MEDVEDEV’S MODERNIZATION 101 FOR DIPLOMATS
Fyodor Lukyanov SPECIAL TO RUSSIA NOW
need of modernization. The expedi- ency of Russia’s pragmatic foreign pol- icy is equally indisputable. Yet, de- spite the consistent flow of President Dmitry Medvedev’s statements, it re- mains unclear what is behind the “modernization alliances” touted by the president. Medvedev’s speech at last month’s meeting with Russian diplomats con- firmed his priorities. The key idea is clear: foreign policy should serve do- mestic purposes. Modernization tops the domestic agenda, and diplomats should focus their efforts accordingly. Most commentators interpret his statements as a turn toward the West. Moscow’s modernization scenario im- plies selective cooperation in the areas in which Moscow is interested, rath- er than full-scale integration with the West. This trend has dominated Rus- sia’s foreign policy for some time, but has been sidelined for many rea- sons.
I Moscow’s efforts to reset relations
with Washington and expand coop- eration with the European Union are primed to attract pioneering technol- ogy and investment to Russia. Dur- ing Vladimir Putin’s presidency, many lucrative economic projects were blocked because of political tensions. Yet, strictly speaking, “modernization alliances” are not necessarily linked to foreign policy shifts. For attracting foreign investment
and capital, the investment climate and rule of law—areas in which dip- lomats have no influence—are much more important than foreign policy matters.
THE POLLS Fire Catastrophe
IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE SIGNIFICANT EFFECTS OF THE FIRES AND SMOKE THAT BLANKETED RUSSIA?
t is indisputable that Russia, which has exhausted its Soviet-era re- sources in technology, infrastruc- ture and education, is in urgent
Pragmatism is a fashionable idea,
but it seems sometimes that this is just another euphemism for Moscow’s inability to define the country’s glob- al role. At the same time, Russia is facing important choices and pure pragmatism is not enough to make the right choice. Moscow’s goals have largely been achieved as Russia's neighbors lost much of their appeal to the Europe- an Union and the United States, which for years vied with Russia for influ- ence in the area. On the other hand, Moscow’s attempts to pursue a sen- sible economic and military policy have often been faced with resistance or passivity from neighbors. Formal
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DISCUSSION HOW WILL MEDVEDEV’S ADDRESS ALTER RELATIONS? FOREIGN POLICY SHIFT
policy should also be seen in terms of modernization. This, however, in- volves serious geopolitical and cul- tural considerations. Traditionally, Eu- rope has been very important for Russia as a source of development. At the same time, the Old World is losing its strategic importance, giv- ing way to a rapidly developing Asia, with its rising political and economic role. In cultural terms, however, Rus- sia is not particularly close to Asia, with Moscow even feeling somewhat frightened by China’s aggressive ex- pansion. To a certain extent, domestic de- velopment can be tied to foreign pol- icy, but there is a danger that eco- nomic partnership with leading Western countries in creating “oases of innovation” will replace the real democratization of the state and so- ciety, while the desire to strengthen the “modernization alliance” will re- strict Russia’s foreign policy opportu- nities.
For attracting foreign investment and capital, the investment climate and rule of law are much more important.
statements by Russian leaders offer little basis on which to decide which is a bigger priority, global integration (entry into the WTO) or regional co- operation (promoting the Customs Union). Both scenarios have their strong points. Yet, they are incom- patible, meaning that Russia will have to make a choice. Another foreign policy priority is
the Asia-Pacific region, and this was reiterated by Medvedev. This is not new, as the realignment of global forc- es in favor of Asia, including the re- spective problems faced by Russia’s Far East, have long been debated, but it is important that the problem is now clearly defined. The correlation between Asian and European priorities in Russian foreign
Foreign policy should create favor-
able conditions for national develop- ment, and in this sense, it is neces- sary to ensure normal relations with neighboring countries and other part- ners, while also avoiding unnecessary conflicts, as Medvedev said. And yet, it is peace and security that have al- ways dominated any foreign policy agenda, and for Russian diplomats, this should take priority over the five principles of modernization that Pres- ident Medvedev is so avidly promot- ing.
According to Medvedev, the obvi-
ous global tendency today is the har- monization of relations, dialogue and a reduction of the tendency toward conflict. However, amid degrading international institutions and the col- lapse of the long-established world order, along with unpredictable na- tional policies, one has to be a true optimist to believe in harmonious re- lations against a backdrop of reduced conflict.
Fyodor Lukyanov is the chief editor of Russia in Global Affairs.
A CHANCE FOR ENGAGEMENT AND RAPPROCHEMENT
Jeffrey Mankoff SPECIAL TO RUSSIA NOW
hints to date about how he wants to shift Russia’s foreign policy course. Medvedev has made three particular- ly important points: that the principal aim of Russian foreign policy should be promoting economic moderniza- tion; that Russia consequently needs better relations (“modernization alli- ances”) with the United States and major European countries; and implic- itly, that relations with the West—and East Asia—should take priority over re- lations with Russia’s post-Soviet neigh- bors. While these are mostly changes of emphasis rather than of strategy, by reciprocating Medvedev’s interest in limited, economically driven rap- prochement, the West can give Mos- cow incentives to pursue deeper en- gagement in the future. Medvedev has made moderniza- tion—ending the Russian economy’s dependence on oil and gas sales while emphasizing innovation and high val- ue-added technologies—the touch- stone of his presidency. As with his mentor Vladimir Putin, though, Med- vedev’s vision of modernization is driv- en largely by a desire to strengthen Russia’s international position and en- sure it keeps up with other major de- veloping countries such as China and India. While successfully modernizing the economy will provide ordinary Russians a higher standard of living, it will also reinforce Russia’s claim to great power status in a world where GDP numbers increasingly mean more than numbers of warheads. Russia needs better relations with
the West, mainly because it wants Western technology and investment
n a much-discussed address to Rus- sian ambassadors in mid-July, Rus- sian President Dmitry Medvedev gave his latest and most explicit
to bolster its modernization campaign. Medvedev has talked of moderniza- tion alliances with the United States and Germany, France and Italy. The Russian president envisions a mod- ernization alliance as an economic partnership whose main benefit for Russia is gaining access to foreign cap- ital, technology and know-how. As the August 2008 war with Georgia showed, Western capital is fickle and subject to seek safer harbors, includ- ing China and India, if Russia’s polit- ical risk seems too high. Meanwhile, the global recession that began in 2008 drove down prices for Russia’s major exports—oil and gas—in the process constraining Moscow’s abil-
dev’s new foreign policy course is es- pecially revolutionary. Medvedev is not abandoning Russia’s traditional great power foreign policy so much as adapting it to deal with post-Geor- gia war, post-crisis realities. Even as Moscow’s gaze turns to reforming the economy, it is not going to abandon its great power ambitions. While mod- ernization necessitates better relations with Western countries, Russia is not pursuing integration with Western in- stitutions such as NATO or the Euro- pean Union. And prioritizing relations with the West over its post-Soviet neighbors is less a decision to aban- don its claim to “privileged interests” in the region than a recognition that Russia now has most of what it wants.
Medvedev’s course does present
The United States has an interest in the success of Medvedev's modernization and integration.
ity to pursue the assertive foreign pol- icy that characterized Putin’s presi- dency.
Meanwhile, Medvedev can afford
to prioritize relations with the West over the former Soviet Union because Russian influence in the part of its backyard abutting the West (espe- cially Georgia and Ukraine) is more secure than it has been in some time. The Georgian war and Ukrainian elec- tion solidified Russian influence in the region and forced the West to limit its ambitions (for instance on the issue of NATO expansion) in deference to Russian wishes. Medvedev is merely turning his attention elsewhere now that Russian interests in Georgia and Ukraine are largely secured. In this context, little about Medve-
an opportunity for the United States and its allies to develop a more co- operative relationship with Russia, if they keep their expectations modest. Modernization alliances are a useful tool for promoting reconciliation: mu- tually beneficial (Russia is a potential- ly huge market for Western technol- ogy firms), pragmatic and less likely to be subject to the cycle of expec- tation and disappointment that has characterized so many attempts to promote Russia’s integration with the West. The West has an interest in the success of Medvedev’s modernization, which would entail Russia’s progres- sive integration into world markets and give Moscow a stake in global stability and security. Russia’s interest in economic partnerships or modern- ization alliances also creates an op- portunity to deepen the economic linkages between Russia and the West, which can in turn help align the two sides’ political interests. The West should embrace Medvedev’s call for modernization alliances with open arms—and open eyes.
Jeffrey Mankoff is associate director of International Security Studies at Yale University and adjunct fellow for Rus- sian studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
memory serves, the once and future White House aspirant spent themost of 2007 trying to morph from moderate pragma- tist to pitchfork populist. The experiment didn’t work—
MITT MORPHS AGAIN W
Dick Polman PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
e’re familiar by now with Mitt Rom- ney’s chameleonic tendencies; if
which was signed by President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on April 8 and now faces ratification by two- thirds of the U.S Senate (A feat that would require the coopera- tion of eight Republican sena- tors. The vote has been pushed till after the summer holiday.) The new START, which basi-
Three-fourths of Russians felt that the most significant effect of the fires—which blanketed the coun- try for a month this summer—was increased mortality and deterio- rating health. At the same time, while almost half of the Russians polled con- sider these fires to be an eco- logical catastrophe, which will entail shortage of products in the country, experts assume that economic consequences will not
be very harmful. Mark Rubensh- tein, a Moscow-based financial analyst with the investment firm Metropol, predicts there will only be a minor slowing of overall eco- nomic growth in 2010 as a result of the disasters. Meanwhile, the cost of damages caused by the extreme temperatures may be high [for certain] sectors, he said in an interview with Radio Free Europe /Radio Liberty's Russian service.
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he lost to Mike Huckabee at the starting gate in Iowa— but the man is not easily dissuaded. With the 2012 GOP nomination on the distant horizon, he’s trying anew to woo the right—this time, by seemingly morphing into General Jack D. Ripper, the Dr. Strangelove movie character who fretted about how the Russkies were conspiring to steal our “precious bodily fluids.” Such was my conclusion, after reading the Washington Post guest column (July 6) that ran under Romney’s byline last month. Seeking to craft some commander-in-chief creds, he took aim at the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START),
cally replaces the old START that expired in December, mandates a 30 to 40 percent cut in the strategic nuclear warheads de- ployed by both nations, but Romney insisted in his guest col- umn that the Senate should junk the pact because, in his alleg- edly expert opinion, the Russians ate Obama’s lunch. “By all indications,” he writes,
“the Obama administration has been badly out-negotiated.” That statement happens to be false, but Romney needed to say it anyway to conform to the pre- vailing conservative narrative about a feckless naif-in-chief who is purposely weakening America by draining our precious bodily fluids. Conservatives haven’t for- gotten when he conveniently tacked rightward on social issues like abortion; others are well
aware that many of Obama’s health care reform provisions mirror ex-Gov. Romney’s health care provisions in Massachusetts; still others, particularly in the evangelical Christian communi- ty, remain wary of his Mormon faith. Given those obstacles, his denunciation of START seems de rigueur.
The new start says nothing about missile defense systems, and puts no limits on U.S. construction of them.
Among many conservatives, particularly at hawkish think tanks such as the Heritage Foun- dation, it’s an article of faith (as opposed to fact) that the new START makes it tougher for Uncle Sam to build and deploy a mis- sile-defense system. Conserva- tive senators made this claim dur- ing a May 18 meeting of the Foreign Relations Committee. Romney, in his column, duly toed the line.
But, as Defense Secretary (and
George W. Bush holdover) Rob- ert Gates has repeatedly pointed out, the new START says noth- ing about missile defense sys- tems, and therefore it puts no limits on anything we might build. A number of Pentagon generals have already said this in Senate testimony. He constant- ly hails Reagan while on the stump (implying, of course, that he is the true Reagan heir). But Reagan was an arms controller. And with respect to Romney’s claim that Obama has bargained away our ability to defend our- selves “from nuclear proliferation rogue states such as Iran and North Korea,” allow me to quote from the preamble of the treaty. Obama’s negotiators inserted lan- guage declaring that America will continue “improving and deploy- ing” missile defense systems. Romney’s column is festooned
with all kinds of fact-challenged goodies. For instance, he com- plains that the treaty imposes no limits on Russian “rail-based ICBMs”—a fascinating observa- tion, given the fact that, accord- ing to arms experts, Russia doesn’t even have any rail-based
ICBMs. He also complains that, under the treaty, “Russia is free to mount a nearly unlimited number of ICBMs on bombers”— which would be quite a feat of engineering, given the fact that, by definition, intercontinental ballistic missiles fly above the at- mosphere and thus are not mounted on bombers. On the credibility scale, Romney would have been better off claiming that he could see Russia from his house. U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar assailed Romney for recycling “discred- ited objections,” and for being “unaware of arms control his- tory and context.” But appar- ently Lugar and these other al- legedly looney lefties, having blasphemed conservatism by joining with Obama in the spir- it of bipartisanship, are no lon- ger deemed fit to be mentioned in a GOP candidate’s guest col- umn. All of which suggests that Romney’s latest political pander- ings are merely a symptom of how far rightward the contem- porary Republican base has trav- eled.
Dick Polman is a national politi- cal columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer.
First published at www.phillynews.com
traught refugees compensa- tion and new houses. President Dmitry Medvedev cancelled his traditional holiday at his summer residence in Sochi. Both men subjected them- selves to an excruciating tele- vised telephone conversation with one another to show they are taking the situation seri- ously. But everyone is looking for someone else to blame. Putin has lost no time in promising that heads will roll over the disaster—especially the regional authority heads
BURNT SACRIFICE P
Roland Oliphant RUSSIA PROFILE
rime Minister Vladimir Putin has spent days touring fire-ravaged re- gions promising dis-
that he said earlier this week had failed to prepare proper- ly for such incidents. After meeting with survivors of Verkhnyaya Vereya, a village that was wiped out by the fires, Putin called on the em- battled mayor to resign when locals blamed the mayor for failing to fight the fires. Alex- ei Sokolov, the head of the Verkhnyaya Vereya district, duly fell on his sword. Officials can’t be blamed for
the hottest summer since re- cords began, or the careless- ness of the smokers, picnick- ers and farmers burning away field stubble, who are estimat- ed to be behind 95 percent of the fires sweeping Europe- an Russia. Nor can they be blamed for the Soviet-era prac- tice of draining peat bogs to
mine them for fuel, which has left dried peat waiting to be ignited. Nikolai Petrov, an expert on regional affairs at the Moscow Carnegie Center, said the problem is Putin’s obsession with centralizing power in Moscow. “Regional budgets are neither autonomous enough nor sufficient to let governors and regional author- ities react quickly,” he ex- plained. “If there is money in the regional budget, but it wasn’t decided a year ago to use it for fighting forest fires, then nothing can be done without getting special ap- proval.” So lambasting the lo- cals is unfair. The implications of a system
where anything can be sorted out as long as the “big man”
takes charge were almost com- ically illustrated in Wednesday’s Kommersant, when Kremlin pool correspondent Andrei Kolesnikov recounted how, faced with skepticism that re- placement homes would be built by November 1 as prom- ised, Putin suggested using big brother-style tactics to check on progress. “I’ll see to it that cameras
are put at all the significant building sites … There will be a monitor in Parliament, one in my home and the third on the government Web site so everyone can see how con- struction is progressing,” Kole- snikov quoted the prime min- ster.
But does that mean if we
give the regional governors the money, the means and,
crucially, the authority to react to environmental disasters, ev- erything be alright? “Right now regional author-
ities have all the power to es- tablish their own rules in terms of forest management and fire prevention,” said Shmatkov. ”But it’s also a matter of sim- ple competence—many peo- ple at the regional level just aren’t capable of producing harmonized and knowledge- able laws and regulations,” he added. If we don’t want this sum-
mer’s disaster to be repeated, it would be much better to educate and train local may- ors rather than firing them. As for the federal authorities, they need to recreate the Federal Forest Ranger Service and take it to a new level.
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