October 10, 2002 | Executive Memorandum on Russia
Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT), Representative Curt Weldon (R-PA), and other Members of Congress plan to introduce a concurrent resolution calling for further cooperation with the Russian Federation on energy development. They have a strong case. Among their concerns are over-dependence on oil from Saudi Arabia and imports from Iraq and other rogue states. Over 20 percent of America's foreign oil comes from the highly unstable Persian Gulf. Even before September 11, the United States faced the untenable possibility that some of these imports could be, in Senator Burns' words, "rogue oil"--that is, oil from countries that use the proceeds to support terrorism or to purchase or develop weapons of mass destruction.
U.S. consumers would be outraged to find out they could be financing al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist terrorist organizations every time they filled their gas tanks. U.S. oil imports should not in any way fund Islamic academies that provide pseudo-religious brainwashing and weapons training of youth for jihad (holy war) against Americans. Substantial supplies of oil are available from other countries and regions that do not sponsor terrorism, such as Russia, the Caspian Sea littoral states, Africa, and Latin America. The United States should gradually replace its oil imports from rogue regimes such as Iraq's with oil from these areas. Doing so would have the additional beneficial effect of undermining the power of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to dictate supply and prices in the oil market.
Congress should fully support U.S.-Russian cooperation on energy development. Significantly, members of both houses of the Russian parliament--the Duma and the Council of the Federation--are willing to vote simultaneously with their American colleagues to show their support for the concurrent resolution.
Cooperation with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin has supported the United States in the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, even overruling his own senior officials to allow U.S. troop deployment and logistical infrastructure in Georgia and Central Asia. Moreover, after September 11, 2001, Putin muted his country's objection to the U.S. abrogation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and NATO enlargement to include the former Soviet Baltic republics and the Warsaw Pact states of Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovakia. Such unprecedented actions have helped to bury the legacy of the Cold War.
Russia also has moved from a planned to a market economy. In the past decade, it has come a long way toward privatizing its economy in general and the energy sector in particular. Today, as its oil production and export levels grow, Russia is developing a capacity that would enable the United States to offset some of its Persian Gulf oil imports. Russian companies such as YUKOS and LUKoil have begun to sell their oil and gasoline to U.S. markets. However, Russia will need U.S. private-sector investment and government cooperation to develop its pipeline and port infrastructure to meet increased demands. In particular, Russia will seek U.S. private-sector and government assistance to:
Facilitating Energy Cooperation. On June 6, President George Bush granted market economy status to the Russian Federation, a step that will promote its adoption of market principles and assist in its integration into the world economy. But more needs to be done by the Administration and Congress. Any energy policy that the United States pursues vis-à-vis Russia should be in both countries' interests. In particular, as the proposed concurrent resolution suggests, the United States should:
Conclusion. The war on terrorism has dictated a vital strategic re-orientation of U.S. oil imports away from "rogue oil." As an important first step on the road to U.S. energy security, Congress should support a concurrent resolution that calls for expanding energy cooperation with Russia.
--Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., is Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation.