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Russia may play its own game

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 15, 2001

The experts we spoke with are convinced that Russia's foreign policy is pragmatic enough. The USA has already announced that retaliation for the recent terrorist attacks is inevitable. The countries which could face retaliatory strikes are Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Algeria, and Sudan. Many countries are expressing their readiness to assist the USA in this campaign, letting America use their military bases, territories and military resources. However, the terrorists and organisations commissioning them to the terror attacks in New York and Washington have not been traced yet. Thus, it has still not been proved that these terrorists were trained by the aforementioned "pariah states" viewed as "unconditionally deserving punishment" by the USA. What should Russia do in this situation? Should it join America's revenge campaign or retain the status of intermediary between the West and East? Should Russia change its security concept, especially regarding arms sales to the so-called pariah states? Should Vladimir Putin continue his foreign policy contacts with countries suspected of supporting terrorism?

Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky: International terrorism is a politically abstract force, while war is a quite concrete thing. Thoughtless acts of revenge as a response to terror only lead to new victims. It won't do to continue violence. The recent terrorist attacks in Washington and New York were the beginning of the new era, in which cooperation between the largest countries, such as the USA and Russia, in the sphere of combating international terrorism is inevitable. However, international relations should not use methods that may be used in personal relations late at night on a dark lane Today it is necessary to trace the roots of international terrorism and do everything possible to prevent terrorist attacks in future. You may recall that there was a lot of talk during Clinton's presidency about frequent murders committed by children using weapons at school, suicide cults, etc. There are a lot of similar things in the USA. However, this talk was not continued after the presidential
election of 2000. However, it is not ruled out that terrorism was related to the domestic problems of the country. Perhaps there are serious problems in the society...

Igor Bunin, Director of the Political Developments Centre: Countries of the North have adopted a hard-line stance toward the South. For instance, not long ago Israel was criticised by the West for using army detachments against Arab extremists. Now there is no such criticism. Even Lord Judd, who is notorious for his negative position toward Russia's actions in Chechnya, does not rule out the
use of military force against extremists today. Russia has taken a few symbolic steps as a sign of support for the USA: it has cancelled the exercises of the Air Force in the Pacific Ocean and has decided not to take any emergency security measures that may be interpreted by Americans as a response to their hasty actions.

As for Russia's policy regarding pariah states, this issue is unimportant now. As a matter of fact, Putin used contacts with Cuba, North Korea, and other such countries in order to retain the position of intermediary between the West and East. Russia wanted to show the world that it had for pressuring pariah states to look like a superpower. However, the issue of Cuba is of no importance for the West. In any case, if the Russian president wants to contact leaders of some pariah states, he will have to coordinate his policy with the international community.

Duma deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov: Russia should not rush into the embrace of the West, nor should it offer its services as an intermediary. Russia must not act as an intermediary between terrorists and America.

In my opinion, Russia has already assumed an absolutely crystal clear position when Vladimir Putin decreed on a mourning minute of silence on September 12 and offered Russia's help with tracking and seeking out terrorists involved in these terrorist attacks. Russia and the USA are equally interested in combating international terrorism: therefore it is together with the civilised part of the humanity.

By the way, the position of Beijing was just as strict. Thus, the entire civilised world has taken the same stance. I don't think that Putin's contacts with leaders of pariah states harm Russia's interests. Putin has not visited Iraq and I hope he will not. He has not visited and will not visit Afghanistan for obvious reasons. His visit to Cuba was an economic visit. As for Russia's
contacts with North Korea, it is only trying to minimise the threats which alarm the USA. Besides, Russia has economic interests in North Korea. I think the president is conducting a balanced and pragmatic foreign policy.

Duma deputy Viktor Iliukhin: Russia should act as a containment factor in this situation. Today it is very dangerous to take retaliatory strikes without tracking the organisers of the terrorist attacks in the USA. These strikes will lead to senseless casualties among civilians. Therefore, Russia should not support the USA - if it does not want a global catastrophe - although it should
cooperate with America in the field of combating terrorism. Russia's foreign policy regarding the so-called pariah states is absolutely correct. The USA and Western European countries have forced these contacts. Russia is still not in favour on world markets. Neither the G8 nor the European Union compensates for Russia's losses caused by this fact. It is impossible to reconsider the concept of military-technical cooperation within a short time.

Gleb Pavlovsky, Director of the Effective Policy Foundation: America is in a difficult situation. It understands that most people, especially in third world countries, are more pleased about its humiliation than sympathetic. The US administration is apparently eager to change the situation via terror so that
the world will discuss not the events of September 11 but America's response. For instance, the US may use tactical nuclear weapons, although it is more likely to threaten the world with this and then abandon these plans, after conceding to the opinion of the international community. The USA will pick targets for the attack according to the principle of political convenience, so Russia should be extremely cautious. Russia should not become a hostage to
America's policies. We should assist the US in the field of combating
terrorism but be careful not to end up into an unsettled situation. Of course, America should be the object of Russia's sympathy and a partner in combating those who are really behind the attacks, but it should not be viewed as a skilled expert and the leader of the anti-terrorist coalition. In my opinion, the US has displayed its inability to lead an anti-terrorist coalition. It is necessary to support the USA as long as our values and national interests coincide.

Konstantin Kosachev, deputy leader of the Fatherland-All Russia Duma faction: Russia's foreign policy now depends on changes in the foreign policy of the US. If the US starts cooperating with Russia in many international fields, Russia will have to support America too. However, it cannot be ruled out that the USA will choose self-isolation and will resolve their problems on their own accord. In this case the USA may want to deal with anyone it does not like: Castro, Hussein, Khaddafi, etc. using its current moral advantage. In this case Russia
may be forced to make some items of its international policy stricter. As for Russia's military-technical and economic relations with some countries viewed as pariahs by the USA, I think Russia and the USA will reach a compromise in this sphere.

Gennady Raikov, leader of the People's Deputy group: Russia's foreign policy will not change, as the Russian president has repeatedly said that the international community should unite against terrorism. However, it is not clear what methods should be used in this battle. These methods should be thoroughly considered. Vladimir Putin has already suggested that a G8 meeting and a session of the UN General Assembly be conducted on this topic. It is necessary to make
some political decisions at these meetings.

See also:

Acts of terror in the US

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 15, 2001

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