HEARING OF THE HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: FROM COMPETITION TO COLLABORATION: STRENGTHENING THE U.S.-RUSSIA RELATIONSHIP
CHAIRED BY: REP. HOWARD BERMAN (D-CA)
WITNESSES: STEVEN PIFER, VISITING FELLOW, CENTER ON THE UNITED STATES AND EUROPE, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION; ROBERT H. LEGVOLD, PH.D., PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY; ANDREI ILLARIONOV, PH.D., SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR GLOBAL LIBERTY AND PROSPERITY, CATO INSTITUTE
Copyright ©2009 by Federal News Service, Inc., Ste. 500, 1000 Vermont Ave, Washington, DC 20005 USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, Inc. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Internet Service at www.fednews.com, please email Carina Nyberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-202-216-2706.
REP. BERMAN: Good morning. The committee will come to order.
We are holding this full committee hearing -- our first full committee hearing in the 111th Congress to examine one of America's most important, yet often neglected, bilateral relationships, with the Russian Federation.
And I'll yield myself seven minutes for what I hope will be a long -- will be infrequent but somewhat long opening statement.
The Cold War is long over and yet in recent times this relationship -- that is, the relationship between United States and the Russian Federation -- has been quite chilling. We don't always agree, but Washington and Moscow face a number of common challenges that could form the basis for a more constructive partnership.
At the Munich Security Conference, Vice President Biden lamented the dangerous thrift in relations between Russia and the NATO alliance, while at the same time calling for a reassessment of areas in which we can work together. The positive response his remarks generated among Russian officials indicates that Moscow may also be willing to -- in the vice president's words -- press the reset button.
At the heart of our relationship with Russia lie a number of interrelated foreign policy issues and challenges: Iran's nuclear program, the war in Afghanistan, the future of NATO, peace and security in the Caucasus and the Balkans, missile defense, arms control.
Unfortunately, there's been a tendency in the recent years to stovepipe these issues, addressing them in isolation without establishing a clear set of priorities or integrating them into a -- to use Professor Legvold's words -- a comprehensive and coherent foreign policy.
One important question concerns Russia's perception of its vital interests, particularly its engagement with the near abroad. Some of the -- Russia's recent behavior towards its neighbors has been deeply troubling. Its decision to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states was a mistake that undermines regional stability. The recent dispute with Ukraine regarding the price and transit of gas left many Eastern Europeans without heat in the dead of winter. And Russia's apparent role in persuading Kyrgyzstan to close a vital American air base on its territory, while allowing U.S. supplies to transit Russian territory, will complicate U.S. efforts to conduct essential military operations in Afghanistan.
How are we to understand these actions? Are they part of a larger pattern of behavior through which Russia is seeking to reassert its power over former Soviet states and define itself as America's strategic competitor? This was the troubling conclusion that some observers reached last August when Russian President Medvedev spoke about regions where Russia has privileged interests. Or does Russia, as some others have suggested, perceive itself simply as acting in the self-defense against an expansionist NATO and Western encirclement?
Second, questions have been raised about the linkage between Russia's sense of financial well-being and its foreign policy assertiveness. Higher oil prices, it has been argued, have increased Russia's political and economic leverage and emboldened Moscow to oppose U.S. policies it finds objectionable. Yet Russia, like the U.S. and most of the world, has suffered from the global financial downturn.
What opportunities, if any, has the current crisis created in terms of encouraging greater Russian -- greater economic engagement with Russia? And would closer commercial ties help create the conditions for greater political cooperation down the road?
A third set of issues concerns NATO. While some members of the alliance have argued that eastward enlargement will promote democracy and stability among aspiring members, Russia has charged that NATO has seemed to assert regional dominance and threatens Russian security.
Is pausing or slowing the pace of enlargement likely to encourage greater cooperation from Russia in addressing challenges in the Balkans, Caucasus and Iran? Should the alliance make greater use of a NATO-Russian council to engage Moscow as a partner? It's clear that improving our bilateral relations will require good will and serious effort by both sides.
In that context, the Obama administration and Congress should examine what steps we should take to shift the U.S.-Russia relationship from confrontation to collaboration. For example, should we consider graduating Russia from the so-called Jackson-Vanik trade restrictions? Should the U.S. assist Russian efforts to progress more quickly towards membership in the World Trade Organization? Clearly, part of the road map for WTO accession is the implementation of the IPR agreement, which was signed over two years ago in November 2006.
While some progress has been made, I'm troubled by reports, for example, that Russia has failed to take adequate enforcement actions against plants involved in producing pirated CDs and DVDs. There are also numerous arms control, security and nonproliferation issues to be addressed by our countries in the coming year.
Should the U.S. bring into force the U.S.-Russia agreement for nuclear cooperation that the Bush administration withdrew from Congress after the Georgia conflict? And under what circumstances should the new administration continue to pursue missile defense in the Czech Republic and Poland as it seeks to engage Russia in efforts to prevent the emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran? And finally, what's the appropriate role for the promotion of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in our relationship with Russia?
The trends in recent years have been troubling. Journalists and opinion leaders who are critical of the government have suffered physical attacks and even been murdered. Political pressure on the judiciary, corruption in law enforcement, and harassment of some nongovernment organizations undermines the accountability of the Russian government.
There are also disturbing reports of vicious attacks motivated by xenophobia, neo-Nazism or anti-Semitic tendencies. To what extent, and to what matter, should the U.S. continue to press Moscow on these issues?
The U.S.-Russia relationship is exceptionally complex. We undoubtedly will continue to agree on some issues and disagree on others.
But it clearly is in our national interest to promote more positive ties with Moscow if doing so will help us achieve some of our most urgent foreign policy goals, such as preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability. I believe that Iran should be at the top of the agenda in our bilateral discussions.
The committee's fortunate to have three witnesses with us today who are uniquely qualified to help us answer some of these questions. Ideally, we'll not only talk about what pressing the reset button might mean, but we'll also fast-forward to consider the benefits to global security that improved U.S.-Russian relations might yield in the future.
It's now my pleasure to turn to the distinguished ranking member, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for any opening comments she may wish to make, and I yield her seven minutes for that purpose.
REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R-FL): Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for holding this important hearing.
As you have stated, Vice President Biden indicated that the new administration wants to press the reset button the U.S.-Russia relationship, and many of us are eager to move toward a more cooperative relationship.
Unfortunately, as we know, over the past 10 years we have seen the Russian government -- led by Vladimir Putin -- steadily become more authoritarian at home and more aggressive and destabilizing in its policies abroad. Since assuming the presidency of Russia in 2000, and continuing in his current post as prime minister, Mr. Putin has consolidated his power, restricted the activities of political opposition parties and used various means to stifle independent media and NGOs, nongovernmental organizations.
It has also become increasingly apparent that corruption within the Russian government is widespread and reaches to the highest levels. Many of those who have sought to criticize or expose that corruption have in fact been threatened and, on occasion, beaten or murdered.
The Russian government under Mr. Putin has also expanded its control over large-scale businesses, particularly in the energy sector. It has used its de facto control over nominally private sector energy companies to shut off energy supplies to several neighboring states at times of political disagreements with those states.
In its foreign policy, the Russian government's actions not only constitute a threat to critical U.S. security interests but are destructive to Russia's own long-term interests. Perhaps in an effort to create a growing challenge for the United States in the Persian Gulf region, the Putin government has provided nuclear technology and advanced weapons to Iran.
In the long run, however, the fundamentalist leaders in Tehran will have no greater affinity for Moscow once they have the nuclear arsenal they seek and they will certainly increase their involvement in radicalizing nations on Russia's borders, and it is also not in Russia's interest to see extremism spread north into Russia from Afghanistan. Yet while Russian officials express a willingness to support our efforts in Afghanistan, Russia is clearly working to persuade the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan to close a U.S. air base on its territory that is vital to supporting our mission in Afghanistan.
The Russian invasion of Georgia last year, which followed years of increasingly provocative actions by the Putin government in the separatist regions of that country, has led many in the United States and Europe who have supported closer relations with Russia to question its intentions. In fact, the recognition of the separatist regions in Georgia by the Putin government may well reopen painful questions regarding Russian sovereignty over parts of its own territory that may seek independence.
While the U.S. and the European Union have maintained arms embargo on China since the Tiananmen massacre in Beijing 20 years ago, Russia has sold significant quantities of advanced weaponry to that country. At a time when Russia's population is declining and its economy is underdeveloped, it seems ironic that the Russian government on its own would help arm a neighbor such as China whose population and economy are set to far outstrip it.
I hope that our witnesses today will speak to the factors driving Russian foreign policy as dictated and managed by Mr. Putin. It is vital to know how that policy is influenced by a general resentment of the United States and a desire to create challenges to U.S. influences in key regions such as the Persian Gulf and the straits off Taiwan.
It is also important for us to know how far Mr. Putin and his top officials might go if they thought that a more aggressive foreign policy -- perhaps another invasion of Georgia -- might help preserve their popularity among average Russians as the Russian economy follows downward declining prices for its oil exports.
Today I will be introducing, Mr. Chairman, a resolution calling on President Obama to work with the other six original member states of what is known as the G-8 group of states to terminate the Russian government's participation in that group until the president determines that the Russian leadership has taken substantive steps in removing restrictions on the political opposition, independent media and human rights groups in Russian, has implemented free-market reforms and tackled corruption at all levels, stopped using energy as a political tool against its neighbors, fulfilled its commitment to withdraw its military from the separatist region of Moldova and from the separatist regions of Georgia, and ceased all actions that threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia's neighbors.
Since the Soviet Union broke apart in '91, the U.S. and the European Union have pursued policies meant to integrate a stable and reformed Russia as a partner at least, if not a full member of their transatlantic community of nations. We cannot continue to support such integration, however, if it serves to spread corruption and destabilization in the regions neighboring Russia and lying on its periphery.
Until that principle is accepted by the Russian leadership, I doubt that a so-called reset of our relationship with Russia would serve our long-term interest and our values.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, again, for holding this hearing. And I also thank our distinguished witnesses for appearing before our committee today.
REP. BERMAN: Thank you. Your time is expired.
And I'm now pleased to recognize for an opening statement the chairman of the Europe Subcommittee, and if he joins us, the ranking member of that subcommittee for a three-minute opening statement.
Mr. Wexler, you're recognized for three minutes.
REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D-FL): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I will be brief.
I think Vice President Biden summed up very appropriately what our new relationship -- or evolving relationship with Russia needs to be in terms of the reset button. But it seems to me -- it's something that I'd be curious to hear the thoughts of the three panelists. My impression is if you analyze from an objective point of view the last six years or so of American-Russian relations, we went from a point -- "we" meaning the United States -- we went from a point where we had a set of cards that allowed us to exert a fair degree of influence, where we may or may not have been successful, but we at least had a set of cards to play. And then as a result, in part because of rising gasoline prices and other political -- geopolitical factors, that set of cards dramatically shifted so that the ability of the United States to influence Russian action became somewhat marginalized. I'd be curious if you could speak to that issue if you believe it is an accurate statement and what we can do about it.
Quickly also, if I could: I came back from Turkey last week, and it seems to me that we are on the cusp of a historic opportunity with respect to Turkish-Armenian relations and the possibility in 2009 for extraordinary engagement between those two countries, and the possibility of opening of borders and then things that might follow, such as normalization.
I'm curious if you could speak to the potential for American- Russian cooperation in this regard and the particular unique role that Russia might play if it chose to with respect to this kind of engagement which, if it were successful, might change the dynamic in the region quite dramatically for the positive, and is this an opportunity for a new type of American-Russian engagement where mutual benefits to both countries might be had?
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
REP. BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired.
I'm now going to recognize members of the committee who wish to make a one-minute opening statement, and the first is chairman of the subcommittee that deals very much with issues coming within the range of this hearing, Mr. Brad Sherman of California.
REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D-CA): Thank you, Mr., Chairman.
We need Russia's help to stop Iran's nuclear program. The fault for the present circumstances and chilliness between the two countries lies in Washington as well as Moscow.
We supported self-determination for the Soviet republics, the Yugoslav republics and the Kosovo region. We opposed self- determination for South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Trans-Dniester, Moldova and northern Kosovo. Some would say this is inconsistent; the fact is it is consistently anti-Russian.
On 9/11 -- 9/11 has been analogized to Pearl Harbor. We prevailed in World War II only by allying ourselves with a Soviet Union whose flaws dwarf the most scathing criticism anyone could make of the current Russian regime. I look forward to linking how we deal with Russia on every issue, including missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic, to how they deal with the Iran nuclear program.
I yield back.
REP. BERMAN: I thank the gentleman. The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Smith.
REP. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH (R-NJ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, while both the bilateral and multilateral relations with Russia are under review and reappraisal, I hope our distinguished witnesses to the committee today will provide insights on the state of human rights in Russia to give us a broad overview but also to focus on some of the key issues that I think are very much in flux and probably to the negative.
As one of the six organizers of a new global initiative to combat the rising tide of anti-Semitism, I was in the United Kingdom last week for what we called the London Conference to combat anti-Semitism, and it's becoming increasingly clear, especially during the Gaza crisis, that that is being used as a pretext to target Jewish people, to target synagogues and cemeteries, and obviously no country, including our own, is immune from that kind of vicious hate.
But Russia, which has had, unfortunately, a terrible history of anti-Semitism -- one of our key featured speakers at this conference was Sharansky -- Natan Sharansky, and he couldn't have been more eloquent again in calling for all nations, including Russia, to combat this vicious hate anywhere and everywhere it rears its ugly head.
So if our panelists could speak to that issue, I think it would be very helpful.
REP. BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired.
The gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Sires.
Does any member of the subcommittee have an opening statement on the Democratic side?
REP. BILL DELAHUNT (D-MA): I thank the chairman --
REP. BERMAN: The gentleman is recognized for one minute.
REP. DELAHUNT: I just want to associate myself with the remarks of Mr. Sherman, and also continued references to the invasion of Georgia by Russia I don't think speak to the facts. There have been multiple reviews of actually what happened on the ground, and I think it's inescapable that a decision was made by Mr. Saakashvili to launch a military initiative that clearly provoked a substantial response.
I think it's important that we speak to the facts and simply don't draw conclusions until we're satisfied that we have ascertained what the reality is.
And with that, I yield back.
REP. BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired.
The gentleman from California, Mr. Royce, is recognized for one minute.
REP. EDWARD R. ROYCE (R-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
You know, I assume it's natural to assume that a new day abroad is going to be upon us because we have a new administration, and I think some are going to suggest that only if we do this or that differently now, therefore relations with Russia are going to improve.
But as one witness will point out, there's no indication that things in Russia will change, will improve because we have a new president. Russia's foreign policy, so troublesome on many fronts, stems really from its autocratic internal politics. There is also strong anti-Americanism that's whipped up by its government.
President Bush was wrong to personalize his diplomacy with President Putin, but personal diplomacy will not affect the Russian apparatchiks' perceived interests. Changes in U.S. foreign policy, therefore, will not necessarily usher in a new era of collaboration.
Cooperation on Iran, for one, is unlikely to improve over the next few critical years, whatever we do. I think that's sort of the realpolitik of where Russia is.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired.
Any further members wish an opening statement?
The gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Scott, is recognized for one minute.
REP. DAVID SCOTT (D-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will just be very brief.
I think the fundamental question we really have to ask ourselves is, what do the Russians want to do? I get a sense that they -- the best description I can give to them right now is sort of they suffer from sort of a dichotomized schizophrenia.
I've just returned with some of my NATO colleagues from visiting four countries last week in Europe: France, Germany, Austria and Belgium, and at each stop, Russia was the big elephant in the room. And I think on the one hand, they say they want to help us with the nuclear nonproliferation, and at the same time they're giving nuclear technology to Korea and to Syria.
On the other hand, they say they may want to help us -- we have an opportunity, they could help us in Afghanistan, and as soon as our president announces we've got 17,000 troops to go there, they work to close our base, so I think the question is, what do they want to do?
REP. BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired.
If there are no further opening statements, I'm very pleased to introduce really an expert panel of witnesses today.
Robert Legvold is the Marshall D. Shulman professor emeritus -- Marshall D. Shulman being one of the preeminent Russian scholars of our time -- in the Department of Political Science at Columbia University, where he has specialized in the international relations with the post-Soviet states. Prior to coming to Columbia in 1984, Professor Legvold served as senior fellow and director of the Soviet Studies Project at the Council on Foreign Relations. He was previously a faculty member the department of Political Science at Tufts University.
His most recent book is a collaborative volume entitled "Russian Foreign Policy in the 21st Century and the Shadow of the Past." Presently, Professor Legvold is project director for a large study of U.S. policy towards Russia at the American Academy of Arts and Science.
I personally must say he holds a special place for me as an educator on Russia at numerous Aspen Institute meetings and as director of the Russia project that I just mentioned him heading.
Steven Pifer is currently a visiting fellow at The Brookings Institution Center on the United States and Europe. A retired Foreign Service officer, Ambassador Pifer spent more than 25 years with the State Department focused on U.S. relations with the former Soviet Union and Europe, as well as arms control and security issues.
He served as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, deputy assistant secretary of State with responsibilities for Russia and Ukraine, as well as senior assistant to the president and senior director for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia on the National Security Council.
Ambassador Pifer recently published a Brookings policy paper entitled "Reversing the Decline: An Agenda for U.S.-Russia Relations in 2009," which provides the basis for his testimony today.
Andrei Illarionov is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. Dr. Illarionov was the chief economic adviser of Russian President Vladimir Putin from 2000 to 2005. He also served as the president's personal representative in the G-8.
From 1993 to 1994, Dr. Illarionov served as chief economic adviser to the prime minister of the Russian Federation, Viktor Chernomyrdin. He resigned in February 1994 to protest changes in the government's economic policy and founded the Institute of Economic Analysis later that year. Dr. Illarionov has co-authored several economic programs for Russian governments and has written three books and more than 300 articles on Russian economic and social policies.
It is the custom in the committee to ask the witnesses to try and summarize their really excellent written testimony in about five minutes -- and I would commend to my colleagues on the committee that reading the testimony in full is worth their time -- and then we will go to developing your comments and questions.
So, Dr. Legvold, if you'd start.
MR. LEGVOLD: Mr. Chairman, committee members, it's a pleasure to appear before you today, and I commend the committee for scheduling this hearing on Russia early -- indeed, your first hearing in this session -- and commend you for framing the issue the way you're framing the issue; that is, in a way that acknowledges the importance of the U.S.-Russia relationship and at the same time how troubled that relationship has become, especially in the last five years and with dramatic speed since the Georgian war in August.
This is important, the subject itself, because I think that a critical source of the problem in U.S.-Russia relations has been the long failure on both sides -- both on the Russian side and on the U.S. side -- to recognize the stakes that each of us has in that relationship: that is how broad the stakes are and how great they are, how large they are.
Some of them are obvious. The fact that our two countries still have 95 percent of the nuclear weapons in the world mean that we also have primary stewardship for a nuclear world, for dealing with those states that have nuclear weapons and for those states -- dealing with those states that want to have nuclear weapons.
Second, Russia is the world's largest producer of energy; we are the world's largest consumer of energy, and our most important allies in Europe are the most dependent on Russia for their energy supply.
Other stakes are less obvious, but Russia is important if we intend to make progress on every issue from a looming competition over the vast hydrocarbon resources of the Arctic to coping with climate change. The list is much longer and very impressive, and I've included it in my written submission.
If Russia is this important to us, and we are to them, then what should be done about the relationship? I would start by asking myself where we want U.S.-Russia relations to be four or six years from now, not as a pie-in-the-sky exercise but as a realistic attempt to create a vision that will then provide discipline and guidance for day-to-day policymaking.
Then, I would set about three basic tasks at this stage. The first would be an attempt to change the tone in the relationship and to test the water of what can be done in U.S.-Russia relations by making several important symbolic gestures. The first would be to start with the repeal of the Jackson-Vanik amendment. Do it quickly, do it without fanfare and do it without horse trading, but also to accelerate the extent we can progress on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization and an early ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
The latter two, of course, are substantive, not merely symbolic. But they would be important in terms of this first step.
Second, I would focus on three time-urgent problems in which we might hope to make progress with the Russians. I said hope. We need to measure the prospect of doing so.
The first is the linked issue of Iran, its nuclear aspirations and ballistic missile defense in Central Europe. The second is the follow-on to the START I agreement that expires in December of 2009. And the third is Afghanistan and the prospects of cooperation as well as dealing with what appear to be some of the obstacles in Afghanistan.
The third thing that I would do, and I would do it early on, may be more original than the things I've just described. In fact, the things I've just described are issues that have already been raised this morning in the hearing. And that is, I would propose a deep and a far-reaching strategic dialogue at the highest level of government, both on the -- with the Russian side and with the United States that would focus on four broad basic areas that are essentially training issues for most of the issues that are troublesome now -- turbulent within the relationship. The first is the question of European security. The second is the issue that I would call mutual security in and around the Eurasian land mass. The post-Soviet space is at the center of that; Russia is a centerpiece within that. That is at the very core of the problems we have with Russia, and unless we can begin making headway in the way each side understands our respective roles, there are real problems -- the problems will continue.
The third is a complex of issues in the area of nuclear security. And the fifth -- or the fourth is energy security, a serious, strategic dialogue over the question of energy security. Thank you.
REP. BERMAN: Ambassador Pifer.
MR. PIFER: Thank you very much. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. let me thank you for the opportunity to appear today to talk to you about U.S.-Russian relations. And I also would commend the committee for its early attention to this critical foreign policy issue.
At the end of 2008, U.S.-Russian relations had fallen to their lowest point since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Both Washington and Moscow bear a share of the blame. After the high point in 2002, the presidents became distracted with other issues. There was weak follow-up to presidential commitments and the sides increasingly were unwilling to adjust their positions to take account of the interests of the other.
Dealing with Russia today is not easy. Moscow desires great- power status, seeks to reduce the global influence of the United States, wants a sphere of privileged interest in the post-Soviet space and has over the past four years pursued an increasingly assertive foreign policy, including use of energy as a critical tool.
The Russian leadership today, however, faces serious challenges. Foremost is a fragile economy, with the collapse of oil prices and the global financial crisis is heading for recession after eight years of high growth. This clearly worries President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin as does the prospect of possible social unrest.
The question for our purposes today is how will these challenges affect Russian foreign policy? One possibility is that they will feed the leadership's need to form an enemy image of the United States to distract the populace from the country's economic woes. Alternatively and hopefully, it could lead the leaders to conclude that a calmer international context, including better U.S.-Russian relations, would allow them to focus on tackling their domestic problems.
The Obama administration has an interest in exploring whether U.S.-Russia relations can be put on a more solid footing. Securing Russian help on issues such as controlling nuclear materials, pressing Iran to forgo nuclear arms, access to Afghanistan and countering international terrorism is in the U.S. interest. A more robust relationship, one that addresses issues of interest to Moscow, will give Washington greater leverage with Russia.
The administration should seek a balance in its policy, making clear the unacceptability of actions that violate international norms while encouraging a broader, more positive relationship. Washington should offer initiatives to test Moscow's readiness to put relations on a more even keel.
First, I would suggest that the administration revise strategic nuclear arms reductions negotiations. This would lower the level of nuclear weapons while exerting a positive influence on the broader relationship as arms control has done in the past. The administration should propose reducing U.S. and Russian strategic warheads to no more than 1,000 on each side with ancillary limits on strategic missiles and bombers.
Missile defense is a charged issue. I would suggest that the administration impose a two- or three-year moratorium on construction of a missile defense system in Central Europe, taking advantage of the high probability that current plans would have that system operational well before the Iranians acquire a long-range missile.
The administration should tell Moscow that the moratorium could be extended with credible evidence to emerge that the Iranian missile or nuclear programs had been delayed or ended.
Let me add one comment on Iran. We should seek a more robust Russian policy on Iran, but we should bear in mind that Moscow sees Tehran as its gateway to the Persian Gulf. Moreover, while the Russians do not want a nuclear-armed Iran, they do not see it as the same nightmare scenario that we do. Given this difference in interest and in sense of urgency, the Russians likely will not be as helpful as we would want.
The administration should work to broaden commercial relations with Russia. The United States should support Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization and revisit the peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement. Also, it is time for Congress to graduate Russian from the provisions of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment and grant Russian permanent normal trade relations status. For whatever problems Russia has had with democracy, on immigration, Russia has met the requirements of Jackson-Vanik.
European security and, in particular, U.S. and NATO relations with Russia's neighbors will remain difficult issues on the agenda. The United States should take account of Russia's legitimate interests, but it should not accept the Russian sphere of influence and it should support the right of countries such as Ukraine and Georgia as sovereign states to determine their own foreign policy course.
At the same time, the administration should consider ways to broaden NATO-Russia relations. There are many questions on which the alliance in Moscow can and should cooperate. Such cooperation will be key to the difficult task of changing Russia's perception of NATO.
Mr. Chairman, the United States and Russia are unlikely to agree on every issue. But those issues on which our interests converge can provide a foundation for a stronger relationship. During his February 7 speech in Munich, Vice President Biden indicated that the administration is ready to reverse the decline in relations.
As Washington puts forward its specific proposals, the test will be whether Moscow responds in a reciprocal manner. If it does, we should see welcome movement to strengthen the U.S.-Russia relationship. Thank you.
REP. BERMAN: Thank you very much, Ambassador.
And Dr. Illarionov, it's good to have you here and recognize you for your opening statement.
MR. ILLARIONOV: Chairman Berman, Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen, distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to share with you my views on the current status of the U.S.-Russia relations and the possible consequences of its strengthening in the near future.
I would start with a point of statement of a disclaimer. Since I am a Russian citizen and I'm a former government employee of the Russian Federation and it seems I'm working at the Cato Institute here in Washington, which is a nonpartisan think tank not related to any particular political party here in the United States as well as any country in the world, I'm not in the position to provide any advices to you, distinguished members of the U.S. Congress, as well as to the U.S. government or any government of the world.
So that is why my testimony, my comments should not be taken as advices but as just background information that you are welcome to use as you find it suitable.
I will touch upon three issues; the first one is the challenges from the past U.S.-Russia relations; challenges to the Russian people, to the neighboring countries and world peace from the current political regime in Russia; and third, a forecast of what could happen if the approach that is being announced and is being discussed right now by the current administration will be fulfilled fully.
On the first issue, we have some past experience of approaches of at least two last U.S. administrations towards Russia. It's a very clear pattern. Each of the two administrations -- both President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush -- started with great expectations with a lot of efforts invested by the leaders of their administrations into bilateral relations. Later, it led to substantial disappointment and finally to great failure.
Right now, the beginnings of the President Obama administration's term strikingly resembles the beginning of the two preceding administration terms. We can see similar desire to improve bilateral relations, similar positive statements, similar promising gestures and visits, but seems nothing has changed in the nature of political regimes in our both countries. It is rather hard not to expect the repetition of already known pattern -- high expectations, deep disappointments and heavy failures for the third time.
So that is why, before any policy has been implemented and even being formulated, it is worth to spend some time to analyze the reasons of the two previous failures. To my mind, they arise mainly from, first, the nature of the current Russian political regime; second, lack of understanding on the part of the U.S., the internal logic and intentions of the current Russian leadership; third, in the ability of the democratic nations to deal with the challenges of the powerful authoritarian regimes; fourth, inability to provide clear distinction between the Russian government and the Russian people; and the fifth, sometimes directly a double standards approach in the U.S. policies toward similar issues on the international arena, and especially towards Russia.
The third issue concerning the current political regime is Russia. Russia today is not a democratic country.
The international organization Freedom House assigns "not free status" to Russia since 2004 for each of the last five years. According to the classification of the political regimes, the current one in Russia should be considered as a hard authoritarianism. And the central place in the Russian political system is occupation (sic) by the -- almost all political power by the members of the corporation of secret police operatives.
If we look into the mass media, there is no independent mass media in Russia, virtually no, that's existing. And the TV channels, radio, printed media are heavily censored with government propaganda to disseminate cult of power and violence directed against democrats, liberals, Westerners and the West itself, including the United States. And the level of anti-U.S. propaganda is incomparable even with one of the Soviet times of the '70s and '80s, of which I can recall myself.
As for electoral system, there is no free, open competitive parliamentary or presidential elections in Russia, at least since 1999/year 2000. The last two elections -- parliamentary in December, year 2007 and presidential one in March 2008 -- have been conducted as special operations and been heavily rigged with at least 20 million ballots in each case stuffed in favor of the regime candidates. None of the opposition political parties or opposition politicians has been allowed either to participate in the elections or even to be registered at the Ministry of Justice.
Members of political opposition in Russia are regularly being harassed, intimidated, beaten by the regime's security forces. Each rally of the opposition since year 2006 has been harshly attacked by the riot police. Hundreds of people have been beaten, arrested and thrown into jail. In the country right now is, according to human rights organizations, more than 80 political prisoners, compared to even neighboring Belarus that has released the last political prisoners last summer, but Belarus is considered to be the last dictatorship in Europe.
There is a -- (inaudible) -- of terror on the last 10 years. Many people, and especially politicians, journalists, lawyers who were in opposition or independent of the current political regime have been assassinated or died under very suspicious circumstances.
In the last six years we had a number of wars that have been launched by the Russian regime against neighbors, including Belarus, Ukraine. A number of wars like energy supply, wine-mineral water, spy wars against Georgia, including the last war with conventional forces. That's about it actually, several years before year 2008 -- (inaudible).
REP. BERMAN: Dr. Illarionov, if you could start to sum up your statement because of the time and the votes. Great.
MR. ILLARIONOV: My last comment will be concerning the proposed collaboration and (recent ?) pattern. I think in the current situation when the Russian leadership has announced that it has so- called privileged interests in the neighboring countries, the suggestion to increase collaboration with the political regime in Russia would be considered by this, and actually is considered, and it is actually met with -- (inaudible) -- that it would be a clear invitation to continue the policy of restoration of (de facto ?) control and influence of the Russian secret police over the post- Soviet space. And in this case, unfortunately, we know -- (inaudible) -- collaboration from the European history of the 20th century and who are collaborationists.
So from the European history point of view, if a revisionist power has a clear-cut goal to restore influence and control over its neighbors and where other powers choose not to defend victims of the attacks but instead to try to collaborate with an aggressor, I unfortunately know what would happen. So that is why knowing these consequences, we know that who retreats or surrenders gets not peace but war -- with war, with unpredictable and nasty results, and might also not be one war. So that is why we should not say that we did not get the warning.
REP. BERMAN: Thank you very much, Dr. Illarionov.
The bells have gone off. We have three votes on the House floor. I think I'll recognize myself for five minutes of questions and then we'll recess for probably 40 minutes or so to have those -- 30 to 40 minutes -- to have those three votes and then resume the hearing immediately after the last of those three votes.
So I give myself five minutes. I'd like to ask two questions.
Since I only have five minutes for questions and answers, if you could take a couple of minutes, Dr. Legvold and Ambassador Pifer, to respond to the conclusion that some of our members, and Dr. Illarionov most vividly, have portrayed about this Russia -- essentially that trying to enhance cooperation, move to collaboration, from competition to collaboration, improve relations with this current political regime, amounts to surrender, that, in effect, this regime is perhaps even worse than Belarus in the context of Dr. Illarionov's view that our colleague Mr. Royce said that essentially Russian interests and Russia's nature prevents some of the hopes you had.
So my first question would be if the two of you could just respond to that.
And then, to Dr. Illarionov, I have one question, which is notwithstanding everything you've said, given the reasons that Jackson-Vanik was passed in the beginning that dealt with freedom of immigration for religious minorities, given that that is not a particular -- that that issue, essentially, we have recognized, has been resolved -- does a unilateral decision to repeal the Jackson- Vanik law based on the fact that the conditions for its passage have been met and its provisions have been waived regularly, does that, in your way of thinking, justify it simply for purposes of us standing true to our commitments that we've made to repeal it?
MR. LEGVOLD: I don't think there's any question that trends within Russia, particularly in the eight years under President Putin, and they've not been fundamentally reversed under President Medvedev, have moved in the direction of semi-authoritarianism, greater illiberalism, with the effects on freedom of expression in the press, certainly assembly, capacity to organize effective political parties, create a diverse Duma -- that is parliament -- all of that has gone in the wrong direction.
The picture is more mixed from my point of view than Dr. Illarionov has presented, both in terms of how much access there is to reasonable information for the average Russian through media one way or another and the conditions generally, which ought not to be portrayed as the equivalent of the Soviet Union. That's not what life is in Russia today politically. And it's certainly not as authoritarian as a country that I spent a fair amount of time studying and being in, which is Belarus. So that's a false comparison.
But the real question is whether, a, there are some countertrends within the country in this respect. I think there are. One of the most interesting things that I've seen is a report that was done, issued a few weeks ago by something called the Institute of Contemporary Development, which is critical primarily in the context of the current economic crisis of what had been the failings of the government to first prepare the way for dealing effectively with something like this and then the steps that they took in the early stages of it, but linked to the basic problems at this political level and the need to begin opening the system. It talks specifically about what's necessary in order to get fuller and freer elections. It talks about the need for judicial reform and improvement. It talks about dealing with nongovernmental organizations and having a decent and respectful dialogue with the public, with the business community, in order to confront this crisis directly.
Why is this report and this organization interesting? Because the chairman of the board for this organization is President Medvedev, and Igor Yurgens, who heads this institute, is one of the closest intellectual advisers to President Medvedev.
REP. BERMAN: Dr. Legvold, there's only about 35 seconds left so I'm going to interrupt you and just ask, because time is -- Dr. Illarionov, just if I could, on the Jackson-Vanik repeal issue, your opinion?
MR. ILLARIONOV: I think this issue is absolutely outdated for several years, if not decades. The problem is the timing of the abolishment of this particular legislation and how to be interpreted. But, in essence, it's definitely outdated.
REP. BERMAN: And therefore should be repealed?
MR. ILLARIONOV: Once again, I am not in a position to advise the U.S. Congress what to do, but from the position of the Russian citizen and from Russian government and police, it is absolutely outdated.
REP. BERMAN: Thank you both, all.
And Ambassador Pifer, I'm sorry I didn't have a chance to hear you speak on the subject, but I have a feeling we can work through your answer down the line.
The committee is now in recess until after the third vote. We'll be back to resume the questioning. Thank you very much.
Oh, and I am going to provide unanimous consent, if no one objects, to the introduction of written statements by members of the committee who chose not to make oral presentations -- without objection, so ordered.
REP. BERMAN: Is Dr. Illarionov around? Oh, he did tell us he had to leave at noon, but it's not noon yet. His papers are here. All right.
REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: Mr. Chairman?
REP. BERMAN: Yes?
REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: My questions are directed to Dr. Illarionov -- it gave me an opportunity to practice the pronunciation, and since he's here, I will --
REP. BERMAN: Here he is right now. He's just coming right now.
Illarionov -- is that right?
REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: You'd think with someone with a complicated name as I have would be able to tackle some of these other ones that are not as difficult.
Sir, in your testimony, you state "Uniqueness of the current political regime in Russia: One of the most important characteristics of the current political regime in Russia is that the real political power in the country belongs neither to one person nor family nor military junta nor party nor ethnic group. The power belongs to the corporation of secret police operatives." And while reading the rest of your written testimony, is it fair to say that Russia today has become the first major nuclear-armed state to fall under the control of a sort of mafia?
MR. ILLARIONOV: Among political scientists and sociologists there is a big debate concerning classification of the organizations that use, that professionally use force. They start usually with the states, with different private organizations using violence, to mafias. So I would not like to start this debate here, but at least the usual approach is that they put all these organizations together as a big group. Compared to other organizations like business companies and corporations, they do not use violence. They use this kind of exchange for their products and services. So generally speaking, this is a big, some kind of community of similar organizations that are professionally using force against other people.
REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: Thank you. And continuing on with your written testimony, you state, "Even a brief look on the U.S.-Russia relations over the last 10 years reveals quite a striking fact of the permanent retreat of the American side on almost all issues in bilateral relations." And you go on to cite specific examples and you state: "In all those cases, the Russian side has suggested the U.S. to shut up and in all those cases the American side followed this advice sooner or later. There were no sanctions whatsoever for any behavior of the Russian authorities."
What would you conclude from that? Would it be -- I know you don't want to give advice, but how does Russia see the nonaction by the United States as being indicators that they have no repercussions were they to take further belligerent actions against its own people or across the borders?
MR. ILLARIONOV: I would distinguish between two axis: the Russian government and the Russian leadership, and the Russian people. The Russian people do see this -- certainly not all of them but many of them would see it was a great concern because it would be considered the U.S. as well as some other countries would take the other side in this battle between democratic and liberal forces in the country.
As for the Russian leadership and especially those people who represent the security police officers, they would consider as a clear acceptance of the status quo and clear acceptance of the idea that Russian authorities and the Russian secret police could restore the implicit control first on the territory of Russia and second on the territory of the post-Soviet space. So that is why it is considered to be this actual invitation for future adventures in this area that actually have been demonstrated so vividly in the last several months in the case of the aggression against Georgia and aggressions against Ukraine.
Using your question, if I may, just to use the comments concerning one of the statements of the members of the committee concerning the so-called Georgian attack on Tskhinvali. If you look into the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 33.14 on December 14, 1974, which has a clear definition of aggression with a number of criteria, according to all these criterias (sic), without exception, what has happened in July-August, year 2008, in Georgia clearly qualifies for aggression on the side of Russia/Ossetia/Abkhazia versus Georgia. And Georgia was only returning with a quite substantial delay actions in this regard.
So that is why we're talking about aggression. Even if it was assumed that de facto South Ossetia and Abkhazia was a so-called quasi-state, it would be acts of aggression on their side versus Georgia.
REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: Thank you so much.
MR. BERMAN: The time of the gentlelady has expired.
The gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. Delahunt, is recognized for five minutes.
REP. DELAHUNT: Yes, thank you. I'd like to address my questions to Dr. Legvold. I appreciate all of your testimony.
If Georgia had been a member of NATO, would we have been obligated to involve ourselves militarily in the conflict of August? That's one question.
The second question would be, there's been discussion about the understanding -- a (purported ?) understanding between the United States and Russia in the aftermath of the demise of the Soviet Union and conversations between Gorbachev and then-Secretary of State Baker regarding expansion of NATO.
What is your understanding, and could you provide us with the European views of the relationship between -- their view of the relationship between themselves and Russia, and the United States and Russia? Where is the sentiment there?
And also in terms of NATO, is there polling data indicating -- particularly in the case of Ukraine -- what the Ukrainian population feels about accession to NATO?
MR. LEGVOLD: On the first question, if -- had Georgia been within NATO and we had not in the accession to NATO made a formal exclusion of Article 5 guarantees, yes, then we would have been committed to defend it. The issue of Article 5 guarantees did arise when we were considering Baltic admission to NATO because the implications of that are very, very severe, and the decision was that there can't be a two-track, or a discriminatory version of membership within NATO.
REP. DELAHUNT: Let me rephrase it -- we could have potentially been at war with Russia in August.
MR. LEGVOLD: We would have had an obligation to defend Georgia in that circumstance.
REP. DELAHUNT: Which meant we would have been a war with Russia if Georgia --
MR. LEGVOLD: Yes, of course -- of course.
REP. DELAHUNT: Thank you, then if you could go to the next question. I don't want to take --
MR. LEGVOLD: The second question was in terms of NATO enlargement in the original understanding. The Russian leadership believes that they had assurances that there would be no enlargement of NATO beyond German borders and they have even recently continued to cite a specific conversation with German leadership -- President Putin did it in the Munich speech in 2007 and other occasions. And there are people who have participated on both sides of this in the U.S. -- on both sides, both in Russia and the U.S., who take different positions on what was the understanding.
I think it's a cloudy issue and my impression is that in fact people were not thinking in terms of a NATO enlargement so it was never -- from my point of view, it was never confronted in a way where it was clarified. But the way they talked about the issue generally has allowed the ambiguity that remains. That is, in affect, what the Russian leadership has long said -- going back to '94 and '95 with the first movement toward enlargement -- is that at minimum it violates the spirit of what we thought was happening at the time. And the Americans say, technically no, there was no such assurance, the world has changed, we've moved in this direction. So there is a kind of unfortunate ambiguity around that question, and I think neither side can claim to be right.
In terms of Europe's general attitude on Russia, it is plain that the Europeans for the most part, although the Europeans themselves are divided -- the new members of the European Union or of NATO would have a different view from Germany, France, Italy and so on -- are in favor of engaging Russia. They're not in favor of drawing new red lines or waging a new cold war. They do believe that we need -- they have believed all along the line that we cannot afford but to engage Russia. They have growing concerns about what Russia did, and are increasingly and directly critical of Georgia in particular, but in general they certainly are in favor of broad-based engagement of Russia.
On the NATO enlargement issue, again there's division. The Swedes and the Poles and the Brits were in favor of the American position of rapid movement for Georgia and Ukraine toward membership, including so-called membership action plans. The Germans, with the French standing in their -- at their back, and the Italians and a number of others are opposed to "hot housing" the process -- that is, of rushing the process -- and they blocked it in the course of the last year. That is still very much the German position, and I think people recognize that we can't move beyond that.
REP. BERMAN: I recognize that the issue of public opinion -- I guess, in the Ukraine was your question -- did not get answered, but the time has expired.
I didn't perhaps explain it clearly enough, but on the questions it's five minutes for the question and the answer. And so I'm going to recognize another member, but my guess is you'll have opportunity to get into this issue.
The gentleman from Texas, Judge Poe, is recognized for five minutes.
REP. TED POE (R-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I appreciate all of you being here.
Dr. Illarionov, I apologize for the way I pronounce your name. My whole name has six letters in it.
When I look at Russia and Putin I see right across Putin's chest KGB. And I think now he's wearing the shirt on the outside instead of covering it up. It seems to me that the Russian bear is coming out of its cave because it got its feelings hurt because of the fall of the Soviet Union and now it's trying to regain its territories.
Well, my question to you -- it seems that the Russians think that the United States has given them a free hand in the region, that they can do as they wish. When Putin invaded Georgia his approval ratings went up tremendously. And of course the world has moved on; you know, Georgia was in the news for a few weeks and then we just disregarded it. I was in Georgia. They've lost 35 percent of their country to the Soviets -- or the Russians, I should say. They're building a naval base in Abkhazia.
And I think in your testimony you said that the current policy is worst than appeasement, it's more like surrender. Can you explain a little more of that and what you mean about that?
MR. ILLARIONOV: First, I do not believe myself in the theory of Russian bear, I'm sorry. And I do believe that anybody, including the former member -- or I should say, even a retired officer of KGB has a right to improve. That includes everybody, including those who are occupying different positions in the Russian government.
The problem is not in one person but in the concentration of people with particular security background training and -- (inaudible) -- in the government offices. If you have 77 percent who have been trained (to ?) use force against other people that occupying the top 1,000 positions, so that is why you have a critical mass of people who do not have the training and opportunity and experience in toleration and listening to other views and providing consensus views. That's a problem, from my point of view.
Second, as for opinion polls, I would suggest that probably we should not believe too much to results of opinion polls in authoritarian regimes and authoritarian states and terrorist states and dictatorship states. It would have the results -- from North Korean opinion polls, should we believe that it is exact desire and thinking and vision of North Korean people?
As for your questions concerning surrender -- I mean, first of all, the surrender on issues of human rights and democracy. That is why it's (not only an ?) American agenda, first of all the agenda for the Russian people, because for them this is a critically important. This is a life and death issue for millions of people in Russia. And that is why the U.S. administration, or other countries, abandoning Russian people as well as the people in other post-Soviet countries on the issues of human rights, independent -- (inaudible) -- independent courts, elections and even aggression against neighbors -- so that is why they would consider the U.S. administration is switching sides.
REP. POE: And a follow-up question on that, can you explain a little more what you think the Russian attitude about American foreign policy toward them is?
MR. ILLARIONOV: To what?
REP. POE: What do you think the Russian attitude is about American policy toward Russia?
MR. ILLARIONOV: Certainly different people have different views and I'm not in a position to some kind of -- to reproduce opinion polls, especially as we know they're heavily biased. But some people --
REP. POE: The government status -- the government position?
MR. ILLARIONOV: Government status -- government position is reflected in the government propaganda in the Russian media that is anti-U.S. propaganda that for several years are going 24 hours a day and U.S. is considered the main enemy. It's not a very big secret to anybody who has spent just a few hours here on the Russian soil would easily detect it, as well as your representatives in the U.S. Embassy or anybody -- any visitor in Russia.
REP. POE: And do they assume that the United States is a paper tiger or --
MR. ILLARIONOV: I would not go in these details how they would consider, but they would consider the main enemy.
REP. POE: I yield the rest of my time to Mr. Delahunt to follow up on the NATO question.
REP. DELAHUNT: I thank my friend.
I was referring to polling data of Ukraine, not from Russia, and, Professor, if you are aware of what the sentiment is.
REP. BERMAN: Just take 10 seconds to answer that.
MR. LEGVOLD: Yeah, one sentence. And actually, Ambassador Pifer is very close to this issue because of his association and he can correct the figures.
But there has been regularly a -- there has regularly been a very substantial majority against NATO membership within Ukraine. Ukraine, both geographically and politically, is divided on the issue, but a substantial majority against it. And it is a part of the policy debate with the Russians as well.
REP. BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired.
The gentleman from Georgia will be the last questioner. We have one vote, so after his questions we will recess but only for about 10 minutes, walk over and come right back.
REP. DAVID SCOTT (D-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I really think that the question is does Russia really want to be a partner with us, I mean, and can they be a partner with us? I think their very existence is tantamount and based on a foundation of having the United States of America as an adversary. I mean, there's so many areas -- and I think each of you have mentioned in your own way that we need to find areas -- and I agree -- of engagement, to try the engagement. But where? Where can we engage them, on every front that we have? I mean, we can't engage them internally with the abuses to the personal freedoms that they're doing to people in their own country that basically run from an axis of the KGB, the mafia, and internal corruption within their entire system. I think there's a fear within the Russian people.
You mention that one area of commonality should be we are the world's largest user of energy; Russia is the world's largest producer of energy. That ought to be a fit. But they turn and use their energy as a political weapon against their European neighbors -- turning it off, turning it on, using it as that.
Their last act, in terms of the area in Afghanistan where we might cooperate, rather than be cooperative, for whatever reason, they used their influence with Kyrgyzstan and the Manas airfield, which is the main provider of the supply line for our troops in Afghanistan, to close it down.
So the question becomes how do we dance with them when they refuse to get on the floor and dance with us? And where can we dance with them? Where can we engage them? And is it possible to engage them given the circumstances in the points I've just made both externally and internally to what's happening in Russia? I mean, that's the fundamental question here.
REP. BERMAN: Ambassador Pifer?
MR. PIFER: Now, I think that's a very good question and what I think the administration needs to do is come up with some ideas to test that proposition. You are dealing with a resurgent Russia, but it's perhaps less resurgent than it was six months ago as the economic and financial crisis hits home.
And the question in my mind here is, if you offer proposals that do take account of Russian interest, I would argue that there's room to do something on strategic nuclear arms reductions, probably on missile defense. What kind of response do you get? I think we can put forward some ideas, test and then see what kind of Russian response we get. It's worth making that test.
My own assumption is that based on what the Russians have said, for example, in response to the vice president's comments in Munich, the things I heard when I was in Moscow in December is that the Russians would respond with positive gestures of their own.
REP. SCOTT: Let me follow, if I may, just one point on the missile defense. How do you think we could engage them on that and still keep our standing with the Czechs and the Poles who've sort of stuck their necks out there with us? How do we do that?
MR. PIFER: Well, the question, it seems to me, is what is the way of getting rid of an Iranian long-range ballistic missile threat? The Bush administration plan was to have the sites in Poland and the Czech Republic operational in 2012. Most analysts that I've talked to suspect the Iranians will not have the missile that's capable of reaching all of Europe and the United States until probably the 2015 time period. I think the most optimistic pronouncement I've seen publicly was President Bush when he said that with foreign assistance Iran might have such a missile by 2015, and it seems to me that that time frame gives us a couple of years.
Therefore, my suggestion -- if we had a moratorium where we could continue to go ahead and test the system, we could continue to go ahead with long-term procurement of items but no actual construction in Poland and the Czech Republic, and then go to the Russians and say we can extend this moratorium if there's credible evidence that the Iranians have backed away on their missile program or on their nuclear program.
Now, I'm not sure the Russians would then crank up the pressure on Tehran, and I can't tell you that if the Russians were to do so the Iranians would respond. But at the least this would diffuse this as a U.S.-Russia issue, at least for a year or two, and it would make clear it's linked to Iran not Russia.
REP. BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired. We will recess for about 10 minutes.
And Dr. Illarionov had let us know beforehand that he could only be here -- you'll stay? Very good.
Okay, we'll be -- the committee is recessed.
REP. BERMAN: The gentleman from California, Mr. Rohrabacher, is recognized for five minutes.
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R-CA): Thank you very much. Mr. Chairman, I had another hearing that was -- (laughs) -- a very important hearing in the Science Committee that I -- so I was unable to be here during the opening statements. And I'd just like to make a few comments and hopefully I have a couple inquiries.
But let me just note that I served as a special assistant to President Reagan during his seven years of his eight years in the White House. And I'm very proud that I served, you might say, as was the tip of the spear in our efforts to bring down the Soviet Union. But let me note that since the demise of communism in the Soviet Union and now Russia, I have been just appalled at a continuing belligerent attitude by policy wonks and others in the United States towards a non-communist Russia.
Ronald Reagan and those of us who fought the Cold War were fully aware that the Russian people were not our enemies and instead it was the tyranny of communism that threatened the United States. Yet we have continued to beat the Russian bear to death. And it's -- it is unconscionable and it has led to I think some of the negative things that we've talked about today could be traced to a hostile attitude by the United States towards a non-communist Russia.
The fact is that we treat Russia as a pariah. We have -- you know, they still have Jackson-Vanik over their heads. We've never given them most favored nation status. We've excluded them from world markets. Yet, another country, communist China, which has had no reform whatsoever, the world's worst human rights abuser, unlike Russia which doesn't permit any NGOs or any freedom of the press, they get treated like their our brothers. And we should have open markets to China.
This difference in the treatment of Russia evolving out of communism and the way we've treated China suggests -- would suggest to the Russian people that we consider the Russian people our enemies.
And I think we've had a missed opportunity in these last 10 years in particular, and I would hope that the current -- the new administration under President Obama does punch the reset button and try to get things back together with Russia.
The Russian people should have been treated after communism fell as America's potentially best friends, but instead we continued to treat them in a hostile manner as if they were continued to be an enemy. As demonstrated by our expansion of NATO, which was and I think an understanding, the Cold War was over. What was NATO going to be all about? But instead they have every right to be disappointed and think that we are acting in a belligerent way when you try to expand NATO right to their borders.
Ronald Reagan meant for the missile defense system that he so firmly believed in to be a partnership with Russia if Russia gave up its claims and control of Eastern Europe. I heard him say that himself a number of times. And instead, we put the Czechs and the Poles on the spot by what, by moving forward with a missile defense system and putting it right on Russia's borders. Of course it's seen as a belligerent act. And I think that we need to move forward.
And the EU, of course, has kept Russia totally out of its market. It's a monopoly itself in the EU. They've spent hundreds of billions of dollars developing their own rocket system to launch satellites from the EU rather than using Russian launches. They could have been -- what was Russia to do? How is it going to make any money if they are excluded from markets like that?
So as we listen to the testimony today -- and I've -- from what I've heard, I think we need to keep that in mind, that yes, certainly there is a lot of imperfections going on among the Russian leadership today. But we, I think, have not done our job of making friends out of a former enemy. And in fact, some of the inherent belligerence in the policy professionals here in Washington, D.C. I think have had a very negative impact on what was a potential friendship.
Now, I only have 19 seconds left for you to comment on that diatribe.
REP. BERMAN: Actually, yeah, I think there is a logic, Dr. Illarionov, to be the commenter. You have about 15 seconds.
MR. ILLARIONOV: Right. I think President Reagan was right. Russian people is not enemy to the U.S. people. And I think the real enemies of the U.S. people is our Russian thugs. But first of all they are enemies to the Russian people.
REP. BERMAN: Time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Payne, is recognized for five minutes.
REP. DONALD PAYNE (D-NJ): Thank you very much. Sorry I missed the testimony; I was at another hearing.
But I certainly agree with the premise that the Russian people are still certainly the victims. I had the privilege to travel to the USSR and visited Russia for several weeks in '67. And the Russian people -- as a matter of fact, I was kind of impressed by some of the literature which said the Russian people don't want war. That was one of the first books I saw in a bookstore. And people, believe it or not, at that time were very fearful of the United States of America, the so-called imperialist. And as you know they had such a toll of death during World War II. They were really, really still at that time trying to regroup themselves.
So I think that the leadership, of course -- and that's the problem in most countries, the leadership, are the ones that use the people. But they truly are more fearful of America and the way that America was characterized by the leadership. Of course, we saw that Russia -- USSR found that it couldn't afford the continued military buildup. The only difference between them and us was that they recognized and that's why they quit. And that's when the Iron Curtain came down and the Warsaw Pact nations dissolved.
But I just have maybe a quick question or two. I had opportunity to be in Georgia several months ago and had dinner, of course, with President Saakashvili. And I just still wonder what the South Ossetian situation whether the president of Georgia was sort of sucked into something and kind of went over the line and, of course, had this tremendous response by the Russian military, whether he was sort of kind of lulled into this thing and got in certainly over his head. I don't know what he was thinking.
And the second quick question is the Russians have said that they would be willing to assist us in our transports since the airstrip in Kyrgyzstan is being closed. What do you think about that offer?
Ambassador, you want to take it?
MR. PIFER: Let me start on the Georgia question. I think there is lots of evidence that the Russians were behaving provocatively prior to the August conflict. And I think the speed of the Russian military response shows that the Russians had prepared for it. They were ready for it and they were probably grateful for the pretext.
But there still was a decision taken by President Saakashvili on August 7 to send the Georgian military into South Ossetia. And I think had he not made that decision there would not have been a conflict. There may have been the potential at some point down the road, but there still was a decision that I think was strategically unwise on his part.
REP. PAYNE: Anybody on Kyrgyzstan?
MR. PIFER: If I may, I think in the case of Afghanistan with both the issue of Manas and the offer by Medvedev and others to facilitate and now the formal agreement to facilitate transfer -- transit of non-military goods across Russia through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and forward is a reflection of a problem in Russian foreign policy.
It's a problem in any country's foreign policy when it's premised on the notion that you can have your cake and eat it too, because I think the Russians genuinely would be concerned if the U.S. and NATO effort fails in Afghanistan and they end up with either a Taliban regime that threatens their southern front or with the enormous chaos within Afghanistan that produces a different kind of a threat in the area.
And in general, when they say they want to cooperate -- and not just themselves but they're now proposing that there be a broader cooperation with the members of the so-called Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which means China as well -- they mean it. But at the same time, they continually respond to this desire to marginalize and then push the United States out militarily from central Asia. That's trying to have your cake and eat it too.
REP. PAYNE: Before my time expires, Doctor, would you respond to either one of the questions on Saakashvili or the --
MR. LEGVOLD: I agree with what Ambassador Pifer said about the essential responsibility. The only thing I would add, and I think we ought to pay attention to it, is that people like Nino Burjanadze, who is the speaker of the parliament who was Saakashvili's partner in making the Rose Revolution in 2003, is making the same point you are these days. That is, how did we get ourselves into this situation? What responsibility does Saakashvili bear for it?
And in December, their ambassador, permanent representative to the U.N., Irakli Alasania did the same thing. He joined the political opposition to Saakashvili in large part over the war.
REP. BERMAN: The time of the gentleman is expired.
Later on, Doctor Illarionov, I don't know if you wanted to respond that I'll give you the opportunity.
The gentleman from California, Mr. Royce, is recognized for five minutes.
REP. ROYCE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate it.
I wanted to bring up this issue of Victor Bout, which is I think an important issue for those of us who have been involved in -- as Don Payne and I have been in seeing the results of the arms trade in sub- Saharan Africa and the consequences of fueling those brutal civil wars on that continent. Victor Bout is a Russian citizen. He's known as the merchant of death allegedly for fueling these wars. And he was arrested last year in Thailand. And federal prosecutors in New York are seeking his extradition and they'd like to have him stand trial for conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Two dozen members of this House, including Chairman Berman, recently sent a letter to the administration asking that this extradition request remain a priority in U.S.-Thai relations. And for that, we were criticized by the Russian foreign minister. They called our action bewildering.
To me, what is actually bewildering is the foreign minister's statement that, quote, "His guilt on charges put forth in the United States has not been proven." And for us, of course, it hadn't been proven because in this country you get a fair trial to decide your guilt or innocence.
I am an advocate of a productive U.S.-Russia relationship, but it can't be built on disdain for justice as shown by Russian efforts to protect Bout.
Many suspect a level of Russian state sponsorship for Bout's actions in the past. And Mr. Illarionov's testimony points to a huge number -- and I think you say 77 percent -- of top Russian officials have a security background. I assume that means former GSU (sic) or KGB -- GRU or KGB is what you're referring to.
And I would ask how you gauge Victor Bout's influence with the Russian government. That would be very interesting to me.
MR. ILLARIONOV: I have to apologize. I am not specialist in the case of Mr. Bout. I just know that the Russian government has expressed its desire that Mr. Bout should not be prosecuted and should be returned to Russia; (it's ?) the official statement of the Russian government some time ago.
If I may use this time to just comment on this issue.
REP. ROYCE: Please. Yes, absolutely.
MR. ILLARIONOV: Yes. Just concerning the question of Mr. Payne concerning the Georgian war, there is overwhelming evidence of that -- that first of all there was an act of aggression on the sides of the Russian/Ossetian troops. According to the definition of aggression, there was a heavy deployment of the Russian regular troops prior August 7th on the territory of Georgia in the territory of South Ossetia with heavy equipment, with number of units, with total force up to 2,000 regular troops plus several hundreds if not thousands of volunteers from the north Caucasus. That does also constitute the act of aggression according to the U.N. general resolutions of 3314. So that is why -- that the action of Mr. Saakashvili of Georgian government later on August 7th is considered to be the response to the act of aggression and --
REP. ROYCE: Well, that's an interesting theory. But --
MR. ILLARIONOV: It's not a theory. It is a fact.
REP. ROYCE: It is a theory because I've sat through an infinite number of briefings, as have you. This is a very complicated situation. But if we could go to the other two witnesses I'd like to ask the ambassador or doctor --
MR. ILLARIONOV: I really appreciate, but this is a fact that --
REP. ROYCE: Indeed. We understand your understanding of the facts. It is a complicated case, but I'd like to get back to the Bout case. So if I could have a response from either of the other witnesses.
MR. PIFER: No, Congressman, I think the Russian statement said that his guilt has not been proven. In that case, Russia -- they should not object to his being extradited to the United States and standing trial. Trying to block that extradition I don't think does Russia credit.
REP. ROYCE: Thank you, Ambassador.
MR. LEGVOLD: I agree entirely with what Ambassador Pifer's just said. I think it's a big mistake on their part.
It -- this is a case that I also have been interested in because one of the things that I work on is the problem of corruption within the post-Soviet space. And it's clear that Bout -- although I don't think he was an instrument of the Russian government in what he did; I think that was quite a separate operation -- was enabled by being able to work with parts of the establishment. He wouldn't have been able to build up that transport network with the Ilyushin 76s and he wouldn't have had access to the arms that he was able to trade if he had not been able to get that assistance from officials or people close to officials not only in Russia but in other post-Soviet states as well. So this was a problem that extended beyond Russia. It includes Ukraine; it includes Kazakhstan.
REP. ROYCE: Mr. Chairman, might I -- I'd just say, in my opinion, neither -- back to the other issue -- neither the actions of President Saakashvili or the actions of the Russian government have been helpful in the least in terms of stabilizing the situation in the Caucasus. But I thank you for the hearing.
REP. BERMAN: Thank you.
Everyone here has had a chance to question. I have a couple of questions, so if everyone promises not to come into the room and ask more questions maybe the four of us could have a second round.
Is that all right with your time schedule? You okay with that? Okay.
I'll be -- yield to myself for a couple of minutes here.
I was a little confused about your focus on the long-range Iranian missiles in your written testimony, and you made reference to it again orally. Iran has a very active missile program. They have modified scuds and they're developing their -- and they have their own missiles. They just orbited a satellite.
When you define the problem in the context of dealing with Iran and you say either their weapons program or their missile program, if one takes that and focuses on the missile program, if the focus is on deferring that, you're essentially saying their weapons program with the missiles they now have and are working on don't constitute a short-term threat. But in the context of the regional stability in the Middle East and what now exists, I'm wondering if that's not a mistake to provide that sort of alternative focus, Ambassador.
MR. PIFER: Mr. Chairman, that's a good question. Let me -- the missile defense system that was planned by the Bush administration for deployment in Poland and Czech Republic though did not, as I understand it, have any capabilities against existing Iranian missiles.
REP. BERMAN: I think that's correct.
MR. PIFER: It's really designed to deal with an Iranian missile that would have range either to reach the United States or all of Europe. And most of the projections that I found suggest that the exports -- and this is, of course, you know, we don't have perfect knowledge -- but the expectation is that Iran would not have a missile of that range until at least 2015.
So that seems to me to give us some time, given the difference between the planned operational date or the sites in Poland of 2012, to try to address this issue in a diplomatic way with the focus being on getting rid of that missile perhaps through diplomacy that the missile deployment in the Central European area is designed to counter.
REP. BERMAN: Well, I take what you say, but focusing on that will not eliminate and doesn't deal with the issue of Russian cooperation in a program to stop Iran's nuclear weapons capability and all that that represents for instability and danger in the Middle East.
MR. PIFER: And that's clear to me. What my hope would be is that with other proposals -- for example, if we begin to take more account of Russian concern on strategic nuclear arms reductions in terms of crafting a proposal that meets some of their desires, can you change the relationship in a more positive way where you encourage them to become more helpful on the nuclear issue? And I think you've also got to go to the Russians and say look, it's not just a question about Iran getting a nuclear weapon; what happens if the Iranians do so? You know, what does Egypt do, what does Saudi Arabia do, what does Turkey do? You also create a situation where the proliferation tensions in the Middle East could spiral way beyond what would be in either country's interest.
REP. BERMAN: I guess I just prefer the articulation of if Iran -- if we can deal with the threat of the Iranian nuclear weapons program, our need for a missile defense against nuclear-tipped missiles becomes very different. And -- but I take your point.
MR. PIFER: And I -- Mr. Chairman, I think you're exactly right. If Iran advances the nuclear weapons program, I suspect we would not be concerned -- if they have a long-range missile but all they have is a conventional warhead, it's certainly an order -- many orders of magnitudes less than the nuclear weapons on top.
REP. BERMAN: My time is about expired. And I recognize the ranking member, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen.
REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman.
Just a little nugget from the doctor's testimony: "Today's Russia is not a democratic country. The international human rights organization Freedom House assigned "not-free" status to Russia since 2004 for each of the last five years. According to the classification of the political regimes, the current one in Russia should be considered as hard authoritarianism." He goes on to say: "Independent mass media in Russia virtually does not exist. Since 1999, there is no free, open, competitive parliamentary or presidential election in Russia. Members of political opposition in Russia are regularly being harassed, intimidated, beaten by the regime's security forces," and on and on.
And I'd like to ask you sir, in your written testimony you mentioned the 1999 apartment building bombings in Russia. I was wondering if you could elaborate more on what you think occurred and who was responsible for these bombings. Thank you.
MR. ILLARIONOV: It is still several elements are quite unclear because there is -- there was no proper investigation in all these cases. And the very well known case in the city of Ryazan, when the local militia has the same several people who tried to bomb the apartment building and they turn out to be FSB agents. After the order from Moscow they have been released from detention and after that virtually disappeared. And since then and since the same kind of journalist investigation has been broadcasted partially in Russia and became known, these apartment bombings stopped exactly unexpected as they started.
REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate it.
REP. BERMAN: The gentleman from -- California, perish the thought -- from Massachusetts, Mr. Delahunt.
REP. DELAHUNT: In your dreams. (Laughter.)
REP. BERMAN: Nightmares.
REP. DELAHUNT: It's interesting. I just want to read into the record an excerpt from the Human Rights Report on Georgia. It's dated today, February 25th, 2009. Relative to the murky nature, if you will -- and this is our Department of State, which one could argue has been supportive of Georgia. I'm sure you're both -- you're all aware that there has -- there was under the Bush administration some $1 billion appropriated for reconstruction in Georgia.
I'm reading from the Human Rights Report. August 7th: Senior Georgian government officials reported that Tbilisi was launching an attack to defend against what it reported was a Russian invasion. Georgia launched a military operation into the capital, the local capital of Georgia's South Ossetian region and other areas of separate borders. Responding to what Russian officials reported was Georgia's use of heavy force and the killings of Russian peacemakers, military operations by Georgian and Russian forces reportedly involved the use of indiscriminate force and resulted in civilian casualties, including a number of journalists.
It is murky.
Earlier, I think it was the ranking member, but there was a discussion about forcing -- and if I'm misstating this I'm sure I'll be corrected -- was forcing Russia, you know, from the G-8. I would like to hear your response to that initiative.
Dr. Legvold, let's start with you.
MR. LEGVOLD: As a general proposition, I think with all of the ideas that we have, including that idea -- that specific idea -- the criterion ought to be what's going to work, what's going to make a difference to the way in which the Russians behave, particularly in areas where we're concerned about what they're doing, in this instance what's happening internally within Russia.
I would raise questions about, a, it's feasibility, but then, secondly, also about its effectiveness. Feasibility because it simply will not pass within this body, but even were it to do so, it would not be supported by the other six members of the G-8. That's quite clear. They have a very different approach to Russia. And therefore, it will actually stand in the way of something else we need to accomplish, which is strengthening the Euro-Atlantic partnership, because we need to create some consonance around our respective Russia policies. So it will work against that.
In terms of the effect within Russia itself, I think if anything it would be counterproductive. It certainly would be counterproductive in terms of the chance of accomplishing what Ambassador Pifer is saying of testing the waters and seeing whether we can make progress in other areas where we have very important interests at stake, including the Iranian issue, but strategic arms control, energy partnership, dealing with some important areas of regional instability, including the Middle East. So for those two reasons I think we want to come back to this question, which is essentially pragmatic.
REP. BERMAN: The gentleman from California, Mr. Royce, is recognized for five minutes.
REP. ROYCE: I guess I'd like to hear the assessments here in a little more detail on the chances of getting meaningful cooperation from Russia on the subject of the Iranian proliferation issue and the Iranian development of nuclear weaponry. I have my view on this that the chances of it are pretty small, but I'd like to hear from the experts. It seems obvious, I think, to a lot of us as stated before that it would be very much in Russia's interests not to let the genie get further out of the bottle and not to set off the arms race, you know, across the Sunni countries in the Middle East that will occur, but maybe a little more detail about the dynamics internally and why Russia hasn't come to this conclusion, because it isn't in their long- term interests.
And let me ask one other question too, because there was a Wall Street Journal op-ed recently, and the writer there wrote: "A Cold War mentality lingers in America too. A foreign policy caste rich in Sovietologists by habit overstates Russia's importance. The embassy in Moscow is huge. Bilateral meetings inevitably become summits like the old days."
Why is that wrong? I mean, in point of fact, maybe we want that intense engagement and understanding. But anyway, I'd like your observations.
MR. PIFER: Well Congressman, on the Russia question, I do not believe that the Russians think that a nuclear-armed Iran is a good thing.
But there are several factors I think which make it Russian policy such that they are not as helpful as we'd like.
First of all, if you look at that space between the Mediterranean and India, Iran is really the Russians one geopolitical gateway. So they don't want to put at risk the geopolitical interests, the economic interests they have in terms of trying to participate in Iran's development of energy, in terms of arms sales to Iran. So there's an interest question.
Second, I believe the Russians do not see the Iranian capability to acquire nuclear weapons coming as quickly as we do. So that sense of urgency is not there in the same sense that it is here in Washington.
And third, while Iranian development of a nuclear weapon I think for us is a nightmare scenario, for the Russians it's a bad thing but they believe they can manage it. It's sort of like when Pakistan tested nuclear weapons in 1999 -- 1998, they think they can manage that. I disagree with that.
REP. ROYCE: Do the Russians still think that about Pakistan, by the way? Do they still think that
MR. PIFER: Well, I think that the Russians would prefer not to see nuclear weapons in Pakistan, but they've come to the conclusion that they have to deal with it. It's a reality. So I just think there's that mismatch in the sense of urgency that we attach to what the Russians attach.
I do believe that we can get them to be somewhat more helpful, but in terms of providing all of the sticks that will be useful in the sense of making the choice between the Iranians as dark as possible, there would be good things that happen if they make the right choice and bad things that happen if they won't, we're not going to get the Russians pushed out as far as we would like.
REP. ROYCE: You know, after what happened in Beslan and in North Ossetia, I would just think the Russians would have so much more trepidation about where fanaticism or taking people like A.Q. Khan, who have been quite pronounced in terms of his commentary on radical Islamist thought and the way this is evolving in southern Russia. I know a couple of Duma members who are moderate Muslims from Dagestan, and they report with horror what's happening in their society, the young men who are -- who don't join up with the jihad. Any discussion of that in Moscow in terms of how that's growing in southern Russia and threatening the state eventually?
MR. LEGVOLD: I think the way in which that currently is getting a good deal of attention is actually out of Afghanistan and the concern over the potential impact were the Taliban, which the Russians and Chinese and especially the Kazakhs see as suddenly advancing in the context of the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. I think they worry more about the effects of that on Islamic extremism in the north Caucasus and other portions of Russia.
I don't think it's a major factor in the way in which they -- in the Iranian relationship. As a matter of fact, over time the Russians have counted on the Iranians to help control the issue of Islamic extremism within Shi'a in the Caucasus.
REP. ROYCE: Thank you.
REP. BERMAN: Time of the gentleman has expired.
The gentleman from California, Mr. Sherman, is recognized for five minutes.
REP. SHERMAN: I'm going to first pick up on Congressman Royce's view. I think you've explained well why the Russians aren't going to change their policy if the status quo remains the same.
The question is, what can we put on the table that would get them to change their policy? How high a price would they demand for being as strong on Iran at the United Nations, for example, as we are? And I'd like you to take off your expert hat just a little bit because experts know all the reasons why we can't change our policy more than an inch in any direction.
If we put on the table -- and you should add a few more things to this because you'd know more about what the Russians want -- but if we were to put on the table the idea that we will not support pipelines for Caspian gas and oil that don't go through Russia, that we will not build a missile defense in Poland or the Czech Republic, that we will recognize the independence of South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Trans- Dniester, Moldova, that we will put on the table every big thing that you know we're not going to do because you know all the reasons we shouldn't do it. Would that be enough to get Russia on our side when it comes to Iran? I'll ask first Dr. Legvold.
MR. LEGVOLD: Congressman, first of all, I don't know whether that would have the effect, but I have a deep conviction that we shouldn't do it. It would be wrong to do that. I think we need to deal with each of the issues --
REP. SHERMAN: Yes. But if we stovepiped everything, we could do the quote, "right thing," on everything and we will have a nuclear weapon. The thing with Iran --
MR. LEGVOLD: Well, we may not get the Russian cooperation --
REP. SHERMAN: Well, obviously, you would make these concessions without getting Russian cooperation.
MR. LEGVOLD: Well --
REP. SHERMAN: Whether it's worth it or not depends upon whether you're worried about a nuclear weapon from Iran being --
MR. LEGVOLD: No, it's a question of feasibility, whether it would work.
REP. SHERMAN: Well, obviously you put it on the table secretly, and if you don't get a assent you didn't do it.
MR. LEGVOLD: I still think it's a mistake.
REP. SHERMAN: Okay.
MR. LEGVOLD: That is, I think each of these issues needs to be dealt with in its own terms --
REP. SHERMAN: We call that stovepiping, and let me move on to -- does either of the other witnesses have a comment?
MR. PIFER: No, I would just add it seems to me that you want to have a structure and approach towards Russia where you look at the broad range of issues because --
REP. SHERMAN: Why would we look at any issue other than the Iran nuclear program, given its importance? And how can you argue that the risk of a nuclear bomb being smuggled into America by Iran is equivalent to anything else on your list?
MR. PIFER: I'm not arguing that, Congressman --
REP. SHERMAN: Okay. Anyway, I'm asking your advice how to get Russia's support not reasons why the price would be too high. What price will work?
MR. PIFER: Well, what I'm looking at is can you take steps to begin to change the relationship from where it is now, the very low --
REP. SHERMAN: I got six months to get a U.N. resolution through that's harsher than anything that the U.S. proposed let alone Russia has voted for. So I'm not talking about changing the -- you know, baby steps.
MR. PIFER: Right. Well, again, I would suggest that by offering a different approach to strategic nuclear arms reductions where the Russians said the previous approach that the United States offered limited operation of deployed warheads to 2,200 and then left an unlimited number of spare warheads and no limits on missiles and bombers.
I would go back to a more --
REP. SHERMAN: You think that a -- the concessions by the United States on those issues would secure extreme Russia support on the Iran issue?
MR. PIFER: By itself, no.
REP. SHERMAN: Okay. Then we -- then you'll have to tell me what else, but I'm running out of time. I want to shift to another issue.
Russia is in an unusual position. As to natural gas moving across the Ukraine, they are the consumer of an easement across the Ukraine to export their gas. As to natural gas from the Caspian area, they are the provider of an easement or want to be provider of an easement across Russian territory. To some extent they are already.
Is Russia taking a consistent position on what the easement provider should charge per MFC mile between what they would charge for transport across their territory versus what Ukraine is obtaining for transport across Ukraine? Does anybody have an answer?
MR. ILLARIONOV: If I may, and this is a very complicated issue because there is (now ?) a free market in this particular area.
REP. SHERMAN: And you have 25 seconds to do that.
MR. ILLARIONOV: And so they apply -- there is no particular rules that you can suggest. What we know about the state -- the rates that apply to different part of this transportation are quite different and sometimes there's just a difference --
REP. SHERMAN: So Russia might be demanding far more from Kazakhstan than it is willing to pay Ukraine?
MR. ILLARIONOV: You can try.
REP. SHERMAN: I'm sure they will.
I yield back.
REP. BERMAN: Time of the gentleman is expired.
I was wondering about -- if we gave Alaska back. Would that be the --
REP. SHERMAN: Even I draw the line somewhere. Although would they have to take the current governor? At any --
REP. BERMAN: Okay. (Laughs) I guess the gentleman from California will close this hearing.
REP. ROHRABACHER: I'll try to make it exciting, Mr. Chairman.
REP. BERMAN: I was thinking quick. (Laughs.)
REP. ROHRABACHER: (Laughs.) I just -- Mr. Sherman had touched on something when he talked about the pipeline issues. And what I seem to have observed since the end of the Cold War, since the fall of communism in Russia, is that we have expected Russia not to act in its interests and then been very upset with them when they act in their interests, which, of course, is the interests of another nation state as if that was some sign of belligerence to everybody else. I mean, Russia ended up charging below the market value on market price for gas to Ukraine, and then when they decided to try to charge a higher price, which was still not the market price, we treated them as if they were doing something wrong.
Does the United States just decide that we are going to give energy or other of our resources below the world market price to somebody else? Are we expected to do that? I don't think so.
Let me note, when I first heard that Russia was going to be involved in building a nuclear plant in Iran, I went to the American embassy -- and I happened to be going through Russia at the time -- and I also went to the top people in the National Security Council and people -- and this is during the Clinton administration -- and said look, this is going to be a disaster; let's give the Russians an alternative. The reason they want to build this power plant is obviously because their economy is such a horrible situation. They need the money. Let's give them an alternative. Oh, yes, everybody thought it's great. Nobody moved on it, so Russia moved forward.
When Bush came in -- I did the same thing the first three months of the Bush administration. Here is a list of potential problems. Afghanistan is number one. Number two was Russians building nuclear power plant in Iran. Let's give them an alternative. No, the alternative was don't do it. We could have easily said hey, let's arrange the World Bank to give you loans so you can build one of these in Malaysia or Turkey or some other country that wouldn't threaten us. But no, we had to treat them with the least respect that we could of anybody else. They just needed to do what we told them, not what was in the interest of their country.
If somebody treated us that way, we'd have second thoughts about being their friend too. And I just think we've treated Russia in a belligerent way and in an arrogant way, and now we're paying the price for it. I hope we can have better relations with Russia because if we're going to have a peaceful world, if we're going to have prosperity and peace in this world, it's going to be because we have a strong and positive relationship with Russia, with Japan, with India and several other major powers, because China is threatening us and our national security in the future. Yet we treat China with kid gloves -- not only kid gloves, we give them most favored nation status. We ignore their massive human rights abuses. And while we complain about imperfections -- and the Russians have many imperfections -- and treat those imperfections as if we should ignore all the progress they've made since the fall of communism.
This double standard I think is taken as a -- as perhaps as belligerence on the part of the Russian government. And maybe if we were being treated that way we'd think the same.
And again, I'll give you -- that was my rant. Please feel free to comment.
REP. BERMAN: Dr. Illarionov, you indicated you wanted to comment on the rant.
MR. ILLARIONOV: Mr. Chairman, if I may to just comment on --
REP. BERMAN: Is that the double standard you were referring to in your testimony?
MR. ILLARIONOV: Yes, exactly. But just if I may just to comment also on the question that Mr. Delahunt has raised some time ago just -- but you promised me to some time.
REP. BERMAN: Yes.
MR. ILLARIONOV: Okay. Just first about the double standards, the question of G-8 membership, it is very well known that since year 2004 Russia does not qualify on the main criteria of G-8 to be a democratic country. This is the first line of the chapter and the statement of the Rumbia (ph) declaration of G-5 (co-op ?) in 1975. So it seemed then just virtually Russia is the only country that does not qualify to be a member of G-8. The other issue is what to do about this.
Secondly, concerning the question of Mr. Delahunt, what would happen whether the United States would be in a war with Russia if Georgia would be a member of the NATO. My answer to your question would be that if Georgia would receive a MAP at the Bucharest summit, there would be high probability there would be no August war. And there are four reasons for that. The first, the final decision to launch the war against Georgia had been taken not before the Bucharest summit but after the Bucharest summit by the Russian leadership only after they have received the final result of this Bucharest summit.
Second, the state Duma of the Russian Federation has listened to the special report of security services how to launch and organize the -- a military campaign in Georgia, in South Ossetia, in the mid of April, after Bucharest summit. And it has explained all details and all steps that should be taken to get independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. And what has happened in reality was completely confirmed in the report that has been listened and detailed and discussed at the state Duma in the mid-April year 2008.
Third, in year 2007 there was another very substantial problem in Estonia, the so-called monuments and cyber war. And the problem in Estonia was much harsher than in Georgia because one-third of the Estonian population are Russians. Nevertheless, because Estonia was a member of NATO, there was not any aggressions.
And my final comment will be just -- it's a futile intellectual exercise. Just you will think if 1938, 1939 and ('94 ?), Czechoslovakia would be a member if NATO would exist that time, and Poland and Finland and Romania. I would guess it's not 100 percent guarantee, but it would be high probability there would be no Second World War.
REP. BERMAN: The gentleman has expired.
I want to thank all of you for coming today. I appreciate very much both your testimony, your answers and your witness statements, which are I think quite fascinating. And with that the hearing is adjourned. Thank you very much. (Sounds gavel.)