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Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

January 30, 2004

January 30, 2004





**  Writers agree Powell clarified the democratic "shortcomings" of an "authoritarian Russia."


**  Putin will avoid "brusque statements" on foreign policy ahead of presidential elections.


**  U.S. military bases in "Russia's former backyard" could result in a "head-on collision."




'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. 




RUSSIA:  "Duplicity"


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."


"Classic Diplomacy"


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 somewhat."


"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."


BRITAIN:  "A Timely  Warning"


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."


GERMANY:  "Dr. Powell"


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."


"American-Russian Cooling"


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."


"Strong Words"


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."


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Partnership Move"


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."


FINLAND:  "Powell 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 Tone"


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.”




UAE:  "Democracy Roadshow"


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."




CHINA:  “A 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.”


INDIA:  "Anger"


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."



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