Monthly Archives: April 2011

„Romania seeks to strengthen its role in the region, but the methods by which it operates are suspicious“ – Interview with Dmitry Rogozin, Head of the Russian Mission to NATO and Russian Federation President‘s Special Representative to the negotiations on missile defense system’ strategy

– About Vladimir Putin it said that he started out as open to the West, then he felt disappointed and in last instance he became hostile, or at least distant. The statements of President Medvedev (at meeting with you at the end of January) would suggest that he is almost at stage number two. I‘m wrong ?
– I can‘t to comment about the feelings of the President – it is generally unacceptable. We cannot judge the feelings, but only on specific state­ments and actions. I wouldn‘t say that Russia was disappointed with the West per se. Rather, we‘re uncomfortable when in some cases, sometimes, on relations with the West are dealing with an unpredictable, and even duplicitous partner. This greatly complicates our work together.
– What is most important aspect that the West seems unable to feel/to understand about Russia ?
– As to misunderstanding by the West about Russia, I’m afraid, that the successors of the Western school of sovietology and russology hasn’t the problem of a misunderstanding, but, more likely, a certain crisis of «over-understanding». The Western experts know very much, and this congestion of informations, sometimes, impedes to draw it simple and obvious conclusions. Yes, Russia is a complex country, but is enough to watch her with love, and all rises on the seats. Or, at least, to watch without animal hatred.
– Even if President Medvedev wants a „direct and unequivocal response“ from NATO about Russia’s place in the anti-missile shield, I think it’s too early to conclude. But allow me to observe that the signals disclosed by the two parties are somewhat contradictory. While NATO representatives speak of progress, from Moscow the declara­tions are more cautious, even in a tone of discontent (directed mainly to the American partner, because as we all know, Russia has very good relations with key European partners). It’s a variant of the famous „Divide et impe­ra“ through which Russia hopes that its Security Strategy to become a must for the European space ?
– President Dmitry Medvedev’s offer about the formation of a new archi­tec­ture of the European security, as well as idea about sectoral Euro­pean mis­sile shield with partici­pation of Russia are directed not on division, and into consolidation of the Europe — but this time not against Russia as was within Cold war and long-term time later, and together with Russia. Therefore we also count on fair and confidential dialogue under these projects both with Ame­ricans, and with Europeans partners. By the way, president Barack Obama has found the idea about «sectoral responsibility » much interesting.
– Diplomacy is an art which gives the relationship between country elegance. But in contrast with you, I think that is also politics. As for coming and ask: what are those issues of missile shield on which Russia is not willing to negotiate ?
– For us, the „red line“ in the negotia­tions on missile defense held on the following neuralgic points. Firstly, we are categorically against the deploy­ment of radar and other components of the missile shield in the North-East Europe, Scandinavia, Poland and the Baltic countries. There does not get the rocket from the South, and no one, except for General Moroz (n.r.: Frost) and polar bears, nobody threatens dangerous this region. Any attempt to deploy a U.S. missile defense elements will be regarded as unfriendly, because it can only be directed against Russia. Second – it is about the guarantees that the deployment of missile defense will not compromises the strategic potential of Russia and would not entail threats to security of our people. If there are no such guarantees, then we will be unable to meet our partners. Finally, the third – we think that is unacceptable militarization of outer space. The movement of combat equipment in outer space – this is the inevitable consequence of techno­lo­gical development of missile defense systems. I think it is important to con­sider this aspect. Hopefully, we’ll agree in advance not to cross that line.
– What are the chances of a resumption of negotiations on the CFE Treaty, after overcoming a neuralgic points on anti-missile shield (I ask because Romania and Turkey – as hosts of the NATO missile shield are part of those limitrophe areas of the CFE Treaty) ? What is your opinion ?

– If will it be possible to implement the Russian proposal that military planning between NATO and Russia to get out of the paradigm „against each other“ and European missile shield to be a common system with clearly outlined, the need for CFE Treaty will disappear. Materialization of a common European missile defense system will lead to a high level of trust and cooperation between the parties and the need to calculate the limitations on the flanks will be obsolete. We’ll go on to a completely new quality of information exchange. And, of course, will eliminate many of the differences and current concerns.
– Of all the European NATO partners who have readjusted policies on bilateral relations with Russia, Romania seems unable to find a way to do so. I believe that neither Russia is not too willing to do so. Hard to understand, because Russia is a state – in Putin‘s words – who value loyalty. Romania should be condemned because is a loyal partner of NATO ?
– Not. But also I think, that there is no fault of Russia that Romania takes in Council Russia-NATO of the special position. More likely, this question should be set to Bucharest first, instead of Moscow. Romania seeks to strengthen its role in region, but the methods with which it operates, personally I think are suspicios. For example, the policy concerning the Republic of Moldova is obviously aimed on Anschluss, and it to worry, espe­cially in light of the fact that on the Dnestr river is a „frozen conflict“, al­ways ready to erupt. And many public statements uttered by President Basescu showed a hostile character to Russia. It’s hard to believe that something like it can predispose to dialogue. I hope, it only rhetoric. But it only should depress us.
– Mr. Rogozin, there were circulated several versions of Russia-NATO relationship. But rarely hear talk about a «NATO» of the Group from Shanghai. Why ? World of the future is built with panoramic views on the Pacific Ocean (and the recent tensions on the Kuril Islands show that Russia has understood this.) Russia fears that the long term will not be able to manage the relationship with China ?
– Russia has large parts of its land on Asia and the multi-vector foreign policy, and our participation in the SCO, as well as the bilateral strategic partnership with China, not in any way interferes with our relations with NATO and has practically no effect on them. As for what some fear, then I can say that we aren‘t a country that is guided by phobias.
– You asked for an investigation with the NATO-Russia Council into the cyber attack that hit Iran’s nuclear facilities last year (using Stuxnet worm), and warned of the danger of triggering a disaster comparable to the one in Chernobyl 25 years ago. What feedback you received from partners ?
– I have no right to disclose about how respond to my partners from Russia-NATO Council. I will say something else: I don‘t like that NATO cyber defense issue is a taboo subject in discussions with Russia.
– After the mission to NATO, will opt you for politics stage of Moscow or you may be tempted to try your powers in the Caucasus (where, Alexander Khlo­ponin – when he was appointed Presi­den­tial Envoy –  said that „nothing is impo­ssible to solve“, just only that the results are still not seeing) ? I remember there was such an intention of you some time ago…
– As probably is already known, on February 18 I received a new assignment – this means that I’m chief of the working group under the Presidential Administration to coordinate the participation of the Russian Federation in international cooperation on missile defense. In other words, now, I’m Special Envoy of the President of Russia on cooperation with NATO on missile defense system. As you can see, I’m staying in foreign policy, and this new mission of my work is extremely important and crucial. Wish me good luck !

interview made by Gabriela Ionita

P.S. Versiunea în limba română poate fi citită aici.

Published – Cadran Politic Review, April 2011

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„No one knows how the power structure will ultimately shift in the Middle East“ – interview with Steve LeVine

– Usually (especially after the success of „Putin’s Labyrinth“ book) people tend to associate your name to Russia. However, your experience as correspondent in the Central Asia and Middle East, makes me to focus the discussion on the events in Egypt and Arab world. For Egyptians still is a moment of euphoria. But political analysts are reticent. What would be the major concerns and challenges for world powers and zonal actors? And what should worry Egyptian people?

Steve LeVine

– Analysts are reticent because no one knows what type of governmental system will result from the uprising, and how Egypt will interact with its nei­g­hbors. So that generates a whole series of questions for which unfortu­na­tely there are no answers, and very few clues. They include: Will the Army organize elections that end up reflec­ting the true will of voters, or will they reflect the leadership that its generals believe is „best“ for Egypt, regardless of their popularity? Whatever govern­ment is formed, how will it manage to satisfy the much-raised expectations of the Egyptian people? On foreign mat­ters, will Egypt continue to be a proactive intermediary in Middle East conflicts? Specifically regarding its respective relationships with Israel and the Palestinians – will it continue to be an honest broker between these antagonist parts?
– Most journalists are asking: Who’s next? There will be a domino effect throughout the Arab world? Sure, perhaps with not the same speed of propagation …
– I think it gets more difficult from here. After Egypt, the remaining despots of the region know that Tunisia was not a one-off event – they are all potentially in danger. Mubarak seems not to have thought he was vulnerable. Now they all know they are, and they are preparing. Yet none of that shifts the reality, which is that popular change really has happened in the Arab world. As I write this, the grip of the leaders of Bahrain and Yemen is in jeopardy. The situation in Libya is quite different.
– How interpret in this context the statement of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israeli army is prepared for anything, depending on how events will unfold in next time? What option has Israel at this point?
– The events in Egypt potentially shake up geopolitics and security for Israel. The Palestinians could arise in a far more aggressive way, with the help of allies in Lebanon and elsewhere, for example. Israel no doubt has its lines of communication open with the Egyptian Army for this very reason. It wants Egypt to continue serving as a mediator with the Palestinians.
– Behind the media uproar of unrest in North Africa, at the Munich Security Conference was put the last piece of the new treaty START 2. Fairly quietly, I would say, given that was a top priority for both presidents – Obama and Medvedev. So, beyond the official rhetoric, there will be a real change in approach to global nuclear programs for military purposes?
– If what you mean is whether the key nuclear states – Russia and the United States – are going to do away with their nuclear arsenals, the answer is No. The first reason is that, even if they do, so many other countries have capability and are gaining it that it would be fruitless. Another reason is that it is a perceived fount of power in both countries that neither will surren­der. (Full text)

Romanian language version – can be read here

Published in Cadran Politic Review, April 2011