Chairman McConnell, Senator Leahy, thank you for the chance once again to
appear before you and your colleagues. Secretary Albright looks forward to her
appearance before you on Thursday next week to review U.S. foreign policy as a
whole. I welcome the chance today to discuss the on-going task of forging U.S.
policy toward Russia. On that crucial subject, along with our policy toward the
other new independent states of the former Soviet Union, the interaction
between the State Department and the Senate Appropriations Committee
Subcommittee on Foreign Operations has been especially frequent and intense.
Our staffs have been in regular contact on a wide array of issues, including
the details of the assistance programs that Ambassador Bill Taylor coordinates.
That's why he is here with me today.
On a personal note, Mr. Chairman, let me say that I appreciate your
willingness, over the years, to meet with me in various settings, not just in
this chamber. It was almost exactly five years ago that you invited me to join
you at the McConnell Center for Political Leadership in Louisville for a
discussion with students and faculty on America's role in the world. On that
occasion, and every other time we've met, we've agreed on the need for American
engagement with Russia. The issue has always been the terms for that
engagement. That, you've made clear in your opening statement, is our focus
This hearing could not be timelier, given the recent Russian presidential
election. President-elect Putin faces daunting challenges in achieving what
many Russians have described as their greatest aspiration: to become a normal,
modern, democratic and prosperous state.
Progress toward that goal was uneven and difficult even before the war in
Chechnya -- another topic of this hearing. That conflict -- which is on-going
even as we meet today -- would be a severe test for Russia no matter who was in
charge in the Kremlin. But because of Mr. Putin's personal identification with
the war in Chechnya -- because it was the defining issue in his own
extraordinary rise -- what happens there next is of watershed importance not
only for Russia but also for its new leadership, and its new leader in
particular. I will return to this subject -- and its implications for Russia's
integration into the international community -- in a moment.
First, let me offer a few words on the March 26 presidential election. It
marked the completion of Russia's first democratic transfer of power at the
executive level in its 1,000-year history. Since the break-up of the Soviet
Union, there have been three nation-wide parliamentary elections in Russia and
now there have been two presidential elections; there have also been hundreds
of regional and local contests. The ballot box is increasingly the instrument
whereby Russians choose their leaders. Nearly 70 percent of eligible voters
participated in this last election. Russia's citizens understand that
expressing their fundamental rights is central to the nation's continued
evolution. They like to vote; they want to vote; they are in the habit of
Vladimir Putin won an outright victory with over 50 percent of the vote.
Election monitors from the U.S. and Europe concluded that there were no major
irregularities in the electoral process, but that is not to say that the
election was free of controversy. Democracy is not just about free, fair and
frequent elections; it's also about a free press. Today in Russia, far too much
power resides in media outlets controlled by a select few, including the
powers-that-be in the Kremlin itself. The emergence of a more diffuse, balanced
and genuinely independent media remains a key challenge in deepening
democracy's roots in Russia over time.
Now that he has acquired the title President-elect, Mr. Putin has a democratic
mandate. What is not clear is what he will do with it. Where will he lead
Russia? Who -- and, what -- is he?
We've all devoted a great deal of energy to those questions. My friend and
colleague Under Secretary Tom Pickering, who served brilliantly as Ambassador
to Moscow during a tumultuous period, noted last week that Putinology has
become a cottage industry that smacks less of political science than
pseudo-psychology. Everyone is asking: is the real Putin the KGB lieutenant
colonel of the '80s, or the deputy to St. Petersburg's reformist mayor in the
'90s? What does his black belt in martial arts tell us about how he will deal
with the oligarchs, with the Duma, with the regional governors, with Chechen
guerrillas -- or, for that matter, with the President of the United States when
they meet, no doubt more than once, in the months to come?
The short answer, of course, is that we don't know. Today, Mr. Chairman, the
real bottom line on Mr. Putin -- the honest, hard-headed bottom line -- is
that there is no bottom line. It's not just that we can't see it; he may not
have gotten there himself. Just as the new Russia is a work in progress, so its
new leader has only just picked up his tools and is trying to figure out which
ones to rely on and what to do with them.
Moreover, insofar as he has a plan in his own mind, he's not going to unfold it
to us, or to his own people, overnight. What he's shown us so far has a
placeholder, watch-this-space, trust-me quality to it. It also has a
something-for-everybody quality: something for liberals and conservatives at
home; something for Russian nationalists and internationalists; something for
statists and for freemarketeers; and, of course, something for an attentive,
curious -- and in many cases, apprehensive -- foreign audience.
Here's what we do know: Mr. Putin has affirmed his support for Russia's
constitution and its guarantee of democratic government and basic freedoms for
Russia's people; he's declared himself a proponent of a competitive market
economy; he's promised quick action on tax reform and investment legislation;
he told Secretary Albright when she spent three hours with him on February 2
that he sees Russia as part of Europe and the West, that he favors Russia's
integration with the global economy, that he wants to continue the process of
arms control and U.S.-Russian cooperation on non-proliferation.
Put in those terms, his stated aspiration for his country jibes with American
interests and American policy. On that pair of subjects, Mr. Chairman -- our
interests and our policy -- there is a clear bottom line. Since the end of the
Cold War, first President Bush and then President Clinton have pursued two
overarching goals: first, to increase the safety of the international
environment and, second, to encourage the evolution of Russia itself in what we
-- and many Russians -- would regard as the right direction, both for the sake
of their future and ours. The first goal means reducing Cold War arsenals,
stopping proliferation, and cooperating in building a stable and undivided
Europe. The second goal means supporting Russia's effort to transform its
political, economic and social institutions at home and to integrate fully with
the principal international structures of the world community.
In both those areas, the record -- while mixed and, by definition, incomplete
-- includes real progress. Furthermore, in both those areas, our Administration
is determined to use the rest of this year to press forward.
Our posture with regard to Russia as it completes its transition of leadership
and continues its transformation as a society, polity and international actor
is emphatically not, Mr. Chairman, one of wait- and-see; rather, it's one of
active advocacy and advancement of our own bottom-line strategic objectives and
Let me now review both the record and our work plan for the period ahead.
I'll start with security. By working with the Russians over the past eight
years, we have helped to deactivate almost 5,000 nuclear warheads in the former
Soviet Union, removed nuclear weapons from three countries, destroyed hundreds
of missiles, bombers and ballistic missile submarines that once targeted our
country, strengthened the security of nuclear weapons and materials at more
than 50 sites, purchased more than 80 tons of highly enriched uranium -- enough
to make more than 3,000 nuclear warheads.
The months ahead promise to be crucial for the enterprise of strategic arms
control. Mr. Putin has repeatedly told us that he expects to win ratification
of START II in the Duma. If that happens -- and we've been waiting for it for a
long time -- we will be able to begin formal negotiations on START III and
deeper reductions of offensive weaponry.
We are doing so, as you and your colleagues know, in the context of consulting
with the Russians on an intimately related subject: strategic defense and our
conviction that the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972, while part of the
bedrock of the global security order, should be amended to take account of the
way the world has changed in the past 28 years.
The American plan for a limited National Missile Defense has been a difficult
issue between us and the Russians, as everyone here knows. The Russians have
resisted the idea of any change to the ABM treaty. They have been frank, though
unconvincing, in making the case that NMD threatens the long-term credibility
of their own deterrent. We have been equally frank not only in pushing back
against their technical arguments, but also in urging them to intensify their
efforts to cooperate with us in addressing the root cause of the problem that
gives rise to NMD: the proliferation of ballistic-missile and WMD technology to
states that could threaten both the U.S. and Russia.
One of those states -- though by no means the only one -- is Iran. For a number
of years, we've worked hard with the Russians, including at the level of the
President and the Vice President, to prevent the transfer of lethal Russian
know-how and technology to Iran. Russia has not yet shown that it can or will
effectively implement its own export-control laws and regulations. The long
episode of a revolving- door prime-ministership made it even more difficult to
develop traction in our joint, government-to-government dialogue on this
subject. That feature of Russian politics, presumably, is now in the past. We
have been working directly with Mr. Putin in all his immediate past capacities
-- head of the national security council, prime minister and acting president.
So there is some progress on which to build, and some momentum behind the work
we'll be doing with Mr. Putin and his colleagues in the weeks and months
We have challenges in other areas of security, too, including the control of
"loose nukes." That is why the overwhelming majority of our assistance dollars
to Russia go to programs that lower the chance that weapons of mass destruction
or sensitive missile technology will fall into the wrong hands. President
Clinton's Expanded Threat Reduction Initiative will help Russia to tighten
export controls, improve security over its existing weapons of mass
destruction, facilitate the withdrawal of Russian troops and equipment from
Georgia and Moldova, and provide opportunities for thousands of former Soviet
weapons scientists to participate in peaceful commercial and research
Throughout this decade, we have tried to work with Russia and our NATO Allies
to build a Europe that is secure, stable, and free from the divisions that
endangered our own security in the 20th century. Progress has not been easy and
we have had our share of public disagreements with Russia, most notably during
NATO's air campaign against Yugoslavia. However, despite these disagreements,
we have built a solid track record of practical work together. Even at the
height of our dispute over the war in the Balkans, the U.S. and Russia
coordinated their diplomacy to induce Miloevi_ to meet NATO's conditions for
ending the bombing. Since then, Russian and American soldiers have served
side-by-side to keep the peace in Kosovo; they are cooperating in Bosnia as
well; our negotiators worked with 28 other countries to adapt the Treaty on
Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, and to reach agreement on the withdrawal
of Russian forces from Georgia and Moldova; and American and Russian scientists
collaborated in ensuring that Y2K brought no nuclear mishaps.
Let me turn now to how the U.S. is using its resources to help Russians build a
prosperous and democratic country that will be the U.S.'s partner in meeting
the challenges of this century. In this regard, I want to stress that
three-quarters of USAID's assistance for Russia is spent on programs that do
not involve the Russian government. It is part of our effort to bolster
grassroots support for change. U.S. assistance programs have brought more than
40,000 young Russians to the U.S. for training, they have helped 250,000
Russian small businessmen with financing or training, and they reached out to
300 independent TV stations in Russia's provinces.
In this respect, the programs on which Ambassador Taylor and others at the
Department regularly consult with this subcommittee and its staff have
themselves evolved to take account of changing realities in Russia. Power
centers are developing outside of Moscow. Pluralism, decentralization and
greater autonomy are among the key facts about contemporary Russia. Elected
governors and mayors have created their own political bases; entrepreneurs have
built up commercial empires. Russia today has 65,000 non-governmental
organizations today; a decade ago it had only a handful.
We are working with Congress -- and with this subcommittee -- to obtain more
funding for assistance programs that will further strengthen many of those
NGO's, start-up political parties, independent media outlets and small
businesses. There is considerable bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for
beefing up exchange programs, such as the one that the Librarian of Congress,
Jim Billington, a source of much wise counsel to the Administration and
Congress alike, launched this past summer and also the one that Senator Richard
Lugar has proposed to train Russians in business management, accounting and
marketing. There is a new generation of regional leaders, many of whom are
committed to reform. Through the vigorous activities of Ambassador Collins and
his Embassy team, along with the creative use of our assistance funds, we
should make sure that we are reaching out across Russia.
None of these programs would have been possible without bipartisan support from
the Congress. Members of Congress play a direct role in engagement as well.
After the Russian people elected a new, more pragmatic Duma last December,
Senators Hagel and Lieberman led a bipartisan delegation from both houses to
meet with the new Duma leadership. Congressman Cox just returned from observing
presidential elections. Secretary Albright and the rest of us encourage you to
continue such contacts. The Duma has an important role to play in passing
legislative basis for Russia's continuing transition and ratifying arms control
agreements, like START II.
In choosing to continue engagement, we will continue to promote Russia's
international integration, to reduce nuclear danger, and to help the Russian
people consolidate their democracy and market economy. America's relationship
with Russia is based on our own national interests, not the personality of
Still, it matters who is in charge in the Kremlin. So let me return to the
question of -- and to the many questions about -- Mr. Putin. We have listened
carefully, and respectfully, to what he has said. Now, as he moves toward his
inauguration and consolidates his team, we will have a chance -- and the
Russian people will have a chance -- to see what he does. He has some
advantages: he already has an unprecedented degree of collaborative rapport
with the Parliament, which, in turn is also to an unprecedented degree -- more
pragmatic, that is: less ideological, less in the grips of the holdovers from
the old Soviet Communist structures and mindset.
This development could augur well for the Russian economy. Russia has in fact
rebounded quite a bit since the crash and seeming financial meltdown of Aug
1998. That's in part because of rising oil prices and the export benefits of
ruble devaluation. But it's also because of a reasonably tight fiscal policy
that has beaten back -- though by no means whipped -- inflation. Mr. Putin has
attached particular emphasis to the importance of foreign investment as a motor
to drive Russian economic growth in the future. His success will depend on
whether his government can build a relationship of mutual confidence with the
international financial institutions, private capital markets and foreign
To do that, however, Mr. Putin must build on a constructive relationship with
the new Duma. Together, they may be able to put in place the institutions of a
modern economy: laws that protect property, that ensure transparency and
accountability, and that establish a rational, equitable and progressive tax
code. In this area, we will judge Russian actions, and adjust the
implementation of our own policies, on a case-by-case basis. For example, in
discharging her obligation to protect the rights of American investors in
Russia, Secretary Albright last week decided that positive developments in the
case and clear assurances from the Russian Government to protect investor
rights and address the underlying weaknesses in the legal framework allowed her
to give a go-ahead to the Export-Import Bank for a loan to the Russian company
Mr. Putin and others in his government have proclaimed their determination to
improve the climate for foreign and domestic investment in Russia. They will
succeed only insofar as they are able to make respect for the rule of law a
hallmark of economic life and commercial activity.
In this regard, Mr. Putin has identified countering crime and corruption as
one of his priorities, not least because that scourge is a major obstacle to
foreign investment. He will succeed only if he works with the legislature to
put in place legal, regulatory and enforcement structures that instill
confidence in citizens, buyers, sellers, depositors and investors that the
Russian economy is a leveling playing field with fair, universally applicable
rules -- that it is not, in other words, a giant back alley where anyone with a
little money to save or invest is likely to get mugged.
Here the questions about Mr. Putin are more apparent than the answers. He has
said he wants to see Russia governed by a "dictatorship of laws." That's a
phrase worth pausing over, perhaps with an arched eyebrow. Where is the accent?
Is it on the D-word or the L-word? Are the two even compatible? Does it suggest
that "order" will come at the expense of basic personal and civil liberties?
Those are questions that a lot of Russians are asking themselves today, Mr.
Mr. Putin has also said he wants to re-establish Russian strength. How will he
define strength? Will it be in anachronistic terms of brute strength and the
capacity to intimidate neighbors? Or will it be in modern terms, relevant to
the demands and opportunities of an era of globalization?
Those are questions that virtually all of Russia's neighbors are asking
themselves today. They are doing so, especially, though by no means
exclusively, because of the festering crisis in the North Caucasus. It is to
that subject I would like now to return.
The Russian authorities faced -- and still face -- a very real threat in
Chechnya. The violent secessionism and extremism of Chechen rebels, coupled
with provocations in Dagestan and elsewhere were legitimate security concerns.
We don't dispute Russia's right, or indeed its responsibility, to fight
terrorism on its soil.
But none of that begins to justify the Russian government's decision to use
massive force against civilians inside Chechnya. The numbers speak for
themselves: 285,000 people displaced, thousands of innocent civilians dead or
wounded, and thousands of homes and businesses destroyed since last
The brutal war has damaged both Russia's democratic transformation and its
reputation in the eyes of the world. It represents a resurgence of one of the
worst habits of Russia's past -- including its Soviet past: the tendency to
treat an entire category of people -- indeed, of its own citizens -- as an
enemy. Grozny today is, literally, a smoking, charred ruin and a grotesque
monument to the phenomenon of overkill. It will take decades and millions of
dollars to rebuild Chechnya.
Two weeks ago I accompanied Secretary Albright from India to Geneva, where she
delivered a straight-from-the-shoulder speech to the United Nations Commission
on Human Rights. She made clear that credible allegations about atrocities by
Russian forces raise fundamental questions about the Russian Government's
commitment to human rights and international norms; they require prompt and
transparent investigation. She pressed for Moscow to grant the International
Committee of the Red Cross unhindered access throughout Chechnya, including to
all detainees and for the reestablishment of the OSCE Assistance Group in the
region. President Clinton underscored these concerns when he spoke to Mr. Putin
on the telephone a week ago yesterday.
President-elect Putin's decision to grant the International Committee of the
Red Cross access to detainees was a welcome first step. So was the decision to
invite United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson to visit.
Unfortunately, Ms. Robinson, who was in Chechnya over the weekend, was not
allowed to visit all of the sites that she wanted. Mr. Putin has appointed
Vladimir Kalamanov as special human rights representative for Chechnya, but to
be credible and effective, Mr. Kalamanov needs a clear mandate and the
resources to do his job.
Russian policy in Chechnya has ramifications that reach far beyond Chechnya
itself. For example, the Russian Government's decision to clamp down on the
media's ability to cover the conflict and its treatment of Radio Liberty's
Andrei Babitskiy have raised questions about its commitment to freedom of the
press in Russia as a whole.
The U.S. has also been concerned about spillover of the conflict into
neighboring Georgia since last fall. That is one reason I have made a point of
visiting Tblisi and meeting with President Shevardnadze myself in recent
months. With active encouragement by our government, the OSCE has sent a
border-monitoring mission to the border and Russia has taken steps to lessen
tensions there with Georgia. Again, these are useful steps, but the situation
bears close watching. On a related issue, we are using our on-going diplomacy
with Moscow to urge Russia to comply as soon as possible with the CFE Treaty
limits in the Caucasus.
Russia also has a responsibility to care for its 285,000 citizens displaced by
the conflict. The U.S. has helped to ease the humanitarian crisis by providing
$ 10 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross and United Nations
agencies to help persons displaced by the conflict.
That means taking action against real terrorists, but not using indiscriminate
force that endangers innocents or re-intensifying the disastrous war in
Chechnya. It means opening a political dialogue with the more pragmatic leaders
in the North Caucasus, not antagonizing them or their populations. It means
stepping up measures to prevent further bombings, but being careful not to make
people from the Caucasus second-class citizens, or in any other way trample on
hard- won human rights or civil liberties. It means working cooperatively with
neighboring states to deal effectively with the underlying economic and
security problems of the Caucasus, but not pressuring those neighbors in ways
that will shake their fragile sense of their own stability and independence.
I would submit, Mr. Chairman, that no other development in the nine years since
the collapse of the Soviet Union has raised such serious questions about
Russia's commitment to international norms as the war in Chechnya. That view is
widely shared around the world. This week the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe will consider whether to suspend Russia's participation. At
the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, a number of countries are considering
the introduction of a resolution criticizing Russia for human rights
violations. Chechnya casts a shadow over the entire process of Russia's
integration into the international community.
In short, Mr. Chairman, the war has already greatly damaged Russia's
international standing. Whether Russia begins to repair that damage, at home
and abroad, or whether it risks further isolating itself is the most immediate
and momentous challenge Mr. Putin faces. In this respect, as in others, how he
answers the many questions about him that we will touch upon today will be a
major determinant in framing the agenda of U.S.-Russian relations in the
months, and years, ahead.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I would return to a theme that you and I have
discussed over the years: how the very absence of clarity about Russia's future
course, including in the minds of its own people and its own leaders, requires
all the more clarity in U.S. policy and interests. And that, in turn, requires
the maximum degree of bipartisan consultation on the terms of our engagement
with Russia. It's in that spirit that I look forward to our discussion
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