The contrast between the Clinton Administration’s eagerness to meet with the Russian President the month after Clinton was elected, and the Bush Administration’s announcement that the first meeting with President Putin would come “in due time” at the July G-8 summit symbolizes a significant turning point in U.S.-Russian relations. Clinton’s readiness to proclaim Russia a “new democratic strategic partner” contrasts sharply with President Bush’s devaluation of Russia from partner to potential adversary, or even (as some administration officials have suggested) threat.
ebruary’s rhetoric from both sides reminded observers more of the Cold War than of the recent past. CIA Director George Tenet testified that “although the Soviet Union no longer exists, Russia has emerged and remains a nuclear threat to the United States and its allies.” Russian Security Council Chairman Sergei Ivanov countered that U.S. deployment of national missile defenses “will result in the annihilation of the whole structure of strategic stability and create a new arms race, including in outer space.” Ivanov attacked “NATO’s escalation of the Kosovo conflict to the scale of a humanitarian catastrophe and to an ecological disaster comparable to Chernobyl” and berated the U.S. for failing to recognize that “Russia, a front-line warrior fighting international terrorism in Chechnya and Central Asia, is saving the civilized world from the terrorist plague.”
Now is the time to put to good use the accumulated experience of nearly a decade of cooperation.
—Ambassador Ushakov, p. 9
Today our relations are comprehensive, open, and intense in ways that we could scarcely imagine at the beginning of the 1990s.
—Ambassador Collins, p.11
week after Sergei Ivanov’s pyrotechnics, the French weekly LeFigaro printed excerpts of an interview with Bush’s National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Trumpeting headlines of a “new Russian threat” the reporter quotes Rice as having said, “I sincerely believe that Russia constitutes a threat for the West in general and our European allies in particular. Neither they nor we are sufficiently vigilant as to the dangers which are represented by the nuclear arsenal and ballistic weapons of the Kremlin. But we have every reason to fear possible transfers of nuclear technology coming from the Russians.”
In the week that followed, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asserted unambiguously, “let’s be very honest about what Russia is doing. Russia is an active proliferator; they are part of the problem. They are selling to and assisting countries like Iran and North Korea and India and other countries with these technologies which are threatening other people including the United States and Western Europe and countries in the Middle East. (continued on p. 4)
Media magnate Ted Turner and financier George Soros have announced their desire to buy a packet of shares of NTV, Russia’s largest privately-owned television network. The interest of these prominent American businessmen in NTV is explained by their striving for the preservation of Russia’s chief source of information independent of the government. NTV owner Vladimir Gusinsky is on the verge of losing control over the channel as the result of prosecution on fraud charges allegedly launched by the Kremlin. If NTV’s management does not find investors in the nearest future, control over the television channel will pass to the state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom. (Gazprom already owns 46 percent of all shares and has sued for another 19 percent.) The chief executive of Gazprom-Media Alfred Kokh (pictured) recently responded to the Turner-Soros offer by saying that his company welcomes the foreign businessmen’s interest in NTV. Earlier Ted Turner asked president Putin to guarantee the security of his investments in this television channel. Putin replied that in principle he did not object to Turner’s buying NTV shares.