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NATO Expands, Russia Grumbles

Wade Boese

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov is calling upon the United States and NATO not to let relations with Russia slip into a “cold peace” following the March 29 addition of seven new members into the Western military alliance. In an April 6 speech in Washington, Ivanov struck the shrillest note among Russian leaders in a persistent yet resigned chorus opposing NATO’s growth.

Ivanov depicted Moscow’s view of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia joining NATO as “calm, but negative.” Ivanov, who attended a NATO-Russian meeting on combating terrorism the day before, said that a window of opportunity remained for a meaningful NATO-Russian partnership but warned that the West should not allow it to become a “small vent shaft” or close altogether by forsaking Russian interests.

NATO’s recent expansion marked the second time that states from the old Soviet military bloc joined their previous Cold War rivals and the first to include former Soviet republics, in the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. NATO welcomed Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic into its ranks in 1999.

At the heart of NATO membership is a guarantee that an attack against one member will be considered an attack against all. In recent years, NATO has augmented its traditional role of defending its members’ territories with military action and deployments outside its members’ borders, such as in the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.

Russia objects to such activism. It also charges that the newest round of expansion will enable the alliance to deploy an unlimited amount of weaponry next to Russia’s borders in the three Baltic states, which are not bound by the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. The CFE Treaty balanced the number of battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters that NATO and the now-defunct Warsaw Pact could deploy in Europe.

Four NATO fighter jets started patrolling the three Baltic states’ airspace following their formal accession to the alliance. NATO, which now numbers 26 members, described the overflights as “routine policing.”

Although NATO contends that its expansion is not aimed at Russia, Ivanov appeared unconvinced. He declared that the Kremlin has “no illusions about the reasons why the Baltic states were admitted into NATO and why NATO airplanes…are being deployed there.” Ivanov explained, “It has nothing to do with a fight against terrorism and proliferation.”

Russia is urging that the Baltic states accede as soon as possible to a 1999 adapted version of the CFE Treaty. However, the three states cannot do so yet because the updated treaty, which supplants the original treaty’s arms limits on the two former Cold War military blocs with national limits for each state-party, has not entered into force. The original CFE Treaty, which has no provision for nonmembers to join it, is still in force and will remain so until all 30 existing CFE Treaty states-parties formally approve the adapted version.

NATO members are refusing to ratify the adapted CFE Treaty until Russia fulfills military withdrawal commitments related to Georgia and Moldova. In conjunction with the 1999 overhaul of the CFE Treaty, Moscow pledged that it would withdraw all of its military forces from Moldova by the end of 2002 and conclude negotiations with Georgia to close Russian bases on its territory by the end of 2000. Russia has not fulfilled either pledge. (See ACT, December 2003.)

While pressing Moscow to complete these actions, NATO is seeking to reassure Russia that its fear about unrestrained armaments in the Baltic states is unwarranted. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have all promised to apply for CFE membership once the adapted agreement enters into force.

Moreover, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told Russian President Vladimir Putin April 8 that “neither old nor new NATO members have any intention to station significant numbers of troops on their territories.”

Standing alongside Scheffer, Putin said Russia intends to “do all we can to ensure that relations between Russia and NATO develop positively.” Still, he labeled NATO expansion as a “problem” that did not address current security threats, such as terrorism.

Both Ivanov and Putin cautioned that any buildup of NATO military infrastructure near Russia’s borders would influence future Russian defense and security policies.

Secretary of State Colin Powell April 1 dismissed Moscow’s concerns that the West wants to hem Russia in. While noting the Pentagon’s interest in shifting U.S. bases around in Europe to respond better to troubled regions or terrorism, Powell said overall U.S. troop strength in Europe would decrease.

Nevertheless, Powell indicated NATO and the United States would remain vigilant against any Russian strong-arm tactics on its periphery. “Russia will try to exercise its influence and I think it’s something that we will have to watch and we’ll have to deal with,” Powell stated.





Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov is calling upon the United States and NATO not to let relations with Russia slip into a “cold peace” following...

Nuclear Necessity in Putin's Russia

Rose Gottemoeller

What purpose do nuclear weapons serve in today’s Russia? More than a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russians still deploy more than 5,000 warheads on strategic nuclear-weapon systems. Additionally, they might deploy more than 3,000 nonstrategic warheads, and there are as many as 18,000 warheads either in reserve or in a queue awaiting dismantlement.[1] This enormous capability is available to Kremlin leaders, but it is a very good question what they can do with it.

Clearly, Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to see some political and diplomatic benefit to the weapons. It was no accident that in February—only one month before Putin successfully won re-election—the Russian military staged an all-out nuclear exercise that harkened back to the Cold War. Much of the short-term political payoff was lost, of course, when, with Putin in ceremonial attendance and cameras rolling, the navy twice failed to launch ballistic missiles from its strategic strike submarine. Still, the Russian president also announced plans for a new strategic weapon system, one that, from the evidence of media reports, involves maneuvering warheads that were first developed in response to President Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” missile defense system in the 1980s.

By overseeing the exercise, Putin was able to look presidential, recalling the days of Soviet power for at least the portion of his electorate nostalgic for it. Also, he was able to say to the U.S. administration recently critical of him, “You cannot ignore Russia.” Finally, he was able to highlight for the Russian armed forces that he was paying attention, celebrating their stature as a national institution. Even with the missteps, the exercise thus was a political boon to Putin—not that he needed it in his landslide election victory. Still, Russia’s dilemmas about its nuclear arsenal extend well beyond the ramifications of these election-year events.

During much of his first term, Putin and his military and foreign policy advisers struggled with what to make of the Cold War-sized nuclear arsenal they inherited. Like Putin’s predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, they pondered whether this arsenal could offer security benefits in a world where the Kremlin’s most likely adversaries were no longer another nuclear weapons superpower, but terrorists and separatists. They tested whether Moscow could leverage these weapons to diplomatic advantage and “throw its nuclear weight around.” They probed whether it was possible to redirect the resources of the nuclear arsenal to other purposes.

As Putin begins his second term, however, many of these questions appear to have been at least partially answered. A combination of military necessity and domestic political benefits have combined with the demise of certain constraints, specifically START II, to convince Putin and his top aides that Russia should continue to depend on nuclear weapons. In fact, the Kremlin has drawn this conclusion even though Russian officials implicitly acknowledge such weaponry will do little to counter the main threats to their security.

To illustrate this point: the recent exercise mimicked one last seen in 1982, when the Soviet Union was at the height of its efforts to achieve nuclear war-fighting prowess and bolster its deterrent against the United States. Russia’s official comment, however, placed the 2004 exercise in a context quite different from Cold War deterrence. According to official sources, the exercises were planned to counter the threat of terrorism.[2]

Given the massive display of nuclear capability and the evident focus on the United States, this explanation at best seemed far-fetched: would the United States somehow be involved in a terrorist attack and have to be punished for pursuing that course? More likely, the Russian military was simply reaching for its default option, a well-known threat scenario and, at least in the old days, a well-practiced response.

A Missed Opportunity

It did not have to turn out this way. Beginning in the late 1990s, the role of strategic nuclear weapons in Russian national security was at the center of a bureaucratic battle over post-Cold War military reforms—a debate that could have turned out very differently. The battle featured two key players, Marshal Igor Sergeyev, a former commander-in-chief of the Strategic Rocket Forces (SRF) who was named minister of defense in May 1997, and Chief of the General Staff Anatoly Kvashnin, putatively his senior deputy. Sergeyev favored a strong role for strategic nuclear weapons in Russia’s military policy. Kvashnin wanted the Kremlin to put its emphasis on strengthening the conventional armed forces for regional conflicts such as the war in Chechnya.

Under Yeltsin, Sergeyev got his way, seeking and gaining approval from the Security Council to create a Strategic Deterrence Force. This force would combine the strategic nuclear capabilities in the SRF with those of the navy and air force, together with certain other early warning and command and control assets, including Russian reconnaissance satellites in space.[3] In this way, it would form an integrated strategic command similar to the Strategic Command being formed during a similar period in the United States.

This “victory” for the strategic forces was short-lived. By April 2000, the fierce debate between Sergeyev and Kvashnin had broken into the open. Kvashnin apparently went around Sergeyev to suggest to Putin, who had only recently ascended to the presidency, that the SRF should be downgraded as a separate service and folded into the air force. Sergeyev responded sharply and openly to this proposal, angrily insisting that it be withdrawn.[4] Only three months after being sworn in, Putin was faced with the unprecedented task of rebuking his two top military men for their public disagreement.

By August, however, Putin seemed to be deciding in Kvashnin’s favor. Through the summer, he fired several generals who were seen as allies of Sergeyev. Then, at a Security Council meeting in August, he gave lip service to the continued need for strong nuclear forces but otherwise placed emphasis squarely on strengthening the conventional forces. The notion of a Strategic Deterrence Force was officially dead; indeed the SRF were to be subordinated to the air force.

This outcome to the debate seemed to foretell a permanent victory for Kvashnin. Russian military policy seemed to be heading in the direction of a profound and unprecedented “denuclearization.” A keystone of Kvashnin’s concept was that the Russian Federation no longer needed to maintain nuclear parity with the United States but could succeed at deterring U.S. aggression with a minimal nuclear force. Kvashnin proposed, for example, to move from 756 land-based ICBMs to 150 by 2003.[5] Although Western analysts called this idea “strategic decoupling,” Russian experts such as Vladimir Dvorkin, a retired SRF general and eminent modeler of the strategic forces, called it “a gross strategic mistake.”[6]

Repercussions of U.S. Policy

Within two years, a U.S. policy decision helped restore the status of the strategic nuclear forces. In December 2001, the United States announced its intention to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The Russian Federation responded with restraint, officially calling the withdrawal a “mistake” but not reacting with immediate political or military countermoves. The Kremlin did, however, what it had long warned it would do: it stated that it would not implement the START II treaty cutting the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals. By doing so, Russian officials said they would have the flexibility to counter future U.S. missile defenses that might impact the effectiveness of their strategic arsenal.

In deciding not to implement START II, which had never concluded its ratification process and had not entered into force, Russian officials were able to opt out of that treaty’s ban on multiple-warhead land-based missiles (so-called MIRVed ICBMs). Instead of retiring such missiles, the Kremlin decided that it would continue deploying them for at least a decade.[7]

In this new strategic landscape, Russian experts began talking increasingly about strategic modernization “on the cheap,” looking for ways to sustain a modern strategic nuclear force and still accomplish urgently needed improvements to the conventional forces. Dvorkin, for example, spoke about putting multiple warheads on the Topol-M, the new Russian ICBM that had been designed with a single warhead to conform with START II.[8] Yet even without such measures, the failure of START II meant that the Kremlin no longer had an urgent requirement to modernize their strategic forces, because they could maintain the deployment of earlier generations of multiple warhead missiles. The Russian nuclear arsenal was very far indeed from Kvashnin’s stated goal of 150 land-based ICBMs by 2003—Sergeyev seemed to have been vindicated.

Putin and his top advisers made the shift plain in October 2003. At a meeting with top-ranking military leaders, Putin seemed to be saying that the time for upheaval was over when he announced, “We are moving from radical reforms to deliberate, future-oriented development of the armed forces.”[9] Sergei Ivanov, a Putin ally and civilian who had been sworn in as defense minister in April 2001, also seemed to call a halt to the roller-coaster debate over defense reform, asserting that the Russian army had already adapted to new realities. No longer, Ivanov said, would the Russian army have to consider global nuclear war or a large-scale conventional war as the most likely contingencies. Therefore, nuclear and conventional forces had already been trimmed substantially.[10]

Accompanying these statements was a reconfirmation that Russia was taking steps to maintain the capability of its strategic nuclear arsenal. Ivanov underscored the fact that the strategic nuclear forces would retain essentially the same composition as they had had during the Cold War years. “Russia retains a significant number of land-based strategic missiles.…I am speaking here about the most menacing missiles, of which we have dozens, with hundreds of warheads,” he said.[11]

Whether October 2003 represented an accurate time to declare the reform of the Russian armed forces complete seems doubtful. Even by the evidence that Putin and Ivanov presented in their public comments, reform still was a work in progress. Nevertheless, it is possible to point to a “settling out” of the relationship between the nuclear forces and the conventional forces. Neither Kvashnin, in his insistence on a “denuclearization” of the Russian armed forces, nor Sergeyev, with his emphasis on strong strategic nuclear forces and investment to match, had been precisely right. Each, however, had been to some measure correct.

The compromise path, as noted above, was engineered through the demise of START II. Relieved of START II constraints, the Russian Federation found a way to retain strategic nuclear weapons “on the cheap,” thus freeing up funding for conventional force modernization. With the competition resolved, perhaps progress on reforming conventional forces could accelerate.

Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons

This resolution, at least for the time being, of the debate about the relationship and primacy of strategic nuclear and conventional forces does not address the place of nonstrategic nuclear weapons in Russian military doctrine. One of the oddest aspects of the Sergeyev-Kvashnin debate was that both of those military leaders as well as other Russian military experts shared and continue to share a theoretical consensus on the utility of nonstrategic nuclear weapons to counter Russian conventional weakness.

In April 2000, a new version of Russian military doctrine was issued, consistent with earlier versions except in its emphasis on the importance of using nuclear weapons to deter and counter attacks on Russian territory. This doctrine had been preceded, in January 2000, by a new National Security Concept that emphasized the same point. In describing the concept, Ivanov, who was then secretary of the Security Council, spoke about the nuclear issue: “Russia never said and is not saying now that it will be the first to use nuclear weapons, but at the same time, Russia is not saying that it will not use nuclear weapons if it is exposed to a full-scale aggression which leads to an immediate threat of a break-up and [to] Russia’s existence in general.”[12]

The doctrine stressed that even a conventional attack on targets that the Russians considered of strategic importance on their own territory could bring forth a nuclear counterattack anywhere in the theater of military operations. The exercise Zapad-99 showed exactly the type of scenario that underpinned this doctrine. Enemy forces (and NATO was heavily implied, in alliance with regional opponents of Russia) were beginning to overrun Russian territory. At the same time, they were using high-precision conventional weapons to attack strategic targets, such as nuclear power plants, on Russian territory. In response, Russia launched bombers armed with nuclear air-launched cruise missiles against enemy territory.

The greatest innovation of the January 2000 National Security Concept was the suggestion that nonstrategic nuclear weapons might be used in a limited way to counter a conventional attack, without spurring a major escalation to all-out nuclear use. The concept essentially restated long-standing policy, renewing the mission of the nuclear forces to deter any attack—nuclear, chemical, biological or conventional—against the territory of the Russian Federation.[13]

The notion that a limited nuclear response could be used to de-escalate conflict was a departure from Soviet era doctrine, which tended to stress the inevitability of rapid escalation as a counter to the U.S. position. During that era, the United States stated that it might have to use nuclear weapons in a limited way to counter an overwhelming Soviet conventional attack on Western Europe. The arrival of this idea in Russian nuclear policy seems to indicate that the shoe was now on the other foot: it was now Russia that might have to contemplate the limited use of nuclear weapons to compensate for its weakness against a determined and overwhelming regional aggressor.

Thus, a major new trend was emerging in Russian nuclear security policy: Nuclear weapons would not only be used in a large-scale coalition war involving exchanges with a major power such as the United States. They might also be used in conflicts on Russia’s periphery if the Russians decided that they had no other option to counter a weapon of mass destruction attack involving chemical or biological weapons. They might also be used to counter attacks by small-scale but capable conventional forces impacting targets that Russia considers to be of strategic importance.

This latter use, it is worth stressing, had earlier antecedents. As early as the mid-1980s, the Soviets were becoming concerned about what they termed “strategic conventional attacks” against Soviet territory. In that era, they worried about the new U.S. long-range land-attack cruise missiles that were capable of carrying either conventional or nuclear warheads. The Soviets complained at the time that they would not be able to distinguish between a nuclear and conventional attack and would therefore either have to treat the attack as nuclear or lose their opportunity to launch on tactical warning. In this way, “strategic” conventional weapons might deprive them of their options to limit damage from a nuclear attack.[14]

At the time, the Soviets were not stressing the “de-escalatory” nature of limited nuclear response options. In fact, they tended to threaten that a cruise missile attack on Soviet territory, even if it turned out to be conventional, could lead to all-out nuclear war. They did claim, however, that such response options would be consistent with Soviet no-first-use policy because they would be responding on warning of what appeared to be a nuclear attack; once their opponent had launched such an attack, they were justified to respond. Even if the cruise missile turned out to be conventionally armed, they would have been responding to “nuclear” warning.

Thus, when the Russians talk about using their nuclear forces against “terrorists,” they are falling back on some established traditions but also on the military reality that their conventional forces are not yet ready to confront new threats to the Russian Federation. Yet, it not likely that terrorist decision-makers will be deterred by nuclear weapons.[15] Rather than bolstering Russian defenses against terrorism, the ineffectual nature of nuclear forces for this mission only highlights the continued weakness of the Russian armed forces overall.

Future Directions

The Russians seem to be drawing a measure of security from their nuclear capability and are doing it “on the cheap.” One problem will arise if that security becomes synonymous with the current high numbers of nuclear weapons and the Russian government decides it will no longer work to reduce its vast holdings of nuclear weapons and materials. At the moment, Russia seems to be taking seriously its commitments under the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) to reduce operational deployments of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,700-2,200 by 2012. For example, despite their decision to maintain some older systems, they are eliminating SS-18s at the rate of two to three regiments a year, blowing up silos so that the reductions are irreversible. As long as the Russians remain committed to reductions, their continuing dependence on nuclear forces is not a problem.

A problem will arise if the Russians decide that they must begin to modernize their nuclear capability, developing and building new nuclear warheads and possibly testing them. This direction looked possible in 2003 as high-level officials made obscure references to the need for new “strategic weapons.” Putin, for example, remarked approvingly about new strategic capabilities in his “State of the Union” address in May, but it was unclear whether he was talking about new advanced conventional weapons or new nuclear weapons.[16]

U.S. policy may have had some impact on these decisions. For example, Putin announced a new strategic system in February 2004, the resurrection of a Soviet-era maneuvering warhead project that had been originally designed to counter the U.S. Star Wars program. With the United States moving toward deployment of a national missile defense system, Putin perhaps wanted to reassure his military that important technological countermeasures were “in the works.”

Yet, U.S. plans to deploy missile defenses, and research and potentially deploy new nuclear weapons, have also prompted assertions from some Russian officials that they will not seek to match U.S. efforts. Russian officials have stated clearly, “We will not chase after you.” They seem to believe that existing Russian nuclear deployments could counter any new U.S. capabilities, offensive or defensive, for the foreseeable future. No need for panic, they convey, we will not be surprised or overwhelmed by new developments in the United States.[17]

Thus, Russian nuclear policy looking into the future is an interesting admixture. It combines military necessity—an insurance policy against conventional weakness—with a political expression of national pride. The celebration of the nuclear forces has also served a reassurance function, conveying that the leadership, and particularly Putin, value the military’s contribution to Russia’s future.

A key question for the international community, and indeed for the United States, is whether Russia’s nuclear capabilities and emotional investment in such weapons might be tapped for larger purposes than Russian domestic politics. It is often said that nuclear weapons give Russia a seat at the diplomatic table. Indeed, Russia’s status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council is linked to its status as a nuclear-weapon state under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

To be sure, Russia’s nuclear weapons give it a stronger role on the world stage than its economy or political heft would otherwise warrant, and Russia’s pride in this role should be harnessed to accomplish larger international goals. For example, the Russians might be asked to use their nuclear expertise more fully in the fight against proliferation. Recently, they have shown a willingness to take a firmer hand with Iran over the supply of fuel to the Bushehr reactor project. Can such firmness be extended both with Iran and to other proliferation tough cases? Can Russia in fact become a full partner to the United States in the fight against proliferation?[18]

Consider the example of North Korea. Having provided nuclear research reactors and power technology to North Korea in the first place, Russia has significant first-hand knowledge of the foundations of the North Korean program. Moreover, Russia has indicated an interest in serving as an international repository for spent nuclear fuel. If North Korea has not reprocessed all of its 8,000 nuclear fuel rods, it might be convinced to hand them over for storage at an international site, along with whatever plutonium has been produced. Because of its involvement with the North Korean program and its geographic proximity, Russia could provide the site for these materials.

The Russians, with the help of the United States, could also lead by example. For example, the Russian Federation could accelerate reductions in its nuclear arsenal and the nuclear materials that underpin it. Although the current U.S. administration does not seem interested in reductions beyond those enshrined in the SORT, there are good reasons to pursue them. In particular, controlling and eliminating nuclear assets is the best way to keep them out of the hands of terrorists and regimes inimical to the international order. This goal is particularly relevant to nonstrategic or tactical nuclear weapons. Up to this point, such weapons have not been subject to formal arms control agreements, but they are likely to be among the nuclear assets most attractive and accessible to terrorists.

Even if the United States and Russia do not immediately turn their attention to new nuclear arms reductions, they could reinvigorate joint efforts to protect, control, and account for nuclear materials. An early joint effort, called the Trilateral Initiative because of the involvement of the International Atomic Energy Agency along with the United States and Russia, made some progress on joint nuclear material protection in the 1990s but then stalled over implementation costs and related issues. Russia and the United States could quickly reinvigorate this initiative, thus providing some important impetus to international efforts to control nuclear materials.

Likewise, the United States and Russia promised each other, at the time the SORT was signed in May 2002, that they would examine new measures of transparency that would facilitate implementation of the treaty. Some of the most important of such measures could relate to monitoring warheads in storage. Both Russian and U.S. experts have spent considerable time jointly developing the technologies and procedures that would be necessary to monitor warhead storage, and this agenda could quickly be developed. These steps could apply equally to strategic and nonstrategic nuclear warheads if the two countries should decide to pursue joint measures that would control and account for both types.

The United States will have to make some effort to allow Russia to assume the role of a more equal partner on nonproliferation policy. Washington is accustomed, for example, to thinking of Russia more as a proliferation problem than part of the solution. Indeed, Russia’s insistence on selling nuclear reactors to unpalatable customers such as Iran and Libya has meant that it has been continually under suspicion as a proliferator itself. Nevertheless, the center of the proliferation sales network seems to have been in Pakistan rather than Russia. Thus, if the United States is willing to continue the difficult work of improving Russian export control laws and other regulations, Russia could develop into a reliable nonproliferation partner.

Likewise, on the arms control front, Russian weakness and distraction have often meant that the United States has taken the lead in advancing new initiatives. The SORT, for example, was based on a U.S. concept, although the Kremlin insisted that it be signed as a legally binding treaty rather than a political commitment. In the future, Washington may find itself as the only partner volunteering new ideas, such as further reductions in strategic nuclear forces or a withdrawal of nonstrategic nuclear weapons from NATO Europe. Even if such initiatives are advanced on a voluntary basis rather than in the context of a negotiation, they can be designed to draw forth a positive response from the Russian side.

The United States and Russian Federation have a long history of working together to solve nuclear problems, particularly in the realm of nuclear arms reductions. For the time being, Russian nuclear weapons must compensate in part for its weakness. However, Russia’s nuclear capabilities also mean that it can be somewhat self-confident in the international arena, turning its knowledge, expertise, and resources to serve the country’s larger goals. With sufficient U.S. cooperation and encouragement, Putin might be able to provide a new and positive answer to the question of what purpose nuclear weapons serve in today’s Russia.


1. According to information published by the Arms Control Association, as of July 31, 2003, strategic nuclear forces of the former Soviet Union totaled 5,286 nuclear warheads (2,922 ICBMs, 1,732 SLBMs, and 632 bombers). This information is based on the Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and the Russian Federation of July 31, 2003. Arms Control Association, “Current Strategic Nuclear Forces of the Former Soviet Union,” February 2004, available at www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/sovforces.asp. See also Natural Resources Defense Council, “Table of USSR/Russian Nuclear Warheads,” November 25, 2002, www.nrdc.org/nuclear/nudb/datab10.asp.

2. Ivan Safronov, “Russia Will Play Out a Nuclear Game With Itself,” Kommersant, January 30, 2004.

3. The inception of the Strategic Deterrence Forces is described in Jacob W. Kipp, “Russia’s Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons,” Military Review, May-June 2001, available at http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/fmsopubs/issues/russias_nukes/russias_nukes.htm.

4. David Hoffmann, “Putin Tries to Stop Feuding in the Military,” The Washington Post, July 15, 2000, p. 14. A good summation of Russian commentary on the debate is contained in Nikolai Sokov, “‘Denuclearization’ of Russia’s Defense Policy?” July 17, 2000, available at www.cns.miis.edu/pubs/reports/denuke.htm. Another good precis of the debate is Philipp C. Bleek, “Russia Ready to Reduce to 1,500 Warheads, Addressing Dispute Over Strategic Forces’ Fate,” Arms Control Today, September 2000.

5. For a good review of Russian sources on this point, see Sokov, “’Denuclearization’ of Russia’s Defense Policy?”

6. Vladimir Dvorkin, “Russia Needs a Transparent Development Programme for Its Strategic Nuclear Forces,” Vremya Novostei, No. 1, January 2003, translated in the CDI Russia Weekly, No. 240, Center for Defense Information, Washington, DC.

7. According to some analysts, SS-18s and SS-19s could be refurbished and maintained well beyond their guaranteed life span, perhaps until 2020 or even beyond. General Yury Kirillov, chief of the SRF Military Academy, said that, “[c]onsidering Russia’s economic capabilities, the preservation of Russia’s nuclear potential requires a maximum possible extension of the service life of the RS-20 and RS-18 MIRVed missile complexes.” (The NATO designators for these missiles are the SS-18 and SS-19.) Interview with Colonel General Yury Kirillov, “Possibly It’s Time to Advance the Idea of a Nuclear Deterrence Safeguards Treaty,” Yadernyy Kontrol, November-December 2002, translated in FBIS-SOV-2003-0114, October 5, 2002.

8. Discussion among Aleksandr Golts, Sergey Parkhomenko, and Vladimir Dvorkin, Ekho Moskvy Radio, May 21, 2002, available at www.echo.msk.ru/interview/8529.html.

9. Lenta.RU, available at http://vip.lenta.ru/fullstory/2003/10/02/doctrine/index.htm.

10. Viktor Litovkin, “Security is Best Achieved Through Coalition: Russia’s New Military Doctrine Highlights Community of Goals with the World,” www.cdi.org/russia/276-6.cfm.

11. Simon Saradzhyan, “Putin Beefs Up ICBM Capacity,” The Moscow Times, October 3, 2003. See also Jeremy Bransten, “Russia: Putin Talks Up Power of Nuclear Arsenal,” RFE/RL, available at www.rferl.org/nca/features/2003/10/03102003170748.asp.

12. “Security Council Chief Says New Concept ‘Unique,’” ITAR-TASS, February 24, 2000, in FBIS-SOV-2000-0224. The doctrine may be found at “Voyennaya doktrina Rossiiskoi Federatsii,” Nezavisimaya gazeta, April 22, 2000, available at http://ng.ru/printed/politics/2000-04-22/5_doktrina.html.

13. For a useful commentary on the link between Zapad-99 and the Security Concept, see Nikolai Sokov, “Russia’s New National Security Concept: The Nuclear Angle,” CNS Reports, January 19, 2000, available at http://cns.miis.edu/pubs/reports/sokov2.htm.

14. For a discussion of this period in Soviet doctrine, see Rose Gottemoeller, “Land-Attack Cruise Missiles,” Adelphi Paper, No. 226 (Winter 1987/88): 18-19.

15 It should be noted that, when the Russian government refers to “terrorists,” it often is describing separatists from the breakaway republic of Chechnya, who may or may not be engaging in nonstate terrorist activities. To the extent that Chechen politicians ascribe to the responsibilities of government leadership, they might be subject to some aspects of deterrence, especially of a nuclear kind.

16. President Vladimir Putin’s Annual Address to the Federal Assembly, May 16, 2003. Then-Deputy Prime Minister Alyoshin asserted after the president’s speech that Putin was talking about a new strategic command and control system to allow “the use of in-depth space, air and earth systems,” not new nuclear weapons. See Natalia Slavina, “Deputy Premier Says Russia Government to Pursue Tasks of Putin’s Address,” ITAR-TASS, May 16, 2003, transcribed in FBIS-SOV-2003-0516. See also “Russian Deputy Premier Calls for Developing IT-Intensive Weapon Systems,” Moscow Interfax, May 16, 2003, in FBIS-SOV-2003-0516.

17. Conversations with author, Moscow, January 2004.

18. This idea was advanced by Russian participants in a joint project of the U.S. National Academy of Scientists and the Russian Academy of Sciences on the future of nonproliferation coo=peration. See National Research Council of the National Academies, “Overcoming Impediments to U.S.-Russian Cooperation on Nuclear Non-Proliferation: Report of a Workshop,” February 2004, pp. 1-10.

Rose Gottemoeller is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where she holds a joint appointment with the Russian and Eurasian Program and the Global Policy Program. Before joining Carnegie in October 2000, Gottemoeller was deputy undersecretary for defense nuclear nonproliferation in the Department of Energy.





Putin Downsizes Russian Nuclear Agency

Gabrielle Kohlmeier

Russia’s formerly powerful Atomic Ministry stands to lose power in President Vladimir Putin’s second term, with uncertain consequences for the Kremlin’s stance on issues from policy toward Iran to cooperation with the United States on efforts to dismantle Russia’s Cold War stockpile of nuclear weapons and materials.

Just before winning an easy re-election March 14, Putin announced plans to restructure the executive branch to give him more power over the federal bureaucracy. The number of cabinet positions was cut from 30 to 17. One casualty of the downsizing was the Russian Atomic Ministry (Minatom), which was replaced with the new lower-level Federal Atomic Energy Agency. The agency is still headed by former Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev, but it is now under the Ministry of Industry and Energy with a reduced mandate that covers only civilian-related issues. Military aspects will now be handled by the Defense Ministry.

Minatom was in charge of producing and storing civilian and defense nuclear materials, the development and testing of nuclear weapons, and the elimination of excess nuclear warheads and munitions. The Russian government has yet to designate which of these activities will fall to the new agency and which will fall to the Defense Ministry. Putin has said that the new government structure will not be finalized before April.

Rose Gottemoeller, a key liaison with Minatom during the Clinton administration, said that one challenge will be to re-establish a rapport between the corresponding ministers, as U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham’s counterpart will now be Russian Minister of Energy and Industry Viktor Khristenko instead of Rumyantsev. A more difficult question will be whether Russian government reorganization will require a shift in responsibility for existing programs across corresponding U.S. departments. Various Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programs had been coordinated between the U.S. Department of Energy and Minatom, but now more of the programs could shift under Russian Defense Ministry control. Traditionally, however, the U.S. Department of Defense, not the Energy Department, deals with the Russian Defense Ministry. If responsibility for programs shifts across U.S. departments, nonproliferation budget allocations could also be affected. (See ACT, March 2004.)

Gottemoeller, who served as the Energy Department’s undersecretary for defense nuclear nonproliferation, also warned that the shift could harm decision-making and implementation of bilateral programs. In particular, the shift could complicate efforts by U.S. officials to gain what they believe is needed access to Russian nuclear facilities.

Paul Longsworth, National Nuclear Security Administration deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation, testified before a Senate committee March 10 that such efforts had recently been gaining ground with Minatom. “A working group has been established by Secretary Abraham and Minister Rumyantsev to address this issue [of access required by nonproliferation programs] and is testing new procedures for access to more sensitive Minatom facilties,” Longsworth said. However, such sensitive facilities might now move to the Defense Ministry, some sections of which, Gottemoeller said, have previously resisted granting access for U.S.-conducted CTR programs.

Despite these potential difficulties, U.S. officials assert that Russia’s stance on nonproliferation issues is moving in the right direction. In March 18 testimony before the House International Relations Committee, Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones stressed the progress in Russian-U.S. cooperation and the importance of continued engagement. Although various members of Congress voiced concerns over Russian-Iranian nuclear cooperation, Jones insisted that the “acknowledgement by the Russian government for the first time of their concern that Iran…wanted to develop a weapons program” marked significant advancement and that the Russian government “pledged that they will not ship nuclear fuel for Bushehr,” a civilian light-water nuclear plant that Russia has been building for Iran despite U.S. objections.

Speculation that Minatom’s demise might lead to the cancellation of the Bushehr project was dispelled with the March 22 announcement by the Federal Atomic Energy Agency that a trip to Iran to finalize the agreement to transfer nuclear fuel to Iran was not canceled, merely postponed. Rumyantsev asserted that the Bushehr project will proceed as planned as long as Tehran signs an agreement pledging to return all of the spent reactor fuel to Russia.







Russia’s formerly powerful Atomic Ministry stands to lose power in President Vladimir Putin’s second term, with uncertain consequences for the Kremlin’s stance on issues from policy toward Iran to...

NATO, Russia Hold Joint Missile Defense Exercise

Wade Boese

NATO and Russia used to plan missile attacks against each other, but now they are working together to protect against them. The former adversaries held their first exercise March 8-12 to test jointly developed procedures to defend against strikes from short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.

The exercise, which took place in Colorado Springs, Colo., did not involve actual military systems or troops but was done using computer simulations. It focused on how NATO and Russian commanders would communicate with each other and direct their troops if they came under missile attack during a joint operation. Nearly 60 representatives from Russia and nine NATO members participated in the “command post exercise.”

A NATO official said March 23 that the exercise went “very well,” although some “refinements” to the prepared procedures would be needed. Another exercise is expected before the end of 2005.

NATO and Russian officials jointly worked out the test procedures through a working group on theater missile defenses established in June 2002. That group is also conducting a study on how various air and missile defense systems might operate together.

NATO-Russian cooperation on theater missile defense follows earlier U.S.-Russian efforts initiated in September 1994 by then-Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin. The two countries have conducted a series of joint theater missile defense exercises since 1996. (See ACT, March 2001.)

Western cooperation with Russia on missile defenses has not involved building actual weapons. Washington and Moscow undertook a 1992 project, the Russian-American Observation Satellite (RAMOS), to build two satellites for detecting ballistic missile launches worldwide, but the Pentagon cancelled it earlier this year. No alternative has been proposed.





NATO and Russia used to plan missile attacks against each other, but now they are working together to protect against them. The former adversaries held their first exercise March 8-12 to test...

Putin Boasts About Russian Military Capabilities

Tests Show Both Strengths and Weaknesses

Wade Boese

In February, Russia concluded what it touted as its most extensive military exercises in two decades, revealing both the current weaknesses and the remaining strengths of Russia’s missile arsenal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin personally witnessed the low and high points. On Feb. 17, Putin watched as a Russian submarine reportedly failed to properly launch two ballistic missiles, although some Russian officials later contended that they were only supposed to be simulations. Another submarine ballistic missile launch went awry the next day. Also on Feb. 18, however, Putin was able to announce the successful launch of a strategic ballistic missile carrying what he described as a “new weapons system.”

Russia possesses “combat-ready armed forces, and this includes the nuclear forces,” Putin said in an English-language transcript supplied by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In his statement, Putin emphasized that the recent exercises cleared the way for adding to the Russian arsenal “new hypersound-speed, high-precision…weapons systems that can hit targets at intercontinental distance and can adjust their altitude and course as they travel.” He implied that such weapons would be ideal for penetrating potential missile defense systems.

Neither Putin nor other top Kremlin officials have shed further light on what the new weapons system is. Most speculation centers on the development of a warhead for a long-range missile that can maneuver after separating from its booster instead of following a ballistic trajectory through space and back to Earth. A warhead that could alter its trajectory would present a much harder target for a missile defense system to hit than a warhead that followed a predictable path.

Why Russia would need to develop such a sophisticated warhead remains unclear because it currently deploys more than 4,600 strategic warheads on more than 1,000 land- and submarine-based ballistic missiles that could simply overwhelm any missile defense system comprised of a lesser number of interceptors.

Although he contended that Russian arms modernization plans were “not in any way directed at the United States,” Putin also said, “[A]s other countries increase the number and quality of their arms and military potential, then Russia will also need to ensure it has new-generation arms and technology.” Washington is currently seeking to deploy the initial elements of a rudimentary multilayered missile defense system this fall and is also exploring new nuclear-weapon designs for new missions, such as destroying deeply buried enemy bunkers.

Still, the earlier submarine missile launch failures detracted from Putin’s upbeat theme. While Russian military officials and press reports went back and forth on whether the tests actually fizzled, Putin confirmed that everything did not go as planned. “Of course, there were pluses and minuses during the course of these exercises,” the president stated.

Putin further pointedly admitted that Russia’s military budget remains pinched. He dismissed the prospect of Russia trying to match U.S. missile defense work, saying, “We think that the time has not come to invest big money in such a project yet. We do not have this money to spare.”

Yet, he indicated that Russia would be keeping an eye on the U.S. effort. “We shall see how work moves ahead in other countries,” Putin said.

Putin is currently campaigning for re-election in March and has been running, in part, on a record of restoring Moscow’s military strength after its dramatic collapse following the end of the Cold War. His re-election is viewed by almost all observers as a certainty.






In February, Russia concluded what it touted as its most extensive military exercises in two decades, revealing both the current weaknesses and the remaining strengths of Russia’s missile arsenal...

Russia, NATO at Loggerheads Over Military Bases

Wade Boese

Reviving memories of their bitter Cold War rivalry, NATO and Russia are engaging in increasingly sharp exchanges over each other’s military deployments and basing plans.

Speaking Feb. 7 at a two-day security conference in Munich, Germany, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov warned that the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty was fast becoming obsolete and that it could end up scrapped. In doing so, he drew a pointed comparison to the June 2002 U.S. withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The CFE Treaty limits how much heavy weaponry, such as tanks, that 30 countries—including Russia and the United States—can deploy in Europe.

The 30 CFE states-parties negotiated an adapted version of the treaty in November 1999 to reflect the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the expansion of NATO, but it has yet to enter into force. Washington and other NATO capitals are refusing to ratify the revised agreement until Russia fulfills pledges to withdraw its armed forces from the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Moldova.

In conjunction with the adaptation of the CFE Treaty, Russia committed to withdraw all of its military troops and equipment out of Moldova by the end of 2002, close two out of four of its military bases in Georgia by the end of 2000, and reach a timetable with Georgia during 2000 for closure of the two remaining bases. Russia has not completed any of these tasks.

Ivanov charged that the status of Russia’s withdrawal from the two states does not have “the slightest relationship” to the adapted CFE Treaty.

Moscow is eager to bring the revised treaty into force because the older version does not limit how many arms NATO can deploy on the territories of four of the seven additional states scheduled to join the 19-member alliance by May. Specifically, the original treaty does not cover Slovenia and the three Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The Kremlin claims that NATO could then legally deploy limitless stockpiles of weaponry on Russia’s border.

If these four states join NATO before the adapted CFE Treaty enters into force, Ivanov said the original treaty limits would be “imperfect, rather ineffective, and removed from reality.”

Ivanov implied that the addition of the new NATO members could lead to a reversal of Russian force reductions in its northwestern region and in the Kaliningrad enclave, which sits between Poland and Lithuania.

Ivanov also questioned U.S. and alliance proposals to begin breaking up their large military bases into smaller deployments closer to Russia’s border. The defense minister said he understood the need for bases in Bulgaria and Romania as a launching point to counter terrorism but rhetorically asked why such bases were necessary in Poland and the three Baltic states.

In a move designed to ease Russian concerns about NATO expansion to the east, NATO and Russia concluded an agreement in May 1997, the NATO-Russian Founding Act, in which the alliance pledged that its growth would not lead to “additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces” on the territories of new members. The act was not legally binding.

“I would like to remind the representatives of [NATO] that with its expansion they are beginning to operate in the zone of vitally important interests of our country and ought to strive actually, not just in words, to consider our concerns,” Ivanov declared. He suggested one way to address Russian concerns is for NATO to permit the permanent stationing of Russian monitoring personnel at any new NATO bases. Moscow already has rights to inspect NATO bases periodically.

Ivanov ended his speech with a flourish, accusing U.S. and NATO military forces in Afghanistan of being complicit in that state’s illegal drug trade, which was threatening Russia. “I understand that, by allowing the drug business in Afghanistan, [NATO] gets the loyalty of field commanders and individual leaders of Afghanistan,” he stated.

NATO, particularly the United States, is pushing Russia to remove its military forces from Georgia and Moldova. During a late January trip to Georgia and Russia, Secretary of State Colin Powell repeatedly called on Moscow to fulfill its withdrawal commitments.

The Kremlin had contended it would take at least 11 years to pull its troops and arms out of Georgia, but Russian officials are now suggesting that it might be possible within a five-to-seven-year period if it receives financial assistance. Powell said the United States would contribute to such an effort, but that Russian estimates of hundreds of millions of dollars are unreasonable. Georgia has consistently called for a three-year process.

Russia has made fitful progress in withdrawing from Moldova and estimates are that it only has several months worth of work remaining. However, such projections are optimistically based on the withdrawal not being interrupted. The withdrawal is currently suspended.

Moscow pleads that it is not responsible for the irregular implementation. Instead, it blames Moldavian separatists who control the region where Russian forces are located for blocking the withdrawal. The separatists are demanding compensation for the Russian departure.






Reviving memories of their bitter Cold War rivalry, NATO and Russia are engaging in increasingly sharp exchanges over each other’s military deployments and basing plans.

India Buys Russian Aircraft Carrier

Wade Boese

India finally sealed a deal Jan. 20 for a Russian aircraft carrier after more than a decade of haggling. The estimated $1.5 billion contract signed by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes calls on Russia to refurbish the Soviet-era Admiral Gorshkov within five years and transfer it to India. Moscow will also provide a reported complement of between 12 to 16 MiG-29K fighter jets for the carrier, as well as some helicopters. The two defense ministers did not finalize agreements on other Russian weapons that New Delhi is reportedly interested in, such as the Tu-22 Backfire bomber and Akula-class nuclear submarine.






India finally sealed a deal Jan. 20 for a Russian aircraft carrier after more than a decade of haggling. The estimated $1.5 billion contract signed by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and...

REQUESTED FISCAL YEAR 2005: Bush Stresses Importance of Nunn-Lugar Programs but Cuts Funds in 2005 Budget Request

Miles A. Pomper

President George W. Bush Feb. 11 offered a strong endorsement of U.S. programs to safeguard or destroy the arsenal of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and materials formerly possessed by the Soviet Union. However, in his fiscal year 2005 budget request to Congress, released just a week earlier, Bush did not substantially increase funding for these programs and actually proposed cuts to the Department of Defense component as well as suggested spending shifts in programs in the Departments of Energy and State.

In a major nonproliferation address at the National Defense University, Bush called for expanding the so-called Nunn-Lugar programs, named after 1991 legislation drafted by former Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) and current Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.). The programs are intended to prevent the former Soviet Union’s most dangerous weapons and most experienced weapons scientists from falling into the wrong hands.

“The nations of the world must do all we can to secure and eliminate nuclear and chemical and biological and radiological materials,” Bush said.

Yet, Bush offered few specifics beyond saying that the programs should take on the additional task of retraining Iraqi and Libyan weapons scientists for civilian work. The State Department had already announced an Iraq initiative in December. (See ACT, January/February 2004.)

The budget request, released Feb. 2, maintains overall spending on Nunn-Lugar activities at current levels of about $1 billion annually. At a summit of the world’s richest countries in 2002, the United States pledged to spend $1 billion annually over the subsequent decade on such programs in return for a matching contribution from its allies. Nunn-Lugar programs are scattered throughout the Defense, State, and Energy departments. In a February report, Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee called for tripling overall Nunn-Lugar spending to $3 billion annually.

Defense Department

Bush is seeking $409 million in fiscal year 2005 for the Defense Department’s Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program—about 10 percent less than the $451 million allocated for CTR activities in fiscal year 2004. Most of the proposed difference comes from slashing spending on the destruction of Russia’s chemical weapons stockpile by more than 20 percent, from $200 million to $158 million. This would slow spending on the controversial Shchuch’ye chemical weapons destruction facility, whose funding has long been a bone of contention between Lugar and Republican conservatives in the House and the Pentagon.

At a Feb. 12 Senate Foreign Relations hearing, the panel’s ranking Democrat, Joseph Biden Jr. (Del.), blamed the Bush’s proposed cut on “ideological idiocy” among some members of the administration, whom he said feared that the Russians “are going to take $200 million they would have spent and do something really bad with it to us.”

However, a recent report from the Pentagon’s Office of the Inspector General criticizes two U.S.-Russian projects to dispose of former Soviet chemical weapons and fissile material for failing to more clearly spell out Moscow’s responsibilities, increasing the risk that funds could be wasted.

“DOD could have better managed the risks associated with those projects had it negotiated implementing agreements that better defined Russia’s requirements, thus making Russia more responsible for the storage and elimination of Russian weapons of mass destruction,” the December report said.

In particular, the report criticized negotiators for failing to spell out what amounts and types of fissile materials would be sent to a new fissile material storage facility at Mayak. The inspector general also warned that plans for the construction of a chemical weapons destruction facility at Shchuch’ye could be thwarted, for example, if Russia rescinds a land allocation for the project or if Russian of+ficials later claim it violates environmental laws.

In his Pentagon request, Bush also proposes shifting the emphasis of programs aimed at biological weapons proliferation, cutting by nearly two-thirds the budget for cooperative biological research (from $37 million to $13 million) with former Soviet biological weapons scientists while more than doubling funding (from $11 million to $24 million) for programs aimed at promoting safe and secure storage of dangerous pathogens at former Soviet biological institutes.

In addition, Bush proposes increasing the Pentagon’s WMD Proliferation Prevention Initiative by one-third, from $29 million to $40 million. The program, which focuses on former Soviet states other than Russia, assists countries in improving their monitoring and security capabilities in order to detect and intercept the illegal movement of weapons of mass destruction and related technologies across borders.

State Department

In his budget, Bush said he would maintain current spending intended to prevent a “brain drain” of experts who might sell their expertise to U.S. enemies or terrorists. However, the president has since indicated that he wants to broaden such aid to additional countries such as Iraq and Libya..

In the State Department request, Bush seeks $50 million for three Nunn-Lugar-related programs: $30 million for two international science centers in Moscow and Kiev aimed at finding commercial work for former Soviet weapons scientists; $17 million intended to steer former chemical and biological weapons scientists toward civilian work; and $3 million to counter the threat of bioterrorism by trying to use large-scale former Soviet biological weapons production facilities to accelerate drug and vaccine development for highly infectious diseases.

Energy Department

If Congress carries out Bush’s budget request, overall Energy Department spending in Russia and the former Soviet republics would remain largely at current levels of about $475 million per year. Within the proposed budget, however, spending priorities would shift. Also, some Energy Department programs outside the former Soviet Union, such as those providing assistance on developing export controls, would be expanded. In Russia, there would be a tenfold increase to $10 million for the purchase of Russian highly enriched uranium for use as fuel in U.S. research reactors until that fuel can be converted to low-enriched uranium.

On the other hand, the overall budget for securing Russia’s nuclear materials would decline from current levels of $259 million to $238 million under the president’s fiscal 2005 request. The decline stems largely from the completion of security upgrades at Russian Navy warhead storage and nuclear waste sites. There would be increases for two key programs: funding for warhead security upgrades at Russian Strategic Rocket Forces would nearly double (from $24 million to $45 million), and the budget for enhancing nuclear material security at the weapons complex of the Ministry for Atomic Energy of the Russian Federation (Minatom) would be boosted by $10 million, to $43 million.

The budget request also reflects the inability of the United States and Russia to resolve an ongoing dispute over what liability protection Russia should provide U.S. contractors working on Nunn-Lugar programs. (See ACT, September 2003.)

Particularly affected would be plans to carry out a bilateral agreement reached in September 2000 under which the United States and Russia are each supposed to dispose of 34 metric tons of plutonium.

Previously, U.S. officials had hoped to begin construction of a mixed-oxide fuel facility in July 2004 in tandem with Russia. Such a facility would combine excess weapons-grade plutonium with depleted uranium to make fuel suitable for nuclear reactors. Because of the dispute over the liability provisions, however, construction of the U.S. site will slip by at least 10 months to May 2005, resulting in a $20 million cut to U.S. fissile material disposition activities. Yet, the budget proposed to Congress would increase funding for Russian disposition activities by a nearly identical amount.


Nunn-Lugar Funding

Figures are in millions

Defense Department

Fiscal Year 2004 Appropriated
Fiscal Year 2005 Requested
Chemical Weapons Destruction
Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation

Energy Department

Fiscal Year 2004 Appropriated
Fiscal Year 2005 Requested
Nuclear Material Security
Russian HEU Purchase for U.S. Research Reactors
Russian Plutonium Disposition

State Department

Fiscal Year 2004 Appropriated
Fiscal Year 2005 Requested
Nonproliferation of WMD Expertise

1. Russian American Nuclear Security Advisory Council (RANSAC) estimate
2. RANSAC estimate
3. Formerly known as the "Science Centers/Bio Redirection" program







U.S.-Russian Arms Reduction Body Yet to Meet

The United States and Russia have yet to hold a meeting of the Bilateral Implementation Commission to help implement the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which entered into force June 1, 2003. Under the terms of the accord, the commission is supposed to meet at least twice per year.

Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton discussed the commission’s status with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak during a Jan. 28-30 visit to Moscow, but they set no date for the first meeting of the commission.

In a report to Congress last summer, the Department of State indicated that the first meeting would take place before the end of 2003. The United States and Russia “will discuss operating procedures for the [commission] at its first meeting later this year,” the report predicted.

Responding to questions from Arms Control Today, the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control stated in February, “The United States is prepared to begin meetings of the commission, although no issues have arisen that require a meeting now.” Russian media reports suggest the two sides have had differences over the commission’s setup.

SORT, also known as the Moscow Treaty, requires the United States and Russia to reduce their current deployed strategic warhead levels—respectively, almost 6,000 and nearly 5,300—to no more than 2,200 apiece by the end of 2012. The treaty limit takes effect and expires the same day. Because SORT does not obligate the destruction of warheads or delivery vehicles, weapon systems taken off deployment under the treaty could eventually be returned to service.

Last summer’s State Department report to Congress noted, “We do not yet know how Russia intends to count its reductions for purposes of the Moscow Treaty.” The treaty does not dictate how the two sides are to make and verify their reductions.

U.S. Rebukes Russia for Failing to Withdraw Troops From Georgia and Moldova

Wade Boese

The United States is strongly criticizing Russia for failing to live up to past pledges to withdraw its armed forces from Georgia and Moldova. (See ACT, December 2003.)

Secretary of State Colin Powell Dec. 2 expressed regret that Moscow would not complete a total military withdrawal from Moldova by the end of 2003 nor finalize a timetable for vacating Russian-occupied bases in Georgia.

Speaking at a foreign ministers meeting of the 55-member Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Powell urged Russia to undertake the “earliest possible fulfillment” of these actions.

Although other OSCE members backed the U.S. position, Russia remained defiant. It refused to reaffirm its withdrawal commitments, which Moscow first made in November 1999 at an OSCE summit in Istanbul.

Because the OSCE operates by consensus, the meeting ended without a final statement. However, Dutch Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who served as chairman of the meeting, stated that “most ministers” support Russia’s withdrawal from Moldova “without further delay” and urged the “speedy conclusion of negotiations” on Russia’s continuing presence in Georgia.

Georgia and Moldova expressed displeasure at the meeting’s outcome. Georgia described itself as “deeply disappointed” that no agreed statement could be reached regarding its situation, while Moldova called for the “complete and unconditional withdrawal” of Russian forces from its territory.

Russia is making progress in its withdrawal from Moldova, which was initially supposed to be completed by the end of 2002. Russian and OSCE officials estimate that the ongoing task could be finished within seven to eight months if uninterrupted.

Similar optimism had existed in the first half of 2003. But separatists in the Transdniestria region of Moldova, where the Russian forces are located, blocked shipments of arms and ammunition from leaving the region. Although the separatists, who want financial compensation for Russia’s departure, briefly allowed the withdrawal to resume, theyreneged at the end of the year.

In Georgia, Russia continues officially to control two military bases; its forces occupy a third. The two countries remain divided over how long Russian troops should be allowed to remain. Moscow wants them to stay for at least 11 more years, while Tbilisi says three years are enough.

Reinforcing Powell’s OSCE message, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld traveled Dec. 5 to Georgia, where he described Russia’s future withdrawal as a “pretty good idea.” Rumsfeld’s visit was seemingly designed to signal Russia not to try and take advantage of the shifting political scene in Georgia following the Nov. 23 resignation of longtime President Eduard Shevardnadze.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov replied coolly to Rumsfeld’s remarks the next day, saying, “We are disposed to work constructively so as to find mutually acceptable solutions.”

Until Russia fulfills its withdrawal commitments, the United States and its NATO allies are refusing to ratify the 1999 adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty. The accord is an updated version of an existing treaty that limits the number of tanks, armored combat vehicles, heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters deployed in Europe by 30 countries, including the United States and Russia.

The Kremlin wants the revised accord to enter into force soon so Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania can accede to it before officially joining NATO. The 19-member alliance invited the three countries, along with Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia, to become members in November 2002; and NATO expects the process will be completed by its upcoming June 2004 summit in Istanbul. (See ACT, June 2003.) None of the three Baltic countries currently have arms limits, leading Moscow to suggest NATO could stockpile huge amounts of weaponry along Russia’s western border.

At the OSCE meeting, Ivanov charged that the treaty’s ratification was being held up by “artificial pretexts.” He added, “If we do not take serious and timely measures, the gap between the system of arms control and the actual politico-military situation in Europe may become unbridgeable.”

Despite the mutual recriminations of foot-dragging, the OSCE meeting was not marked by total discord. The 55 members issued a handbook of voluntary best practices for countries to control the illegal trade in small arms, endorsed a process by which countries can request assistance to destroy excess ammunition stockpiles, and called upon countries to improve export controls of shoulder-fired missiles. None of the measures were legally binding.






The United States is strongly criticizing Russia for failing to live up to past pledges to withdraw its armed forces from Georgia and Moldova. (See ACT, December 2003.)


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