Russia in Review
July 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 ofJuly 6-13, 2012
Russia in Review: a digest of useful news from U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism for the week of July 6-13, 2012
I. U.S. and Russian priorities for the bilateral agenda.
Nuclear security agenda:
· Russia and the United States have by 90 percent completed the U.S.-Russia Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) Purchase Agreement of 1993, the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) said on Monday. (Itar-Tass, 07.10.12).
Iran nuclear issues:
· Russian leader Vladimir Putin said in the annual presidential address to the Russian ambassadors on Monday: “Collective effort with the emphasis on peaceful negotiations and the search for compromise solutions should become the imperative in general in international life today. This applies to the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programmes.” (Kremlin.ru, 07.09.12).
NATO-Russia cooperation, including transit to and from Afghanistan/Military-to-military cooperation:
· Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey hosted chief of Russian General Staff chief Nikolai Makarov on Thursday to discuss plans for a NATO-backed missile-defense shield in Europe, the war in Afghanistan, developments in the Middle East, as well as Washington's strategic focus on the Asia-Pacific region. The two generals also discussed bilateral military relations, especially the Bilateral Presidential Commission's Military Cooperation Working Group. Dempsey hosted a full honor cordon for Makarov. (RFE/RL, AFP, Xinhua, 07.13.12).
· Russian and U.S. militaries will hold Vigilant Eagle exercise in August to simulate joint action “between Air Forces in case terrorists capture an aircraft," Russian Chief of General Staff Army Gen. Nikolai Makarov said in Washington. Also, preparations for the U.S.-Russian Atlas Vision joint exercise are due to be held before the end of July, he said. "The exercise planned for 2013 aims to practice cooperation between the Russian and U.S. ground forces taking part in the peacekeeping operations under the UN (United Nations) aegis," he said."We are also planning to hold a number of naval events," the Russian chief of the General Staff said. (Interfax, 07.10.12).
· "Russia and the U.S. are engaged in dialogue on missile defense at the level of experts," according to Ambassador Sergei Kislyak."However I cannot say that there are signs of a breakthrough," he said. "Frankly speaking, I did not expect one." (GSN, 07.10.12).
· Boeing has awarded a $636 million deal for Raytheon to move forward with preparation of an updated Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle. The contract with Boeing, lead firm on the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program, calls for Raytheon through 2018 to continue preparation, deployment, trials and management of an unspecified number of kill vehicles. (GSN, 07.09.12).
Nuclear arms control:
· No significant developments.
· No significant developments.
· The loss of industrial information and intellectual property through cyber espionage constitutes the "greatest transfer of wealth in history," the nation's top cyber warrior Gen. Keith Alexander said Monday. (Foreign Policy, 07.09.12).
· U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski on Thursday criticized the new Internet law in Russia that won approval in the lower house of the Parliament Wednesday, saying it could limit free speech and civil rights. (Washington Post, 07.12.12).
Energy exports from CIS:
· No significant developments.
Access to major markets for exports and imports:
· Russia’s parliament voted Tuesday to ratify the country’s accession to the World Trade Organization. Membership becomes official in 30 days and will put U.S. companies at an immediate disadvantage because of the Jackson-Vanik legislation. (Washington Post, 07.10.12).
· Russia's highest court ruled on Monday that a deal to join the World Trade Organization was in line with the constitution. (Reuters, 07.09.12).
· The U.S. Congress appears increasingly unlikely to approve a bill to upgrade U.S. trade relations with Russia before the November elections. Representative Dave Camp, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, has not introduced PNTR legislation. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Democrat, has promised to incorporate the Magnitsky legislation into PNTR, which his committee could vote on as early as next week. But some question whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would schedule a Senate vote without a clear signal from the House. (Reuters, 06.12.12).
· One of the main goals of the Federation Council delegation’s visit to the United States is “to restore juridical logic and call on counterparts from the House of Representatives and the Senate that the Magnitsky Act and a bill cancelling discriminatory Jackson-Vanik amendment for Russia should be considered separately,” the deputy head of the Federation Council constitutional legislation committee, Alexander Savenkov said. The delegation handed in documents to their U.S. colleagues that they say prove the involvement of the late lawyer Sergei Magnitsky into tax dodging scheme. "At our meeting with Under Secretary of State for political affairs Wendy Sherman, she said Washington hopes that Russia will not take retaliatory approach to the Magnitsky Act, but she is deeply mistaken," said Valery Shnyakin, deputy chair of the Federation Council's Committee for International Affairs . (Interfax, RIA Novosti, 07.12.12, 07.13.12).
· An industry source said Mitt Romney assured a group of corporate CEOs last month that he supported the legislation bill to upgrade U.S. trade relations with Russia. (Reuters, 06.12.12).
Other bilateral issues:
· Russian leader Vladimir Putin said in the annual presidential address to the Russian ambassadors on Monday: “We cannot but feel concerned when we see attempts to replace the anti-Soviet Jackson-Vanik amendment with an anti-Russian law, or upset the strategic balance by building a missile defence system.”(Kremlin.ru, 07.09.12).
· Russian leader Vladimir Putin said in the annual presidential address to the Russian ambassadors on Monday: " Russia and the USA play a vital part in resolving many global and regional problems, and at a time when international relations are so complex, on-going and trusting dialogue between our two countries becomes even more important.” (Kremlin.ru, 07.09.12).
· The bureaucratic burden on Russians and Americans traveling to each others' countries is set to lighten next year, after the State Duma voted Friday for a less onerous visa regime between the two countries. (Moscow Times, 07.06.12).
II. Russia news.
Domestic Politics, Economy and Energy:
· President Vladimir Putin launched an investigation into floods that killed at least 171 people and drove thousands from their homes in the Black Sea region town of Krymsk and adjacent towns on Saturday. Russia’s emergencies minister acknowledged Monday that authorities failed to properly warn residents. (Reuters, AP, 07.09.12).
· The Russian Parliament has approved an Internet "blacklist" bill opponents say could be used to crack down on dissent. The State Duma committee that drafted the bill said it is necessary to combat Web sites that carry child pornography, drug promotion material and advice on suicide, and said the law would bring about the creation of a federal agency to rule on which Web sites should be closed down. (UPI, 07.12.12).
· Russia’s parliament adopted a law Friday imposing harsh requirements on election monitors, human rights groups and other politically active organizations that receive foreign money, forcing them to register as foreign agents and submit to exhaustive audits. (Washington Post, 07.13.12).
· Most Russians (79 percent) are not ready to take part in opposition protests, the results of a nation-wide poll conducted by VTsIOM on 30 June-1 July. (Interfax, 07.12.12).
· Finance Minister Anton Siluanov on Friday advanced the idea of cutting government-funded jobs in a bid to reduce the growing strain on the federal budget. He made the proposal as he became alarmingly repetitive in pushing for austerity at a Cabinet meeting that reviewed the first draft of next year's federal spending, projected at 13.4 trillion rubles ($411 billion). (AP, 07.09.12).
· Kazakh air defense chief Nurzhan Mukanov says Kazakhstan and Russia are expected to sign an agreement next year to create a joint regional air-defense system. (RFE/RL, 07.11.12).
Security and law-enforcement:
· The percentage of Russians dissatisfied with corrupt authorities has reached its highest level in 13 years, a poll released Thursday showed. Twenty-nine percent of respondents told Levada Center pollsters that they were outraged by authorities' practice of thinking of themselves and their pockets before their official duties. Twenty-two percent gave the same answer during a similar survey last year, with 23 percent holding similar views in 1999. (Moscow Times, 07.12.12).
· An Associated Press-GfK poll released this month shows that nearly nine in 10 Russians (87 percent) identify drug abuse as at least a “very serious” problem in Russia today. The only other issue that worries as many Russians (85 percent) is the corruption that pervades Russian society, business and politics. (AP, 07.12.12).
· Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the Syrian government and opposition groups should be “forced” to start a dialogue. He spoke Monday, the same day a Syrian opposition leader, Michel Kilo, met with Russia’s foreign minister. Putin said that the dialogue Russia is helping facilitate is “more complicated and fine” that an armed solution to the conflict. Kilo, who heads the Democratic Forum opposition group, said that he hopes Russia will play a positive role in “finding a peaceful solution to our crisis.” Abdelbaset Sieda, head of the Syrian National Council has strongly criticized Russia’s position on the country’s conflict after meeting with Russia’s foreign minister in Moscow on Wednesday. (AP, 07.09.12, 07.11.12).
· Russia urged U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan on Friday to work more closely with the Syrian opposition and a Foreign Ministry source said it would push the idea at talks with Annan in Moscow on Monday. (Reuters, 07.13.12).
· Russia said on Tuesday that it had dispatched a flotilla of 11 warships to the eastern Mediterranean, some of which would dock in Syria. Russia's state-run arms company denied that any of the warships were carrying Mi-25 helicopters it had tried to deliver last month in the Alaed civilian cargo vessel, and said they were still on board that ship. "The times of the Cuban missile crisis are gone, and Russia is playing strictly by the established rules and expects other international players to act similarly," a Russian arms exports agency source said. The Alaed was reported heading south off Norway’s northern coast as of Thursday. That location put the vessel close to the Russian naval group bound for the Mediterranean. Earlier this week, Russian officials had hinted at a role for the naval flotilla in safeguarding ships. Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, deputy chief of the Russian military and technical cooperation agency, said the fleet would “be sent on a task to guarantee the safety of our ships, to prevent anyone from interfering with them in the event of a blockade.” Dzirkaln also said Moscow will not sign new weapons contracts with Syria until the situation there calms down, but will continue, however, with previously agreed exports. (AP, 07.09.12, RIA Novosti, Interfax, New York Times, 07.13.12).
· Russia has circulated a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council that would extend the U.N. observer force in Syria but focus its activities on trying to achieve a political solution to the conflict. (AP, 07.10.12).
· Russian leader Vladimir Putin said in the annual presidential address to the Russian ambassadors on Monday: “We are all the more worried when we see attempts by some actors in international relations to maintain their traditional influence, often by resorting to unilateral action that runs counter to the principles of international law. We see evidence of this in so-called ‘humanitarian operations,’ the export of bomb and missile diplomacy, and intervention in internal conflicts.” (Kremlin.ru, 07.09.12).
· Russian leader Vladimir Putin said on Russia’s relations with the European Union in the annual presidential address to the Russian ambassadors on Monday: "We could build a common market from the Atlantic to the Pacific, a market worth trillions of euros.” (Kremlin.ru, 07.09.12).
· Russia is convinced that the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe has become outdated, Russia's acting envoy to NATO Nikolai Korchunov said. (Interfax, 07.12.12).
· Cuban leader Raul Castro sought on Wednesday to revive friendship with Russia as he met Vladimir Putin for talks on economic relief for his state. A Russian oil company will delay drilling its first exploratory well off the northern coast of Cuba after struggling to find a drilling rig that would not violate a U.S. embargo. (AFP, New York Times, 07.12.12).
· OSCE parliamentary assembly chided Russia on its human rights record and urged governments to impose sanctions by banning visas and freezing the assets of Russians connected to the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. (Washington Post, 07.08.12).
· Iran is producing new laser-guided anti-tank missiles modeled on Russia’s Kornet, the rocket used by Hezbollah in the 2006 war with Israel, according to defense analysts in London and Moscow. (Bloomberg, 07.09.12).
· Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have held talks in Yalta to discuss Ukrainian purchases of Russian natural gas, but no agreement was reached. The talks also addressed the delimitation of water sections of the border in the Azov and Black Seas and the Strait of Kerch, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said. (RFE/RL, 07.12.12, Interfax, 07.13.12).
· Russian leader Vladimir Putin said in the annual presidential address to the Russian ambassadors on Monday: “Deepening the integration process in the CIS is the core of our foreign policy and is our strategic objective. The most independent and objective expert analyses show that Ukraine would indisputably stand to benefit from joining this group.” (Kremlin.ru, 07.09.12).
· The Belarusian government has approved a draft contract for the country's first nuclear power plant. Soon to be signed with Russia's Atomstroyexport. It calls for construction of the two-unit plant to begin by the end of next year. (World Nuclear News, 07.11.12).
· The Belarusian security agency has announced it has arrested a military officer from neighboring Lithuania and "several of his informants" on suspicion of conducting espionage. (RFE/RL, 07.12.12).
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