Briefing :: The Dog Barks, But the Caravan Moves on: Highs and Lows in U.S.-Russia Relations


Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe:  
U.S. Helsinki Commission

“The Dog Barks, But the Caravan Moves on:  
Highs and Lows in U.S.-Russia Relations”

Committee Members Present:
Representative Robert Aderholt (R-AL)

James W. Warhola, 
University of Maine’s Department of Political Science

Matthew Rojansky, 
Director, Kennan Institute, Wilson Center for International Scholars

The Briefing Was Held From 1:03 p.m. To 2:41 p.m. in Room 2103 Rayburn House 
Office Building, Washington, D.C., Kyle Parker, Policy Adviser, CSCE, Presiding 

Date:  Thursday, March 27, 2014

PARKER:  Ladies and gentlemen, it’s just after 1:00.  My name’s Kyle Parker.  
I’m on the policy staff here at the Commission on Security and Cooperation in 
Europe.  I cover Russia.  It’s my pleasure to welcome you all on behalf of 
Senator Ben Cardin, chairman of the commission; Congressman Chris Smith, our 
co-chairman; and all of our commissioners.  I welcome to you to today’s 
briefing, “The Dog Barks, but the Caravan Moves On:  Highs and Lows in 
U.S.-Russia relations.”

Russia-watchers in the audience will be familiar with this saying, but for 
those just tuning in, it’s a proverb from the east that Russian President 
Vladimir Putin, among others, is fond of quoting.  And Vladimir Putin, as many 
of you know, is highly quotable.

A new and fearsome era has dawned, and we at the commission felt it appropriate 
to mark the moment and begin a discussion examining where we’ve been in hopes 
that the past might offer insight into where we could be headed in our 
bilateral relations with the Russian Federation.  Interest in Russia on Capitol 
Hill is at a post-Cold War high, but the knowledge base lacks far behind what 
it once was and should be for a properly informed foreign policy.

Today we hope to make a small contribution toward remedying this with a lively 
and on-the-record discussion that will be the beginning of many public 
conversations about whether and how we should attempt to reconcile what appear 
to be irreconcilable differences between Moscow and Washington.

We begin with the assumption that the current state of the relationship is 
undesirable and that U.S.-Russian cooperation across a range of vital interest 
should continue.  I was just skimming headlines on the way over and came across 
a punchy one from National Journal:  “At Least Russia and the U.S. Still Get 
Along in Outer Space.”  Nothing should be taken for granted given current 
atmospherics, but we should be able to do a lot better than that.  But how, and 
at what cost?

And by the way, anyone here should feel free to challenge this assumption or 
anything else during our discussion period.  We have world-class experts on the 
panel and in the audience and the flexibility for a genuine conversation.  So I 
encourage all to keep that in mind during the presentations and feel free to be 
direct and provocative in any response or question.

We posed a number of questions in the briefing notice, and I hope that by the 
end of today’s event, we’ll have offered at least the beginning of something 
approaching an answer.

Helping us with this daunting task is the University of Maine’s Jim Warhola and 
we are waiting but hopefully will show soon the Kennan Institute’s Matt 
Rojansky, their bios are on the table outside.

Matt directs the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute, which is certainly the 
premier center for Soviet and post-Soviet studies here in Washington and among 
the leading institutes in the field worldwide.  And I tip the Commission’s hat 
to the Kennan Institute as something of an older brother from the détente era.  
Kennan was founded in 1974, and our humble commission in 1976.  In between 
these years, in 1975, the Helsinki Final Act was signed, a document we’ve heard 
referenced on multiple occasions around the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

Jim Warhola came all the way from Orono, Maine, to be with us today.  Thank 
you, Jim, for braving yesterday’s nor’easter, and we appreciate the University 
of Maine sending you on TDY to Washington so we can all benefit from your 
fascinating research into a vital relationship at the center of a comprehensive 
security and cooperation in Europe, which is quite literally almost our middle 

We’ll start with Jim’s presentation and then turn to Matt for a wrap of what we 
heard from Jim and guidance on the perennial question of what is to be done.  
Following Matt’s remarks, we’ll open the floor to hear from all of you.

And before I turn it over to Jim, I want to recognize Congressman Aderholt, our 
commissioner for any remarks he’d like to offer?  Congressman?

ADERHOLT:  Thank you for being here.  We just got out of votes.  I wanted to 
come by and so look forward to hearing the testimony here.

PARKER:  Well, sir, we’re honored to have you.  

Jim, your show.

WARHOLA:  Thank you very much.  Thank you very much, Kyle, and the commission 
for your invitation to come here and to share some of my thoughts about the 
current state of U.S.-Russian relations and where we might go from here.  I’m 
very honored to be here.  And thank you all for coming.  Thank you for – once 
again for the invitation for our – for our Russian friends and our Russian 
guests – (inaudible: in Russian: ya ochen rad shto vy prishli.  Zhelayu vam 
uspechov y mira. Spacibo, shto prishli, y Spacibo za vnimaniye).

PARKER:  Jim, could you speak a little bit louder?

WARHOLA:  Of course.

WARHOLA:  I just said – greeted our Russian guests in there – (inaudible: 
repeat of above, comments in Russian).

No one in this room needs to be informed that the state of U.S.-Russian 
relations right now is not good.  And the question is where do we go from here. 
 And there is no easy or simple answer to that question.  Nobody wants war.  
They don’t want it in the hinterlands of the United States.  I’m equally 
confident they don’t want it in Russia or anywhere else.

The question how should the United States relate to – how should the United 
States relate to Russia, I think, is on the minds of everyone here in the 
United States and also, I’m sure, is that question’s preoccupation of those in 
Russia itself.

There are a range of views I think that one could take to understand this.  On 
the one hand, we might view Russia as an implacable, mortal threat.  On the 
other hand, view Russia as the best of friends.  We’re clearly not – we’re 
clearly not that right now.  The truth is, it’s probably somewhere in between.  
Could we be a value-based cooperator, an interest-based cooperator, a neutral 
partner, perhaps some sort of wary tolerance?  And again, there is no easy 
answer to this -- how should the United States of America relate to Russia? 

To begin answering that question, I’m reminded of a little Russian proverb.  
And it’s pretty old, and even some of my Russian friends didn’t quite recall 
it, but I’ve been told from long ago that – and the Russian proverb says that 
if you neglect history, you lose one eye.  If you forget history, you lose two 
eyes.  And it seems to me that the last thing that the United States of America 
needs right now, the last thing that the Russian Federation needs right now, is 
to forget history.

What I’d like to do today is just spend a few minutes talking about some of my 
research on the long-term patterns, or what the French call the longue durée, 
of U.S.-Russian relations.  U.S.-Russian relations were established formally, 
diplomatically in 1809, and they continue to this day.  There was an 
interruption, of course, after the Russian Revolution in 1917 until they were 
re-established in 1934.  But except that period, they have continued 

The project -- I won’t read the whole 180-page manuscript that I’ve written on 
this theme, but I will read you a few excerpts from it.  And here’s what I did.

PARKER:  Not to interrupt, but Jim, we do have it here in one chart, hopefully 
some of you have availed yourselves of the handouts.

WARHOLA:  And also, the list of references, if you could circulate that too.

PARKER:  Yeah.  Please.

WARHOLA:  Here’s what I decided to do, and I started this several years ago, is 
I looked at all of the references to either Russia, Soviet Union, Kremlin, 
anything related to Russia in all of the presidential State of the Union 
addresses given by every American president ever since the first State of the 
Union address was given by George Washington in 1790.  And I asked Kyle to 
print up a list of all those references of – yeah, there’s – they’re being – 
either have circulated, or are in the process of being, circulated now.

To see if we could see any patterns – again, remembering that old Russian 
proverb, as you may know:  If you neglect history, you lose one eye.  If you 
forget history, you lose two eyes.  And so it seemed to me appropriate to look 
into the long-term patterns of U.S.-Russian relations.  How have U.S. and 
Russia related to each other, once again, over what the French call the longue 

And here, if you’ll indulge me, I will read a few paragraphs and only a few 
paragraphs from the manuscript that I’ve got.  But even before doing it, it 
seems to me that – it’s important to remember – these are grave matters.  We’re 
talking about not only life and death matters but also the fate of the United 
States and the fate of the Russian Federation and a lot of other people too.  
And it’s useful perhaps to remember that, back to the days of the ancient – in 
the classical world, there were recognized four cardinal virtues:  wisdom, 
justice, courage and moderation.

And one of those virtues, it seems – or two – they’re all, of course, essential 
in these circumstances, particularly in these highly tense circumstances, but 
particularly the two virtues of courage and of moderation. Courage to be able 
to perhaps see things from another’s point of view is a foundational starting 
point for possibly building bridges, for establishing some sort of 
reconciliation, for perhaps beginning to understand:  what does Moscow see when 
it looks at the world?  What does Washington see when it looks at the world?  
That takes a certain amount of courage on our part, intellectual courage and 
moral courage, if we dare say so.

The other cardinal virtue – again, there were four: wisdom, justice, courage, 
moderation  --  of moderation, was explicated by Aristotle in his great work 
Politics, and I’ll not go into that here, but Aristotle’s point is that in most 
circumstances, these other virtues, wisdom and justice, are to be found between 
the middle point between two opposing vices.  And it seems to me that in our 
disposition to Russia -- even before we begin to get into some of the details 
of this -- that in our disposition to Russia, that moderation is called for, to 
tone down as – and again, I’m not unaware of the fact that military capability 
is being ratcheted up even as we speak – on both sides.  And moderation it 
seems to me is absolutely critical, moderation in the form so avoiding on the 
one hand perhaps what – a view that I would consider to be extreme, that is, 
that we need to get “tough on Russia”,  and we need to – “damn it! -- we need 
to, just load up the guns, and if – and if they move, we’re going to start 
blasting.”  I don’t find that productive.  I don’t think it’s useful, not in 
the short run, not in the medium run nor in the long run.  On the other hand, 
it – this situation does call for some sort of response on the part of the 
United States.  Whether or not it should call for an adversarial sort of 
response, or a sanction-based response, is a matter it seems to me of dispute – 
that is – should be open for discussion.  So that’s what I would first of all 
seek to bring to this discussion, is just a remembrance of the wisdom of the 
ages, if you will.

Citations about Russia from U.S. presidents, through the ages:  the United 
States of America was founded of course in, technically, 1783, 1787, and 1789 
with the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, but it wasn’t until – so let’s 
take that point -- OK, the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.  It wasn’t 
until several decades later that the Russian Empire recognized formally, 
diplomatically the United States, and it did so in 1809.  But it was several 
years after that before the first reference to Russia in any presidential State 
of the Union was made, and that was done by James Madison.  And we can look at 
some of the patterns of relations to Russia over the long run in a few minutes 
here, but I’d like to begin with two citations from two presidents.  And in the 
interest of balance, I’ve chosen a Democrat and a Republican.

OK.  The first, a Democrat.  This is Martin Van Buren, the eighth president of 
the United States of America, in his first annual State of the Union message, 
on December 5 of 1837.  And here is what he had to say:  “Between Russia and 
the United States, sentiments of good will continue to be mutually cherished.  
Our minister recently accredited to that court has been received with a 
frankness and cordiality and with evidences of respect for his country, which 
leave us no room to doubt the preservation in the future of those amicable and 
liberal relations which have so long and so interruptedly existed between the 
two countries.  On the few subjects under discussion between us, an early and 
just decision is confidently anticipated.”  President Martin Van – Democratic 
President Martin Van Buren, eighth president of the United States.

So in the interest of partisan balance, I’ve selected as another superscript a 
citation from a Republican president, Mr. Ronald Reagan.  And here’s what he 
had to say in his address before a joint session of the Congress on the State 
of the Union on January 25, 1984.  Here’s what Mr. Reagan had to say:  “Tonight 
I want to speak to the people of the Soviet Union to tell them it’s true that 
our governments have had serious differences.  But our sons and daughters have 
never fought each other in war.  And if we Americans have our way, they never 
will.  People of the Soviet Union, President Dwight Eisenhower, who fought by 
your side in World War II, said the essential struggle is not merely man 
against man or nation against nation; it is man against war.  Americans – end 
of quote – Americans are people of peace.  If your government wants peace, 
there will be peace.  We can come together in faith and friendship to build a 
safer and far better world for our children and for our children’s children, 
and the whole world will rejoice.  That is my message to you.”  This is Ronald 
Reagan.  I think everyone in this room understands that Ronald Reagan was no 
friend of Marxism-Leninism, he was no friend of communism, and yet he found a 
way to adopt this kind of a conciliatory disposition to the Soviet Union.

The third superscript that I have, and again, leading this work, is a citation 
from an ancient sacred text.  I’ll read it in the original language.  (In 
foreign language – ancient Hebrew:  Al-tasog gebul olam, asher ehso abotheka)  
And this is from the book of proverbs.  And it said, “remove not an ancient 
landmark which your fathers have set.”  And it talked about a “gebul olam” (ph) 
in the original Hebrew; they weren’t talking about a line of political 
boundary; they were talking about precedent.  They were talking about practice. 
 They were talking about a disposition that proved its validity in the course 
of time.

OK.  Again, if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to read a couple paragraphs from the 

“Russia and the United States have enjoyed very good cooperative and productive 
relations for most of the years in which the United States of America has 
existed.  This may come as a surprise to many Americans who perhaps 
instinctively regard Russia as a potential or actual adversary of our country.  
To be sure, the Cold War period from the latter 1940s until the latter 1980s 
marked an era of profound mutual distrust and no small amount of dislike 
between our countries.  The Cold War era also involved episodes of indirect 
hostility in the form of proxy wars, as in Korea, Vietnam and several African 
countries, including Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and arguably in other 
regions as well.  These were proxy – these proxy wars were exorbitantly costly 
and bloody to each side.  Viewed from a long-term historical perspective, 
however, the Cold War represents an anomaly and a deviation from the larger 
historical pattern of our relations with Russia.

This is an important but often-overlooked fact in the history of our 
countries.”  And I would – I didn’t put it in the text, but I’ll add it here 
that if I dare say so, it’s an element that, from my view, at least, 
personally, is deeply embedded in the American psyche, that there’s something 
about Russia that is intrinsically adversarial to the United States, and viewed 
– certainly, viewed from the long-term perspective of U.S.-Russian relations, 
not only is it not true, but it’s patently untrue, and an examination of those 
patterns over the long period becomes abundantly clear as we look at what our 
presidents had to say, to return to the text.  [resumes citation of text:] 
“This will become clear as we look at the manner in which U.S. presidents refer 
to Russia and the Soviet Union in our annual State of the Union addresses.”
“Article II, section III of the U.S. Constitution requires of the president 
that, quote, “he shall, from time to time, give to the Congress information on 
the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as 
he shall judge necessary and expedient.”  George Washington set the precedent 
of doing so annually, and in late autumn, although his first message to 
Congress was on January 8th of 1790.  His next was on December of that year.
Washington’s first message was delivered orally, as were all of his subsequent 
messages to Congress, and those of his successor, John Adams.  Thomas Jefferson 
began the tradition of providing to the Congress an annual written message, 
quote, “on the State of the Union,” with his first message in December 1801.  
All such messages followed suit until Woodrow Wilson’s first annual message to 
Congress was delivered orally.” 
Shortly after being elected president of the United States, Mr. Barack Obama 
signaled his intention to, quote, “reset America’s relations with Russia,” 
since those relations seemed to him, and so many other Americans, as having 
gone seriously awry as a result of the policies and practices of the previous 
presidency.  The Russian government welcomed this intention and responded 
favorably to it.  This study seeks to shed light on the long-range historical 
patterns of the U.S.’ disposition to Russia as expressed in presidential State 
of the Union messages.”
There’s nothing simple about U.S.-Russian relations, and yet, on the other 
hand, there’s no – there’s never been any direct hostility between the United 
States and Russia, and we hope that there won’t be.  What I hope in this 
discussion, that we can begin to do, is to begin to look at this entire 
situation that we’ve gotten ourselves into between the United States of America 
and the Russian Federation – perhaps, from the perspective of the other side, 
perhaps encourage the Russians – the leadership of the Russian Federation -- to 
understand the concerns of the United States.  A lot of words have flowed back 
and forth, and that – some have been, it seems to me, productive and 
constructive, other ones, perhaps, have not.
But I would, if I may, just like to cite for a moment:  there was an article 
that appeared a couple of days ago in the New Republic by Mr. Michael Kimmage.  
And he mentions – and the article is – it says, this isn’t the return of the 
Cold War -- it’s worse.  And there’s much in this article, frankly, that I find 
rather insightful in light of my own research here.  Mr. Kimmage offers the 
following:  He says the Cold War binaries – in other words, the images and the 
concepts from the Cold War that help us understand the situation now – the Cold 
War binaries cover up the most interesting binary to have emerged from Ukraine. 
 Reacting to the same crisis – reacting to the same crisis, Putin and Obama 
have committed themselves to two irreconcilable visions of international 
“In Mr. Putin’s view, solidarity flows from the ethnos, from the language, 
religion and history of a particular people formed into a state.  The rhythm of 
international politics is set by the assertion of power, and the international 
community is at best a fiction.  In truth, it does not exist.  Beyond it are 
states who participate in international affairs as they see fit.  As 
emphasized, and never out of pure altruism, and least of all – least altruistic 
of all is the United States, according to this vision of the world, as 
emphasized in a Russian Foreign Ministry response to a March 5 State Department 
fact sheet on Ukraine.  It says, “the U.S. does” -- quote – from the Russian 
Foreign Ministry, “The U.S. does not and will never have the moral authority to 
teach others about international norms and respect to other countries’ 
sovereignty.  What about the bombings of former Yugoslavia and the invasion of 
Iraq on false pretenses?”  End of citation.
Mr. Kimmage continues.  “In a rival vision, the international community and 
America’s leading role within it is fully real.  It has values that are real, 
and these values encourage democracy, rule of law, human rights and a free 
media.  The “international community,” quote, unquote, has recognized Ukraine’s 
will to be a part of the international community.  Over time, and with the help 
of the EU and the US, Ukraine will draw closer to the international community, 
until, one day, it exists seamlessly within it.” 
This is the other vision.  Kimmage’s point is that these two visions are 
irreconcilable, and in that, I would tend to agree with him.  It seems to me 
that if any sort of improvement of U.S.-Russian relations is going to occur, 
then what we need to do is, first of all, understand those two irreconcilable 
visions, and not so much figure out which one is right and which one is wrong, 
but look at where they came from, what validity might be – might exist in each 
one of these two visions,  to begin building upon those points, building some 
sorts of bridges to arrive at a higher understanding, and therefore, at a more 
productive and durably useful way to relate to each other.
As far as I’m concerned, if someone wants to understand – and again, I’m an 
American, I’m a – as you can tell from my last name, I’m a Slavic-derived -- 
American; I’m kind of a “Heinz 57”:   I’ve got a little bit of everything in 
me.  I’m not a Russian, and I don’t pretend to come from within that culture -- 
I do not.
But it seems to me that if one wants to understand the – Russia and where 
Russia has been for the last 10 years or so under Mr. Putin’s leadership, yeah, 
you can read the official statements and so on.  But something I find 
particularly useful, and with this – well, actually, two things – I will close 
very, very briefly here.  An article appeared – and I brought a copy with me – 
in this – the American journal called the Atlantic Monthly.  This was in May of 
2001.  Mr. Putin had been President of Russia at that point for not quite, but 
almost a year and a half.
And the title of the article is “Russia is Finished:  The Unstoppable Descent 
into Social Catastrophe and Strategic Irrelevance,” written by Jeffrey Tayler.  
Eighteen pages -- he goes on and on and on.  The information in those pages is 
factually correct.  Russia faced a daunting array, not only of problems that 
were residual from the USSR, but also, a daunting array of problems that had 
accumulated as a result of – let’s just be polite about it – decisions that 
were made during the 1990s, both within Russia and abroad.
The point is that when Mr. Putin came into the presidency on January 1st of the 
year 2000, he had a lot of problems on his desk.  There is no question about 
that.  So much so – and this is not – as you know, the Atlantic Monthly is not 
a hysterical media outlet – 18 pages:  he goes on and on.  I’ll – if you’ll 
bear with me, I’ll cite one or two paragraphs, and that will close it.  Here’s 
what he said – listen to it.  This perhaps will help us to understand where 
Russia is coming from in all this, in order to, in turn, put us in a position 
to begin building some of those bridges.  Here’s what Mr. Tayler had to say.
“I have arrived at a conclusion.”  And he talks about how he studied Russia all 
his life, and he’s lived there, and so on – “I arrived at a conclusion that is 
at odds with what I previously thought.  Internal contradictions in Russia’s 
thousand-year history have destined it to shrink demographically and weaken 
economically and possibly disintegrate territorially.  The drama is coming to a 
close, and within a few decades, Russia will concern the rest of the world no 
more than any other third-world country with abundant resources, an 
impoverished people, and a corrupt government.  In short, as a great power, 
Russia is finished.”
He goes on for 18 pages to cite fact after fact after fact to support this 
conclusion of his, that, quote, “Russia is finished.”  And he concludes with 
these words: he says, “What does this mean for the Western world?  It is 
difficult to imagine the birth of an ideological conflict between Russia and 
the West similar to that which led to the Cold War.”  He would agree with 
Kimmage.  “The Russian nationalist sentiments are likely to increase,” and they 
most surely have since May of 2001, when this was published, “and to find 
expression in ever-more bellicose pronouncements from the Kremlin, especially 
if the West and NATO persist in humiliating Moscow with military adventures in 
their former spheres of influence.  Otherwise, to the benefit of the Russian 
elite, Western business will continue to operate in the havens of Moscow and 
St. Petersburg, where investment, both Russian and foreign, will ensure a 
well-maintained infrastructure.”
“As regions deteriorate within Russia,” Tayler offered, “these two cities are 
likely to continue developing and growing.  Moscow’s population officially 
stands at 9 million, but may actually be as high as 12 million.  Western 
governments will continue to buy cheap Russian oil and gas,” -- this was 
written in 2001, and they certainly have -- “and will quite possibly invest 
heavily in the upkeep of these industries.  As for superpower status, in 
contrast to the Turks, under Kemal Ataturk, who voluntarily relinquished their 
empire in favor of an Anatolian homeland, or the Byzantine Greeks, who fell in 
the battle defending their empire against the Turks, the Russians are likely to 
face a slow, relatively peaceful decline into obscurity, a process that is well 
Well, if I was a Russian, I would have been pretty insulted by that, but I 
would have been moved, I think, to do something about the realities that 
prompted that article in the first place.  It seems to me that might be a good 
place to begin our discussion of how to go about rebuilding relations with the 
Russian Federation.  Thank you very much.
PARKER:  Thank you, Jim, for that context.  In order to keep things moving 
along, I want to spare any comments I have on the matter and turn it over 
immediately to Matt.  Matt – sort of give us a wrap – contemporary relevance – 
what is to be done?  Where do we go from here?  And so good to have you with us 
today, Matt.
ROJANSKY:  Got it.  Thank you.  Yeah, pleased to be here. Thank you, Kyle, for 
organizing this.  Thanks, Representative Aderholt for joining us and thanks to 
all of you for coming.  Obviously, it’s an important topic at an important time.
So actually, Jim set me up very well just before he went to the Atlantic – by 
all measures, a very thoughtful and interesting, but fundamentally, a sort of a 
pop publication, I suppose, by reminding us that we’ve got to go to primary 
sources, and we’ve got to do our research, and we’ve got to remember history.  
And here, I’ve responded to what I think is an unsurprising tendency, but I 
think nonetheless a troubling tendency to fetishize everything that goes on in 
Mr. Putin’s brain and in his life and his experience until, essentially, 
everything becomes about the Putin story, whether you think he’s Darth Vader, 
or whether you think he’s the second coming of Peter the Great, or whether you 
think he’s something else, everything becomes about Mr. Putin.
And of course, for the people who are so preoccupied with Mr. Putin, they often 
spend very little time paying attention to what Mr. Putin says and why he says 
it. And I think he’s often quite clear about what he believes and why.  So one 
of the many illuminating Putin speeches and articles that I was inspired to go 
back to, by the speech of his that I listened to last week – and I encourage 
all those of you who understand Russian, listen to it in the original on 
YouTube; it’s incredible.  This is the speech to a joint session of the Duma 
and the Federation Council about why, in fact, Russia is taking Crimea, and 
what happens next.
But I went back to his 2007 Munich speech – now famous – but again, I think 
famous in a lot of circles that folks – most of whom have not actually read the 
speech or listened to it.  So he says the following:
“We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of 
international law.  And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, 
coming increasingly closer to one state’s legal system.  One state, and of 
course, first and foremost, the United States, has overstepped its national 
borders in every way.  This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and 
educational policies it imposes on other nations.  Who likes this?  Who’s happy 
about this?
In international relations, we increasingly see the desire to resolve questions 
according to so-called issues of political expediency based on current politics 
– current political climate.  And of course, this is extremely dangerous.  It 
results in the fact that no one feels safe.  I want to emphasize this:  No one 
feels safe, because no one can feel that international law is like a stone wall 
that will protect them.  Of course, such a policy stimulates an arms race.  And 
he goes on, and then finally says, I’m convinced that we have reached that 
decisive moment when we must seriously think about the architecture of global 
Now, I think the reason that these lines are important is not only that it 
demonstrates Mr. Putin’s dissatisfaction, the fact that he gives quite 
rhetorically powerful speeches, but the appeal that he is making here for the 
primacy of international law not on behalf of Russia and Russia’s interests – 
which he insists in the course of the rest of the speech Russia has – unique, 
independent – particularly foreign policy interests – that will not be 
sacrificed to any other country, not least of all the United States.  But then 
he says specifically:  Who – who in the world, no other country, could possibly 
be comfortable with this state of affairs.  And indeed we need to go back to 
first principles in order to strengthen the international system. 
But what I found interesting as I reviewed others of Mr. Putin’s speeches and 
his deeds was that, in the ensuing years, I get the sense that his perspective 
turned around 180 degrees.  His feeling was rather than reform the 
international system, rather than try to shore up what he felt were 
international rules that were under attack, it might be better simply to 
advance Russia’s national interest in much the way the United States, in his 
view, had done over the preceding decade or decade and a half without regard to 
these ostensible international rules, which the United States, first and 
foremost, among many other countries, had demonstrated that they didn’t take 
seriously anyway.

And I think you see a progression of this here beginning during Munich 2007, 
Moscow 2011 when, again, Mr. Putin’s perspective was that the United States was 
intervening in what should have been sacrosanct, and that is Russia’s domestic 
political process – the Duma elections, the presidential elections in which Mr. 
Putin returned to the Kremlin.  And then finally, just this year Sochi 2014, 
when even an international humanitarian event; that is, international 
brotherhood and sporting competition, became simply an opportunity for the West 
– the United States again, first and foremost – to malign, expose, attack and 
ultimately isolate Mr. Putin, even though in his view he had done whatever 
might have been needed, including releasing political prisoners, to facilitate 
a more neutral approach to what is, after all, a shared global opportunity, the 
Olympic Games.

So what does all this mean?  It means that if Mr. Putin starts from a premise 
that there is a sense of injustice, a sense of dishonesty and disingenuousness 
in which the international community as a whole now looks at international law 
and rules, that in fact not only are there no rules – functionally there are no 
reliable rules of the game – but there is no trust.  There is no foundation on 
which to rebuild those rules.  

And that’s particularly troubling, I think, in the context here of the Helsinki 
Commission, when we’re thinking about the Organization for Security and 
Cooperation in Europe, to which, I think wisely, we have attempted to turn in 
dealing with the Ukraine crisis, needing some foundation, something that is 
inclusive, something that is perceptive, something that can bring a little bit 
of clarity to what’s going on, on the ground.  And yet, if you understand Mr. 
Putin’s position today as being that there is no trust, that there is no 
fundamental mutual understanding around these rules, that is, in fact, very 

But of course our task – and this is, again, where I take issue with the pure 
preoccupation with Putin – is not to heal Mr. Putin of his psychology, nor is 
it to heal Russia of Putin or of “Putinism.”  But nor is it to achieve some 
kind of grand victory in a struggle of good versus evil in the world in which 
Putin conveniently plays the role of Darth Vader.  Our task is instead to 
advance the American national interest and to do so according to rational 
principles.  How, given this premise that I have sketched, might we do that in 
the current environment?  What, for example, might President Obama’s next State 
of the Union address, to the extent he wishes to talk about Russia, include?  I 
think four basic principles.

The first is we have to communicate with Russians.  And when I say that, I mean 
all Russians.  Here is where I don’t entirely disagree with the 
administration’s policy, which for a very long time has called for a dual-track 
approach.  To the extent that that means talking to the Russian leadership but 
also talking to Russian society, I think it makes a lot of sense.  But, very 
importantly, we cannot allow others to be our interlocutors.  And this happens 
far too often, whether those others are the Ukrainians, the Georgians, the 
Russian political opposition, or the Kremlin itself.  Very often when you talk 
to Russians, which I do all the time, you find that they have not heard 
Americans describe what Americans want.  They’ve heard someone else – it’s been 
filtered through some other perspective, and that gives them a false idea of 
what we are and what we’re after.

Second, I think we have to define very concrete interests that are commensurate 
with our still considerable political, economic and military power in the 
world.  And I think we need to talk to Russians specifically about those 
interests that concern them.  And more often than not, those are interests that 
fall in the post-Soviet space.  This is a concept with which we have been 
consistently uncomfortable.  You know, President Obama I think disclaims this 
from the very first moment in every one of his speeches by saying there’s no 
such thing as spheres.  This is an outdated concept – spheres of influence, 
spheres of privileged interest – that the reality is, as seen from Russia’s 
perspective, the post-Soviet space is a distinctive neighborhood in which 
Russia has distinctive interests.

And in order to talk to the Russians effectively, I think we have to 
acknowledge that fact.  But nonetheless, our top priorities are clearly going 
to remain issues like resolving the Iran nuclear situation, North Korea, 
Afghanistan, and I think we need to have very clear and concrete asks of the 
Russians in these areas rather than what I think too often we have done, which 
is to come to the table with abstractions, ideas about what, in theory, ought 
to be good for the world or what in theory ought to be good for Russia, right:  
Russia could turn around its problems if only it would adhere to this 
particular set of principles.  And again, if you accept the premise that I 
began from, I think the Russian leadership at this point has moved beyond those 
principles, does not accept that there’s any legitimacy or trust left as a 
foundation for them.  

I think the third point – I sort of moved my third and fourth point – stem from 
the idea that if we are fundamentally concerned about what has happened in 
Ukraine today, the best revenge is living well, right?  And I think it 
supplies, in an international relations context, almost better than it does in 
personal life, because here revenge, rather than being satisfying, is likely to 
be truly disastrous.  So I think we need to develop and protect the tool kit 
that we have begun – very slowly but steadily – to deploy in response to the 
Russian action in Crimean, and that’s fundamentally an economic tool kit.  But 
on what is that tool kit premised, right?  We’re far more likely to use 
sanctions at any point in the rest of the 21st century than we are guns, bombs, 
nuclear weapons, what have you.  Those really are the tools of the 20th century.

And so the calls to double down on 20th century weapons and tools I think are 
misguided, but I think in order to support the economic levers that we are in 
fact using and are going to use, but which today are in their infancy – they’re 
like World War I fighter planes.  You know, who knows how to use them?  The 
Europeans acknowledge freely that they don’t really know how to use them yet, 
and that’s part of the reason why you haven’t seen them effectively deployed.

PARKER:  The sanctions technology.

ROJANSKY:  The sanctions technology, that’s right.  It’s in its infancy.  And 
so to effectively support it, I think we have to insist on a scenario where the 
benefits for participation in what has been fundamentally a Western-led global 
economic system outweigh the costs.  And here I think we’re at a vital 
inflection point, because in having imposed I think quite significant – and 
increasingly significant if you look at the third executive order that’s come 
out, which I think has not yet been fully – 

PARKER:  Right.

ROJANSKY:  – fleshed out in implementation – sanctions against the biggest 
economy that we have ever sanctioned.  It’s bigger than the added-up GDPs of 
any every other economy that the United States has ever imposed sanctions on – 
Belarus, Burma, Iran, Cuba, down the line.  But the implication of this is that 
those who are on the periphery of this international system, or who are in it 
but wonder about their relationship with the United States, with Washington, 
with Brussels in the future, may have doubts about whether being fully subject 
to that system going forward is in their interest.

And so I think then the priority needs to be on successes like TTIP, for 
example, ensuring that the Trans-Atlantic economic relationship, that the 
economic system in which the United States does have a vital role of leadership 
– think about dollar-based transactions, right?  To clear a dollar transaction 
you basically have to go through the United States, with a few limited 
exceptions.  The idea that that system is of more benefit to those who take 
part in it than it is of cost, because of politics, is vitally important to 
having the tool kit we need to have going forward.  

And then finally, on this theme of living well, I think in Ukraine specially 
we’re also at an inflection point.  We may be at risk of missing the big 
picture, and that is that the long-term victory in Ukraine comes from the 
success of Ukraine.  It doesn’t come from the precise shape of Ukraine’s 
borders.  This is not an attempt to whitewash Crimea.  I think we need to 
persistently object on that point, as we have on any of the other post-Soviet 
conflicts.  But it comes from the idea that the Ukrainians effectively 
developed the institutions of liberal democracy and market prosperity that they 
had, after almost 25 years in the post-Soviet area, failed to do thus far.  

And I think my concern here is, while we’re giving plenty of love, political 
love, to the new Ukrainian leadership, interim leadership – and we will 
probably continue to do so before, during and after the May presidential 
elections – we may fail to give the tough love that is necessary to ensure that 
precisely the conditions the Ukrainians have negotiated – for example, most 
recently with the IMF; and I’m very pleased to see that, or under the previous 
government with the EU for the association agreement – that those conditions 
are now punted down the road and that the politics and the embrace comes first. 

And I think that would be fundamentally mistaken, because here is where we need 
to insist on the difficult steps that ultimately lead to Ukraine’s success, 
because this, in the end, denies the victory scenario for those who would like 
to see Ukraine dismembered, and that is post-Soviet twilight.  You cannot live 
in post-Soviet darkness if you’re participating fully in the European system 
and the global economic system.  So I think I’ll end right there.

PARKER:  Thank you, Matt.  Thank you for that summation.

We’ve spoken at you for now 40 minutes.  I’d like to get the conversation going 
right away.  Feel free:  questions, comments, objections, points, 
counterpoints.  Please, the floor is yours, and we’re on the record.  No one?  
Oh, please.  Right here.  And if you could – if you don’t mind saying who you 
are, we’d love to have it in the record.  

Q:  Yeah, Steve Traber (ph), Congressman Pearce’s staff.  Actually, from my 
seat I see the map there, and my – my question is more along the lines of 
something semi-superficial.  

We hear a lot about the concern of the periphery countries who have either 
Russian majorities or substantial Russian minorities.  Has anyone ever seen a 
map that – a demographic map that actually lays out, you know, how many are in 
the Balkan states, how many are in Kazakhstan?  I mean, where does Putin’s eye 
wander when he looks at the map, since he obviously knows where they’re at?  
And as a general statement, should those places be concerned with his 
philosophy, as you have so well laid out?

WARHOLA:  Well, I’ll make some comments on that and then Matt can correct, 
embellish as may be necessary.

PARKER:  And I’m going to do my best to keep this rapid fire so we get through 
a lot of questions.

WARHOLA:  Sure, and I will try to be brief.  Very, very good question.  Thank 
you very much.  And thank you once again for coming.  

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, there were, nobody knows exactly how 
many, ethnic Russians – and again, that – as you know, the definition of an 
ethnic Russian is a little bit fuzzy.  Some of it’s self-defined.  The figure 
that’s often given, and that was by the Russian government and by others, was 
about 30 million Russians living in the former Soviet territories but outside 
of the boundaries of the Russian Federation itself -- about 30 million.  

Some of those ended up, moving to Russia.  And I won’t say “back to Russia”, 
because some of them had been in those territories such as, Turkmenistan, and 
through the Baltic areas -- some of them had been there for generations.  And 
so there was no idea of moving “back to Russia” because, you know, they had 
been in those territories for generations, but about 30 million.  Some did go 
“back” to Russia.  

In fact, there was a series of policies pursued by the Russian government in 
the latter 1990s, and then given increased impetus in the 2000s under President 
Putin, to bring more and more of them back to Russia and – or back into Russia. 
 And some came, but not as many as the Russian government would have hoped.  
The major pockets of ethnic Russians outside of the Russian Federation but in 
the former Soviet republics, there are certainly more than a few of them in 
Latvia, which, as you know, of course is a NATO and EU member.  In the eastern 
portion of Moldova and the Transdnistria region –

PARKER:  Kazakhstan?

WARHOLA:  Kazakhstan is the next that – in the northern part – Kazakhstan is 
composed of 20 oblasts, including the capital city, or 20 regions.  And the 
three northern oblasts, or regions, of Kazakhstan are very large.  Kazakhstan 
is an enormously large country, as you can see on the map.  The three northern 
regions, or states if we could call them in the American context, have close 
to, or in one or two cases,  a majority of ethnic Russians living there as well.

In some of the other former Soviet countries – Azerbaijan, for example --  they 
figure it’s about, maybe a few percent, 5 percent of the population is Russian, 
although I was in Baku a few years ago and one hears, right, about one out of 
every three people on the streets of Baku speak Russian.  And some of them are 
obviously Russian just by the physiognomy and so on.  So, you know, I suspect 
there’s more than 5 percent of them there.

PARKER:  And I would just quickly add that Kazakhstan, among some others, like 
Ukraine, relinquished its nuclear arsenal – 

WARHOLA:  Right.

PARKER:   - Supported and encouraged by the United States, lauded as a great 
success.  The Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, we funded that, 
here in this building.

Other questions?  Please.

WARHOLA:  There was – I’m sorry; there was a lady back there whose hand went up 
simultaneously with the gentleman’s.

PARKER:  Yeah, I’m sorry.  We’ll take two – two, three in a row.  Alexei (sp), 
and then we’ll move right through.  

Yep, please.  

Q:  I just – 

PARKER:  And if you could just say your name for the record and – 

Q:  Sure.  

PARKER:  Sure.  And, yeah, you can stand so everybody can hear.

Q:  And I’m a private citizen basically, representing, here, myself.  What I 
would like to say is that – I’d like to make a segue between what – 

PARKER:  Can you identify your name for the record?

Q:  Alexei Sobchenko (ph).  

PARKER:  OK, Alexei Sobchenko (ph). 

Q:  – the segue is the following:  To say – to speak about ethnic Russians is 
like to speak about ethnic Americans.  Anybody who speaks Russian can be.  And 
going back to –

PARKER:  Where is Paul Goble, when you need him?  (Laughter.)

Q:  So going back to – going back to Mr. Rojansky said, is basically – the 
message was that Ukrainians are supposed to become adults and start to act – if 
I’m – I’m making synopsis – supposed to start like adults and take 
responsibility for themselves and to blame anybody else for whatever happens to 

The funny thing is that I’m an ethnic Ukrainian.  And I’m exactly what you say 
ethnic Russian because my native tongue is Russian and I can be as much Russian 
as I am Ukrainian.  And for that point of view, Russians and Ukrainians are 
basically the same nation.  The only difference is that Russians have oil, 
Ukrainians don’t.  But otherwise, both –

PARKER:  What did you say?  The difference was what?  Russia has?

Q:  Oil.

PARKER:  Ukraine has?

Q:  And Ukraine has not.

PARKER:  Oh, OK.  I didn’t – Ukraine has guns, Ukraine has none.

Q:  There is – 

MR.:  (Inaudible.)

Q:  And the result of this whole diversion, why Ukraine is so rambunctious and 
rioting and Russians are not is because Ukrainians have no oil, so they don’t 
have – but from these – we will continue with this parallel.  Russians are as 
much of a dysfunctional in nation as Ukraine is, which is kind of glossed up 
with – glossed over with oil and gas revenues.  And if we continue the same 
logic about Ukraine, that Ukrainians should start to make up their minds, and 
said, well, basically stop blame your finger pointing at whose fault is – you 
know, why there is such a mess.  

It could – the same could be true about Russia.  And from that point of view, 
jumping back to what we started with, is that these sanctions – no matter how 
painful, no matter how unpleasant and how unreasonable one can present them in 
the context of this history of U.S.-Russian relationships, could do a certain 
good, could make Russians face the reality, which for a long, long time they 
were ignoring thanks to the oil revenues.  And I – again, this is not a very 
academic point, but –

PARKER:  Alexei (sp), I want to move on to a couple other questions.  But 
thanks for the point.  Cathy, please.  Cathy Cosman, if I may introduce you.

Q:  Please.  (Laughter.)  A quick question and a point.  If one looks at 
Putin’s speech, which I did, early on he asserts that Belarus, Ukraine and 
Russia share not only religion – which is orthodoxy, which he states very 
firmly and bases this principle on – (inaudible) – born, baptized in Crimea, et 
cetera, et cetera.  And therefore, they share a civilization, culture and human 
rights.  Therefore, it seems to me that one can make the argument that he is 
going to international law, yes, but pre-Westphalia Treaty of the 17th century, 
which looks at the basis of comity or, I guess, sovereignty as religious.  So 
can you comment on that?

PARKER:  Matt, you want to take that quick and then Jim for a follow-up?  And 
then we’ll move on.

ROJANSKY:  Yeah, he does say that.  You’re talking about the speech last week?

Q:  Yeah.

ROJANSKY:  Yeah.  He does say that.  What’s interesting is he says also some 
fundamentally 20th century things.  So he talks about Crimea, for example, with 
be the Crimea of Russians, of Ukrainians, of Crimean Tatars, right, and will 
always be the Crimea of the Russian Federation, right?  

So he is absolutely asserting a role as protector of the Rus, right, and uniter 
of Russia’s historical lands, gatherer of the lands, person who solved the time 
of troubles that was described in The Atlantic article.  And yet the same time, 
he’s still touching on these themes of kind of rule of law, protection of 
minorities.  He defines democracy in terms of majority role, with consideration 
for minorities needs and so on.  

And I think the answer here is he is in the process of turning around on what 
had maybe a decade ago been a desire to reassert the primacy of rules as a way 
of keeping this adventurism by everyone but Russia down.  He now sees some 
benefits to adventurism by Russia, right, whether it’s the Eurasian Union or 
its Crimea specifically or it’s Transnistria or something else.  And I think in 
that context he needs to reorient his position on the rules.

Whether it’s going back to a pre-Westphalian notion of statehood as being based 
on nationality or it’s using – and for example, he used the concept –

Q:  Based on religion, not nationality.

ROJANSKY:  -- he used the concept of diaspora, right?  He defined Russia 
post-1991, the Russians as being sudden Europe’s biggest diaspora, with 30 
million or something else, right?  So he’s aligning and mixing a lot of 
concepts here.  And I think it’s reflecting – again, not to do psychoanalysis – 
but I think it’s a reorientation, if you go back to 2007 at least.  

And probably there are some speeches before that, of what had been a relatively 
clear-cut position that said there’s the U.N. Charter and there shouldn’t be 
anything else.  And you all are not respecting the U.N. Charter.  He is now 
looking for other options because clearly there’s no trust left in that 

PARKER:  I’d like to follow-up on a few of those things later on, but, Jim, do 
you have a –

WARHOLA:  Yeah, just very briefly.  An interesting question and I guess – I 
don’t know, as an academic it immediately called to mind, you know, Samuel 
Huntington’s  image of the global map in terms of,  in the – into the 21st 
century of,  as you know, the clash of civilizations.  And according to 
Professor Huntington, one of the most important dividing lines would be the 
line between the West and the Orthodox civilizations.  

And you know, does this kind of validate Dr. Huntington’s point of view?  Well, 
I’m not sure.  But it – there does seem to be a pretty clear and sharp dividing 
line in terms of the nature of the relationship between the state and the 
underlying society, between the Orthodox lands and the lands that find 
themselves to their – to their west.

And again, is it our obligation to try and put pressure on them to change, to 
make them us – more like us?  I don’t know.  I find useful some of the insights 
of Lilia Shevtsova’s 2010 book.  It’s called – perhaps in a title that was 
almost prescient – it’s called “Lonely Power,” why Russia is not the West and 
why the West, doesn’t understand Russia – or something like that – something to 
that effect – but the main title is “The Lonely Power.”

PARKER:  Cathy.

Q:  Just a brief footnote, however.  When he refers to Crimea, he also 
downplays the tragedy of the treatment of Crimea’s original inhabitants, namely 
the Crimean Tatar. He doesn’t mention about deportation.

ROJANSKY:  I was –

WARHOLA:  Well, in – could I – could I respond to that?

ROJANSKY:  All right. Yeah, I don’t agree with that, actually, if you read the 
speech but –

Q:  I did, and I – and it –

WARHOLA: Yeah, I mean, he offered something like an apology.  Maybe it wasn’t 
as – 


WARHOLA:  You know, maybe it wasn’t as forceful or remonstrative –

Q:  He said Russians have suffered more than anyone else and he did not mention 
by name the deportation of the Crimean Tatar.

WARHOLA:  He didn’t use the word deportation.  He said – he described the 

Q:  Correct.

ROJANSKY:  Yeah.  For a Russian leader, this was actually a pretty far –


PARKER:  I would urge we all go and consult the original source following this 
meeting.  (Laughter.)  Settle that one.  

Before we move on, I want to recognize Don Jensen and thank him for coming.  
Don is with the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS, Johns Hopkins, and 
the author of one of the articles we distributed, “Can the U.S. and Russia Ever 
get Along?”

Q:  It’s interesting, my friend Matt and I left the same meeting, but Matt left 
early.  (Laughter.)

PARKER:  Matt left early.  

ROJANSKY:  Thanks – not early enough.

PARKER:  Don just wrote a day or ago, and it was out on the table, a wonderful 
review of Angela Stent’s recent book,  and he called it a magisterial work on 
U.S.-Russia relations.

Q:  The Jesuit Latin teacher – (inaudible).  

PARKER:  The – (laughter) – and Don is a veteran of embassy Moscow.  Don, you 
have some comment, question, anything that you can offer to us?

Q:  I want to dive in the middle of a very interesting discussion.  I – a 
couple points.  My friend’s comment about the commonality of blood between 
Ukrainians and Russians, I just want to make sure that for me, one of the 
lessons of the current crisis is that – how much Ukrainians’ values are not 
Russian and that’s something that – (inaudible).  

The entire Ukrainian crisis for me, since November, has shown the importance of 
values, not pure realism in international relations.  Perhaps you can say I’m 
just – (inaudible).  But Ukrainians’ values are not interested in blood, are 
different to a significant extent than many Russians.  And I don’t want to 
generalize about political culture, but I think it accounts for some of the 
difference in behavior. 

Cathy, I agree with you.  And one of the things about the speech that struck me 
was the extent to which Putin, and compared to the past, uses the phrase 
rossisskii – ruski, not rossisskii, indicating ethnic kinship.  And if this is 
going to be a driving force in Russian views towards the whatever country might 
have ethnic Russians.  And I’m from former Russian California, but perhaps the 
only Italian who speaks Russian in Sonoma County.

PARKER:  Do you need protection now?  (Laughter.)

Q:  We’re wine makers and we have guns.  

PARKER:  OK.  (Laughter.)

Q:  But this is a very destabilizing force.  And that is probably why –

ROJANSKY:  Just like Transnistria, actually.  

Q:  -- they talked about the importance of membership in international 
institutions for the first Putin epoch.  And now they don’t.  And they talked 
about the importance of international institutions in Syria and Iran, the 
importance of nonintervention.  Well, now they’ve turned that upside down, on I 
think very questionable ethnic grounds. 

My final point would be that in general, and not applicable anybody in 
particular, there is a tendency I think to blame the victim, Ukraine, here much 
more – in the debate about the Ukraine – much more than we should.  We 
certainly should blame them – the government’s horrible and impotent and all 
those other things.  But the tough love, or just tough – ought to be applied to 
Russia as well, because I think there is a double standard here.  

A lot of the first Obama term was sort of entranced by the idea of a lot of 
realism in great power dealing with Russia, not these little Ukraines and other 
countries in the near-abroad, which I think frankly sounded to me very 
patronizing.  Ukraine is a country of 50 million people almost.  It’s a vital 
strategic asset to not – to both Europe and Russia and I think over the long 
term I would be hopeful that some accommodation could be reached.  

But I think we have to start questioning the assumptions we tend to bring to 
this discussion, one of which is that Ukraine is not just a pet of Mother 
Russia.  Ukraine is a separate country with – to a significant extent a 
different language and a considerably different culture.  I think we ought to 
treat it with a little bit more seriousness.

PARKER:  Thank you, Don.  Jim, very briefly, and then we’re going to go to the 
other side of the room.

WARHOLA:  Yeah, just an additional comment real, real quickly, yeah, to Cathy’s 
point once again.  I mean, as far as I’m concerned,  your point is well-taken.  
The referendum that was held in Crimea, I don’t think it’s an accident that the 
– that the Crimean Tatars boycotted that en mass.  You know, the ballot –  it 
was printed in first of all Russian, secondly Ukrainian, thirdly in Tatar.  

I – some of my research involved, Russian-Turkish relations and that – and the 
kind of tangle, or the relation –the triangle – Russia, Turkey, the Crimean 
Tatars – is an interesting one.  If we had time we could get into it; we can’t. 
 But you know, I just wanted to say that, on the one hand, I agree with Matt -- 
it was mentioned in the speech – not particularly – with any particular force.  
But, you know, the point is well-taken.  I don’t think it’s an accident,  they 
appear to me to have just been – just kind of steamrolled, for lack of a better 

PARKER:  Thank you.  This side please.

Q:  I’m – (inaudible) – Library of Congress.  Actually, my – the one small 
remark actually – Georgians are – (inaudible) – as well, but it didn’t – it 
didn’t bother Putin to go to war with Georgia, with an – (inaudible) – nation.  

And the second, I would like to ask Mr. Rojansky to clarify your predictions 
about the Ukrainian government succession.  I mean, the – having in mind the 
fact that current government officials are the part of the Tymoshenko team 
mainly, which were not less corrupted than the previous government.  And they 
developed a system which, you know, just brought down Ukraine and left Crimea 
to the Russians.  So what do you think about it?  There are several criminal 
cases in different countries against them.  Thank you.

PARKER:  Matt.

ROJANSKY:  Yeah.  First of all, I didn’t pretend to offer predictions.  That’s 
a great way to be wrong.  (Laughter.)  And I don’t like that.  But what I would 
say – I think – you know, you’re right – you’re right to an extent about the 
current team being the Tymoshenko team, but there’s a bit of a change underway. 
 I do think – I get the sense that Yatsenyuk is for, frankly, probably personal 
ambition kinds of reasons trying to distance himself from Tymoshenko and, to 
the extent that she still controls the party, from the party.  I think he 
expects to continue to serve as prime minister, whoever is president after May.

Q:  But she knows she is going to be the president –

ROJANSKY:  She may not be.  I mean, she’s not actually all that popular.  I 
think the one thing she has going for her, and this really is where I think it 
is strongly incumbent on the United States and on the European Union not to 
allow the Ukrainians to play a game with us that they have played very 
effectively for 20 years, which is the Russian boogeyman, ignore everything 
else – you know, ignore every other problem because this problem is so 

Now, unfortunately, the Crimean crisis has handed them the strongest possible 
argument.  And you know, from Georgia, you should know, right, that that’s 
exactly what the Georgian territory did for Saakashvili for a decade, right, 
was it handed him an argument that trumped very other argument.  And then, of 
course, we only saw – when the elections came and we just how dirty and 
horrible things had become on live video – or, not live, but, you know, very 
visible in front of our faces.

You know, do we have to wait for another raft of evidence about thievery, 
corruption and corporate raiding in Ukraine to believe that the old guard is 
really, really filthy?  I don’t think so.  I think – again, I don’t have any 
great faith in individuals in Ukraine, by the way.  I mean, anybody who’s 
asking who is the great white hope for Ukraine’s future is asking the wrong 
pronoun.  It’s not who; it’s what.  It’s what institutions are going to 
transform Ukraine.

And the one thing here – I want to give credit where it’s due.  The United 
States – I spent two months as a fellow with the U.S. embassy in Kiev thanks to 
Title 8, a program which, on the record, I would like to say should be fully 
restored, because it is vitally important for our understanding of this region. 
 I saw on the ground how U.S. assistance, over a three-year period, had 
fundamentally transformed the prosecutorial system in Ukraine, which has 
finally now got a new law in place that could actually change the prosecutor’s 
power to intervene in political cases, which is – that’s the tool.  That’s the 
tool that the executive branch uses to get its outcomes wherever it wants, as 
well as the judicial reforms.

You know, so focusing on institutions in that way now – that’s what I meant by 
tough love.  It wasn’t to blame the Ukrainians, Don (sp).  I mean, the idea is 
to focus on the hard steps, and maybe not even everything in the association 
agreement, because it’s huge, but that’s a wonderful road map.  You know, pick 
three, four, five of the biggest-ticket items.  Those will be the things that 
dictate a successful outcome.  So if you want me to make a prediction, the 
prediction is this:  If you can get several of those in place and locked down 
now and you can use the IMF money that’s just been unleashed as well as the 
U.S. loan guarantee and the European money to do it, then I think Ukraine 
actually will be a success, you know, whoever gets elected in May.  And I 
frankly don’t care very much about that.

PARKER:  Thank you.  Next question.  I saw you first.  Sorry.

Q:  Hi, Nina Jankowicz, National Democratic Institute for International 
Affairs.  I have three quick points.  First, Matt, thanks for bringing up Title 
8.  I think many of us in this room have benefited from Title 8, including 
myself, and I would wholeheartedly like to voice my support for its 

And the other two points have to – deal with the aid going to Ukraine and 
Russia right now.  I just want to make sure that we sustain the aid going to 
Ukraine.  It’s great that we are bringing it up now that there’s a crisis, but 
I don’t want to see it go the route that it went in 1992 and in the early ’90s. 
 It needs to be more of a Poland situation and not a repeat of history.

And on that same note, there are a lot of Russian activists and NGOs suffering 
right now under intense scrutiny from the Russian government, and we need to 
make sure that we’re supporting them, in addition to those outside of Russia.

PARKER:  Thank you for the comment.  Question?  And comments and questions are 
welcome, please.  I welcome both.

Q:  (Inaudible) – Bishkek initiative.  I have a question to – (inaudible) – 
probably.  You would not equalize United Kingdom of Great Britain – not an 
island with British – (inaudible) – and you would not equalize Austria with 
Austria and Hungary – (inaudible) – why do you equalize Russian Federation with 
USSR and Russian Empire?

PARKER:  Good question for Jim.

Q:  It is – it is independent state, which formed on the (part ?) of Soviet 
Union and Russian Empire, but they are not equal.

WARHOLA:  Sure, of course.

PARKER:  So I guess, Jim, they’re not equal, but how much does the history 
weigh on it going forward, and particularly with – I know you might argue that 
the Cold War is something of an aberration.  So are we snipping that out and 
connecting history back to the imperial line, as if the Cold War had – as if 
that German experiment had never happened?

WARHOLA:  Sure, yeah.  Well, you know – (chuckles) – (inaudible) – I mean, I 
don’t know, I’m not sure how to respond.  I mean, my own particular study was 
the study of U.S. presidents’ relation with first the Russian Empire and then 
with the USSR and then – the Russian Federation;  you know, I – Franklin – no 
U.S. president referred to the Soviet Union as the Soviet Union until Franklin 
Delano Roosevelt did in 1945 – (chuckles) – or at least not in their – in their 

PARKER:  And he didn’t refer to it much at all, right?

WARHOLA:  Once, yeah.  No, not at all.  You know, and – but it was considered 
by presidents, at least as reflected in their State of the Union addresses, as 
coterminous with Russia.  And we know of course that’s, as you know, not 
exactly correct, but that’s the way it was – it was seen by them.   I’m not 
sure if that’s much of an answer, but – and no, I certainly understand that, as 
you know, Ireland is not England and that Austria is not Hungary and so on.

PARKER:  Tonya (sp), you brought up the Magnitsky Act.  I had a quick point, 
and possibly a question, on sanctions technology, perhaps to you, Matt, 
something that’s close to my heart.  I saw the other day some comments – and I 
think they were almost being made as if the sanctions were – as if we had 
discovered some problem with the sanctions, that in fact they were helping 
Putin’s nationalization of the elite.  My view is, hey, we finally stumbled on 
a win-win.  We have finally stumbled on something that helps get dirty money 
out of the West and into Russia.  Russia’s experienced capital flight.  So why 
is it a bad thing, apart from the isolation of Russia that’s coming anyway, 
that we clear our accounts of corrupt Russian money?  And I certainly don’t 
mean that in an ethnic sense.  No, it’s – to be fair, because one of the things 
I’m concerned about is if and when the Maidan or the revolution comes to 
Moscow, at some point the West – our rule of law – we may be forced to defend 
some unsavory people and keep them and their assets safe from the mob in 
Moscow, and I’m wondering how that can possibly inflame anti-American 
sentiment, that once again the dirty West is holding Russia’s wealth and won’t 
return it to the people who have sent it abroad and who might view their 
future, their families and others and have an exit strategy?  Is there –

ROJANSKY:  Is – I mean, look, the whole complex of sanctions technology issues 
is fascinating, and especially when you add into it the question of the 
political impact and the sort of appearance effects of sanctions.

I take your point, Kyle, but I tend to think we have – so let me just answer it 
by analogy.  If what you’re arguing for is a kind of cleaner separation, you 
know, an approach where we can more easily sit on our side of the line, on our 
side of the trenches, and you know, shoot our artillery and know that it’s at 
least hitting the stuff we want to hit over there, the answer is kind of, well, 
then you’d probably object to drone warfare, you know, special operations, 
intelligence and information warfare, sort of the realities that this is the 
21st century.

And I think that sanctions technology success is actually going to be about 
understanding in much subtler and quieter ways how we achieve – for example, 
the dollar-clearing transaction or the euro-clearing transaction phenomenon is 
something that is often not about identifying particular assets, freezing them 
and appearing to do the things that are very costly, like for example, when it 
looks to Russians as if we’re creating lists of good guys and bad guys, then we 
really play into the Kremlin’s line that all we care about is regime change; 
all we care about is picking winners and losers in other countries; just look 
at our sanctions list to see who we think are the good guys and who are the bad 
guys.  And one of the ways this has backfired in Belarus, for example, is that 
Lukashenko basically takes the list, he takes the EU list and the U.S. list, 
and he goes, all right, well, these people are all loyal, clearly, and all the 
rest of them, I’m going to cut them loose, right?

I think at the end of the day, what we need is the equivalent of, you know, a 
Stuxnet bomb, something that is smarter than the system altogether, that they 
don’t figure out until it’s too late that it was in fact our sanctions weapon 
that screwed them, but that the economy is getting hit, and it’s getting hit in 
ways that hurt them more than it hurts us, because until that point, all we can 
do is kind of the old-fashioned legion against legion warfare, which is we are 
willing to endure more pain than you are, so we’ll win on sanctions.  And I 
think unfortunately, Putin is probably right that we’re not willing to endure 
as much pain as he is because he’s able to drag the Russian economy down as low 
as he wants, I mean, with limits, right, but we’re certainly not willing to go, 
you know, scrape the bottom with him.

PARKER: Right, right, no.  And I think that –

WARHOLA:  And there’s the danger of the backfire, too where it’s – or those 
sort of sanctions -- would just end up inadvertently strengthening his hand 

PARKER:  Well, and as you had mentioned in Belarus, so in Russia with some of 
these proposals, and we’ve seen them before after the Magnitsky Act, whereby 
the government says it will reimburse anyone for anything that’s frozen or 
anything like that, and it’s – to me, it’s a sick irony, in a sense, that some 
of the money we’ve traced was actually stolen from Russia in the first place, 
so it gets to be stolen from Russia in the second place as it was reimbursed, 
because if and when we see such money, one of the options is that it is 
ultimately returned to the Russian treasury in a proper transaction.

Other questions, please?  Inna Dubinsky.

Q:  Yes, Broadcasting Board of Governors.  I actually am glad, Kyle, that you 
have turned the discussion from reactive options to more proactive, something 
that could, in the policies of the U.S. and its partners, tone down these 
territorial and other ambitions outside of Russian realm and scope.

PARKER:  Thank you.

Q:  So just wanted to ask, what would be other policies, moves, ideas that 
could help that?

PARKER:  And – thank you.  Can we take one more question – let’s take these 

Q:  Yeah, this is actually on that note.  There was an article on March –

PARKER:  Yeah.  Could –

Q:  I’m Marko Ceperkovic (ph), Congressman Alcee Hastings.

PARKER:  Marco Jobelkovich (ph), yeah, Congressman Alcee Hastings’ office.

Q:  So there was an article – I don’t remember – it was a European journal, 
maybe Der Spiegel.  It was talking about the alternatives to the sanctions, 
because Germany is having – today Der Spiegel published that 50 percent of the 
Germans can kind of see the Russian position and limitedly agree to it and 
support Angela Merkel’s neutrality – (inaudible) – situation.  So it’s kind of 
worrying, but then on the other hand, it raises the question of alternatives to 
the sanctions, and would some other approaches be more of (an official ?)?  For 
example, should we not be trying to – and failing to punish those leaders while 
also punishing the people and maybe approach the people and a little bit of 
domestic issues?  For example, there is a call for visa liberalization, because 
the European Union stopped visa liberalization.  Maybe that (one ?) would be 
more beneficial than actually cutting the visas and actually letting the 
ordinary people – (inaudible) –

PARKER:  Right, visa liberalization for nonservice passport holders.  

MR.:  Exactly.

Q:  Yes, exactly.

PARKER:  Exactly the opposite of what was being proposed.  And I appreciate the 
question because I would just underscore that as this Congress worked through 
personal sanctions in the context of the Magnitsky Act, at the same time, we 
supported of the visa liberalization that was happening concurrently –

ROJANSKY:  The three-year agreement.

PARKER:  – the three-year agreements and whatever, sending a strong message 
that of course – broader contact, the door to America is open for those of good 
will who want to visit for legitimate purposes, but it is closing and we’re 
drawing a harder line on the corruption front, human rights abuses, 
acknowledging that they often go hand in hand, that there’s often a monetary 
component, and hardening our system to that.

ROJANSKY:  OK.  Can I comment really quickly on his question?

PARKER:  Yeah, and I know Jim had a comment to, and then we’ll keep moving.

ROJANSKY:  So I agree on the visa thing, and obviously I have many good friends 
in the State Department, not one of whom, no matter how many beers I pump into 
them, has given me a successful, like, rhetorically defensible answer as to why 
we can’t have visa-free travel with Russia.  It’s not like we can’t stop 
mobsters from coming in the country, and we do that – you know, we have 
visa-free with plenty of countries, and we stop criminals.

But on the question of, like, what other strategies might be deployed, I think 
there’s one basic strategy, which kind of – I see Moldova, Ukraine and Russia 
existing on a spectrum of having figured this out.  The Moldovan government 
three years ago finally realized that the only way to overcome the problem of 
Russian occupation in Transnistria was to make Moldova such a success story 
that the basis for that occupation, which is that Transnistrians are afraid of 
being reunited with Moldova and thereby sucked into Romania and Europe and all 
these horrible things, but they’re no longer afraid of that.  (Laughter.)

PARKER:  Sounds awful, Matt.  Sucked into Europe.

ROJANSKY:  They’re no longer – if you’d been to Romania, you would see why it 
might be –

PARKER:  (Chuckles.)  Well, OK, point taken.

Q:  (Inaudible) – Matt, they still don’t want to be part of Moldova.

ROJANSKY:  Right, but listen, the point is if you make Moldova fundamentally 
such a prosperous and successful part of the global economy, institutions that 
people can actually rely on to start businesses instead of to steal the 
businesses from them, then I think the position of Transnistrians, who are 
pretty much tired of having a government that steals everything from them, even 
though they get, you know, what is it – 40 percent of them are pensioners, and 
they get nice, you know, Russian pensions if they accept Russian passports and 
so on.  Fundamentally, it shifts the balance, right?  By definition, the 
pensioners are not going to be around forever.

Again, with Ukraine, that gets harder because they start from the worst 
position, and the government doesn’t understand that yet.  And then in Russia 
itself, I think ultimately, that’s the argument.  It’s not about defeating 
Russia; it’s about integrating Russia into the global economy.  And I think 
that the United States has basically understood this.  The problem is it’s 
really hard to do, and it comes in fits and starts.  It took us 17 years to get 
WTO, and look where we are now, right?  So it’s going to take a really long 
time.  But as I say, you know, this is why – anybody asked me three years ago, 
or anybody talked to me three years ago, and I talked about Moldova, 
Transnistria, this, that and the other thing – I think I even testified about 
it.  And people just said, oh, who cares; it’s Moldova.  No, this is why the 
small post-Soviet countries matter, because they are test cases for these 
ideas.  I think if you make it work right in Moldova, which the EU is very 
close to doing, then I think you do have a model.

PARKER:  You testified for us about it, Matt.

ROJANSKY:  Yeah, there you go.

PARKER:  And I hope you’ll do so in the future on this.


PARKER:  Jim, briefly, and then I have people to recognize.

WARHOLA:  Sure, yeah.  You know, on March 8th of this year – there was an 
editorial by Kasparov in The Wall Street Journal.  And what he advocated was 
very, very powerful sanctions, but sanctions not in general – but specifically 
targeting the Russian oligarchs.  And his question was -- why punish 140 
million Russians when you’ve got a handful of oligarchs who are supporting 
Putin?  Why not just  pinpoint them?  And you know, it’s an interesting point 
of view.

In terms of sanctions, I mean, I don’t know.  I’m more of an historian-oriented 
student of Russian affairs than I am a – a political economist.  I’m certainly 
not an economist, but I wonder about sanctions.  You know, it seems to me that, 
on the one hand, the United States has some obligation to object to the way in 
which the annexation of Crimea occurred, at the very least.  The efficacy of 
sanctions, you know -- I don’t know.  It makes me wonder:  What is – what are 
we after, with sanctions?  What are we after?  Are we out to punish Russia?  Is 
that what we’re after?  And if so, why?  And what do we hope to gain?  And, 
again, as a student of history, what do we hope to gain medium and long term by 
punishing Russia?  And might not that have the effect --  of poisoning the 
prospect for cooperation in areas in which we really need to be cooperating?  

And so I wonder about just what the motive for sanctions is.  Is it to change 
the regime?  And if it is, maybe we ought to say so ?  You know – “we don’t 
like you.  We think you’re doing a terrible thing – you know, we want to see 
you gone.”  And maybe they’re – I don’t know – maybe I’m being naïve as an 
academic, I don’t know.  But those were the questions I have to ask about 

PARKER:  I have a number of people – I will recognize you – I’ve got it written 
down.  I want to move Corrine, from the Embassy of Moldova, straight to the 
front of the list.  Corrine, it’s good to have you here today.  Please. 

Q:  Thank you so much, for of all, of organizing this event, Kyle, and thank 
you so much for the guest for this presentation.  I would like to thank you as 
well, Matt, for mentioning Moldova, because it seems like it was a kind of, a 
little bit overshadowed by the events in Ukraine.  And I would like to stress 
(out ?) that Moldova is as well one of the countries from the Eastern 
Partnership that expressed its interest to move closer to European Union, and 
that might be a little bit disturbing for someone.  So my question would be, do 
you think that U.S. Congress is vocal enough with respect to Moldova at this 
point, and what would be your predictions or thoughts on the possibility of 
creating this corridor of protection between – that will interconnect Crimea, 
Transnistria, let’s say another part of Eastern Europe, Eastern Ukraine, that 
some of analysts predicted before? 

PARKER:  Thank you, Corrine  

I’m going to take two quick questions, give the panel an opportunity to 
address.  Don, I know you had a comment, and then I will close with a final 
question, move to bring this very interesting discussion to a close.  Asta and 
then Karl (sp), please.

Q:  Thank you for stopping the punishment – (laughs) ¬– Kyle.

PARKER:  Sorry, I –

Q:  I’m sorry I was late.  All right.  Well, I have two quick questions.  One 
is, if we successfully apply the sanctions that we’ve – mechanism that we’ve 
learned on Iran to Russia, will it finally tell us if Russia is an oligarchy, 
which is what people have been arguing for the last – you know, after Yeltsin, 
or whether Putin has successfully mastered the bureaucracy, especially the 
police powers of the state – that he is now well on his way to dictatorship?  
So that’s my first question about a, sort of, a hook on sanctions.  

The second thing is, Matthew I want to thank you for finally saying something I 
could agree with you on.  (Laughter.)  You said – 

MR.     :  Backhanded compliment.

Q:  You said, the West has been trying to integrate Russia into the world 
economic – the modern world economic system for the last 20 years.  You talked 
about a 21st century toolkit of sanctions, and yet your whole analysis of Putin 
ignores his 18th century, 19th century mindset of imperialism.  He is one of 
the last imperialist leaders on the face of the globe.  I mean, even the 
Chinese at least gave lip service to all of their ethnicities during their 
Olympics.  All you saw during the Sochi Olympics were white, you know, white, 
blond, blue-eyed people.  This is supposed to be a federation.  Strobe Talbott 
has publically now said he doesn’t believe Russia’s a federation.  There’s no 
way it can be a federation.  So it’s the imperial mindset that makes his 
decision to ignore international law and international norms the problem.  And 
I can’t agree – (laughs) – with you any, you know, any less, you know – that we 
have a difference of opinion about what the problem with Putin is. 

PARKER:  Thank you, Asta.  Karl Altau, from the Joint Baltic American National 
Committee.  Karl. 

Q:  Thank you, Kyle.  Well, I agree totally with Asta, my colleague.  Yesterday 
the Baltic – the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian-American communities 
commemorated the 65th anniversary of the 1949 deportations.  About 100,000 
Balts were deported, by Moscow, to Siberia, and that’s why we understand the 
nervousness of the Crimean Tatars.  The Volga Germans were, you know, another 
group, and, I mean, Russia is, and the empire is, littered with all these 
people, so we’re very nervous.  

I mean, just a quick question:  We’ve been kind of leading up to it, but how do 
all your calculations change when Russia – if Russia invades Eastern Ukraine 
next week, this week, or in three weeks?

PARKER:  Thank you, Karl.  Very quickly, Don, a comment, and then we’re going 
to wrap this up.

MR.:  OK.  I want to make a comment.  Karl, I agree with you.  I hope there 
won’t be.  Tonya, your question was:  Why don’t we realize it’s not the Soviet 

Q:  Yes.

MR.:  I have an answer for that.  One, then I would like a much more explicit 
repudiation of the Stalinist symbols, nostalgia and romance.  It’s still there 
on every May 1st, it’s still there every day on TV, romance and – I would like 
a much more explicit repudiation of that.  Point two:  It’s still an empire, 
whether it’s Catherine the Great’s empire, descended from – I’ve learned much 
more about that in the last few weeks.  It’s still an empire.  That’s why I 
think it’s something to be objected to.  A lot of countries are.  You could 
argue the U.S. has a residual of it.  But it’s still an empire.  And third:  
For me, one of the drivers of the current crisis is that a lot of the Kremlin 
elite, and I assume a lot of Russians, simply do not believe Ukraine is a 
separate country.  And that drives a perception, it drives a commentary, it 
drives the propaganda.

MR.     :  Putin himself said it.

MR.     :  And it is.  I would like to see the Kremlin say that and act like it 
and not just this endless barrage of – they’re not Russian speak – they’re not 
– they’re not Russians in the Eastern Ukraine.  They’re ethnic Russian, Russian 
speakers, like – there’re many multi-lingual societies.  That would be my 

PARKER:  Thank you, Don.  

At this point I would like to – I hold one question in reserve, but I would 
like to offer the panel a minute each – very quickly, rapid fire – if you want 
to address the question from Karena (ph) on Moldova, from Asta on Iran 
sanctions and the imperial mindset, and from Karl on how does any invasion in 
Eastern Ukraine change any of what we’re talking about today.  Jim?

WARHOLA:  One minute, right?


WARHOLA:  OK, on Moldova I would defer ¬–

PARKER:  And you don’t need to address them all.

WARHOLA:  Sure, yeah.  OK.  Yeah, back to the – you know, the Russian 
Federation, of course, you know, is not the Soviet Union, but there are enough 
echoes there to make more than a few of us here in the United States 
uncomfortable.  I would, as you know, clearly agree.  It seems to me, though, 
once again --  to go back to some of my earlier remarks -- that what seems to 
me is operating,  is two fundamentally and probably irreconcilable differences 
about the nature of international order.  

I think it’s interesting that President Putin – or, excuse me, or, yeah, that 
President Putin again, constantly refers to Russia’s national interests and so 
forth, and rightly so, I suppose.  President Obama refers to “the international 
community” again and again and again; not so much “the West” versus Russia, but 
“the international community.”  And it just seems to me that  – we need to work 
towards some way to find some common ground to bridge those seemingly 
irreconcilable differences.  And it won’t be a matter of figuring out which one 
is right and which one is wrong, but attempting to look at things from the 
other side’s point of view and begin to start building some bridges so that 
those two different conceptions – fundamentally, conceptually, theoretically 
distinct conceptions of world order – can begin to be bridged.  And if they 
don’t, we’re going to continue to be banging heads with Russia.  And hopefully 
– there’s going to be conflict, you know, conflict is a part of the human 
condition --  but it doesn’t have to take the form of violent conflict.

PARKER:  Thank you, Jim.  

Matt:  Moldova, Iran sanctions, East Ukraine.

ROJANSKY:  Got it.  Yeah, on Moldova, which was really a question about this 
Novaracia (ph) region being threatened, the answer is very simple, and that is 
that the reason Putin was able, with relatively little violence and at 
relatively low cost, to take Crimean territory from Ukraine was because a very 
large number of Crimeans were fine with that.  And if you look at what people 
in Donetsk and Kharkiv and Odessa want and think right now, they are not the 
same as Crimea, but they are far from where they would need to be in order to 
make such a territorial grab unthinkable, both in terms of the unintended 
consequences if there were violence on the ground, and in terms of just 
objectively, you know – could a referendum, even pulled off under the 
appropriate conditions, give a result that is not the result you’d like to see? 
 And that is fundamentally about a vision for Ukraine that they like, that goes 
somewhere useful, and Ukraine’s not there.

On Putin as an imperialist, I want to be very clear here:  I don’t care if he’s 
an imperialist.  And the reason I don’t care is, again, I don’t particularly 
care about his psychology, except to the extent that it’s useful in forging an 
American policy that advances our interests, and I don’t believe it’s in our 
interest to crusade around the world fighting imperialists.  I think if we did 
that, A, it’s an unbelievably dangerous slippery slope.  I’m not sure what 
differentiates Putin’s imperialism from Chinese imperialism, or Indian 
imperialism, or imperialism in any other continent on the world, and I don’t 
think we want to get ourselves into that trap.  

I think the challenge here comes from the fact that Putin is now both 
rhetorically and factually, in facts on the ground, challenging the status quo 
of borders after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  He’s saying that, with 
Russians being the biggest diaspora, the biggest ethnic – as you pointed out, 
Kathy (sp) – ethnic, religious, whatever diaspora outside the borders of Rus in 
Europe, that these things now need to change, and that that’s a grounds for 
changing them.  And we have legitimate objections, even if not to the idea of 
that, certainly to the process by which it was done, which is by force and a 
completely illegitimate referendum.  

In order for us to have any credibility, though, in asserting those things, we 
have to undermine the arguments that Mr. Putin has been making.  And that’s why 
I go back to 2007, but frankly, long before that, and those are the arguments 
about our treatment of international law when it suits us and when it doesn’t 
suit us; our use of force when it suits us and when it doesn’t suit us.  Again, 
the answer here lies not in being perfect angels and thus Putin will become a 
perfect angel himself.  The answer lies in doing both walking and chewing gum 
at the same time, and that’s why I talk about the weapons of the 21st century – 
the ones that we’re going to use, because let’s be honest, we’re not going to 
send tanks in, whether it’s Moldova, Transnistria, Odessa, Crimea – that’s not 
what it’s about.  But we are going to use these economic weapons, so let’s use 
them effectively at the same time that we defend our flank – and that is on our 
treatment of international law.

PARKER:  I have a final question and then I want to bring this to a close.  We 
like to start on time and end on time.  We’ve been in a warm room and I 
appreciate everybody’s attention and the good conversation.  

My question is for both Jim and Matt – and Matt, you mention the OSCE, and I 
mentioned the Helsinki Final Act when we began – this is something, of course, 
very close to what we do here at the Commission on Security and Cooperation in 
Europe, the whole Helsinki process and commitments.  

You know, with the – how did the Russian Foreign Ministry put it?  I’m trying 
to wrap my mind around their phrasing.  I think it’s with the G-7’s expulsion, 
or the G-7 left the G-8, right?  So now that that’s happened, one, it seems to 
me that that increases the relevance of the OSCE as a security forum to engage 
Russia, and I would just recall that we do this across three dimensions:  the 
security dimension, the economic and cultural exchange contact dimension, and 
the human dimension.  We at the Helsinki Commission focus on the human 
dimension, but we also address the other two dimensions.  This is wrapped up in 
the OSCE’s concept of comprehensive security – that these things are all 
related and interdependent.  

And so I think of the Tsarnaev case that was recently in the news and us 
scratching our heads and wondering why we didn’t have better cooperation, and 
couldn’t we just have done something?  And at the same time I look at the 
rampant, ruthless, violent corruption in Russia’s security services, and the 
reality that presents that we simply cannot cooperate in an effective manner 
with such a service.  And so there you have something – rule of law, democracy 
– touching hard security, counterterrorism cooperation.  

My question is – as you, Matt, had mentioned – that, you know, there’s so 
little trust left in the U.N., the human rights commitment, the body of 
commitments we have in the OSCE is richer than the U.N.’s commitments in many 
areas, and I get the impression that Putin himself looks at this and views 
these commitments as essentially a product of Russian weakness in the 1990s.  
And so the question is, is there even less trust in the OSCE?  And if that’s 
the case, how viable a forum is this going to be going forward?  And also, I 
would offer – I know I’ve been kind of a strict moderator the past 15 minutes, 
but any final comments, by all means, and then we’ll send everybody on their 
way.  Please, Jim, and then Matt.

WARHOLA:  OK.  My final comments – I mean, I appreciate very much the work that 
the commission is doing and the principles that undergird it, and I applaud 
their work.  I honestly do, and I think it’s good, and I think it’s essential.  

I also believe that the – again, I – as you know, I’m an academic at heart.  
I’m not a policymaker,  as you know. So I look at these things, I suppose, from 
an academic perspective, and what I’ve seen in the course of my life at the 
personal level, the national level, and certainly from the historical level, is 
that leading by example almost always gets one a lot more traction than words.  
And the United States -- we need to continue our own housecleaning and 
improving this republic as well.  I don’t think it ought to be done to the 
exclusion of taking on any kind of leadership role that the rest of the world 
would welcome.  

I guess those would be my final comments, that the more we work on perfecting 
this republic – after all, women didn’t have the legal right to vote in this 
republic until 131 years after it was established.  We had a lot of work to do. 
 We still have – and the list could go on and on and on.  No one in this room 
needs to be reminded of the gap between the ideals and the reality in this 
country, and a lot of work needs to be done there.  

You know, to use a religious analogy, I suppose, if you’ll indulge me for just 
a moment -- Saint Francis of Assisi: some young convert to the Christian 
religion came to him; and he said, how, Saint Francis, how can I  spread the 
good news of God’s love all over the world?  And, as Saint Francis said to him  
-- he said:  “Go and preach God’s love everywhere you go --  and if necessary, 
use words.”  

And the example that the United States has presented, it seems to me, over the 
last 200 years is in a lot of ways more powerful than preaching.  And how the 
world -- or how that works itself out in terms of specific detail -- that’s the 
work that we need to do.  But in terms of principle, that’s the way I approach 
these things.

PARKER:  Thank you, Jim.  Matt – final comments. 

ROJANSKY:  Kyle, I just want to clarify – on the U.N., I was referring to 
Putin’s view of the U.N. and international law in saying that there’s not a lot 
of trust, not necessarily a general statement.  He does not exclude the OSCE in 
the Munich speech.  Here’s what he says.  I’m not going to read the whole 

It’s impossible not to mention the activities of the OSCE.  As is well known, 
this organization was created to examine all – I shall emphasize this – all 
aspects of security:  military, political, economic, humanitarian, and 
especially the relations between these spheres.  

Could hardly ask for a better endorsement there, but then he talks about how 
it’s being abused and manipulated along the same lines I described before.  

He says:  We expect the OSCE be guided by its primary tasks and build relations 
with sovereign states based on respect, trust and transparency.  

Here’s the problem:  It’s the perfect versus the good.  The OSCE gets us an 
awful lot of important stuff, but when poop hits the fan and things are really 
bad – like in Belarus in December of 2010 – we’re not going to be able to use 
the OSCE as a wedge to get in there and remove Lukashenko.  What we are going 
to be able to get is some kind of mechanism to investigate, to find out what 
happened, to clarify, to bring attention to the issues, and maybe, gradually, 
over time, to build a consensus.  That’s what the OSCE gives us.  

Right now the OSCE has given us what?  Some hundred or so observers on the 
ground who are going into Eastern Ukraine.  No, they don’t have a mandate to go 
to Crimea.  The Russians vetoed that, if I understand correctly.  

MR.     :  Well, it’s –

ROJANSKY:  (Inaudible) – we didn’t get exactly what we wanted out of that, 
right?  But we got something.  And this is the point about OSCE.  

If we consistently ignore it because it is not, as I think Senator McCain has 
proposed, a union of democracies, sort of a union of the perfect which does 
only the good things and does them 100 percent, then we get nothing out of it, 
and that’s a mistake, because we’ve got it today.  And I think what the Soviet 
Union at that time did, and what the Russian Federation then accepted in 
accepting the Soviet Union’s commitment under Helsinki, actually gets us a 
tremendous distance that we wouldn’t if we tried from a tabula rasa today to do 
between the White House and the Kremlin.  We wouldn’t get that.  And that’s the 
vital importance of the OSCE.  So it’s the perfect versus the good.

PARKER:  Thank you, Matt.  I can only speak for our humble commission, but I 
can assure you we will not ignore it.  We have not ignored it, and we will 
continue to put a focus on that through events like this, through our mission 
in Vienna, and in other ways.  

I really would like to thank everybody for coming.  I certainly want to thank 
our panel.  Jim, it’s so good that you came all the way from Maine to join us.  
Matt, it was fantastic to have you and to hear these different perspectives. 
And let me also recognize our fine interns, Caitlin Jamros, Simon Fuerstenberg, 
and Paul Massaro for their incredible work to put this together. As I 
mentioned, this is an on-the-record event.  It will produce a transcript.  
We’ll post it soon, and it’ll eventually be printed as a formal publication of 
the Commission.  

Check our website for future events.  I hope this is the first of many 
conversations on Russia and Ukraine and the crisis. And with that, it is just 
about 2:45, and the meeting is adjourned.

[Whereupon, at 2:41 p.m., the hearing ended.]