Russia in Review
April 1, 2011
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: The US-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism
An update from U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism for the week of March 25 - April 1, 2011.
A digest of useful news from U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism for the week of March 25 – April 1, 2011
I. U.S. and Russia priorities for the bilateral agenda.
Nuclear security agenda:
- U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Russell will travel to Ukraine on April 5-7 with the aim of bilateral discussion on removing highly enriched uranium stockpiles from Ukrainian research institutes. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said the country had already dispatched a large portion of its weapon-usable uranium to Russia. (GSN, 03.31.11).
Iran nuclear issues:
- No significant developments.
NATO-Russia cooperation, including transit to Afghanistan:
- Russia said on Monday it was open to dialogue with the Taliban in Afghanistan, echoing the U.S. position. "We have no direct contacts with the Taliban. But Russia supports national reconciliation in Afghanistan, which is of crucial importance," said Zamir Kabulov, Russia's newly-appointed envoy to Afghanistan. (Reuters, 03.28.11).
- No significant developments.
- Speaking on Tuesday on the results of the regular session of the Russia-NATO Council at ambassadorial level, Dmitry Rogozin acknowledged that so far "there is no special progress on ABM.” "We have not yet received legal guarantees from the Alliance that the ABM will not be directed against Russia's strategic potential," Rogozin said. (Itar-Tass, 03.30.11).
- Ukraine and NATO are discussing the content and prospects of European missile defense cooperation at a Monday meeting of experts in Brussels, a high-ranking military man said. "This could be cooperation in the development of new radars and the use of Ukrainian missile and anti-missile missile technologies. Ukraine's capacities in making mathematical models to evaluate the condition of a missile defense system and the efficiency of its elements may also be in demand," he said. (Interfax, 03.28.11).
Nuclear arms control:
- Delegations from the United States and the Russian Federation will meet in Geneva, Switzerland, from March 28 to April 8 for the inaugural session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission (BCC). The BCC is the implementation body created by the New START Treaty. Under the terms of the Treaty, it is required to meet at least twice each year, unless the parties agree otherwise. (U.S. Department of State, 03.25.11).
Energy exports from CIS:
- No significant developments.
Access to major markets for exports and imports:
- No significant developments.
Other bilateral issues:
- Bill Burns, a career U.S. diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to Russia, has been chosen to replace Jim Steinberg as deputy secretary of state, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday. (Reuters, 03.30.11).
II. Russia news.
Domestic Politics, Economy and Energy:
- Cabinet ministers representing the government on the boards of state-controlled companies will have to step down, an adviser to Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev said Thursday. Arkady Dvorkovich said those ministers will include the powerful energy czar Deputy Premier Igor Sechin, an ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and chairman of the board at OAO Rosneft. Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to say whether Medvedev had agreed his plan with Putin but acknowledged that the president's speech came as a surprise to the government. (AFP, 03.31.11, AP, 03.31.11).
- President Medvedev on Monday backed tougher checks on the income declarations of government officials, called for stronger anti-corruption measures in state procurements, and introduced new rules for implementing his orders. Kremlin officials said the percentage of Medvedev’s orders being implemented is close to the highs seen under Josef Stalin and that Medvedev is far ahead of his tough-talking predecessor, Vladimir Putin, in his early years in power. (Moscow Times, 03.29.11).
- Just days after President Medvedev's think tank released a report criticizing Putin-era reforms and suggesting that Medvedev seek re-election on a platform of democracy, a think tank close to Prime Minister Putin has issued a copycat report that sets the stage for Putin to run on a similar platform. The Center of Conservative and Social Policy, a United Russia think tank, criticized "suppression of political pluralism" in its report on the country's development and called for democratization, including the possible return of direct gubernatorial elections. (Moscow Times, 03.28.11).
- The upcoming elections in Russia may trigger a “political crisis” because voters increasingly see their leadership as “illegitimate,” the Moscow-based Center for Strategic Studies said in a March 28 report. (Bloomberg, 03.30.11).
- Russia’s population declined by nearly 3.4 million over the past decade, according to census figures released Monday, adding to fears that an aging and decreasing population will sap economic growth. A census carried out in October 2010 showed that the population had fallen to 142.9 million, from 145.2 million in 2002, when the previous census was taken, and from 146.3 million in 2001, according to Russia’s Federal Statistics Service. Russia is expected to lose an estimated one million workers every year until 2017. (Reuters, 03.28.11).
- Russian police arrested about 150 people who were trying to take part in unauthorized anti-government protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg on Thursday. (AP, 03.31.11).
- Russians will be permanently on daylight savings time when they set their clocks ahead one hour early on Sunday under a decree from President Dmitry Medvedev. (Reuters, 03.26.11).
- Russian arms exports are expected to stay at record levels of about $10 billion a year until at least 2014 as top customer India continues to beef up its armaments, leading military think tank CAST said on Monday. (Reuters, 03.28.11).
- Russian entrepreneur Vladimir Antonov has applied to take over Saab Automobile amid further signs of trouble at the struggling Swedish carmaker, which is owned by Netherlands-listed Spyker Cars. (Financial Times, 03.31.11).
- The Russian General Staff does not plan to enlarge the number of conscripts, and some of them will be replaced with contract servicemen already this year, General Staff Deputy Chief Vasily Smirnov said. Although about 280,000 conscripts will be dismissed this spring, and only 203,000 conscripts will be drafted, the difference will be covered with contract servicemen. Their number has topped 170,000 although only 100,000 were planned, he said. (Interfax, 03.31.11).
- President D Medvedev has dismissed first deputy chief of the Navy General Staff Vice Adm. Burtsev. (Interfax, 03.30.11).
Security and law-enforcement:
- Security forces raided a camp for suicide bombers in Ingushetia late Monday in their search for suspects linked to the Domodedovo bombing, killing 17 militants, the National Anti-Terrorism Committee said. Forensic tests were being carried out on the bodies Tuesday, but Ingush leader Yunus-Bek Yevkurov said they included senior militants. He identified only one, Umarov’s chief ideologist, saying his name was Abusupyan. (Moscow Times, 03.30.11).
- Investigators charged Chechen warlord Doku Umarov on Tuesday with masterminding the Domodedovo Airport bombing, even as media reports suggested that he might have been among 17 militants killed in clashes a day earlier. (Moscow Times, 03.30.11).
- Russia's foreign minister says Libya needs a new, democratic regime but the Libyans must form it themselves. Sergey Lavrov warned the West Wednesday against supplying weapons to opponents of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and called for a quick end to hostilities. Lavrov said Monday that attacks on forces loyal to Gadhafi amounted to intervention in a civil war and were not backed by the UN resolution that authorized no-fly zones. (Reuters, 03.29.11, AP, 03.30.11).
- Russia's envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, urged the alliance on Tuesday not to bomb Libyan ground targets when it assumes command of the military campaign from the U.S.-led international coalition. (AP, 03.30.11).
- Gadhafi could hold onto power for as long as a few months but his government will ultimately fall, according to Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the International Affairs committee in the upper house of parliament and the government's special representative for Africa. (Wall Street Journal, 04.01.11).
- The possibility that the Russian armed forces might somehow participate in the operation the international coalition is conducting in Libya is out of the question, said Gen. Nikolai Makarov, the chief of staff of the Russian armed forces. (Interfax, 03.28.11).
- An oil dispute between Russia and China has escalated, industry sources said Friday, as Moscow believes Beijing has underpaid it $100 million for oil in 2011 under a landmark 20-year supply deal. (Reuters, 03.28.11).
- Chinese President Hu Jintao and leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa will meet on the far southern Chinese island-province of Hainan on April 14 for the BRICS summit. (Reuters, 03.31.11).
- The Obama administration on Tuesday slapped sanctions on a state-owned energy company in Belarus over a $500 million investment with an Iranian firm accused of contributing to Iran's suspect nuclear program. (AP, 03.29.11).
- The International Court of Justice on Friday ruled it had no jurisdiction to hear Georgia's complaints of alleged human rights abuses by Russia on Georgian territory because the two sides had not held negotiations. (Reuters, 04.01.11).
- Georgian police said they found three bombs outside government buildings in the ex-Soviet republic's second-largest city on Thursday and blamed Russia. The Russian Defense Ministry and Foreign Ministry could not be reached for comment late on Thursday. Russia denied Georgian accusations of involvement in bombings last year. (Reuters, 01.31.11).
- Georgia's president Mikheil Saakashvili said of his country’s negotiations with Russia on Moscow’s WTO bid: “We need transparency of border transactions and customs issues. That's where we need to find mutually acceptable solutions with the Russians." (Foreign Policy, 03.30.11).
- President Nursultan Nazarbayev sees sure victory in Sunday's Kazakhstan election, tempering authoritarian rule with promises of stability and economic growth in a turbulent Central Asian region. (Reuters, 03.31.11).
- Belarus allowed its ruble to slide 10% against the dollar Tuesday, a day after promising not to let its currency devalue, even as economists said the move isn't likely to solve authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko's deepening economic difficulties. Belarus's central bank ruled out a sharper devaluation of the country's currency. (Wall Street Journal, 04.01.11).
- Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian says he has asked U.S. President Barack Obama to explicitly describe the World War I-era mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as genocide. (RFE/RL, 04.01.11).
- Ukraine's former President Leonid Kuchma says he has hired Alan Dershowitz, a star U.S. lawyer who worked on several high-profile legal cases to act as an adviser in his defense against murder charges. (RFE/RL, 03.28.11).
- Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has sacked his long-time national security minister. State television reported that Charymyrat Amanov lost his job due to unspecified "shortcomings in his work." (RFE/RL, 03.30.11).
For more information about this publication please contact the The US-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism at 617-496-0518.
For Academic Citation: