tv RAND Discussion on U.S.- Russia Relations CSPAN October 15, 2018 12:54am-2:03am EDT
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our discussion this evening on the future of u.s.-russia relations is a piece, but a very important element of what we will be tackling at rant tonight -- grand -- rand tonight. we are excited to be doing this. ok. anyway, i think at this point what i would like to do is introduce you to our panel, then we will turn over to discussion. first i would like to introduce michael mazarr. before coming to rand, mike was a professor and associate dean at the u.s. war college, a terrific colleague. samuel next to mike the booko-author of
everyone loses, the ruinous contest for post-soviet eurasia. sam has held a number of positions, including, previously, serving on the secretary of state's policy planning staff, covering russia and eurasia. and to your left, on my right, dara massicot. she previously served as a senior analyst for russian military capabilities in the department of defense. so mike, when i turn this over to you, and i will join this group here at the end to have a few wrap-up comments. but mike over to you. ,mike: thank you very much, andy. thank you all very much for coming this evening. the format is, as you can expect, i will ask a few initial questions of our panelists to get some things out on the table, and then after 20 minutes or so, turn it over to a general question and answer period. so obviously be thinking of hard questions you would like to ask at that point.
we very much appreciate you joining us this evening. so sam, let me start with you. everyone loses. that sounds like a good summary of u.s.-russia relations today, unfortunately. this is a relationship that has become politically toxic. it is analytically vexing, from some of our work here, it's also strategically perilous, increasingly so. how bad is the u.s.-russia relationship today and why? samuel: well, as someone who has worked on this for a few years, at least i thought it got really , bad after the ukraine crisis began in 2014 and russia annexed crimea and then subsequently invaded eastern ukraine. and then it got even worse when in october 2015, russia began its military operations in a directrt of in confrontation to a number of u.s. objectives of the time. subsequently, we had the
interference episode in our 2016 elections, which really sent things off the rails completely. i keep thinking that maybe we've hit the bottom, but over the last five years, the u.s.-russia relations have surprised me and -- in how far low they can go. we are at a very perilous stage, as you mentioned. overall, the relationship is you know both dangerous, in the sense that there are a number of ways in which you could see real instability and potentially even direct conflict developing, although that's by no means inevitable. and counterproductive from a sort of broader u.s. interest perspective, and there are a number of things that we could be doing if not in cooperation with russia, then at least with russia's acquiescence. and now, given that we are basically at loggerheads across the gamut of issues, where our interests are both at stake, where both sides are making each
other's life difficult, it's a matter of principle. and that plays out, everything from the u.n. security council to syria to ukraine, and so on and so forth, to even the small towns in the u.k. as we have seen in recent months. it's dysfunctional, and at times dangerous. overall, not a good scene. yeah, yeah to say the least. dara, what worries you the most, going forward? was the worst thing that could go wrong? dara: there's a certain amount of rhythm that happens in u.s. -russian relations. when we have new administrations, there's a this honeymoon phase. there's this realization that our interests are not aligned at all, and in is a fallout, and that usually changes over. it has a fairly predictable pattern. what troubles me at this point is that pessimism has seemed to settle in so deep down on both sides.
it's almost like a despondent kind of feeling that we can't get off this track. we are both, we are just further and further apart, and there is no mechanism to mystically on either side to bridge the gap. mike: and on the russian side, would you describe that as a feeling of regret? or fury? somewhere in between? both at the same time? dara: depending on the international event. mike: ok. dara: i think the steady-state is one of sort of despondency, there are crises that crop up, and it flashes into anger. but then it settles back down. mike: but ultimately do they want a better relationship? dara: i think they do. there are certainly in discussions we have had with them that they do want that. they see the u.s. and russia as having a special responsibility in setting norms on the international stage, and they lament that we are in this space right now and there's no way , out. mike: that we can't run the world together as they would like.
dara: in harmony together. mike: that sounds familiar for some reason. beyond that, sam, what does russia want out of this relationship that it's not getting? samuel: so it wants equality, it wants to be treated as an equal by that united states, or maybe that is not part hundred -- 100% an equal, but if the u.s. is the chairman of the board of directors of the universe, then russia wants to be vice chair, something like that. it wants its interests to be respected. and it wants the u.s. to stop trying to overthrow its government. that is the sort of top desired outcome. it feels like it's getting none of these things. but you know, in terms of what it wants concretely, in terms of give and take, i think what i would say is cooperation on its terms. i think that's what it is trying to get, rather than ultimately, trying to seek our destruction.
they would like us to change our behavior and are taking increasingly aggressive steps to achieve that outcome, but they want this sort of great power condominium which would involve a degree of cooperation on russian terms. mike: so question following up on that, starting with dara, that leads to the $64,000 question of u.s. policy, history of u.s. policy, towards russia, which is one camp says there's been this unending series of provocations that started after the cold war with loans we promise and didn't grant all the way through nato enlargement in the balkans and iraq and cholera revolutions that is pushed russia into a corner, and created certain acting out. and that the way to solve that is by restraint and recognizing your interest. the other side says it wouldn't have mattered what we did. russia has certain essential habits of relations with the west. it was going to turn this bad anyway, and it is a good thing we did nato enlargements so we
are defending certain places. who is right and why? dara: so i'm pulling back, i'm thinking about preschool discipline right now, and sometimes everyone needs to go to the timeout corner. to answer the question, they would prefer a negotiated settlement to some of these difficult issues, and they have felt that over the last 20 years, that when they have tried to come to the table, and they didn't have a military option to back that up with, that their interests were essentially ignored. i think they took that on board, and they started acting out in this way, when other avenues proved unproductive for them. mike: that would suggest we might have ended up in a different place had u.s. and russian policies been different. potentially. dara: it takes two to tango. it does. i think from their perspective, they -- during a very difficult historic time for them, they felt like they were taken advantage of, and they felt like they were talked over. and i think that is something that carries forward to them in the present. i mean, these are people making decisions and that government,
that's still a very visceral emotional reaction 25 years on, and we are dealing with the hangovers of that -- from that period. mike: sam what's your reaction , to that question? samuel: the problem with the essentialist narrative about how russians are genetically, or inherently, somehow inevitably, immutably hostile, and that's the behavior we have seen in the last four years, is just par for the course. that a glides over the 20 year period from maybe 1989 to 2014, when there was a very different u.s.-russia relationship. it wasn't happy. i don't think either side was totally satisfied, and there were periodic crises, but it didn't feature any of the -- anywhere near the level of dysfunction, and it did feature some important areas of cooperation. and nowhere near the same levels of tensions that we now see. if that was just a few short years ago, you know, we have to
think that, rather than speaking in terms of long historical cycles and nothing ever changing, looking back to the relatively recent past when things were different, which suggests they could be different again. however, so much water has passed under the bridge since that break that really began in 2014 that we are never going to pre-2014 status quo ante but we could hope for is a degree of stability, which we do not have today. mike: that's a question i want to get to at the end, given where we are now, where do we go? you mentioned there's a problem of hopes that the administration. president trump came into office talking about remarkably better relations with russia and almost using some of the language i imagine russia would have wanted out of the u.s. president in terms of, we want to make you a partner. why did that fall apart? dara: so i think, i think the russians were simultaneously hopeful, when they heard those kind of words, but then their
experience tells them that the bureaucracy in dc is on a different path. and that has borne out since that time. so they are getting they are , getting one message from one part of our government, and they are getting another message from another part of it, and they don't know what to make of that. they don't know who to listen to and who is really in control here, and that's disorienting for them. that goes back into the despondency. how do we move forward with this when we are not really sure who is driving the policy? we hear that we want improved relations, but we are being sanctioned at this really aggressive level. it's very hard for them to parse that. mike: sam it shouldn't be that , difficult for them to figure out, looking at what they did in the ukraine, what they did to potentially our election. if i am in moscow, it shouldn't confuse me that there are american senior officials that want to put sanctions on me. why would they -- would they expect we would overlook that and move in the direction of a better relationship?
andy: so you know -- samuel: you know from their , perspective, these were, in large part, reactions to what they saw as increasing encroachment, and/or actual attempts to overthrow their government. a lot of that sort of coincides, comes to a head in 2014, and with the severe economic sanctions that the u.s. has incremented against russia, the aftermath of both of what happened in ukraine and for a number of other reasons, they see this as economic warfare, intended to, you know weaken the , foundations of their government and perhaps even end it in its certain form. -- current form. under the circumstances, i think they feel like the gloves are off, and they can play dirty if that's how we are going to behave. that's whether we agree or disagree, that mindset needs to be taken into account. you know they see the kinds of , things like ukraine very much
through the lens of responses to either events or perceive particularly u.s. actions that they are trying to block even worse outcomes for them from happening, as it is seen here, either rightly or wrongly, as outright aggression for little or no justifiable reasons. mike: yeah, right. one more question, some of the dynamics that have gotten us to this you referred to the point. conflicting interest in russian dividers that we are prepared to give. not everything, giving them a voice on certain issues seems like it is straightforward. not everything they want conflicts with our interests. sometimes there's references to spheres of influence that they want that we are not prepared to grant. in your view, where are those couple of real fulcrum points where they want some things that it's impossible for us to give? dara, you want to start? dara: so i think they don't want
military expansion near their borders of nato. we take the view that those are our partners, you can do it we'd -- we can do what we like. they can do what they like. but this is a real issue for them. it repeats very often in their strategy documents. it repeats often in their speeches. we are not willing to let them have a say over what nato chooses to do. that is a very large one for me. mike: imagine they came out today and said, for example, for any further nato enlargement is indefinitely off the table, would that make a revolutionary difference in our relationship with them? or would russia say, we can't trust them, it's only a statement? dara: so another other sticking points, where they have wanted to come to a settlement with us, they want like a legal guarantee. i don't think we are willing to do that. we were unwilling to do that or -- over ballistic defense, we won't do that with nato. mike: so sam sticking points?
,samuel: that we can't or won't address, right? it is an important distinction. i could name dozens where we won't, for sure. or at least most likely. can't is hard to think about policy in a vacuum, given the domestic politics associated with this relationship now. but you know some of the , fundamental elements of, that we have talked about earlier, about sort of the quality and being cochairmen of the board of the universe, is that we don't do business that way in the coast -- post-cold war era. that we are used to compliance, and that we don't get that, we tend to see my line influences -- malign influences, they say. that kind of granting, that co- decision-making is not something u.s. foreign-policy has been
engaged in in recent decades. mike: which kind of in a worrisome way, that suggest that our national characters are headed for further trouble because we are just fundamentally not willing to view them in the way they demand to be viewed. samuel: sort of. situationally, in the pre-2014 reality that we had, we were able to find compromises. on, you know discrete sets of , issues, where both sides could see mutual benefit. and you know, and we did treat them as equals. i mean negotiating a new arms , control treaty that was signed in, in 2010 was, by definition, and act between sovereign equals. there were other things like that. it is i think as a matter of principle, we have to be convinced it is worth it on an
issue specific basis. but another major issue, of course their immediate , neighborhood, which they have always identified as the most important region to them. and one thing we certainly can't, even if we wanted to is, you know, significant attractiveness in the eyes of the elites of the countries around them. and once the sort of competition between western integration and integration with russia became more apparent, you know the , elites and public were making decisions based on preferences that's hard to change. russia has yet to develop the kind of political and economic model that is broadly attractive. there are certainly countries and certain elites that do find it attractive, but in places like ukraine, that's not been the case. mike: yeah. part of the goal of our policy is to try to find a way to stop being blamed for the resentment
s that are going to go inevitably at russia anyway, get ourselves out of that dynamic somehow. let me ask about, bringing it to the current issues that a lot of us have been reading about, concerned about, the political influence peace, the influence in the last u.s. election, the allegations of continuing russian influence. i want to ask both of you, in a way, sort of what is the right , way to see this, from what you know of russia's intent, the decision-making process? was this a highly centralized effort from the beginning with the decision to undermine american politics or put a certain person in office? or should we view it in some kind of other light? dara: so i think it is important to back up a few years before the election. the russian government, after ukraine, that really set them on a different plane of threat perception with the united states. once you sort of move up into that heightened threat perception, a lot of new options are on the table.
so one of those options is election interference. so i, you know i think, as we , know now from the indictment and everything else that has come out this was a fairly , centralized effort. this was, in some ways, i don't want to say revenge or payback, but it is just an option that is on the toolkit that you use when you are at that heightened level of threat. and -- mike: and the threat was specifically, a result of perceived american interference in ukrainian politics? dara: right. mike: or the sanctions that came after or both? dara: it is a building crescendo of decades of grievances that they have. when the events played out in ukraine, that is very close to home. if it could happen in ukraine, it could happen in moscow. and the sanctions that followed after. this is part of the script that they have already written. for a long time, before we did it, there is a nation out there that is acting in ways the united states does not
appreciate, they will use their considerable economic and political assets to punish them in a very punitive way. when the sanction started rolling in, you know it's , something they were already looking for your they have seen it happen to other people. they were just waiting for to happen to them, and it did. it plays into this pre-existing narrative, and it's very difficult to remove them from that, that mentality and that track. mike: sam? samuel: i would agree that it's difficult to imagine an operation this sensitive would have been undertaken without some degree of top- level sanction. that seems improbable to me. the russian know, system is not a well oiled machine, where, you know, putin pushes a button and suddenly the entire thing snaps into motion and is exactly what he had in mind. it operates in a more byzantine fashion with, you know, bureaucracies that are relatively siloed in competition
with each other and innovate and improvise, and try to impress their bosses and so on. so you know, the extent to which concrete tactics played out, is probably some mix of this top down and bottom element. one thing that's important to note here, is that it was relatively -- i mean we talk , about because of the sensitivity, it's needing political sanctions, but it was cheap. we are talking about, based on these indictments, a couple of dozen people operating over the course of, you know, at most a couple of years with relatively low budgets particularly by american standards. the effect that is difficult to measure, they achieved, is another thing. it's so easy and cheap and this information to have, to strike
back at your adversary to a certain extent, it -- this kind of thing was sort of -- given that russia was prepared to take more assertive steps in light of its heightened threat perceptions as dara mentioned, this was an easy step to take. didn't require -- it didn't require a huge amount of resources. mike: chief in terms of the initial cost, i mean, you both described a mindset where they are not thinking about consequences or the second step or something like that. especially given how sensitive they are about our perceived intervention in their politics, could they not have imagined that this would have the explosive effect it had? samuel: it is hard i think for any of us to imagine that, i think. it would have been different had the election results been different, of course. but taking a step back, what we do know is from press reporting is that in the summer of 2017,
they came on that official level to the u.s. and offered to negotiate a truce on interference. so this is sort of a classic russian tactic where, you know, you punch the person in the face and then you say stop doing this now and have an agreement that we will no longer be punching each other in the face. mike: because that strategy worked so well with so many countries around the world. samuel: this is sort of to agree with you, that demonstrated the degree of political tone deafness about the impact of what had happened, and the ability of any administration, under the circumstances, to bargain with the state that had just interfered on the principles of interference. as much as that might make sense in a sort of abstract policy sense, divorced from any political reality is, the policy does not exist in a political vacuum, so yeah. mike: well, let's talk about for
a couple minutes about how we get out of this mess, and then we will open it up for questions. we put a whole series of rounds of sanctions on russia. dara, have we, is russia feeling adequately punished, and as if they are prepared to change their behavior as a rule to that? how would you describe the outcome of this process? show -- dara: so sanctions are hurting them. they are having an impact, they have had an impact on the ruble, the economy. they have made revisions downward as a result. i think of the sanctions, the most effective ones are the new deter sanctions. these are the that will be ones triggered within 30 days of the midterm election, if it's determined that russia is interfering, that is what triggers them. that is a very -- that one is very specifically. if you do this, the consequence is this. we have put that out there, we have to follow through on it.
if interference happens, and we feel reasonable that this did occur and we do nothing, then we have made it so much worse. we have to be prepared to follow through. mike: then we follow through on another round of sanctions, and this leaves us where? dara: right. i think the nuclear option is sanctioning with sovereign debt. that's a very significant thing. mike: one more follow-up, then i will come to you, sam. do you have any since the people have an idea of what is at the end of this road? if we keep putting on sanctions to the point of what happens? dara: if our goal is to sanction russia until they give back crimea, i don't see that happening. mike: yeah. dara: i don't see that happening. mike: you have a sense that there is not a clear endgame. dara: no. mike: sam? samuel: i think another -- i'm going to mangle the quote, but thomas schilling wrote something along the lines of coercion
divorced from diplomatic process is just ends up resulting in, you know, states just harming one another for the sake of harming one another. i think that's where we are right now, because there is no parallel track where we are delivering clear messages about what would be necessary for russia to do, in a realistic sense, in order for the sanctions to be relieved. and sanctions are only as effective as the prospect of rolling them back israel. and now that so many of them have been codified in law, the legislation countering american adversaries through sanctions act, which was signed into law in august 2017, has tied the executive branch's hands to a certain extent and made it very difficult to deliver credible messages about what it would to -- take for russia to do in
terms of changing its behavior for the sanctions to be rolled back. so we are now in a position muddinessause of the of the message, the russians have included that there is nothing that they could do that would allow for sanctions relief. and so better just not pay attention. the americans are going to do this no matter what. which is an extraordinarily dangerous situation, because they will keep ignoring, and it can go to something. mike: let me follow up on that, the last we will get into the final question of what to we do? samuel: what should be the main term goal? if we say, we agree that we don't have a clear endgame right now, we can't think 20 years ahead, and imagine a wonderfully reformed relationship, but over yearsxttw two to five what should we be aiming for in , this relationship? what would be one or two steps
you would recommend to move us in that direction? dara, you can start. dara: we are in a very dangerous period in our relationship. we need some wins at this point, i think negotiating the start is very important for both sides, very important. it is coming up soon. that is to focus on as a potential win. counterterrorism is something we are both very much in alignment on. that is something to focus on, just as a -- these are human beings. when president trump called him know putin and let about the terrorist attack in st. petersburg, that's not a little thing. the personal touch involved, can go a long way, and making this process more pleasant for both sides. mike: it seems like the political will that's required, because you both described the situation where the momentum on both sides, there's such a
calcification of anti-russia feeling in washington right now that would have little appetite for that. and on the russian side, if you come to me and start talking, we say ok, fine, but we have to resolve a bunch of other issues where you are just hitting me over the head every day. is there enough appreciation on each side that things are dangerous that if we started trying to go down the path you're talking about, we would be able to accomplish some things, or do you think we would run into quicksand very quickly? dara: i think the russians can compartmentalize. there can be a lot of problems in a relationship, but they are willing to focus on the parts that can work. they can put the rest to the side. i don't think that we are good at that. i am trying to be very polite. mike: you're being very polite. dara: but syria is an example of where we are in alignment with the russians, but we talk to them almost every day because we
have to. we have to de-conflict things. it is not possible. we won't solve the whole relationship, but we should at least start with a win somewhere. mike: sam, medium-term objective? where should we push for, and a couple of actions. samuel: i would say that our objective should be stability in u.s.-russia relations, that we shouldn't aim any higher than that, because at this we don't point have stability, that's potentially dangerous not just for the two countries, but for the rest of the world. and so under that rubric, you know you can imagine a number of , different tracks, be it prolonging the start when it comes up for possible extension in 2021, or salvaging other arms-control treaties that are on life support, or having a more regular strategic stability exchange in terms of meetings, even, and you know, taking this
kind of deconfliction mechanism that has worked in syria that dara referred to and trying to see if that kind of thing can't be done in the baltic or the black seas, things like that. just conflict avoidance, and having some degree of confidence that we are not, you know, one step away from things devolving into, into direct conflict would be an important -- i think that should be our objective. we do have signs that the russians are, potentially, for the reasons that dara mentioned, more open to this than we are. they've already proposed extending the start for the five years that is allowed. and you know the politics of , this work differently in russia, because of the -- what we have mentioned earlier about their desire to be acknowledged
as a great power, and an equal, done, iner business is the u.s.-russia context, this affirms that yearning. even polling indicates that the average russians like the idea of restoration of great power status. so you know, that kind of dynamic i think makes it easier, politically, for the russian government to potentially engage, even if they don't like a lot of the things that we are doing including, as they see it, , trying to overthrow their government, which is pretty serious of course. that does raise the question about whether the politics are as forgiving on this side. i think we have yet to see that. it should be noted that the politics on this side are largely a function of russia's own actions. they have themselves to blame to a significant extent that it has
become so politically toxic for the u.s.-russia relationship to even exist in any form and -- mike: that's one of the great risks right now. e're stuck in a dilemma. great if daunting insights. i'm going to open it up to questions. if i can ask, try to be brief with your question. try to ask one question rather than three. particularly because we're barrassoing. i call on you, wait for the microphone to ask your questions. >> thank you. hat are the e.u.'s stakes?
how can they be helpful. >> the u.s. economic relationship between the e.u. and russia is far more significant than ours with russia. of course they are neighbors in a way that only alaskaans are. you know, therefore the west relationship with russia is a more palpable thing for a lot of e.u. countries. generally speaking, that has been somewhat of a force for moderation in the broader western position in the collection of decision making bodies like naito and the e.u. -- nato and the e.u. here was a very united u.s.-e.u. front on russian from the ulting
ukraine crisis going back to the soviet period. the e.u. was taking more of an economic hit from those sanctions than the u.s. was. a unified policy on how to deal with the ukraine crisis and so on. now because of tensions in the relationship, the foundations of that unit are to a certain extent eroding. particularly on sanctions, the piece of legislation that i entioned targets companies doing business with russian. german companies are spearheading. also in terms of sanctions, we're on the outside of our own sanctions as well. when acting together, i think the u.s. and the e.u. can have
a greater impact. the challenge is this is happening in a much more complex u.s.-e.u. relationship that has developed in the last couple of years. >> on the last question, the last couple of years, despite those differences, europe has been infuriated by political meddling and poisoning. would you say the e.u. is more aligned with u.s. policy or not so much? dara: i think we're cease a -- seeing a lot of populist trends popping up. anymore.eel that way russia sees that popping up, it is more of an opportunity for them. r mike: question, sir? >> thank you. i've been talking about things
i read about in terms of the u.s.-russia relationship. the russia economy is in trouble. putin will look to the outside for why that trouble exists. sanctions are a perfect excuse. it is both ory is expansionist desires and his russian rhetoric will increase. i think we're playing into his hands completely. do that -- with you guys? >> i guess the good news is you don't have to be so worried about the russian economy tanking. if you look at consensus estimates of the bank, russia's economy is set to stagnate more or less. experienced a 1% to 2% g.d.p. growth rates for the foreseeable future but that is
not collapse. however, the political dynamics of course, you're exactly right. sanctions were a political gift in a lot of ways in that they allowed for pointing to an external reason for an economic downturn that was caused by internal problems as it was by sanctions, particularly the sort of secular slowdown of the russian economy, structural reforms, dependence on hydrocarbon exports and so on. that said, going forward, what is interesting is this might be a blip, but there was some suggestion over the summer that the degree of anti-western sentiment among the russian population is sort of waning and putin's popularity has also taken a bit of a hit from
recent pension reform he has implemented, raising the pension age, the retirement age. so domestically things might be more dynamic than they were in the period following the annexation of crimea when there was a consensus where you had 85% plus support for putin. that is now in the 60's which would be the envy of most leaders blobally. -- globally. nonetheless different from where it was in the 2014, 20 15, 2016 period. i'm not saying there is an intent for political unrest. it is a little bit more dynamic than it has been in recent years. mike: how do you from time to ime you read accounts of anti-putin sentiments in parts of russian society. how seriously should we take
that? is this a regime likely to be in any type of trouble even if the economic situation gets worse? dara: you can tell by the resources against this problem. the government thinks about it a lot. they have passed multiple laws in the past few years. they have enacted -- they have given authorities to security forces and riot control police. they are doing all sorts of cyberpolicing. they are installing cameras everywhere with facial recognition. not quite to the level what china does in certain parts but this is a real concern that one day the population is just going to have enough. they are going to have enough of pensions being cut. other social programs being cut while the military is not cut. i think that the kremlin is actually pretty good at taking that temperature. something you think about so
often. if we look at the federal budget for the next three years, the defense budget is actually stagnating and they are pumping more money into domestic programs. for a while, the military is the one that has benefited in times of scarcity. now they are flipping it on its head. this is a serious problem for them. mike: in the theme of the question, is that a situation that should start to worry us if things got worse? is that a situation in which putin does the classic nationalist outburst and tries to rally russian support by picking a fight with the west somehow? samuel: it is hard to make the case from that perspective that any of the big eck term acts of aggression as some might have it or military intervention that occurred in the last
decade or so would result in the sort of wag the dog kind of dynamic. that each of them resulted from concrete situations in particular theaters that russia felt the need to respond to his the way that it did. we have not seen that kind of thing yet. generally speaking, questions of war and peace, domestic considerations directly have not played in the way that we would potentially be worried about in terms of instability causing some international explosion. all cards are off the table if things get really bad of course. although it is true that there is this -- there is an increased focus on domestic security and crowd control and concedes way russia
what it looks like often involves a degree of internal investigation. they might not see the line between the popular uprising and u.s. efforts to undermine the government as very significant. and therefore, i think there is a potential risk in that context. >> can you talk about the conflict between energy in the market and policy so russia caught europe's attention and the ukraine's attention by playing with threats of natural gas and withholding exports so there are new natural gas sources in the mediterranean. the u.s. has increased our supply and whether europe has weaned itself in a way that allows it to have less
influence. dara: i don't follow this issue closely, but i don't think they have actually weaned too much of their dependence so far. russia is trying to diversify working more by with china. less g the impact on their economy. russia is actually pretty fiscally conservative. when oil prices are high, they are stocking away into their national savings fund. they don't do a lot of deficit spending. they deficit spend but don't orrow the money from abroad. they are actually replenishing their savings fund at a significant rate right now which moderates their behavior. samuel: so e.u. imports of
russian natural gas peaked as high as they ever were last year. we're not seeing a relative decline of russian gnarl gas imports into europe. it also bears noting that piped russian gas is 30% cheaper than l & g which is the kind that the u.s. would be exporting. the good news is that the e.u. has gotten its act together on an internal market which was ultimately the answer to the russia supply problem. by creating an increasingly integrated e.u.-wide market, russia's ability to manipulate to one country. that's what we have been seeing happen. russia is incorporating the l &
g price into its contracts for pipe gas. i would say in this context, though, that what we're seeing broadly speaking in this arena and it connects to that question about u.s. sanctions on european companys is that with the completion of the pipeline which may fall under pipeline ons, the from the peninsula to germany nder the baltic sea, is that russia's long-term project of building pipelines around ukraine and thus no longer being dependent on ukraine for gas transit to europe will largely be complete. russia has been involved in a multibillion dollar endeavor to cut out ukraine as a country. this ultimately will in one sense make europe more energy
secure because ukraine will no longer be able to hold the e.u. hostage in the context of the prices but on the other hand it is going to deprive ukraine of significant budget tear evenues which they -- budgetry transfers which hay charge transit fees. mike: interesting. sir? >> i would love jump in on that uestion. i have a question that i think we should get to. we haven't really talked about china. china is if you will probably the most clever adult in the room of potential great powers today. are they going to be cooperative or just keep loving
the fight between russia and the u.s.? we're talking about it like it is just one-on-one. i'm not sure it is. samuel: it is more than just china-russia relations. do you sense any strategy from china's standpoint to u.s.-russia bout relations. have you thought about that? >> inevitably russia and china -- there is an extend to which their respective relations with the u.s. affects their particularly russia's eagerness to engage with china, and that they are united in oppositions to u.s. goals on a number of levels. that sort of brings them closer. i think the position that we now find ourselves in is that their relations with each other
are significantly better than our relations with either of them which i think is what kissinger said we should not be doing about 40 years ago. you know, there have been a lot of significant developments in russia-china relations, particularly the military. dara: so, you know, up until recently, it seemed like china was more willing to stand on the sidelines and let the united states and russia duke out their problems while they continue to be active in other regions very quietly. however i think there is a few new irritants in the u.s. and china relationship. new military technology going into place in japan. that is a new irritant. as a case point, russia and china just had their first pro soviet military exercise together. china sent over several
thousand people to participate in an exercise in siberia. a few days after that, we sanctioned china for purchasing fixed wing aircraft. i can't tell if that was deliberate timing or complete accidental time. i don't know which one is better or worse. it won't matter because they are going to interpret it as deliberate attempts to get in the way. i think increasingly we are going to see them in alignment. there are very specific things now in the relationship that they can operate together on. mike: is there an actual limit to that closeness? dara: i think so. particularly when you talk about arms sales. the ussians are angry at chinese. which is ironic because russian aircraft are very similar but there are some irritants there
it is competition in the arms market and china is emerging and encroaching into the band that russia is in. the united states at the peak, we have the best stuff. it is the most expensive. not everyone can afford it but the russians offer an alternative that is pretty good and it is a lot less expensive. as china starts to compete if that realm, that is going to be a problem i think. we're not there credit, but it is coming. >> i was wondering what are we of the lessons that could learn from the cold war period that we could implement today? samuel: funny that you ask. i've been thinking about that uestion. oh, boy.
just a little context. mike and i are working on something relevant to that question. i'm trying to remember. we had a number of cases including the cold war. one thing that strikes me from the -- well, i guess there is a broader dynamic in the cold war that came to a fruition which s that at times when the potential for direct conflict got to be too real and and/or when you know, one of the sides basically indicated that there needed to be some sort of mechanism for developing a set of rules around a particularly dangerous issue, we spiked cold war tensions in doing that. a lot of that happened in
detentes. the nuclear realm. security context. perhaps one lesson to take away from that is finding at least a sense of rules of the road to be eable to minimize the potential for direct conflict, even between committed adversaries as they were in the context of the cold war. mike: cold war lessons? dara: i'm going to play bad cop. in addition to the crisis instability, improving that, there is also from the cold war a vicious story that goes on in the shadows. i think one side is doing that today. and not us. i think there is -- there is -- what is done diplomatically and
politically and there is what goes on between security surfaces and if one keeps pushing and receives no pushback, it is going to keep pushing. i don't want to recommend that. that's where we are. i think we need to be a little more realistic about what's happening. mike: interesting aspect to the cold war is one of the arguments about detente is it fails and we try have a better relationship. we need to return, the original goal of the cold war is transformation. we're going to hold the line until we change the nature of their regime. that's what the russians are afraid of. i'm not sure what we would change it to today. is there any echo of that same or do we not get in that same find set of thinking transformationly about the goal of all of that. it changed.
it is dangerous to think that way because that is feeding their threat perception. dara: i'm so pessimistic now about the opportunity for a transformational change in our relationship. mike: you have to think of something else in the next 10 minutes. you can't leave them with that message. not transformational but in the sense of regime change. right? implicitly or explicitly, some concept of regime change is part of the cold war strategy. a very different russia today, not a communist system. but yet, a regime whose essence is very difficult to imagine living in a stable way with. to make that comparison, that parallel from the cold war. should we have a sense of -- absolutely, we are pulling values. as ditente suggested. we will manage the tension. we should be moving toward a more -- a world in which russia
is governed in a different way. should that be the explicit message of the u.s. government? samuel: our ability to affect that time and outcome, we have put -- ooking historically even our ule in the context -- our role in the context of the cold war. gorbachev's decision in the system but that is a whole other story. in any case, today i think we have to think about whether in fact we can affect that kind of outcome. we have not put a lot of effort nto democracy assistance, with money and civil societies for it. all the things that reflect our values in russia and look where we are today. if we had a silver bullet, we
are hiding it pretty well. mike: we are very good at that. samuel: i don't know if we know how to affect the kind of change you're talking about. i would also question the premise that the essence of this regime makes it impossible for us to have stability. going back to what i said early, i not sure if the essence of the regime is changed fundamentally since 014. in the pre-2014 era, we had a different kind of relationship. it is suggested that at least in theory it's possible. politics aside. it would be lovely if there were a more warm and cuddly russian resume for us to interact with but we don't get to choose our partners, particularly not if this world.
we've seen authoritarian great powers such as russia in the context in which they are increasingly integrated into a global economy and the soviet union was not, and also which their own systems are not as rigid as the soviet union. we are saying the same kind of faultlines along the international republican boundaries as the soviet union 's did. they are likely to be more durable. if another miracle occurs and we end up in a situation where a very different kind of government we are dealing with than that would be great but we have to plan for the status quo. obtaining for the foreseeable future. mike: i think we have time for one more question. the woman on the end. i would like to know -- -- i would like to me --
-- know washington with unforgiving politics like you said, and inflexible sanctions legislation hurting the future f u.s.-russia relations. dara: several years ago i thought about who have a dim recollection of the soviet union or have no memory. it would be an opportunity for both sides to reach that. what i am worried about is that we will lose -- both sides will lose an entire generation. i don't see how we can comprehensively move forward with russia while they attack our elections. if there is no admission of that, how do we move forward
from there? in terms of how they view us, i think they feel equally, i don't want to say hopeless but pretty much, who is in control here? who is driving the policy? is it the state department? is it the senate? is it the white house? they don't know who they should be engaging with for answers. i think what they are doing and this is where it gets dangerous as they are coming back and trying to keep it together in their own agency processes it trying to figure out what we mean. that's dangerous part, i think. mike: sam? samuel: as far it is a future is concerned, we have the history -- i just pointed at the role of legislated foreign policy and congress being intimately involved in the relationship like this, and look back to the amendment which was a set of sanctions in
the soviet union that was imposed in 1973. they were on the books for 38 years. we not only had a piece of legislation in august 2017 but there are now being contemplated further legislative sanctions. in the future one of my worries is that we are locking ourselves in by creating these egal frameworks that are sticky in the context of u.s. politics. it's much easier to pass section legislation than it is to repeal it. that could be constraining and potentially creating long-term roblems in the future. mike: in a second i will turn it over to andy. obviously we have not solved these issues tonight but if nothing else, to approach these things, we need these tremendous expertise. please join me in thanking our panel.
andy, over to you. andy: thanks for a really terrific and informative session. thanks as well to our audience or your terrific questions. i think you helped us focus on some key issues that we ought to be wrestling with. this is the kind of thing that we do here at rand. we think about problems and the direction of the future and it is your support that allows us to make this happen. your contributions, your willingness to come spend an evening with us are all critical to how we function at rand. if you have questions about this activity or any future events, if you have questions about support, we have brandon baker. our new vice president of development is here with us this evening. samantha, all of these would be willing to take on any of your questions. the panel will be here
afterwards and myself. i think we really want to thank you for the time you spent with us. we will think our panel for the really interesting contributions. we look forward to having you join us again for another event. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. monday morning, new york times
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