Russia in Review
June 8, 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 June 1-8, 2012
Russia in Review: a digest of useful news from U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism for the week of June 1-8, 2012.
I. U.S. and Russian priorities for the bilateral agenda.
Nuclear security agenda:
The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved spending legislation that would provide roughly $10 billion for U.S. nuclear arms and nonproliferation operations. The $32.1 billion House energy and water appropriations bill for fiscal 2013 must now be meshed with a Senate version before going to the president for signing. It provides $965 million less than sought by the Obama administration. (GSN, 06.07.12).
Republican and Democratic Members of the House Judiciary Committee introduced "The Nuclear Terrorism Conventions Implementation and Safety of Maritime Navigation Act of 2012" The bipartisan legislation would expand and strengthen U.S. efforts to prevent and combat nuclear terrorism. (Nukes of Hazard, 06.05.12).
According to the president of TVEL, Rosatom will consolidate production of all HEU fuels at the Elektrostal Machine-Building Plant. The plant will produce fuel for naval, transport, and research reactors. The second fuel fabrication facility—the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant will continue production of LEU fuel for power reactors. (IPFM Blog, 06.04.12).
The U.S.-Russian Cooperative Threat Reduction Program aimed at disposing of Soviet-built nuclear submarines is nearly completed, the remaining four nuclear submarines will be dismantled in a year or two, Russian Academy of Sciences' Vice President Nikolai Laverov said. (Interfax, 06.07.12).
The U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction program in April supported security for two nuclear-weapon train shipments and disposal of 70 metric tons of chemical nerve agent. (GSN, 06.06.12).
U.S. President Barack Obama confronted the ultimate security nightmare early in his administration—the possibility that the Taliban had acquired a nuclear bomb, according to a new book by New York Times correspondent and Belfer Center senior fellow David Sanger. Intercepted conversations between members of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan led intelligence agencies to warn the group could have a bomb, and the CIA picked up "chatter" of possible attacks on US cities, the book said. (AFP, 05.06.12).
Iran nuclear issues:
Russia supports Tehran’s atomic programme as long as it is “peaceful,” President Vladimir Putin told Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on sidelines of the Shanghai Security Cooperation (SCO) meeting on Thursday. The Iranian president, meanwhile, called for more cooperation between Iran and Russia as NATO “sets its sights on the east,” in a likely reference to a missile defence system currently being deployed by the western alliance. ( AFP, 06.07.12).
Russia’s SCO envoy Kirill Barsky said ahead of the meeting that Iran's request to become a full SCO member could not be met as long as the United Nations has sanctions on the country. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization will definitely expand, probably, through the admission of India and Pakistan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said. (RFE/RL, 06.05.12 Interfax, 06.03.12).
Leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in Beijing said in a joint statement signed at the end of a two-day summit on June 7 that "any attempts to solve the Iranian problem with force are unacceptable and could lead to unpredictable circumstances." The statement said SCO member states were “against military intervention into [the Middle East’s] affairs, forcing a 'handover of power' or using unilateral sanctions." The statement also called for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in central Asia. (RFE/RL, 06.05.12, Xinhua, 06.07.12).
The problem of proliferation of materials and technologies for creating nuclear weapons can be resolved, if third countries, including Iran, turn to the resources of a United States-Russian enriched fuel reserve, said Nikolai Laverov, Vice President at the Russian Academy of Science. (Interfax, 06.07.12).
NATO-Russia cooperation, including transit to Afghanistan:
NATO has concluded agreements with Central Asian nations allowing it to evacuate vehicles and other military equipment from Afghanistan and completely bypass Pakistan, which once provided the main supply route for coalition forces. (AP, 06.04.12).
Leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in Beijing said in a joint statement on June 7 that they supported the establishment in Afghanistan of an "independent, neutral, peaceful state free from terrorism and narco-criminality." The statement also backed an Afghan-led reconciliation process. (RFE/RL, 06.07.12).
U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul apologized for having used the word "bribe" to describe both Washington and Moscow's attempts to secure the military base in the Central Asian country. "I should have said 'economic assistance package,'" he told the audience. (Moscow Times, 06.08.12).
NATO supply and withdrawal are good business: Transit fees already generate some $1 billion per year for Russian freight companies. Optimistic estimates indicate that NATO’s Ulyanovsk operation could bring in annual revenues of $1 billion to local air cargo companies and $250 million to the state railroad. (Heritage, 06.04.12).
No significant developments.
Russia will hold partner-like dialogue on missile defense with Western countries if it has guarantees that the missile shield is not directed against it, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday. “We would like to receive military and technological guarantees fixed in legally binding documents. Statements like ‘don’t be afraid, we promise that nothing will happen’ are clearly insufficient in the modern world. This is childish. We need guarantees and serious agreements in the security sphere,” Putin said in Paris. (RIA Novosti, 02.06.12).
No document on missile defence is being prepared for the upcoming meeting between President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama at the G20 summit in Mexico, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. (Itar-Tass, 06.02.12).
Leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in Beijing said in a joint statement on June 7 that they rejected the deployment of missile-defense systems either "by one state or a group of states," saying such actions represented a "threat to international security." (RFE/RL, 06.07.12).
Nuclear arms control:
At the start of 2012 eight states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, and Israel—possessed approximately 4400 operational nuclear weapons. Nearly 2000 of these are kept in a state of high operational alert. If all nuclear warheads are counted, these states together possess a total of approximately 19,000 nuclear weapons as compared with 20,530 at the beginning of 2011. The decrease is due mainly to Russia and the USA further reducing their inventories. (SIPRI, 06.04.12).
The U.S. State Department released the full (unclassified) aggregate data for U.S. strategic nuclear forces as counted under the New START treaty. The data attributes 1,737 warheads to 812 deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers as of March 1, 2012. This is a reduction of 53 deployed warheads and 10 deployed delivery vehicles compared with the previous data set from September 2011. (FAS Strategic Security Blog, 06.01.12).
A senior-level U.S. Air Force panel has approved a document that formally articulates the need for a new ground-based missile system to replace today’s nuclear-armed Minuteman 3 arsenal. (GSN, 06.01.12).
No significant developments.
Energy exports from CIS:
No significant developments.
Access to major markets for exports and imports:
The Russian government has approved the agreements for the country's accession to WTO and sent them to the State Duma. All documents to become a full member of the WTO must be ratified by Russia by July 23, 2012. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Russia's future membership of the WTO should not be dreaded as a "thriller." (Interfax, 06.06.12, RIA Novosti, 06.07.12).
Other bilateral issues:
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke of transition in Syria in a telephone conversation with her this weekend. “He himself has referred to the Yemen example,” Clinton said. (AP, 06.03.12).
A senior U.S. State Department official, Fred Hof, held talks on Friday with Russian Deputy Foreign Ministers Gennady Gatilov and Mikhail Bogdanov in Moscow. U.S. officials have suggested Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent Hof to Moscow as part of an effort secure a transition strategy that the United States says must include Assad's full transfer of power. This week's preliminary round of discussions in Moscow on a post-Assad scenario will lay the groundwork ahead of a meeting between President Barack Obama and Putin at the Group of 20 Summit June 18-19 in Los Cabos, Mexico. (Reuters, 06.08.12,Bloomberg, 06.06.12).
The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act was approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Two more committees must weigh in before a vote of the entire House, and the Senate has yet to act on its version. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) has promised to take up the bill in the foreign affairs committee at their as yet unscheduled next business meeting. He has also said he supports joining the Magnitsky bill with legislation to repeal Jackson-Vanik. The U.S. administration will no longer seek to prevent Congress from passing the bill, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in Moscow. Kirk also noted that “once Russia becomes a member of the World Trade Organization, we need to make sure that American businesses have the full advantages of that, and therefore it’s necessary for us to lift Jackson-Vanik.” The Magnitsky bill is unnecessary because U.S. President Barack Obama's administration has already dealt with demands to punish Russian officials involved in human rights violations, Ambassador Michael McFaul said Thursday. (Bloomberg, AP, 06.07.12, Moscow Times, Foreign Policy, 06.08.12).
II. Russia news.
Domestic Politics, Economy and Energy:
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday approved a new schedule for reducing state ownership of companies, which slows down some of the major privatizations. (Moscow Times, 06.08.12).
Dmitry Medvedev defended his authority as prime minister on Monday, insisting he would play more than a "technical" role and playing down suggestions of a disagreement over cabinet appointees. (Financial Times, 06.04.12).
Russian parliament has approved a bill that would raise the fine for participating in an unauthorized protest 150-fold. (Gazeta.ru, AP, 06.06.12).
Russian President Vladimir Putin's top security adviser Nikolai Patrushev said on Friday that foreign-based websites were being used to foment anti-Kremlin protests. (Reuters, 06.01.12).
More than two-thirds of Russians think the Kremlin should begin negotiations with the opposition, but only half of them believe it will happen, according to a new poll by independent Levada Center. (RIA Novosti, 06.07.12).
Russia's central bank governor on Wednesday blamed the deepening euro zone debt crisis for the recent rouble decline, but said the currency will most likely rebound, leaving this year's inflation target of 5-6 percent intact. The rouble trades now at 32.79 versus the U.S. currency, while at its high this year in February it was trading at 29.04 per dollar. Earlier this week, it hit a three-year low.(Reuters, 06.06.12).
Private capital flight from Russia hit $146 billion over the last twenty-one months, with investors withdrawing funds virtually every month. (RIA Novosti, 06.06.12).
Russia's ground-transportable ballistic missile firing pads are to be equipped with a new concealment system designed to disguise markings they leave on the ground, making it more difficult to ascertain their whereabouts. (GSN, 06.01.12).
Russia's latest ballistic missile submarine, the Borey class Yury Dolgoruky, will complete an initial sea trial on June 7, its maker Sevmash shipyard said on Tuesday. (RIA Novosti, 06.07.12).
The Russian Defense Ministry announced that a Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile has been successfully test-fired from a military field in Russia. (RFE/RL, 06.08.12).
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has expressed doubt over the necessity for his country to produce a new line of long-range nuclear bombers. "Look at the current level of air defense and antimissile defense—these aircraft will not get anywhere. Not ours, not theirs," Rogozin said. (GSN. 06.07.12).
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has released its annual report, which shows U.S. at the top of the defense list spending about $711 billion followed by China with $143 billion and Russia with Russia $71.9 billion. Military spending by the U.S. was down by 1.2 percent. Russia and China increased military spending by 9 percent and 6 percent respectively. (Global Toronto, 06.04.12).
Security and law-enforcement:
Court-sanctioned snooping on private phone calls and e-mails has increased 75 percent over the past four years to 466,152 warrants last year. (Moscow Times, 06.06.12).
During the Chinese-Russian summit in Beijing Vladimir Putin said he plans to boost bilateral trade with China to $200 billion per year by 2020, up from the current $83 billion. Putin also said Russia will cement its military alliance with China, including an increase in joint exercises in the Asia-Pacific. The two leaders also issued a statement that said “Russia and China are against the use of armed force or threat of force, do not approve excessive pressure on Iran or adoption of unilateral sanctions against it, favour intensified negotiations on issues related to the Iranian nuclear programme and peaceful settlement through dialogue and talks, and call for prevention of further confrontation around Iran.” Both China and Russia “oppose external intervention in the Syrian situation and oppose regime change by force,” the statement said. At the summit Chinese tentatively agreed to invest $3 billion in tourism in North Caucasus and extend a $1.4 billion loan for the construction of an aluminum plant in Siberia. The two sides also agreed to join forces with a Russian aircraft maker to design and build planes and helicopters. (MT, 05.06.12, Russia Profile, 05.05.12).
Russia is not shipping weapons that can be used in the Syrian civil conflict, President Vladimir Putin told reporters in Berlin. (RT, 06.01.12).
A true partnership with the European Union is only possible after scrapping visa barriers, President Vladimir Putin told the leaders of the 27-member bloc Monday. During the EU-Russia summit, Putin defended his country’s human rights record, claiming that Russia has no political prisoners and dismissing criticism of a bill that hikes fines for unsanctioned street rallies. (AP, Moscow Times, 06.04.12).
Nigeria signed a cooperation accord with Russia towards the construction of its first nuclear power plant today at the AtomExpo event in Moscow. (WNN, 06.04.12).
Russia accused the United States on Wednesday of encouraging Georgia to seek revenge against Moscow for the 2008 war, a day after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton promised new military support to Georgia. On Tuesday, Clinton pledged the United States’ support for the training of Georgia’s military in coastal defense and underscored Washington’s rejection of Russia’s “occupation” of two separatist regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Clinton said in Batumi (Georgia) on June 5 that U.S. embassies would soon start accepting “neutral passports” for Abkhazian and South Ossetian residents wishing to travel to the United States. (Reuters, 06.02.12, AP, 06.07.12).
The Chinese president announced at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit this week that Beijing would extend some $10 billion in loans to some SCO members. China will provide Tajikistan with some $1 billion in loans and aid. (RFE/RL, 06.08.12).
Member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization have launched a week of joint military exercises in Tajikistan. (RFE/RL, 06.08.12).
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who visited Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, said the Yerevan-Baku standoff could lead to a "much broader conflict." Several incidents have been reported along the Azerbaijani-Armenian border since June 4, where at least three Armenian and five Azerbaijani soldiers were killed. (RFE/RL, 06.06.12).
NATO is ready to interact with third countries, including Ukraine, on an individual basis to raise anti-ballistic missile defense efficiency, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy Dirk Brengelmann said on Sunday. (RIA Novosti, 06.03.12).
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