Russia in Review
April 13, 2012
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: The US-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism
Russia in Review: a digest of useful news from U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism for the week of April 6-April 13, 2012.
Russia in Review: a digest of useful news from U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism for the week of April 6-13, 2012
I. U.S. and Russian priorities for the bilateral agenda.
Nuclear security agenda:
· The G-8 Foreign Ministers on Thursday condemned the North Korean missile launch as a violation of U.N. resolutions and an act that “undermines regional peace and stability.” (AP, 04.12.12).
· Russia criticised North Korea for its rocket launch on Friday, saying that Pyongyang had defied the U.N. Security Council and that neighbouring powers all opposed it. (Reuters, 04.13.12).
· Moscow opposes hitting North Korea with new sanctions over its failed rocket launch, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday. (Reuters, 04.13.12).
Iran nuclear issues:
· Russia might at some point be willing to accept an Iranian uranium enrichment program, but not until the Middle Eastern nation has taken steps to build international confidence that it has no intention of developing a nuclear weapons capability, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday. (GSN, 04.11.12).
· “We are united in our resolve and expectation that Iran will come to the talks prepared, and we are receiving signals that they are bringing ideas to the table,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said of G-8’s position on the P5+1 talks with Iran that start Friday. (AP, 04.12.12).
NATO-Russia cooperation, including transit to Afghanistan:
· President-elect Vladimir Putin on Wednesday called NATO a relic of the Cold War but said he supported letting the alliance use a Russian airport as a supply hub in support of its mission in Afghanistan. “We don't want our soldiers to fight on Tajik-Afghan border," Putin said. (Reuters, 04.11.12).
· The NATO-Russia Council is slated to convene next week. “The agenda is broad; everything is important – Afghanistan, various forms of cooperation and the Chicago summit,” according to NATO information bureau head in Moscow Robert Pszczel said. Brussels believes that alliance head Anders Fogh Rasmussen will sit down with Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin shortly after he is installed in office in early May. (GSN, 04.12.12).
· No significant developments.
· U.S. special envoy on strategic stability Ellen Tauscher said: “U.S. President Barack Obama has emphasized that elements of the antimissile defense system of the U.S. and NATO are not aimed against Russia. The U.S. is ready to provide these guarantees in writing in the framework of the political format that opens a path for practical cooperation with Russia in the field of antimissile defense.” (WPS/Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 04.13.12).
· "I think it’ll be possible to tap some form of an agreement at the political level within the next few months," Robert Pszczel, director of the NATO information bureau in Moscow said Wednesday. (Itar-Tass, 04.11.12).
· The NATO-Russia missile defense exercises were held in Germany with more than 60 specialists from member countries taking part, according to head of the Russian defence ministry’s international cooperation department Sergei Koshelev. "We think the drills were successful and useful," he said. (Tass, 04.06.12).
Nuclear arms control:
· As of March 1 the United States held 1,737 fielded strategic nuclear warheads carried by 812 active ICBMs, SLBMs, and bombers, according to the New START data released by the State Department. Russia remains under the cap for fielded weapons, with 1,492 warheads on 494 ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers, according to the latest figures. The treaty requires both nations by 2018 to reduce their deployed strategic arsenal to 1,550 warheads and 700 delivery devices. The counts of reserve and deployed delivery systems showed the United States with 1,040 and Russia with 881. The maximum ultimately allowed by the accord is 800. (GSN, 04.11.12).
· The debate in U.S over the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty is heating up following the release of a National Academy of Sciences report, which says the United States is able to maintain a safe and effective nuclear weapons stockpile without testing. (Defense News, 04.10.12).
· U.S. special envoy on strategic stability Ellen Tauscher said: “We attentively studied the ‘Treaty on stopping of deployment of armament in outer space, use of force or threat of force towards space objects’ proposed by Russia and China. The Obama Administration drew a conclusion about existence of irreparable drawbacks in it.” (WPS/Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 04.13.12).
· No significant developments.
Energy exports from CIS:
· Russian state oil firm Rosneft will gain access to unconventional hydrocarbon resources in North America in exchange for access to Russia's Arctic offshore when it finalizes a joint venture deal with ExxonMobil on Monday, industry sources said on Friday. (Reuters, 04.13.12).
Access to major markets for exports and imports:
· No significant developments.
Other bilateral issues:
· Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout who was convicted in the United States on terrorism charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison has asked Russia to file a lawsuit against the U.S. and Thailand on his behalf. Russian authorities said they’ll pressure the U.S. government to send Bout to Russia. (AP, 04.12.12).
· Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said legislation proposed by U.S. senators on the death in prison of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky would hurt bilateral relations. (RFE/RL, 04.12.12).
· The U.S. nominee to become head of the World bank, Jim Yong Kim, is heading to Moscow and to Peru, on April 12-17 to seek support for his candidacy. (RFE/RL, 04.12.12).
II. Russia news.
Domestic Politics, Economy and Energy:
· President-elect Vladimir Putin told Parliament it would be "reasonable" to bar anyone from serving more than two terms as president, but he firmly rejected any such limit on himself. (Wall Street Journal, 04.12.12).
· The rating of President-elect Vladimir Putin has grown by 4 percent and stands at 54 percent, according to an opinion poll by the Public Opinion Foundation. (RIA Novosti, 04.12.12).
· The Just Russia opposition faction stormed out of Russia's parliament on Wednesday to protest Vladimir Putin's refusal to look into claims of vote-rigging in the Astrakhan mayoral election.(AP, 04.11.11).
· President-elect Vladimir Putin on Thursday outlined new rules for the development of vast offshore oil and gas resources, offering some much-needed tax breaks to make far-flung projects viable. According to Putin, the projects offshore, where Russian hydrocarbon reserves are estimated at 100 billion metric tons (110.23 billion tons) of oil equivalent, may attract as much as $500 billion in investment during a 30-year span. (Reuters, 04.12.12).
· President-elect Vladimir Putin said Russia "can think about" investing some of the funds in the $89.5 billion National Welfare Fund in developing Eastern Siberia and the Far East, and part in strategic projects. He called for a government decision this year. (Reuters, 04.11.12).
· Russia's government has released income declarations for top officials ranging from President-elect Vladimir Putin to outgoing head of state Dmitry Medvedev. Putin and Medvedev reported 3.7 million rubles ($124,000) and 3.3 million rubles ($114,000), respectively, in 2011 income. Soon Russian government officials will have to declare their expenditures as well. (RIA-Novosti, RFE/RL, 04.12.12).
· Up to 16 percent of the country's entrepreneurs have been prosecuted in the past decade and no less than two-thirds of companies that ran afoul of the law have been closed. The acquittal rate for economic crimes in Russia is just 0.3 percent, compared to up to four percent in former Soviet economies like Georgia, Poland, and Ukraine. . (Russia Profile, 04.09.12).
· The share of Russians with savings has hit a 20-year high of 70 percent, according to data published by the Romir research center. (RIA Novosti, 04.09.12).
· Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday his nation will spend about $1 billion this year alone to build a new space launch pad in the far east. (AP, 04.12.12).
· Russia has deployed a battalion of S-400 Triumph air defense missile systems at a Baltic Fleet base in the exclave of Kaliningrad. (RIA Novosti, 04.09.12).
Security and law-enforcement:
· Federal Security Service has named Chechen insurgent leader Doku Umarov as the mastermind of a foiled plot to assassinate President-elect Vladimir Putin. The plot is being investigated in Ukraine where suspects are held. (RFE/RL, Kommersant 04.13.12).
· Security forces killed at least six suspected militants in Stavropol province on Tuesday. (Reuters, 04.10.12).
· Russia’s top investigative body said Monday it has dropped charges against a doctor suspected of negligence in the case of Sergei Magnitsky. (AP, 04.09.12).
· Russia's high incarceration rate is 600 prisoners to 100,000 inhabitants, as opposed to 300 in Ukraine and 200 in Bulgaria. (Russia Profile, 04.09.12).
· The G-8 Foreign Ministers on Thursday welcomed an apparent cease-fire between the Syrian government and opposition forces but cautioned that the pause in hostilities is only a first step in ending the crisis. (AP, 04.12.12).
· Russia urged the Syrian government on Tuesday to act "more decisively" to implement international envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan but also said foreign states should use their influence on opposition groups to press for an immediate ceasefire. (AP, 04.10.12).
· The Russian state-owned nuclear operator Rosatom is interested in a bid to build a new reactor on Great Britain’s Anglesey. Rosatom could be set to buy a share of Horizon Nuclear Power. (BBC, 04.12.12).
· The United States has condemned the five-year prison term handed down to former Ukrainian defense minister Valery Ivashchenko who served under the jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. (RFE/RL, 04.13.12).
· Six persons, suspected in an assassination attempt on Abkhaz leader Alexander Ankvab, were arrested on April 12, the breakaway region’s prosecutor’s office said. One of the arrested suspects is Anzor Butba, a well-known businessman in Abkhazia, who reportedly has a gravel pit in the breakaway region and also has business interests in agriculture. (Civil Georgia, 04.13.12).
· Former KGB chief Leonid Tibilov on Monday scored a victory in the runoff presidential election in Georgia’s breakaway province of South Ossetia. (AP, 04.09.12).
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