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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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 –
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
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 –
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 –
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.
Q: I just –
PARKER: And if you could just say your name for the record and –
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?
PARKER: Ukraine has?
Q: And Ukraine has not.
PARKER: Oh, OK. I didn’t – Ukraine has guns, Ukraine has none.
Q: There is –
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?
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.”
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
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
ROJANSKY: Yeah. For a Russian leader, this was actually a pretty far –
WARHOLA: Yeah, OK.
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
Q: It’s interesting, my friend Matt and I left the same meeting, but Matt left
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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.]