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Security Watch: April 30, 2003

30 April 2003, Volume 4, Number 17
RUSSIA WANTS TO TAKE PART IN REBUILDING IRAQ. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Kudrin said that Russia intends on participating in the reconstruction of Iraq, the Interfax news agency reported on 21 April. He mentioned that Russian companies were not only interested in seeing the oil-related contracts honored by the new regime in Iraq, but other proposals put forth by Russian companies before the war. Kudrin said he had set forth Russia's position on Iraq's rehabilitation during talks with U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow. "It looks like we have reached understanding on this issue," he said. "Parity participation in the rehabilitation of Iraq and confidence in effective spending are important for Russia. Therefore, the restoration of Iraq, which will require about $20 billion annually for the next few years, must be monitored by the UN and other international organizations," Kudrin stated.

WHERE DID RUSSIAN POLICY GO WRONG? Writing in the "Moskovskii novosti" issue of 23-29 April, Sergei Karaganov, chairman of the prestigious Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, examined the Russian stance prior to and after the war in Iraq. In his article, "Crisis Lessons," he places blame on Russian intelligence agencies for "misleading" the country and providing inaccurate information about the Iraqis' ability and readiness to resist the attack. Russian policy, according to Karaganov, was "clearly improvised and sometimes acted [with] cross purposes." He writes that it lacked a clear strategic objective: "Did we want to preserve international legitimacy or save the UN Security Council or make friends with the Europeans and play them off against the United States or remain on good terms with the Americans?" Karaganov ends his article: "Even so, despite all miscalculations, we have scraped through this time -- largely thanks to personal Putin-Bush diplomacy and the dispatch of [former Foreign Minister] Yevgenii Primakov to urge Saddam to step down and save the nation."

PRIMAKOV CALLS WAR 'FAILED BLITZKRIEG.' A different, less generous view of the role of former Russian Foreign Intelligence (SVR) boss and Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov during the Iraq crisis was offered on the pages of "The Moscow Times" on 24 April by Pavel Felgengauer. Citing a recent interview which Primakov gave on Russian television (Russian Center TV on 21 and 22 April) during which he said: "The American blitzkrieg in Iraq failed." Felgenhauer comments that this is the view held by many people close to President Putin. During this interview Primakov also expressed the belief that the U.S. military bribed its way into Baghdad, and that it paid Saddam Hussein's generals and the leaders of his Fedayeen (a paramilitary force of some 30,000 strong before the war) to send their men home. Primakov compared U.S. actions in the Middle East with those of Nazi Germany when it occupied Europe in the 1940s. He also stated that the Iraqi crisis was another step in the formation of a multipolar world "because Europe stood up to America." According to the article in "The Moscow Times": "These Primakov statements are in no way the rumblings of a retired outdated statesman. In the run-up to the war, Primakov was close to the Kremlin decision-making process and his hand-picked successor as foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, was one of the main architects of Russia's recent foreign-policy blunders." Felgengauer writes that Kremlin insiders tell him that the defense and foreign ministries together with the KGB-successor intelligence community have "a virtual monopoly on providing Putin with vital decision-making briefing documents. During the run-up to the war in Iraq, these agencies were providing assessments that said the confrontation would last months or maybe years; that it would be a new Vietnam-like quagmire; that Moscow should unequivocally back Baghdad."

ARE SYRIA AND NORTH KOREA NEXT? In an interview with "Parlamentskaya Gazeta" No. 77, April 2003, Vyacheslav Nikonov, president of the Politika Foundation, gave his view on what might happen next after the war in Iraq. When asked: "What country is next on the list of the axis of evil countries: Iran, North Korea, or Syria?" he answered: "The Americans will set their eyes on Syria and North Korea. As far as I could gather from the conversations I had with serious people in the U.S., the Bush administration does not plan to go to war with Syria. Instead, it will put pressure on it to force the Syrian leadership to banish Hezbollah-type extremist terrorist organizations and liquidate weapons of mass destruction in its territory." He added that: "Secretary of State Colin Powell will inform Syria of this. If Syria collaborates with the U.S., there will be no war. As for the North Korean situation, it has changed overnight. While Russia fumed at the U.S. aggression, the wise Chinese leadership held energetic consultations with the U.S. on the issue of resuming negotiations with North Korea."

BELARUSIAN MILITARY AID TO HUSSEIN'S IRAQ. Documents found by RFE/RL correspondent Ron Synovitz in the safe of an Iraqi officer in northern Iraq show that Belarus did in fact offer to help train Iraqi personnel in mending tank weapons and repairing a tank's electric component parts, the newspaper "Izvestiya" reported on 22 April. The paper names former Soviet General Vladislav Achalov, who allegedly wrote a letter proposing shipments of spare parts to Iraq. "Izvestiya" goes on to say that Belarusian sources told RFE/RL that the trade in arms and spare parts was carried out in the UN's food-for-oil program and that the Belarusian side shipped these items as a covert operation.

PUTIN ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR NEW MILITARY DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to create the post of deputy prime minister for cooperation in the sphere of military and technical ties with foreign countries, Interfax reported on 24 April. "This appointment should be useful in the sphere of coordinating work in Russia in issues connected with military and technical ties," Putin said. The appointment of Boris Aleshin adds yet another layer to the military industrial complex, "The Moscow Times" wrote on 25 April, "Following the appointment last Saturday [19 April] of Major General Aleksandr Burutin to be Putin's adviser on the defense industry and arms procurement." Aleshin -- who spent decades researching and developing software for warplanes' avionics before becoming a federal bureaucrat, "The Moscow Times" writes, "is expected to oversee industrial production and exports, stimulation of entrepreneurship and investments, as well as research and development in Russia's defense industry," according to the government's press service.

NORWEGIAN RADAR WORRIES MOSCOW. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Chizhov told a hearing at the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, that Russia is worried by the fact that Norway has a radar station, Globus 2, capable of controlling a territory of 35,000 kilometers, Novosti Press Agency reported on 21 April. The radar station is meant to help NATO control Russian territory, Chizhov told the hearing, but added that "Norway keeps insisting that the purpose of the station is space control." Chizhov also criticized Finland for trying to "expand its influence in the boundaries of northern Europe and abandoning its policy of neutrality. Sweden might soon assume the same position," he remarked.

RUSSIA PLACES NEW MILITARY SATELLITE INTO ORBIT. A military satellite of the Kosmos series (Kosmos 2393) was placed into orbit on 24 April according to Interfax News Agency. It was carried into orbit by a Proton-K rocket launched from the Russian space center Baykonur located in Kazakhstan. Kosmos � 2393 is part of the "Oko" series of early warning satellites first placed in orbit in 1994. This latest version, according to "Novosti Kosmonaftky" no. 2, 2003 is to conduct surveillance and provide early warning of rocket launches, including those by the United States without the use of re-transmitters. The satellite is controlled from a ground control station in the town of Serpukhov in Moscow oblast.

A RUSSIAN-BELARUS JOINT ARMY. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told Interfax News Agency on 24 April that he does not rule out that the Union of Russia and Belarus could have a joint army in the future. Ivanov qualified his statement by adding that was in the future and "must envisage common approaches to the system of manning" such joint armed forces."

WARSAW BUYS U.S. JET FIGHTERS IN 'THE CONTRACT OF THE CENTURY.' On 18 April, Poland and the United States finalized a contract on the supply of 48 F-16 jet fighters worth $3.5 billion from Lockheed Martin to the Polish Army from 2006-08. The contract actually involves four separate deals: a sales accord, an accord on the financial servicing of the deal, a package of offsetting investments in Poland, and an agreement on a low-interest U.S. government loan to finance the purchase. The signing ceremony took place in Deblin, southeast of Warsaw, at a local air base and aviation school, with Prime Minister Leszek Miller in attendance. "We can call this the contract of the century," commented Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski, one of the signatories on behalf of the Polish government. Under the contract, Poland will obtain 48 F-16 CD Block 52+ (until now, a prototype version) jet fighters over three years beginning in 2006. The purchase will be directly financed by the U.S. government loan, which Poland is to repay starting in 2011. Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko estimates that the servicing costs of the loan will amount to some $1.2 billion. Lockheed Martin and a number of other U.S. firms (including General Motors and Motorola) have committed themselves to investing more than $6 billion in Poland in 2003-13, in 43 offset projects involving the purchase of Polish commodities (70 percent of the total sum), direct investments in Polish production capacities (20 percent), and transfer of U.S. technologies (10 percent). The finalizing of the F-16 deal came two days after Poland signed the EU Treaty of Accession in Athens, thus emphasizing Poland's "special relations" with the United States not only in the political sphere (Poland was the only European country aside from Great Britain to join the U.S. in combat in Iraq), but also the economic one. Other EU countries, notably France, have criticized Poland for sidestepping the European arms industry and awarding the contract to a U.S. company. The latest acrid comments came from EU Commission President Romano Prodi, who said in an interview on 18 April that "there is no joy in the fact that a day after signing the [EU accession] treaty in Athens, Poland signed a huge contract for the purchase of American fighters," PAP reported. According to Prodi, the states joining the EU must now realize that "whoever enters Europe is being accepted into a family" and be aware that "having your wallet in Europe, you cannot entrust to the United States the guaranteeing of [your] security." (Jan Maksymiuk)

INDONESIA SEEKS TO BUY RUSSIAN ARMS. Weapons purchases were to be a major part of Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri's agenda in Moscow on 21 April. Indonesia is interested in buying Russian arms, as its military has been in need of new equipment since its traditional source, the U.S., ceased to supply the country in 1999, the AP reported on 17 April. Jakarta has recently purchased Russian weapons, including 10,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles, a squadron of Mil-2 naval helicopters, and a dozen BTR-80A amphibious carriers. Indonesia's Air Force is also considering purchasing several squadrons of Sukhoi Su-27 interceptors, long-range S-300 missiles, and shorter-range systems such as the SA-15 Gauntlet or shoulder-fired Igla, the AP reported.

DAILY: KILLING 'LEADS STRAIGHT TO PUTIN'S SECURITY POLICE.' Amy Knight, writing in Toronto's "Globe and Mail" on 23 April about the killing of Russian Duma Deputy Sergei Yushenkov on 17 April outside his apartment in Moscow, says: "Don't even think about it -- that last week's murder of Sergei Yushenkov, Russian Duma deputy and co-chairman of the pro-democracy Liberal Russia party, was politically inspired. Because when you start considering motives, it leads you straight to President Vladimir Putin's security police." Knight is the author of "Spies Without Cloaks: The KGB's Successors." Referring to Yushenkov's investigation into the apartment bombings in Moscow in 1999 which he suspected was the work of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), Knight writes: "Imagine what a thorn in the FSB's side Liberal Russia could be during the election campaign, especially if its members continue to harp on the FSB's possible involvement in the 1999 bombings. What better way to intimidate Liberal Russia's supporters than to have one of their leaders knocked off?" Knight recalls the murder of Liberal Party Duma Deputy Galina Starovoitova: "The fact that Mr. Yushenkov is the third liberal lawmaker to be killed in less than five years suggests that politics in Russia can be a dangerous business, particularly if you are a critic of the Kremlin. The FSB is supposed to help solve these killings, along with a host of other apparent contract murders of politicians and journalists. But no one expects this to happen. Ironically, Vladimir Putin was head of the FSB when Duma deputy and human-rights activist Galina Starovoitova -- another harsh critic of the security services -- was gunned down outside her St. Petersburg apartment in November, 1998. Although Mr. Putin vowed to find the killers, and the FSB detained hundreds of suspects in the immediate aftermath, Ms. Starovoitova's murder has never been solved." In the case of Yushenkov, the Russian police moved rapidly and on 24 April announced that a suspect had been detained. According to Interfax, Artem Stefanov, 20, was arrested on suspicion of killing Yushenkov. He was released from custody after he had given a written pledge not to leave Moscow. "We deemed Stefanov's further detention unwise and decided to ask him to give a written pledge not to leave Moscow and released him from custody," Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Vladimir Kolesnikov told Interfax. "The investigators intend to continue investigating this case," stated Kolesnikov. "The Moscow Times" on 24 April reported that Stefanov is suspected of killing Yushenkov to avenge his father, who was jailed for six months in 1995 after sending a threatening letter to the lawmaker. Investigators had said their main line of inquiry was into Yushenkov's party-related finances. Stefanov might have an alibi. Rossiya television showed a friend of his, Pavel Maslovets, saying he had met Stefanov at the "Oktyabr Stadium just before 6 p.m. on the day of the killing. Yushenkov was shot at 5:48 p.m." The stadium is only a short drive from the crime scene.

SECURITY CHIEFS GATHER TO DISCUSS TERRORISM. The leaders of southern Russia's security forces gathered in Rostov-na-Donu to discuss and coordinate their efforts against terrorism, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 April. In 2002, 297 terrorist acts were committed in the Southern Federal District while the total number for Russia (excluding the Southern Federal District) was 360. During the first four months of this year, the district witnessed 75 such acts.

RUSSIAN-TURKMEN GAS DEAL. Writing in "The Wall Street Journal Europe" of 25-27 April, political analyst Vladimir Socor commented on the Russian-Turkmen gas purchase contract signed on 11 April in the Kremlin by Russian and Turkmen Presidents Vladimir Putin and Saparmurat Niazov along with Russia's Gazprom and the Turkmen state gas company. Socor states that, if implemented, this deal would "create a permanent Russian lock on Turkmenistan's gas resources and exports." Turkmenistan is to deliver 2 trillion cubic meters of gas to Russia for a 25-year period, 2004-2028. Annual deliveries are to grow from a relatively modest 6 billion cubic meters in 2004 to 80 billion cubic meters in 2009." Gazprom will buy the gas at $44 per 1,000 cubic meters (of this, $22 will be paid in low-quality goods) and sell the gas to European countries a prices ranging from $90 to $120 per 1,000 cubic meters. Socor continues by pointing to the fact that: "At present, the EU has strong objections to Russia's artificially low internal price for gas. This practice cuts substantially the production costs of Russian industrial goods, thus enabling exporters to undercut West European industries in the EU and other markets. This is why the EU calls for long-overdue reforms of Russia's gas sector as an important precondition to Russia's admission to the World Trade Organization. Now, however, the easy availability of low-priced Turkmen gas will act as an added disincentive for Russia to reform its internal gas market, and may make it more tempting for it to compete unfairly against European goods in European markets."