January 30, 2004
SECRETARY POWELL IN RUSSIA: BILATERAL RELATIONS
** Writers agree Powell
clarified the democratic "shortcomings" of an "authoritarian
** Putin will avoid
"brusque statements" on foreign policy ahead of presidential
** U.S. military bases in
"Russia's former backyard" could result in a "head-on
'Substantial' differences to remain despite attempts to
'camouflage them'-- Dailies saw Secretary
Powell using an "unusually harsh" tone to express "unhappiness
about Putin's political moves," although one German observer said Powell
succeeded in not provoking "a fit of frenzied rage in the Kremlin." Britain's independent Financial Times
praised Powell's "warning signal," adding that "Russian
democracy leaves much to be desired."
While bilateral relations "will not return to the strategic
confrontations of the Cold War," Germany's left-of-center Berliner Zeitung
judged that the two sides are now moving to "establish sober and less
illusionary relations." Although
the two sides "want no quarrel," Russians remain unsure whether the
U.S. is an "ally, a partner, a rival, or an enemy," according to
Moscow's reformist Izvestiya.
Putin will avoid 'brusque' foreign policy statements before
elections-- Many outlets said
Moscow's soft line towards Powell's criticism stemmed from concerns over
Russia's upcoming presidential election.
Britain's independent BBC said that Putin "has little time for U.S.
arm-twisting" because he has an "election to win this
year." Russian papers predicted
that President Putin will eschew public spats with the U.S. given that his
"presidential campaign is just around the corner." Centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta said that
"duplicity" in the relationship "is even intensifying" as
both the U.S. and Russia approach presidential elections, with each side
politicizing relations for their own benefit.
Reformist Gazeta concluded that Putin wants to "to convince
the world that he is no dictator" and sought to "use Powell to the
full," while a German paper said the U.S. electorate "likes to hear
such strong words" as Powell used.
Russians have 'great concern' over U.S. 'progress in their
traditional zone of influence'-- The fact that "U.S.
diplomacy is active nearly all over the Russian neighborhood" poses a
"fortitude test for the Russian-American strategic partnership." Focusing on the "latest events in Georgia,"
including the extension of a U.S. military presence, several Russian writers
saw a "secret agenda" related to oil.
They complained that, for the U.S. military, "coming temporarily
means coming to stay." Moscow wants
the CIS to remain its "sphere of influence," but one centrist Russian
daily concluded, "Americans insist on their independence, territorial
integrity and development as market economies and democracies." The U.S.' "huge preponderance" in
these areas "leaves little chance for Russia." China's intellectual Guangming Daily agreed,
seeing a clear U.S. "policy of deterring and weakening Russia."
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: This
analysis was based on 26 reports from 11 countries over 24 - 29 January
2004. Excerpts from each country will be
listed from the most recent date.
Yevgeniy Verlin commented in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta
(1/29): "Colin Powell's visit to
Moscow left the impression of something incomplete or unsaid. Both sides were
quite verbose. It is true, though, that,
unlike last year, no one ever let the words 'strategic alliance' slip from his
lips. That topic is gone, as both
sides, looking into each other's eyes in a new sort of way, see a lot more
concern and suspicion than, say, before the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovskiy or
the beginning of the Duma elections.
Some may have been impressed by Powell's tough words regarding 'certain
developments in Russian politics and foreign policy in recent months' that
'have given us pause,' or by his other statement in Izvestiya on the day
of his arrival that 'without basic principles shared in common, our
relationship will not achieve its potential.'
Colin Powell sounded much milder the following day, when he was speaking
on Echo of Moscow, after his meetings with Vladimir Putin and Igor
Ivanov.... There was duplicity about the
visit by the Secretary of State, as he tried to please everyone by coming up
with strong criticism and speaking of a continued commitment to partnership all
at the same time. Duplicity in the
Moscow-Washington relationship remains. It is even intensifying as both are
moving to presidential elections."
"Powell As Good And Bad Cop"
Yevgeniy Verlin stated in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta
(1/28): Secretary Powell ended his visit
to Moscow yesterday posing as both bad cop and good cop. The former was quite emphatic, his criticism
of Moscow resounding back in the United States.... The latter, a 'good' Powell, promised
Russians all sorts of good things, from money for space research and the
withdrawal of bases from Georgia to contracts in Iraq. Clearly, the amount of 'carrots' offered by
the Americans will depend on Moscow's behavior.... The latest events in Georgia have become a
kind of fortitude test for the Russian-American strategic partnership. While Moscow wants Georgia and the rest of
the CIS to remain its sphere of influence, suggesting that the U.S. acquiesce
to its domination there, the Americans insist on their independence,
territorial integrity and development as market economies and democracies, that
is, everything that, given America's huge preponderance in influencing the
evolution of any prosperity-aspiring state in a peaceful sort of way, leaves
little chance for Russia as a dominant power."
Vadim Markushin opined in centrist army-run Krasnaya Zvezda
(1/28): "Mr. Powell has departed,
leaving us behind to reflect on the dividends from his visit. They are very much in evidence.... Powell tried hard to make it look as if
Washington's only concern in Georgia is to have it become a modern
democracy.... Unfortunately, the
Americans are willing to cooperate only to a certain extent. Once the Americans feel they are going to
have to constrain themselves, make room for others, they start pushing and
jostling. A case in point is the set of
sanctions the U.S. State Department has imposed against the Tula design office,
which has been accused of supplying arms to Iran and Iraq. The truth is that the Tula design office
supplied no weapons. It is just that the
State Department wants to clear the way for its competitors in the United
States.... As vulgar competition and
material interest prevail over anything else, they make real cooperation
between the U.S. and Russia more difficult.
To overcome that, it takes political will, a wise and strong mediator
between lofty ideals and selfishness."
"Making The Most Of The Powell Visit"
Denis Yermakov maintained in reformist Gazeta (1/28): "The visit by Secretary Powell was more
like a visit by a head of state, as far as its program is concerned. Within a space of two days he met with the
President, the speaker of the State Duma, Foreign and Defense Ministers, and
scores of Russian and Americans businesspeople. Obviously, the Russian Foreign Ministry
tried to help in every way. The Kremlin
makes no secret of the fact that it wanted the widest possible coverage of the
Powell visit. In the months since
Vladimir Putin went abroad last, the West has been following the 'Mikhail
Khodorkovskiy case' with concern, and the pro-Kremlin Yedinaya Rossiya (United
Russia) Party has won a constitutional majority in the State Duma. The President won't leave Russia at least for
another couple of months, and there are not many opportunities for him to
convince the world that he is no dictator.
So, it was important to use Powell to the full."
"Kremlin Takes Pause for Thought"
Svetlana Babayeva wrote in the Internet version
of reformist Izvestiya (1/28):
"The Americans have come to doubt that the two countries espouse
common values. Moscow has reacted to the
hints of the last few days in a fantastically calm way: Igor Ivanov gloated that the predictions of a
chill in relations have failed to come true.
Putin congratulated the Americans on their conquest of Mars and
added: 'The fundamental basis of Russian-U.S.
relations is robust.... We intend to
carry on acting in the same vein.... You
would have thought that we could rejoice:
Both sides have gotten answers to questions that plagued them and the
president has provided guarantees of the stability of his policy. However, the forecasts provided by experts
close to the formation of Russia's foreign policy course are extremely
vague: They do not know what the course
is.... A month ago many politicians and
experts involved in shaping Russia's foreign policy course were in a state
verging on panic: The presidential
campaign is just around the corner but there are no indications of what kind of
policy the regime wants to see over the coming years.... It is clear even now that at least until the
end of March Putin and his entourage will try to avoid brusque statements with
regard to foreign policy (and, obviously, domestic policy). The president may have decided to pause for
thought about where the country will be heading during his second term and how
it will be doing so. And who will be
effecting this movement. The Duma
campaign slogans which caused the whole of the civilized world to wince may
have plunged him into reverie regarding his team and policy...
"'They Will Never Leave Here"'
Reformist Izvestiya (Internet version)
opined (1/27): "The rivalry between
the two powers for the right to influence the countries of the former Union has
become apparent not only in politics and the economy. Last year it became clearly visible in the
military sphere as well. What could this
lead to? In the opinion of observers,
the U.S. has indeed activated its policy in the countries of the former USSR in
the past six to 12 months--despite the fact that the main forces were diverted
by Iraq--and has let it be known that it will continue to devote a certain
attention (even if by no means the main attention) to the region. In Russia these words and actions caused
agitation and irritation. Particularly
in view of the fact that Moscow itself has started to be more active in the
post-Soviet space.... The Americans,
having 'lanced' the Iraqi 'boil,' have come back and have even stepped up the
work of creating centers for their presence in the immediate vicinity of
regions which represent or in the future could represent a danger for the
U.S. So that, at the critical moment,
these points could quickly be transformed into depots, airfields, and basing
locations for servicemen. 'They will
never leave here, we are dealing with a long-term U.S. presence in Central Asia
and, possibly, in the Caucasus too,' a Russian expert close to political and
security circles, noted. The problem is
that many of the points where the Americans have arrived are in the immediate
vicinity of Russia's borders.... Russia,
which is standing on the threshold of a new presidential cycle, still cannot
decide whether it should regard the U.S. as an ally, a partner, a rival, or an
enemy on the expanses of the former 'Soviet motherland.' And, correspondingly, how it should react to
this. In addition, it faces the obvious
question: What can it offer its
neighbors so that they should stop looking across the ocean?"
"It Is So Good..."
Yekaterina Grigoryeva noted in reformist Izvestiya
(1/27): "The sides insisted that
whatever complications there are will not mar their relations, rather the
opposite is true--interaction between Moscow and Washington is so good now,
they can discuss any problem. This is
exactly why, Powell and Russian officials emphasized, there seem to have been
more differences lately.... As signaled
by Powell's article, Washington is not quite clear on what is going on inside
Russia. The Americans are beginning to
doubt that the two countries have shared values."
"Powell Blows Cold"
Yevgeniy Verlin observed in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta
(1/27): "Colin Powell's main
purpose yesterday was to try to find out where Putin's Russia was headed. As both sides said a lot of comforting words,
Powell reiterated his Administration's position that the future of the dialogue
and cooperation will depend directly on the progress of democracy in
Russia.... Moscow is seriously concerned
over the extended U.S. military presence in Georgia. The opinion here is that the Americans may
have a secret agenda that goes beyond 'fighting terrorism'.... The differences appear to be substantial, no
matter how Moscow and Washington try to camouflage them.... Neither side wants to look as if it is
yielding ground and lose face as a result, with both facing elections this year. President Bush has it the hardest as he has
to prove to his critics at home that Putin, the man he trusts, has no intention
of blocking America's interests in the world."
"The U.S., Russia Want No Quarrel"
Arkadiy Dubnov and Andrey Zlobin commented in reformist Vremya
Novostey (1/27): "U.S.
Secretary of State Colin Powell in Moscow yesterday did his best to convince
Americans, Russians and the rest of the world that there is no getting
U.S.-Russia relations back to the Cold War times. The Kremlin was trying to help as best it
could. Russia and the United States want
no quarrel, even though they can't hide that their relations have cooled
"Victory For Washington"
Aleksey Malashenko declared in official government-run Rossiyskaya
Gazeta (1/27): "That the U.S.
and Russia have expressed their interest in having the UN take over Iraq
reconstruction looks like a victory for Washington. With its military operation complete,
Washington needs to put up an international peacekeeping act. On the other hand, going over to a peaceful
phase under the auspices of an international organization may be seen as a
natural course of events."
"Friend Or Foe?"
Yegeniy Anisimov wrote in reformist youth-oriented Komsomol'skaya
Pravda (1/27): "We still can't
make up our minds about the Americans, uncertain whether they are an ally,
rival or perhaps probable opponent. The
Americans are undecided, too.... Based
on the Cold War logic, we would have to work hard to maintain our presence
wherever we can. But in a head-to-head
confrontation, we are bound to lose--America has a lot more money. All that remains is for Russia to realize its
vital interests and for the U.S. to decide what kind of Russia it needs and
recognize its interests accordingly."
"Americans Come To Stay"
Ivan Yegorov said in reformist Gazeta (1/27): "There are fears in the Russian Defense
Ministry that with the removal of its bases in Georgia, NATO will install its
own there. With the Americans, coming
temporarily means coming to stay. This
is how it was in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Central Asia."
The independent Financial Times editorialized (1/28): "Mr. Powell's criticism is closest to
the mark: Russian democracy leaves much to be desired, and Russian nationalism
has flourished under Mr. Putin's rule....
Mr. Powell is right to send a warning signal. But what is needed is a more consistent
approach from both EU and US. It should
be tough and honest engagement. An
illiberal, nationalist Russia will not be a good partner."
"New Chill Hits Russia-U.S. Relations"
Jon Leyne, the government-owned, editorially
independent BBC's State Department correspondent, observed (1/26, Internet
version): "It is all part of a
revival of some familiar Cold War themes.
Washington criticises Moscow over human rights and the two sides argue
over the degree of Russian influence on neighbouring states. In this case a self-confident--some would say
aggressive--administration in Washington is eager to assert more power in the
strategically important republic of Georgia.
At the same time President Putin has little time for U.S.
arm-twisting. He is high in the polls,
with a strong economy and an election to win this year. All of this does not suggest the beginning of
a new Cold War. But, outside the
gorgeous confines of the Kremlin's Green Room, there could certainly be a new
chill in the air."
Josef Joffe argued in center-left weekly Die Zeit of
Hamburg (1/29): "With subtle words
Secretary Powell reminded President Putin of a few rules in his treatment of
his own people and the world as a whole, words which Schroeder, Chirac and
colleagues have thus far not used.
Political power has not been linked to the law,' i.e. that the rule of
law has been subjected to a neo-Czarist rule.
'Free media and political parties' still have not yet managed to embark
on the path to independence, which means that under Putin, one principle is
still valid: 'All power to the Kremlin'....
Dr. Powell, unlike his western colleagues, told the [Russian] patient
what was long overdue, but he did this in such a smooth and pleasing way that
he did not provoke a fit of frenzied rage in the Kremlin."
Frank Herold commented in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung
(1/28): "Codes everybody understood
were used in statements during the Cold War, when politicians from West and
East met. The words constructive
dialogue meant there was a fierce quarrel, and saying both sides discussed
issues of mutual interest expressed that no agreement was reached. The meeting of Secretary Powell and his
Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov calls the old days to mind. No concrete result, no tangible agreement, no
agenda for future tasks. Only a few
empty sayings. But the tired words of friendship and partnership often used in
the past were missing. The only thing
one can say for sure about the current state of U.S.-Russian relations is that
there is no intention to quarrel publicly.
Given the period of positive expectations that determined the relations
of both powers for the last years, this is a palpable cooling. But it must be welcomed if it means that the
U.S. and Russia take first steps to finally bid farewell to false pathos and
establish sober and less illusionary relations."
"Powell's New Openness"
Matthias Dobrinski opined in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung
of Munich (1/27): "During his visit
to Moscow, Secretary Powell said U.S.-Russian relations stand on a sound
foundation. They need it, since Powell
used his stay to say a few truths, which the Kremlin does not like to
hear.... Such accusations are not new,
but it is new that the U.S. government is so outspoken.... When Powell now mentions the shortcomings of
Russia's democracy, this is also--and possibly unintentionally--the confession
of one's own mistakes. The government in
Washington, like the one in Berlin, is co-responsible for Putin's backward
moves. The Kremlin leader has learned
that it is not necessary to act democratically when one wants to be treated
well by western democracies. Economic
interests and the fight against terrorism are more important. So a 'controlled democracy' with elections
without equal opportunities and justice authorities that serve policy has
established in Russia. But an
authoritarian Russia will not be a reliable partner for the West in the long
run. Secretary Powell seems to have
realized this. His policy of open words
should form a precedent."
Berthold Kohler argued in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine
(1/27): "There is no reason to get
excited, since, in the U.S. point of view, Russia is part of the axis of
good. And this is the reason why
Washington (but also Europe) was silent when President Putin described his
efforts in Chechnya as his contribution to the fight against international
terrorism. Now that the Iraq war is over
and the U.S. angle is widening again, Washington seems to afford a few
well-meaning words about the things that happen in Russia's 'controlled
democracy.' Powell's remarks were very
clear compared to the things the secretary of state usually writes in
international papers. They were so
strong that they were even heard in the United States that likes to hear such
strong words. Unlike President Putin,
President Bush has not yet won his re-election, but this is probably something
the Russian will let the American get away with."
BELGIUM: "The U.S. Is
Gradually Making Up To Moscow"
Adele Smith held in left-of-center Le Soir (1/24): "Washington is openly wooing the new
strong man of the former Soviet republic. If the United States is constantly
increasing its influence in that region, it is because, as of 2005, a 1,750km
pipeline is supposed to carry the oil from the Caspian Sea to Western
markets. The Americans did their utmost
to prevent the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline from going through Russia and they
now want Georgia's stability and the pipeline's security. The U.S., which was strongly disappointed by
Eduard Shevardnadze's term in office, welcomed his replacement--which was
theoretically not supposed to take place until next year. In ten years, Washington granted over $1
billion to Georgia, making that former Soviet republic the second largest
recipient of U.S. aid per habitant after Israel, but without any improvement of
Georgia's catastrophic economic situation.
Trusting the new Georgian President, who is clearly determined to reform
the country, Washington has decided to give him a chance, granting in almost
$25 million in emergency aid and pledging $164 million for 2004. Besides, the U.S. ambassador has recently
announced that the U.S. military presence, which was supposed to end next
march, would be extended.... The
Americans are also eager to see Russian troops leave the country and to replace
them by U.S. troops. The Russians had
signed an agreement with the OSCE in 1999 according to which they would
evacuate three military bases in 2001, but Moscow, which still occupies two
bases, considers that it will take about eleven years. Washington and the new Georgian president
have both stepped up their pressure on Russia.... The ball is now in the court of the Russians,
who are witnessing the Americans' progress in their traditional zone of
influence with great concern."
BULGARIA: "A Turn Into
A One-Way Street"
Center-right Dnevnik editorialized (1/27): "For the first time Washington outlined
so categorically its new understanding as to how long Moscow's arm could
be. Russia's increased interest in the
last several months in the matters of the former Soviet republics have come to
a head-on collision with the Western interests and this could lead to a
completely new type of partnership or confrontation. Under the motto for building new democracies,
the Americans will hardly waste the chance for at least a token military
build-up. Russia is still unable to
figure out whether this is good or bad for its economic interests. In the meanwhile, the small countries have
learned to live off the big powers' competition."
Pavel Masa maintained in center-right Lidove noviny
(1/27): "'The storm did not
happen,' Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ivanov announced after holding talks
with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Lightning and thunderbolts were expected after Powell wrote in the daily
Izvestia (in translation from diplomatic newspeak) that Russian
authorities violate the law and do not respect the sovereignty of other
states. The Russians and their guest
praised their 'strategic partnership' so much that it provoked a known political
scientist to ask them what exactly it is....
Powell publicly then stated: 'The
strength of our relations rests on the fact that we can openly speak about
differences'.... This answer can be a
puzzle for political scientists, but couples who have come through family
storms can understand this.... We
constantly argue...whether to try a vacation together...regardless of where--on
the Canary Islands or on Mars. The
problem is, however, that this usually ends up in divorce due to
incompatibility between husband and wife.
Strategic partnership is simply not love."
Advised And Warned Russian Leadership"
Finland's leading centrist Helsingin Sanomat editorialized
(1/29): “U.S. Secretary of State Colin
Powell said in an interview with the EHO Moskvy radio station that the United
States was not in the process of imposing a blockade around Russia. The Secretary’s recent visit to Moscow
proceeded without discordant notes or public disagreement, although the tone he
had chosen was unusually powerful even for an American.... U.S. diplomacy is active nearly all over the
Russian neighborhood. Washington does
not wish to be interpreted as stepping on anybody’s toes, but does not ask for
anyone’s permission for its actions, either.
Its influence has grown in Central Asia and the Caucasus, which are
Russia’s former backyard. Powell also
expressed unusually critical views about Russia’s internal developments. In an article published in Izvestiya,
he referred to the defective freedom of expression, the flaws in the
rule of law and the war in Chechnya. Until quite recently, the tone of the Bush
Administration has been different and remarkably more polite. The United States has an election year, which
might explain the new emphasis in the statements of the Cabinet members.”
ROMANIA: "Easing A
Adrian Cochino stated in independent Cotidianul
(1/26): “In Tbilisi for the swearing-in
ceremony of President Mikhail Shaakashvili, this being a first stage of a tour
meant to improve Russian-American relations, U.S. Secretary of State Colin
Powell once again called for Russian troops in Georgia to be withdrawn, but
eased the tone of his statement by appreciating that Moscow and Washington are
not 'competing’ to influence the situation in Georgia, and that both sides have
the same interests in improving the life of the Georgian people.”
Dubai's independent The Gulf Today
(Internet Version) stated (1/27):
"There was more to Powell's meeting with President Putin in Moscow
on Monday than a cementing of bilateral relations. He used the opportunity to express America's
unhappiness about Putin's recent political moves. The tone of Powell's statement was
unusually harsh considering the new-found bonhomie between Putin and
Bush.... It does not take much to
understand what are the values that Washington wants others to share with
it. Democracy in the rest of the world
means, according to the U.S. government, when others are willing to accommodate
whatever the U.S. wants from them. Power
to the people, Bush exhorts, and we see what kind of democracy is the U.S.
trying to establish in Iraq. Anyone who
values real democracy as something beyond puppetry stands the danger of failing
in the eyes of the U.S. This would
explain Powell's concern about Putin's politics. The diplomatic niceties that followed the
secretary of state's comments hide a deepening rift between the two
countries.... Powell's comments will not
dent the ties between Moscow and Washington.
But it would further warn Putin to be on his guard."
Look At Russia-U.S. Relations From Powell’s Visit To Russia”
Yang Zheng commented in official intellectual Guangming
Daily (Guangming Ribao) (1/29):
“Public opinion holds that during Powell’s visit to Russia, he spent
every effort to show the world that Russia-U.S. relations have made a
‘breakthrough.’ Powell intended to make
the Russian and American people, and even the world, know that Russia-U.S. relations
will never return to the ‘Cold War’ era....
Analysts believe that Russia-U.S. relations will not return to the
strategic confrontations of the Cold War.
But as long as the U.S. continues its policy of deterring and weakening
Russia, the squeeze and anti-squeeze battles between Russia and the U.S. will
be unavoidable. Therefore the two
countries’ relations will not be completely repaired within the short term.”
The nationalist Hindustan Times declared
(1/28): "Secretary Powell's
frankly-worded article in Izvestiya on Monday has angered many Russians
and led some to wonder whether U.S.-Russian relations are headed for a new Cold
War.... 'The Americans have become
increasingly messianic, and want to impose their views of democracy and
strategic necessity' according to one Russian commentator."