tv Discussion on Russian Foreign and National Security Policy CSPAN October 5, 2015 10:00am-11:31am EDT
have come before the court before and are likely to come up again. that story is in usa today. that is going to do it on today's show for the "washington journal," but you can join us 7:00 a.m.orning at eastern, 4:00 a.m. pacific. we will take you live to a discussion on russian national security policy going on now. event grew out of a project that cliff and i undertook, which was trying to get at the question of what russia's long-term security choices would be, and in some sense, how our policy would impact russia in making his choice.
russia apart from this is hard to do that point, given the way the former kgb agent has come to dominate the political space. i'm doing a little bit of introduction here by showing tell, and i think many of you have already seen this book, mr. putin: -- " mr. operative in the kremlin." author is also a professor of the economy and health to understand the legacy of the soviet militaristic economy for post-soviet russia. he has written many other great oaks over the years as well, and russia'sle called "
virtual economy," which is very important in understanding this topic. steve pifer has also written about these topics. i had the opportunity to talk about -- to help out a little bit with this book, but it was his brainchild in most ways. and it was steve requesting his previous work in the arms control space where his foreign service was spent, but he was also the ambassador to ukraine. as u.s. and russia's arms control has declined in recent years, he has focused on the crises in eastern and central europe. and in a spirit of showing tell, i will also plug shamelessly my legs book -- my latest book, which is called the "future of land warfare" not that i'm
predicting we will have to fight such a thing, but like many of you, i'm more worried about it than i was a couple of years ago and we may have to shore of deterrence for possible problems with russia. they's topic was on starting point of what is inherent in the national russian psyche and to what extent we can define possible paradigms and explain them in russian history, russian politics, and again, try to determine which way the russians eight may be headed, and the degree to which we might influence that, how we might try to influence. i will and the floor to my co-author on article that i was referring to, cliff gaddy. we were trying to think 10 years down the road where we hope mr. putin will finally be taking his
leave from the political stage, but he may try to stay another decade and there is the real possibility that he might try. and there is the question to which -- to what extent the russian population is really inherently with him and to what extent it could go a different direction. cliff turning it over to who will explain a couple of frameworks that he and i developed, and steve will comment on his take on those and where russia might be headed, let me explain the five main weadigms of concept that think russia may consider as it defined its longer-term national security policy, getting up the issue of what really drives russian full policy and national security thinking. -- foreign policy and national security thinking. we developed eight, but there were three we thought pretty unlikely.
and even of the five we are going to put before you today, the first one is going to sound very unlikely. remember, we are going to try to think beyond putin. the first one we define as a pro-western russia. this is not a russia that is all warm and fuzzy in its feelings the dooror knocking on of nato trying to join necessarily. but going back to the feelings we sometimes had in the yeltsin years, for example. and as there is the notion of what we call a minimalist russia, this is the russia that decides to might its own business in the national security realm and focus primarily on economic development. obviously russia, with its huge landmass and resources, northerly climate, which may actually become more conducive to agriculture as the planet warms, and many other things about basic economic character, it could in theory decide to
exercise economic development, which of course would be desirable in many ways. we describe this russia as a minimalist russia, not interested in throwing its weight around the national security realm. the third concept, and the centerpiece of the article and i'm sure one that cliff will talk about a little as he develops these frameworks in more detail, we call it a reaganoff russia. we are trying to develop the notion of reagan, but let me get a little more specific before cliff gets into the concept more in detail. we mean russia that is patriotic, the defense east -- the defense industry is helping to spur economic growth, and ideally, it doesn't use its military a lot. if you think of the theory of ronald reagan in the u.s., he won the cold war without firing a shot, and he didn't around much of the world either. to the extent that russia could be proud, patriotic, somewhat restrained in its use of military power, this may or may
optionthe worst possible we could imagine. and we describe that as a reaganoff paradigm. is a besieged 1 russia that is angry at the world and looking to lash out. and the final one is russia trying to influence as much as possible, and especially in areas where russian speakers exist around the world. the last two exist of -- last two are more the way putin is acting recently. here and now being over to my good friend, cliff gaddy. cliff: first of all, thank you for coming. it is good to see such a big group, and a lot of people i have not seen for a while. it is good to see old friends. it's always a pleasure to see
you. i want to thank steve also for taking his time. as mike said, he is an expert on everything these days in the news. it is valuable for us that he can spare this hour and a half to be with us, so we appreciate. i especially want to thank mike. he said that this article on russia was our joint. mike is modest as usual, and he columnist rules and as the primary author, but mike was the brains behind it. he said i've been here a long time, but he's been at brookings along time, to and we have in the past worked on things together, and has been a long time, and working with on this mike iseshing i think described as an expert on every issue in form policy, but he is not really an expert on russia,
and that turned out to be, for herencredibly refreshing, is michael hammond, an expert on security issues and most notably on budgets and actual capacity.ly -- actual here he is with russia and he may not know everything, but he is able to step back from the narrow blinder view that a likelled expert on russia myself might have, but ask some fundamental questions about its culture, its history, and as he said, even its geography and security challenges, but also its constraints. the same way you would look at of ailitary capability country like the united states or nato. i hope that is what comes across as you take the time to read this very short article. i mean, it is very brief and telegraphic almost. keep in mind the notion of
realities. ,here is a reality constraint no matter what is happening in russia today and no matter what president putin is up to. there is a reality constraint and it will be there in the future and it is perhaps most important of all that we keep those things in mind. -- as he said, we started with a playoff system worked from eight down to five and then maybe 22. -- then maybe to two. and mike mentioned the reaganoff option. implying that we will act like the united states under my -- honored ronald reagan -- under ronald reagan. it means a large military force with lots of shiny new weapons and you boast about them
and occasionally throw them out there in the world a little bit, but that is not what it is about. it is not building up a military for the purpose of extending and power and domain influence. it has a strong dimension in the u.s. about reviving pride in the country and patriotism, and so forth. this is what we would mean in the russian context. that is what we say might be one of the potential outcomes. the other one is not that different. the other one that we said would kind of be likely is a somewhat more aggressive russia. we call it the deceased russia. -- besieged russia. both of them are about five or six on the scale. a utopia, they guys that don't want to hurt anybody in the world, like austria or switzerland or onebody, all the way to
that would want to invade asia. somehow it is most likely that the russia of the future, down the road 15 to 20 years, is going to end up in the middle there. that is an easy copout, you that say, but it is also the forces of realism, economic and political reality, we think will compel a kind of consensus with offender towns with some volatility to move in that direction. -- with ups and downs with some volatility to move in that direction. the paper itself is telegraphic. it would still be more difficult for me to go into a lot more detail. so it is in there. the other thing i would like to talk about are not the other "finalists" that we came to, the optionsrious reaganoff
where russia has a lot of weapons, but does not use them frequently, one that was not in there was the minimalist russia. like mike said, this minimalist russia would be driven more by the considerations of the economic realities for a country like russia, and realize that of what you can spin on the military because you're damaging your economic strength. -- that you can spend on the military because you're damaging your economic strength. and if you think the competition will be in the global arena, you can focus on that and justify the emphasis on backing off of it from the global activism and concentrate on your own economy because your military strength depends on the strength of your economy. and if your economy is not wrong, you will not be able to realize these. it could be a mixture of the two. the reason i want to concentrate
on this minimalist option a little bit is because i think maybe it is unknown, or maybe not familiar to you that there is actually debate within russia, a pretty vigorous debate, really, as usual behind the scenes and among the elite. of course, that is all really that counts there. amidst this, russia is actually quite strong. i don't think the pure minimalist variant, a variant in andh russia concentrated was satisfied with having its nuclear forces above all, providing the adequate protection and security that it needs, that it would back off of the political sphere and concentrate on reforming and developing its economy. this is a group in russia that is led by the technocrats, the iberal economists, some of
whom were most active in the 1990's and by business elites. they recognize, interestingly enough, this is not a utopian vision. ignore the political realities. if we think about the reaganoff version being more attuned to the political realities, the culture of the russian mind, the desire for patriotism, nationalism, national pride, also by the way, attuned to the political domestic realities in russia, because you build up a big military and produce a lot of stuff. are means factories cranking out tanks and everything else and providing jobs for people, therefore maintaining the social political peace within russia. i have always argued that is probably the more important reason for having the big defense industry program that russia has, keep the jobs out there in the heartland.
but minimalist russia, concentrating more on the economic constraints, is also into with this political reality. are patriots and they have always stressed that. they call themselves enlightened patriots, and they do not question the need for russia to defend itself. they do not even question the fact that russia is threatened by the outside world. their argument tends to be that it is counterproductive for us to overextend ourselves with military spending and foreign adventures and we have to concentrate above all on getting our own house in order, our own economy in order. it is tempering, if you like, that group, whether or not they actually -- and i don't think they will fully implement their version of what russia's future
security will be like. i think they will always be tempering the more extreme versions, those that we have rejected about being too aggressive and expansionist, as well as the others that we might think would be more likely. i think this is important to realize, the notion i began, realism inserting itself particularly in russian history. this is a pattern in history. more than 100 years ago after the russian fiasco in the japanese war in 1905, the prime , a persont the time that putin has said is one of his heroes, he wrote a letter to the commander and chief of the them --army and he told him, it would be smart if russia would go ahead and learn from the lessons of this war and acknowledge that it is actually a second-rate power. it should stop trying to pretend
like it is a first-rate power and five for a global leadership position and instead should concentrate on getting its own house in order. he wrote literally "we need to begin a new active phase of our national life, a phase of sensible construction. we need about 20 to 25 years in which we should concentrate on our own affairs and back off of international relations." a pretty interesting quote. obviously, it did not happen and other things intervened in those 20 to 25 years. this was neither the first nor the last of very prominent russian figures to adopt that that,f sober realism again, had an influence on policy even if it never completely dominated, or if so, only for a brief time. go back further, and there were zars.ers close to c
these were realists who said, if we don't get our arms system in order, we will not be able to play a good -- a role globally. and above all, this breeding space.- breathing stalin was at one point thinking this himself. at least 10 years, others were thinking 20 to 25 years. we can focus on our own affairs. one famous minister said, give calm ande a time of abroad you will not recognize russia. this is abandoning the ultimate aspiration of russia's role as a great civilization and great force -- this is not abandoning the ultimate aspiration of russia's role as a great civilization and great force, but acknowledging that if you push too hard and to aggressively and overspend, you will undermine your own
position. this is part of the minimalist creed that i think is important. and my final point is, don't dismiss even changes in vladimir putin. he may remain in power, as mike , the end of a24 possible second term as president. but remember, he came into office in 2000 with a kind of variance of this minimalist creed, at least the idea of thinging space -- brea space, and he has always had people with influence on him, at least people to whom he listened, of this idea. voiced to him, it is anchored in those liberal technocrats and economists. a longtime associate and former finance minister who still has
others have and said this. they issued a report in which they literally said, "it may be a good thing that we got booted -- after the crimea thing -- because it then forces us to recognize that we are not in the premier league of international politics." they have been relegated back to where, essentially russia belongs, global divisions like in soccer terms. using,the way, they are of all people, dmitry medvedev again, guy that nobody even remembers anymore, even within russia it seems. medvedev made a big manifesto to himself a couple of weeks ago and it attracted a lot of mocking comments in social media.
but he said the same thing that these guys are saying. and we have to assume not that player, is a serious but that -- back to my point, these scenarios are alive and and we should always keep them in mind. all options, in a way, are open. that is why i hope this little paper that we wrote can be a begin toline as people think forward. i mean, obviously, track current events, but think forward five to 15 years in which our as we talk our side about responding with our own military planning, we can take this into account. we have a little scorecard and an outline, and it is like at a ballgame. you have to fill in the scorecard. but it is a handy way to think about these issues.
--micheal: thank you. i will focus on the minimalist russia, the reaganoff russia and the besieged russia. if you had to rate the odds of each of those being the most influential paradigm in a decade -- notia based on what only on what you are seeing putin do, but what you see within the relationship between ,he united states and russia which of those you see? it is hard to say. it is the story of the interaction of these three you could say. -- weminimalist russia also put this in budgetary terms.
a muscular russia, a big spending muscular russia who would spend between $100 billion --to $150 billion a year nobody spends more than the u.s. but it puts them ahead of all of the other european powers. minimalist russia asng much smaller, maybe little as $50 billion a year, arguing that a minimalist russia, the kind of defense that would be needed to focus on the nuclear, russia would maintain its parity with the u.s. in nuclear, and it russian forces. -- it's special forces. this is the new game in russia that i do not think they are going to focus on. take -- i don't know
that anybody knows the real number of their special forces these days, a relative handful, 2000, the thousand. well-equipped and can get a lot done. that shows these things bleeding together is that we may see in the papers that putin is more besieged. -- first, ite depends on what you think putin's intentions are with both .kraine and syria now i think it can be interpreted in that they are kind of bluffs. puffre kind of trying to
yourself up like a peacock to get recognition and a place at the table, the respect that you obviously did not get until the 1990's and have not gotten until now, so we're going to act tough. and notjust talk tough just with the intention of expanding the empire. and in a way to almost fit into -- andnoff version again, this is the russian version of a reaganoff version. he is russian, so he will do it in a more aggressive way. but still, the idea of trying to reconquer the soviet union. and is still in putin's, think i'm a those around them, whether they succeed him or not, concernedre very much about russia's economic strength and role in the global economy.
they don't have the illusion that russia can cut itself off from the global economy. they couldn't possibly go for some of these more hardline unless events push them toward that. i do suggest the economic reality being the foremost minimalist version and the political reality being the russia,f or besieged these three in the middle, and they are kind of tempering each other. you will never get exterior middle must version, but i don't -- a pure minimalist version, but i don't think you will get a peer all caps strain to the wind all constraints to the wind scenario either. willnk all three of these work together instead of pulling in one direction. free to comment
and layout your own view of russia's future. sure, and thanks, mike. i think this article does a really good job of what you can fiverom russia in the next to 15 years. and it is important to look beyond vladimir putin. if you look beyond the russian constitution, which he did in 2008, by stepping down and becoming premise or, he will be there until 2024 at the latest. who will come after him? in terms of looking at the russian model of security future, it is likely that the person that comes in after putin will look a lot more like putin then he will look like a gorbachev 2.0.
i think mike and cliff have done a good job of ruling out the less likely paradigms and just focusing on three. i will talk briefly about those three and offer some comments and implications and constraints. -- and i think you are right, there is a debate going on about this moon -- this minimalism. and he used the phrase "sober realism." i hope you're right, because from an american security interest, that is the best russia to deal with. but it does require some change in thinking at the top, specifically mr. putin concluding that russia's future will be based not so much on its even in the national stage geopolitically, but focusing on what is going on at home and deciding to make changes to bring a more free market economy. i'm not sure how likely that paradigm is. of the two remaining ones, the
one that is most in the american interest, certainly better than the besieged russia, if you look , it is arussia is now russia that is driven by both foreign and security policy goals, but domestic policy influence. in the last several years, the play putin has made for russian russia is back on the world stage -- we matter -- is heart of it. it seems to be driven by a large sense of grievance. if you look at the way putin and others the kremlin talk, it's driven with grievance against the west. at large with the objective of hemming in russia. revolution, the arab spring -- these were not manifestations of locals unhappy with the government, these were
planned and instigated by the cia and western european services targeted at russia. 's collapse --on that was somehow started in the west. there's not a good basis for that, but when you look at what mr. putin says, he says it so much that he appears to believe this. that is the narrative they are selling to the russian people and what is accepted as a far more intense propaganda campaign domestically than you have seen even in soviet times. that is the kind of russia we have to deal with now. the article outlines to russia's -- a muscular russia that tries to have nuclear forces at the base but the full spectrum. also conventional forces. of rush of kind russia mr. putin in the kremlin aspire to. it's not just nuclear forces and special operation forces, they are talking about revitalizing
the russian fleet, going out into the world's oceans in a way it hasn't done for the last 20 years. goal.s the aspirational the big question is whether they are able to achieve that. they fall back to the model which i think you describe as the porcupine russia. it does not have the full spectrum of capabilities and that is largely determined by economics. that kind of russia, either or the porcupine russia will require more attention from the united states. we should be thinking about russia now in geopolitical terms and military terms in a different way than was the case three or four years ago because we have seen russia asserting itself and using military force in a way that three or four years ago most did not think the russians would do. recognizeportant to
there are seven significant constraints on what russia can do. sustain all, can russia the accelerated level of defense spending we have seen over the last six or seven years at a economy ishe russian suffering because of the price of oil and western economic sanctions are having an impact and the russians passed up some opportunities in the last five economy thatrm the might have made it reform and a better way. second, can the russian defense industrial base perform in a way it wants? this is probably one of the more corrupt sectors of the russian economy. can they deliver high-tech goods, particularly when they are now sanctioned in terms of what the west is doing is blocking the pipeline to the russian defense industry. and in some cases, there are huge holes.
there was an article that said russia is considering three brand-new frigates under construction because they have no engines. the engines were gas turbine engines built in ukraine and ukraine's as we are not going to provide those engines. there are dependencies russia has on ukraine that the defense industrial base may have a hard time holding. can russia match the western high-technology? some analysts say it's not an issue of whether russia can close the gap, but can russia increase the gap from going -- from growing. the russians about three years ago with great fanfare unveiled t 55 fighter, their fifth generation fighter. it's the equivalent of the f-22. the f 22 has been deployed for more than 10 years. but you had a deputy minister of defense saying they will reduce the buy of this to 12 aircraft
in the next five or six years. that does not suggest that fighter is working in the way they want or can afford. example of limitations on high-tech -- if you look at russian air actions in syria over the last five or six days, it seems they are dropping lots of dumb bombs and not many precision guided weapons. whereas in the u.s., virtually everything the u.s. drops, and sometimes they hit the wrong target, but it is precision guided weapons. there are some limitations. the limitation is demographics. in 2017, the number of russian turn age for military service will be half of what it was in 2006. that is a limitation if you want a big army. you have an army in russia that is largely dependent on conscripts.
they get one-year training and are out. most western militaries would consider the level of performance someone with just one year in the army can achieve, particularly if you are aspiring toward a modern and high-tech army is limited. the other constraint we can see is due the russians make mistakes that get them into difficult situations? their supportt for the separatists in ukraine was a mistake and i think we see them inserting themselves into a bigger mistake in syria. these constraints don't mean we don't have to worry about russia . but in terms of the adjustments we make to our own thinking and military policy, we can be smart. strategic nuclear forces -- the article makes clear that's going to be the foundation for russian security. if they have to cut back defense
spending, they will have to building or to modernizing their strategic forces. i don't think we have to worry a lot about that. a lot of what the russians are doing are replacing old missiles and bombers that they would and should have replaced 5, 7, 10 years ago. but in the 1990's, they had no money to do it. in the current modernization program that goes out to 2021, russia is going to buy for intercontinental ballistic missiles. that sounds like a lot but that's the number they need to , the older missiles ballistic missiles, that are going to come out of the force at the same time. i don't worry that much as long as to conditions apply. one is we continue to observe the limitations in the arms reduction treaty. second, the united states goes
toward with the steps to modernize its own forces which are being planned out and we see take effect in 2020. one i tend to worry about gets into the doctrinal question and is a violation of the treaty on nuclear missiles. a different approach. we look at those weapons and there's no advantage. it's a signaling purpose. forces, thenal united states should be thinking more seriously about it in europe -- looking to maintain conventional hedges in the qualitative hedge. things like precision guided
munitions, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, we want to maintain. i would argue in deterring and that it probably would be smart for the native and military presence there. not talking about anything large. the united states has resisted .otational deployments if nato could take that up to 300 or 600 light infantry, that would be useful in terms of deterring russia and in terms of assuring those states. if it was light infantry, it would not be a huge offensive threat to the russians. whatever paradigm the russians and that choosing, it's well within the capacity of the united states and nato. you are looking at countries that marshall economies 15 times the size of russia.
having said that, russia is now in the besieged paradigm. but does that mean as far as implications for syria? some cooperation is possible, but it is going to be limited. this challenge being set up between the u.s. military and russian military makes a lot of sense. you have those military forces operating in close proximity. the point was highlighted over the weekend when the russian military flew into turkish out bye and was escorted f-16s from the turkish air pet -- turkish air force. i want to be skeptical about broader cooperation because it seems there are a couple of big obstacles. one is washington and moscow does not agree with what happens with assad during the transition
. russia supports assad and the united states and other european countries, saudi arabia and the gulf believe, rightfully mind you, that any transition has to include the departure of assad from power. that is a big obstacle. a second obstacle that has become clear is we may not be fighting the same things in syria. beenmilitary action has directed at the islamic state and isis. on wednesday, when the federal council was asked to rubberstamp russia lost use of force, that took place after the russian air force in syria has received its marching orders. but the head of the presidential administration has said our role is exclusively to end islamic state. the next day, they said islamic state and extremists. extremists is a really broad word when used in russia. if you take part of a peaceful
demonstration in russia and hold a ukrainian flag, you can be charged with extremism. on thursday in new york, the foreign minister made an interesting comment. he says of his looks like a terrorist, if it asked like a terrorist and fight like a terrorist, it is a terrorist. based on what we have seen, the russians are not dropping many bombs on isis. they are conducting military activity designed to support assad's regime and target groups including those we would consider moderate opposition groups. said.d amend what he what we have seen if it looks like a terrorist, fights like a terrorist, or if we, russia, choose to bomb it, it is a terrorist by definition. that's a problem. we are going after different things and different objectives that will make things
complicated. specific implication of what the russians have done is it seems to me there has been an option talked about from time to time, should the united states and west impose a no-fly zone over syria? difficult,w become if not impossibly difficult. if you are going to do a no-fly zone, you have to be prepared to shoot down an offending aircraft. russian aircraft is going to be something very different, so my guess is that is now off the table. we can come back to syria or anything else you wish in the second time. let me add one more clarifying comment on how we have developed some of these options. you have heard cliff refer to russia spending $150 billion a
year on its military rather than $50 billion. it is being to relatively extreme choices along a spectrum we would consider plausible. steve talked about a porcupine russia or muscular russia. i know we are throwing a number of terms that you that may or may not be useful. the porcupine russia, the nuclear first, special forces first response more to this $50 billion a year entity in terms of russia plus military where russia spends as much as the larger european nations each spend on their military. the $150 billion a year russian military budget by contrast is the muscular russia. that is the one that puts russia into the number three spot, the clear bronze medal spot internationally in terms of its overall military budget.
either way, it's going to be star i -- going to be tied for the gold medal in terms of nuclear force. the $150 billion a year russia would still be less than china's budget but much more than any other country. to tellld allow russia itself in the world the story of being the great eurasian land power. i just wanted to tie some of those pieces together. my question for steve, going back to besieged russia. thate have made arguments there are two more dangerous russia's honor spectrum. one is the greater russia, where putin or a future leader could aspire to control most of the areas in the world where russian speakers live today. this would include parts of latvia and estonia, parts of the central asian republics. that is a pretty dangerous russia's anyone wants to go there.
then there is the brezhnev russia which is any soviet ally should be right back into moscow's orbit. does that include the eastern half of germany? michael: there is some play in those words. do you worry that putin may opportunistically try to annex conflicts inzen places like the eastern baltics where there have been russian speakers historically? steven: that is a really good question. i think it would be unwise for nato not to think about the greater russia. i worry could you see a little green man scenario in latvia or estonia. in each of those countries, the population is about 25% ethnic russian. i don't do gets a high probability, but it's not zero. four years ago, i would have
said it was zero. doing things to beef up nato presence in the baltic states is basically to deter that kind of scenario. i read the article, at the end of the day, i probably do discount the greater russia model. when you look at re-occupying russia has a unique and questionable right -- they claim the right to defend russian speakers wherever they are and whatever their citizenship. said the people in brighton beach ought to be worried about that. the russian economy has to subsidize them. russia, they are not enthusiastic about that. when you watch the ukraine case,
within a month after russian special forces without insignia called little green men by the ukrainians seized crimea. there is a history there -- 60% of the population is ethnic russian. russia initially colonized crimea, it was intended to be the home port for the russian black sea free -- black sea fleet. evening -- uc knows the just checking out of moscow that they want to annex that part of eastern ukraine. even setting aside the huge damage that has been done through the 18 months of conflict that they russians and russian separatists instigated then, that before was going to be an area requiring subsidies. my guess is the economic argument is a big constraint on those who want to build a great
russia because they don't want to go back to the model that was the norm during soviet times holdingssia was stuck all the other pieces of the soviet empire. go to you?y don't we please wait for a microphone. if you have a question you want to target toward one person, please say that as well. >> thanks for a much to all three of you. a fascinating discussion. listened, i was thinking it seems to me possibly in error that what the two of you in your paper have considered is a realm of realistic options. some more realistic than others. , given putin,know
given ukraine, given syria, these five options are the one you have identified, the tool you focus on mostly. thinking, ifn your not for your paper, if in general, the assignment instead what does russia need placein order to regain a of similar stature in a 21st ?entury world -- i'veing about that been trying to inc. about -- i've been trying to think about the model in my head and i want to ask you about is whether or
russia is capable of, under any leadership, putin or otherwise, whether given its history and culture, is there any likelihood that instead of the more militaristic approach it is taking in ukraine could havehat it said to itself 10 years ago, we've got to get off the oil and economy, we need to grow our economy. the future is clearly in the realm of technology. we want to be -- we want to compete with the west in the realm of technology. i don't know if you want to call it the asian tiger model -- this is a thought experiment. it have been possible 10 years ago or is it possible now,
would be possible 10 years from this isrussia to say how we are going to do it, not with a larger a la terry, not with the model people have been seeing, but to really become a high-tech, 21st century, advanced manufacturing technology economy? do you want to take that? steven: there are -- clifford: there are just too many legacy problems. of veryy decades distorted economy -- it cannot just be undone by changing economic policy. even the best policy cannot undo
the physical changes in the economic structure and geographical changes you have with you. cities of a million people in more that are not all that viable of cities. regions that are underdeveloped or coal mining plants that supported a whole city of whatever. i had a textile mill that employed 10,000 evil and it's the most depressed place you can imagine. think if it were a million. if there were a dozen or more of those types of places, that's part of the problem. my point i have always made is to abandon the utopia idea. that's why i'm attracted to anyone in russia who talks in those terms. to've got a long way to go
get to the second level competitive area. that doesn't mean it's not a goal worth aspiring for. i do want to go into a long discussion, but it is recognizing pride in a country doesn't have to mean you are the most populist or have the most nuclear weapons. it can be because of your civilization and culture and that can be separated from the military and great power aspect of it. if you have the goals of becoming a great power, fine. work for it and see where the competition is these days. but none of that is happening in russia right now. there is an economic reality to it. i've talked about the economic utopianism in thinking russia can leap forward in a decade or two or three to the forefront and there is a political aspect
-- who is going to do this? the only say it but person who's going to reform the russian economy is going to be vladimir putin. interest, every populist force in russia, of which there are a lot are absolutely retrograde when it comes to progressive liberal economic policy. if you have more democracy, you have worse policy then you have now. you would have really bad economic policy. this is the debt, russia has and you have to scale back your expectations to think about the political and economic realities. that's the way we did it in the paper and that is the way we assume even the russian leadership has to do. everything steve has said about the constraints about russia being a powerful military might
that we need to fear is irrational. the russian economy and gdp is an order of magnitude smaller than only the united states. -- it's anto that fraction of its potential rival. japan was only 1/10 the size of the united states in world war ii. there's a way to concentrate and be nasty, those should not be ruled out, and we have tried to suggest that we need to hedge our bets -- it may be tiny but a really nasty russia that has as many nuclear weapons as we do and yet don't go overboard. russia is not the biggest threat the united states faces.
i don't know if you want to comment on that but i hope you will say something about ukraine's underlying potential. just as you look longer term, you were ambassador there and know a lot of ukrainians. part of the former soviet union and had a lot of the military, manufacturing and scientific capacity but has turned into a much poorer countries and even russia. ukraine has a lot of the same problems as russia in terms of overcoming the legacy of 70 years of communist rule. is i doy the difference think this leadership, which has flaws, they have a model for ukraine. it's moving toward a market economy. how do they overcome a debilitating effects of russia?
can they move past that? where ukraine has an easier challenge is ukraine does not have this aspiration to be a great power or even regional power. ukraine would like to be left alone. not just the ukrainian elite that increasingly, the ukrainian populace aspires to be a normal european state. like to be a member of the european union and probably understand the european union is going to be reluctant on that count. for the first time ever, you have a majority of ukrainians saying they would like to be a member of nato, which is not something that's going to happen for the foreseeable future.
but it is interesting that for the first time in 20 years, 50% of the ukrainian say we want to be in nato and being in another country will do that. ukraine does not have the aspirations you have in the kremlin to be a major player on the international stage. if you were designing a set of security paradigms, you could rule out the more ambitious and threatening ones. michael: let's take two at a time. one here on the fifth and sixth row. right here and behind. >> good afternoon and thank you for a very interesting discussion. on something that many people in this room are not
thinking about because it's not the hot news of the day. but in america's best -- in backyards, we've seen russian engagement. what do you think the goals are in latin america and what do you think russia might do over the next 10 years in latin america? you could hannah microphone to the woman behind you. usaid ukraine. you have presented three rational, value free models of what might happen in russia, but it is something you have only barely alluded to. fact that russia is a major clip talker see. economy, theo the
drive of many of those in power, it would seem would be to enrich themselves. unlike free to comment on where that could be part of the picture. as far as the club talker seek -- to the extent corruption reduces the amount of defenses in the russian industry to build up power, i can live with that. on where russia is going in latin america, i tend to put it isn the category of mischiefmaking. it is designed to tweak us. 1991 until about 2006, the russian navy was not going to cuba or venezuela. that was basically because they did not have the money to go that far. 2006, you had greater flows that and devoted to their
military, you could see the resumption of flights going down into latin america. was new if you are looking back to 1991. i would look at it as mischiefmaking and part of it is tit for tat. the russians are unhappy about the fact that the american navy enters the black sea, visits georgia and ukraine. they see that as in their backyard. those countries don't want to be seen as being in russia's backyard. it is designed to be an irritant. knew watchnly russian aircraft when they fly by, but they don't worry about it. the russian press sees this as a big deal. our aircraft fly along the east coast and fly around nato
countries. -- you see these reports that they are escorted by american fighters -- it's kind of a weird article. broadcasting or bragging about the fact you are flying bombers and being escorted. think teeingi know escorted by someone else's fighter is a bad thing. clifford: a good response because i don't think russia has the soft power capability or hard power capability to represent any particular concern to us. it is tit for tat, mischiefmaking. club talker's he, though i don't think it's a popular thing to explain -- that talker see ruled by thieves.
a good think it is explanation for russian motives or the leadership. it doesn't make sense to me. book --efer you to the what motivates people and what the concerns are -- this is perhaps part of the reason -- corruption is extremely important in russia. it's not that talker for -- not club talker see. it's literally used as a means of control, especially over those within economic interest to the oligarchs. a mafia style thing. you get people to commit crimes, you have control over them. i will go any further because it is all in the book. two more questions. here and then the next round, we will go further back. >> i'm from the international energy partnership.
i have two projects on hold in the ukraine. what i would like to hear is is heo you think -- putin's mouthpiece? >> i'm from george washington university. goingdo you see russia ?ith their annexation of crimea is it connected with this last coal? --you see them using that maybe newly found patriotism? where do you see them going with that? i have been there a few
times and you may know on the ukraine issue, i have a position that is slightly more tolerable in the russian space which means rt treats me a little better than some americans, but at some of the most challenging media experience you could ever want to have because there's a strong it is consistent with putin's worldview. getting through? are you being the operative -- are you given the opportunity to express disagreement or is there a trampling out of that? i'm talking about maybe doing a show later in the week. it is always tough. if they let me finish my sentences, it still worth it, but again, you are
being pushed. the other american guests on the show and other guests internationally usually have the view that seems consistent with putin's world view. steven: i do not think rt is a serious media outlet. ofhink it's a propaganda arm the kremlin. very serious and insightful person. i think he confers credibility on that channel because most of the people i watch when i turn -- they are there experts on russia and i think i've never heard of that person. gives them a little
more credibility than they deserve. on the question of crimea, the annexation was popular in russia. ukrainehe only part of where you had ethnic russians in the majority. this long historical association with russia -- was part of the and the wayration it was taken over by the little -- i think that's the way the kremlin refers to them -- it was bloodless because they made a decision not to oppose it. addition to the russian sailors and service people, there are 8000 or 10,000 military that state in garrisons and did not oppose. if you fight a six-day campaign,
you don't use a lot of military. has wideure it implications. the evidence is overwhelming. if you don't believe the united states, nato or the ukrainians, haveok at social media you ukrainians and russian soldiers posting pictures that establish the russian military in eastern ukraine. he have graham phillips whose reporter widely seen as pro-russian that has a story about the fighting on the border between occupied don boskin the rest of the ukraine. are three tanks rolling by. the separatists are saying we get our heavy equipment -- they have reactive armor and gun
sites that have never been in havekrainian military that never been exported from russia. these tanks only came from russia. missile launcher that has only been in the russian military. the interesting thing is the kremlin, to this day, denies there's any russian military presence in eastern ukraine. that shows there is no positive gain trying to grab additional territory or even involvement in eastern ukraine. clifford: rt -- i think mike's response was a good one. it is how we as scholars react to the media. no question it is the propaganda arm of the kremlin.
there's all kinds of state run media all over the world and we do interviews with them. i think l comes down to what you as an individual feel as a journalist and their integrity, but also those who run the show. i've had situations -- i don't do interviews anymore with rt or any russian media, especially when i know what the context is. i've given really nice interviews and they let me talk forever and i got my point across. then, when it was broadcast, they took pieces of what i had said in a totally different context to support something else. i have to say this happens in the u.s. also. what you do then is they are on my blacklist. folder of bad people and i'm not going to deal with them anymore.
is they are so blatantly so and it's not enough that you don't like the journalist. some of them are quite good people but you just can't trust what they are saying and doing will not be exploited. i can see steve's point of view .bout even appearing on rt now even if you think they are accurately portraying what you said -- i don't think anybody has ever told us do or don't appear for any media. michael: the shows i have done have been live which hopefully reduces the potential for monkey business. part of what i tried to do is be about differences with president putin and remind the russian viewer of why there should be a basis for
u.s.-russian collaboration. nonetheless, i will try to thank the russians for letting us go through the northern distribution network or how we collaborated on policy to remind people we have a basis of cooperation. if they could stop inventing crises in other parts of the world, maybe we could get back to that. whether that is of any utility or not, i don't know. row and in theth derailment on the outside. >> i am from afghanistan and my question relates to their recent happenings in afghanistan where the role -- were the war is shifting from the southern borders to the northern borders close to central asia. one narrative/conspiracy theory would be after russia policy
annexation of crimea, that the foot andon the back this was sort of a response where the united states and nato allies are allowing this shift in geography where the taliban and haveis is there somewhat destabilized central asia by being based there. fall was one of the indications come so i would be interested in hearing your thoughts on that. would such a thing be plausible? do you see a logic in that sort of narrative? >> i am from egypt. about syria and
airstrikes against russia. -- egypt is an ally to u.s. but they support russia and this is the official stance of egypt now. i saw on al jazeera that they are saying it is because u.s. -- that is why the -- that is why russia is filling the gap. what do you think of the russian role in the middle east after what they are doing in syria? i will take a third round and everyone can take their pick to what they answer.
you were talking earlier about the differences between the two rushes -- in 10 or 20 years from now if in the u.s. we are observing this, we may not be able to tell different between the two. would see ite u.s. as one and interpreted as the other and we would miss calculate and force some type of goesontation where russia into a bit siege even know they did not want to. is there a way to avoid that? how can we as american observers be able to tell the difference between the two? michael: that is a good question. one thing we asked was thinking
of these possible russian futures. steve, would you like to start? steven: russian motivations in syria -- there are several motivations. one is russia wants to support assad. that is because if you are sitting in moscow, you don't have many international allies and assad is one of them. to the extent your model is you are worried about color revolution, is this seen as a western inspired plot to bring down the country? i actually have some empathy for the russians -- they have asked the question if assad goes, what comes after? don't have a good answer for that and that is not reassuring to russia. calculate -- i would
not say that they are withdrawing, but trying to reduce its footprint. see an opportunity to increase their presence and syria is the only entry point they have. brief comment on reagan that's more in afghanistan question than a russia question. this is where i see besieged is a better model. 1983 when the to embassy was bombed in beirut and you had the horrible attack that killed 200 plus american marines, president reagan made the decision that this is not worth it. we basically backed down. sure vladimir putin
would do that and this is the risk to russia and syria -- while i'm sure they are taking the necessary steps, my guess is with the current numbers, it is force protection. what happens if isis or another opposition group announces an attack and exceeds and there are russian casualties? i don't think putin does a this is worths it. events he doubles down may drive them because of the way mr. putin looks at the world to a deeper and much more expensive and costly involvement than they originally anticipated. clifford: i want to link a the idea that russia in the question
of distinguishing these two scenarios -- and similar enough on the surface could be confused. the big military is mainly for other offor purposes conquering territory or other people and the other one which is doing that. maybe the same size military. with a different motivation and mentality. i'm going to come back to something i said before. think it is at least possible some verybout blatantly aggressive over actions on the part of the
russians now or in the future that are not designed to achieve what everybody is claiming -- that they want to take over the mideast or establish a stronghold in the mideast or the united states as a new international order or leadership or start a new cold war and challenge the u.s. leadership. rather, is it possible that what is going on, including crimea and including syria are these bluffed like demonstrations of we are big, we are back and you have to listen to us now. timey to tell you all the that you can't make these theirons about nations, leaders and regime change without thinking about the consequences and how it might
impact someone else. in a case of syria, here's what happens when a country goes around and does something without worrying about the other guy -- how do you like it? with russiall stuck is going to screw us up in the mideast. it is basically that message. commit not intending to big forces to syria. russia cannot save a sod or defeat faisal. there's nothing the russians can do in my opinion that we have failed to do. all they can do is make people think that and get worried about it. crimea, a nice, quick operation. , if you miss calculate,
ukraine, that's a different story. is important -- context,agan off you're trying to do things that give people the impression you have a list power -- the potential for miscalculation and --perception that's misperception -- that is a demonstration. we didn't mean to conquer half of ukraine. risk.s a real to avoid?e do is there anything we can do to avoid these misperceptions? steven: i agree with a very important point cliff just made -- where is the silver bullet? that the u.s. military has not been able to apply?
that seems to me the whole risk of this venture -- if they cannot predict success and i think most people think they are going to fail, they are starting on a voyage doomed from the start and that is where i think it is potentially a big risk. they are just trying to force us to act. they don't want us to succeed in syria. they willntion is never push it to that point. be trappeduld easily in a situation where it didn't work and they have to go a little further. the putin mentality is not to give up in a fight. story about him learning the lessons of life, and one of which is if you start a fight, don't ever back down. whether he sticks to that or not, it's a dangerous mentality.
on syria, i think there is a decent chance that he will help a sod survive and he will l ands at least contain isi he will say that's what he's doing. a sod has fought to a stalemate for four and a half years but seems to be slipping. he has a manpower shortage in his army and has lost a couple of areas. i think russia's going to concentrate on taking off those areas and concentrate his rule in those parts of the country. in a sense, their goals are less ambitious than ours, so they may be able to achieve them. going to the final question that was hosed -- a very interesting question. i would love to have a pro-western russia or even a minimalist russia. i will happily tolerate the , which is assia
russia mostly concerned about being a little standoffish with the west and certainly patriotic and a little more boasting and semi-scary rhetoric but overall re-strengthen in its foreign-policy. i do not think putin is a reaganoff russia guy. he is a besieged russia guy with tendencies -- that's one way to give some specificity to these images we have created and linked them to current events. if reaganoff russia -- one thing we have not gotten into is in ukraine where we have different points of view. in terms of thinking about how we handle the ukraine crisis and what kind of crisis we think about for central europe -- to the extent we can steer russia toward the reaganoff model, there is some utility in that.
but i will not provoke steve. my last comment is on afghanistan. trying toink we are encourage our enemies to move northward and put russia on the flank. despite the tragedies, and there have been a lot in the last week, including the hospital bombing. the tragic loss of 10 americans duz itself,l of kun we are starting to see the afghans take it back. there is room to be at least hopeful. this is not another modal. there's at least some reason to hope it is successful. -- the politics were a mess and our colleague is
there right now in afghanistan and she will probably write about this when she is back. this is a region where there has been a lot of militia actors it hasng for influence created an opportunity for the taliban and and even though it is in the north, it is roughly one third posh tune. a population base, but if there is already trouble and mischief, a clever way of using force, you should respect the taliban decision making. but i think they got more than they reckoned with and the police and army will do a better job than they counted on. i think we have time for one final question and i should go to the back. the gentleman in the blue shirt,
please. back told like to go -- iast comment on ukraine want to ask if the u.s. and european union decided to provide massive economic system to ukraine -- in support of eunomic reforms, if the futurehip is far in the and not something likely to occur soon. how would that affect putin's russia today? would it make him feel more besieged? clifford: i think it's an interest -- steven: i think it is an interesting question because it gets to what our
putin's objectives in ukraine? crimea in the immediate of jan a code which leaving kiev was a target of opportunity. it seems to me you do not have a russian interest in that territory. concept of about the a southern ukraine breaking away. they saw there was no public support for it in ukraine. the russians have been using it as a way to distract the government and making it harder for the government to succeed. can you get the russians to change that decision? a year ago, one could have