence France-Press, Moscow, April 3, 2002, at http://www.hindustantimes.com/nonfram/030402/dLFOR70.asp.
6. For further discussion of this agenda, see Ariel Cohen, "Russia and Eurasia: Promoting Security, Prosperity, and Freedom," in Stuart M. Butler and Kim R. Holmes, eds., Issues 2002: The Candidate's Briefing Book (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation, 2002).
7. "The NATO-Russia `Founding Act': Stepping Stone or Stumbling Block for a European Security Architecture?" Berlin Information-Centre for Transatlantic Security (BITS), British American Security Information Council (BASIC), Summit Briefing Paper No. 97.1, July 4, 1997, at http://www.basicint.org/founding.htm.
9. Francescca Mereu, "Russia: Franks Praises Russia Cooperation in Antiterror Campaign," RFE-RL, March 21, 2002, at http://www.cdi.org/russia/198-2.cfm.
10. U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, "Country Analysis Briefing," at http://www.eia.doe.gov.
11. Edward L. Morse and James Richard, "The Battle for Energy Dominance," Foreign Affairs, April 2002, at http://www.foreignaffairs.org/articles/Morse0302b.html.