Russia in Review
A digest of useful news from U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism for the week of February 3-10, 2012
Russia in Review: a digest of useful news from U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism for the week of February 3-10, 2012
I. U.S. and Russia priorities for the bilateral agenda.
Nuclear security agenda:
- “I'd like to stress that the challenge of preventing the falling of sensitive technologies and materials into the wrong hands concerns not only Pakistan. It is of a global nature and requires efforts of all countries," director of the Russian Foreign Ministry Security and Disarmament Department Mikhail Ulyanov said. Russia has appealed to Pakistan, India and Israel to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, he said. (Interfax, 02.09.12).
- The U.S. Strategic Command said it on Friday stood up a new joint force center dedicated to the eradication of weapons of mass destruction. (GSN, 02.07.12).
- The U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction Program in November supported elimination of nine nuclear warheads and nine mobile ICBM launchers. (GSN, 02.08.12).
- More than 440 metric tons of Russia's highly enriched uranium — equal to about 17,500 nuclear warheads — has been down-blended into fuel in the Megatons to Megawatts program. When the agreement ends in 2013, about 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium, equal to 20,000 Russian warheads, will have been turned into electricity. So far, Russia has received $8 billion for its uranium. (Seattle Times, 02.07.12).
Iran nuclear issues:
- Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has confirmed that military-technical cooperation was discussed at his recent meeting with the Iranian ambassador but no concrete decisions were made. Russia is to resume arms exports to Iran under a recent understanding but will comply with international law in doing so, the Iranian ambassador in Moscow announced earlier. (Interfax, 02.09.12).
NATO-Russia cooperation, including transit to Afghanistan:
- No significant developments.
- No significant developments.
- Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said the discussions on missile defense criticized Western proposals on missile defense as "vague," adding that Russian participation in a European missile-defense system "is not even up for discussion." (RFE/RL, 02.06.12).
- "The main reason for the lamentable state of affairs is the reluctance of the United States and NATO to take our lawful concern into account and offer Russia clear and convincing guarantees," director of the Russian Foreign Ministry Security and Disarmament Department Mikhail Ulyanov said. Any additional reply measures of Russia to the missile defense system of the United States and NATO such as the deployment of Iskander missile systems in Kaliningrad region are out of the question in the nearest future, he said.(Interfax, 02.09.12).
- "We have not made as much progress [with Russia] as I would like to see, but there is still some time to go before Chicago and I still hope we could reach an agreement," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. (AP, 02.03.12).
- Starting in May, Europe will have the beginning of an operational shield against ballistic missiles, courtesy of NATO. (Wired, 02.02.12).
Nuclear arms control:
- “I do not rule out than under certain circumstances we will have to boost, not cut, our nuclear arsenal,” Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said. (RIA Novosti, 02.06.12).
- “The issue (of withdrawal from the New START treaty) is not on the agenda presently in a practical sense," director of the Russian Foreign Ministry Security and Disarmament Department Mikhail Ulyanov said. (Interfax, 02.09.12).
- House Armed Forces Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Michael Turner (R-Ohio) could submit an altered version of the New START Implementation Act once the administration issues its fiscal 2013 budget request next week. (GSN, 02.09.12).
- The U.S. State Department's top arms control official Ellen Tauscher on Tuesday began serving in the newly-created position of Special Envoy for Strategic Stability and Missile Defense. Assistant Secretary for Arms Control and Verification and Compliance Rose Gottemoeller is now the acting Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. "We think that this is a realm where governments can actually partner with their citizens in order to make the case that they are fully living up to their arms control obligations," Gottemoeller said on Wednesday. (RTTNews, 02.07.12, GSN, 02.09.12).
- At a meeting in Geneva a U.S.-Russian body charged with overseeing implementation of the New START treaty addressed "practical issues related to the implementation" of the pact and formalized deals on the exchange of telemetric data from ICBM and submarine-fired missile trials under the treaty. (GSN, 02.08.12).
- The US and Russia should pledge to scale back the deployment of their tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, moving them from combat bases across the continent to deep storage facilities where they would be more secure, Global Zero argued on Friday. (Financial Times, 02.03.12).
- The increasing cost of maintaining an aging force of U.S. tactical nuclear bombs in Europe is not matched by the defense value the weapons provide, the Project on Government Oversight said in a Wednesday letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. (GSN, 02.03.12).
Energy exports from CIS:
- The European Commission said there had been a decrease in Russian gas deliveries to Germany; Italy, by 24 per cent; Austria, 30 per cent; Poland, 8 per cent; Slovakia; Hungary; Bulgaria; Romania; and Greece. Russia's Gazprom said a freezing Europe is demanding more than the company is required to deliver. (Financial Times, 02.04.12).
- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is in Bulgaria, urging the country to break its energy dependence on Russia by diversifying its oil and gas supplies. (AP, 02.05.12).
Access to major markets for exports and imports:
- No significant developments.
Other bilateral issues:
- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gave opposing public speeches Saturday on what should be done in Syria, and then took their dispute behind closed doors in a heated bilateral meeting at the 2012 Munich Security Conference. The meeting took place before Russia and China vetoed on Saturday U.N. Security Council vote embracing an Arab League solution for the Syrian crisis. Clinton called the failed vote in the Security Council was a "travesty." Lavrov said the Western reaction to the veto is "indecent" and "almost hysterical." (Foreign Policy, 02.04.12, Russia Today, 02.06.12).
- Russia is the only state in Europe independent from Washington control, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told students in Novosibirsk. (Interfax, 02.10.12).
- On the eve of a third major anti-government demonstration, Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin’s spokesman Dmitri Peskov said that Russian intelligence services "two or three years ago" reported that there were plans for the outbreak of street protests in Moscow, implying that a blueprint for political unrest was drawn up in Washington. (New York Times, 02.04.12).
- Most of the videos purportedly showing violations committed during the December parliamentary elections in Russia were "edited" and distributed online from the United States, Russian investigators said Saturday. (Moscow Times, 02.06.12).
- Asked about the plan to try Russian anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky posthumously, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said: "We continue to call for Russian authorities to bring those responsible for Sergei Magnitsky's death to justice." (Foreign Policy, 02.09.12).
- A military court on Friday convicted Lt.-Col. Vladimir Nesterets of passing classified information about Russian missile tests to the CIA for money and sentenced him to 13 years in prison. (AP, 02.10.12).
II. Russia news.
Domestic Politics, Economy and Energy:
- The tycoons who reaped fortunes thanks to Russia's controversial 1990s privatizations should make a one-time windfall payment to legitimize their holdings, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday. (Wall Street Journal, 02.10.12).
- Vladimir Putin may dissolve his ruling party United Russia and create a new power base after next month's presidential vote, according to two people familiar with the plans. (Bloomberg, 02.10.12).
- Vladimir Putin on Monday promised Russians a bigger say in politics in an article published in Kommersant and said the fight against corruption should become a "national cause.” (AP, RIA Novosti, 02.06.12).
- Speaking at a big investment forum in Moscow, Vladimir Putin touted Russia's economic growth of 4.3 per cent last year and promised better regulation for businesses. (Financial Times, 02.03.12).
- Vladimir Putin warned on Wednesday of a growing “cult of violence” around the world and expressed concern that upheavals in the Middle East could spread to his own country. (New York Times, 02.08.12).
- President Dmitry Medvedev intends to meet with representatives of the non-parliamentary opposition, namely the people who have been trying to register their political parties on February 20. (Vedomosti, 02.08.12).
- Anti-government protesters managed to gather a third huge crowd in the center of Moscow on Saturday. Organizers gave an estimate of 120,000. Putin's supporters also held a big rally in Moscow on Saturday, warning against the threat of instability. (New York Times, Reuters, 02.04.12).
- Public opinion poll conducted by the Levada Centre has shown that 35 per cent of Russian people, which is by 8 per cent more than a year ago, believe that the vertical hierarchy of command chain in Russia is doing [more] harm than good, whereas 30 per cent of respondents expressed the opposite opinion. (Vedomosti, 02.05.12).
- Vladimir Putin's rating was estimated at 48 percent a month ago and 51.5 percent a week ago, according to the VTsIOM state-owned pollster. (WPS, 02.10.12).
- Vladimir Putin has tamed the gangster capitalism to make Russian corruption "normal and civilised," his presidential election campaign chief said. (Reuters, 02.10.12).
- The head of the Russian Orthodox Church on Wednesday called the 12 years of Vladimir Putin's rule a "miracle of God." (Reuters, 02.08.12).
- Upgrade work will enable the lives of three RBMK reactors at the Smolensk site in Russia to be extended until the first new unit of a replacement plant is up, according to Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko. (World Nuclear News, 02.09.12).
- There was no risk of a radiation leak after a fire broke out at a Moscow nuclear research center housing a non-operational 60-year-old atomic reactor on Sunday, said officials. (Reuters, 02.05.12).
- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said it was untenable when manufacturers tell the Defense Ministry: “Buy what we have,” while the ministry looks to “NATO standards.” (RIA Novosti, 02.03.12).
- This month a new radar of the Voronezh class will be put on alert duty near St. Petersburg as part of Russia’s early warning system. (RIA Novosti, 02.09.12).
- Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin acknowledged on Thursday that weapons were still loaded on an atomic ballistic-missile submarine that caught fire while docked for maintenance in December. (GSN, 02.03.12).
Security and law-enforcement:
- In 2011, the Federal Security Service exposed 41 foreign intelligence officers and 158 recruited agents, including Russian citizens. (RIA Novosti, 02.07.12).
- Extra measures are needed to protect Russian interests and reinforce its borders in the Arctic, President Dmitry Medvedev told the Federal Security Service on Tuesday. (RIA Novosti, 02.07.12).
- Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Friday that his government will thwart any attempts by the West and major Arab powers to oust Assad by using a U.N. resolution. He said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's assurance to a visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that he will hold a constitutional referendum means that the Syrian opposition now "bears full responsibility" for ending the violence there. Assad is “completely committed” to stopping fighting in the country, Lavrov said Tuesday after discussions with the Syrian president. (AP, 02.07.12, RFE/RL, 02.10.12).
- "We of course condemn all violence regardless of its source, but one cannot act like a bull in a china shop," Vladimir Putin said of Syria. "Help them, advise them—limit, for instance, their ability to use weapons—but do not interfere under any circumstances." (Financial Times, 02.09.12).
- President Dmitry Medvedev said he expects Russian diplomats to provide in-depth analysis of foreign-policy problems and asked them to prepare thorough reports for the leadership and not to limit themselves to "echoing the Internet." (Interfax, 02.10.12).
- Canada lodged a formal protest with Russia for supplying arms to the Assad regime in Syria. (AP, 02.08.12).
- Kazakhstan believes the international community's first nuclear fuel bank can be up and running on Kazakh soil by late next year. (Wall Street Journal, 02.07.12).
- Lithuania and Azerbaijan intend to participate in next month's Global Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul. (GSN, 02.09.12).
- NATO has decided to extend until 2018 an operation to protect the airspace of Baltic members Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania with fighter jets. (AP, 02.08.12).
- French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet said in using the route through Uzbekistan to withdraw NATO troops from Afghanistan was too costly. (RFE/RL, 02.10.12).
- Alla Dzhioyeva, a candidate who claimed victory in the presidential election in Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia has been hospitalized in grave condition after a police raid on her headquarters. (AP, 02.10.12).
- Deals worth $4 billion have been signed during a two-day visit to Germany by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev. (RFE/RL, 02.08.12).
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