tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN March 17, 2014 10:00pm-12:01am EDT
export to faraway countries. western people paid real money in nobody else but anybody. the ukrainians are russians, they're charging the russians themselves more so the benefits of export diminished. less export gas to go around. the germans will be at the front of it. i would now want to be at the back. this is a weapon the using right now. there in talks with the romanians. the romanians have a spot price. you do a long time gas contract with us to be ..
>> do they believe the united states would help them if the russian military got out of control or this yiewn phobia got out of control and would impact troops? >> two excellent questions. two probably rather uninformative answers. we got a choice. it's a tricky one. i don't know what the answer is. do we continue to support the pro-democracy people who, to put
it mildly, have not been successful so far, but -- or, do we try to engage with the people who have murdered some of them and locked many of the other ones up in order to save independence? in five years time, there may not be a bell ruse. the people are trying discreet. it was interesting, no softy when it comes to russia, and no softer with democracy. he's received the russian ambassador at the foreign ministry many a very formal way to say poe land land is ready to talk. now, those talks become substantial, but something has to happen. we're not demanding immediate dispatch on the coast or even a
full independence inquiry, but perhaps let a couple people out of jail. give us something. the response has been quite positive. there's a lot of people that do not wish to end up as provenn issue civil servants and are scared. the nationalism of the red-green kind strengthened, although the red-white nationalism failed to ignite from efforts of the opposition. he does not respond. he'll do something bad one of these days, get a cold, and if i was him, i would be, you know, watching what i eat. >> i think we have time for one more question. is there someone who would like
to ask it? >> i understand that a lot of what you described, very few things to be enthusiastic about it, but you've suggested that there is few alternatives, so what coyou say to those this is far from being the world's alternative? >> >> yeah. it could be worse. you know, i remember in 1993 when i was living the board of states, winning 23% in the elections, and people said, he could be russia's next leader. that was scary, proposing to blast and incorporate fin land back into the russian federation. you know, there's, you know, there was very interesting a coo, and the election is too risky. it can always get worse.
as i said in the beginning, i'm not saying it's good, far from it. i criticize a lot. i'm not saying everything that happened is bad. i see why russians are glad about the stability. trouble is i think it's fake. i think it is not a stable system when you have absolutely no idea what's going on, when the success or two successes produce like rabbits out of the hat, and then they disappear, and this is not yet -- fuelings is highly -- it's highly unstable. we don't know, and iceland -- a lot of thing, got this right, a piece in the times the other day saying there's a coo. it would be the way his clan has been sidelined. i think the -- what did putin do
right? fiscal consolidation was right, and it was destabilizing, and the finance ministry functions really pretty well. i think in the first, the land legislation, all that, that was good. most of the reforms started, and some were completed under putin, other things brand new, a flat tax, that was great. worked everywhere. worked in russia. it tailed off quickly. after the revolt, the reform, we didn't see -- we didn't see anything. like, the -- the administrative reform, something every first communist country grapples with, the next communism bureaucracy, efficient, accountable, transparent, really difficult. this is been done so much of every russian i know they claim, vast, predatory buick roar sigh,
all levels, so caught on the efforts, and now i hope that is going to be fiscal change because people don't like paying off incompetent bureaucrats and seeing that wasted and all the rest of it, but yeah, who do i vote for if i was a russian? it's difficult. putin? great choice. >> well thank you very much. [applause]
[applause] >> well, thank you, guys, and i love that john is making his way off the stage so when you throw things at me, you have an unimpeded view. thank you, as always, for your interest, and thank you to the heritage foundation for hosting me. it's nice to come 90 and talk about issues that i work a lot on in the privacy of my office, and i get to sort of share it with the bredder audience. let me start sort of where john ended, which is to talk about the external first and focus on the internal. the question of russia and where russia is headed, not just ideologically, but geopolitically and geographically is something i spent a lot of time looking at, both professionally and personally. my personal history is that i'm the child of soviet, and i sort of have the culture in my blood. i have the language in my head, most of the time, and so it's --
i spent quite a bit of time in russia, and that allows you to sort of get a different bit of a sense, and what i'm struck by is that historically, and, you know, by "historically" i don't mean decades, but in recent years, we, americans, republican or democrat, we tend to look at russia as one that is striding very large on the world stage, and, by the way, you know, crack a newspaper in the last couple weeks, and you understand exactly why we do that. we've seen russian president putin really cut quite a striking geopolitical image strong arming us into the steel sering deal, but "strong arming" is the wrong word. that suggests we were more than willing to accept a deal walking us off the ledge of military action against syria. by the way, it's a deal that is very useful for the obama administration. i would argue, much more useful for the russian federation
because it enthrien shrines the stability of the regime; right? it it was an open question assad would not be in power before, it's not a question now. we need him in power to provide us with access to the nuclear weapons we have to dismantle. not only that, but, you know, the russians, all sorts of ancillary benefits accrue because syria has been since 1971 the weigh station and home port for russia's mediterranean flotilla, so this power preserving stability is a huge coo for the russian federation. it's the tangible benefits, for us, i think, remain to be seen. from damascus, from the discussion about da damascus, yu saw president putin jet off to tehran in which he talked about russia's cooperation with the iran's nuclear program and the potential reactivation of a sale
of controversial s3 # 00 missiles to the iranian regime, something tabled during the era in moscow. again, not great progress, but all is symptomatic, i think, of something that we're all sensing when we look at u.s. foreign policy. u.s. foreign policy in the middle east is not very strategic as of late, and not assertive, and as a result, we've been in effort by russia to sweep in, take the strategic advantage, and the russian government has done a successful job, and as a result, it protocols an image of a country on the march. if you look at what's happening within russia itself, it's, i think, very clear that that perception is wrong. russia may appear strong now, internationally, but internally, it's approaching a transformation. i would argue the transformation that's going to be when it sets in, every bit as earth shattering as the collapse of
the soviet union was from two decades ago, and this upheaval is really the project of three trends emerging now, but are on trajectory to intersect in a very dramatic way. to the first is very simply that russia is dying. demographically speaking. for those of you not demographers, first of all, good for you because it's not the most exciting of professions, but those who are demographers, you know 2.1 is the magic number. during the life span of a woman, the fertility life span of o woman, she should create one child to replace herself, one child to replace her husband and a fraction thereof to account for natural disasters, hurricanes, what have you, and a population at replenishment rate. 2.1 remains stable. the united states is pretty much
there. we can talk about the drivers of what drives u.s. population, but what's clear is that a whole bunch of countries, certainly in europe, are well below replenishment rate, and russia ranks near the bottom. russia, according to u.n. statistics is at 1.6 meaning russia, every generation is constricted. what this looks like in practice if you read russian statistics, and, you know, read the russian census is that russia, as a result of both natural deaths and of immigration from the russian federation, is constricting by close to half a million people every year. putin in december of 2012, when he was giving one of his presidential campaign speeches, talked about the fact that according to the trend line that his government was seeing, by if this is not amealuated by 2050,
the entire population, 142.9 million now, shrinks down by a quarter, to 107 million people. right? that is a massive constriction of the human capital that russia has currently and can access as it moves into the future. the reasons for this, i think, are many-fold, but worth drawing them out. the first is that russia, unlike the united states, never experiences a peace dividend after the end of the cold war. in terms of investiture in social, cultural, and educational infrastructure. the way -- what this looks like in practice is that life expect tap sigh, median life expectd tan sigh for males today is the same as it is in madagascar, age 60. the age for females is 73, same as in saudi arabia, but both numbers are a decade to a decade
and a half lower than the analog governments in europe and in the united states; right? so part of the reason for this is that as a function of russian gdp, health care expenditures in russia are constant since the mid-1990s. the russian government is not spending more money on the welfare of the people, and it shows, it shows in the numbers. the second reason why russia's demographics are tanking is that you're seeing a wholesale collapse of the russian family. during the cold war, soviet families, by and large, stuck together not because they liked each other, because we know that we have members in our family that we coiled just as soon export to other cities, but because they had no choice. because populations were locked in place, and there was an an extended family network cohesive and kept together by political and economic circumstances. today, it's exactly the opposite. according to the u.n., russia
has the highest divorce rate in the world. half of all russian marriages, according to the u.n., end in divorce. 6 o% of them do so in the first decade. what this means is that long term families, and as a result, the logical product of long term families, which is multiple children, is an endangered species. cow could have a family with one child, but very rarely families with four, five, or six children, necessary for demographic replenishment. you also have a rampant culture of abortion in russia, which i think it's useful to stress on a number of levels. during the cold war, and for those of you what that are students of the cold war, you know that abortion was functionally the only available means of contraception. it was used widespread with terrible effects on female health and female fertility. this has not changed all that much. you've seen trend lines which
suggest that there has been more awareness on the part of russian authorities, in terms of the negative effects, and also even some investment. in reality, the numbers are not all that much better. today, in russia, official statistics suggest that the rate of abortion is 1.2 million annually. that's equivalent to 300 an hour for a population of 142 million people. this is where it gets more grisly. if you listen to russian doctors, private sector experts, they tell you that that network of publicly reported abortions is actually just the tip of the iceberg. in fact, the number could be twice that. it could be twice that because of private clinics, abortions off the books, not reported. that means that russians are aborting the equivalent of 2% of their live pop powlation every year, and then in a very real sense, killing off prospects for
demographic growth in the process. layered on top of that is something that russian experts themselves call an epidemic in hiv/aids. this is a complex phenomena, so to unpack it for you, aids came to the russian federation because of the way the soviet union was a closed society, functionally later in historic terms, than it did to europe and the united states. when it hit the russian federation, it hit with ajen janes, and today, something like 1% of the russian federation is estimated to be hiv positive, and this is being perpetuated and expanded by russia's own culture of drug use. russia has, curling -- according to u.n. statistics, important to stress these are u.n. statistics, not the most forward-looking on demographics, but the most impartial because
of the statistical ag gageses for every country around the world. according to u.n. statistics, russian consumption alone accounts for more than a fifth of heroin used worldwide. since injust ainjeblght -- injectables are the transportation, this is linked to the problem they have with hiv/aids. now, if russia accounts for a fifth or more of all heroin consumed globally, notice the trend line. more than one-third, according to the u.n., of injectable drug users are hiv positive in u russia. you pit it out from there, and you understand why russian experts themselves talk about hiv and aids in the context of the epidemic, one nay are a very, very hard time getting their hands around and treating. the third trend, or fourth trend, that come pounds ails is
that russia's population is fleeing in a real sense. the practices of the state and conditions on economic and social terms are forcing them to eye the exits, and as a result, the pace of exodus from russia of imgrigs from russia, right now, rivals out migration seen a snch ri ago. more than 2 million russians are estimated to have left since putin took power in the last days of 1999. one in five russians today desires to live abackward, and 40% of russians between ages of 18 and 35 on template departure, all right? this is catastrophic because it gives you a window into the thinking of the russian population at large. they are devastating all the more so because they are symptoms of a population that's
lost hope in its future and one that no longer trusts that its government is a steward of its needs. now, this does not mean there's not hopeful signs. there have been as of late. you know that over the last eight months, russia a had an uptick in fertility. the demographics for the last eight months for 2013 has been positive. modestly so, but enough that the russian government decided to declare victory, the crisis over, nothing to worry about. nonsenses. if you talk to demographers who watch over the long term, they will tell you these sort of lips or these spikes, peaks and valleys are normal, but the long term trend line, all the things i talked about, crash the russian family, abortion rate, they adjust the spiral continues downward. there's no serious russian official effort to counteract
all the symptoms of the problem. rather, what you see on the part of the russian government is an effort to expand things that make russians feel good about themselveses; right? you have a 600 to 800 billion dollar effort put forth by the russian government to expand infrastructure, and i put "infrastructure" in air quotes because infrastructure means anything you want it to mean, and so the russian government has parlayed this investment infrastructure into, for example, military modernization, and the modernization of the strategic arsenal. they put the term "infrastructure" to use when they talk about, for example, expansion of industries in certain remote towns. that's great. this is not long term investment in the types of things, health care system, education, social networks, medical recourse that will allow russians to rebound sustainably from this trend
line. so this is a first trend, and i apologize for spending so much time on it, but useful to unpack what russia's demographic decline means, why it's happening, and why it's important. the second trend line is to focus on one aspect of that because russian's demographic trend line is not uniform. russia is transforming. the country's muslim population, when compared to the trend lines laid out is fairing well. they don't abort as a matter of convenience. they don't drink generally. they don't divorce. they divorce less. they have a larger number of children per family unite, and as a result, what you see is while the russian population at large is declining, the percentage of the muslims within the russian population is expanding. today, the back of the envelope estimates that russian officials give you that muslims make up 16% of the overall population,
about 21 million, but according to russian government's own estimates, by the end of the decade, one in five russians is going to be muslim. by the middle of the century, depending, again, not all projections say this, but some projections do, you rapidly approach parody. every other russian will be muslim, and that's another set of geopolitical implications to talk about later. nevertheless, the point to talk about is russia is transforming. by the way, we're transforming. the united states is transforming. it's not a bad trend per se other than the fact that the russian muslim minority hit a glass ceiling. what you have is a population that is not well integrated, either economic or social terms, into the russian state. instead, you've seen the russian government over the last decade aid and abet the rise of a corrosive far right nationalism, groups that are supported by the kremlin to promote objectives
among the population towards perfectionism, and in economic terms turned a blind eye to on the part of the russian authorities, and the as a result is that having been deprived of economic opportunities and seen as internal abroad, a term from a russian policymaker that says, you know, russia's muslims are, well, they are muslim, but not so much russian, part of an internal abred that we have to manage, not that we have to integrate, and that's the key. theyceps the the trend line well, and as a result, you're seeing an increasing examination and increasing radicalization. the example of what i mean by this, we know our general view of the rise of radical islam in russia tends to begin and end with discussions of the north caucuses and discussions of
chechnya. they are waging a grinding, bloody war of attrition against separatists in the caucuses for going on two decades. the russian government say they succeeded. trend lines say the war is far from being over, but increasingly, that problem is migrating from russia's prief rei into the russian heart. in the warrant, i was in the russian republic, and in the capital city, and there's a street, and you literally can stand there in the middle of the street, as i did -- try not to get hit by cars, but look ahead, and you see the islamic university, the state approved, state funded, state lionized institution of religious learning.
million dollar z what you see if you turn around is the mosque, the larger radical mosque in the region paid for by saudi dollars, paid for by pakistani officials who tell you, if you ask them, that we really have no idea how to deal with this because it is a challenge, and insurgent challenge to the established religious status quo, and it's not just peaceful. last summer, two of highest religious authorities in the republic were targeted in assassination attempts, and one was successful of the the replacement -- the deputy of the entire region was killed in a car bomb. you see the growing signs of an
insurgent strain of islam beginning to make its way from the per riff free, where russia had to deploy security services to quell domestic unrest for the first time since the fall of the soviet union because the military was dealing with chechnya. this is an interim matter. this is something to watch in particular, and we'll talk about it in a minute because russia's north caucuses is increasingly on the radar; right? we're not that far away from the olympics in russia. we are concerned over the security of the regional environment there. yesterday, every sign suggests that in addition to the olympics being a boondoggle for the russian government, which they are, there's a serious security concern because what russia has
promised the world that it's contained and widdled down and localized in chechnya and dag stan suggests it's not contained or localized, and, in fact, resilient and spreading, spreading elsewhere. that's the second trend line. the third trend line is that in a very real sense, and this is -- this is going to sound alarmist, but it's not, and i'll explain why. the chinese are coming. they are coming for the russians. the reason i say this is because russia, a third of russia, geographically, sits in asia. russia had an asian pivot long before the obama administration had an asian private. concerned about accessing asian markets, doing commerce with asian states like china, but also if it can fix its territorial disputes with countries like japan, south korea, but increasingly, that area, the russian far east and western siberia, which
cumulatively is 4 million square miles, it's enormous, is barren. russians are leaving. the population of western siberia in the far east declined by 20% over the last two decades. the reason why is very simple. when my parents lived in the soviet union, they were told where they could or could not live. they were given permits to work in a city, but not in others, and as a result, populations were static, stuck in place, and if you wanted to move, there was a process, a political process that you had to go through, and as a result, throughout the soviet union, there were people working in industries in far flown locales where they would not necessarily stay if they were given a choice. with the collapse of the visa restraints and migration restraints, people are leaving, leaving for warmer climates, leaving were greener economic pastures, but they are leaving, and as a result, the territory
of western siberia in the far east now, accumulatively, has a little over 25 million people. that translates out to six russians per square mile. so what this tells you is that tom clancy was wrong. you guys remember back in the 1990s, tom clancy wrote a book called "the bear and the dragon," a book about the future conflict of russia and china in which the militaries go to war. well, if you ask anyone in the russian government whether this is a reality, you know, you get an answer like what i got when i was there in march. never going to happen. you know why it's never going to happen? when people's liberation army comes, there's not going to be in the russians to fight. there's no people. the problem with this is that if there's no people, there's no work force. that area is -- has been likened to an energy superpower. it is the economic bread bafnght of the russian federation, and the investment both in human capital and in economic terms
the government makes in the region dwarfs what the russian government has done; right? places are far closer geographically to to beijing than moscow. the regions on distant east in a real sense treated by people in moscow as an economic and a political back water are increasingly transforming and beginning to view themselves as asian, generally, and chinese specifically. that tees up a massive problem for russia because not only is russia not able to pivot to asia economically, if it simply does not have control or increasingly over that territory, it is one in which real territorial conflict can arise and arise soon. for those of you that don't know, this is a territory that accumulatively the russian government and government of china tussled over for
centuries. the border was demarcated a couple years ago. demarcated in 2001, by a treaty called, you know, in typical sort of grandiosity, typical friendliness and good neighborly necessary. they tried to make it infinite with no sunset date, and the chinese negotiated, their counterpart said, no, we're good. we'll make it last for 20 years. the 2001 treaty told, what, eight years from now, and why does it? because looking at -- into 2001, looking forward, the chinese understood that two decades since the demographic picture may look very different. we may want to revisit the issue. we may want to reclaim lost land, and as a result, you're seeing a shift in the human capital, also, already in the far east, and also in the economic capital, and that has real dire implications for russia as an energy superpower globally and as an economic
power house in asia. those are the three macrotrend lines i talk about in the book. the point that i make is that by themselves each of the trend lines is deeply damming to the russian states, not fatal, but deeply damaging. if you have a russian state with the power and political capital and lill to turn around, they can, the intersection of all three is catastrophic because you -- what you see out of the russian government is increasingly a state that is hard pressed to deal with even one of these dynamics, let alone three of them. putin's state, the state that putin and the followers built over a dozen years or so is built for the here and now, not as a long term national enterprise. what putin does abroad, and, by the way, i think all of you remember that old political saw that when you have problems at home, you go abroad; right? with that in mind, think about putin's grand standing on syria
and iran. it may be not just a reflection of russian strength, maybe, but it may be a reflection of russian internal weakness; right? the state he's built simply has not dealt with these treens in a serious fashion. it's not wired that way. russian's government is more than anything else, a few years ago, talked about a form of managed democracy. they don't talk about managed democracy anymore. it is more than anything a cult of personality built around putin and close circle of followers, kept in place by massive corruption and graft and sweet heart contracts, ten, and means attracting the real, serious, sustained international investment, fdi and other things, that are required to turn these demographic trends lines around would require dismantlement of at least part
of putin's state, and that's simply not going to happen. the russian government is in a cul-de-sac of the own political making, and it's not going to go quietly into a good night, not dissolve or collapse. it could mean, and i want you to understand they are not trend lines to set in earnest in the next couple years. what you see today is what you get. a decade or two from now, trends exert a pull on how they behave. you expect them to enhance russia's impulse; right? russia, still, in a real sense, covets territories used to be part of the soviet union. stripped away as a result of history, as a result of political accident; right? putin, himself, talked in 2008
about the collapse of the soviet union being the largest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century, all right? this ideological leaning to reclaim loss lands is likely to be given a shot in the arm by the loss of lands elsewhere as russia begins to lose its eastern control, the impulse to expand westward, not in political terms, mind you, but in territorial terms is reenforced, if not become simply unquenchable. the second trend line is, and you're going to see this sooner, is it's very likely as you see rise of insurgent strain of extreme islam in places elsewhere in what's the eurasian heartland, there's a widening of a conflict between the russian state and the forces that they can't control; right? we're not talking about one chechnya, but many chechnyas, and this is only sounds like an
overstatement if you did not watch the emergence of the chechnya conflict in its maturity. maturation over time has taken on a conflict of larger proportions than originally envisioned by moscow, and what the trend lines you see in the russian heartland at least have the potential to do the same. they may not, but they have the potential to do so if they are not dealt with. third trend line, and i'll stop there, you can imagine as russia contorts internally from ideological and religious tensions and presses west ward for demographic and economic reasons, there's heightened tensions with europe and the nato block. all right? all of this is a long way of saying what i said at the outset which is that we americans tend to see russia at face value.
when putin strives for large on the world stage, when he creates a hazard geopolitical coo with the arms deal in syria, with sort of his relationship with the iran, we tend to assume that what you see is what you get. russia is arriving and has to be dealt with or accommodated to make progress on world affairs. what i'm telling you is that that might not be so simple. in fact, the real challenge for the united states in 20 years, 30 years, may not be from russia's strength, but weakness. that, i think, should inform serious policy thinking about russia and our approach to it. we know that the reset of relations, that the obama administration attempted to ork state with moscow in the last four years is, well, not as healthy as it could be, i would say today; right? the reset has been a failure. we know now that the white house is at least beginning to think
about what comes next. what this is intended to do is to give them a little bit of food for thought about where russia is headed because knowing where russia's heading is determinative to figuring out what our policy towards it should be, so, thank you, guys, i'll stop there. [applause] >> we'll take questions, be kind to wait for the microphone to be passed to you, and state your name and affiliation if you care to as a curtesy to the guest, and i'm going to take the prerogative of reading one of the questions we received online, and i'll change it a little bit. >> how can the u.s. or could the u.s. effectively support positive transformation in russia without creating the perception of foreign interference, which only aggravates the anti-american feeling and also targets liberty issues in that country? >> well, i think it's a great
question, and it actually sort of -- to go on a slight tangent for a second. one of the republicans why russia is so uncooperative on middle east policy, and, for example, has spent two and a half years supporting the assad regime against the opposition is because it's seen the movie before. remember, a decade ago, russia witnessed what we now call the color revolutions; right? in elsewhere, and they are scared those trend lines take hold in russia. here's a secret. putin is not that popular. the last credible pulling that i saw came out in the spring from the center in moscow, and it suggested that of respondents who voted for -- who participated in the vote for the presidential elections, the last presidential election in russia, only 34% said that they would vote for vladimir putin; right?
in a democratic society, that is catastrophic. even in an authoritarian one, it's deeply troubling, which is why what you have seen over the past year is a deepening of russia's antidemocratic trick. the real dilemma for u.s. policymakers is how to square the circle, how to invest in democratic institutions, democratic infrastructure without seen as meddling in internal affairs without having its proxies, whether it's the international republican institute, the national democratic institute, whatever, blacklisted with agents, sort of, you know, kicked out of the country. i think that's a very difficult needle to thread, and that's the reason why the obama administration has spent so little time thinking about it because there's large things that we can work with on -- with regard to russia, work on reductions, and counterterrorism, and these things, these are thornier issues. i think one of the most fruitful
conversations with russia moving forward is the start -- branching into something larger, is a discussion on relations, and economic opportunity for russian's minorities because russia and the united states on a number of issues dealing with radical islam and counterterrorism have a tremendous amount of commonty, and russians are wired to listen when we talk. especially now, start a tactical dialogue on security ahead of the sochi games and migrate into a larger conversation about now using blunt force to deal with your sort of, with your discrepancies in your muse lime minority. have that become a larger conversation. it's not an easy conversation to have. >> hi, i'm an intern here. my question was about the liberal opposition within russia, and i wanted to ask you how much of an influence
realistically do you think people like the deutsche channel or anything has going into the future? >> i think it's a good question, and the state of russia's democratic opposition is one of those things that you tend to watch sort of sporadically; right? when he's put on trial on charges and released and sort of, you know, gets wrapped up again, you tend to notice, but there's not a lot of sustained attention. i point out a couple trend lines. one, profoundsly negative, and one slightly positive. profoundly negative one is vladimir putin understands very much because of his popularity ratings that there is a problem. there is a problem if there's a sustainedded liberal opposition to his rule. as a result, he's tried to widen the conversation. putin's political faction is known as united russia. they have undergone a series of
public black eyes over two years. members in the lower house of the parliament caught with property in the united states, you know, above and beyond sort of what they should have been afforded, based on their paycheck, defense minister who, you know, engaged potentially in graph based upon a personal vendetta, all sorts of things tarnishing the united russian brand. what putin has done in two and a half years is to widen the conversation. since 2010, he's been talking and recently, acting, to create something called the russian national front. this is an conglomeration of 200 political organizations, geos, social organizations which are intended to be an umbrella to feed ideas into united russia. it is intended to, one, rehabilitate united russia to show that united russia is more accountable, listening to all the groups, and, second, push
the liberal opposition to the outskirts of russian politic. because if everybody but everybody is part of the national front and you're not, then that just means you're a crack pot, and as a result, putin's managed, at least so far, to deathly maneuver through russian politics, but there are hopeful signs that this is not going to be indefinitely the case. for example, mayoral elections suggest this dominance of united russia and russian linked parties is a transient affair, and left to their devices, voters vote to elect somebody else. i'm not exactly sure that they want specific person, but somebody else. other than the established hierarchy, something the kremlin is cos any cant over, not clear they can control or clamp down on, but gives you a glimmer of hope there are yearnings for pluralism beyond the construct that putin created, but it's not clear yet they come to any sort
of real meaningful fruition. >> hi, as you know, one of the projects to reviet al lies -- view vitalize, and focusing on the central asian and now the south caucuses. i think the idea is, you know, allows russia to reconstitute the margs that they could hold the line, tiny penetration in some ways in the union in euroasia and so on. what do you think the chances of that success of the project would be, and in terms of reversing some of the trend you caution us about? >> well, it's interesting. you mentioned this was intended as hedge against china. it is up to a point, but i think it's a hedge against european liberalization. look what happened with russian
strong arming of ukraine over two months. you've seen ukraine that was on track signing the association agreement with the european union, and as a result, penalized by the russian federation. it was essentially the ukrainian government told in no uncertainly terms, you make the mistake of choosing europe and not my eurasian economic block, there's adverse consequences, for example, i'll clamp down on trade, clamp down as a raising of customs restrictions. this is a hedging strategy for sure, but it does not alter the overall trajectory, and, n., among certain governments, it actually increases their push westward; right? to buck the trend of realignment with moscow. it's not clear that russia's economy is as vibrant as dynamic as it needs to be to really draw people to it if the dak -- deck was not stacked, and this is, i think, a real problem. if you -- a great little
vignette some missed is in the last two weeks, china has bought up the equivalent of 5% of ukrainian territory for agricultural purposes. this is a big deal, a big deal suggests that china is increasingly moves west ward also in the economic plans, but a challenge to russia because if they covet ukraine, covering it economically, increasingly they are not just dealing with ukraine's western leanings, but a difficult variable, the intryings of china. against all trends, it's not clear that the economic plans of the russian federation are robust enough or forward looking enough that they're actually going to make russia sol yent and amealuate trends i talked about, they are trying. in the long term, it's a very difficult road.
i'm from israel. two questions. one is a short term question about russia, and the other iranian situation, negotiations going on now. what do you think is going on in putin's mind about that? play a positive role? try to be a spoiler a and second question is longer term china, which i think is a name of the game longer term, what is the trueness formation going on in russia mean for china, and china's role in the world scene? >> well, so, the ukrainian issue first because i think it is useful to unpack this. i think that the russian government creates a problem and sees itself as the solution to the problem. for example, the russian
government initiated the sale or approve the sale of s300 antimissile batteries to iran, table that sale, and now the sale is back on the table. this is a little bit of a pattern, and when you look at what russia is seeking, it's useful to point out that partnership with iran is not across the board an uncontroversial issue in russia. it's not a settled issue. there's a strong vocal minority that points out the islamic republic is closer geographically to the russian federation than israel, and it's anything that any capability that iran gains, if they are not careful, could be directed to russia itself, but the dominant line has been cooperation, cooperation as a result of defense industrial ties, cooperation as a result of the fact that iran has the potential to exacerbate these radical islamic tendencies in the caucuses, if it wants to, and
you keep it at baby engaging in commerce with it, and it's animated by, at least in some of the russian elites, by good old fashioned anti-americans. best defense is a good offense, and if the west is bogged down with fires in the middle east, it's less likely to interfere in russia's, and they are a concern about the encoachment of europe, nato, and of the united states, and i am skeptical, but, you know, don't let 30 years of u.s.-iranian politics stop you, but if you believe this is going to happen, you have to understand that russia's going to be disadvantaged as a result, but those same, iran is now no longer an adversary of the united states, but a partner, then iran moves from being an
asset to a liability. with regard to china in the long term, the question is about economics. china needs something on the order of 20 million jobs created every year to keep the unemployment rate stable, which is why you see a massive export of chinese human capital to latin america, africa, and the russian far east; right? china's growth, the explosive growth, what the average, like, 10 #% -- 10% growth, despite the global recession, suggests that china needs to fuel the fire. china's hungry. as a result, they are looking for new economic markets and economic opportunities that the russian far east in the context, quite frankly, is low hanging fruit.
>> the only country that turned the ship around is georgia because they got involved, and the patriarch was blessing every third child. tell us about the state of the orthodox church in russia. is it a player? could it perhaps fix the demographic situation somewhat? >> well, absolutely it a player. a good point to draw out. something that's remarkable, and, again, sort of alliances in putin's russia are no tore youly mercurial, those up today are down tomorrow, and those viz l in the tv tomorrow disappear into academia for seven years and come back, but what you notice is the macrotrend line seen over three or four years has been a growing closeness of the kremlin and russian orthodox church to the point where the church has become, if not a across the board rubber stamp for policies, a powerful voice vocalizing in support of large
percentage of kremlin policies, but notice this this is not demographic, a demographic question, but a political question. it's enshrinement of ideas as translated by the kremlin and russian orthodox church. whether it translates to more babies in russia? probably not. you know, it's not a mistake that putin hit upon the alliance with the russian orthodox church because he saw the trend line in georgia and understands how the things work. the russian orthodox church, for him, is less of a demographic salvation and more of a political ally. >> you mentioned earlier in the 1990, russia does not a a peace dividend, no investment by the government as least in social services, infrastructure, what have you, and in the same peer, there was a great deal of u.s.
aid, as a result, sitting up ngos, public organizations, nongovernmental organizations, that -- to try to build a civil society in russia. has there been any evidence or any work that these private institutions have stepped into fill the void to perform these social services that the government has not? >> i think it's a good question, and, yes, you know, i probably overspoke sort of over estimated only slightly when i said there was no peace diff depped. there was in real terms; right? russian economy got better and ancillary runoff that went to russian society, but, and because, you know, per capita gdp now is better than the collapse of the soviet union. you can't say there was no progress, but you see there were not serious systemic investments in the type of infrastructure you talk about, in, you know,
transparent elections, monitoring, social services, outreach. that's where the international community came in. that's where you had sort of a real sustained investment track on the part of the international community, who, also, by the way, from the defense department you know there was a sustained investment track in the dismantlement of russian's strategic weapons. also, the dividend from that, where, you know -- we can talk about it -- but nonetheless, these were the two main tracks of sort of u.s. interest in post-soviet russia. i think what's happening now when you see the rollback of civil society in russia, it's very much a function of precisely that, a function of the fact that the kremlin sees these entities having been either created or at least partially supported by the international community as a threat, as a potential insur gent threat; right? the russian government's approval over the last couple years, the now foreign agent laws requires political ngos to
gain this, to be outside plight russian politics tells you everything you need to know about the fact that the russian government is more interested in margin alizing governments than exploiting them. the elements effective as political voices, but a threat by the kremlin and as a result, they are margin alize. i'm not sure. i have not done a study on how effective they've been, duh i know based on practice, they are seen not as a partner, but as a challenge for the russian government, and as a result, you know, knives are out. ..
visa are already by the way i don't know what the actual tally is as of this week and bet on the order of dozens of billions of dollars. it's the most expensive olympics that has ever been constructed. there are lots of indications that there is graft -- the head of the olympic committee was replaced because the project is not on schedule so this is as much a public image problem for the russians as it is a security problem but both things matter. russia has to provide when the world is watching russia has to provide a secure environment and that means sadly a lot of very heavy-handed security tactics but they have a real problem on their hands. but it's also going to mean that they really have to get their economic up and running so when the world begins to look at sochi it doesn't look like a -- a village.
>> hi. thank you for the presentation. i'm from the north caucasus diaspora. last week i attended a conference at george washington university about russia and a certain statistic jumped out at me. plagiarism and russian economic institutions is as high as 70% so how can you tell when u.s. officials go to meet with russian officials, how do you know that these officials are not? >> you can't in fact and this is a real problem. the dead devaluing of educational integrity in russia is a symptom of that decline where there is a culture of corruption that does pervade other things and we understand it or baits industrial and economic sectors but it does have an impact on ancillary sectors. the fact that this is acceptable and university records turn a blind eye tells you everything you need to know about what's for sale and what's not.
but i made mention of it when i was giving my presentation this is why statistics in russia at least in part or so suspect because it's not hard to discern who is getting good research in russia particularly when they have 70% of resumes padded area that is why i moved to the u.n. estimates is being the main estimates because they tend to aggregate both the high and the low of what you are seeing. i have seen russian statistics which are far more belief then i laid out for you. the fact that this is the legal line of the estimates should tell you everything you know about how bad the estimates are. >> hello sir. thank you for speaking. i was curious about the territorial ambitions you are talking about. are you talking about abkhazia or south ossetia or the balkans
should start to get worried? >> again this is a question of you know sort of ice being bigger than stomachs and military capability and no one is saying that rush is going to go to war with everyone the outright complex that what putin has built a mean the best way to describe it is a postmodern empire and empire of legal and economic influence even if there is not military influence. so those things for example russians strong-arm tactics to prevent the construction of a pipeline that would create independence for the ukraine things that would functionally keep these countries and russia's orbit even without a shot being fired or things that should be worrisome. but also the truism is that the longer russia's territorial boundaries remain the same without being pushed outward the more more the imperial urge diminishes and vice versa which means the more russia has military successes abroad as it did against georgia for example the more its appetite is wedded for other skirmishes so i'm not
a prognosticator and i can tell you russia is going to go over war over ukraine or belarus but i can tell you in those places they are watching these trend lines closely than the one variable that they tend not to talk about is how the russian imperial impulse is being strengthened simply by demographic mathematics. if you need to widen your population and expand your population there are not that many places you can go. >> we have one final question. >> ken meyer. what is happening with russians living in the former republic of the soviet union? are they moving back to russia and what role do they play in russia's relations with the former republic? >> the kremlin would certainly like them too for sure and as a result they have done all sorts
of things where they have created relatively hasslefree assumption of russian nationality for example for people who live abroad and claim russian heritage so it increases the virtual roles. not the actual roles because they are not in the russian federation but the trend line in economic and political terms is profoundly negative. a great example of this is at the tail end of the medvedev presidency the kremlin dreamt up this project of creating a high-technology hub outside of moscow. it was intended as a hub for technology, innovation and everything from software to biotech essentially the new silicon valley. and a tremendous number of russians or people of russian -- you are fantastic and the sciences and russia reached out
to them and i remember this wasn't the sum total of the answer but there were two russian laureates that were approached that live in the united states who were approached to come back to russia and bring their innovation and their technology and bring their companies to rush and set up shop and there will answer wasn't no, it was hell no because they understand very well that the culture, the political culture that exists in russia's going to mean their intellectual property is not synchronous thanked and will be capricious with how it apportions aid or how it takes proprietary products so as a result they are perfectly happy to seek their fortunes elsewhere. there is a huge drain for russia because the more the russian government appears to be hostile to entrepreneurship individual entrepreneurship, the less ability to has to compete on the world stage and that is one of the reasons why you see this
mass outmigration of russians because those with the means to do so are increasingly looking for economic alternatives. >> thank you. >> thank you. [applause] >> thank you ilan for a wonderful discussion and thank you for your participation. of course we do have copies available if you elect to purchase one. ilan will be appear to sign them and carry on the conversation following our dismissal. otherwise thank you for coming and i hope to see you soon at heritage. we are dismissed. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
>> today's young adults so-called millennial generation are having a lot of trouble getting started in life because they have come of age in a hostile economy. they are paying money into systems to support a level of benefits for today's retirees that they have no realistic chance of getting when they themselves retire so there needs to be a rebalancing of the social compact. it's a very important challenge and a very difficult challenge for this country politically because not only is social security and medicare half of our budget or about to become half of our budget it's by far the biggest thing we do but it is symbolic weight the pure
european studies. she discusses her book "the limits of partnership" u.s.-russian relations in the 21st century. she is interviewed by dimitri simes from the center of national interest. this is an hour. >> host: it is my privilege to talk today with professor angela stent director of the center for russian eurasian and eastern european studies at georgetown university. he wrote an important book, "the limits of partnership" talking about the u.s. russian relationship and my first question is why do we need partnership with russia? you know this is not an overly provocative question because there are a lot of people in the u.s. government and you are part of the u.s. government who seem to think that russia is not that important to the extent that it is important is not prepared to be very help will. do we need heart worship with
rush and if so why? >> guest: we certainly do need partnership with russia and russia's still -- i mean the united states and russia are the two remaining nuclear superpowers are between us we cannot resolve a number of the world's major problems if we don't work together and we are seeing that in terms of syria, in terms of iran, in terms even of issues of terrorism and counterterrorism. russia is an easy partner for the united states just as u.s. is not an easy part or for russia. we are fated to work together and we have seen at this year when there were plenty of reasons why the relationship deteriorated but in the end we are working together and we will continue to work together and those in the u.s. political class who say russia doesn't count anymore that it's not important they are flat wrong. it has to be a partner even though as i say in my book it's a cranky partnership. posts go well in europe look you
make clear there are two kinds of leaders. first there are what i would say structural leaders because of different interests, because of different historical traditions because of different circumstances but then there are also limits which are connected to u.s. policy. two russian policy. can we do better than we are doing now? >> guest: first on the structural limits i would emphasize that the fact that we are the world's two nuclear superpowers means in some ways we are still in the cold war time warp and we focus on these if you like 20th century issues. the kind of relationship that we don't have that we would have to have worked as a better partnership would be a much more fully fleshed out economic relationship and we are not natural economic hard nurse because russian is a raw
material exports sells oil and gas and military hard work in these are not things we need to purchase from russia. structurally this is a one-sided relationship. but then i would say the limits of partnership also go back to the fact that we do see the world rather differently from the russians and that the russians want to focus on sovereignty of states. they stressed that russia is a state of power and they look at the united states has a revisionist power largely because they think we are invested in regime change that we want to go around changing governments that we don't like. so one of the real limits to this partnership is the u.s. foreign-policy generally focuses on the fact that we believe we represent certain values and those values include democratization, free market, the rule of law and human rights and we believe that we have the right to pursue those issues when we interact with other
countries. russia doesn't see the world that way. it now says the u.s. behaves as the old communists. they kind of go around it re-create the world and its image so i think fundamentally one of the limits of the partnership is if you are going to interact with a country like russia a great power do you focus on your mutual interest to try to pursue them or do you focus on values on what's happening inside russian society and that is one of the soul points that has been there throughout the 23 years since the soviet union collapsed. posts go this is a major issue clearly because if you are few of foreign-policy is the view of henry kissinger and you right about henry kissinger and brent scowcroft in your book then perhaps after all the united states does not share the values of saudi arabia but saudi arabia is considered one of america's
closest allies. back in 1959 i was still quite small but i still remember on russian tv seeing vice president richard nixon appearing with nikita khrushchev who was the soviet leader at the first american exhibition in moscow and there were some very interesting exchanges between khrushchev and nixon. nixon said to khrushchev at that time mr. prime minister i understand that you believe that americans are going to live under commonism and that is what khrushchev had stated and he said this is fine as long as we accept that you have your system and we have our system and they will not try to change them by force. you are a where are in 2000 -- sometimes you get the impression that the american position is in
order to good relations it will require other countries to move closer to our political system. to what extent it is a broader u.s.-russian relationship and the obama administration has the right mix of the focus on national interest in human rights or would you prefer to see it differently? >> guest: this has been a constant issue in u.s. soviet relations and u.s.-russian relations. to your question about saudi arabia but may say and of course the russians will always say that the u.s. pursues double standards that we criticize russia for doing things that we don't criticize china for. the russians have of course said that russia is a european country. they are a member of the council of europe. they have signed onto conventions and agreements where they are supposed to adhere to the atlantic norms which china hasn't done in saudi arabia hasn't done but it is true that
i think the u.s. has in the past not been consistent in the way that it has criticized russia and not criticize some of russia's neighbors. i go into this look is your buyer gene and kazakhstan because they are strategic partners with the united states at least on the war on terror. i think the obama administration has been pretty skilled at dealing with these issues. it explicitly differentiated between working with rush on these common answers like arms control and like iran and like missile defense like afghanistan and saying it was a two track wolesi and separated from what was happening domestically and russia. it has been fairly quiet and reserved with what's happening domestically. this has changed a little bit in the last year or the last couple of years since mr. putin refrained from the kremlin and
he is thrown out the united states agency for international development and the u.s. ngos. we have had this bat over the magnitsky acts and the adoption of russian children. i think by americans i think what we have to understand is we have to differentiate between the obama administration and the u.s.. the obama administration has been fairly reserved. the u.s. congress if you look at the entire again 23 year. not that i'm looking at has not in a force for promoting better relationships with russia. those people in the congress who registered in russia has tended to be people who are highly critical so things like the magnitsky list which bans visas and freezes the assets of russian officials and human rights abuses, that originated in the congress. it was not something the obama administration wanted and the russians with the legislation on
the adoption. the administration understands it but i think we are a pluralistic system and the congress is very important. they take a rather different approach to dealing with russia. >> host: one important thing about your career is in addition to being the leading academic you of course were in several administrations. your book covers a lot of ground. it starts with the last days of the soviet union and then it goes to the current period. you were in the clinton administration. you were in the bush administration and in the state department. tell us if you look back, according to the administration, the bush administration and the obama administration if we can start with which one.
you seem to be favorably disposed to the whoosh and i'm talking about bush 41. >> guest: in my book i discuss for resets that i count since the collapse of the soviet union. i should point out i was in policy planning in the last 18 months of the clinton administration in six months of the bush and administration and then the national intelligence and the bush of administration but both firms when i served in government we were on a downward slide in the u.s. russian relationship. so i think the first reset was brief because obviously president george h.w. bush overlapped with president yeltsin for about a year but that was very much when the focus of course of general scowcroft was the national security adviser when the focus was on disarmament on arms control issues on denuclearizing the ukraine in other words making sure after the collapse of the soviet union the nuclear
weapons were safe and there was probably not enough attention given to helping out the new russian government financially economically and no president nixon himself was in favor of that but that was very much a period when the attempts to improve relations in russia focused on the concrete interest particularly the arms control and the nuclear issues. when the clinton administration came into office it had a much more ambitious agenda for its own reset. i think clinton himself his russia adviser called his book the russia hand but clinton himself was interested in russia and i think he and those around him really thought that they had eight years of the maximum to refashion russia, to turn it into a democracy and a market society. we know in retrospect that was clearly overly ambitious. you can't remake a society like that in eight years and there
are very strong forces of russian tradition and history and they of all been there own way. there was certainly been an attempt, there was more financial assistance but also an attempt to get russia to buy into the u.s. view of international relations and european security and that is why we had problems with russia when we got involved in the war in the balkans and of course that first reset ended deadly with the kosovo war. so toward the end of the clinton administration mr. yeltsin was quite sick and mr. putin came in so the period that i was actually in government was a downward period in a relationship. a recognition in the u.s. that it had not been able to achieve what it wanted to do. the reset on the president george w. bush was initiated by vladimir putin and i do think it's the beginning of his time in the kremlin mr. putin was interested in a better relationship with the united
states in close integration with the west as he understood it and out easily after 9/11 he was the first person to call to offer condolences but also to offer support in helping the united states and establish its bases in central asia. i think from president putin's point of view the desire was to have as one of my russian colleagues calls it an equal partnership of unequal funny clothes. in other words have a strategic partnership with the united states and in the beginning the bush administration was favorably inclined to that. the personal relationship seemed to be better and certainly the cooperation in the fall of 2001 in the war in afghanistan and russia was hunched a mental and helping the united states in a variety of ways because it knew much more about afghanistan than the u.s. did raid that began to fall apart when president bush and particularly feiss president cheney embrace the freedom agenda, the belief that the u.s. showed actively promote
democracy particularly in russia's backyard ukraine and georgia and of course that ended very badly finally in rousseau georgia war of 2008. i think the obama administration came in again determined to focus on the issues which russia itself wanted to focus on arms control important for president obama. this is an area where we are equal with russia. afghanistan worked and iran but i think it began to fall apart because to some extent that reset was also based on the personal ties between president obama and president medvedev even if people understood mr. putin who is prime minister was this the most important decision-maker still the relationship is built on the context between those two younger presidents. when it became clear that mr. putin was going to come back to the kremlin and that
coincided with the demonstrations in the fall of 2011 against mr. putin and against the duma elections which they said were falsified that then was a breaking point because mr. putin blamed the united states for aiding and abetting and since then i think the relationship has been on a downward slide. this year of course we have the episode with mr. snowden so now we are at a point where we are working together and we have to work together in syria but where president obama himself has said we have to take a pause and reconsider how we want this relationship to move forward. president obama is -- and mr. putin understands that. >> host: when we talk about democracy in motion one problem in my view is what the russian government or with the business elite.
it goes back as far as i'm concerned to this period and particularly the elections of 1996. i remember vividly undersecretary of state state and i think you were there where i said -- i had just come back from moscow and yeltsin was vowed to win this election by hook or by crook. the state department officials, they did not like what they said they said what is your evidence and we had an excellent ambassador and you refer to somebody else in your look in the bush administration that at that time was the senior political officer in moscow.
how we yeltsin was stealing the election. the united states completely identified with the yeltsin administration because yeltsin seemed to be more agreeable on foreign-policy issues and we were willing to support him blindly. russians got the impression that american democracies, well you are democrat and if you are prepared to walk in lockstep with american foreign policy. >> guest: i don't think you are wrong. from the u.s. government's point of view of their belief was that the worst disaster that could befall russia was it the communists were going to come back to power and don't forget in 1996 election that looked as if the leader of the commonest party stood a very good chance. he had actually been to davos for the world economic forum at the beginning of the year and made a speech which sounded quite reasonable but the relief in the u.s. embassy in the state department and other parts of the government at that time was without yeltsin the system that
everyone is working so hard to try and create in russia would collapse and therefore of course you are right that people on the ground at the embassy in moscow understood what was going on. and understood this probably wouldn't be a fair and free election. we also know of course dick morris and people who worked for him advised not yeltsin himself but other people around him. so the belief was then that he had to win at all costs and we know he went from single digits to winning an election which people hadn't forecast before. now you can ask the question now would it have been so terrible if he would have won the election if the congress would have won? nobody knows the answer to that and there are different views to that both russia and here but you are collectively sang from the point of view a lot of russians has created a degree of cynicism about the u.s.
commitment to free and fair elections and in fact that was something that in the election campaign in the u.s. in the year 2000 the republicans had criticized the clinton administration for. >> host: talking about being fair one thing that is very impressive about your book is you are in my view very fair. you do it in an informed way and one reason you are so informed is that you are not just a scholar, a practitioner that you actually know a lot of russian. you mention in your book the form where you have many opportunities to interact with yeltsin and perhaps you will tell us about that visit but i also know from my personal experience with you that you know quite well many members of the russian position. i'm nobody art -- to kind of people.
we have scholars who know the russian government we have scholars who know the opposition. you are one of the few people who knew both. but me start with putin. could you talk a bit about that? >> guest: the form has been going on for 10 years. it was organized by the news agency that is now being dissolved but for 10 years at organize this interesting meetings for foreign experts on russia and we have dinner with mr. putin every year since then. he is a very impressive political leader. he is the man in charge. he will come to these dinners and give three or four hours of his time answering a friday of questions which not too many world leaders that i know would do. he never loses -- uses notes and he never turns to any of his aides to ask them for questions or hell. he's particularly interested in economic data and energy is a subject he is passionate about. he is respectful.
he can be sarcastic sometimes when he wants to be. he can also exude his own kind of charm so i think everyone who has met with him on these occasions has been very impressed again by the amount of time he is willing to give to this group of foreigners and his willingness to ask a variety of questions and sometimes he complains that the questions aren't tough enough but that is not surprising since if you are the leader of a country you are not going to ask tough questions. and so one comes away from these meetings i think with a very good sense of a message that he wants to convey to these russia experts and the outside world and that's sense it's also a very effective forum these meetings with him. >> host: how would you compare putin not just because of his views on nuclear russia but how would you compare putin as a leader as a personality, to other world leaders you have observed today?
>> guest: i've never had exposure to any other world leader in the same way as i have to putin because i haven't had three-hour dinners for 10 years but he is certainly someone, he is a leader. i think that he has become over the 10 years clearly much more convinced of the correctness of what he is doing. i think he believes that he came into office when russia was in a chaotic state and the ruble had defaulted. it was in a very bad state and as he himself said he has restored stability and great economic growth at least until 2008. he has now restored russia's place as a great power so i think that's very visible. and of course unlike a more democratic system he is less tight by the separation of power he is less constrained in what he can do. he obviously is constrained to
some extent but not in the same way in a visible way that many western leaders are so in many ways he would come across as being more decisive than leaders who have to listen to their parliaments and their public opinion and things like that. >> host: i read with some leaders of russia say. it is pierced that russia today is almost a totalitarian country that there is no fundamental difference between putin and stalin and democracy is a charade and that putin as a kind of -- and you can see putin sometimes refers to people like stalin or jasinski who was the former kgb. how would you describe the russian political system today?
>> guest: first of all you have to go back to the 1990s. again because from what putin writes and says this is the anathema so we talked about democracy in the 1990s and for many russians the word democracy that has connotations with poverty, the lack of order in russia if you like the perceived chaos. and then i think you have to look at mr. putin's own background. he of course comes from the kgb. he was in east germany when east germany collapsed and i think he also saw you know he had experiences there with a mob if you like trying to tear down the headquarters of the east germans he was trying to defend it. then i think you can also see afterwards in the 1990s he worked for the mayor anatoly sobchak who was defeated in an election that i was quite clear from what mr. putin saw that also wasn't a clean election.
i think his attitude towards democracy might have to look at his past and where he comes from. he is not a democrat in any many western sense of the word but rush is not stalinist russia and not brezhnev's russia even though some in russia describe it as such but it's not that yet the internet is pretty free. people can express different views not on state run television anymore and putin is not all powerful in a way that probably stalin was and i don't think any soviet ruler was all powerful either. he's probably the most single powerful leader in the system which isn't very transparent. it's a hybrid system and there are groups of different people with whom he interacts and whose views he does have to listen to. we can see in some economic transactions he cannot determine
everything so i think the best way to describe it may be managed democracy. there are elections but they are not free and fair in the same way that we believe they are and it looks as if the tendency is going towards less pluralism than there was under putin then there was under yeltsin but it's very hard -- neo-patrimonial state is the way that some people call it which is a scholarly term which has to do with the close relationship between economic and political elites but it's a hybrid system that i think we still have a lot of difficulty in understanding exactly how it works. >> host: let me ask you a simplistic question in terms of the level of democracy. a tutorial that gives united states and saudi arabia where would you put russia? >> guest: oh i don't like to go on that.
russia would be somewhere between the two of them. it's somewhere between. it's not saudi arabia and is not the united states. it's more of a democratic and china is. i mean i'm not sure giving it -. >> host: it's more democratic than china is? >> guest: i believe it is, yes. >> host: in what way? >> guest: you do have different political parties now. the range of views and the parties that are in the duma cannot be that wide and there is certainly more answer met freedom. there is it really rule of law. there may be more rule of law and china in some ways but yeah i think russia and china are rather different stages of political development. >> host: let's have a short rate. >> days in adults the so-called millennial generation who are having a lot of trouble getting started in life because they have come into a jenna russell
economy. they are paying money into the system to support a level of benefits for today's retirees but they have no realistic chance of getting when they themselves retire. there needs to be a rebalancing of the social compact. it's a very important challenge in a difficult challenge for this country politically because not only is social security and medicare half of our budget or about to become half the budget and by far the biggest thing we will do but it's in symbolically the purest statement in public policy that as a country we are all in this together. these are programs that affect everybody and the old math in these programs does not work.
>> we return returned to "after words" with angela stent on herb look "the limits of partnership" u.s.-russian relations in the 21st century. >> host: when you talk to russian officials they often will tell you that there is a tendency in the united states and more broadly in the west and sometimes without good evidence. you mentioned in your book a man called litvinenko a man who was a former agent of the kgb the
federal security service who became a political democrats democrat and some say it did affect your and then was poisoned by polonium and as you describe in your book a perception in britain and the united states was that he was the victim of nuclear terrorism and a strong assumption is by the russian government. do you agree with back? tests. >> guest: well i think the evidence from what i know and from what i have read is first of all the baloney him that he was poisoned with it's not something you can buy on the internet. it's only produced in a few laboratories and it was clearly evidence when he tested the plane on which the two gentlemen that mr. litvinenko met in london and apparently
administered the poisoned the plane that they were on the radioactive material traces were found on the plane so i don't think anyone disputes the fact that people came, somebody came from moscow carrying this polonium and that they met with mr. litvinenko and he substantively got very ill and he died. operably what could be discovered at the very last moments that there was polonium otherwise he would have died in no one would have known. there were other people who believe that this was a conspiracy that was manufactured in britain and mr. boris ghia volsky that fled to england that he was involved in all of this although it's never been clear how he was. of course what makes it even more difficult is the british government which was conducting an inquest has decided it doesn't want to publish the
evidence that it has about this particular murder for financial security reasons, unspecified. the assumption is ben that is because it was somehow implicate some part of the russian government and who knows what but we will probably really never know the truth about any of this and of course when mr. berezovsky apparently hanged himself last year their world of daschle said those believed that didn't hang himself. a lot of these issues are cloaked in obscurity and i think one will never know the truth. >> host: i'm very interested in this case not because of the case itself but because as you said it's a perfect example of how often we make assumptions that we don't quite know the truth. i became familiar with the name given to back in the 1990s. where a book by nelson's chief of the presidential
administration had a reputation. they did not like sergey as a democrat with a capital d and the man who was very much involved against his family was mr. you think a before mr. mr. litvinenko was out of favor and then in 1998 there was a press conference in moscow. mr. litvinenko who just had left the security service announces that there was a plot against boris uris off ski. there was one little problem with it. the director of the fsb was a man called vladimir putin.
including the uris off ski testimony and the cayman many different forms. he became the russian prime minister. the fsb under plot putin was plotting. that whole press conference was a farce and there were many other things. the polonium was in london and if your assumption is that the russians expected that it would be a kind of discovery then you might say there might yet plot of ascension but if that is the case it's not clear what was so important about mr. litvinenko to take chances. as a russian soldier they would not be caught.
there were many cheaper and easier ways to get rid of those little kgb hoodlum then using -- deliberately. there was a major international scandal. it was assumed with certainty that the russian government and putin personally decided to use nuclear to kill someone in london. is this correct? >> guest: i think it's correct. the problem all of these things again are shrouded in obscurity as you yourself said. mr. there is off ski was largely responsible for putting mr. putin in the kremlin. he then fell out with mr. putin when it became clear that he would take charge and mr. berezovsky was not going to be old to do what he was doing it for so nobody really knows and no one will ever know and i think we are in a situation where it partly has to do with the way that people made their money in the 1990s.
you can refer back again to what was going on politically and behind-the-scenes. that is a period about which many people have many questions. we do know that once mr. mr. berezovsky was in london he and mr. litvinenko were highly critical about what's happening in russia and what mr. putin was doing and mr. putin didn't like that and the other thing that mr. litvinenko was doing was investigating the murder of a journalist. she was a muckraking journalist. she was assassinated in the doorway to her apartment. again it's never been resolved. i think one of the problems here is that there were a number of high-profile murders in russia most of them in russia in the 1990s and since then but particularly in the 1990s of journalists and businesspeople and none of these these things wherever results. sometimes they would pick up someone the actual assassin.
one point yeltsin's minister of nationalities and i think that adds to this tendency in the west to assume the worst just because they happen salt many of these high-profile cases. >> host: now i thought for a long time actually that's the russian government was involved in the killing of litvinenko because i couldn't see a sufficiently good reason and now i am totally agnostic of that and the reason is the testimony that man called ahmed sir qaeda who as you may remember was a former chechen separatist leader who was a very close friend of litvinenko in london and spent spend the afternoon after he was poisoned. he apparently liked him a lot. his archive testified that one
of the things litvinenko was doing using his russian security services was to obtain or bye bye other means information in chechnya against chechen -- and litvinenko was providing this information to these people to the chechen terrorists. now's stark high f. disgusted in an information away. he is not passing judgment but of course it sounded like by the standards of the russian security service could decide to go after him but they don't see any other reasons. again this is one of those mysteries where we are assuming that we know the answer. several years later we still not now. >> guest: it's obviously had a
bad effect on british russian relations but you know it hasn't had that much effect on russia's relations with other countries including the united states because the united states actually with the exception of another chechen separatist leader and united states we have been given asylum to that many chechens except for and of course we come back to the boston bombings of some formerly lower profile people but it hasn't been an issue if united states. >> host: the reason i asked you about litvinenko in addition to the unsolved mysteries is because you talk in your look about opportunities and one thing you mentioned is of course terrorism. when i was thinking about terrorism i was thinking about
two results in history and one was 9/11 and as you know at that time before september 11 the russian government specifically prime minister putin, he was not yet president for proposing the u.s. government to close the declaration against taliban. it was dismissed by the clinton administration because we are defeated russia as an imperial power and their influence in central asia so it looked almost like a trick. russia was talking about a declaration against al qaeda and taliban but in fact to become more relevant in central asia. i have no idea what would happen if putin at that time was taken more seriously. i would be interested in your view and then the boston marathon. the russian security service
approached talking about the tsarnaev brothers. i talked to officials here and they talk to security council officials in moscow. explain to me what has happened. the russians have divided some information that this information was incomplete and insufficient. people here because this information was insufficient did not want to be manipulated by russian security services against people who came as political refugees from russia. the chechens who were escaping russia execution and the result was the russians were told it was not -- the question is do you believe that we could save american lives by having a closer relationship on
counterterrorism and this is something that clearly is achievable in the russian environment? >> guest: you raise an important question but of course the problem of counterterrorism cooperation goes back to chechnya. in the beginning when you have the first war in chechnya the clinton administration the beginning remember president clinton said this is like abraham lincoln trying to save the united states trying to save the union and then as the war progressed it became more riddle there was much more pressure in the united states to take a different stance to what was happening in chechnya and focus on human rights issues and the way up the russian army was conducting itself in chechnya. you are quite right and we also have the offended where the man who became the number two and al qaeda solitary he and others were in dagestan trying to get to chechnya earlier on and the russians pick them up and help
him but they didn't have enough evidence about him and i don't think they consulted the u.s. about this so they let him go and he went back to afghanistan and we know what happened on 9/11. putin was warning the united states about these dangers in the united states didn't take them seriously enough. obviously from the russian perspective than just did this of russia's own problem in the north caucasus. the issue again has been that the united states has been reluctant to classify many of these fundamentalists terrorists and chechnya in the same way that it classifies al qaeda operatives because of these other issues that surround it. now, the counter terrorism cooperation did work in the fall of 2001. there we were and president bush certainly endorse the russian view. we are now talking there was a second chechen war that happened shortly after putin became prime
minister but for a rather short period there were certainly alignments on this and working together in russia gave us information about some of the people in afghanistan that enabled the nato effort to succeed at least in the fall of 2001. then the situation and went back to the status quo where we focused a lot more on what was happening in the north caucasus. he began to believe that when russia talks about terrorism it only for film albums in the north caucasus indifference he terrorism in the same way we do is a global threat and i think that is continued. i think your characterization of what happened with the tsarnaev brothers is completely correct too. we did have information from russia. the russian side said had he listened to us earlier maybe wouldn't have given these people asylum. some of this works sometimes. it's a limited partnership and
the cooperation on terrorism is limited. i don't know whether we could have prevented 9/11. i think that's a much bigger question but we have been in cooperation with russia because of these different views about what's happening in the north caucasus and what if you like is a justifiable repression of russia itself. we are preoccupied and syria is the great humanitarian but it would not lead to the major powers. iran is clearly different.
iran is responding in a friday of ways and it is very serious. how does russia view american policy and what is it doing and what can we expect them to do? >> guest: things have improved in the u.s. russian relationships. we have a problem in the 1990s with russia going in and taking over the compact. ..