Putin's Foreign Policy and U.S.- Russian Relations

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Putin's Foreign Policy and U.S.- Russian Relations

January 18, 2001 33 min read
Ariel Cohen
Ariel Cohen
Former Visiting Fellow, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center
Ariel was a Senior Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy at The Heritage Foundation.

President-elect George W. Bush has inherited his predecessor's troubled relations with Russia. President Bill Clinton often overlooked Russia's transgressions, such as a recently reported political treaty with Beijing,1 massive arms sales to Iran and China, and pervasive money laundering.2 He also sought to accommodate Russian opposition to a U.S. national missile defense system, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to the Cold War view of arms control and ignoring the need to counter the growing threat of ballistic missiles from rogue states.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his administration espouse a nationalist agenda that seeks to re-establish Russia as a great world power and to offset America's global leadership position. Putin and his security team have issued a series of documents that call the United States, and the "unipolar world order" it allegedly promotes, a major threat to the Russian state. Clearly, relations with Russia will pose serious policy challenges for the new American President.

Soon after entering office, President-elect Bush must issue a clear statement about relations with Russia. Indeed, such a statement would appeal to Russian policymakers and experts, who have expressed their preference for clear-cut statements that define America's priorities with regard to Russia.3 The Russians respected President Ronald Reagan for his forthrightness, for example, even when he called the Soviet Union the "evil empire" and demanded that Mikhail Gorbachev "tear down this [Berlin] Wall." Clear statements of national security objectives and firm implementation of foreign policy decisions provide a measure of predictability that would help Russian leaders navigate the shoals of the global strategic environment.

However, in establishing the tenets of his foreign policy, it is vital that President-elect Bush impress upon his Russian counterpart the extent and limits of cooperation. For example, while such transgressions as arms sales to Iran4 and Iraq and support for rogue leaders like Saddam Hussein will not be tolerated, Putin can expect cooperation in such areas as strategic arms reduction, economic development, space exploration, and the fight against international crime and terrorism. To demonstrate his desire for better relations, the President-elect should invite Putin to a summit in Washington in late spring or early summer, or offer to meet with him at the summit of the G-8 countries to be held in Genoa, Italy, later this summer. Such a summit would give the leaders an opportunity to initiate a new chapter in U.S.-Russian relations, one that seeks to ensure national and global security--a strategic objective for both countries.


Russia occupies a unique geopolitical position. It abuts most of the important regions of the Eastern Hemisphere, including Western Europe and the oil-rich Middle East. It is a prime exporter of the arms and energy many of these regions desire. Such a position enables President Putin to focus his foreign policies on ways to increase Russia's prestige and power. While abroad, Putin speaks about advancing economic reform and attracting foreign investment; at home, he talks about the "dictatorship of law" and strengthening the Russian state.5 As Michael McFaul of the Carnegie Endowment points out, Putin wears two hats: one when he speaks to the Russian people and another when he addresses foreign audiences. It is an ability that must not be underestimated by the new Bush Administration.

Vladimir Putin began a whirlwind foreign policy offensive to improve Russia's status in the region and the world even before he became president of Russia on May 7, 2000. After becoming prime minister in August 1999, for example, he met with President Clinton five times. As acting president, he met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in St. Petersburg on March 11, 2000. Since becoming president, he has visited the major Western European countries, including Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. He has visited China, Japan, Mongolia, and the two remaining Marxist-Leninist countries, North Korea and Cuba. And he has made appearances in the Central Asian states of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan, hoping to enhance Russia's status in this energy-rich region. This is an impressive itinerary for Putin's first year in office. This initiative extends to officials within his administration as well, as the recent meetings in Moscow of high-ranking national security officials from Russia with similar officials from Iran and Iraq show.

Putin's effort to enhance Russia's position includes a promise to increase substantially the sales of Russian oil, natural gas, and electricity to Europe. Moreover, to gain a louder voice in European security policy,6 the Putin administration has broached the idea of joining the controversial European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) initiative, a joint military structure for the European Union (EU) that some countries hope will counterbalance America's role in European security in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).7

Putin is using arms sales to boost Russia's influence as well, signing large deals in 2000 with China, India, and Iran that total almost $10 billion. Weapons sales generate revenue for Moscow to use in the strategic modernization of Russia's aging military forces; they also strengthen Russia's influence in important (and volatile) areas such as the Taiwan Strait, the Kashmir region between India and Pakistan, and the Persian Gulf. While Putin has announced plans to reduce Russia's nuclear forces significantly to between 1,000 and 1,500 warheads, either in a negotiated treaty or in tandem with the United States,8 he strongly opposes the deployment of a national missile defense (NMD) system for America.9

To strengthen his position as a global leader, Putin made appearances at the G-8 summit in Okinawa and the Millennium Summit at the United Nations in September 2000, the summits of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Moscow and Yalta, a bilateral summit with the EU in Paris, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Brunei in November. During these trips, his public relations team carefully orchestrated moves that would garner media attention. In Japan, for example, he allowed a 10-year-old Japanese girl to throw him on a mat, which charmed the Japanese public. At the G-8 summit in Okinawa, he gave the other leaders an "intelligence briefing" on North Korea based on his personal meeting with Kim Jong-Il and recommended that they stay in touch by e-mail.

Behind this public relations effort is a steely commitment to Russia's re-emergence in the "major league" of nations. The focus on Russia's strategic and economic interests covers up the inherent weakness in this approach: the Russian economy, which is based on obsolete industries and a rapidly aging population and which has contracted by more than 50 percent since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Putin and his administration seek an external opponent--similar to what Great Britain was for imperial Russia in the 19th century during their "Great Game" for control of Central Asia and the Caucasus10--that enables them to make a show of Russia's strengths. It appears, from Russia's actions and national security and foreign policy documents, that the opponent it has chosen is the United States. Putin is campaigning for allies in this effort by making deals with states like China and India. The implications of this offensive for U.S.-Russian policy in the future can be found in the fronts on which Putin's campaign is being waged.


Russia fittingly adopted the Byzantine Empire's two-headed eagle as the state symbol in the 15th century,11 but it is also appropriate today. It symbolizes Russia's past efforts to expand its territory both to the East and the West. Rather than territorial aggrandizement, Russia is looking in the 21st century to strengthen its ties to its neighbors to the East and West and to create alternative foci of power to offset the global leadership position of the United States.

Russia's elites are preoccupied with advancing "Eurasianism," which sees Russia as the "ultimate World-Island state" apart from, and hostile to, the maritime and commercial Euro-Atlantic world.12 Russian analysts such as Yu. V. Tikhonravov argue that the nation holds a special place in the Eastern Hemisphere as a counterbalance to the "globalist" U.S.-led hegemony; their works are now part of the college curriculum approved by the Ministry of Higher Education.13 Because the West is so often portrayed as materialistic and corrupt, many Eurasianists advocate closer cooperation with China, the Arab world, and Iran while espousing anti-Turkic rhetoric.14

Indeed, since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has become the major arms supplier for China and India. On a recent trip to New Delhi, Russian representatives signed arms and nuclear deals worth an estimated $3 billion, including cooperation in nuclear and missile areas.

Russia and China are in the process of negotiating a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, which they are expected to sign when Chinese President Jiang Zemin visits Moscow in mid-2001. Analysts have suggested that the treaty may have secret appendices outlining the conditions for a common defense, military cooperation in space, cooperation on military technologies, and new weapons sales.15 Russia is already selling nuclear weapons blueprints, multiple warhead (MIRV) technology, Sukhoi-27 fighter jets, and, most recently, $1 billion worth of A-50 Beriev AWACS early warning planes to China that will make it possible for the People's Liberation Army to coordinate its air, surface, and naval operations in areas like the Taiwan Strait. Russia supports China's claims regarding Taiwan, and China supports Moscow's activities in Chechnya.16 Finally, both Russia and China have vociferously opposed Washington's plans to deploy an NMD system.

Restoring ties with Europe has become a personal objective for Putin, who has cultivated a friendship with Prime Minister Tony Blair and also has carefully strengthened Moscow's ties to Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder of Germany. As France and Germany have sought to strengthen the European Union and offset European military reliance on the United States, Moscow has begun to express an interest in joining the ESDP, which would drive a wedge between Europe and the United States. Russia's offer to construct a common missile defense with the EU may have been made with the same strategic goal in mind. However, Putin, who had suggested in March 2000 that Russia may one day be interested in joining the NATO alliance, later disavowed this possibility.

Russia's increasing activities in the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf, and the Middle East are causing concern in Washington. Since 1991, Russia has sold Middle Eastern countries $6.9 billion worth of modern weapons, including almost $3 billion in sales to Iran alone.17 Aided by its multibillion-dollar missile, military technology, and civilian nuclear reactor deals with Russia, this unstable Islamic state is emerging as the predominant military power in the Gulf.

Moscow recently announced that it had annulled a secret memorandum signed by Vice President Al Gore and Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin in June 1995, which acknowledged that Russia had sold Iran such conventional arms as submarines, anti-ship missiles, and tanks.18 The agreement between the two officials made it clear that the United States would do nothing about the arms sales if Moscow promised to cease these activities by 1999. The weapons sales continue. Moreover, the secret agreement may have been in violation of the 1992 Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act cosponsored by then-Senator Gore (D-TN), which stipulates that the United States would impose sanctions on Russia if it persisted in selling weapons of this type to Iran or Iraq.

Moscow disclosed that, in summer and fall 2000, it shipped 325 shoulder-launched anti-aircraft SA-16 missiles to Tehran, part of a deal totaling 700 missiles worth $1.75 billion. Because Tehran is known for re-exporting weapons to Islamic radicals in the Middle East, such as the Lebanon-based Hezbollah movement, it is only a matter of time before these latest missiles find their way to Hezbollah terrorists or the Islamic Jihad.19 U.S. objections over this sale were met with terse advice from Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov:

The issue is that Russia, when it comes to military cooperation with Iran as well as with other countries, does not consider itself constrained by any special obligations in spheres which are not restricted by international obligations.20

Since 1992, Congress has attempted to impose sanctions on countries and companies that contribute to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), especially to rogue states. The provisions of the Arms Export Control Act, the Iran-Iraq Non-Proliferation Act, and the Iran Non-Proliferation Act of 1999 call for imposing sanctions against Russia. However, these sanctions have not worked in Iran or Iraq. Saddam continues to acquire WMD and the technology to deliver them. Moreover, Russia ignored its obligations as a member of the Nuclear Supplier Group Agreement and Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and continued proliferating weapons and weapons technology to Iraq. The Clinton Administration failed to uphold the law and impose the sanctions.

Moscow is also boosting its ties with Iraq to break U.S. domination in the Persian Gulf and to recover some of the Soviet-era Iraqi debt of approximately $7 billion. In violation of the U.N. sanctions against Iraq, Russia began supplying it with high-tech military spare parts, such as gyroscopes for its Scud missiles, and equipment for the production of bacteriological weapons.21 Its efforts to rebuild the once-strong relationship between Iraq and Moscow include exchanges between the pro-Putin Unity party of Russia and Saddam's Ba'ath party.22

Public Support for Putin's Approach
Russia's frustration with America's global preeminence began escalating under former Prime Minister Primakov and has continued escalating since Putin's ascent. An increase in nationalist sentiment and a substantial decrease in support for the United States have been reported by pollsters since 1993. Representative polling by a reliable Russian public opinion institute demonstrates how quickly attitudes about the United States have deteriorated under Putin. In December 1998, 67 percent of those polled characterized their attitude toward America as "very positive" or "basically positive."23 By May 1999, at the height of the NATO bombardment of Serbia, which Russia opposed, less than a third of respondents subscribed to this view, and the number of those who said their attitude was "very negative" or "generally negative" shot up from 23 percent to 52 percent.24 The shift is even more dramatic considering that in 1993, according to the United States Information Agency (USIA), 70 percent of Russians felt favorable toward America.25

During Kosovo, it should be recalled, Russian officials encouraged the Russian people to demonstrate in front of the U.S. embassy in Moscow. Serbian diplomats provided Moscow State University students (who were bussed to the demonstrations by city authorities) with eggs and tomatoes to throw at the U.S. embassy. In the heat of these demonstrations, a Russian vigilante fired a shoulder-launched missile at the embassy. Clearly, the intention of the government is to increase anti-American sentiments.

An examination of current Russian TV programming and media content demonstrates how anti-American and anti-Western that content has become. Television moderators and reporters covering last November's vote count problems in Florida, for example, expressed glee over the "deep crisis" of the "overrated" American democracy.26 Such anti-Americanism, rarely heard since the early 1980s, is very troubling to Russia experts and policymakers in the United States. Yet the Clinton Administration did little of substance to counter this trend.

Institutional Support for Putin's Approach
The most disturbing development under Putin is the extent to which Russia's national security and diplomatic institutions attempt to sway public opinion against the United States and its policies. These institutions include not only the Putin administration, but also the Security Council, the foreign and defense ministries, the general staff of the armed forces, and the intelligence services, such as the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and the successor to the KGB secret police, the Federal Security Service (FSB).

For example, during the Kosovo operation, the Russian military accused NATO of preparing a full-scale attack on Russia. It advocated rearmament and war in Chechnya as Russia's response to the NATO operation against Slobodan Milosevic. Marshal Igor Sergeev went so far as to accuse the United States of provoking the war in Chechnya.27 The commander of the Russian air force, General Anatoly Kornukov, who was responsible for downing a Korean passenger jumbo jet in 1983, recently boasted about a surprise flight made by Russian Su-24 reconnaissance planes over the U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk.28 The Russian military has also blamed U.S. and British submarines for the Kursk submarine disaster, despite offers from the United States and other countries to lend assistance in rescuing the crew.

During the 1990s, the FSB arrested environmental activist Alexander Nikitin, military journalist Grigory Pasko, and scientist Vladimir Soifer for treason or other alleged transgressions, such as disclosing serious environmental pollution by the Russian military. This included burying over two dozen burned-out nuclear submarine reactors on the ocean floor without taking any precautions to prevent radiation seepage.29 The FSB accused Igor Sutyagin, an arms control researcher at the Institute for USA-Canada, of spying for Canada. It prosecuted Radio Liberty journalist Andrey Babitsky, ostensibly for passport violations, and confiscated the passport of Al Decie, a Western assistance worker. Although American businessmen Edmond Pope was convicted of espionage in December, Putin later pardoned him.30 These cases demonstrate the increasing power of the internal security services, while the Yeltsin and Putin administrations did nothing to re-establish the rule of law.

Energy Exports as a Foreign Policy Tool
One of Putin's primary tools in implementing his foreign policy has been energy and commodity exports. For example, Putin has resurrected the Soviet-era plans to build a gas pipeline from the Arctic Yamal peninsula into the heart of Europe through Belarus and Poland, bypassing Ukraine. Such a route will weaken Ukraine by denying Kiev tariff revenue from the pipeline and will prevent unauthorized siphoning off of Russian gas. Russia's natural gas monopoly, Gazprom, is supporting this proposal. Some Russian officials are also demanding that the government seize control of the Ukrainian natural gas distribution network and other industrial enterprises to repay the existing $1.2 billion Ukrainian debt to Russia for past supplies. In addition, the government and Gazprom's subsidiary Itera are behind the interruption in the natural gas supply to Georgia, plunging its capital, Tblisi, into darkness on New Year's Day.31 Critics believe such interruptions in supply are designed to force Georgia to side with Moscow over such issues as Chechnya and the direction of the pipelines through the Caspian Sea region.

Meanwhile, the energy-hungry EU countries are concerned about the current instability in the Middle East and would like to increase their imports of Russian natural gas. Russia is already planning to sell electricity to Europe and Japan, and possibly to China. But history shows that energy trade is often linked to security cooperation. Political instability or policy differences can threaten energy exports and thereby force the dependent country to mute its concerns. For example, Europe, especially France, is already toning down criticism of Russia's actions in Chechnya. Poland is decreasing its support for Ukraine. Thus, with higher dependency on energy from Russia, the EU may become even less critical of Russia's assertive foreign policies.32

Russia is already exporting a large amount of its natural resources and industrial goods to emerging markets in Asia. As economic growth continues in China and the Asia-Pacific region, these markets will likely become more important to Russia's economy than the markets in Europe. China alone offers Russia a large market where it can sell goods ranging from grain to nuclear reactors and AWACS planes, though Beijing cannot reciprocate with investment dollars or new technology. Therefore, while Russia improves its relations with Asian states like China, Korea, and Japan, it will continue to seek U.S. investment.


Even before Vladimir Putin ascended to his country's highest office, as the head of the National Security Council, director of the FSB, and then acting prime minister, he presided over the formulation of four important government documents that articulate Russia's foreign and defense policy. These documents, taken together, explain the new "Putin Doctrine" for Russian national security in the 21st century and demonstrate Moscow's step back to more traditional Russian and Soviet threat assessments. The documents include:

  • A Defense Doctrine, published in draft form in October 1999 and reissued by presidential decree on April 21, 2000;

  • A National Security Concept unveiled in January 2000;

  • The Foreign Policy Concept adopted on July 30, 2000; and

  • The Information Security Concept adopted in August 2000.33

Following the themes first espoused by former Prime Minister Primakov, these documents decry the emergence of a unipolar world dominated by the United States. They lay claim to a sphere of influence that encompasses most of the Eastern Hemisphere. The National Security Concept, for example, names Europe, the Trans-Caucasus, Central Asia, the Asia-Pacific region, and the Middle East as spheres of influence for Russia. It also names the expanding NATO alliance as a danger to the Russian homeland and condemns the use of force by NATO under U.S. leadership as both a violation of international law and a dangerous security trend.

More important, for the first time since the end of the Cold War, the Kremlin calls the United States a major threat to the Russian state. This represents a radical departure from Yeltsin's foreign policy documents, which proclaimed that Russia has no external enemies and that the main danger to the Russian state stems from such domestic concerns as crime, corruption, and political extremism.34

The National Security Doctrine broadly defines threats to the Russian state, including the establishment of foreign military bases in proximity to Russian borders. Not only does it warn against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, but it envisages the first use of nuclear weapons by Russia if it is attacked by non-nuclear weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical warheads or biological weapons, or by an overwhelming conventional force.35 It brands as threatening the weakening of the integrative processes in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). It cautions about claims to Russian territory and warns that conflicts close to Russia-CIS borders could escalate.36

In the Foreign Policy Concept, Russia for the first time has made an open claim to the need to dominate its neighbors. The Foreign Policy Concept adopted by presidential decree on June 28, 2000, calls for the establishment of a belt of good neighbors around Russia's perimeter. As "the strongest Eurasian power," Russia asserts in the Concept that "the [U.S.] strategy of unilateral action may destabilize the world, because the use of force represents the basis for international conflict."37

The Information Security Concept signed by Putin in August 2000 articulates the view that television, mass media, and the Internet are avenues that threaten Russian security and must therefore be controlled by the state. The document calls upon the Federal Security Service to monitor all
e-mail traffic; it also stipulates registration and control of Web sites and all national TV channels.38 This same strategy was taught in the Soviet-era KGB academies.39

These documents reflect the military, KGB, and Communist Party mindset, training, and education of Russia's current national security and foreign policy elites. Each one is also larded with rhetoric about peace and appeals for cooperation from other foreign governments that support international fora such as the United Nations. These appeals are an attempt to offset Russia's conventional military weakness, especially in regions where it currently lacks power projection capabilities. Despite these appeals, each document is an obvious rallying cry to countries that resent America's power and military dominance. Clearly, Russia is seeking international support for its efforts to become an alternative power center to challenge the United States.


While a more confident and anti-American Russia is emerging under Putin's leadership, this does not mean that the new Bush Administration should fear that a conflict with Moscow is either imminent or necessary. However, it does mean that the United States will need to reformulate its policy approach toward Russia.

Some experts in Russia have suggested a "grand bargain" that balances U.S. acceptance of deeper strategic arms cuts and Russian foreign debt rescheduling with Moscow's acceptance of U.S. deployment of a national missile defense system and a significant reduction in military cooperation with China and Iran. But as Russia's cancellation of the secret Gore-Chernomyrdin deal and the $3 billion arms deal with Tehran signed by the Russian Defense Minister show,40 it is becoming more difficult to rely on Moscow's promises to curtail proliferation. Moreover, the Kremlin has shown little flexibility on U.S. national missile defense plans, and the economic outlook for Russia's economy hardly justifies debt rescheduling.

In addition to rescheduling parts of its $58 billion sovereign debt to the Paris Club,41 Russia wants Western help in its effort to accede to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and cooperation on fighting radical Islamic terrorism. Economic growth in Russia would help to make Moscow's policies more trade-friendly and less security-oriented.

The new Bush Administration must design its Russia policy around a core set of priorities: deploying a national missile defense; limiting, to the extent possible, strategic cooperation between China and Russia; preventing Iran from increasing its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile capabilities; containing Saddam Hussein and Iraq; and keeping Eurasian countries from falling exclusively under a Russian sphere of influence.

To this end, President-elect George W. Bush should offer to meet with Vladimir Putin at a summit to address the issues of concern. This summit could take place in Washington in late spring or early summer, or as a side conference at the G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy, to take place sometime this summer. During this summit, the Bush Administration should:

  • Pursue Russia's acceptance of the deployment of a national missile defense system for America. The Administration should emphasize that such a system is not aimed at eliminating Russia's potential for deterrence. The system would be designed, first and foremost, to shield the American people against missile attack by rogue states that possess small numbers of weapons or by terrorist groups. Moscow has already expressed an interest in joint development of boost-stage interceptors for theater missile defense. Such cooperation could open the door to Russia's agreement on a U.S. national missile defense system. Further incentives could include an offer to purchase more of Russia's uranium from its dismantled weapons, to be blended into nuclear reactor fuel at energy-generating facilities to help with the current energy shortages in states like California.42

  • Establish more stringent nonproliferation and arms trade criteria. The Administration should insist that Russia limit its sales of arms, military, and dual-use (military-civilian) technology to China, cease such sales to rogue states, and severely limit them to countries in conflict, such as India and Pakistan. According to President Putin, Russia must speed up its integration into the Western community; if he is serious, Russia should not be involved in activities that undermine the security of the West. While striving to strengthen existing nonproliferation regimes, such as the MTCR, the United States should work with other countries to develop new export controls for the conventional and strategic arms trade.

  • Convince Russia to halt nuclear and ballistic missile cooperation with Iran. The Administration should discuss with Moscow the potential effects of Russia's cooperation with Iran in weapons of mass destruction and convince it to stop, in exchange for a deal in a lucrative high-tech area such as satellite launches or for purchasing more highly enriched Russian uranium from dismantled nuclear weapons. In 1993, the United States signed a 20-year, $11 billion deal to purchase 500 tons of Russian weapons-grade uranium to use as fuel in civilian reactors.43 As compensation for Russia's verifiable cessation of nuclear and missile cooperation with Iran, Washington could also relax or suspend anti-dumping measures applied to such Russian imports as certain types of steel. A time frame should be established for the cessation of all proliferation and arms cooperation with Tehran.

  • Seek cooperation in terminating Iraq's missile and weapons programs and Russian support for Saddam Hussein at the United Nations. The Russian Foreign Ministry and U.N. representatives have defended Saddam and his rogue regime and sought to protect Iraq from further U.N. sanctions. Since kicking U.N. weapons inspectors out of Iraq in 1998, Saddam has succeeded in rebuilding Iraq's conventional military capabilities and, it is feared, has restarted its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs. Moscow should work with the other Security Council members to see that U.N. weapons inspectors return to Iraq. The Kremlin should cease calling for the lifting of the sanctions. Moscow should use its influence with Iraq to insist that its resistance to inspections and violations of the U.N. sanctions stop. In exchange for intelligence-sharing about Saddam's WMD programs, the Bush Administration should offer Moscow incentives, such as preferential economic treatment in Iraq after Saddam is deposed. The United States should also increase pressure on Moscow to ensure that arms sold by Russia to other countries do not wind up in Iraq.

If Russia refuses, the Administration should ensure that the sanctions embodied in U.S. law are imposed. This includes Russian oil companies violating the U.N. sanctions by selling Iraqi oil or investing in Iraq. Congress should examine the application of sanctions against such companies as they seek U.S. financing through initial public offerings and American Depository Rights (ADRs) in U.S. capital markets. These are efficient steps that would punish companies that are boosting Saddam's arsenals and replenishing his treasury to their own gain. Such sanctions would not, however, affect America's ability to export food to Iran or Iraq or limit non-military trade relations.

  • Seek limits on Russia's cooperation with China. China is not only aggressively remodernizing its military, but also has been proliferating weapons and technology to rogue regimes that threaten security in Eurasia and worldwide. The Russian military-industrial complex allowed China almost unlimited access to Soviet-era and post-Soviet arsenals. Recent reports of a forthcoming Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between Moscow and Beijing deeply concern many American policymakers. However, Russian politicians and experts increasingly are recognizing the potential threat to Russia from a rising militaristic China. The United States and Russia should open discussions to highlight potential threats from China to both countries.

  • Express support for Russia's accession to the WTO. Russia is taking a slow approach to WTO accession.44 However, President Putin has proclaimed Russia's integration into international economic flows and liberalization of the Russian economy as paramount goals. Minister of Economic Development German Gref announced that Russia wants first to join the WTO and then to hold talks on economic liberalization. Such an approach is a negotiating tactic that will slow the process of trade liberalization and delay accession to the WTO. The Bush Administration should offer Moscow technical support both in developing policy measures, laws, and regulations that meet WTO standards and in developing a specific strategy to achieve WTO accession.

The Bush Administration must firmly defend America's national security interests, but it should also send a signal to Russia's elites that is seeks better relations and a growing dialogue with the people of Russia about freedom, economic opportunity, and prosperity. To facilitate this dialogue, the Administration should encourage Congress and non-government organizations to expand exchange programs with the Russians and the countries in Eurasia, similar to a program for Russian political elites hosted by the Library of Congress (though the selection of participants in that program could be improved). Academic exchanges, especially in the fields of economics, public administration, law, and business, should be expanded. Students from Russia who study in the United States become its best ambassadors when they return to their homeland. The United States should also consider military-to-military and civilian expert exchanges where issues of doctrine, strategy, and peacekeeping can be discussed.

The new U.S. Administration faces a more determined, disciplined, and organized Russian government led by an energetic president: a former Soviet intelligence officer and a tough Kremlin insider who is intent on maximizing Russia's international prestige. The Bush Administration must do its homework on Russia and then offer to host a summit with President Vladimir Putin to develop important policies, especially on missile defense, proliferation, regional security, Russia's foreign debt, and other economic issues. Most important, Washington should stand firm on matters of national security and national interest.

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.

1. See John Pomfret, "Beijing and Moscow to Sign Pact," The Washington Post, January 13, p. A1.

2. Elizabeth Olson, "More Evidence Found in Swiss Money Probe," The Moscow Times, November 16, 2000, p. 14. The Bank of New York and other banks were responsible for moving around over $6 billion in Russian funds.

3. Interviews with government officials and foreign policy experts in Moscow, November 9-20, 2000.

4. John Omicinski, "Gore Should Come Clean About the Russian Deal," USA Today, November 29, 2000.

5. Michael McFaul, "Russian Rationalism, at Home and Abroad," The Wall Street Journal Europe, July 17, 2000, at http://www.ceip.org/files/publications/mcfaulrussianrationalism.asp

6. "Russia Seeks `Strategic Partnership'," Associated Press, November 25, 2000, quoted in Johnson's Russia List, No. 4653, November 26, 2000. Johnson's Russia List is the leading source of news about Russia and is available by subscription only.

7. For the ESDP, Russia is capable of providing strategic lift and some satellite intelligence and imaging capabilities.

8. Statement by the President of the Russian Federation on nuclear arms policy (in Russian), November 13, 2000, provided by the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation in Moscow.

9. Conversations with Russian Foreign Ministry Officials, Moscow, November 2000.

10. Peter Hopkirk, The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia (New York: Kodansha International, 1994).

11. Putin initiated legislation in the Duma that brought back the Soviet anthem as the national hymn. The 1944 song reflected the inherently imperialistic concept of "Great Russia uniting forever an indestructible Union of republics."

12. See, for example, Alexander Dugin, Osnovy Geopolitiki. Geopoliticheskoye budushcheye Rossii (Moscow: Arctogeya-Center, 1999). Dugin is the most prominent thinker of the Russian "new right" as well as a conspiracy theorist and self-professed admirer of Klaus Haushoffer, Hitler's geopolitical guru. A two-star general from the Strategy Department of the General Staff Military Academy served as an adviser to this publication.

13. Yu. V. Tikhonravov, Geopolitika (Moscow: Vyssheye Obrazovaniye, 1998), pp. 247-249.

14. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, with his anti-Turkish rhetoric of the "last push South," is a spokesman for the anti-Turkish wing among the Eurasianists.

15. Pomfret, "Beijing and Moscow to Sign Pact."

16. Roy Medvedev, "Vladimir Putin: New Emphases in Russian Foreign Policy," Rossiyskaya Gazeta, August 8, 2000, reported in FBIS-SOV-2000-0809, p. 5.

17. Richard F. Staar, "Russia Reenters World Politics," Mediterranean Quarterly, Vol. 11, No. 4 (2000), pp. 5-7.

18. John Broder, "Despite Secret '95 Pact by Gore, Russian Arms Sales to Iran Go On," The New York Times, October 13, 2000.

19. "Russia Sends Hundreds of Missiles to Iran," MENL, November 24, 2000.

20. As quoted in "From Russia With Love," The Wall Street Journal, December 1, 2000.

21. Interview with Representative Curt Weldon (R-PA), Chairman, Subcommittee on Military Research and Development, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. House of Representatives, July 2000.

22. "Unity Goes to Iraq," The Moscow Times, November 11, 2000, p. 4.

23. "Rossiyane o konflikte v Kosovo," at http://www.intellectualcapital.ru/iss3-22/icpoll22.htm.  Polling by All-Russian Institute of Public Opinion (VTsIOM), May 21-25, 1999; sample size, 1,600; margin of error, 4 percent.

24. Ibid.

25. "Amerikansko-Rossiyskie otnosheniya na rubezhe vekov," Doklad rabochei gruppy Fonda Karnegi za mezhdunarodny mir, at http://www.svop.ru/doklad23_4.htm  (Russian-language version of the Carnegie Endowment Report on U.S.-Russian relations).

26. Research trip to Russia, November 9-20, 2000.

27. Tobi Trister Gati, "Exit Yeltsin, Comparative Connections," CSIS E-Journal, 4th Quarter 1999, at http://www.csis.org/pacfor/cc/994Qus_rus.html

28. Simon Saradzhyan, "Su-24 Swoop Down on U.S. Navy," The Moscow Times, November 16, 2000, p. 1.

29. "Not in My Back Yard: Could Ocean Mud Trap Nuclear Waste from Old Russian Subs?" Scientific American, March 1997, at http://www.sciam.com/0397issue/0397scicit3.html

30. The case against Pope, who is suffering from cancer, was extremely weak; see Dmitry Madorsky, "Babkin Takes Stand, Backs Pope," The Moscow Times, November 11, 2000, p. 4.

31. Astrid Wendlandt, "Russia Resumes Georgia Gas Supply," Financial Times, January 5, 2001, p. 4.

32. Ariel Cohen, "Analysis: Russia, EU Moving Toward Energy Deals," United Press International, November 3, 2000, at http://www.vny.com/cf/news/upidetail.cfm?QID=133613

33. "Kontseptsia Natsional'noi Bezopasnosti," Krasnaya Zvezda, January 20, 2000, pp. 2-3. For a detailed analysis of the first two documents, see Stephen Blank, "Military Threats and Threat Assessment in Russia's New Defense Policy," U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, February 7-9, 2000, p. 2 (unpublished).

34. "The Basic Provisions of the Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation," Rossiiskie Vesti, November 18, 1993, pp. 1 and 2, in FBIS-SOV-93-222-S 19, November 1993, pp. 1-11, and at http://russia.shaps.hawaii.edu/security/russia/russia-mil-doc.html

35. Staar, "Russia Reenters World Politics," pp. 23-39.

36. Ibid.

37. "The Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation, Part II: The Modern World and the Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation," at http://www.mid.ru/mid/eng/econcept.htm

38. Ariel Cohen, "Russian New Information Security Doctrine--An Orwellian Deja-vu," United Press International, October 10, 2000.

39. Interview with a government official, Moscow, November 2000. The source requested anonymity.

40. See Ariel Cohen, "Moscow-Tehran Ties Threaten Gulf," United Press International, December 27, 2000, at http://www.vny.com/cf/news/upidetail.cfm?QID=147533

41. John P. Hardt, "Russia's Paris Club Debt: U.S. Interests," Congressional Research Service, RS 20636, July 18, 2000, at http://www.cnie.org/nle/econ-72.html

42. U.S. Department of Energy, "Commercial Nuclear Fuel from U.S. and Russian Surplus Defense Inventories: Materials, Policies, and Market Effects," at http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/nuclear/com_fuel/com_fuel_sum.html

43. "Secret Uranium Deal," Itar-TASS, April 20, 2000, published in RANSAC Nuclear News, April 24, 2000, at http://www.ransac.org/new-web-site/pub/nuclearnews/04.24.00.html#2

44. Reuters, "Gref Backs Slow Path at APEC," The Moscow Times, November 16, 2000, p. 11.


Ariel Cohen
Ariel Cohen

Former Visiting Fellow, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center