tv Atlantic Council Discussion on Ukraine- Russia Conflict - Panel CSPAN December 10, 2018 3:46am-5:07am EST
proposed legislation to deal with it. coverage of a senate hearing at 2 p.m. eastern. on c-span three, online at c-span.org and on the freeseas and radio app -- free c-span radio app. this week on the communicators, christina chaplin's government accountability office word says that the pentagon's weapon system of security is vulnerable. >> right now they don't even test systems for the kinds of threat you might russia, china and north korea. they are not allowed to in terms of testing, they don't want to potentially disrupt the system. >> watch the communicators tonight at 8 p.m. eastern on c-span2. >> on wednesday, the atlantic council hosted this discussion with former diplomat and security act about -- diplomats and security experts about the
ongoing confrontation with ukraine and vladimir putin and russia relations. this is one half hours. conflict. this is just over two hours. >> good afternoon i am here from the atlantic council welcome to the staff of criminal aggression and welcome to the council this will be an important conversation with ukraine and the western allies everybody here knows that is watching novh russian forces opened fire
and seized three ukrainian naval ships in the black sea. six ukrainian crew members were injured. others were detained and still in russian custody. it is the first time the kremlin has overtly used arms against ukraine to condemn the with the first response has yet to take shape. we are gathering at an important time on the hill from brussels is a current debate happening inside the executive branch with a
response and the intention is to inform that conversation to shape the decision. we can touch on a response if russia's government will take this seriously many experts have been out there arguing to take concrete steps the kremlin will view this as an indication and what is unfolding right now is another example of creeping annexation this time with territorial waters. and importantly it is part of the pattern of what happened and is a threat of its neighbor warm although the with the territory occupied
now all of these states in the region this is where the dividing line is and then to support them in this mission and then to maintain their freedom and with that we are delighted to welcome back to the atlantic council and the former supreme allied commander. and then his voice remains important and then that discussion of remarkable experts and former data
ambassador with the distinguished fellow and found that asia programming the great friend and colleague to handle russia policy in that administration and of course former ambassador and many others. with our very own melinda herring that lead the wildly successful ukraine alert. not only those specific ideas this is not a tactical response this is again a reminder to be gathering again
pointed out it is disturbing once again to be here. it is our responsibility and it is important and with that strategy to understand. but as importantly it is important to understand it is the position of russia to specific goals to ukraine to influence with the ukrainian leadership on the back heels of insecure and vulnerable and with those preferences to challenge the international rules of the game to change in ways of the interest so now i
will explain what i mean and number two another instance what we should take away that they are completely predictable but then as it is like to be characterized so russians are extremely good at those further escalations in the further scheme of things. and then not voicing complaints with that status quo. so now we need to stop being so responsive. so that will continue because
so it wouldn't necessarily get the attention of capital but and with that those lines between the two. but this is what they do constantly to the international community they have just accommodated to it and their action and lack of reaction comes to expect it. another example is maybe you paid attention to ukrainian but you forgot about george. under the open skies treaty treaty members cannot act open
skies within 10 kilometers so when the united states and europe were file flight plans under our rights the russians would deny the flight plans occur within 10 kilometers because those were independent countries that were not trading parties. the united states would protest nobody wanted to have military conflict so they wouldn't necessarily execute the flight plans because they couldn't because the russians denied them but over time russia laid the basis for claiming that the united states and europe were in effect recognizing the sovereignty of the territory. so i belabor this because so you are familiar what has
happened it's not just about assaulting ukrainian trips one - - ships or control of the kurdish state but laying the groundwork to claim territorial sovereignty the first was over the summer when the russian ships began to stop and question and then it would be preventing the egress of shipping of the naval ships. that is the next step in that policy that russia has been so effective like georgia and also ukraine since 2014.
so for me don't just think about territory but the rules of the game and so to rely upon the international community because not every member make sure about ukraine , but they do care the international rules is where a big part of the efforts should be with the obama administration with the russian invasion just like 2014 not simply because the obama administration new international law but that was part of the broader international community. finally what is coming next? it is predictable in the sense the immediate objective the
political objective and military objective that we need to pay attention to ukrainian presidential elections the goal is to get a kremlin friendly leadership and one way to do that is the instability and uncertainty and if there are clear for russian military operations. so with high danger over the next couple months with the escalation in the sea or on the ground. but the political objective to shake the fears and the concerns of the political and economic elite.
the second political aspect is not the ukrainian election but the american election of 2020 and i fear the the immediate timeframe the other that the kremlin has in mind is the next political cycle of 2020 and they need to act decisively before there would be a political change in the united states or a consolidation and europe in particular with germany. three or possibly entering a period where the kremlin believes it has an opportunity of the unified transatlantic relationship to change what the status quo looks like while we are not effective to be united.
we can address that to be united and pay attention more than any other particular military response. >> thank you so much. >> thank you very much and for the chance to be on the committee with this distinguished panel. i'm about to give the view from nato so i will give it from that perspective. we do seem to be pretty much in agreement that russia is responsible what happened in november irrespective of the sequence of events russia had no legal justification for the use of force. but that being said i'm still not convinced the allies will act over this whole episode.
putin refuses to return the ships that the nato prime ministers meeting there was more rhetorical criticism i was there anything significant i nato support already increasing their presence in the black sea. if there is more robust nato action. but then the need to return the ships and the sailors. that evolved over the next two
days but right now i regret to say it is hesitation more than was all from washington. it is disturbing because it isn't a one off event or isolated occurrence but russia has been doing this and increasing pressure for several months but putin that in each increase in the temperature would be met with only verbal protest. and then to prepare the ground and the fact that they
unilaterally changed the status to russian sovereign territory with a little msa declaration on the 15th of november so the russian view is unilateral it is no longer a shared body of water under the 2003 agreement. so to be careful and wise and putin may believe with a uk and ukraine provocation rather than imposing on moscow. so i am of the view it would only embolden in the lead up
to show russia we mean business when he to try yet again to persuade the chairman to suspend or freeze the north stream to project for at least a year and maybe longer to leverage a return to free navigation and the ukrainian and to leverage a more serious russian approach could certainly voluntary would be better than having to sanction. you are what i think pick up on growing doubts within the cdu about the wisdom of the products. the ui should work with like-minded allies but i don't think nato is a whole is going to do this but we can work with like-minded allies put together a new package in ukraine with priority to coastal defense systems like our pen that could deter aggression as well as provide improved radar and as well as other assets to the ukrainian navy.
the u.s. seems to put a great emphasis on the need for other allies to step up if ukraine is in their backyard for burden sharing is a perfectly legitimate subject in this area but i hope it's not being at danced as an excuse for u.s. inaction over the next few weeks. nato should try to find ways to increase the presence even further and consider more exercises in the region with the president of ukraine and georgia. we should engage with turkey romania and bulgaria the three nato allies on overcoming their existence to a formal nato black sea task force or blacks the flotilla. we might talk about restricting russian free passage through the turkish straits if russia continues to behave aggressively it would give the russian something to think about. so nato i think is still
figuring out what to do and is not entirely comprehending the stakes involved but i think there a lot of things that nato could do with united states with good old-fashioned leadership to take us there. sin ambassador freed. >> this reminds me of the deputies committee's rye would often speak at the end and everybody with turned to me and say okay so what are we going to do about it? and what sanctions will we impose? sanctions are not a tool for all purposes. they have become the tool of choice for responding to russia's aggression against ukraine so i will accept that challenge and try to come up with some guidelines and specific suggestions. in sanctions generally to rules apply.
one coming have to know what you want to achieve with sanctions and two, you have to mean it. sanctions are not fun. they are not cost free. they will hurt companies, countries and they will lobby against the sanctions so you had better make sure you weigh the balance of risks and benefits and coming out on the right side and once you do that -- what we want, three things. want to respond to this latest act of russian aggression both military aggression but also a sandy pointed out the russian change on territory by keeping the kerch strait, changing territorial boundaries unilaterally. second we want to not only respond but to prepare additional responses both of which may have the effect of deterring russia from future
aggression which as both the west and sandy and damon pointed out may be the next shoe to drop. the russians a few trusted a.m. that keep thrusting until you encounter steel and then and then only can you pull back. and to respond and be seen as preparing additional responses. third, our overall strategic objectives in the sanctions is not simply to report the status quo to the sea of apps are. the purpose is to settle and get the russians out of minsk and to settle crimea having it ultimately restore ukrainian sovereignty. that will be a longer-term process but sanctions are not a light switch. two thai sanctions to for example return of the sailor is
that you risk turning them on and off with russia. if we impose sanctions we have to keep them on until there is a general settlement. so here is my menu. first, enforce the crimea sanctions that already exist. the u.s. administration can do a better job but to be fair they have sanctioned additional crimea and sanctions. the europeans need to do much more for the european union are a house emplaced sanctions against crimea. they need to enforce them. the purpose is to turn crimea into very expensive liability and not simply a prized possession that putin can parade around. secondly we need to go beyond
just crimea sanctions and we need to have two think about and renew our menu of sanctions and here are some ideas. first of all in the financial area a ban on new russian sovereignty. this is our secretary new treasury secretary mnuchin said a few months ago that this is a step too far. my own conversations with experts who know more about financial markers than i do suggest this is a tough step. it could rattle russian markets. secondly, consider no new debt financing apply to all russian state enterprises are that's not quite as drastic because we have already applied restrictions on debt financing to the big russian state banks.
nevertheless this would be a significant additional step. third, i thank you very much. we were expecting no less. ambassador vershbow. >> i have the fortune of being the last and everything are to being said so i'll offer a few main points in some small additional i hope insights. first of all to frame this issue it goes back to what celeste said the kremlin is pursuing a revisionist policy to a bend the rules of order established since the cold war but even at the end of world war ii. concepts like sovereignty in territorial integrity. in moscow it is not brought in a country which has a sizable number of ethnic russians or for that matter russian -- the way to understand what is happening in eastern ukraine is that if moscow succeeds in up-ending the territorial integrity of ukraine the chance of moscow provoking
the baltic states goes way up. it's 25% they population in estonia that are russia. the smartest and safest way to defend our baltic allies is to make sure moscow gets logged down until it decides to leave. that does not involve american troops or nato troops. two if you look at the crisis happening right now, happen on november 25? the first thing to understand is that moscow began a new part of its campaign against ukraine in april when it began to inspect ships coming to and from the ukraine imports. it's remains an important economic area for ukraine. as a result of the inspections the delays in shipping imports an expert from ukraine imports have dropped according to statistics that are readily
available 50% according to some firms dealing heavily they told me last week, 66%. either way that's a major hit to ukraine's economy but also for those of you who remember moscow blames whose economic livelihood is threatened by moscow's heavy-handed in moscow. impartial terms a greater number of russians and russian speakers. barely we know it's a cynical game. now what happened on november 25 it was part of russia's tightening of the clamp on dunbar. to come in september hugh crane spent -- sent naval ships through the kerch strait into the sea of basel. my understanding and i will leave it at that is mr. putin after this happened although he
did not say no was not an uzi stec about it. he did not want it to happen a second time. the third data point which has nothing to do with this ukraine one or is in the process of winning a critical victory in its war for true independence. you will note the constantinople patriarch in the orthodox world has announced his intention to grant ukraine auto so fully very soon. this lead to the creation of unified ukrainian orthodox church recognized by world orthodoxy which will take up substantial amount of churches with it and become the second largest church in the out orthodox world which will also be a counter to kremlin influence. mr. putin is not amused by this. the next point, mr. putin's own domestic albums.
you have seen a rash of not predict a well-informed analysis they declared russian laws the way to deal with domestic problems. i'm not saying political calculations did not play at all in his decisions but marshall law when you are a relatively new country like ukraine threatened by the world's second most powerful military is not a crazy option. it's also an option which poroshenko was slammed for three to four years. anyway while people were focusing on that which is very, very very positive kremlin propagandists and no one was paying attention to the fact that not only has putin's approval rating dropped to the lowest figures of the 60s but much more importantly, he was in the 60s before but the polls show and have shown for a couple
of years the majority of russians think the country is heading in the wrong direction. this is new information. the different polls from moscow's premier institution demonstrates that a majority of russians are now blaming the president of russia for that fact is. that is a dangerous statistic could mr. putin had -- finally this happen on november 20 10th. on november 23 naval ships started sailing towards the kerch strait asking to go through the straits of oslo. the kremlin has built up immunity in the sea of oslo. if you felt that stranglehold on economic to be through kerch strait also to position their military for possible additional strikes or to raise the cost of ukraine's defense by threatening additional strikes in the sea of oslo. some people talk about the
problem of crimea's water supply that shaky bridge that sandy refer to but let's remember a spare could not build a bridge across the straits through the waters of straits, the currents are very strong which is why the railroad with -- the road bridge is not -- anyway if that ridge is in trouble theme for the canal which in the days when ukraine have full control over crimea supply water from the new river in crimea becomes very important. i personally don't think the kremlin will try to seize that because that would require a military operation. they want to avoid that type of operation because that will trigger serious sanctions and other actions. all these things have the
kremlin ready to say no to the next i'm ukraine will send its ships to the kerch strait. what was kremlin trying to do with the ships? it the goal was simply stopping the ships from entering into the sea once they put that tanker and give balls in the picture over at the kerch strait with that tanker sitting there the only way the ships could have gotten in would be by taking force against the tanker and that would have been the pretext of moscow would have love to slam ukraine and much harder way than they did for attacking the ships. what do the russians tried to do first? to ram the tug vote. what were they trying to do? they were trying to get the ukrainians to shoot. if the ukrainian shot first they could punch. it didn't work. ukraine did not shoot.
by the way you all heard the tapes. they expected some sort of antics from the kremlin. the ordinance for the commander on the ground to the sailors were saying go after them. interestingly not only did they try ramming when that didn't produce an reaction they tried shooting. that would have again been the kremlin to say they are shooting us in that gives us a reason to bomb. they shot and then they put an eye on the unctuous jump point they seized the ships. here is my final point and the most important one. once they did that, once the ukrainians had not responded in the way the russians claimed moscow hunker down said hey we
are not doing anything guys. why did they do that? they wanted to make sure the west remained asleep and this comes back to the point about russia as in a revisionist power. put nest as a -- putin as a revisionist leader. their aim is to take as much as they can without provoking the west. for those who say the need for strong response is warlike is provocative. you've tried 10 years of appeasement. we tried it after georgia. we got crimea. we tried it after crimea, we got done boss. the point that we didn't have it thanks to celestine dan. although remember, remember remember dunbar began as an operation in april of 14 for the
hard sanctions only came in july 3 months later. now it was 10 days after in the black sea. the europeans didn't even take the sanctions until their shoot down of the malaysian airline. we needed a little bit of encouragement. the full range of measures on sanctions, those are the ones i don't need to repeat. i suspect that over time, four,, six coming weeks we will see the u.s. somehow move forward and take some of those steps. this aggression has slowed down and appointed time where it at. the fact that with the lame duck congress. congress is a very important factor in this whole equation. the obama and under the trump administration but eventually we would see a stronger u.s.
response which made the way for the europeans. senate thank you so much ambassador herbst. i wanted to ask mr. vershbow. there's a lot of boats bumping into each other. why is it such a big deal puts big deal? it the look of the video it doesn't look like much. >> hopefully that will get you going. >> mostly first of all any kind of military clashes intrinsically dangerous because it creates the combustible material for an escalation and rarely do complex the best way to higher levels for many reasons, it's an unpredictable game. so i think that is why there is reason for concern. whereas we have had clashes between russian forces and other ground forces it really is extraordinary that it's been
extended to the maritime -- while this is new and it's predictable because the black sea is also with several nato members as andy pointed out. the reason, would come back to the recent as combustible as it is politically combustible. the willingness of this kremlin as a military instrument not invasion but military instruments for political and that is the change from earlier. difficult rush under the first two terms of putin's presidency we were willing to do military force inside of russia. when they geltz and presidential leadership was willing to use military force in moldova to expel but to use military force not just for grabbing territory but to change the local rules of the game i think is broader and
more dangerous. it makes it politically and militarily unpredictable in ways that a more capable and more assertive russia has demonstrated its willingness to entertain. >> ambassador you just wrote in the "washington post" that nato should expand its presence in the black sea. what about the sea of as not? some of argued that nato should split -- at the invitation of the ukrainian government is it legal and is it wise? >> i think the fundamental problem is it isn't legal under the high lateral agreement of 2003. russia gets clear on any request by third countries to pass from the kurdish straits. apparently there are serious
operational constraints because of the shallow body of water and many american naval vessels and allied vessels could actually go in there and operate. would it be a wise move? that is debatable but i think given it's only a theoretical possibility the focus should he on beefing up nato presence. not letting that become uncontested russian lake showing the russians if they are worried about encroachment of nato forces that they are triggering this rather than preventing it through their aggressive behavior. that may not be enough but i think it would be a step to show a little more backbone than it's been showing in last month. >> the leading candidate to replace german chancellor angela merkel has suggested the eu ban russian ships until they resolution is resolved. would he think about that
proposal? >> i take it's a reasonable proposal. banning russian shipping, it's important to sink through the collateral damage and whether the balance of pain is going to be the way you want it to be. that's one that i would take a look at. and in a german politician is calling for more sanctions i want to listen most attentively and as sympathetically as possible but i don't want to go into a hypothetical because there are a lot of ideas out there and you want to make sure you can do it and it's not going to have fun for seeing consequences and it will hurt the people that you want to hurt >> a bit more time to look into it. ambassador herbst why are we letting ourselves get dragged her blond squirrels from the south china sea to a cause you?
>> if you recognize that to that commitment to the allies to the security of the united states and prosperity of the united states you don't want that to happen and this is where buchanan doesn't get it as long as the support doesn't provide. meaning weapons and where moscow has to worry about defense.
and the south china sea give me a break. the south china sea has a very large percentage of global trade and to dominate the south china sea and how do we do that? >> we would not publish that article let's just put it that way. so to save around one goes to russia and the crisis do you agree with that assessment did russia come out on top? >> it is not round one but it is around one it is a continuation of the effort to influence ukraine for sure with the tactical advantages
unraveled so that is the other advocacy so if all those sanctions are what europeans have to suffer so that we don't keep losing to the bigger challenge we know present tramp canceled the meeting with vladimir putin at the g 20 what about treating diplomatic engagement. >> and with that diplomatic engagement and then that way and what you would be with a member of the security council
with the regional crisis around the world. and then in this case and then to go to when a star is as long as we don't have a president who is not incapable. it in that ham-handed last-minute way and with the position of strength that would be one of the ways to come up with sanctions for the europeans of the american companies.
and that is ridiculous. >> we want to ask one more question than we will turn to audience we are in the cycle of bad for worse and with the threat of conflict between two nuclear powers will you reject that question? >> but i will reject the premise. of course we have better relations with russia early in the eighties so with world
peace post afghanistan aggression but that was not going to work and tactically to lose every round of the cold war. and with those underlying strategic issues to play that hand well. and not as strong as he makes out to strut around. if we organize ourselves of all the assets of high ground but the purposes and to beat on russia but to have better relationships which i believe is possible.
but i do believe it is possible. >> i simply underscore the issue is not good relations with moscow but protecting american interest. because he is a strategic master i think he is a strategic loser but ukraine wants to it was about nato or ukraine but stupid china. that is a strategic problem. and i suspect that moscow and doesn't want to increase the fight with the policies.
>> and what is different today and bring about a change for the better we have a russian president who maintains relations with those living standards and the russian people not put up with that so we have to we are not doomed in this spiral forever the with a strategic competition. >>. >> i completely agree.
personal. so with that form of putin's him it is real in the minds of the kremlin they saw at that as a threat that we need to take seriously it is deeply embedded not just what we hope for. >> we would love to talk to you 30 more minutes. >> when you get up i need your identity and the question. no statement i will cut you off. >>. >> with all of your experience
targeting but the ongoing situation and we appreciate your patience. but since i arrived at the atlantic council that you have certain services. there is no doubt that moscow's policies are designed to produce leadership with those criminal interest. and what happened the spring but putin has said not just as president of the ukraine but
also made statements about the ability to deal with ukraine in a better fashion after the elections with new leadership. >> to get those they want but that will not happen. how the parties shape up with that dynamic similar to what they face today in the political class against kremlin aggression and putin is the father of the ukrainian nationals.
but where we have policy putin hopes he gets the ukraine that he wants. and that this is not worked. so the russians will take a second and serious look and with those peacekeeping forces but the kremlin will not win this war. as long as western policy remains. but then it will get stronger in the months ahead.
significant new violation of international law the eta - - the area that nato patrols and much more cautious of those operations. nato has many more cards in the deck and has a very weak and but the military is much stronger than it used to be but that isn't at the top of the list of that military move. but i agree that it cannot be ruled out or other european
allies should respond early on to test the waters with that kind of operation. >> and to get some views on this and presumably with other european states i am much more worried about their nefarious activities. with this difficult environment of the reinforcement to generally harassing and shipping from
in january 2014 in 2025 percent maximum but in crimea 40 or 42 percent are interested to join russia the majority of crimea and the status quo. and with the attitudes of people in those places. >>. >> but the other difference is to be sensitive to cost while i agree i worry about that political temptation with
latvia and estonia i think it is not crazy and understands the importance to enhance the deterrent method moving forward to the nato alliance that doesn't solve the problem for ukraine. but there is something in there it is sensitive to so possible military for ukraine to deal with russia. >>. >> from the policy research institute we have a number of experts and diplomats here so i'll ask you to take off your hat so releasing a poll last
week a 10 percent german poll said they should have stronger relationship in cooperation with russia through the united states at 43 percent. lot of the conversation is on nato or retaliatory measures with any long-term strategy. what counsel would you give to the administration about what needs to happen between berlin and moscow? >> i am skeptical about reading too much. i went through the bush administration all that meant was of the policy and even by
aggression and ukraine recently on the budapest memorandum and to invoke this mechanism. how do you see the ability of the budapest memorandum? with the architecture of security and defense and the cornerstone treaty and the challenge what is your perspective? >> thank you. >> but lack of the enforcement
mechanism with the reality that with the political will at the time and once it was done i don't know if we can bring it back we have to think about it more broadly with those principles that are reflected in where you hope to begin a process and russia is focusing on dunbar with that reinterpretation or what they might do in the coming months
and that would influence the election. and to stand up to that memoranda and then look to the future. >> one more question. >> and with the atlantic council i am reminded in january 68 with the johnson administration so to look at western leadership dealing with yellowjackets to reset will be gone after the 11th
and donald trump with the tariff band comments. so it seems he is dealing with an extremely weekend leadership. so to raise the prospect but it strikes me has to be putin talk to put in a broader strategic concept but they have to destroy us you have start to or a new start so would that not be a bad idea
if there is some idea that overarching conference that might address all these issues? otherwise i don't see anything happening with ukraine if not be more aggressive despite their policy. >> a conference right now would be a disaster because of putin and i would expand there are a zillion sanctions you could put on russia but the kremlin is the effective sanctions so with the administration it was exactly those who with the core leadership looking at with
those nato members that are not destabilizing what putin love right now would be a security conference because he is on a roll and does not sit down and once what the kremlin is experiencing too seriously get back to the original comment that we are not asking russia to not do anything it didn't except at the end of the cold war but these to belong to other countries but not right now. >> thank you so much. i'm afraid we are out of time