viernes, 15 de junio de 2007

Russia Leaves the West

By Dmitri Trenin
As President Vladimir Putin prepares to host the summit of the G-8 (the group of eight highly industrialized nations) in St. Petersburg in July, it is hardly a secret that relations between Russia and the West have begun to fray[ABPD1] . After more than a decade of talk about Russia's "integration" into the West and a "strategic partnership" between Moscow and Washington, U.S. and European officials are now publicly voicing their concern over Russia's domestic political situation and its relations with the former Soviet republics. In a May 4 speech in Lithuania, for example, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney accused the Kremlin of "unfairly restricting[ABPD2] citizens' rights" and using its energy resources as "tools of intimidation and blackmail."
Even as these critics express their dismay, they continue to assume that if they speak loudly and insistently, Russia will heed them and change its ways. Unfortunately, they are looking for change in the wrong place. It is true, as they charge, that Putin has recently clamped down on dissent throughout Russia and cracked down on separatists in Chechnya, but more important changes have come in Russia's foreign policy. Until recently, Russia saw itself as Pluto in the Western solar system, very far from the center but still fundamentally a part of it. Now it has left that orbit entirely: Russia's leaders have given up on becoming part of the West and have started creating their own Moscow-centered system[ABPD3] .
The Kremlin's new approach to foreign policy assumes that as a big country, Russia is essentially friendless; no great power wants a strong Russia, which would be a formidable competitor, and many want a weak Russia that they could exploit and manipulate[ABPD4] . Accordingly, Russia has a choice between accepting subservience and reasserting its status as a great power, thereby claiming its rightful place in the world alongside the United States and China rather than settling for the company of Brazil and India.
The[ABPD5] United States and Europe can protest this change in Russia's foreign policy all they want, but it will not make any difference. They must recognize that the terms of Western-Russian interaction, conceptualized at the time of the Soviet Union's collapse 15 years ago and more or less unchanged since, have shifted fundamentally. The old paradigm is lost, and it is time to start looking for a new one.
The West deserves some of the blame for the shift in Russian foreign policy. The sudden collapse of Soviet power and the speed of German reunification took the United States and Europe by surprise. European governments, led by France, responded by transforming the European Community into a more tightly knit European Union (EU), while deferring the question of what to do about Eastern Europe and Russia. Washington, meanwhile, focused on managing the ever-weakening Soviet Union and rejoicing in its victory in the Cold War, neglecting to define a strategy for post-Soviet Russia. President George H. W. Bush's "new world order," articulated when the Soviet Union still existed, asked only that the Soviets stop their meddling around the globe. Only later did policymakers start thinking about organizing a true post-Cold War order, and when they did, their approach to handling post-Soviet Russia almost guaranteed failure[ABPD6] .
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1989, Western governments created a multitude of partnerships with their former communist adversaries in an effort to project their values and influence beyond the ruins of the wall. They[ABPD7] hoped that some countries would quickly join Europe, now "whole and free," while others would gravitate toward it more slowly. The conflict in the Balkans dampened this early enthusiasm and demonstrated the United States' aloofness and Europe's weakness in the face of the forces released by the end of the superpower confrontation.
From the beginning of the post-Cold War era, the West saw Russia as a special case. Armed with nuclear weapons, its great-power mentality shaken but unbroken, and just too big, Russia would be granted privileged treatment but no real prospect of membership in either NATO or the EU. The door to the West would officially remain open, but the idea of Russia's actually entering through it remained unthinkable. The hope was that Russia would gradually transform itself, with Western assistance, into a democratic polity and a market economy. In the meantime, what was important was that Russia would pursue a generally pro-Western foreign policy[ABPD8] .
Moscow found such an offer unacceptable. It was only willing to consider joining the West if it was given something like co-chairmanship of the Western club -- or at the very least membership in its Politburo. Russian leaders were not willing to follow the guidance coming from Washington and Brussels or to accept the same rules that its former Soviet satellites were following.[ABPD9] Thus, despite all of the talk about Russia's integration into Western institutions, the project was stillborn from the beginning. It was just a matter of time before that reality became obvious to both sides.
As other former Warsaw Pact countries were being drawn into the expanding West, Russia, considered too important to ignore, was offered new arrangements, but it was still kept at arm's length. Bringing Russia into the G-7 (to make it the G-8) was intended to tie Moscow to the West politically and to socialize its leaders. The NATO-Russia Council was supposed to harmonize security agendas and to promote military reform in Russia. The EU-Russia "common spaces" were designed to "Europeanize" Russia economically and socially and associate it with Europe politically. The Council of Europe, to which Russia was admitted while the first Chechen war still unresolved, was supposed to promote Western values and norms in Russia[ABPD10] .
These arrangements did not so much fail as grossly underperform. The G-8 is still the old G-7 plus Russia, even though Russia technically has equal status with the other countries (except when the finance ministers meet). The NATO-Russia Council is merely a low-key technical-cooperation workshop operating at NATO's side. The EU-Russia road maps for the creation of the "common spaces," meant to enhance cooperation on the basis of greater mutual compatibility, offer only a set of very general objectives with no hard commitments that just paper over a growing gap. The Council of Europe, especially its Parliamentary Assembly, has turned into an oratorical battleground between Russian lawmakers and their European counterparts on Chechnya and other human rights issues. (Moscow has even threatened to halve its contribution to the council's budget if the criticism does not cease.) Even the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, which date from the Cold War, are floundering. Russia has chosen to ignore the former, which it accuses of political meddling in post-Soviet states, and has indicated that it might withdraw from the key provisions of the latter, which Moscow believes place unfair constraints on the Russian forces. So much for integration with the West[ABPD11] .
After 9/11, Putin took the opportunity to offer the White House a deal. Russia was prepared to trade acceptance of U.S. global leadership for the United States' recognition of its role as a major ally, endowed with a special (that is, hegemonic) responsibility for the former Soviet space. That sweeping offer, obviously made from a position of weakness, was rejected by Washington, which was only prepared to discuss with Moscow the "rules of the road" in the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
The[ABPD12] Kremlin gave Westpolitik another try by joining the "coalition of the unwilling" at the time of the Iraq war. By joining the major European powers in opposing the U.S. invasion, Moscow hoped to enter the Western system through the European door and create a Russo-German-French axis to counterbalance Washington and London. Russia failed again. A new anti-American entente did not materialize; situational agreement with Moscow (and disagreement with Washington) could not overcome the fundamental character of transatlantic relations.
Instead, transatlantic and European institutions continued to enlarge to the east, taking in the remaining former Warsaw Pact and Council for Mutual Economic Assistance countries and the Baltic states. With the entry of Poland and the Baltics into the EU, the EU's overall approach became even more alarming for Moscow. At the same time, both the United States and Europe began supporting regime change from within and geopolitical reorientation in Russia's borderlands, most notably in Ukraine and Georgia, thus projecting their power of attraction beyond the former Soviet border into the CIS. The concept of "the near abroad," which Moscow used in the 1990s to justify its hegemony over the new states on Russia's periphery, was suddenly revived -- only now there were two versions of it, one from the perspective of Moscow, the other from the perspective of Brussels, both of which were claiming the same territory[ABPD13] . From 2003 to 2005, for the first time since 1991, Moscow's relations with both parts of the West -- the United States and Europe -- souredsoured at the same time.
Toward the end of Putin's first presidential term, in 2004, Western governments finally concluded that Russia was not going to turn democratic in the foreseeable future. In their view, Russia no longer belonged to the same group as Poland, or even Ukraine. Reluctantly, they put Russia into the same slot as China, even while still hoping -- improbably, perhaps -- to make the most of the partnership established in a happier era[ABPD14] .
But the changes on the Russian side went beyond domestic politics and had broad implications. For two decades prior to 2005, Russia had been continuously retreating in the realm of international politics. The "color revolutions" in Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan made it clear that even the post-Soviet space -- an area where Moscow was still dominant and felt more or less at ease -- was starting to disintegrate. In late 2004 and early 2005, in the wake of the Beslan school hostage crisis and the Ukrainian election fiasco, the self-confidence of the Putin government hit an all-time low.
Astonishingly[ABPD15] , the Kremlin bounced back -- and very quickly. Lessons were learned, new resources mobilized, and morale restored, all helped along mightily by high oil and gas prices. At first, Moscow acted cautiously, still somewhat unsure of itself. It joined Beijing in calling for the withdrawal of the U.S. military from Central Asia. Then, toward the end of 2005, it boldly embraced Uzbekistan as a formal ally, and the year ended with a dispute with Ukraine over gas supplies. The Kremlin did not hesitate to take on the post-Soviet republics' "beacon of democracy."
In the past year, Russia has begun acting like the great power it was in tsarist times. It conducted its first-ever military exercises with China and a smaller one with India. It ended gas subsidies for its former Soviet neighbors and cut off supplies to Ukraine when Kiev balked at a 400 percent price increase. It welcomed Hamas leaders to Moscow after the United States and the EU declared that they would not talk to them and offered financial support to the Palestinians even as the Americans and the Europeans were cutting off or suspending theirs. Russia has squarely rejected placing Iran under sanctions for its uranium-enrichment activities and has declared that its nuclear energy cooperation and arms trade with Tehran will continue and that the Russian armed forces would stay neutral should the United States decide to attack Iran[ABPD16] .
Having left the Western orbit, Russia is also working to create its own solar system. For the first time since the unraveling of the Soviet Union, Moscow is treating the former Soviet republics as a priority. It has started promoting Russian economic expansion in the CIS in an effort both to obtain lucrative assets and to enhance its political influence[ABPD17] .
Facing what it sees as an emerging new world -- which features a new version of great-power nationalism -- the Russian leadership exudes confidence. Beyond the former Soviet space, Russia sees U.S. influence gradually waning and considers the EU as an economic, but not a political or military, unit that will remain self-absorbed for a while. Moscow admires China's progress and, careful but not fearful of its giant neighbor, is cooperating ever more closely with Beijing; it considers the more distant India unproblematic.
Part of the reason for Moscow's confidence is Russia's much-improved financial situation and the consolidation of power in the hands of the ruling circle. High energy prices have resulted in a huge surplus in Russia's coffers, which has allowed the Kremlin to build the third-largest currency reserves in the world, set aside over $50 billion in a domestic "stabilization fund," and start repaying its foreign debts ahead of schedule. With the standard of living in[ABPD18] Russia rising, the political opposition marginalized, and government authority recentralized, the Kremlin has grown assertive and occasionally arrogant. The humility of the post-Soviet period has passed: Russians have made it clear that their domestic politics is no one else's business -- Vladislav Surkov, Putin's chief-political-officer-cum-ideologue, often emphasizes that the country is a "sovereign democracy" -- and Russian leaders have begun playing hardball in the world arena.
In the late nineteenth century, Russia's success was said to rest on its army and its navy; today, its success rests on its oil and gas. Energy[ABPD19] is a key resource that should be exploited while prices are high, but it is also an effective political weapon, although one to be handled with care. So far, Moscow has done the right thing -- ending energy subsidies to the former Soviet republics -- but in the wrong way. Rather than reforming the energy relationship with Ukraine in a steady and open manner, for example, Russia's state-controlled energy company, Gazprom, resorted to an eleventh-hour pressure tactic, which seemed like blackmail and made Russia look like a threat to global energy security[ABPD20] .
To the extent that the Russian ruling elite cares about the West, it cares about economics, particularly the markets for oil and gas. The elite was overjoyed by Gazprom's steep rise in capitalization in early January 2006, which it took as vindication of its hard-line policies toward Ukraine. It wants Russian corporate giants to become transnational, and Gazprom is one of the world's biggest corporations. In several industries, including energy, metals, and chemicals, Russian national champions are looking to compete for places in the top ten.
By and large, however, Russian leaders do not care much about acceptance by the West; even the Soviet Union worried more about its image[ABPD21] . Officials in Moscow privately enjoy Senator John McCain's thunderous statements about kicking Russia out of the G-8 because they know it is not going to happen and they take pleasure in the supposed impotence of serious adversaries. Public relations and lobbying are simply not high on the Kremlin's agenda. GR -- government relations -- is considered more important than PR. Russia's engaging former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder for a gas pipeline project and wooing Donald Evans, the former U.S. commerce secretary, for an oil job are just two stunning examples of this approach. Russia, the Kremlin believes, will get bad press in the West almost no matter what it does, so why bother?
All of this promises serious tension, and even conflict, between Russia and the West, although nothing like a return to the Cold War. There is no ideological antagonism, since today's Russia lacks a state[ABPD22] ideology. And in a number of important areas -- including fighting Islamist radicalism -- there will be cooperation. On others issues, such as the rise of China and energy security, there will be some cooperation, but Russia will hardly side with the West as a matter of course. In the test case of Iran, when push comes to shove, Moscow would prefer to see Tehran pursue its nuclear program, even if it is imperfectly safeguarded, than a U.S. attack to stop it. Whereas the Iraq war led the Kremlin away from the White House and into the arms of l'Elysée, a war on Iran is likely to push Moscow further away from both Washington and Brussels -- and into the arms of Beijing.
The West needs to rethink the fundamentals of its approach to Russia. Russia's domestic transformation will not follow the course of, say, Poland's: modernizing Russia by means of EU integration will not be an option. Nor will Russia adopt the French approach: an occasionally dissenting but solidly Euro-Atlantic foreign and security policy. Nor should the West be banking on a historical shortcut: no democratic, pro-Western tsar will suddenly emerge from some color revolution to hitch Russia to the U.S.-EU wagon.
On the other hand, Russia today is not, and is not likely to become, a second Soviet Union. It is not a revanchist and imperialist aggressor bent on reabsorbing its former provinces. It is not a rogue state, nor a natural ally of those states that may be called rogues. A Sino-Russian alliance against the United States could only occur as a result of exceptionally shortsighted and foolish policies on Washington's part. Today's Russia may not be pro-Western, but neither is it anti-Western[ABPD23] .
In light of Russia's new foreign policy, the West needs to calm down and take Russia for what it is: a major outside player that is neither an eternal foe nor an automatic friend. Western leaders must disabuse themselves of the notion that by preaching values one can actually plant them. Russia will continue to change, but at its own pace. The key drivers of that change must be the growth of capitalism at home and openness to the outside world. The West needs to adopt an issue-based approach when dealing with the Russian government, but it should not expect Moscow always to follow its lead. Engaging Russia is over, and engaging with Russia, where possible and desirable, must be based on mutual self-interest[ABPD24] [ABPD25] . Most important, Western leaders have to avoid wishful thinking when trying to embrace either a Kremlin ruler or a liberal opposition figure.
Looking ahead, the current complications are likely to get worse in the near and medium term. The G-8 summit in St. Petersburg will be accompanied by intense criticism of Kremlin policies in the Western media. Russia's World Trade Organization accession process has already slowed down as a result of U.S. and EU demands. Kosovo's coming formal independence from Serbia will be taken up by Russia as a model for resolving the stalemated conflicts in Georgia and Moldova, where the West is insisting on territorial unity and Moscow is supporting the separatist enclaves. On the all-important issue of Iran, Russia will continue essentially to share Western goals while opposing Western (and especially U.S.) hard-line policies.
Tension will culminate in 2008, the year of the Russian and U.S. presidential elections. Supreme power will likely be transferred from the current incumbent to another member of the ruling circle in Moscow, and this anointment will be legitimized in a national election. (There are other scenarios, of course -- ranging from Putin's running for a third term to a union with Belarus -- but they seem less probable at the moment.) Thus, the real question will be not about the Russian election but about the reaction to that election in the West, and above all in the United States. Will it be pronounced free but not fair, as before? Or neither free nor fair? Declaring the post-2008 Russian leadership illegitimate could push the U.S.-Russian relationship from cool estrangement to real alienation. And all of this would be happening in the midst of the U.S. presidential campaign and could coincide with Ukraine's taking an important step toward joining NATO[ABPD26] .
With U.S.-Russian relations at their lowest point -- and the Kremlin at its most confident -- since 1991, Washington must recognize that frustrated Russia-bashing is futile. It must understand that positive change in Russia can only come from within and that economic realities, rather than democratic ideals, will be the vehicle for that change. And most important, as president and CEO of the international system, the United States must do everything it can to ensure that the system does not once again succumb to dangerous and destabilizing great-power rivalry.
DMITRI TRENIN is Deputy Director of the Carnegie Moscow Center.

jueves, 17 de mayo de 2007

Putin en el mar Caspio y Cheney en el golfo Pérsico

Bajo la Lupa
Alfredo Jalife-Rahme
Putin en el mar Caspio y Cheney en el golfo Pérsico

Las dos superpotencias nucleares no ocultan que la carta geoestratégica del momento es el petróleo y la relucen mediante sus movimientos dramáticos en la "guerra energética global".
Dick Cheney, quien puede ser defenestrado por el Congreso, amenazó delirantemente a Irán desde el portaviones USS John Stennis en el golfo Pérsico, la primera región más rica de petróleo del planeta (65 por ciento de las reservas totales), con el fin de impedir la asunción nuclear persa y su "dominio regional", mientras Vlady Putin, uncido por Bajo la Lupa como el zar geoenergético global, "exhibía su musculatura en la región del mar Caspio", como titula el periódico libanés An-Nahar (11-05-07): la tercera región más importante de petróleo del planeta, según las mendaces estadísticas anglosajonas.
En realidad, el Golfo de México (con una superficie seis veces mayor al golfo Pérsico y cuatro veces mayor al mar Caspio) constituye la tercera reserva planetaria a pesar de los ignaros neoliberales "mexicanos", que buscan regalarlo al peor postor trasnacional.
An-Nahar asienta que la visita del zar ruso a su homólogo de Turkmenistán (potencia gasera centroasiática), Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, "desafía la influencia europea y estadunidense en la región del mar Caspio". A la visita de Putin se sumó el presidente de Kazajistán (potencia petrolera centroasiática), Nursultan Nazarbayev, con el propósito de construir un gasoducto común en las tres potencias geoenergéticas euroasiáticas.
La visita estratégica del zar ruso coincidió con la cumbre energética en Polonia, donde los europeos buscan construir un nuevo gasoducto que evite a Rusia.
Según la británica BP, Kazajistán posee 3.3 por ciento de las reservas mundiales de petróleo y Turkmenistán 1.6 por ciento de las de gas, cifras que hay que tomar con pinzas debido a la legendaria mendacidad de la trasnacional británica que acaba de sufrir extraños escándalos eróticos en su cúpula.
Rusia no solamente posee las primeras reservas de gas del planeta sino que, además, representa la encrucijada de travesía de gasoductos y oleoductos centroasiáticos construidos desde la etapa soviética.
Lo cierto es que el "nuevo gran juego" de la primera mitad del siglo xxi -como el literato británico Rudyard Kipling bautizó a la batalla entre Rusia y Gran Bretaña del siglo xix por el control de Asia Central y su salida a los mares calientes- se libra entre cinco potencias del mayor nivel para capturar sus enormes reservas energéticas: Estados Unidos, Europa, Rusia, China e India.
A diferencia de los ignaros neoliberales "mexicanos", quienes no entienden, por sus limitaciones consubstanciales, el significado geoestratégico trascendental del petróleo en la fase presente de transformación del nuevo orden mundial, los mandatarios de Turkmenistán y Kazajistán juegan a la geopolítica del petróleo en forma espléndida. ¿Están jugando Turkmenistán y Kazajistán al estatuto de "países-pivote" y a la pluralidad geopolítica con las cinco potencias nucleares que se pelean sus codiciados energéticos?
Porque tampoco se puede soslayar que Estados Unidos sea el principal inversionista en Kazajistán y que Turkmenistán haya invitado a la petrolera Chevron-Texaco a invertir en su ribera del mar Caspio apenas hace una semana.
En vísperas de la estratégica visita del zar geoenergético global a Turkmenistán, funcionarios rusos afirmaron que su país estaba dispuesto a competir con las "potencias internacionales" en la región del Caspio.
An-Nahar ilustra que para el zar ruso la "seguridad energética de sus exportaciones" se ha vuelto vital cuando Rusia depende del gas centroasiático relativamente barato para compensar el lento desarrollo de sus recursos, que si bien son pletóricos, todavía no están disponibles a los niveles deseados para surtir al mercado europeo.
Para Alexander Timoshik, quien entona sin tapujos el himno a la "guerra energética global", el "viaje de Putin a Asia demuestra a Occidente el poder energético ruso" (Pravda, 11-05-07). Pone de relieve que el presidente de Kazajistán tenía planeado asistir a la cumbre europea "antirrusa" de Polonia sobre energéticos y quien prefirió quedarse en la capital Astana para recibir al zar ruso, con quien concluyó tres acuerdos relevantes de cooperación en materia energética, dos catalogados de "escala global" que subsumen que los proyectos son tan importantes como los trayectos de los gasoductos y oleoductos: 1. creación de un centro de enriquecimiento de uranio con la materia prima de Kazajistán y la invaluable tecnología rusa; 2. construcción de un gasoducto trinacional Turkmenistán-Kazajistán-Rusia para conectarse a Europa, acordado en la capital Ashkabat (Turkmenistán), y 3. duplicación del volumen de exportación de 23 a 40 millones de toneladas al año del petróleo de Kazajistán (lo que disminuirá las exportaciones rusas) a Europa, pero mediante el oleoducto del trans-Caspio que atraviesa territorio ruso.
¿Atravesó Cheney el Rubicón del ataque nuclear contra Irán con la amenaza más directa y cercana que haya proferido hasta ahora?
La prensa estadunidense coloca las amenazas del vicepresidente (el verdadero poder tras el trono) en el umbral de una nueva guerra contra Irán, mientras Debka (12-05-07), presunto portavoz de los servicios secretos israelíes del Mossad, asevera que "Cheney alineó a sus aliados del Medio Oriente para la retirada estadunidense de Irak", así como para un "posible (sic) ataque contra Irán". Nótese que es "posible", pero no arguye que sea "probable".
Los coágulos en su pierna recientemente extirpados, ni sus previas operaciones cardiacas, ni su nominación en la lista del anillo de prostitución de "Madam" (sic) en Washington (WMR, 11-05-07) -escándalo esterilizado por los dóciles multimedia-, pueden frenar el delirio bélico de Cheney, quien no se cansa de arengar a sus deprimidos militares, sea en portaviones o en tierra (en Iraq y en Abu Dhabi).
Cheney usa el espantapájaros iraní con la finalidad de vender masivamente armas a los países árabes del golfo Pérsico, en especial, al muy escéptico y aséptico rey saudita Abdalá Bin Abdul Aziz, quien fustigó la "ocupación ilegal de EU en Irak" en la reciente cumbre árabe de Riad.
Nuestras fuentes medio-orientales excelsamente informadas, tanto árabes como persas, nos susurran que nadie (y nadie es nadie) tomó en serio las pueriles bravatas de Cheney, sino todo lo contrario: su amenaza marítima fue tomada como el aviso hermenéutico de una fuga nada graciosa cuando la retirada del derrotado ejército estadunidense de Irak pende del cronograma electoral y depende del Congreso, que no está dispuesto a tolerar más las fantasías bélicas del atribulado vicepresidente ni de sus aliados, los unilateralistas neoconservadores straussianos, vinculados al partido Likud de Israel.
Nuestras fuentes inigualables en Washington nos musitan que Estados Unidos e Irán están por negociar la nuclearización controlada del país persa según el "plan suizo" de un número razonablemente limitado de centrífugas.
Resultado final: Cheney pierde doble, en el golfo Pérsico y en el mar Caspio; mientras el zar geoenérgético global gana en ambas regiones.

miércoles, 9 de mayo de 2007

Detrás de la nueva guerra fría de EU contra Rusia y China

Detrás de la nueva guerra fría de EU contra Rusia y China
Alfredo Jalife.

El pueril argumento de Estados Unidos sobre el despliegue de un sistema misilístico en Polonia y la República Checa, dizque para contrarrestar un ataque de los malditos Irán y Corea del Norte contra Europa, equivale a que los rusos coloquen el mismo arsenal en México para evitar un ataque "terrorista" de los pingüinos de la Antártida contra EU.
De Defensa (27/4/07) -centro de pensamiento estratégico-militar con sede en Bruselas- no concede importancia a la advertencia del retiro de Rusia del tratado de "moratoria de fuerzas convencionales en Europa" (CFE, por sus siglas en inglés), pero no deja de caracterizar desde el "punto de vista político" como un mensaje de "endurecimiento frente a EU" de parte del zar Putin, quien considera el despliegue misilístico en las fronteras rusas como una "amenaza" que obliga a tomar las medidas apropiadas.
Es conveniente agregar que no existe cohesión europea para apoyar el despliegue misilístico de EU y, según el rotativo británico The Guardian (26/4/07), el vicecanciller alemán Gernot Erler reveló que otros cinco países, además del suyo, "habían manifestado" durante una reunión reciente en la OTAN, tanto "su escepticismo" como sus "temores en resucitar una nueva guerra fría en suelo europeo".
A nuestro juicio, detrás del creciente deterioro de las relaciones de EU con Rusia y China se encuentra, además de todas las exacciones unilaterales de la otrora superpotencia unipolar, un artículo muy tóxico: "El ascenso de la primacía nuclear de EU", de Keir A. Lieber y Daryl G. Press, publicado por la influyente revista Foreign Affairs (marzo/abril, 2006), que enfadó a los estrategas rusos y valió una réplica mordaz en The Financial Times (28/3/06) del anterior primer ministro yeltsiniano, Yegor Timurovich Gaidar.
Ambos son profesores de ciencias políticas: Lieber, en la Universidad Notre Dame, y Press en la Universidad de Pensylvania; el primero es autor de La guerra y los ingenieros: la primacía (sic) de la política sobre la tecnología; el segundo escribió Calculando la credibilidad: cómo los líderes evalúan las amenazas militares.
Se nota la fijación de Keir A. Lieber por la "primacía" de todo género, mientras a Daryl G. Press le toca pontificar a los "líderes" de Rusia y China para que se rindan sin combatir al estilo del síndrome Ogarkov (ver Bajo la Lupa; 14/8/05; 6/11/05 y 14/2/07).
Tomamos literalmente el resumen de los autores en Foreign Affairs: "Durante cuatro décadas, las relaciones entre las mayores potencias nucleares han sido moldeadas por su vulnerabilidad común, una condición conocida como destrucción mutua asegurada (MAD, por sus siglas en inglés). Pero con el arsenal de EU creciendo rápidamente mientras Rusia declina y China permanece pequeña, la era del MAD está acabando, y la era de la primacía nuclear de EU ha comenzado". Pero esto no es lo importante que, a nuestro juicio, versa sobre el despliegue misilístico de defensa para implementar el objetivo de la "primacía nuclear" estadounidense.
Pretenden haber desarrollado un "modelo computacional" en el que demuestran la suficiente capacidad nuclear de EU para lanzar un ataque que garantiza borrar del mapa a Rusia y China sin correr el riesgo de sufrir un contrataque. Como que suena muy hollywoodense y rememora los desvaríos de la inexpugnable "línea Maginot" de la Primera Guerra Mundial que resultó de papel .
Definen "primacía nuclear o capacidad de propinar el primer golpe" como la "habilidad en destruir todas (sic) las fuerzas nucleares del adversario" y no ocultan que "EU busca ahora (sic) mantener su preminencia global", basada en la doctrina Bush de 2002 -que en realidad es la doctrina Wolfowitz, elaborada 10 años antes en su Guía de Política de Planeación. Va por la confesión: "La búsqueda de la primacía nuclear de Washington ayuda a explicar (¡súper sic!) su estrategia misilística de defensa (...) Aceptan la validez de los críticos, quienes señalan que el escudo nacional misilístico desplegado en Alaska y California sería fácilmente avasallado por una nube de ojivas y señuelos lanzados por Rusia o China (sic)". Sin embargo, los críticos se equivocan en concluir que sea "inservible". No se andan con rodeos y afirman que el sistema misilístico de defensa va dirigido a las "principales potencias nucleares" más que a los "estados canalla".
Viene la parte que perturbó a los rusos: "Si EU lanza un ataque nuclear contra Rusia (o China) quedaría con un minúsculo arsenal superviviente (sic) -si no es que con ninguno (sic). En este punto, inclusive un sistema misilístico de defensa relativamente modesto o ineficiente sería más que suficiente para proteger contra cualquier ataque de represalias, debido a que el enemigo devastado (sic) contaría con muy pocas ojivas o señuelos".
Por alguna razón los rusos mandaron al reformista neoliberal -que instaló el modelo del "mercado" capitalista con las intolerables "terapias de choque"-, Yegor Timurovich Gaidar, a replicar a los autores del Foreign Affairs de quienes en forma sarcástica se refiere de que en caso de equivocarse "no quedaría nadie para decírselos". Por cierto Gaidar, un académico muy laureado, sufrió a finales del año pasado un intento de envenenamiento en Irlanda que endosó a la cuenta de los "adversarios de Putin".
Como ex primer ministro yeltsiano conoce la capacidad nuclear de Rusia y se burla del "academicismo" y los "modelos" desarrollados de los autores del Foreign Affairs que tilda de "juego peligroso" y "proveen una explicación detallada para los líderes de Rusia y China sobre el propósito del sistema misilístico de defensa de EU", que, de la propia confesión de los autores, "no es para prevenir la amenaza de un ataque de las naciones canalla, sino para permitir que EU reduzca en forma dramática el riesgo de un contrataque de Rusia y China después de un ataque nuclear estadunidense".
Fustiga que un tema tan delicado haya sido expuesto en el Foreign Affairs, lo cual conlleva un "efecto explosivo", ya que representa la "postura oficial de EU. Da a entender que China, confinada en un silencio absoluto, comparte la misma postura que Rusia. Comenta que se trata de una "provocación" de EU, que llevará a una mayor cooperación nuclear entre Rusia y China, además del uso de los excedentes petroleros del Fondo de Estabilización para defenderse de un primer ataque de EU. La "planeación militar soviética se había basado en el concepto del revire del contrataque, cuando "ante una amenaza de un enemigo, seguiría un ataque nuclear soviético". Concluye que la "probabilidad del retorno de tal doctrina es mayor que nunca".
China no replicó al artículo humillante del Foreign Affairs, quizá porque está más preocupada con el "reporte Armitage-Nye" sobre la "Alianza de EU y Japón" para "enderezar (sic) a Asia en el 2020", publicado por el Centro de Estudios Estratégicos Internacionales, con sede en Washington.
En todos los frentes los estrategas de EU, con sus honrosas excepciones, buscan la supremacía mundial, producto de la unipolaridad y su mentalidad unilateralista. Tal parece que no se ha enterado de su "catástrofe" en Irak, según la propia confesión de sus mejores militares. Como que no les asienta el incipiente nuevo orden multipolar.

Why Are We Baiting Putin?

Why Are We Baiting Putin?
by Patrick J. Buchanan

"(N)o legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply management or attempt to monopolize transportation," thundered Vice President Cheney to the international pro-democracy conference in Vilnius, Lithuania.
"(N)o one can justify actions that undermine the territorial integrity of a neighbor, or interfere with democratic movements."
Cheney's remarks were directed straight at the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin, who is to host the G-8 Conference in July.
Cheering Cheney on is John McCain, front-runner for the GOP nomination, who has urged President Bush to snub Putin by boycotting the G-8 summit. What the GOP is thus offering the nation right now is seven more years of in-your-face bellicosity in foreign policy.
What does McCain think we would accomplish – other than a new parading of our moral superiority – by so public an insult to Putin and Russia as a Bush boycott of the St. Petersburg summit? Do we not have enough trouble in this world, do we not have enough people hating us and Bush that we have to get into Putin's face and antagonize the largest nation on earth and a co-equal nuclear power? What is the purpose of this confrontation diplomacy? What does it accomplish?
Eisenhower and Nixon did not behave like this. Nor did Ford or Bush's father. Reagan called the Soviet Union an "evil empire" once. But the Soviet Union we confronted in those years was hostile. Until lately, today's Russia was not. Yet the Bush boys are in their pulpits, admonishing the world's sinners every day.
What is their beef with Putin's policy?
In January, Putin decided to stop piping subsidized gas to Kiev and start charging the market price. Reason: Ukraine's president, elected with the assistance of U.S. foundations and quasi-government agencies, said he was reorienting Kiev's foreign policy away from Russia and toward NATO and the United States.
If you are headed for NATO, Putin was saying to President Viktor Yushchenko[ABPD1] , you can forget the subsidized gas.
Now this is political hardball, but it is a game with which America is not altogether unfamiliar. When Castro reoriented his policy toward Moscow, Cuba's sugar allotment was terminated. U.S. diplomats went all over the world persuading nations not to buy from or sell to Cuba. Economic sanctions on Havana endure to today. We supported, over Reagan's veto, sanctions on South Africa. We have used sanctions as a stick and access to the U.S. market as a carrot since we became a nation. What, after all, was "Dollar Diplomacy" all about?
Cheney accuses Moscow of employing pipeline diplomacy – i.e., using its oil and gas pipelines to benefit some nations and cut out others. But the United States does the same thing, as it seeks to have the oil and gas of Central Asia transmitted to the West in pipelines that do not transit Iran or Russia.
"(N)o one can justify actions that undermine the territorial integrity of a neighbor," declared Cheney in Vilnius. How the vice president could deliver that line with a straight face escapes me.
Does Cheney not recall our "Captive Nations Resolutions," calling for the liberation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which, though free between the two world wars, had long belonged to the Russian empire? Does he not recall conservative support for the breakup of the Soviet Union? Does he not recall conservative support for the secession of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia, and more recently Kosovo, from a Serb-dominated Yugoslavia?
What concerns Cheney is Moscow's support for the secession of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia. Georgia's president was also elected with the aid of pro-democracy NGOs, mostly funded by Uncle Sam. All these color-coded revolutions in East Europe and Central Asia bear the label, Made in the U.S.A.
When Cheney says, "No one can justify actions that ... interfere with democratic movements," he is hauling water for Freedom House, headed by ex-CIA Director James Woolsey, and similar agencies, which Putin wants shut down or kicked out of Russia for interfering in her internal affairs.
We Americans consider the Monroe Doctrine – no foreign power is to come into our hemisphere – to be holy writ. Why, then, can we not understand why Russia might react angrily to our interference in her politics or the politics of former Russian republics?
The effect of U.S. expansion of NATO deep into Eastern Europe, U.S. interference in the politics of the former Soviet republics, and U.S. siting of military bases in the Balkans, Eastern Europe and Central Asia has been to unite Russia and China, and undo the diplomacy of several successive U.S. presidents.
How has this made us more secure?
If we don't want these people in our backyard, what are we doing in theirs? If we don't stop behaving like the British Empire, we will end up like the British Empire.
May 9, 2006
Patrick J. Buchanan [send him mail] is co-founder and editor of The American Conservative. He is also the author of seven books, including Where the Right Went Wrong, and A Republic Not An Empire.
Copyright © 2006 Creators Syndicate

Putin, los extranjeros y su "Guerra Fría"

Putin, los extranjeros y su "Guerra Fría"
Javier Farje BBC Mundo
Putin ha mantenido varias de las políticas de Yeltsin, pero con su propio estilo.
Cuando Vladimir Putin fue nombrado primer ministro en agosto de 1999 por el hoy fallecido Boris Yeltsin, la idea era continuar con las reformas políticas y de mercado que este había comenzado de forma traumática a partir del desmoronamiento de la Unión Soviética.
Putin, sin embargo, imprimió en su gestión un estilo propio que se parece muy poco al de su predecesor.
Por un lado, este antiguo agente de la temida KGB soviética ha mantenido la estructura económica creada por Yeltsin, pero ha impuesto un método y una retórica que parecen salidos de la época de la Guerra Fría.
El discurso de Putin ante el parlamento de su país, el último que pronuncia como jefe de estado, refleja esa dicotomía.
La Rusia del nuevo milenio es un país que se jacta de ser hoy la décima economía del mundo, con un estricto control de la prensa y la represión a una oposición que es pequeña pero que puede ser germinal, si es que logra atraer aquellos sectores sociales y políticos que no se atreven a levantar la voz.
Millonarios díscolos
La Rusia post soviética ha tenido problemas económicos, pero también ha dado millonarios como Roman Abramovich.
Algunos de los miembros de esa "nueva oligarquía" que se apoderó de los recursos del estado cuando estos fueron rematados al mejor postor, están en la cárcel o el exilio, simplemente por no conformarse con hacerse ricos y decidir que no les gustaba el estilo autoritario de gobierno de Putin. Por otro lado, el asesinato de periodistas o activistas críticos ha hecho que esa misma oposición vea la mano negra del Kremlin, algo que el gobierno niega de forma rotunda.
Cuando las reformas económicas de Yeltsin dieron como resultado el surgimiento de la corrupción y el crimen organizado y, por consiguiente, el resurgimiento de un partido comunista relativamente saludable, parecía que los seguidores del viejo régimen serían, como ha ocurrido en otros países de la antigua órbita soviética, una fuerza política con posibilidades de gobierno.
Este no es el caso en la Rusia de Putin, y esa oposición duramente reprimida en las últimas semanas, incluyendo el arresto de su dirigente más visible, el campeón de ajedrez Gary Kasparov, no tiene a Marx y Lenin como abanderados ideológicos, sino que exigen las mismas libertades por las que Boris Yeltsin se trepó a un tanque en ese lejano agosto de 1991.
Es cierto que el fallecido presidente usó esos mismos blindados para deshacerse de la oposición parlamentaria años después, pero nadie niega que la gestión de ese presidente dejó cierta estabilidad en Rusia.
Germen callejero
A pesar de su cercanía Yeltsin no se abstuvo de criticar el estilo de Putin.
El apoyo a Putin es amplio. Cuatro de cada cinco rusos siguen creyendo que la mano dura nacionalista de Putin es la correcta.
Es cierto también que, a pesar de los altos índices de pobreza que aún persisten como una resaca maligna de las apuradas reformas económicas de Yeltsin, esta se ha reducido.
¿A qué atribuir entonces la dureza de la represión a las manifestaciones de Moscú, dónde los efectivos de policía parecían superar en número a los que protestaban?
El portavoz de la policía moscovita, el coronel Valeri Gribakin dice que se trata de elementos importados de otras regiones y hasta de otros países. "Tenemos pruebas" dice Gribakín.
De alguna manera, las declaraciones del coronel se ven reflejadas en la retórica más bien macro política de Vladimir Putin. En su discurso ante la Duma, el presidente habló "un creciente flujo de dinero extranjero que es usado para interferir directamente en nuestros asuntos internos ".
Parece ser una forma de neutralizar a la creciente oposición, insinuando que se trata de un instrumento de Occidente, con el fin de apelar a los sentimientos fuertemente nacionalistas del ruso de a pie.
La durísima represión a las manifestaciones de las últimas semanas ha causado un cierto nivel de estupor no solo en algunas capitales occidentales, sino la misma Rusia.
Para la analista política Maria Lipman, del Centro Carnegie de Moscú, "se trata de un gobierno que cree, antes que nada, en el control y no va a tomar esto a la ligera.
Sobre todo después de la Revolución Naranja en Ucrania, por ejemplo, hay la sensación de que el activismo callejero se puede volver impredecible".
En alguna ocasión, Boris Yeltsin criticó a Putin de usar métodos con tufo soviético para sostenerse en el poder.
Para algunos esto puede parecer exagerado, pero lo que sí es cierto es que la desconfianza militar y política entre la OTAN y Rusia ha hecho que se desempolven viejos resquemores que recuerdan a la Guerra Fría .
En su discurso ante el parlamento, Putin advirtió que su país no está dispuesto a poner en práctica un acuerdo de defensa con las potencias occidentales, en el marco de Tratado de Fuerzas Convencionales en Europa (CFE por sus siglas en inglés), inaugurado en los estertores del imperio soviético.
Como en los años de la Guerra Fría, Rusia se opone ahora a la instalación de un escudo de misiles y un sistema de intercepción en aquellos países que alguna vez fueron parte del hoy olvidado Pacto de Varsovia: Polonia y la República Checa.
"Cesaremos nuestros compromisos con el CFE" si es que no hay provecho en las negociaciones entre la Alianza Atlántica y Rusia, advierte Putin, ante los pedidos de calma de Condoleezza Rice, que califica los temores de Moscú de "ridículos".
Esta posición y las advertencias sobre la presunta interferencia extranjera (las organizaciones no gubernamentales, por ejemplo, tienen que registrarse e informar sobre su financiamiento y actividades, sobre todo si tienen origen extranjero) parecen ser parte del estilo de gobernar de Putin.
Plantear las críticas como una conspiración occidental funciona. Aunque ya no hay un muro que divida a Berlín ni dos alianzas militares que se cuidan las espaldas la una de la otra, la verdad es que la desconfianza sigue siendo, en el caso del actual mandatario, componente de la política del estado.
Y si esa oposición, liderada por un ajedrecista, se plantea como objetivo un jaque al rey, entonces Vladimir Putin tiene razones para preocuparse, y eso puede ser muy peligroso.

Razones del Kremlin

Razones del Kremlin
CARLOS TAIBO 08/04/2007

Algunas de las declaraciones más recientes del presidente ruso, Vladímir Putin, han hecho saltar las alarmas. Pocos se han preguntado, sin embargo, si Putin no lleva buena parte de razón cuando aprecia un genuino y nada amistoso cerco sobre[ABPD1] su país. Y es que parece como si quienes, con motivos, ven en el inquilino del Kremlin a un gobernante inquietantemente autoritario olvidasen a menudo que muchas de sus quejas con respecto a la conducta de algunos países occidentales están justificadas.
Hay un firme designio de la Casa Blanca de evitar que Moscú renazca de sus cenizas[ABPD2]
Convengamos, en cualquier caso, que los expertos no se ponen de acuerdo a la hora de determinar lo que ocurre. Recordemos, por ejemplo, que no faltan quienes aseveran que, luego de una etapa de colaboración de Rusia con EE UU tras los atentados de Nueva York y de Washington, en los últimos tiempos[ABPD3] habrían reaparecido los elementos de tensión y, acaso, de ruptura. A los ojos de otros estudiosos, en cambio, la periodificación invocada ocultaría que EE UU ha asumido desde años atrás un doble juego: mientras formalmente habría alentado una asociación estratégica con Rusia que habría dado al traste con cualquier vestigio de la guerra fría, en los hechos habría mantenido una política muy agresiva -ampliaciones de la OTAN, bases militares, cambios en el equilibrio nuclear, cuestionamiento de zonas de influencia- genéricamente encaminada a evitar cualquier horizonte de renacimiento de Rusia como potencia[ABPD4] .
Vayamos, en cualquier caso, por partes. Nadie pone en cuestión que en el otoño de 2001 Putin decidió proporcionar un caluroso apoyo a las medidas que, con el aparente objetivo de desactivar una amenaza terrorista, empezaba a hilvanar el presidente Bush en Afganistán[ABPD5] . Un balance somero del derrotero posterior de ese apoyo bien puede resumirse en dos datos. El primero subraya que Moscú pareció aceptar de buen grado el designio norteamericano de atraer hacia sí a Rusia, probablemente fundamentado en el subterráneo propósito de alejar al Kremlin de la Unión Europea y de cortocircuitar de esta suerte cualquier amago de gestación de una macropotencia euroasiática. Es verdad que en ese esfuerzo el razonable éxito de la Casa Blanca mucho le debió a la ausencia de un proyecto estratégico del lado de la UE y, más aún, a las insorteables secuelas de una[ABPD6] ampliación, la verificada por ésta en 2004, que colocó dentro de la Unión a un puñado de países que arrastraban una tensa relación con Moscú. El segundo de los datos subraya que desde 2001 hasta hoy Rusia ha esquivado la confrontación abierta con las potencias occidentales, y ello pese a que -no conviene olvidarlo-, a diferencia de lo ocurrido en el decenio de 1990, hoy el Kremlin no se halla atado de pies y manos de resultas de la dependencia financiera con respecto[ABPD7] al Fondo Monetario y al Banco Mundial. Obligado es recordar que cuando Rusia se ha sentido incómoda ante uno u otro movimiento estadounidense -así, la agresión en Irak de marzo de 2003-, llamativamente ha plegado velas en provecho de planteamientos tan moderados como pragmáticos.
Importa sobremanera subrayar que no ha merecido recompensa alguna lo que en unos casos fue un franco apoyo de Rusia a la política norteamericana y en otros un silencio connivente. EE UU no ha renunciado a un escudo antimisiles que, fanfarria retórica aparte, obedece al propósito de mermar la capacidad disuasoria de los arsenales nucleares rusos. Tampoco ha impuesto freno alguno a una nueva ampliación de la OTAN que ha beneficiado a tres repúblicas ex soviéticas[ABPD8] : las del Báltico. Nada ha hecho para desmantelar las bases, presuntamente provisionales, que perfiló en el Cáucaso y el Asia central al calor de la aventura afgana. No ha dudado en apoyar, con más de un fiasco, las llamadas revoluciones naranja, inequívocamente encaminadas a disputar a Rusia su zona de influencia. No parece, en fin, que haya dispensado a Moscú[ABPD9] , antes al contrario, ningún trato comercial de privilegio. Agreguemos que el silencio con que Washington obsequia, por lo demás, a la razzia putiniana en Chechenia -se hacía valer ya antes de los atentados del 11 de septiembre de 2001- a duras penas puede considerarse un premio por la docilidad rusa más reciente.
Para dar cuenta de la conducta norteamericana, hay que descartar con firmeza cualquier sugerencia de que a Washington le preocupen el derrotero de los derechos humanos en Rusia o las presuntas restricciones que el Kremlin impone al despliegue de una economía de mercado. Más sensato parece cargar las tintas en otras explicaciones como las que identifican en la Casa Blanca una prepotencia, una codicia y una ceguera sin límites, y, más aún, un firme[ABPD10] designio de arrinconar a Moscú y evitar, como antes sugerimos, que renazca de sus cenizas. Recuérdese que aun en su estado de relativa postración, Rusia no es -no puede ser- una potencia regional más. La inercia de la historia reciente, la magnitud del territorio ruso -fronterizo al tiempo con la UE, con el Oriente Próximo, con el Asia central, con China, con Japón y con el norte del continente americano- y su enorme riqueza en materias primas aconsejan huir de cualquier intento orientado a rebajar el relieve planetario del país.
Si la política norteamericana es lamentablemente comprensible -no puede reconocérsele otra virtud-, difícil resulta engullir las muchas miserias que entre nosotros se vierten al respecto. No es sencillo entender, sin ir más lejos, por qué a principios de 2006 produjo tanta sorpresa la decisión de Moscú en el sentido de elevar los precios que Ucrania debía pagar por el gas ruso. Si aceptamos de buen grado, y parece razonable hacerlo, que Rusia abraza la misma miseria[ABPD11] que nuestros países, ¿hay algún ejemplo de gobierno occidental que conceda un trato de privilegio a un Estado que se entiende, con alguna razón, que ha emprendido un camino poco amistoso? ¿Cuándo se asumirá de buen grado, en paralelo, que la aplicación de normas similares a las ventas rusas de gas al fiel aliado bielorruso invita a recelar de las explicaciones que no aprecian en los arrebatos del Kremlin sino abruptas e impresentables presiones políticas?
Qué no decir, en fin, de la doble moral que ha tenido a bien retratar Stephen Cohen en un artículo recientemente publicado en The Nation: cuando la OTAN se amplía lo hace, al parecer, para encarar el terrorismo y generar estabilidad, en tanto cuando Rusia protesta lo que hay por detrás[ABPD12] no son sino los atavismos de la guerra fría. Mientras Washington promueve la democracia en el planeta, los movimientos de Rusia reflejan, en cambio, el ascendiente de un proyecto neoimperial. Ante tamañas simplificaciones, cada vez se antoja más urgente que asumamos que los desmanes internos de Putin, y algunos de los externos, no obligan a darle la razón a una política, la norteamericana, prepotente, mezquina e interesada[ABPD13]


Containing Russia

Containing RussiaYuliya TymoshenkoFrom Foreign Affairs, May/June 2007
Article preview: first 500 of 4,794 words total.
Summary: Russia's imperial ambitions did not end with the fall of the Soviet Union. The Kremlin has returned to expansionism, trying to recapture great-power status at the expense of its neighbors, warns one of Ukraine's most prominent politicians. The United States and Europe must counter with a strong response -- one that keeps Russia in check without sparking a new Cold War.
Yuliya Tymoshenko is the leader of Ukraine's parliamentary opposition. From January to September 2005, she was Prime Minister of Ukraine.

Sixty-one years ago, a telegram arrived at the State Department from the U.S. embassy in Moscow. Its purpose was to examine the sources of the conduct of the men who ruled in the Kremlin. Its impact was immediate. The "Long Telegram," penned by a young diplomat named George Kennan, became the basis for U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union for the next half century.
Although the Soviet Union is long gone, the West is once again groping to understand what motivates the leaders in the Kremlin. Many believe that the principles behind Kennan's[ABPD1] policy of "containment" are still applicable today -- and see a new Cold War, this time against Vladimir Putin's resurgent Russia, in the offing.
I do not believe that a new Cold War is under way or likely. Nevertheless, because Russia has indeed transformed itself since Putin became president in 2000, the problem of fitting Russia into the world's diplomatic and economic structures (particularly when it[ABPD2] comes to markets for energy) raises profound questions. Those questions are all the more vexing because Russia is usually judged on the basis of speculation about its intentions rather than on the basis of its actions.
In the aftermath of communism's collapse, it was assumed that Russia's imperial ambitions had vanished -- and that foreign policy toward Russia could be conducted as if former diplomatic considerations did not apply. Yet they must apply, for Russia straddles the world's geopolitical heartland and is heir to a remorseless imperial tradition. Encouraging economic and political reform -- the West's preferred means of engaging Russia since communism's end -- is of course an important foreign policy tool. But it cannot substitute for a serious effort to counter Russia's long-standing expansionism and its present desire to recapture its great-power status at the expense of its neighbors[ABPD3] .
Thanks to high energy prices, the chaotic conditions that prevailed across Russia in the early 1990s have given way to several years of 6.5 percent annual economic growth and[ABPD4] a trillion-dollar economy. Living standards have improved (although life expectancy has not), the middle class is growing and increasingly confident, and the stock market is booming. Russia possesses the third-largest hard-currency reserves in the world, and it is running a huge current account surplus and paying off the last of the debts it accumulated in the early 1990s. The rubble has been made fully convertible and may even be undervalued. Russian membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) beckons. Ordinary Russians are grateful to Putin for the country's stability and economic growth, and they are proud that Russia appears to matter when great global issues are debated. No wonder, then, that Putin's popularity rating is around 70 percent -- a sustained achievement that any politician would envy.
Yet, for every step forward that Russia has taken over the course of Putin's second term, it has taken a step backward. Greater state control of the economy -- especially in the energy industry, where, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the state's share of oil production has doubled in three years -- has bred corruption and inefficiency[ABPD5] . Serious political opposition has been muzzled. Newspapers and television and radio stations have been shut down or taken over by the government and its allies. Kremlin cronies have replaced elected regional governors, and Russia's parliament, the Duma, has been emasculated as part of the Kremlin's drive to monopolize all state power[ABPD6] .
Russia's foreign policy has been equally troubling. Moscow has given Iran diplomatic protection for its nuclear ambitions, and Russian arms sales are promiscuous[ABPD7] . The Kremlin has consistently harassed neighboring countries; former Soviet nations, such as Georgia, have faced near economic strangulation. In February, Putin spoke favorably about creating a "gas OPEC[ABPD8] ."
None of this should be surprising, for Putin's aim has been unvarying from the start of his presidency: restore Russian greatness. Unlike Boris Yeltsin, who accepted dissent as a necessary part of democratic politics -- it was, after all, as a dissenter from Mikhail Gorbachev's rule that he gained the presidency of Russia -- Putin was determined from the outset to curtail political opposition as an essential step toward revitalizing centralized power[ABPD9] . Mikhail Khodorkovsky, of Yukos Oil, for example, is in prison for daring to challenge the Kremlin's authority and perhaps aspiring to succeed Putin. Order, power (including the power to divide the spoils of Russia's natural-resource wealth), and reviving Russia's international influence, not democracy or human rights, are what matter in today's Kremlin.
The backgrounds of the people who make up Putin's government have something to do with this orientation. A study of 1,016 leading figures in Putin's regime -- departmental heads of the president's administration, cabinet members, parliamentary deputies, heads of federal units, and heads of regional executive and legislative branches -- conducted by Olga Kryshtanovskaya, director of Moscow's Center for the Study of Elites, found that 26 percent at some point served in the KGB or one of its successor agencies. Kryshtanovskaya argues that a closer look at these biographies -- examining gaps in resumés, odd career paths, or service in KGB affiliates -- suggests that 78 percent of the top people in Putin's regime can be considered ex-KGB. (The significance of such findings should not be exaggerated: former secret police may hold many of Russia's highest offices, but Russia is not a police state[ABPD10] .)
Despite strong economic growth, Russia's domestic problems are awesome. In the long run, the country's systemic weaknesses may prove more disruptive to the world than its revived strength. Alcoholism and a collapsing health system are fueling a demographic catastrophe: the population has been shrinking by 700,000 annually for the past eight years despite the fact that the country's HIV/AIDS epidemic has not yet peaked. Male life expectancy is among the lowest in the world. Most demographers expect that Russia's population will shrink even more dramatically, perhaps to below 100 million people by the middle of the twenty-first century.
Russia's robust growth, moreover, is precarious, because it is based on high oil prices that seem unlikely to last and rising production that clearly cannot be sustained, owing to grossly inadequate investment[ABPD11] . Natural resources such as oil and gas are a mixed blessing for Russia, just as they are for other countries. High energy prices and raw material exports have allowed Russia to become the world's tenth-largest economy. Energy exports finance about 30 percent of the Kremlin's budget. But that figure is based on the assumption that oil will remain at $61 per barrel, which it has already fallen below. Aside from energy, Russian industrial exports primarily consist of armaments, with advanced aircraft accounting for more than half of sales. This lack of economic diversification leaves Russia vulnerable to any downturn in world oil and commodity prices.
Social inequality is vast and growing. Corruption, the OECD reports, is far higher today than it was under Yeltsin. State interference in business decision-making is at its highest level since the end of communism[ABPD12] . Moreover, without the rule of law, today's growing middle class will never acquire the confidence it needs to sustain a modern economy. Meanwhile, the insurgency in Chechnya has been met by the Kremlin's local strongman, whose minions openly terrorize, kidnap, and kill opponents. The North Caucasus is a tinderbox. The Russian army is riddled with graft, with officers selling conscripts into virtual slavery. And dangerous new forms of tuberculosis -- as well as of Islamist extremism among the 17 percent of the Russian population that is Muslim -- are being incubated through neglect.
Throughout the 1990s, it was fashionable to liken Russia to Weimar Germany -- a nation humiliated and shaken to its core by depression and hyperinflation that might fall under the spell of some reckless nationalist. But the defeated Germany of the 1920s was already a modern industrialized state, and the Nazi regime was only possible because it could seize the levers of such a state. These conditions did not exist in Yeltsin's Russia. Corruption and governmental chaos meant that Russia could not mount any sort of serious strategic challenge. But today's oil-fueled revival and the more disciplined government Putin has imposed may allow Russia to mount just such a challenge, particularly where world energy supplies are concerned.
After the Soviet Union's collapse, the West made the mistake of assuming that Russia's reduced status meant it was unnecessary to accord the Kremlin any special diplomatic consideration -- that Russia neither deserved nor should be offered a major role in world affairs. Accordingly, instead of drawing Russia into a network of dialogue and cooperation when it was weak -- and thereby helping it form habits that would carry on when Russia regained strength -- the West ignored Russia. This indifference caused Russia to regard the West's attempts to reassure eastern European countries about their security and place in the West as unfriendly acts, leading to today's problems. Had Russia been handled better in the 1990s -- had its sense of insecurity not been aggravated -- the country's tendency toward expansionism might well have been moderated[ABPD13] .
Ukraine's national experience has taught its citizens to regard peace as fragile and fleeting, its roots too shallow to bear the strain of constant social and political upheaval. We Ukrainians accept the lessons of our history and work toward solutions that relieve the[ABPD14] sources of this strain, lest neglect allow war to overtake peace and authority to subvert freedom. This is why we see our future in the European Union: the goal of the EU is to confront instability and insecurity with a lasting structure of peace and prosperity in which all of Europe's nations and neighbors have a stake.
To ensure that Europe's structure of peace is secure in the former Soviet East, a clear understanding of the existing power dynamic is needed. Much like the periods following the treaties of Westphalia and Versailles, the aftermath of the Soviet Union's collapse features[ABPD15] a powerful country confronting a group of smaller and unprotected new states. Given the economic and institutional links that arose in the decades of Soviet misrule, Russia's influence in the region was bound to be strong. This is a fact of life that I, as a practicing politician in Ukraine, live with every day. It is a fact with which the EU must come to grips under the current German presidency, by beginning to negotiate a new EU-Russia treaty to replace the one[ABPD16] written at the nadir of Russia's power. In the coming months, German Chancellor Angela Merkel must answer the question of how Europe can forge a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with the powerful new Russia that has emerged under Putin.
As a convinced European, I support Germany and the EU in this effort. Relations with Russia are too vital to the security and prosperity of all of us to be developed individually and ad hoc. If there[ABPD17] is one country toward which Europeans -- and, indeed, the entire West -- should share a common foreign policy, it is Russia. With high world energy prices allowing Russia to emerge from the trauma of its postcommunist transition, now is the time for a clear-sighted reckoning of European security in the face of Russia's renewed power. Relying on Russia's long-term systemic problems to curb its pressure tactics will not prevent the Kremlin from reestablishing its hegemony in the short run.
Moreover, now is a moment of maximum flexibility, because dependence on Russian energy supplies will only continue to grow. Indeed, a recent Center for Strategic and International Studies report estimates that Germany will depend on Russia for 80 percent of its gas imports -- compared with 44 percent today -- once the proposed trans-Baltic pipeline is completed. Unfortunately, political leaders usually have the least idea of what to do when the scope for action is greatest. [ABPD18] By the time they have a better idea, the moment for decisive and effective action may have passed. In the 1930s, for example, the French and British governments were too unsure of Hitler's objectives to act. But their obsession with Hitler's motives was utterly misguided. Realpolitik should have taught them that Germany's relations with its neighbors would be determined by relative power, not German intentions alone. A large and strong Germany bordered to the east by small and weak states would have been a threat no matter who ruled in Berlin. The Western powers should thus have spent less time assessing Hitler's motives and more time counterbalancing Germany's strength. Once Germany rearmed, Hitler's real intentions would be irrelevant. This was Winston Churchill's message throughout his "wilderness years." But instead of heeding Churchill, the British and the French continued to treat Hitler as a psychological problem, not a strategic danger -- until it was too late. What matters in diplomacy is power, not the state of mind of those who wield it.
For most of the past 15 years, the response to Russian actions by the United States and Europe has been driven by their perceptions of Russian reform. Western policy seems to be based on the premise that peaceful evolution can be ensured by democracy and by concentrating Russia's energies on developing a market economy[ABPD19] . Western diplomacy has thus seen its main task as strengthening Russian reform, with the experience of the Marshall Plan rather than the traditional considerations of foreign policy in mind.
But a far more important factor than reform is Russia's attempt to restore its preeminence in the territories it once controlled[ABPD20] . The Russia that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union on Christmas Day 1991 came with borders that reflect no historical precedent. Accordingly, Russia is devoting much of its energy to restoring political influence in, if not control of, its lost empire. Alongside this effort has come a shift of Russia's[ABPD21] focus eastward, making it a more active participant in the dynamic Asia created by China's rise.
In the name of peacekeeping in places such as Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Trans-Dniestria (restive regions within former Soviet republics), Russia has sought to reestablish its tutelage, and the West has largely not objected. The West has done little to enable the Soviet Union's successor states -- with the exception of the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania -- to achieve viable international standing. The activities of Russian troops in Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, and the former Soviet states of Central Asia are rarely questioned, let alone challenged. Moscow is treated as the de facto imperial center -- which is also how it conceives of itself[ABPD22] .
What can the West do to dissuade the Kremlin from pursuing Russia's age-old imperial designs? In the 1990s, an enfeebled Russia needed help from abroad. Unless oil prices unexpectedly collapse, no such leverage will be available in the near future. On the contrary, political pressure from outside is likely to aggravate rather than change Russian behavior. With the Kremlin once again firmly in control, Russia will change from within -- or not at all.
That is not to say, however, that the United States and the rest of the West can have no influence. Putin, like Russian leaders before him, is sensitive to outside criticism, as demonstrated by the Kremlin's paranoid[ABPD23] desire to curtail the activities of nongovernmental organizations within Russia, particularly those with foreign backing. Outsiders must be willing to criticize his misdeeds while trying to avert the emergence of a leader even more assertive than Putin. Maintaining this balance will be hard. Yeltsin was gifted at deflecting international skepticism about his rule by portraying himself as the last bastion against a communist revival; Putin also relies on promoting that type of better-the-devil-you-know thinking.
Western[ABPD24] leaders should speak out against any moves away from democracy, Putin's policy in Chechnya, and his use of energy to bully Russia's neighbors. (Many western European countries have been far too circumspect in their criticism and too anxious to make separate deals that will supposedly guarantee their national supplies of energy.) As the Russian presidential election in March 2008 approaches, the West must insist, beginning now, that amending the constitution to allow Putin to run again is unacceptable and could result in Russia's expulsion from the G-8 (the group of advanced industrialized nations[ABPD25] ). Western leaders should press for free and fair elections, even if the Kremlin's handpicked candidate is almost sure to win.
A realistic Russia policy would also recognize that even Yeltsin's reformist government stationed Russian troops in most former Soviet republics -- all members of the United Nations -- often against the express wishes of the host governments. These forces participated in several of these republics' civil wars, even as successive Russian foreign ministers have put forth the concept of a Russian monopoly on peacekeeping -- essentially Russian domination -- in what the Kremlin calls "the near abroad." Russia has legitimate security interests in its neighborhood. But Europe's peace and international stability require that these interests be satisfied without Russian military or economic pressure or unilateral intervention. For example, Russia must not be permitted to use Kosovo's gaining its independence from Serbia as a precedent for promoting secessionist movements in Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia, Trans-Dniestria, and, most important, Crimea, in an attempt to destabilize the national governments[ABPD26] . The short-term prospects for peace depend on whether Russian military forces can be induced to return home and stay there. Russia's relations with the Soviet successor states must be thought of as an international problem, subject to the accepted rules of foreign policy, rather than as solely Russia's problem, subject to unilateral decision-making that the West can hope to influence only by appealing to the Kremlin's goodwill.
The West must seek to create counterweights to Russia's expansionism and not place all its chips on Russian domestic reform. Such a policy would divide the risks of any possible energy blockade equally among all Europeans, rather than having governments make separate deals that leave others vulnerable to energy blackmail. Of course, not every European nation has the same interest in resisting any particular act of aggression, and so there will not always be agreement on when and how to oppose Russian assertiveness. Some nations may balk at taking action on issues they feel do not immediately concern them. But the principle of collective security, which has ensured Europe's peace and prosperity since 1945, must continue to be pursued. Merkel's proposal to create a "collective energy market," which she made during a summit with Poland's prime minister last November, is a good start toward building a pan-European energy security policy that includes Russia.
One key question is just how reliable the Russian energy supply really is. Despite having the world's largest gas reserves, Russia now faces a domestic shortage of gas. Gazprom, the country's dominant gas supplier (which, when it comes to foreign policy, doubles as an arm of the Kremlin), is not producing enough for an economy growing at more than six percent a year[ABPD27] . Production from Gazprom's three biggest gas fields, which account for three-quarters of its output, is in steep decline. The one large field that the company has brought on-stream since the end of the Soviet era is reaching its peak. Overall gas production is virtually flat.
According to the Institute of Energy Policy, in Moscow, Gazprom's capital investments in new gas production in the years 2000-2006 were one-quarter the size of its investments in other activities: media companies, banks, even chicken farms, as well as its downstream investments in western Europe's energy networks. Despite the enormous revenues to be gained from the new production of gas, Gazprom rarely attempts to find or produce more. As a result, it is unable to come up with enough gas to meet internal demand and its export obligations.
After more than ten years of delay, Gazprom has decided to develop a big field on the Yamal Peninsula -- a barren and barely accessible region in the Arctic. But the earliest that gas from Yamal will reach the market is 2011. Meanwhile, demand for gas -- from RAO Unified Energy System of Russia (UESR), Russia's electricity monopoly, as well as from expanding industrial companies and households -- is growing by about 2.2 percent annually, according to a recent report by the investment bank UBS. "The risk of supply crisis is real," the report noted, if growth in demand accelerates to 2.5 percent[ABPD28] .
The impending shortage means that Gazprom will not be able to increase gas supplies to Europe, at least in the short term -- something that European countries should be aware of and concerned about. This may explain why Gazprom abandoned its plan to send gas from the Shtokman field, in the Barents Sea, to the U.S. market as liquefied natural gas and diverted it to Europe instead. The decision, initially interpreted as a move intended to irk Washington, may actually have been a sign of desperation: sending Shtokman gas to Europe would free up Siberian output for domestic consumption.
The problem, of course, is not a lack of gas -- Russia has 16 percent of the world's total known reserves -- but Gazprom's investment strategy. Over the past few years, the company has spent vigorously on everything but developing its reserves. It has built a pipeline to Turkey, taken over an oil company, invested in UESR, tried to gain footholds in European distribution markets, and become Russia's biggest media company. All this was done in the name of creating and sustaining a "national energy champion." Yet investment in Gazprom's core business was grossly inadequate.
There is another problem facing Gazprom: the actual engineering costs of developing new gas fields in Russia[ABPD29] . In the Shtokman gas field and on the Yamal Peninsula, in particular, the engineering costs, including the cost of transporting the output to Europe, are twice as high as for new gas fields in North Africa and the Middle East. The international gas market is already beginning to recognize this, and, over the long term, it could be enormously dangerous for Russia. Indeed, Russia may actually be putting itself out of the gas business, because high engineering costs for new projects in Russia are signaling to the market that Russia and Gazprom lack the capacity to develop these fields. Western companies could come in and do the job, but given the Kremlin's recent usurpation of Shell's investments on Sakhalin Island, these companies would be remiss in their fiduciary duties if they undertook such investments.
The only way to avoid a crisis is to break Gazprom's monopoly on pipeline infrastructure and to license independent gas producers[ABPD30] . Independent producers already account for 20 percent of domestic gas sales in Russia and are boosting their output. Further gains would require market-based incentives. Europe can help by explicitly linking its acceptance of Russia's WTO membership to Russia's ratification of the Energy Charter and its attendant Transit Protocol, which would guarantee access to Russian pipelines for Gazprom's competitors[ABPD31] .
Any worthwhile energy security policy for Europe would also seek to loosen Gazprom's monopolistic grip on the pipelines. European competition policy, which has successfully brought companies as big as Microsoft into line, could -- if used skillfully -- also help turn Gazprom into a normal competitor[ABPD32] . Establishing an independent regulator, as Russian Economy Minister German Gref has suggested, would also be an important step toward splitting Gazprom into a pipeline operator and a production company. But Putin has vehemently rejected such a move. Thus, he now faces a choice between domestic gas shortages that threaten to slow economic growth and losing the Kremlin's "national energy champion."
Beyond tackling Gazprom's monopolistic power, a realistic energy policy for Europe would also seek to share the risks of any possible energy blockade equally among all Europeans, rather than allowing separate deals that leave others vulnerable to energy blackmail. Such a policy would need to incorporate a consensus that no country could reach a deal with Gazprom that undercuts EU plans to help construct pipelines from Central Asia that bypass Russia. Another counterweight could be built through trade. By extending the single market eastward to include Ukraine, the EU would shift the center of gravity for the region's trade relations. Today's negotiations over a "deep free trade agreement" between Ukraine and the EU need to lead, eventually, to an agreement that will give Ukraine candidate status for EU membership.
The West should support Russia when it pushes for democracy and free markets but bolster the obstacles to its imperial ambitions[ABPD33] . Indeed, Russian reform will be strengthened if Russia is encouraged to concentrate -- for the first time in its history -- on developing its national territory, which sprawls over 11 time zones from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok, leaving no rational cause for claustrophobia.
It does Russia no good to be treated as if it were immune from the normal considerations of foreign policy; treating it so will only force Russia to pay a heavier price later on, by luring it into taking steps from which it cannot easily retreat. The West should not fear frank discussions about where its interests and Russia's converge and diverge. Western leaders should not hesitate to insist that signed agreements, such as those to withdraw troops now stationed in the countries of the former Soviet Union, be fully honored. Realistic dialogue will not unhinge the leaders in the Kremlin. They are smart and can readily grasp a policy based on mutual respect[ABPD34] . In fact, they are likely to understand such a calculus better than appeals to goodwill and friendship.
Two objectives must be kept in balance when dealing with Russia: influencing Russian attitudes and affecting Russian calculations. Russia should be welcomed in institutions and agreements that foster cooperation -- most important, Europe's Energy Charter and the Transit Protocol, with their reciprocal rights and responsibilities. But Russia's reform will be impeded, not helped, if the West turns a blind eye to its imperial pretensions. The independence of the republics that broke away from the Soviet Union, including Ukraine, must not be tacitly downgraded by the West's acquiescence to Russia's desire for hegemony[ABPD35] .
Ukraine can help Europe and the United States create a viable structure within which Russia can exist securely. Our destiny is to be neither a forgotten borderland nor a bridge between the so-called post-Soviet space of "managed democracy" and the real democracies of the West. By strengthening our independence, we can shape Europe's peace and unity as we roll back the crony capitalism and lawlessness that are now the norms of the post-Soviet world. During my premiership, we sought to achieve just that, working with Moldova and Romania to standardize the region's customs regimes and thereby crack down on criminal enterprises in the breakaway region of Trans-Dniestria (which is trying to secede from Moldova only because of Russian support).
We acted in concert with our neighbors because we know that self-determination does not mean isolation. Achieving national independence today means having a new status, not withdrawing from the world scene. New nations can build with their former occupiers the same kind of fruitful relationship that France now has with Germany -- a relationship founded on equality and mutual interests. That is the relationship I seek with Russia, and that is how Ukraine can help extend the zone of Europe's peace[ABPD36] .
The real test of statesmanship is the ability to protect one's country against unfavorable and unforeseen contingencies. The fatal flaw in Russia's current oil- and gas-powered assertiveness is that the leaders in the Kremlin have lost their sense of proportion. Today's budget surpluses have allowed them to overestimate the extent of Russia's economic renewal, and they seem to have forgotten that by bullying their immediate neighbors they are also sending shock waves across the entire West. Of course, the Kremlin leadership will find it hard to admit that the centralized system that it is re-creating lacks the capacity to spur initiative, that Russia, despite its vast natural resources, remains a very backward country. The subservience that the Kremlin demands is stifling the vitality and creativity that Russia needs if it is to grow for the long term, let alone sustain its place in the world.
Russia[ABPD37] will damage its own interests if it turns down serious U.S. and European offers to participate on an equal basis in the structures of European and Middle East security. Failure to cooperate sincerely on energy security would eventually isolate Russia in the face of serious strategic challenges to its south and east; it would deprive Russia of all but the crudest methods of influence.
Russia's leaders deserve understanding for their anguished struggle to overcome generations of Soviet misrule. They are not, however, entitled to being handed the sphere of influence that tsars and commissars coveted for 300 years. If the West, particularly Europe, is to ensure its economic prosperity and energy security, it must be ready to demand of Russia what Russia has so far been unwilling to provide. And if Russia is to become a serious partner for the West, it must be ready to accept the obligations of stability as well as its benefits.
Yuliya Tymoshenko is the leader of Ukraine's parliamentary opposition. From January to September 2005, she was Prime Minister of Ukraine.