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Russia Report: June 5, 2007

Russian Oppositionist Kasparov Says Country Heading For Crisis

Garry Kasparov speaking to journalists in Prague today

PRAGUE, June 5, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Former world chess champion and Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov spoke today to a group of journalists, including RFE/RL's Brian Whitmore, at the Democracy and Security Conference in Prague. Kasparov is the leader of the opposition umbrella group Other Russia.

On Putin:

"He acts as a CEO of a corporation. Putin does business. For him, every element even of foreign policy is a bargaining chip. He is negotiating and his main interest is to make sure that Europe and the United States are not interfering in Russian domestic affairs at this very sensitive period of power transition. So that's why for him every big issue, like the missile shield, is a bargaining chip. I think that they should recognize that Putin does all these political negotiations as part of a business deal, and they should treat him accordingly because somebody who is engaged in business negotiations has a very different agenda and it might be Putin's strength if it's not recognized, but eventually it will be his weakness because he is not speaking on behalf of the country but only on behalf of the VIP shareholders of this corporation.

"Putin can't afford to be another [Belarusian President Alyaksandr] Lukashenka, first, because he hates the idea. I mean, he wants to enjoy life and to not just sit on his billions, but also, he represents the ruling class that hates the idea of being isolated from the world they believe they belong to. So, that is why they have to be at the edge, so it is like not crossing this thin red line. They have to tighten their control in Russia but, at the same time, they can't afford a full-scale confrontation with the free world."

On the U.S. plans for a missile shield:

"I don't think this issue is relevant for a majority of Russians. If you look at the foreign issues that are at stake now, I think only the issue of Kosovo could resonate in the minds of Russians because of the historical relations with Serbia. Otherwise, you know, look -- if it's there, it's there. I don't think it is a big deal. Many Russians will accept the concept of dealing with Americans and building together the system. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with the offer that Americans proposed to Putin. But, I want to emphasize that Putin is using it for his own benefits because he is ready to drop all objections if Americans and Europeans will stop messing around with Russian democracy and human rights."

On the possibility of a crisis in Russia:

"I think [squashing dissent] will backfire because the Putin regime, now, is facing an old paradox. It is an authoritarian regime. It is a police state, which masquerades as a democracy. But, at the same time, the interests of the ruling elite are lying in the West, in the free world. They can talk as much as they want about China, India, and new oriental policies, but their money, the fortunes, assets, soccer clubs, kids -- everything is in the free world.

"I think that a crisis [in Russia] is inevitable, and even intimidated crowds, having no choice, will rise, because living conditions in Russia are deteriorating and most Russians are seeing no benefits from these high oil and gas prices.

"In chess, obviously we have rules. Dealing with Putin's Kremlin, we know that the only rule is that there are no rules. Or in fact, the opponents change rules upon their convenience."

"Those two scenarios combined are highly unlikely, so I think that Russia will inevitably sink into a political crisis, a deep political crisis, by the end of the fall, the beginning of next winter. And it means that many groups in the Kremlin that will be engaged in this fierce fighting and those who will be on the losing side might look for allies because losing the battle in a lawless jungle, losing the battle within the mafia structure means not only losing power but also losing a fortune or even worse, while being part of this democratic process could mean losing power but guaranteeing immunity for their fortunes."

On Russia and the G8:

"Inviting Putin [to the G8] as one of the equals created a very bad atmosphere for us in Russia because any time we are trying to criticize Putin and to look at his record, sending the message to the Russian people that Putin has destroyed democratic institutions, Kremlin propaganda shows these pictures with Putin and [U.S. President George W.] Bush and [German Chancellor Gerhard] Schroeder and [Italian Prime Minister Silvio] Berlusconi and saying, 'Look, they receive him as an equal, so who are these radicals, marginals, extremists that are criticizing Putin?'

"We believe that the U.S. administration owes us very strong statements about the current situation in Russia. Again, it's not anti-Putin or it should not be Other Russia, pro-Kasparov. We want them to support democratic institutions in Russia, so that the basic values that made Europe Europe and America America -- Putin should get an unequivocal message: 'You cannot act as Lukashenka and be treated as a democratic leader. So behave yourself or you will not be part of this exclusive club.'

"We can hope that the whole atmosphere will change because Putin used to sit surrounded by his business partners like Schroeder and Berlusconi or by his friends: Schroeder, Berlusconi, [then French President Jacques] Chirac, Bush, [British Prime Minister Tony] Blair. Now it's a different atmosphere. Now he's no longer -- he might be treated as equal but he understands that the message is that he, Putin, doesn't belong there.

"They could keep this atmosphere, I think that would be a strong message not only to Putin but also to his allies in Russia because they can't afford to break up relations with the West. They can't afford a new Iron Curtain, they can't afford a new Cold War, because this regime carries no ideology. When I hear stories about a new Cold War, I'm laughing because the Cold War was always based on ideas. Putin's only idea is: 'Let's steal together.'

On lessons Russia can learn from Ukraine:

"I think that certain lessons, especially from Ukraine, can be learned in Russia. It's to establish the culture of compromise, the culture of consensus, because at the end of the day, any peaceful revolution, whether you call it the Velvet Revolution or the Orange Revolution, is based on the consensus between the street protests and part of the bureaucracy, part of nomenklatura that understands that there is no other way but to start looking for national consensus.

"It seems to me that Russia might enter a similar period at the end of this year, because if you look at the possible scenarios of power transition in March 2008, the two most likely scenarios from the foreign perspective are that Putin is staying there for a third term, or there is a successor who unifies all the factions. In my view they are highly unlikely."

On Belarus:

"Look, they have their own problems, similar to ours. As many Russians joke, sadly, 'Our train is approaching Minsk Station rapidly.' And, of course, sharing the negative experience is useful but, at the same time, we understand we are fighting different regimes. But, at the same time, I think that the collapse of Putin's regime will help them and, also, the collapse the Lukashenka regime will help us."

On chess and politics:

"In chess, obviously we have rules. Dealing with Putin's Kremlin, we know that the only rule is that there are no rules. Or in fact, the opponents change rules upon their convenience. But I think we are somewhere in the middle game and for us, it's the end of the beginning. And for Putin, it's the beginning of the end."

U.S. Ambassador To NATO Discusses Russia, Afghanistan

Ambassador Victoria Nuland at RFE/RL's Prague broadcast center on May 31

June 1, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- United States Ambassador to NATO Victoria Nuland was in Prague this week to discuss a proposed missile-defense shield with Czech officials and other NATO allies. The system would consist of a radar, to be based in the Czech Republic, and missile interceptors in neighboring Poland. The United States says the system would protect much of Europe and the United States from missile attacks coming from hostile or rogue states.

Washington has repeatedly said it is not aimed at Moscow, but Russia this week accused the United States of starting a new arms race. RFE/RL correspondents Jeremy Bransten and Irina Lagunina interviewed Nuland about missile defense and NATO's operations in Afghanistan.

RFE/RL: Let's start with the proposed missile-defense system that Washington wants to base in the Czech Republic and Poland. Despite all the U.S. assertions to the contrary, it seems that Moscow believes it's going to be aimed against Russia. Russia this week test-fired an ICBM designed to carry multiple warheads. President Vladimir Putin said that it was part of a response to the U.S. shield. Is there a danger that this could escalate into a new arms race between Moscow and Washington? Isn't it irresponsible to risk such an arms race?

I think the distressing part is that the political rhetoric is going in the opposite direction, because I want to live in a world -- my kids want to live in a world -- where we're working together to beat the common threats, not creating artificial threats between us.

Victoria Nuland: You know, it's really quite unfortunate that Russia has chosen to escalate its own rhetoric. We have said repeatedly that this is a defensive system, that in fact the interceptors carry no warheads, that they are two-stage missiles -- they can't even catch anything coming from Russia -- and that we are prepared to offer full transparency, full verification of all of those things, and even more importantly, we've said to the Russians: "Hey, don't build missiles. Join us in building missile defenses. Let's develop these systems together." Obviously, you don't wake up one morning and say: "I'd like to launch an ICBM now." This missile has been in development for many, many years. It's designed to modernize their aging missiles. We consider that a normal part of development and it's just unfortunate that this has been counterposed.

RFE/RL: So what kind of concrete cooperation is Washington offering Moscow?

Nuland: We've offered a full range of things. The president called [Russian] President Putin in March and made a general offer and then [U.S. Defense] Secretary Gates was in Moscow about a month and a half ago. Everything from joint technology development to building radars together, sharing information from the system. It could only be limited by what we could agree to, so again, as I said, our hope is that the Russians, instead of focusing on building missiles, will join us in building missile defenses, because we think that just as we are at threat from an Iranian missile program, so is Moscow.

RFE/RL: Is the proposed missile-defense shield primarily aimed at Iran? What about North Korea and other 'rogue states?'

Nuland: The radar in the Czech Republic and the interceptors in Poland are the part of the system that would create additional coverage, not just for the United States but also for all of our allies against a long-range missile threat, primarily from Iran. As you know, for the North Korean threat, we have facilities in Alaska and California, so the primary focus now is on Iran. They today have missiles that can threaten allies that are at short range. They're developing medium-range missiles, and we believe that by 2015 they could have a long-range capability. As you know, it's going to take some time to finish our negotiations and our building, so we want to be ready.

RFE/RL: Why did the United States select Poland and the Czech Republic? Are they the optimal place for blocking potential Iranian missiles? Why not position the shield closer to the region?

Nuland: It's purely a matter of geography. What the radar does is it helps you cue on the incoming missiles so that the interceptor can catch it. If it is too close to the launch, for example if it were in Turkey or Bulgaria, it doesn't have enough time to cue the missile before it's already flown past, so you need a little bit of time, so that's how…it's pure physics and geometry.

RFE/RL: Let's return to U.S.-Russian relations. Russian President Vladimir Putin on May 31 accused the United States of starting a new arms race. What is your response?

Nuland: We just find it ludicrous, frankly. President Bush and President Putin presided over one of the deepest cuts in strategic weaponry for both sides, Moscow and Washington, in history. That should be the legacy of these two guys. That is the legacy my president believes in for their time in office. We are talking now about a defensive system, as I said, that has no warheads on it, 10 interceptors, can't even fly high enough to reach Russian missiles, and Moscow is turning this into an enormous new strategic threat. The strategic threat for the United States, for our European allies, and for the people of the Russian Federation today comes from Iran and comes from the fact that despite our best efforts -- those of Washington, of Moscow, and of all the countries in between -- to stop, limit, deter Iran from trying to acquire weapons, we haven't succeeded. And that's where we need to redouble our efforts and need to redouble our defenses in case diplomacy doesn't work.

RFE/RL: So you're saying that Putin's wording -- that this is an arms race -- is just rhetoric that has no basis in fact?

Nuland: The concern is that it is completely mischaracterizing for the Russian people and for all of us what this is about. This is a defensive system. It's a tiny, tiny system, and it's designed for Iran. What we would hope is instead of spending his energy in that direction, he would put his energy towards building missile defenses with us, rather than new Russian missiles.

RFE/RL: There appears to be a certain contradiction. On the one hand, NATO officials, as well as the Russian military, say the two sides have very fruitful cooperation within the NATO-Russia Council. On the other hand, Russia seems to be treating NATO as an organization hostile to Russia's interests? How do you square the two?

Nuland: I'm a big believer in the NATO-Russia Council. We're about to celebrate the 10th anniversary of NATO-Russia relations and of sitting together as 27 countries in alphabetical order around the table in the same way that NATO allies do. And the hope was that obviously with the end of the Cold War, that the security challenges and threats that we faced, both allies and Russia, were more the same than they were different, and that we had the potential to cooperate across the range.

I would say -- and I say this not only as a diplomat, I say it as a mom -- the NATO-Russia Council has been important in the sense that there are a whole bunch of programs that we do together -- NATO military officers, Russian military officers, NATO civilians, Russian civilians that are below the level of this political rhetoric now -- that are important, and they are important for proving to the next generation that we can work together. For example, every single year we have an exercise to plan and be ready in case of a nuclear accident. For example, Russia just joined NATO allies in Wyoming last year. That gives NATO allies and Russia the chance to know each other, to work together, to know that in that kind of crisis we could do something.

We are both now training Afghans and Central Asians in counternarcotics. The threat of drugs from Afghanistan is a threat to Russia and a threat to all of us, so we're working together there, and our drug enforcement folks are learning to work together. They know we have a common purpose.

So the NATO-Russia Council is important in building those next-generation relationships of confidence and cooperation. I think the distressing part is that the political rhetoric is going in the opposite direction, because I want to live in a world -- my kids want to live in a world -- where we're working together to beat the common threats, not creating artificial threats between us.

RFE/RL: Moving to the situation in Afghanistan, the number of Afghan civilian casualties has risen recently as the result of U.S. air strikes and other U.S.-led combat activity. It's putting pressure on Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Nongovernmental organizations say that compensation mechanisms for the families of those killed are inadequate. Is there any initiative under way by the U.S. government to see that proper compensation payments are made to the families of innocent civilian victims?

Nuland: The United States, particularly our military operating in theater, does pay compensation, not only to affected families but also to tribes in affected areas as compensation for the loss of life, the loss of breadwinners. What we're trying to do in a NATO context now is to get more of our allies to have similar funds, either in common as a NATO fund or nationally, because we find that they don't often have that ability to react quickly. I think that everyone is conscious of the importance [of this issue], whether they are coalition forces or NATO forces.

We are doing all we can to minimize civilian casualties and any civilian loss of life is one too many. That said, I think we have to appreciate what the Taliban are trying to do. They understand that it is a vulnerability, and they are increasingly trying to use Afghan civilians as human shields and to abuse the hospitality of the population and put civilians in harm's way. We also need to speak up and say that there is no -- as the secretary-general likes to say -- moral equivalency between us and an enemy who beheads, kills schoolteachers, bombs indiscriminately.

So that's what we're facing. It is a war and civilians are unfortunately being targeted.

RFE/RL: That can be explained in a sort of abstract way but are you concerned that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is being put in an increasingly tenuous position because the more civilian casualties rise, the less he's going to be able to explain that to his people?

Nuland: I think what's important is that whenever we have an incident like this, we are prepared to investigate quickly to, as you say, compensate to the best of our ability, to explain to the population how it happened and why it happened, and often to tell the story of the active abuse by the Taliban of the village. And I think President Karzai understands that. He's frankly been a true father to his nation in going to comfort those who've been caught in the crossfire. He went down recently to Shindad himself. He always sees the families in the [presidential] palace, so it is a long and difficult struggle. We need his leadership and we also need to continue to be as careful and caring as we can be.

RFE/RL: Recently, there were several reports from Afghanistan saying that key Taliban commanders had been killed in numbers that would not allow their followers to regroup and stage major offensives. That was clearly incorrect and Taliban fighters have regrouped and continue to be very active. What went wrong?

Nuland: I think actually we've had considerable success over the winter and spring months. There was a lot of talk six months ago about a massive Taliban spring offensive that, in fact, did not materialize because NATO forces, coalition forces, and Afghan forces have been so active, particularly in the Kandahar area, Helmand, and throughout the east. And, as you say, we have been able to take out some of the ringleaders.

But we still face a serious and committed movement, and they work very actively to grow new leaders as quickly as they can. So this is not a quick struggle. This is going be a long struggle and it's going be a struggle not only on the military side, the part that we hope increasingly Afghans can take over. But this is a very poor country, the fifth-poorest in the world before this started, that has gone through 20 plus years of civil war, and we have all got to be committed to the strengthening of the Afghan economy, the democratic system, a better way of life for a long, long time -- and, obviously, beating the drug problem, too.

RFE/RL: Some argue that the Taliban has regained popularity among parts of the population because the same warlords that ruled the regions for years are still there, so locals don't see any benefit, any changes, under the Karzai administration. Do you see this reliance of warlords as a weakness of the Karzai administration and of NATO operations in Afghanistan?

Nuland: I think that one of the great successes of the Karzai period has been his ability to create a big tent and bring a lot of the old warlords into a political process, whether they're in parliament or government. I think what we still see is the Taliban being able to operate and move within its historic Pashtun belt and largely doing it the way insurgents do it. They do it by intimidating the population, and so our job is to help the government offer another way of life, offer the security to help the population withstand that kind of intimidation and offer economic opportunities other than growing poppies, which obviously fueled the Taliban. That's the challenge as we see it. It's less a warlord challenge, and more a challenge of better governance, better economic opportunity, better security than what the Taliban are offering.

RFE/RL: What's at stake for NATO in Afghanistan? The alliance has made this mission its key priority and it seems it can't afford to fail or it could raise a big question mark about its purpose and viability for the future. Do you agree?

Nuland: I'm an optimist by nature, but I've also been out to visit our soldiers every few months since this operation started and I've got to tell you: this ain't your daddy's NATO. This is a NATO that is working hand-in-hand with the Afghan National Army, working multinationally on the ground, as trainers from the air, and also training the next generation of Afghans, whether it's security providers and even in terms of growing their economy -- we have an economic commitment there too. So I think NATO is more than up to the challenge as a military-political organization. I think what's important is that European leaders continue to remind their populations that this is a mission that needs to be supported in our own security interest.

Silent Diplomacy Versus Public Criticism

By Jean-Christophe Peuch
VIENNA, June 1, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has addressed the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), amid increasing strains between Washington and Moscow.

Just one week before, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, addressing that same forum, criticized the United States for allegedly threatening Europe's security.

For her first-ever appearance at the OSCE headquarters in Vienna on May 31, Condoleezza Rice had clearly decided to not further rock the boat.

The U.S. secretary of state addressed the Permanent Council, the organization's main regular decision-making body that convenes once a week to discuss current developments in the OSCE area and make appropriate decisions.

As tensions between the United States and Russia continue to rise, OSCE diplomats and members of the press corps were expecting that Rice would address at least some of what U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE Julie Finley has called the "differences" and "misunderstandings" that exist between the two countries.

CFE Treaty

Instead, Rice delivered a five-minute speech that eluded most burning issues.

She, in particular, made no mention of Moscow’s proposal to convene an what the Russian Foreign Ministry describes as "the serious problems that have arisen with the NATO nations’ implementation of the Treaty as a result of its enlargement and NATO foot-dragging on ratification of the Agreement on the Adaptation of the CFE Treaty, signed in 1999."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the proposal on May 23 at a joint meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council and Forum Security Cooperation, the organization's main decision-making body on politico-military issues.

Earlier this week, Russia said it had approached the Netherlands -- which is the depositary of the 1990 CFE treaty -- with a request to call an extraordinary conference of its signatories on June 12-15 in Vienna.

What is Russia planning to propose at this is unclear. It has said that its outcome of would help it "decide on further steps."

Whether both Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin coordinated this initiative with Rice when she visited Moscow on May 15 -- as some reports suggest -- is unclear.

Missile Shield

Article 21 of the CFE Treaty says its depository "shall convene an extraordinary conference of the States Parties, if requested to do so by any State Party which considers that exceptional circumstances relating to this Treaty have arisen." It also says the request "shall include the reason why that State Party deems an extraordinary conference to be necessary."

Rice addressing the OSCE on May 31 (OSCE)

Tensions surrounding the CFE treaty stem from U.S. plans to build a missile-defense system that would involve the deployment of 10 interceptors and stationing of troops in NATO members Poland and the Czech Republic.

Washington's assurances that its proposed missile shield is meant to protect Europe from nuclear strikes from "rogue states" have failed to convince Russia, which in turn has warned that the U.S. plans threaten its security and may trigger a new arms race.

To add weight to those claims, Putin on May 31 explicitly linked the recent testing of new Russian tactical and strategic missiles to the U.S. plans, calling those weapons "a response to the unfounded actions taken unilaterally by our partners."

Rice did not make any reference to Russia's missile tests in her speech at the OSCE. Nor did she mention Russia's threats to freeze its commitments under the CFE treaty, or the standoff over the UN-administered Serbian province of Kosovo, whose independence bid the United States is backing amid Moscow's objections.

Dialogue, Not Confrontation

It looks like Washington is trying to avoid open confrontation with Moscow and seeking to reach a solution to the ongoing disputes through dialogue.

Bush and Putin are due to hold talks on the sidelines of next week's G8 summit in Germany. The two leaders will meet again in early July in Maine at Bush's request. Rice and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates are tentatively scheduled to hold further talks with the Russians in the fall.

Acknowledging that the relationship between the two countries "is a complicated one," U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE Finley last week told visiting Lavrov that "we should avoid harsh rhetoric, which sometimes makes it sound as if the relationship itself is in question, rather than particular areas of disagreement."

Finley emphasized the "close working relationship" that Washington and Moscow have developed within the OSCE on Nagorno-Karabakh and said the United States was looking forward to reach a similar level of cooperation to help settle the other unresolved conflicts of South Ossetia and Transdniester and obtain the Russian withdrawal of its remaining troops from Georgia and Moldova. She also said the United States remained "committed to exploring missile-defense cooperation with the Russian Federation."


If one should look for a response, albeit cryptic, to Russia's criticism in Rice's speech, it is perhaps in what she said about the OSCE itself.

She said the United States intended to continue playing "a leadership role" in "an organization that was born of the Cold War and has not only survived the Cold War and helped to overcome it, but has now a bright future."

Rice praised the work accomplished by the OSCE "in the support of elections, in the support of peacekeeping, in the support of human rights, and in support of the security architecture that is the basis on which a Europe whole, free and at peace is emerging."

Although she made no reference to Russia, her comments could be read as a response to Lavrov's recent comments.

The Russian foreign minister last week reiterated Moscow's traditional criticism of the Warsaw-based Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), whose primary task is to monitor elections in the OSCE area.

ODIHR has criticized most ballots that have taken place in former Soviet republics since 1991 as failing to meet democratic standards.

To put an end to what they consider as an interference in their internal affairs, Russia and some of the least democratic post-Soviet states are seeking to put ODIHR under the control of the OSCE's Permanent Council and Ministerial Council. Since all decisions at the OSCE are made on a consensual basis, this would effectively give Russia or any other given country the right to veto ODIHR's election assessments and monitoring methodology.

Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan earlier this month proposed a "roadmap" for further reforming the OSCE, the content of which has not been made public.

Those seven CIS states have long been urging the OSCE to pay less attention to election monitoring, adherence to democratic standards, and observance of human rights in participating states, and refocus on its two other dimensions -- economic-environmental and, first and foremost, politico-military.

Rice's response was clear, although not explicitly formulated. "When I think of the OSCE, I think of its bedrock commitment to human rights and democracy," she said.

She also dismissed Russia's effective calls for the OSCE to return to its immediate post-Cold War-era roots of a primarily security-building institution dealing with arms control and confidence-building measures, saying the main objective set in the final act of the 1975 Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) has been achieved.

"The OSCE was born as the CSCE in the depths of the Cold War, at a time when no one might have imagined that we would see the emergence of a Europe that is indeed whole, free, and at peace," Rice told the OSCE Permanent Council.

That could be an oblique way of telling Russia that the United States will resist any attempt at revising the CFE treaty.

A New MIRV Emerges

By Michael Scollon

Russia's newest MIRV, the RS-24, blasts off on May 29

May 31, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Russia has tested a new ICBM with MIRV capabilities.

Duncan Lennox, editor of "Jane's Strategic Weapons Systems," explains the significance of that -- in simpler terms.

"A MIRV in itself simply means a multiple independently targeted reentry vehicle," Lennox says. "Which just means that six warheads -- or whatever there are on the missile -- go to six separate targets on the ground. "

Added Firepower

Essentially, the addition of multiple, guidable warheads can make a single missile a much more dangerous weapon than would be the case if the missile had just one.

And by placing multiple warheads on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), nuclear powers can extend that added firepower across the globe.

MIRVs also increase strategic planners' ability to defeat missile-defense systems by overwhelming them, explains RFE/RL Communications Director Don Jensen, who participated in antimissile negotiations between the Soviet Union and the United States in the 1980s.

"The easiest and most simple way to defeat an ABM system is to simply to send in more warheads than an ABM [antiballistic-missile] system has interceptors," Jensen says. "And that's cheaper than virtually anything else."

MIRV-equipped missiles can also provide an element of trickery.

This is because some of the vehicles carried by the missile would carry nuclear weapons programmed to hit individual targets. But some of these vehicles would also serve as decoys intended purely to attract interceptor missiles. That gives the nuclear-equipped vehicles a greater chance of surviving to reach their target.

Multiple-Trick Pony

Jensen tells how a missile-defense system might be undermined.

"It will read one of the decoys as an actual threat, an actual attack, and the antimissile system may well attack the decoy rather than an actual weapon," Jensen says. "So decoys are a way of tricking and confusing a defender."

The START II arms-reduction treaty, signed by Russia and the United States in 1993, was intended in part to reduce the number of MIRVs by banning their placement on land-based missiles.

However, START II never came into force. Russia withdrew from the treaty in response to the United States' withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) in 2002.

The same year, Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush agreed to a new treaty, dubbed the Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty (SORT). Under that treaty, the two sides agreed to limit their numbers of deployed strategic warheads to 1,700-2,200 each over 10 years.

Botched START

Had START II come into force, the last of Russia's MIRVs would have been destroyed in December -- and replaced with single-warhead missiles.

But Jane's editor Lennox says that while START II was attempting to address MIRVs, it didn't do so very effectively.

Lennox adds that at any rate the treaty was overtaken by events as the two sides were more concerned with reducing their number of missiles in order to reduce costs.

In the end, the United States, while decommissioning its MIRV-equipped Peacemaker missiles, retained or added MIRV-capability to others.

Lennox says the two sides basically decided eliminating MIRVs "wasn't a sensible way to go."

"The Americans, if you remember, have added warheads to the Minuteman III's. They were going to download them to one each, but they now decided to put one, two, and three in their Minuteman III's to reduce the numbers of missiles that are required," Lennox says. "And it's logical that the Russians would follow in a not totally identical fashion, but in a similar way."

Logical Development

So is Russia's announcement of a new MIRV missile a political statement, or is it merely an example of Russia trying to update its strategic-missile force?

Lennox believes the answer to both of those questions is "yes."

After all, he says, a new missile development by Russia has been expected for some time.

And seeing that much of the country's current fleet of ICBMs is approaching the end of its life, having more multiple warheads means it won't need so many missiles.

Moscow Will 'Retaliate' For U.S. Missile Shield

President Putin warned the West over missile defense

June 4, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has been heating up his rhetoric in the weeks leading up to the June 6-8 meeting of the Group of Eight (G8) major industrialized nations in Germany.

In a June 1 interview with journalists from G8 countries, Putin showed no sign of backing down, saying Russia is being forced to take "retaliatory steps" for the U.S. missile-defense shield planned for deployment in Europe.

If the West is going to be aggressive with Russia, Putin made clear, then Russia is going to be aggressive with the West.

"If a new missile-defense system is deployed in Europe, then we need to warn you today that we will come with a response. We have to ensure our security, and we are not the initiators of this process," Putin said.

Putin's remarks -- a transcript of which has been published on the Kremlin website -- are the latest ultimatum in a mounting war of words with Washington over U.S. plans to base parts of a missile-defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Missile Test

U.S. President George W. Bush arrives today in Prague to discuss the plans with Czech officials.

The issue took on new urgency last week, when Russia successfully test-fired a new cruise missile and an intercontinental missile capable of carrying multiple warheads.

Russia defended the move as a response to the U.S. shield, and accused Washington of starting a new arms race.

"We relieve ourselves of the responsibility for any retaliatory steps, because it is not us who are initiators of the new arms race that is certainly imminent in Europe," Putin said in the interview on June 1.

"The strategic balance in the world is being upset. In order to restore this balance, without creating our own missile-defense system, we will be compelled to create a system to overpower this missile-defense system," he added.

Summit In Germany

Bush and Putin are due to discuss the issue on the sidelines of the G8 summit, which begins on June 6 in the German resort town of Heiligendamm.

They will also reconvene for talks in the Bush family's summer residence in Kennebunkport, Maine, on July 1-2.

Journalists did not limit their questions to the U.S. missile defense. They also raised the issue of Putin's plans once his second presidential term expires next year.

Putin has repeatedly said he will not seek constitutional changes that would allow him to win a third term in office.

In the interview with G8 journalists, however, the Russian president said he favored a change in the length of presidential terms from four years to five, six, or seven years. "Four years is certainly too short a term," Putin said.

This change would not affect Putin's current term, only those of his successors.

The Russian leader also discussed Britain's request to extradite Andrei Lugovoi, the Russian businessman and former KGB agent who has been named as the chief suspect in the poisoning death of Russian former security officer Aleksandr Litvinenko.

Putin dismissed the extradition request as "foolishness."

"If the people who sent us this demand do not know that, according to the Russian Constitution, Russian citizens cannot be extradited to foreign states, then their competence is in question," Putin said.

Culture Of Fear Back With A Vengeance

By Brian Whitmore

A British activist is detained by police during the May 17 gay-rights demonstration in Moscow

June 1, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Fear, intimidation, and coercion are back in vogue as tools of Russian policy, both at home and abroad.

For evidence, one need look no further than the events of the past month.

In the southwestern Russian city of Voronezh, opposition activists tried to gather for a small demonstration on May 29. Within minutes, police moved in, violently breaking up the protest and arresting the participants.

Two days earlier in Moscow, Marco Cappato, an Italian member of the European Parliament, was beaten by Russian nationalists in full view of police as he took part in a gay-rights march.

Television cameras captured Cappato struggling and shouting, "Why you don't protect us? Where are the police? Why you don't protect us? I am a member of parliament!"

The police finally did move in. But instead of arresting the attackers, the police detained Cappato -- reportedly for his own safety. A German lawmaker, Volker Beck, was likewise detained.

Earlier in the month, on May 2, members of the Kremlin-backed youth group Nashi loudly protesting "fascism" broke up a press conference by Marina Kaljurand, the Estonian ambassador to Russia, who was trying to defuse mounting anger over her country's relocation of a Soviet-era monument from central Tallinn.

Three Incidents, One Pattern

Whether suppressing domestic dissent, cracking down on troublesome neighbors, or flouting the disapproval of the West, the Kremlin's message is loud and clear -- mess with us at your own risk.

Marshall Goldman, a Russian expert and senior scholar at Wellesley College, says Russia -- flush with cash and influence from its energy resources -- is simply telling the world it's back as a major player.

"There is this lingering perception that in the 1990s the West somehow took advantage of Russia. [This] explains a lot of the assertiveness that you see."

"Russia is now beginning to reassert its muscles and say, 'Look, we were a superpower, for a time we ceased to be a superpower, but we're back on that road again. At the present time we're not a military superpower, but we certainly are an economic superpower with our oil, gas, and our accumulated reserves. And don't tread on me,'" he says.

Many Russians, at their leadership's cue, are adopting an increasingly anti-Western stance.

Nashi activists chase the car of Estonia's ambassador to Russia in Moscow during a demonstration last month (TASS)

Particular venom is reserved for the United States, which has aggravated Moscow with its pursuit of a missile-defense shield in former Soviet satellites like Poland and the Czech Republic.

In a speech before top international officials at the Munich Security Conference in February, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United States of "an almost uncontained use of force in the world."

This week, he accused Western countries of a democracy double standard, saying it was not as if there were "white, pure, and furry" countries on once side and "monsters who have just come out of the woods" on the other.

Within Russia, from the television news to popular culture, the theme is of an ascendant and unified nation under attack from the West.

David Satter is a former Moscow correspondent with the London-based "Financial Times" and the author of a recent book on the rise of the Russian criminal state. He says the Kremlin is trying to foster an artificial crisis with the West in order to justify its own clampdown on civic rights at home.

"I think there is method to this madness," Satter says. "I think it's a situation in which the small group of people who not only rule Russia, but in effect own the country, are seeking to create an atmosphere of tension with the outside world which will further justify the limitations of liberty."

Brute Force

The Kremlin's crackdown on its opponents has at times been almost shockingly severe.

"Russia is now beginning to reassert its muscles and say, 'Look, we were a superpower, for a time we ceased to be a superpower, but we're back on that road again.'"

Media outlets have come under repeated crackdowns, and outspoken Kremlin critics like journalist Anna Politkovskaya and former security officer Aleksandr Litvinenko have been killed in horrifying and unexplained circumstances.

Holding street protests has become a test of courage, with police and security forces far outnumbering demonstrators.

Moscow's combative stance is widely seen as a reaction to the humiliation many Russians felt in the 1990s, when the country was emerging from the Soviet collapse.

Largely dependent on Western aid, Russia was also subject to frequent Western lectures about how best to rebuild its society and government.

Russian President Putin has stepped up his aggressive rhetoric as his term in office approaches its end (TASS)

"There is this lingering perception that in the 1990s the West somehow took advantage of Russia," says Steven Pifer, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

"So this comes together and explains a lot of the assertiveness that you see. That assertiveness, sort of standing up for Russia, seems to play well domestically. And I think part of this is tied to the message that the Kremlin wants to send to its domestic audience."

Another message that the Kremlin wants to send Russians is that the political dissent that emerged in the 1990s had a destabilizing effect on society. Goldman says many Russians emerged from the decade, and Boris Yeltsin's tumultuous presidency, with a sense that social stability was far more valuable than Western-style political freedoms.

"In the Yeltsin years, there was a widespread feeling in Russia that the system had gotten out of control and that those who were eager for dissent ended up discovering that there was too much dissent, there was too much opposition, there was too much spontaneity, there was too much chaos," he says.

Fear Of Revolution?

Still, the fear of public dissent remains high among the political elite. Pifer suggests the Kremlin's bluster and frequent crackdowns on the opposition, rather than representing a show of strength, masks a deep insecurity -- fueled by popular uprisings in Georgia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2004 -- that their hold on power could be tenuous.

"The message at home seems to be almost one motivated by just this concern that things might get out of hand," he says. "I would look at it in the context, if you go back to the Orange Revolution and the Rose Revolution, there seems to be real concern in some parts of Russia that if we're not careful, this can happen here."

That possibility seems remote. But with a presidential transition looming in 2008, the Kremlin isn't taking any chances. And with energy issues high on many foreign-policy agendas, analysts say, there is little the West can do to stop Russia's campaign of fear and intimidation.

Gazprom Hones Its Strategy On Ukraine

By Roman Kupchinsky

Valery Golubev

May 30, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Valery Golubev, the deputy chairman of Russia's state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom's Management Committee, said in April that the price of gas charged by Gazprom to Ukraine will depend on how closely the economies of both countries are prepared to cooperate, the Ukrainian website reported.

"If politicians make a decision to establish closer economic ties between our countries, this will guarantee lower gas prices. However, if the politicians decide to separate these ties, then the price of gas for Ukraine will be same as for Germany. Does Ukraine really want this? I want to stress that Russia does not need this," Golubev said.

This explanation of pricing for gas sold to Ukraine is different from previous explanations provided by Gazprom managers and by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Such explanations have emphasized that Russia is striving to stop subsidizing gas sales to Ukraine.

"We have subsidized the Ukrainian economy with low gas prices for a decade and we intend to end this practice," Putin said in January 2007. Putin didn't mention, however, that Ukraine buys mostly Turkmen, rather than Russian gas.

Gas Basket

The present price Ukraine pays for gas was negotiated in early 2007 and was based upon the January 2006 agreement whereby Gazprom agreed to a price for a "basket" of Turkmen, Kazakh, and Russian gas.

Ukraine wound up paying $95 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas in 2006 and $130 in 2007, when Turkmenistan raised the gas price for Gazprom to $100 per 1,000 cubic meters.

Does Golubev's statement reflect the future of energy relations between Ukraine and Russia?

As of 2007, Ukraine does not buy any Russian gas -- it only imports 50 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas.

Turkmenistan sells this gas to a Gazprom subsidiary company, Gazeksport, for $100 per 1,000 cubic meters. Gazeksport then resells it to RosUkrEnergo, a middleman with headquarters in Switzerland, which resells it to a joint-venture company, UkrGazEnergo, at the Russian-Ukrainian border. It is then sold on to Ukrainian domestic and industrial consumers.

If Gazprom should suddenly determine that the economies of the two countries are not "close enough," it could raise prices. But buying Turkmen gas for $100 and reselling it to Ukraine at the market price of $250-270 could be risky.

Such price speculation could upset the Turkmen leadership, which traditionally has insisted that Gazprom not engage in such deals. Turkmenistan would then most likely be forced to raise the price it charges Gazprom to world market levels.

Trunk Pipelines

Golubev's comments raise another question: who is empowered to decide when "closer economic ties" between Ukraine and Russia reach the point of closeness that qualifies Ukraine for a substantial gas-price reduction?

Any price reduction that Russia might give to Ukraine would be, in effect, a very expensive subsidy. Russian politicians and the Finance Ministry might be hard-pressed to accept such an arrangement.

Golubev could well be disguising Gazprom's long-standing efforts to obtain a controlling share in the Ukrainian trunk gas pipeline by talking about "economic closeness" in return for cheap gas. This was the tactic used in Belarus and in Armenia, where Moscow was intent on initially gaining a partial stake and, ultimately, a controlling stake in the pipelines.

The question remains: Is Gazprom willing to sacrifice billions of dollars in subsidies in return for control over the pipeline?

During his visit to Moscow in April, according to the RIA Novosti news agency, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov said he would honor the 25-year contract signed with Gazprom in 2003 to supply Russia with the lion's share of Turkmen gas. At the same time, however, Berdymukhammedov was very vague about the price he would charge Gazprom for this gas. Why, many ask, should Turkmenistan sell its gas to Gazprom at prices far below world rates?

At this time Kazakhstan, according to RIA Novosti, began threatening to raise its price for gas from $100 to $160 per 1,000 cubic meters and the Turkmen leadership was reportedly contemplating a similar price increase. Central Asian gas producers have said that in two years they plan to charge world prices for their gas.

If this were to take place, it would definitely increase the price Ukraine pays for gas -- unless Golubev's formula for cheap gas is implemented.

In mid-May when Putin signed the agreement with Central Asian leaders to build a new Caspian gas pipeline to export Central Asian gas to the West, the price Turkmenistan would charge for its gas was not mentioned.

"The price [for Turkmen gas] is to remain unchanged until the end of 2009, but talks are to be carried through before July 1, 2009, on changing it under long-term deals by bringing it into line with European prices," Interfax reported on May 14.

Ukraine Crisis

Golubev's remarks were by and large ignored by the Ukrainian media, which was consumed with the current confrontation between President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

Yanukovych, who favors close political and economic ties with Russia, is seen as the beneficiary of Golubev's remarks. But does his business constituency agree with this?

The Industrial Union of Donbas, one of the most powerful business groupings in Ukraine, has had a separate gas-purchasing agreement with Kazakhstan for many years.

Golubev has not been a visible participant in the Ukrainian-Russian gas discussions till now, but given his background he seems to enjoy powerful support from the Kremlin. A former KGB officer, Golubev worked in the St. Petersburg mayor's office when Vladimir Putin and Aleksei Miller, the present head of Gazprom, worked there. In February 2003, he became a member of Gazprom's management committee and in November 2006 became its deputy chairman replacing Aleksandr Ryazanov who had been fired.

Golubev's responsibility at Gazprom is the CIS market for Russian gas sales, one of the most sensitive jobs in Gazprom.

His pronouncements about a vague gas-pricing scheme for Ukraine could be an indication that the Kremlin is intent on trying to use a scare tactic in order to bring Ukraine closer into the Russian fold at the same time helping to further Putin's long-standing support for Yanukovych.

Golubev's attempt to promote this new "carrot-stick" scheme, despite his unrealistic arguments, could mean that Gazprom is trying to both influence Ukrainians to support Yanukovych in return for cheap gas and maneuver Ukraine into abandoning or sharing its control over the largest single gas pipeline for Russian gas to the EU.

Russian Consumers Clamor To Buy Luxury Goods

By Chloe Arnold

The newly opened Ralph Lauren store in Moscow

MOSCOW, June 1, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Halfway down the Rublyovo-Uspenskoye Shosse, where the high-rise housing blocks give way to wooden dachas and pine trees, a sign directs motorists to the village of Barvikha.

Five years ago, Barvikha was just another sprawling dacha settlement surrounded by forest beyond Moscow's city limits.

But today it is home to the Barvikha Luxury Village, where the biggest names in luxury, including Lamborghini, Ferrari, Tiffany, Prada, and Giorgio Armani, have set up shop.

Russia's luxury-goods industry is booming: Russian consumers are now the world's fourth-biggest spenders on high-end goods, behind the United States, Japan, and China. Though the minimum wage remains one of the lowest in the developed world, rich Russians are spending like never before.

New Russians

At the Barvikha village, a woman and her daughter with matching tans and handbags are wandering around the newly opened Ralph Lauren store.

The complex caters to residents of the surrounding countryside, which is home to politicians, including President Vladimir Putin, and members of Russia's business elite.

Alla Verber is the vice president of Mercury, the Russian company that runs the complex and has gone into partnership with many luxury brands now operating in Russia.

"There are a lot of people now, educated, that have management jobs, they have money, they have security, they know that they will always work and make this money and they like to have beautiful things and to buy them," Verber says. "Because their parents and grandparents, when they grew up, couldn't have this."

"In Russia, there was nothing for a long time, and then all of a sudden you get this money and you have to enjoy it."

The trend for luxury-buying in Russia highlights the widening gap between rich and poor. While luxury goods makers are clamoring to woo the sort of Russians who fly to London or New York for the weekend, wages for most Russians remain meager: the average salary stands at just $5,000 per year.

But for the few who can afford expensive cars and designer clothes, it seems the sky is the limit. Kim Iskyan, the co-head of research at URALSIB Capital investment company, says Russians that have money want to spend it.

"You can certainly make the argument that over the past 15 years, there have been however many currency crises -- and over the lifetimes of many millions of people there have been more. So things are good now, but who knows how long they'll be good. So there might be still a certain mentality of get while the getting's good, before everything goes down the drain again," Iskyan says.

Millionaire Fair

One of the biggest showcases for luxury goods is the Millionaire Fair, now in its third year in Moscow. Two years ago, the exhibition attracted 21,000 visitors and 120 exhibitors. Last year, 38,000 people went to look at helicopters, jewel-encrusted pencils and a dress made of dollar bills. The number of exhibitors last year grew by 50 percent.

The Millionaire Fair in Moscow (TASS)

Elena Kudozova, the managing director of the fair, says the goods being offered are more and more diverse.

"Last Millionaire Fair they presented baby bottles made out of gold. [laughs] This is outrageous -- well, for me, it's completely outrageous. But you know, they were quite in demand, although none of us could imagine this thing existing a couple of years ago," Kudozova says.

And the demand for luxury is continuing to grow. Analysts predict the Russian luxury market will grow by at least 15 percent over the next five years. Until now, the market has been confined to the Russian capital. But stores selling designer clothes and jewellery are now opening in other cities.

In Sochi, a resort town on the Black Sea, where Soviet apparatchiks once spent their summer holidays in Stalin-era sanatoria, a boutique selling clothes and accessories by Christian Dior and Dolce & Gabbana recently opened.

Elena Kudozova says that Russians just want the best. "Almost always the best stuff is the most expensive. In Russia, there was nothing for a long time, and then all of a sudden you get this money and you have to enjoy it. You know, everybody remembers still how it feels to be quite poor," Kudozova says.

And as long as high oil prices continue to fuel Russia's economic boom, the rich will get richer and their appetite for luxury will continue to grow.