Russia in Review
December 9, 2011
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: The US-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism
A digest of useful news from U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism for December 2-9, 2011
A digest of useful news from U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism for the week of December 2-9, 2011
- I. U.S. and Russia priorities for the bilateral agenda.
Nuclear security agenda:
- No significant developments.
Iran nuclear issues:
- Russia opposes new sanctions against Iran and believes negotiations with Tehran on its disputed nuclear program can be resumed, Moscow's U.N. ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Friday. (AP, 12.02.11).
- Banning Iranian oil sales would be a political move and Russia does not believe energy supplies should be used to exert pressure, Russia's energy minister Sergei Shmatko said on Wednesday. (Reuters, 12.07.11).
NATO-Russia cooperation, including transit to Afghanistan:
- The role of military cargo transit to Afghanistan through the territory of Russia will be increasing, Russian General Staff Chief Gen. Nikolai Makarov said on Wednesday. Makarov said Russia is assisting in the training of the Afghan police and is providing humanitarian assistance to this country. "We are ready to consider other issues as well if we get appropriate offers," Makarov said. (Interfax, 12.07.11).
- Russia’s envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, indicated that his government might cut off northern routes for U.S. and NATO supplies into Afghanistan because of disagreements over missile defense. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Russia’s comments about the supply network were “an empty threat . . . because it is clearly in Russia’s self-interest to contribute to success in Afghanistan.” (Washington Post, 12.07.11).
- Russia warns all countries involved in the settlement efforts in Afghanistan from secret contacts with the Taliban, Russian presidential representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said. (Interfax, 12.05.11).
- No significant developments.
- NATO’s Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reported no progress toward a deal, following a key discussion among foreign ministers of countries, which are members of the NATO-Russia Council. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after the meeting: “Unfortunately our partners are not yet ready for cooperation on missile defense.” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said: “It’s not directed at Russia, it’s not about Russia, it’s frankly about Iran.” (AP, 12.08.11).
- U.S. Envoy to NATO Ivo Daalder said: “We can take an adapted version proposed by Russia of the sectoral approach. Under this option, NATO will be responsible for protecting their territory, and Russia - his own. Together, we can determine how some of our missile defense system can work together to strengthen Europe's security and protect it from the Iranian threat.” Daalder said on Friday said the Obama administration initiative to establish a missile defense system across Europe would go forward "whether Russia likes it or not." (Kommersant,12.07.11, GSN, 12.05.11).
- The nomination of U.S. Ambassador-designate to Russia Michael McFaul is in trouble, based on recent responses to senators’ questions about a possible plan to give sensitive data to Russia on the SM-3 anti-missile interceptor. Mr. McFaul was asked directly if the administration is considering giving Russia so-called “velocity burnout” data, known as VBO, on SM-3 anti-missile interceptors. In a detailed response, Mr. McFaul acknowledged that sharing the classified SM-3 velocity data is a possibility. As of Jan. 1, if Congress doesn't act by the end of the year, there will be no U.S. ambassador in Russia and Azerbaijan. (Washington Times, Foreign Policy, 12.07.11).
- Russian armed forces have started taking measures to counter a European anti-missile defense deployment led by the United States, Chief of the General Staff Nikolai Makarov said Wednesday. At the same time Russian remains “prepared to cooperate, to build a missile defense together. Why don't they meet us half-way?” (Itar-Tass, 12.07.11, Xinhua, 12.07.11).
- Russia’s threat to install countermeasures against a planned missile-defense system in Europe are reminiscent of “the confrontation of a bygone era” and reflect a “fundamental misunderstanding” of the West’s intentions, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Wednesday. (Washington Post, 12.07.11).
- Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said the dialogue will continue. "We have no other choice. Otherwise a return to an arms race will be inevitable," Serdyukov said. (Itar-Tass, 12.05.11).
- Russia is not going to get involved in an arms race, it is only stimulating the U.S. and NATO to agree with Moscow on missile defense. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. "We are making a calibrated set of measures which will not be economically burdensome. I want to stress that it aims to stimulate the U.S. and NATO's desire to reach an agreement with us," Ryabkov said. (Interfax, 12.08.11).
- Russia may skip the 2012 Russia-NATO Council summit in Chicago if U.S-Russian talks on the European missile defense shield fail, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Friday. (RIA Novosti, 12.09.11).
Nuclear arms control:
- No significant developments.
Energy exports from CIS:
- No significant developments.
Access to major markets for exports and imports:
- The Dec. 15-17 ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization to formally approve Russia as WTO member. (AP, 12.09.11).
Other bilateral issues:
- Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday accused Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton of instigating protests over the results of Russia’s parliamentary elections by baselessly criticizing the vote as “dishonest and unfair” and he warned that Russia needed to protect against “interference” by foreign governments in its internal affairs. (New York Times, 12.08.11).
- Speaking after Russian Minister Vladimir Putin accused the United States of spurring protests - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday she had expressed "well-founded" concerns about the conduct of Russia's parliamentary election earlier this week. (Reuters, 12.08.11).
- "Regrettably, Washington sticks to outdated stereotypes and labels without even attempting to understand what is happening in our electorate," the Foreign Ministry’s Tuesday statement said, describing comments by the White House, Hillary Clinton and the State Department a[s] "unacceptable." Clinton suggested earlier on Tuesday the vote was neither free nor fair. (Reuters, 12.06.11).
- While saying the Obama administration had sought to engage with Moscow and improve cooperation on issues of common interest, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters: “When rights are violated in Russia or another country, we speak out.'' (Reuters, 12.08.11).
- By 2020 shale sources will make the U.S. the top global oil and gas producer, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia, PFC Energy predicts. (Wall Street Journal, 12.05.11).
- The iced-in city of Nome on Alaska’s western coast may be in luck: A Russian tanker that can plow through thick ice will try to deliver 1.5 million gallons of home heating fuel, gasoline, and diesel fuel after a massive storm kept a barge from getting in before winter. (AP, 12.05.11).
- II. Russia news.
Domestic Politics, Economy and Energy:
- With 99 percent of the ballots cast in the Sunday elections counted, United Russia will have 238 mandates in the 6th State Duma (315 in the 5th Duma), the Communist Party 92 (57 in the 5th Duma), A Just Russia 64 (38 in the 5th Duma), and the Liberal Democratic Party 56 (40 in the 5th Duma), Central Elections Commission (CEC) Chairman Vladimir Churov said. 49.3 percent of all those who came to the polling stations on Sunday voted for United Russia (64.3 percent in 2007), 19.2 percent for the Communist Party (11.57 percent in 2007), 13.25 percent for A Just Russia (7.74 percent in 2007), and 12 percent for the Liberal Democratic Party (8.14 percent in 2007), Churov said. Among the parties that did not overcome the 7 percent election threshold, Yabloko garnered most of the votes 3.43 percent. In regional elections on Sunday , United Russia managed to retain a parliamentary majority in 27 regions. (RIA Novosti, 12.06.11, Interfax, 12.06.11).
- Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said United Russia's losses in the State Duma elections are due to the fact that the party has been bearing the pressure of responsibility for the situation in the country for several years. (Interfax, 12.06.11).
- Prime Minister Vladimir Putin filed candidacy papers for a March 4 presidential election on Wednesday. Putin said on Tuesday he would reshuffle the Russian government after the March 4 vote. Putin as a presidential candidate will deliver new ideas and proposals because Russians expect to see "a new edition of Putin," said the premier's spokesman Dmitry Peskov (Reuters, 12.07.11, RIA Novosti, 12.06.11).
- Chairman of the country's central elections commission Vladimir Churov told the Russian president that 99.999 percent of votes had been processed. Thanking Churov for his efficient work, Dmitry Medvedev called Churov "a true magician." (Haaretz, 12.09.11).
- President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday dismissed claims of massive vote-rigging in Sunday's elections. He also said on Tuesday that Russia's political system is Russia's own affair and not that of its foreign partners. (RIA Novosti, Moscow Times, 12.06.11).
- President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday that vote fraud alleged to have taken place in Russian parliamentary elections will be investigated. (AP, 12.08.11).
- Although election day was peaceful, it was marred by apparent manipulations and serious indications of ballot-box stuffing, according to observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. (Wall Street Journal, 12.06.11).
- Some 5,000 people turned out Monday night for the largest opposition protest in Moscow in years to protest alleged vote fraud. More than 300 were detained Tuesday after a similar demonstration. On Saturday Russian authorities are allowing the opposition to hold a protest of up to 30,000. (Reuters, 12.07.11, AP,12.09.11).
- Russian Premier Vladimir Putin may shift the blame to President Dmitry Medvedev to insulate himself from his first election setback. (Bloomberg, 12.06.11).
- Deputy head of the Kremlin administration Vladislav Surkov said two things are still missing in the Russian political system. First, "a mass liberal party, or more precisely, a party for the annoyed urban communities." Second, he said, "Among Russian politicians, there aren't enough people who respect the second law of thermodynamics....In vulgar terms, it says that in closed systems, disorder grows." (Wall Street Journal, 12.06.11).
- Over the past two years the number of Russians regretting the break-up of the USSR has dropped from 60 percent to 53 percent, and the share of those with the opposite view has risen by 4 percent (from 28 percent to 32 percent), the Yury Levada Analytical Center said. (Interfax, 12.07.11).
- The International Monetary Fund has lowered its forecast for Russian GDP growth in 2012 to 3.5% from 4.1%. (Interfax, 12.08.11).
- The net capital outflow, blamed on European banks and wealthy Russians concerned about a government shake-up, is now expected to exceed $85 billion in 2011, acting Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said late Monday. (Wall Street Journal, 12.06.11).
- Russia is preparing to deploy S-400 surface-to-air missiles in Kaliningrad, the western exclave that borders Poland and Lithuania. President Dmitry Medvedev last month threatened to deploy missiles to Kaliningrad and other areas to be aimed at U.S. missile defense . (AP, 12.07.11).
Security and law-enforcement:
- The Interior Ministry declared Thursday that lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died from heart failure in jail and not as the result of beating by prison officials, refuting the findings of a recent report put out by his employer Hermitage Capital. (Moscow Times, 12.09.11).
- A retired Russian army major has been convicted of treason for being a spy for Georgia. (Moscow Times, 12.09.11).
- Russia on Monday demanded an apology from the government of Qatar for an attack on three Russian diplomats and said it will downgrade its diplomatic relations. (AP, 12.05.11).
- Russia and China have held their first meeting for cooperation in the development of marine nuclear energy for floating power plants and potentially for propulsion of large ships. (World Nuclear News, 12.08.11).
- Russia would like to see a mandatory verification system established for the Biological Weapons Convention to ensure that member nations are abiding by their obligations not to develop or store disease materials for offensive purposes. (GSN, 12.08.11).
- Ukrainian authorities have formally re-arrested opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko on a new criminal charge, her lawyer said on Friday, even as the European Union prepared to send an envoy to Kiev to try to save a summit later this month.(Reuters, 12.09.11).
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