Recently a German newspaper published a "Confidential
Letter" allegedly sent by President Vladimir Putin to President
George W. Bush. The Kremlin denied that Putin had sent this
letter. It transpired in the end that the letter had been written
by Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of Yabloko.
A letter to President Bush - FROM Yavlinsky, NOT
Recently a German newspaper published a "confidential
letter" allegedly sent by President Vladimir Putin to President
George W. Bush. This German publication stirred up interest
among European political and diplomatic circles. This is not
surprising, because the author of this letter repeatedly raised
some issues which are topical both in Russia and the West: the
creation of a Russian-European localised missile defence system;
a reduction in nuclear warheads to 1,500 for each side; the
specifics of arms sales to Iran...
The trouble is that the press service of the
Russian president denied that Putin had written this letter. It
then transpired that Putin had indeed written to President Bush.
But the text published by the German newspaper was Grigory Yavlinsky's
address to European leaders. The leader of Yabloko is convinced
that Russia must start constructive dialogue with the new US administration
as soon as possible.
What was in the letter which has excited the
A Letter from Moscow (confidential)
Dear Mr. President,
I take this opportunity to state what Russia expects from
the development of relations between our countries. I wish that
we could stop creating illusions, and avoid the misunderstandings
and disenchantment of our predecessors. Let's try not to pretend
that we are "strategic partners" or "members of
the same club". Neither you or I think that the United States
is our ideological mentor, or a financial sponsor who can show
us the path to democracy. There are no external forces which can
lead us to democracy. At the same time, the Russian government
does not consider the USA and the West as opponents. We want to
develop pragmatic and fair relations with the USA. If our countries
actually intend to establish a long-term partnership, I need to
be convinced that you have a clear idea about Russia and its strategic
This "clear idea" entails the following:
1. The USA, Russia and Europe have a right to defend themselves
from non-strategic nuclear weapons. The creation of a Russian-European
missile defence system is our political goal, and one of the most
important strategic priorities. Our military analysts understand
that a reliable anti-missile umbrella cannot be created without
using Russian territory, from Russia's Western borders to the
2. We understand that it will only become possible to create
a Russian-European missile defence system if the USA and NATO
support this idea. This initiative is not aimed against the USA.
3. In view of the aforementioned, I propose reconsidering
the ABM Treaty, signed in 1972 by the USA and the USSR - involving
Britain, France and China in this process, according to the formula
4+1. This would make it possible to reach an agreement on mutual
restrictions, and modify the US national missile defence system
within the framework of this treaty.
4. After defining our plans for the future, I propose discussing
the current nuclear balance. As you know, we decided to reform
the Russian Armed Forces, including their nuclear component. In
particular, we are ready to cut our nuclear warheads to 1,500
- if you do the same. Russian military analysts think that this
number of warheads would be enough to defend the country.
5. Considering the geopolitical situation of the Russian
Federation, any further development of the Russian military-industrial
complex is a key point for us. We intend to play an active role
in creating a Russian-European missile defence system. This would
be a business approach, and would demonstrate our good will and
6. When discussing strategic issues, we cannot forget about
the issue of arms sales to Iran. I can guarantee that I will do
my best to prevent the sale of any Russian technology which could
be used to create nuclear weapons. As for conventional weapons,
this is in actual fact a very important arms market for Russia.
Such trade does not threaten our security. We do not intend to
make concessions on this issue. This is a very important source
of revenue, and provides an opportunity to develop technology.
I understand that some contracts may cause significant concern
in the region. That is why I propose discussing the commercial
and political aspects of this issue.
7. Serious dialogue between the US and Russia is impossible
without discussing the problem of international terrorism. For
Russia this topic is linked to Chechnya. I don't know whether
you realise that the criminal groups which have appeared in this
region have become a very serious threat, especially given the
situation in Central Asia: the Ferghana Valley, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan,
Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. We would like to receive reports from
you concerning their funding sources abroad. It would be advisable
to cooperate with you in the diplomatic and political spheres,
in a bid to stop terrorism.
8. Our strategy will always be based on the fact that Russia
has the world's longest borders with some extremely unstable countries.
We share borders with almost half the poorest people in the world.
Paradoxically, our western borders are the quietest. We should
not overlook China in our discussion. It should be noted that
our main goal is to preserve stability in China. This is a priority
I would like to hear a public statement from you that a strong
and prosperous Russia is a long-term priority for the United States.
If this is true, we have a mutual strategic interest in North-East
Asia, which will become a foundation for our prospective economic
9. In my opinion, all these issues are very important. As
long as they remain unresolved, NATO expansion should not continue.
We do not oppose the expansion of the European Union; we welcome
this process. We are ready to cooperate; the Kaliningrad region
provides a graphic example. But the expansion of a military bloc
to our borders is not in our interests.
Mr. President! I hope that your administration will turn
its attention to the development of strategic relations with Russia
within the first 100 days. This step will become realistic if
you take our interests into consideration. I will do my best to
understand your point of view, and I hope that you will understand
mine. I look forward to meeting you. I think that our first meeting
should be based on discussing the aforementioned issues.