All posts by saradzhyan

Highlights of Tillerson’s Visit to Moscow

 

Bottom-line: Overall no breakthrough, but some positive signals: The sides agreed to establish a working group for bilateral contacts that may involve not only diplomats, but also military, and Putin expressed readiness to resume participation in the agreement that the sides signed when Obama was still president and that focused on preventing air accidents between U.S/allies and Russian warplanes in Syria, if sides agree on targeting ISIS and AQ (am hopeful that deal’d be revived – I called for that in preview of Tillerson’s visit for Russia Matters. Both Tillerson and Lavrov claimed to have refrained from discussing sanctions and kept mum on when Putin and Trump might meet.

Background: In the absence of a major breakthrough even Putin’s decision to meet Tillerson can be interpreted as a good news. The Kremlin purposefully kept it unclear for some time whether Putin would host Tillerson. Moreover, Putin – who is notorious for being late for meetings – didn’t keep Tillerson waiting. It is also worth noting that Tillerson chose not to heed U.S. Congressmen’s calls to meet representatives of the Russian opposition in a clear effort not to further irritate the Kremlin.

  1. Preparation fire ahead of the meetings:
  1. U.S. side:

 

  • Trump:
    • In interview aired on 04.12.17:
      • U.S. is “not going into Syria.”
      • “Putin is backing a person that’s truly an evil person. And I think it’s very bad for Russia.  I think it’s very bad for mankind.  It’s very bad for this world,” he said. (Washington Post, 04.12.17, Washington Post, 04.12.17)
      • “What I did should have been done by the Obama Administration a long time before I did it, and you would have had a much better — I think Syria would be a lot better off right now than it has been,” Trump said. “[Assad] was going to be overthrown. I thought he was gone. He had another week. I mean he was finished. He had nothing, nothing. And then Russia came in and saved him. And then Obama made one of the worst deals in history with the Iran deal. So you really have Iran, and you have Russia, and you have Assad.” (Washington Post, 04.12.17)
    • Tillerson
      • On 04.11.17 (at G7 meeting):
        • Russia must abandon its support of Assad’s regime if it wants an “important role” in discussions about Syria’s future.” “We hope that the Russian government concludes that they have aligned themselves with an unreliable partner in Bashar al-Assad.” In what was in effect an ultimatum, he said Moscow must calculate the costs of remaining an ally of Assad, the Iranians and Lebanon’s Shiite militia Hezbollah. “Is that a long term alliance that serves Russia’s interests?” he told reporters. “Or would Russia prefer to realign with the United States, with other Western countries and Middle East countries that are seeking to resolve the Syrian crisis?” (Bloomberg, 04.11.17,Washington Post, 04.11.17)
        • “I think it is clear to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end. But the question of how that ends, and the transition itself could be very important, in our view, to the durability, the stability inside of a unified Syria.” (New York Times, 04.11.17)
  • S. probe of the CW attack in Syria:
    • Syrian Su-22 aircraft taking off from Shayrat airfield delivered the nerve agent sarin, (Reuters, 04.12.17)
    • WH document: evidence clearly showed Syria was behind a chemical attack on civilians this month and accused Russia of trying to cover up for its ally, Bashar al-Assad, by spreading disinformation. “The United States is confident that the Syrian Regime conducted a chemical weapons attack, using the nerve agent sarin, against its own people.”(Bloomberg, 04.12.17)
    • Mattis on 04.11.17: the Pentagon is investigating whether Russia played any role in last week’s deadly chemical attack in Syria, but has determined thus far only that the Syrian government orchestrated it. While some U.S. officials have said they believe Russia played a role, Mattis said the United States is not involved. Tensions between the United States and Russia will not “spiral out of control,” he said. (RFE/RL,11.17, Reuters, 04.12.17)
    • Senior U.S. official: The United States has concluded that Russia knew ahead of time that Syria would launch a chemical weapons attack last week. The senior official said Monday that a drone operated by Russians was flying over a hospital as victims of the attack were rushing to get treatment. Hours after the drone left, a Russian-made fighter jet bombed the hospital in what American officials believe was an attempt to cover up the usage of chemical weapons. (AP, 04.11.17)
  1. Russian side:

 

  • Putin:
    • On 04.11.17: Russia has information that the United States was planning to launch new missile strikes on Syria, and that there were plans to fake chemicals weapons attacks there. “We’ve seen all this before,” Putin, describing the chemical attack as “a provocation.” Putin said the Syrian events remind of the run-up to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, which Russia opposed and which Putin said led to the collapse of the country and a surge in terrorism. (Bloomberg, 04.11.17, Reuters, 04.11.17)
    • In interview aired on 04.12.17:
      • S.-Russian relations had worsened during Donald Trump’s presidency. “It can be said that the level of trust at the working level, especially at the military level, has not become better but most likely has degraded,” Putin said in an interview on Russian state television channel, Mir. (CBS, 04.12.17)
      • Putin said there were two main explanations for the incident in Idlib province: that Syrian government air strikes had hit rebel chemical weapons stocks, releasing poisonous gas, or that the incident was a set-up designed to discredit the Syrian government. (Reuters, 04.12.17)
  • Lavrov
    • Plans to discuss the fight against terrorism and the conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan and Ukraine with Tillerson, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said. The situation in North Korea, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and arms control are also on the agenda, it said (Reuters, 04.07.17, Bloomberg, 04.05.17)
    • Lavrov said Russia was extremely worried the United States might decide to unilaterally attack North Korea. (Reuters, 04.11.17)
  • Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov:
    • The rhetoric used by the United States as “primitive and loutish.” (NBC, 04.12.17)
    • Russia has “absolute reliable information” that Syria’s jets struck chemical weapons controlled by terrorists. (Bloomberg, 04.12.17)
  • MFA spokesperson Zakharova on what was effectively Tillerson’s call for Russia to calculate the costs of remaining an ally of Assad, the Iranians and Lebanon’s Shiite militia: “I believe everyone realized a long time ago that there is no use in giving us ultimatums. This is simply counterproductive.” (Washington Post, 04.12.17)
  1. 04.12.17 meeting of Lavrov and Tillerson, which lasted some 5 hours:
  1. U.S. side:

 

  • Tillerson: ” Our meeting today comes at an important moment in the relationship so that we can further clarify areas of common objectives, areas of common interest, even when our tactical approaches may be different, and to further clarify areas of sharp difference so that we can better understand why these differences exist and what the prospects for narrowing those differences may be. And I look forward to a very open, candid, frank exchange so that we can better define the U.S.-Russia relationship from this point forward. And I thank you for hosting these important meetings today, and I look forward to a very wide-ranging discussion on a number of important topics.” (Department of State, 04.12.17)
  1. Russian side:

 

  • Lavrov:
    • “More than once, we have reaffirmed our readiness for a constructive and equal dialogue and cooperation based on respect for the legitimate interests of the other. This has been our consistent policy that is fully in keeping with international law and does not depend on the current political climate or a false choice, such as “you are either with us or against us.” (Department of State, 04.12.17)
    • “I will be frank, we have a lot of questions regarding very ambiguous and contradictory ideas on the international agenda in Washington. And I’d like to say, apart from words, we saw some very alarming actions regarding the unlawful attack in Syria.” (Washington Post, 04.12.17)
    • “Your visit is very timely, it provides a much needed opportunity in order to, as Russian and Russian president Putin and US president Trump have agreed, frankly and honestly try to clarify the prospects for cooperation on all these issues, primarily on the formation of a broad antiterrorist front.” (Newsru, 04.12.17)

III. 04.12.17 meeting of Putin with Tillerson and Lavrov, which lasted 1 hour and 40 minutes:

 

  1. U.S. side

Tillerson: Meeting with Putin was “very productive.” “Relations at low point… there is a low level of trust. World’s two nuclear super powers cannot have such a relationship.”

  1. Russian side:

Lavrov: The Russian president “confirmed readiness” to resume Russia’s participation in implementation of the US-Russian deconfliction agreement, which Russia suspended in the wake of the U.S. cruise missile attack on Assad’s Shayrat air base, if goals of fighting ISIS and AQ are confirmed by U,S, according to Lavrov. (RT live broadcast, 04.17.17)

  • No public statements released after the actual meeting.

 

  1. 04.12.17 Lavrov-Tillerson press conference:

 

  1. U.S. side

Tillerson

  • General relationship:
    • We agreed to establish a working group to stabilize the relationship.
    • There has to be a higher-level communications between US and Russia both in diplomatic and military spheres.
    • We need to put an end to this steady deterioration of the relationship.
    • Did not discuss sanctions.
  • Cyber:
    • In answer to questions on how do Russia’s actions in cyberspace differ from that of others: We only touched upon briefly on the issue of cyber security… but I do make distinction when cyber tools are used with internal decisions of a country of how elections are conducted – that’s different from cyber espionage. Interference in the elections has been fairly well established.
  • Syria
    • We both believe in a unified and peaceful Syria.
    • No evidence that Russia was involved in the CW attack.
    • We discussed at great length Assad’s fate. Our view is that the reign of Assad is coming to an end. Russia, as its closest ally in the conflict, should help Assad realize this reality. Assad’s departure needs to occur in an orderly way. No role for Assad in the future of Syria. Assad may be charged with war crimes as more evidence is gathered.
  • Korea:
    • We agree that N. Korea has to be denuclearized.
  • Ukraine:
    • Russia can make progress in implementation Minsk-2 by deescalating violence, withdrawal of weapons. Until full progress is made in Minsk-2, it will remain an obstacle.

 

  1. Russian side

 

Lavrov:

  • General relationship:
    • We agreed to designate DoS and MFA envoys to consider what irritants have accumulated in our relations in the recent years. (Didn’t say at what level).
    • Russia is open for a dialogue with U.S….and even joint actions on common interests.
    • We have not touched upon the issue of reviving the bilateral presidential commission set up by Obama and Medvedev and then suspended by Obama over Ukraine.
  • Arms control:
    • We agreed to overcome the pause in the bilateral arms control and strategic stability. We hope contacts in that sphere are resumed (no references to INF).
  • Cyber:
    • We discussed abuse of cyberspace and modern communications technologies. We are both interested in fighting cybercrimes.
  • Syria:
    • Our common objective remains destruction of ISIS and AQ. We discussed the CW attack in Syria and subsequent U.S. cruise missile attack. We spoke about the need to investigate this incident within the framework of Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and… We saw readiness on the part of our American counterparts to support such an investigation.
    • Refused to say what Russia would do if investigation proves Assad was behind use of CW.
    • I don’t think we have irreconcilable difference with US on Syria or Ukraine.
  • North Korea:
    • Russia is very alarmed by the confrontational spiral around North Korea.
  • Ukraine:
    • We have a unified position that Minsk-2 needs to be implemented. We also recalled (the Surkov-Nuland) format contacts on Ukraine and we would welcome resumption of that format.
  • Other:
    • We also discussed Libya, Afghanistan.
    • Businesses on both sides are interested in expanding economic ties (no references to sanctions.)

(Source for the press conference: RT live broadcast, 04.17.17.)

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Gerasimov to RF Mil.Academy: How Do We Deploy Troops to Distant Theaters?

Russia’s conservative weekly Voenno-Promyshlenny Kuryer has published an op-ed by chief of Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov modern warfare trends based on his March 5 speech at the Russian Academy of Military Sciences. See a raw, unedited translation I did below with key propositions underlined. Gerasimov’s instructions to Russian military scientists to explore how best to deploy forces to distance theaters are especially interesting. They indicate Russian military-political leadership is increasingly interested in extending the range of large-scale operations (recall Russia reportedly had to buy and convert Turkish commercial vessels to deploy forces to Syria). Gerasimov also claims hybrid warfare has U.S. origins and U.S./NATO employs such warfare for regime changes because hybrid warfare doesn’t fall under definition of aggression in international law. He also accuses Western states of using an entire range of non-military means against states, including mobilization of “protest potential of the population” and use of social networks to do so, Just like in his 2013 landmark speech to the same academy, in which he essentially previewed the operation, in Crimea, Gerasimov emphasizes blurring of the lines between war and peace in modern world.

“The world is on the brink of war. Considering today’s challenges is not enough. It is necessary to forecast future.” Valery Gerasimov, Voenno-Promyshlenny Kuryer, March 2017.

Carl von Clausewitz compared the war to an expanded struggle, defining it as an act of violence aimed at forcing the enemy to fulfill one’s will. Outstanding Russian and Soviet theorists of the early 20th century Andrei Snesarev and Alexander Svechin made a significant contribution to the development of the science of war. The subject of their studies were main trends of conducting warfare, which is a consequence of not only political, but also of economic and social relations.  Understanding war as a as a means of achieving political goals exclusively through armed struggle had become well established by the 1990s.

In the United States wars began to be classified as traditional and non-traditional wars. In the beginning of the XXI century American theorists also proposed to add hybrid wars to this classification. They define such wars as actions that occur in periods that can be described as neither war nor peace. Russian scientists and practitioners adopted a more balanced approach to the classification of modern armed conflicts. That classification factors in a greater number of attributes. At the same time, there is no definition of war in either international or Russian official documents. In the Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation refer to was as a form of resolving inter-state or intra-state contradictions with the use of military force.
An active discussion on clarifying the concept of war continues. Some scientists and specialists adhere to the classical interpretation. Others propose to fundamentally revise the views on the content and essence of the term “war”, arguing that armed struggle is not an obligatory attribute of war. We can now encounter such terms, as information war, economic war, hybrid war, and many other variants.

The General Staff pays due attention to the discussion of this problem. We organized a discussion of the concept of “war” in modern conditions at the General Staff’s Military Academy in 2016. This issue was also considered at a meeting of a section in the Scientific Board of the Security Council. The discussions produced a general recommendation for analyzing patterns and characteristics of modern armed conflicts as well as for identifying trends in emergence and development of these conflicts.

 

Hybrid was has replaced contactless war
Conflicts of the late 20th – early 21st centuries differ from each other in the composition of the participants, the weapons used, the forms and methods of the actions taken by the troops. At the same time, they do not go beyond the general content of the war, though they do include components of various types of struggle, including direct armed struggle, political struggle, diplomatic struggle, information struggle and others. Now new features of struggle have appeared. Share of what one or another type of struggle contributes to the overall political success of the war is changing. Another new feature is the overwhelming superiority of one side in military power and economic power over the other.

Modern conflicts are characterized by a number of features. The experience of the NATO operation in Yugoslavia, which opened the era of so-called contactless or distance wars, has not been widely replicated. The reasons for that are objective. Geographic and economic factors constrain achievement of war goals. Costs of armaments and of war as a whole have begun to play an important role in the choice of methods of conducting military operations.

Increasing use of advanced robotic systems and unmanned aerial vehicles for various purposes and actions has become another essential feature of modern conflicts.

New forms of using diverse forces and means have emerged. For example, the operation in Libya saw a no-fly zone created simultaneously with imposition of a naval blockade and in conjunction with joint actions of private military companies from NATO member states and armed opposition groups.

Leading states’ concepts of use of armed forces refer to achievement of information superiority as an indispensable condition for conducting combat operations. Media and social networks are used to attain this condition. At the same time, forces and means of information-psychological and information-technical impact are being employed. The conflicts in the Middle East have for the first time extensively revealed mobilization opportunities that social networks create.

The conflict in Syria served as a vivid example of application of hybrid methods. That conflict saw traditional and non-traditional means of both military and non-military nature employed.

The first stage of the conflict saw Syria’s internal contradictions transformed into armed actions of the opposition. These actions then acquired an organized character with the support of foreign instructors. These actions also enjoyed active information support. Subsequently, terrorist groups — that were supplied and directed from abroad — joined the struggle against the Syrian government troops.

U.S. and NATO countries are actively practicing hybrid actions on the international scene. This is largely due to the fact that such actions do not fall under the definition of aggression. Western media has dubbed combination of such methods “hybrid war,” but it is premature to treat this as an established term.

 

New perception of a regular word

 

Out analysis points to a number of trends that indicate the transformation of armed conflicts in the beginning of the 21st century. Today, there is obviously a blurring of the line between the state of war and peace. A new perception of peacetime has emerged and become the reverse side of hybrid actions. Peacetime is now a state when no military or other open violent measures are applied against a state, but its national security and sovereignty still come under a threat and may be violated. The range of causes and pretexts for use of military force is increasingly expanded. This force is increasingly used to advance economic interests of states under the slogan of defending democracy or instilling democratic values in a particular country. The emphasis in the content of methods of struggle shifts towards broader application of political, economic, diplomatic, information and other non-military measures. Utilization of protest potential of the population accompanies application of these measures. Non-military forms and means of struggle have undergone an unprecedented technological development and acquired a dangerous, and sometimes violent character. Practical application of these means and forms can cause a collapse in the energy, banking, economic, information and other spheres of the life of a state. The results of cyber-attacks on the objects of Iran’s energy infrastructure in 2015 can serve as an example of such application.

Analysis of the main characteristics, features and trends in the development of modern conflicts demonstrates that they all have a common feature: use of military violence. In some cases, it becomes an almost classical armed struggle, as were the two US wars against Iraq and the NATO operation against Yugoslavia. In other conflicts, as, for example, in Syria, one party to the armed struggle conducted anti-terrorist operations while its adversary employed illegal irregular armed formations and terrorist structures. Thus, the main content of wars in the present time and in the foreseeable future will remain the same. The main attribute of these wars is armed struggle.

At the same time, the question of determining the nature of war remains open. It remains relevant and it needs to be studied constantly and carefully. It was for that reason that we included the Roundtable on “Modern Wars and Armed Conflicts: Characteristics and Features” was included into the scientific and entrepreneur program of international military technical forum “Army-2017” in August. Scientists of the Academy of Military Sciences should take an active part in this. It is necessary to continue work on interdepartmental standardization of military-political and military terms and definitions. The growth of the conflict potential in the world only underscores the relevance of a number of tasks that face in the sphere of national defense.

 

High-precision measures

 

The main of these tasks remains the same – guaranteed repelling of a possible aggression against the Russian Federation and its allies from any direction. In peacetime it is necessary to ensure the neutralization of threats to the country’s security through implementing strategic deterrence measures that should be based on available forces and means. In this regard, the role and importance of forecasting military dangers and threats is increasing. The forecasts should factor in assessment of economic, information and other challenges.

The improvement of the capabilities of the Armed Forces is achieved through balanced development of all types and types of troops (forces), development of precision weapons and modern means of communication, reconnaissance, automated control and electronic warfare. At present, Strategic Missile Forces are being equipped with modern systems. The Navy is receiving new nuclear submarines with ballistic and cruise missiles, which have no analogues in the world. The strategic aviation’s fleet, our legendary Tu-160 and Tu-95MS, are being actively modernized. All this will allow us to increase the share of modern weapons in our strategic nuclear forces to 90 percent by the end of 2020.

The attack potential of the armed forces’ precision weapons will increase fourfold, which will ensure Russia’s security along the entire perimeter of the borders. By 2021, the share of modern weapons and military equipment in the Ground Forces will have reached at least 70 percent. The Air Force will receive a new generation of aircraft, which will increase the combat capabilities of aviation by 1.5 times. The Navy will be supplied with modern ships that will be equipped with high-precision long-range missiles. Robotic systems will play a significant role in enhancing combat capabilities. The large-scale, but justified employment of these systems for various purposes will increase the effectiveness of the troops’ actions, and will ensure a significant reduction in personnel losses.

 

The science of preempting

 

Today, the Armed Forces are gaining combat experience in Syria. They are given a unique opportunity to test and try new models of weapons and military equipment in new climatic conditions. It is necessary to continue to summarize experience of using means of armed struggle in the Syrian campaign and to infer lessons for refinement and modernization of these means.

We should keep in mind victory can never be achieved through material resources along. Spiritual resources of the people, their cohesion and their desire to resist aggression is necessary for attaining the victory. The military and political leadership of the Russian Federation is making serious efforts to restore the people’s confidence in the army. Today, the Armed Forces are entering a fundamentally new level of combat readiness and the society supports this development. To increase the armed forces’ clout even further, we need to develop a link between the army and society, and that requires improvements in training of servicemen and in patriotic education of the youth.

Solving urgent tasks of the defense of the country requires careful and advanced examination of these tasks. In this connection, it is worthwhile to emphasize what the Academy of Military Sciences’ priority tasks are. The first task is to study new forms of interstate struggle and development of effective ways to counter these forms. Another urgent task is development of scenarios and long-term forecasts for development of the military-political and strategic situation in the most important regions of the world. It is necessary to study characteristics of modern armed conflicts in a timely manner. These studies should serve as a basis for development of methods of military command and control as well as of actions of troops under various conditions. Problems of organizing and executing deployment of troops (forces) to remote theaters require a separate study. The general tasks of the military science remain relevant and require further elaboration.

 

What Americans and Russians Did and Didn’t In Course of Each Others’ Electoral Campaigns

So, if we were to, indeed, assume that Russia had committed during the 2016 presidential elections campaign in U.S all that critics of Russia had accused it of, then here’s how comparison of alleged Russian and U.S. actions would look like to me: Anything I got wrong?

 

  1. Russians ‘did’ it, but Americans ‘didn’t’: What Americans were not accused of having done in the course of elections in Russia and other post-Soviet republics as well as revolutions in Ukraine, but what Russians were accused of having done during the 2016 presidential elections campaign in U.S.:
  • S. hackers have not been reported to try to hack Russian voter databases, while Russian hackers supposedly allegedly did. (There have been also allegations that Russian hackers may have manipulated voting machines, but those have been disproved with no plausible evidence presented.)

 

  1. Americans ‘did’ it, but Russians ‘didn’t’: What Americans were accused of having done in the course of elections in Russia and other post-Soviet republics as well as revolutions in Ukraine, but what Russians were not accused of having done during the 2016 presidential elections campaign in U.S.:
  • US/Western mainstream media called for regime change in Russia (editorial writers of WP, FT, Economist, Newsweek’s op-ed contributor – recall how Kissinger cautioned that “breaking Russia” has become America’s objective. Radical Russian media may have issued such calls, but I cannot recall Russian mainstream media doing so).
  • Have senior diplomats try to decide who should be in the new government and who should not be.
  • Have senior diplomats distribute food to anti-government protesters in allied/friendly neighboring countries, vowing to support them.

 

  1. Both Russians and Americans ‘did’ it: What both Americans were accused of having done in the course of elections in Russia and other post-Soviet republics as well as revolutions in Ukraine and what Russians allegedly did during the 2016 presidential elections campaign in U.S.:
  • Top officials publicly implied/signaled they favored one candidate over another without explicitly backing him (Medvedev over Putin, Trump over Clinton).
  • Leaked compromising materials on unfavorable candidates (WikiLeaks accused U.S. of leaking Panama Papers, which expose corruption in Putin’s retinue – I don’t find these accusations plausible, but since we are discussing allegations here, I have included).
  • Mainstream media openly favored one candidate over another without explicitly backing him (Medvedev over Putin, Trump over Clinton).
  • Hacked/eavesdropped on communications of officials and politicians.
  • Criticized each other for falling short of democratic standards in elections.
  • Had diplomats and experts communicate with representatives of candidates’ campaign staff.
  • Financed and otherwise assisted friendly NGOs and activists covertly and overtly.

 

 

 

Timeline of US-Russian Relations: What Did We Get Wrong, What Significant Events Are Missing?

 

March 1983 Reagan called USSR Evil Empire and announced SDI.
September 1983 Downing of Korean Airlines Flight 007.
September 1983 Soviet officer Stanislav Petrov made an ultimate judgement in September 1983 that report of an U.S. nuclear missile attack was a false alarm.
November 1983 U.S./NATO Able Archer command post exercise held among Soviets’ increasing concerns that a surprise first nuclear strike by U.S./NATO could be planned.
March 1985 Soviet Politburo elected Gorbachev as Communist Party General Secretary, Gorbachev launches campaign of glasnost and perestroika, reaching out to West.
November 1985 1st Reagan-Gorbachev summit of in Geneva, SDI discussed, but to no avail.
January 1986 President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev exchanged New Year’s greetings to the peoples of the Soviet Union and the United States in two televised five-minute statements.
February 1986
April 1986 Chernobyl Disaster.
October, 1986 2nd Reagan-Gorbachev in Reykjavík. The two almost agreed to eliminate all nuclear weapons during their historic summit in Reykjavik in October 1986, but the negotiations eventually stalled over SDI.
June 1987 Reagan’s “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this (Berlin) wall” speech.
December 1987 2nd Reagan-Gorbachev summit in DC. Reagan and Gorbachev sign INF treaty in Washington DC, Time names Gorbachev as man of the year.
May 1988 Fourth and final Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Moscow. Gorbachev was hoping to use the Summit as an opportunity for Reagan and Gorbachev to agree to the START Treaty, but soon after Reagan arrived it became very clear that Reagan was not interested in further arms control agreements.
May- February 1988 The withdrawal of Soviet combatant forces from Afghanistan.
December 1988 In a speech to the United Nations, Gorbachev announced that USSR will begin to withdraw Soviet forces from Eastern Europe,
May-November 1989 Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe: In May 1989 Hungary began dismantling its 240-kilometre (150 mi) long border fence with Austria. Shortly after Poland’s electorate voted the Communists out of government in June, Gorbachev announced that the Soviet Union would not interfere with the internal affairs of the Eastern European countries. By October, Hungary and Czechoslovakia followed Poland’s example and, on November 9, 1989 the East German Government opened the Berlin Wall.
November 1988 – December 1990 Estonia became 1st Soviet republic to declare sovereignty. This so-called “parade of sovereignty” continued throughout remainder of 1988 and most of 1990 until Soviet republic – Kyrgyz republic – declared sovereignty, becoming the last of 15 Soviet republics to do so.
December 1989 1st Bush Sr-Gorbachev summit in Malta “officially” ends Cold War.
February 1990 Discussions on the Reunification of Germany: In Ottawa, the four major World War II Allies (the United States, United Kingdom, France, and the Soviet Union), as well as the two Germanys, agreed on a framework for negotiating the unification of Germany.
March 1990. Gorbachev elected president of USSR.
June 1990 2nd Bush Sr-Gorbachev summit in DC, unification of Germany discussed, but no agreements signed.
July 1990 3rd Bush Sr-Gorbachev summit in Moscow, STAR I is signed.
September-October 1990 German Reunification: Secretary Baker and Foreign Minister Shevardnadze joined the Foreign Ministers of France, Britain, and the two Germanys to sign the “Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany.”
October 1990 German reunification completed.
December 1990 Gorbachev won Nobel Peace Prize.
February 1991 Warsaw Pact disbanded.
August 1991 Putsch against Gorbachev.
September 1991 Bush Sr announced initiatives on unilateral reductions of non-strategic nuclear weapons.
October 1991 Gorbachev announced that the Soviet Union will not only reciprocate Bush’s initiatives on non-strategic nuclear weapons, but also proposed that USSR and the United States eliminate entire categories of such weapons.
November 1991. The Nunn-Lugar- bill passes the Senate in an 86-8 vote.
Decmber 1991 Nunn-Lugar bill is signed by President Bush Sr. into Public Law 102-228.
December 1991 Dissolution of Soviet Union: On December 8, the leaders of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine declared that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist and proclaimed a “Commonwealth of Independent States” (CIS). Eleven former Soviet Republics joined the CIS on December 21. The resignation of President Gorbachev on December 25 formally ended the Soviet Union.

 

January-February 1992 Yeltsin visits the US, meets Bush. Sr.

·      -US promises to promote future Russian admission to IMF and World Bank, a major economic goal for Russia

·      -A Joint Proclamation is issued, stating that the US and Russia don’t see each other as potential adversaries and are beginning a new era of “friendship and partnership”[1]

June 1992 Bush-Yeltsin Summit in Washington

·      -Bush and Yeltsin agree to continue START process; set goal of reducing nuclear force by 3000-3500 warheads by 2003

·      -The US agrees to cut submarine based nuclear weapons by half

·      -Yeltsin had initially been very reluctant to negotiate this reduction, since he saw it as still benefitting the US’ arsenal more; however, a more preferable aid package was also negotiated in order to sway Russia.

·      -Bush had previously proposed that Moscow give up its “land-based, multiple-warhead ballistic missiles. The Kremlin countered with a proposal that the two sides cut to 2,500 warheads each, and that both nations give up their land-based and sea-launched multiple-warhead missiles.”[2]

·      -The US pledges 4.5$ billion in economic assistance to Russia

·      -The US launches Peace Corp volunteer program in Russia

·      -Both states declare bilateral support for UN operations in Bosnia[3]

February-March 1992 The United States established diplomatic relations with Moldova on February 18 and with Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan on February 19. On March 24, it extended diplomatic recognition to Georgia.
April 1992 Belarus announced the completion of the withdrawal to Russia of all the tactical nuclear warheads deployed on Belarusian territory.[4]
May 1992 By May 1992 all tactical nuclear weapons had been removed from Ukraine to Russia.[5]
May 1992. On May 23, 1992. Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine signed the Lisbon Protocol to the START I Treaty, becoming parties to the START I Treaty as legal successors to the Soviet Union with Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, therefore, committing to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as non-nuclear states. Would be good to add that, in side letters, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan all committed to eliminate all strategic nuclear delivery vehicles from their territories.
June 1992. In June 1992 President Bush and President Yeltsin signed the umbrella CTR agreement.[6]
January 1993 Bush-Yeltsin summit in Moocow: START II signed[7]

·            -In the first phase of START II, states will have to reduce nuclear weapons to 3800-4250

·            -By the end of phase 2, neither will have more than 3000-3500 warheads (to be completed by 2003)[8]

April 1993: Yeltsin-Clinton Summit in Vancouver

·            -First meeting between Yeltsin and Clinton, where leaders pledge a “new democratic partnership”[9]

·            -The US pledges 1.6$ bn in additional aid to Russia in light of its economic stagnation (pre-approved by Congress)

·            -The two leaders discuss START I and II; Ukraine is delaying the ratification of START I, and until it does so, Russia will not ratify START II

January 1994 Yeltsin-Clinton Summit in Moscow:

·      -Both leaders agree to move towards liquidating Cold War military hardware

·      The US will purchase 12$ bn of low enriched uranium from Russia over 20 years, after Russia converts it from high enriched uranium to low enriched uranium

·      -Russia will participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program

·      -Clinton and Yeltsin agree that the sovereignty of former Soviet states should be respected, as well as rights of Russian speakers in the Baltics, though Yeltsin opposes any early ascension of Central Europe countries into NATO

·      -Leaders of Ukraine, Russia, and the US agree that Ukraine will give up all nuclear weapons and sign the NPT; in exchange, the US and Russia will negotiate security guarantees with Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus[10]

February 1994 First Joint U.S.-Russian Space Shuttle Mission: The first joint U.S.-Russian Space Shuttle Mission launched on February 3 with Russian Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev onboard the U.S. Space Shuttle Discovery.
May 1994 Moscow Declaration implemented: The US and Russia officially no longer aim nuclear weapons at each other[11]
September 1994 Clinton-Yeltsin summit in Washington in September 1994

·      The Partnership for Economic Progress is created, opening new paths for bilateral trade and economic development

·      No resolution is reached on Bosnian conflict or Iranian cooperation; Moscow states it will keep its existing contracts with Iran, which the US labels a terrorist state[12]

December 1994. Budapest memorandum, a key factor in persuading Ukraine to eliminate its nuclear arsenal, but involving assurances by the US and Russia to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
April 1995 By April 1995 Kazakhstan had returned to Russia all the nuclear warheads.[13]
May 1995 Clinton visits Russia for Victory Day

·            -Clinton and Yeltsin agree that START II should be ratified early

·            -Clinton urges Yeltsin to stop the war in Chechnya, and comply with the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE); by November 1995, the CFE treaty would require large withdrawal of weaponry from Chechnya

·            -Yeltsin proposes that Moscow sell some of its nuclear reactors to Iran; Clinton objects[14]

January 1996 – U.S. Ratification of START II Treaty: The U.S. Senate ratified the START II Treaty on January 26.
April 1996: Clinton-Yeltsin summit in Moscow

·            -Both leaders agree to seek Comprehensive Test Ban treaty by September 1996 to fulfill NPT obligation[15]

·            -Modifications to the CFE treaty are discussed, given Russia’s concerns over the Treaty provisions in regards to Chechnya

·            -Yeltsin objects again to NATO enlargement plans; Clinton promises there will be “no surprises”[16]

June 1996. June 1, 1996. Last nuclear warheads transferred from Ukraine for Russia.
May 1997: NATO-Russia Founding Act[17]

·            -Yeltsin and Clinton sign NATO-Russia cooperation, are no longer adversaries

·            -NATO asserts that it will continue to expand however

·            -NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council created to facilitate transparency and cooperation

·            -All parties agree to work towards a solution for the Bosnian conflict

March 1997 Clinton-Yeltsin Summit in Helsinki

·            -Clinton and Yeltsin agree to start negotiations on a new arms reduction treaty that will span the next decade, but formal talks can happen only after the Duma ratifies START II

·            -Clinton supports Russia’s ascension to the G7, now the G8[18]

·            -Yeltsin notes that NATO expansion is inevitable, and Russia will just have to mitigate any negative consequences that stem from expansion

June 1997 Russia admitted to G8.
September 1998: Clinton-Yeltsin summit in Moscow

·            -Each country will remove 50 metric tons of plutonium from the other country’s stockpiles; Clinton urges Duma to approve START II, so the next round of START can begin

·            -Both leaders agree to implement the Convention of the Prohibition of Biological Weapons

·            -Yesin says Russia is against the use of force in Iraq, Kosovo, or Afghanistan[19]

·            -Yeltsin states that Russia is not dependent on Western economic aid, but does welcome increased Western investment and continued aid from the US

·            -Despite disagreement over NATO enlargement, Russia will participate in upcoming NATO summit; Russia has no plans to expand westward

November 1998 -Launch of International Space Station: The joint international project to establish a manned space station began with the launch of the Russian-built control module on November 20.
March-June 1999. Bombing of then-Yugoslavia to win independence for Kosovo and expansion of NATO led to seriously strained relationships by the end of the Bush administration
 March 1999 4th wave of NATO expansion (1st was Greece and Turkey, second was W. Germany, 3rd was Spain) NATO: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland admitted
August 1999 Putin is appointed prime minister.
December 1999. Yeltsin resigns, Putin becomes acting president.
March 2000. Putin is elected president of Russia
June 2000: Clinton-Putin summit in Moscow[20]

·            -In the first meeting between Clinton and Putin (in his role as President), Clinton disagrees with Putin’s harsher Chechnya policy

·            -Both agree to establish a data exchange to share early warning missile threat info, which will be the first join US- Russia major military cooperation, and the continued disposition of weapon-grade plutonium[21]

·            -Clinton addresses Russian State Duma, and sits for an interview with Ekho Moskvy, a liberal radio station, after Putin had ordered a government raid of a few liberal news outlets

·            -Clinton again tries to propose a missile defense shield proposal, but Putin rejects this.

July 2000 – Clinton and Putin Meet at G-8 Summit: President Clinton discussed a range of political and security issues with President Putin in a meeting just prior to the beginning of the G-8 Summit at Okinawa, Japan. These issues included the recent Middle East peace initiative, the Iranian nuclear program, Chechnya, Slobodan Milosevic’s regime in Belgrade, and the need to establish rule of law in Russia.
November 2000 – First Crew on Manned International Space Station: A Russian Soyuz Rocket delivered the first permanent resident crew to the International Space Station on November 2. One American astronaut, Bill Shepherd, and two Russian cosmonauts, Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko, remained in space until March 21.
July 2001: Bush and Putin meet at G8 Summit

·            -Both agree to hold new talks on the reduction of nuclear weapons, in particular, to discuss the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty

·            -Putin and Bush announce a Russian-American Business dialogue

·            -Putin expresses concern that the US has not been consistent with its support of Russia’s WTO bid[22]

September 2001 Putin becomes 1st foreign leader to call Bush Jr after 9/11.
January 2002: Mutual US-Russian Legal Assistance Treaty signed

-Colin Powel and Yuriy Ushakov sign a treaty, stating that the US and Russia will jointly fight crime and terrorism[23]

January 2002: The term “axis of evil” was used by U.S. President George W. Bush in his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002,
May 2002: Treaty of Moscow signed on Strategic Defensive Reductions

·            -The Treaty reduces levels of operationally deployed warheads to 1700-2000 by 2012[24]

·            -The arms control agreement gives Putin more clout on the international stage as a partner to the US[25]

May 2002 NATO-Russia Council Summit[26]

·            -Bush and Putin agree to create a body that will work towards cooperation in areas of common interests, including nonproliferation and a joint peacekeeping force in Bosnia

June 2002. In 2002 G-8 Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction was established at Kananaskis. U.S. pledged $10 bn, others another $10 bn. over 10 years[27]
July 2002: Bush withdrawals from ABM Treaty signed in 1972

·            The withdrawal is accompanied by a statement from Bush, saying the US is committed to moving forward with missile defense programs, which would have otherwise broken the treaty[28]

-In response, the Kremlin announces that it is therefore no longer bound by START II, even though the treaty had never entered full force[29]

March 2003 Russia opposes US-led invasion of Iraq

·            Putin calls the invasion an error in policy and intelligence and claims he had warned the US about the 9-11 attacks two days prior to their occurrence[30]

March 2004 5th wave of NATO expansion: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia admitted.
March 2004 Putin was elected to the presidency for a second term.
February 2005 Bush-Putin Summit in Bratislava

·            -Putin and Bush discuss nuclear security, particularly noting the possibility of nuclear terrorism

·            -both agree to help countries processing uranium move to low enriched fuel[31]

·            A new joint senior group on nuclear issues is created, that will update the governments and work together on best practices, reactor conversion, enhancing nuclear security, and bettering emergency response systems on both sides[32]

·            The US and Russia also agree to work towards Russian membership in WTO[33]

July 2006 : Bush and Putin establish the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism at St. Petersburg G8 Summit

·            -The Joint Initiative increase nuclear facility security and work against nuclear terrorism incidents[34]

·            -13 countries joined initially, as of 2016, 86 are party

March 2007: Russia opposes US plans to build missile defense shield in Poland

·      -Russia responds by threatening to withdraw from INF

July 2007 Russia notified other signatories of its intended suspension of the CFE on July 14, 2007.
April 2008: NATO Summit in Bucharest.

·            Putin personally attends to avert granting of MAPs to Georgia and Ukraine, which is ultimately blocked by Germany. -The US and many NATO allies agree that Georgia and Ukraine will one day be NATO members, though no action plan is extended to these countries.

·            -NATO members meet to invite Albania and Croatia as members, and agree that expansion should continue

March 2008. Dmitry Medvedev elected president of Russia with Putin’s blessing.
May 2008 Putin’s presidency ends and he becomes PM under Medvedev.
August 2008: US and Poland agree to 10 two-stage missile interceptors on Polish territory

-Russia responds that it will increase its Western border defenses and place short range Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad[35]

August 2008 Russo-Georgian War
·      -Russia claims its citizens and Russian speaking compatriots were being targeted in South Ossetia and Abkhazia by Georgia forces; Georgia claims Russian peacekeeping troops were targeting Georgian civilians and planning to invade Georgia

·      -Russia and Georgia mobilize and fight a 5 day war over the two separatist provinces, ending in a stalemate and internationally negotiated treaty[36]

·      -US supported Georgia throughout the war and condemned Russia’s actions, although Bush called on President Mikhail Saakashvili to stand down[37]

·      -UN reports after the war note human rights violations on both sides

April 2009 6th wave of NATO expansion: Albania, Croatia admitted,
July 2009: Obama calls for a reset in relations with Russia

-after conflict in Georgia, Obama calls for the US and Russia to reset relations and called for renewed cooperation to address Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs[38]

September2009 On September 17, 2009, President Barack Obama announced the European Phased Adaptive Approach or EPAA.
April 2010 Putin-Obama Prague Summit[39]

·            The US and Russia sign New START after START treaties expired in December 2009

o      Treaty cuts deployed strategic warheads by 30%, down to 1550[40]

o      ICBMs and SLBMs limited to 700

June 2010 The US and Russia cooperate about tightening sanctions on Iran over nuclear program[41]
June 2010: US announces it has arrested 10 Russian spies living in US[42]

·      -Putin is highly critical, though says he doesn’t want this to hamper the reset in relations

·      -Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs says arrests are an “unjustified throwback to the Cold War” [43]

January 2011 In January 2011 U.S. and Russia exchanged notes to bring into force the 123 Agreement. [44]
October 2011: Russia Vetoes a US resolution condemning the Assad regime in Syria

·      -Churkin claims that Syria needs a gradual and apolitical approach, as opposed to the options the US has proponed

·      -Susan Rice affirms that a resolution condemning the human rights abuses will not lead to military action in Syria[45]

Fall 2011 Massive protests in Moscow after rigged Duma elections, Putin blames US/Clinton.
March 2012: Putin elected for 3rd presidential term, which will expire in 2018. This sparks more   protests

·      -thousands protest Putin’s reelection as President, citing widespread election fraud[46]

August 2012: Russia joins WTO
September 2012 USAID expelled from Russia.
December 2012 Congress passed Magnitsky Act.
June 2013 Snowden arrives in Russia.
July 2013 Russia grants asylum to Snowden,
September 2013 G20 Summit in St. Petersburg

·      -Russian and other world leaders pressure Obama not to intervene militarily in Syria, marking an ongoing rift between the US and Russia on how to deal with Syria’s civil war[47]

·      -Putin gives Obama a plan on Syria, later agreed to by Assad, to remove all of the chemical weapons from the country[48]

February 2014 Protests, which began in Ukraine in fall 2013 over Yanukovych’s stalling of signing EU-Ukraine deal culminate in “Maidan Revolution,” promoting Yanukovych to flee.
March 2014 Following ouster of Yanukovych, Russian annexes Crimea, US and EU impose 1st and 2nd round of sanctions in March-April, targeting mostly individuals and companies.
April 2014: Fighting begins in Donetsk and Luhansk

-The conflict has continued through 2016, despite numerous ceasefires and internationally mediated meetings between Ukraine and Russia[49]

July 2014 Sectoral sanctions (3rd round) imposed on Russia by EU and US.
August 2014: Russia counter-sanctions the US and EU countries
September 2015: Russia begins air campaign in Syria
February 2015 Minsk II Accord signed
November 2015: Obama and Putin discuss Syria during the G-20 summit in Turkey, agree to a UN framework for a ceasefire and eventual peaceful transition in Syria[50]
March 2016. Russia refuses to attend the final Nuclear Security Summit.
September 2016 Russia and the US announce joint peace plan for Syria After meetings in Geneva, Secretary of State Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov announce that the two countries have agreed on the provisions of a peace plan for Syria[51]
September 2016. September 2016. Russian President Vladimir Putin has submitted a bill to the State Duma to suspend the U.S.-Russian agreement concerning the management and disposition of plutonium designated as no longer required for defense purposes and related cooperation, according to an October 3 statement published on the Kremlin’s web site
October 2016. The Russian government has “suspended” a 2013 agreement with the USA on nuclear energy research and development and “terminated” another, signed in 2010, on cooperation in the conversion of Russian research reactors to low-enriched uranium fuel. The decisions were issued in separate documents signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and published on the government’s website on 5 October.

On Russia’s Curtailing of Nuclear Cooperation With U.S.

It is clear that the exacerbation of the Syrian crisis has diminished Kremlin’s hopes that U.S. sanctions might be softened soon, so Putin is getting rid of agreements, which have irritated the national security establishment for a long time, while Obama is still in office. That way he can spite Obama for snubbing him while also not spoiling relations with the next administration any further which would have occurred if he had waited past the November elections in U.S. But while spiting Obama, at least one of the suspensions is actually doing Obama a favor. Congress would have more difficulty justifying its efforts to block the White House’s attempts to discontinue construction of the MOX facility.  I’d also note that  unlike the plutonium disposition deal, whose resumption Russia has conditioned on unrealistic demands, the suspension of nuclear energy R&D deal has no such conditions, so, chances, are that if U.S. have lifted some of the Ukraine sanctions, it could be revived. Also note the internal timing of the termination of the reactor deal and suspension of the R&D: both announced after Sergei Kirienko, who has been an advocate of cooperation with U.S., has left Rosatom for a top job in the Kremlin staff.  Kirienko clearly preferred to be not associated with implementation of the presidential and governmental decrees on suspension and termination of US-RF nuclear accords. See rough translation of the decrees and explanatory notes below.

 

  1. Termination of the Reactor Conversion Agreement.

 

  1. Government decree:

Government of the Russian Federation

Decree No 2071-r.

October 4, 2016.

 

On Termination of the Implementing Agreement between State Corporation for Atomic Energy Rosatom and the U.S. Department of Energy Regarding Cooperation in Concluding Feasibility Studies of the Conversion of Russian Research Reactors to Low-Enriched Uranium Fuel of December 7, 2010.

 

In accordance with Paragraph 6 Article 37 of Federal Law “On International Treaties of the Russian Federation,” the proposal for termination of the Implementing Agreement between State Corporation for Atomic Energy Rosatom and the U.S. Department of Energy Regarding Cooperation in Concluding Feasibility Studies of the Conversion of Russian Research Reactors to Low-Enriched Uranium Fuel of December 7, 2010, which has been put forward by Russian State Corporation for Atomic Energy Rosatom and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation upon being reviewed by the Ministry of Defense, Federal Security Service, and Foreign Intelligence Service, is accepted.

State Corporation for Atomic Energy Rosatom shall send a written notice on the decision that has been made to the American side.

 

Dmitry Medvedev.

Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation.

 

 

  1. Explanatory note:

 

On Termination of the Implementing Agreement between State Corporation for Atomic Energy Rosatom and the U.S. Department of Energy Regarding Cooperation in Concluding Feasibility Studies of the Conversion of Russian Research Reactors to Low-Enriched Uranium Fuel.

 

Government of the Russian Federation’s Decree No 2071-r of October 4, 2016.

 

In accordance with Federal Law “On International Treaties of the Russian Federation” a decision has been made to terminate the Agreement.

The Implementing Agreement between State Corporation for Atomic Energy Rosatom and the U.S. Department of Energy Regarding Cooperation in Concluding Feasibility Studies of the Conversion of Russian Research Reactors to Low-Enriched Uranium Fuel was signed in Moscow on December 7, 2010.

The Agreement provided for conducting feasibility studies of conversion of six Russian research reactors.
As of the February 2016 the agreement had been implemented as a whole with feasibility studies of conversion of the reactors completed. No signing of new contracts for conducting studies is planned. No meetings of the Russian-American working group, which has been set up to coordinate activities under the Agreement, have taken place since 2014.

Actions, which have been taken by U.S.A. in connection with the introduction of sanctions against Russia, directly affected areas of cooperation envisaged in the Agreement. In particular, the United States imposed restrictions on cooperation with Russia in the field of high technologies. In April 2014 State Corporation Rosatom received a letter from the U.S. Department of Energy’s bureau at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Referring to instructions received from Washington, DC, that letter announced suspension of cooperation in the field of nuclear energy in connection with the events in Ukraine.
Further cooperation with U.S.A., which would stipulate access of U.S. citizens to Russian nuclear facilities, direct cooperation between Russian and American institutes, and exchange of information and documentation between them, is unfeasible under these circumstances.

Regular renewal of the U.S. sanctions against Russia, including suspension of Russian-American cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, requires adoption of countermeasures against the U.S. side.

Paragraph 3 of Article 4 of the Agreement permits termination of the Agreement by either party within 90 days after that party sends a written notice to the other party.

A decision has been made to terminate the Agreement in accordance with paragraph 6 of Article 37 of the Federal Law of June 15, 1995 №101-FZ “On International Treaties of the Russian Federation.”

 

 

  1. Suspension of the U.S.-R.F. Agreement on Cooperation in Nuclear- and Energy-Related Scientific Research and Development.

 

 

  1. Government decree:

Government of the Russian Federation

Decree No 2072-r.

October 4, 2016.

 

On suspension of the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation on Cooperation in Nuclear- and Energy-Related Scientific Research and Development of September 16, 2013.

 

The Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation on Cooperation in Nuclear- and Energy-Related Scientific Research and Development of September 16, 2013 is suspended due to the imposition of limitations on cooperation with the Russian Federation by the United States of America in the nuclear energy sphere and in accordance with Paragraph 1 of Article 37 of Federal Law “On International Treaties of the Russian Federation.”

 

Direct the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia to send a written notice on suspension of the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation on Cooperation in Nuclear- and Energy-Related Scientific Research and Development of September 16, 2013 to the American side.

 

Dmitry Medvedev.

Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation.

 

 

  1. Explanatory note.

 

On suspension of the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation on Cooperation in Nuclear- and Energy-Related Scientific Research and Development.

 

Government of the Russian Federation’s Decree No 2072-r of October 4, 2016.

 

A decision has been made to suspend the Agreement in accordance with Federal Law “On International Treaties of the Russian Federation.”

The Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation on Cooperation in Nuclear- and Energy-Related Scientific Research and Development (further referred to as the Agreement) was signed in Vienna on September 16, 2013.

The Agreement defined the direction of the scientific and technical cooperation in use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, including nuclear safety; nuclear plant design; innovative reactor fuels; use of nuclear and radiation technologies in medicine and industry, management of radioactive waste.
The agreement has provided for joint work with U.S. experts, which would contribute to mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of nuclear energy and would save time and resources in the course of conducting fundamental and applied research in this area.

Actions, which have been taken by U.S.A. in connection with introduction of sanctions on Russia, have directly affected areas of cooperation envisaged in the Agreement. In April 2014 State Corporation Rosatom received a letter from the U.S. Department of Energy’s bureau at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Referring to instructions received from Washington, DC, that letter announced suspension of cooperation in the field of nuclear energy in connection with the events in Ukraine.

Such a step by the U.S. side constitutes a fundamental breach of conditions of the Agreement, which aims to enhance cooperation between the parties in research and development in the nuclear and energy sectors and for establishment of a stable, reliable and predictable basis for such cooperation. As part of the line declared by the American side, bilateral meetings and events related to nuclear energy have been cancelled, which can be qualified as a violation of Paragraph 3 of Article IV and Paragraph 1 of Article X of the Agreement.
Regular renewal of the U.S. sanctions against Russia, including suspension of Russian-American cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, requires adoption of countermeasures against the U.S. side.
A decision has been made to suspend the Agreement in accordance with Paragraph 1 of Article 37 of the Federal Law of June 15, 1995 №101-FZ “On International Treaties of the Russian Federation.” Such an approach preserves the international legal framework for cooperation with the United States. The Russian Federation reserves the right to resume cooperation under the Agreement when such resumption can be justified in the general context of relations with U.S.A..

 

 

III.  Suspension of the Plutonium Deal

 

  1. Bill

              

 DRAFT LAW

 

On the Russian Federation’s Suspension of the Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the United States of America Concerning the Management and Disposition of Plutonium Designated as No Longer Required for Defense Purposes and Related Cooperation as well Protocols to this Agreement.

 

Article 1.

Suspend Agreement between the Government of  the Russian Federation and the Government of the United States of America Concerning the Management and Disposition of Plutonium Designated  as No Longer Required for Defense Purposes and Related Cooperation (further referred to as the Agreement) , which was signed in Moscow on August 29, 2000 and in Washington, DC, on  September 1, 2000, and the protocols to this agreement, which were signed in Washington, DC on September 15, 2006 and April 13, 2010, (further referred to as the protocols to the Agreement) due to radical changes in circumstances; the threat to the strategic stability, which has emerged as a result of unfriendly actions by the United States of America toward the Russian Federation; and inability of the United States of America to fulfill the obligations to dispose of excessive plutonium, which it has assumed in accordance with the Agreement and the protocols to the Agreement.

 

 Article 2.

  1. The decision to resume the Agreement and protocols to the Agreement shall be the prerogative of the President of the Russian Federation.
  2. Resumption of the Agreement and protocols to the Agreement can occur after the United States of America eliminate the causes, which have led to the radical change in the circumstances that existed on the day the Agreement and protocols to the Agreement came into force. The following conditions must be observed.
    1. The military infrastructure and personnel strength of the United States of America, which have been deployed on the territory of countries that became members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) after September 1, 2000, must be reduced to the levels that existed on the day the Agreement and protocols to the Agreement came into force;
    2. The United States of America must abandon its unfriendly policy toward the Russian Federation by:
      1. Repelling the U.S. law, known as the Sergei Magnitsky Act, and the anti-Russian provisions of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014/
      2. Cancelling all the sanctions, which have been imposed by the United States of America on individual regions of the Russian Federation, Russian legal entities and individuals.
      3. Compensating for the damage, which the Russian Federation has incurred as a result of the sanctions described in sub-paragraph B, including the losses that the Russian Federation has incurred as a result of the counter-sanctions which the Russian Federation has had to impose on the United States of America.
    3. The United States of America must provide a precise plan for irreversible disposition of the plutonium, which falls under the jurisdiction of this agreement.

 

Article 3.

This federal law comes into force on the day it is officially published.

 

 

 

  1. Explanatory note to the draft law on suspension of the Russian-U.S. agreement on disposition of plutonium has been submitted to the State Duma.

 

Acting on the basis of paragraph “g” of Article 84 of the Constitution and in accordance with federal law “On international treaties of the Russian Federation,” the president has submitted draft law “On the Russian Federation’s Suspension of the Agreement between the Government of  the Russian Federation and the Government of the United States of America Concerning the Management and Disposition of Plutonium Designated  as No Longer Required for Defense Purposes and Related Cooperation as well Protocols to this Agreement” for consideration of the State Duma.

 

October 3, 2016.

4.15 pm.

The head of the state has appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov to serve as the official representative of the President during consideration of the draft law on suspension of the Agreement between the Government of  the Russian Federation and the Government of the United States of America concerning management and disposition of plutonium designated  as no longer required for defense purposes and related cooperation, which was signed in Moscow on August 29, 2000 and in Washington, DC, on  September 1, 2000, and the protocols to this agreement, which were signed in Washington, DC on September 15, 2006 and April 13, 2010, by the chambers of the Federal Assembly.[1]

 

* * *

The explanatory note to draft federal law “On the Russian Federation’s Suspension of the Agreement between the Government of  the Russian Federation and the Government of the United States of America Concerning the Management and Disposition of Plutonium Designated  as No Longer Required for Defense Purposes and Related Cooperation as well Protocols to this Agreement.

The Agreement between the Government of  the Russian Federation and the Government of the United States of America Concerning the Management and Disposition of Plutonium Designated  as No Longer Required for Defense Purposes and Related Cooperation (further referred to as the Agreement), which was signed by the Russian Federation on August 29, 2000 and by the USA on  September 1, 2000,  provides for each side to dispose 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium, which have been declared to be in excess of the sides’ defense programs.

A Protocol to the Agreement, regulating civil liability for damage, was signed on September 15, 2006.
A Protocol to the Agreement, which regulates the issues of financing, as well as documents the sides’ agreements on the method of disposition of plutonium, providing for all the plutonium that falls under the Agreement plutonium to be disposed of through irradiation in nuclear reactors, was signed on April 13, 2010.

The agreement and all the amendments introduced into it came into force on July 13, 2011 after having been ratified by the Russian Federation.

The United States has been recently making attempts to revise the strategy of disposition of plutonium, which was codified in the April 13, 2010 protocol, and change the disposal method. The U.S. side is planning to dispose of plutonium by burying it, rather than by irradiating it as established by the Protocols. Russian experts opposed this method even when the Agreement was being prepared because it would not make disposition irreversible.  The 2000 versions of the Agreement stipulated that most of the U.S. plutonium would be irradiated in reactors, and only a small quantity would be buried.  The method of burying plutonium was abandoned for good when the sides signed the April 13, 2010 protocol. That was part of the compromise which was reached in the course of preparation of that protocol.

It should be noted that the U.S. side has not inquired about the Russian Federation’s consent for a change in the method of disposition of plutonium.

The United States has taken a number of steps that led to a radical change in the situation in the sphere of strategic stability since the Agreement and the protocols came into force.

Using the crisis in Ukraine as a pretext, the United States has been building its military presence in Eastern Europe up, including the states, which were admitted into NATO after 2000, which was the year that the Agreement came into force. Year 2015 saw six new forward command and control points established in Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Estonia. Their main task is to ensure rapid transfer of large military contingents of NATO into Eastern Europe in case a decision to execute such deployment is made. Units of the U.S. armed forces have been deployed to the territory of the Baltic States, and the quantity of NATO aircraft, which are based on airfields of these states, has increased. In Ukraine U.S. instructors are training militants of the Right Sector, which is an organization that is banned in Russia.

In addition to taking actions aimed at changing the military-strategic balance, the United States are adopting measures designed to undermine the economy of the Russian Federation and violate the rights of Russian citizens. In particular, the so-called Magnitsky bill was adopted in the United States in 2012. By adopting this law Washington openly defended the economic crime in the Russian Federation. And in 2014 the law on support of freedom of Ukraine, which allows interference in the internal affairs of our country, was adopted. In addition, in 2014 the U.S. imposed sanctions against the Russian Federation, its individual territories, businesses and individuals.

Since the actions taken by the United States have led to a radical change in the circumstances that existed at the time the Agreement and the Protocols were signed, the suspension of the Agreement is a measure taken by the Russian Federation in response and, therefore, it doesn’t contradict the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969. This plutonium, which is covered by the provisions of the Agreement, will remain outside the sphere of nuclear weapons activities, which demonstrates Russia’s commitment to the course for nuclear arms limitation.

The draft federal law does not conflict either with the provisions of the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union of May 29 2014 or with other international treaties of which the Russian Federation is a signatory. Adoption of this law would not require additional federal spending.

 

 

[1] Russian parliament consists of the lower and more powerful chamber – State Duma, and of the upper chamber – Federation Council.

 

Why a Full-Blown War Over Karabakh Is In Nobody’s Interest

Please find below my April 4th effort (so before cessation of hostilities announced on April 5th) to update and expand my initial assessment of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

While initial clashes, which began in the night from April 1 to April 2 along the western part of the line of contact (LOC), which separates Armenian and Azeri forces in Karabakh, the subsequent hostilities quickly spread as far as the most northern part of the border between Armenia proper and Azerbaijan in what became the bloodiest and heaviest episode of hostilities since the 1994 ceasefire. Such proliferation of hostilities, and, more important,  use of multiple-launch rockets systems, heavy flame-throwing systems, artillery and attack helicopters made me assess the probability of a full-blown war as of April 4th  at 30% in the subsequent two weeks.

That said, I continue to believe that it is unlikely that Azeris, which appear to have initiated the fighting, planned such a major escalation.   Both Aliev and Sargsyan were in the air, flying back from NSS in DC, when the clashes erupted. You normally don’t let your army start a full-blown inter-state war, when the head of the state is traveling abroad. Rather Azeris may have planned a larger-scale, but still routine provocation to remind the international community that the conflict is not frozen beyond reheating, try coercing Armenia and Karabakh into concessions in the peace talks, which have stalled for years, and, perhaps seize a “strategic” height or two to claim a small victory. Instead they saw the situation escalate beyond original plans. If Azeris did indeed plan to attack Armenians along wide parts of LOC, they would have done it at once (initiating a main strike in place to distract Armenians and delivering it somewhere else within hours). Also, after having seized several heights in Karabakh and raided some settlements, Azeri MoD would not have announced that it began to observe a ceasefire on April 3rd and would have attempted on that day to advance further. That announcement was probably an attempt to secure the gains, but was ignored by Armenians who understand that they need to regain what’s been lost or Azeris would go even deeper next time.

Of course, while it is less probable, but it is not impossible that Azeris had planned to attack Armenians not just in Karabakh, but also along the proper border of Armenia and Azerbaijan all along. If true, an April 4th report Azeri defense minister Gasanov is personally commanding 1st Army Corps’ operations could be prove that the wide-scale hostilities had been planned along.  However, it might be also be a sign that Azeri leadership has not been planning a full-scale war along LOC. A defense minister doesn’t assume command of one corps if the battle plan calls for coordinated operations of several corps or entire armed forces. Some posited that one possible reason why Aliev may want a full-blown war is that he needs a “great” victory to divert attention from Azerbaijan’s oil-price-induced economic woes, which already caused some social protests in the region. I don’t think, however, that it is the case. Azeris still have plenty of wealth to ride out the storm, unless, of course, it continues to rage on.

Regardless of initial intentions, both sides have climbed a step or two on the escalation ladder and may find it easier to keep climbing up, then descending. Even if the current hostilities do not escalate into a full-blown war, the latter’ probability has significantly increased.

For one, the April 2nd has created a precedent for use of yet heavier and more sophisticated weaponry. Now that Grad Multiple Launch Rocket Systems and Heavy Flamethrower System TOS-1s have been used along with Mi-35s, repetition of use of these systems is permissible. Therefore, when the next provocation occurs, commanders on both sides will have less doubts about employing large-caliber multiple rocket launch systems and gunships, especially if in “fog of hostilities” they come to conclude that the other side’s use of such weapons is the first stage of a full-blown major offensive. A provocation that begins with mortar fire has low chances of quickly escalating into a war even if leaders of neither side desire such a war. A provocation that begins with use of large-caliber multiple rocket launch systems and gunships has significantly higher chances of leading to an accidental war because of casualties it can cause. If Azeris did initiate the April 2nd clashes (and evidence is strong that they did), then this may also increase probability of a full-blown war because it may lead to hardening Armenians’ negotiating position.

Azeris’ initiation of what has turned out to be deadliest clash since 1994 also gives the Armenian side serious reasons  to even more distrust proposals for a step-by-step resolution, in which Armenians first give up some of the land they control in exchange for Azeris’ commitment to honor results of a new self-determination referendum in Karabakh. Eliminating of the step-by-step approach, which I personally have had qualms about, significantly reduces what negotiation professionals describe as ZOPA (zone of possible agreement)  between Armenians and Azeris, increasing the attractiveness of war  as BATNA (best alternative to negotiated agreement) to the Azeri side. Also, memories of Azeri soldiers’ atrocities, which include alleged beheading of an Armenian soldier and cutting off ears of executed civilians, will not fade away easily, making it more difficult for Armenians to accept any compromises, which are needed on both sides, to make the peace deal a reality.

The latest clashes once more underscore how dangerously wrong are hopes, which some leaders nurture, that they can up the ante a bit for purposes of signaling resolve to the opposite side or coercing the latter into concession, and then control/manage the resultant escalation. Serzh Sargsyan appears to understand this risk – hence he warned on April 4th thay “further escalation of military actions may result in unpredictable&irreversible consequences,including all-out war.”  But perhaps, not all decision-makers on both sides realize that SOPs, which the conflicting sides’ militaries begin to implement, following the ‘up-the-ante’ orders, may lead to escalation of a stand-off into a full-blown war against these leaders’ wishes, and so can accidents.   Both U.S. and Soviet leaders learned those and other lessons after living through the Cuban Missile Crisis and we outlined seven of these lessons for the Karabakh conflict in a 2012 Belfer Center paper, including the illusory natures of hopes that escalation can be always firmly controlled. The paper ended with the following conclusion: “Institutionalizing lessons of the Cuban missile crisis would help leaders on both sides of the Karabakh conflict to avert an ‘accidental’ devastating war. If, of course, they wish to avoid it.”  Maxim Yusin of Kommersant  believes that leaders on both sides presently wish to avoid resumption of the war. Indeed, Armenian leaders obviously are content with what Armenians have gained in the war that ended in 1994 while Ilham Aliev probably realizes that there’s no guarantee that Azeris will win the new war, but that there is a strong probability that a defeat may lead to implosion of his regime. However, Armenian and Azeri leaders’ perceived aversion to resumption of full-blown war may change due to a number of factors.  For instance, protracted decline of oil prices leaves Aliev facing protests so serious that he would come to view probability of losing his seat because of such protests greater than probability of losing a war over Karabakh, and then chances are that he may attempt such a war. A significant decline of one of the sides’ power relative to the other may also affect the cost-benefit analysis that leaders on both sides engage in as they weigh whether to go to war. [1]

A full-blown war between Armenia and Azerbaijan will have devastating consequences not only for these two post-Soviet republics, but also for stability of the region, in which U.S., Russia, EU, Turkey and Iran have stakes. For one, it can bring NATO member Turkey, which unconditionally backs their Azeri brothers, and Russia, which is Armenia’s ally in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) into a war, which can begin as a proxy war, but can end up being a direct war between Russia and Turkey. Turkey has already been criticized for failing to protect interests of Crimean Tatars and stop Russia from bombing Turkomans in Syria and it feels much stronger about Azeris, with whom they share ethnicity and language. Such a war will also force Russia to take sides between its CSTO ally Armenia and what RF MFA has described as “friendly” Azerbaijan, therefore,  undermining Moscow’s efforts to keep both within what RF MFA describes as a zone of Russia’s “privileged interests”. Russia  has a lot at stake, including its reputation of a guarantor of security of its allies and reputation of CSTO as a viable military bloc, along with its desire to remain the strongest player in the South Caucasus. Some have speculated that the hostilities were encouraged by Russia, which wants to deploy peacekeeping troops along LOC to boost leverage over Azerbaijan or even let Putin score another foreign policy victory to prevent decline of popularity at home. However, even though his KGB evaluators described Putin as having “lower sense of danger,” and, therefore, more prone to take risks, I don’t think it is a very plausible theory, given that he already has his hands full with two conflicts (Syria and Turkey), which need to be resolved on terms that accommodate Russia’s wishes. Nor would Iran want resumption of war in Karabakh, given Teheran’s delicate effort to maintain good relations with Armenia without alienating its sizeable Azeri minority. If Azeri forces begin to retreat in such a war, it will send hundreds of thousands of Azeris seek refuge across the Azeri-Iranian border as it was the case during the (first and hopefully the last) Karabakh war.  If Armenians began to lose, then Iran would see its rival – Turkey – expand its influence in the South Caucasus. U.S. clearly too has important (but not vital) interests at stake in the region, given Azerbaijan’s supplies to the world oil market, which Armenia can disrupt with ballistic missile strikes.  U.S. also is member of OSCE’s three-strong Minsk Group, which is responsible for mediation of the Karabakh conflict (others are France and Russia). There is  n estimated total of  800,000 — 1,500,000 Americans citizens of Armenian ethnicity .

I think it is time the presidents of U.S. and Russia, which both leverage vis-a-vis Armenia and Azerbaijan, step up and makes a coordinated push with fellow leaders of the Minsk Group before it escalates into a full-blown war, in which none of major stake-holders realistically stand anything substantial to gain.

[1] Such analysis applies, however, only if we view both Armenia, Karabakh and Azerbaijan as unitary rational actors acting in their national interest in what would conform to behavior of Model I actors in Graham Allison’s study of decision-making. However, there are also Model II and Model III and that’s where organizational interests and internal government politics come into play in ways that may enhance probability of full-blown war against heads of states’ wishes.

[2] Russian officials may also now be pondering whether their country can keep supplying arms to both Armenia (got 0.2bn of Russian arms) and “friendly” Azerbaijan under the pretext that is done “taking into account the need to maintain balance of forces in the region.”

Escalation of Hostilities Over Karabakh May’Ve’Been Unintended, But Increase Chances of Full-Blown War

Note: This was an evolving draft, in which I “thought out loud” – the final draft was published in Huff Po http://www.huffingtonpost.com/simon-saradzhyan/all-out-war-over-karabakh_b_9628832.html

The latest escalation of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan does not offer conclusive evidence that either side desires a full-blown war, but it does substantially increase the chances that they may accidentally stumble into such a war.

The initial provocation must have been planned and intended, but  I was still surprised that it had escalated into the deadliest clash in more than two decades, given that it occurred shortly after the March 31-April 1 Nuclear Security Summit, which Armenian and Azeri leaders were attending in Washington, DC, had ended.

That both Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliev were out of their respective countries when the clashes began in early hours of April 2nd makes me think that neither side had planned the escalation of hostilities to the highest level since the sides agreed to a ceasefire in 1994.  And at least on the Armenian side, I saw no signs of expectations of such an escalation. In fact, Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan calmly stated that  Armenia and Azerbaijan are not really at war, but that Armenia needs to be ready when I asked him during Q&A after his talk at Harvard on 03.30.16 if (1) he agrees with one of the Armenian deputy defense ministers’ late 2015 assessment that recent clashes between the sides amounted to an actual war and, (2) if he doesn’t agree, then whether he can estimate probability of war in the next 5 years in percentage points.

The April 2nd clashes saw sides use Grad Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS). While tanks, artillery  and helicopters have been employed by the sides in the past, the Grads were used for the first time since 1994, as far as I can recall. Grad rockets are ‘dumb weapons’ which can produce heavy collateral damage, so what may have been meant as ‘softening’ of military targets to suppress resistance ahead of Azeris’ attempt to take a height and claim a small victory has led to loss of civilian life, including lives of children.  These civilian losses, which I find to be particularly deplorable and outrageous, may have fueled escalation beyond what I think was initially planned as a routine provocation, leading to a reported total death toll of more than 30, which is the highest for a singular incident along the line of contact since 1994.

The Azeri forces routinely initiate exchanges of fire along the line of contact in an effort to remind Armenia and the international community that the conflict is not frozen beyond reheating and try coercing Armenia and Karabakh into concessions. The April 2nd might have been planned as another of such ‘routine’ provocations. Why this latest provocation  has escalated into the worst fighting since the 1994 ceasefire remains unclear, at least to me.  My  guess is that such escalation might have been unintentional because, as said, above Aliev was out of the country. You normally don’t let your army start a major clash, which may evolve into a full-blown inter-state war, when the head of the state is traveling abroad. But I might be of course wrong in making this educated guess, which is based on immediate accounts of the incident. It might as well be that new facts will emerge that will prove beyond reasonable doubts that  Azeris had actually intended the escalation.

Regardless of what the provocateurs’ intentions were, however, the result of this provocation is a significant increase in probability of resumption of full blown war, in my opinion. For one, the April 2nd has created a precedent for use of yet heavier and more sophisticated weaponry. Now that the Grads have been used along with Mi-35s, repetition of such use  is permissible. Therefore, when the next provocation occurs, commanders on both sides will have less doubts about employing large-caliber multiple rocket launch systems and gunships, especially if in “fog of hostilities” they come to conclude that the other side’s use of such weapons is the first stage of a full-blown major offensive. A provocation that begins with mortar fire has low chances of quickly escalating into a war even if leaders of neither side desire such a war. A provocation that begins with use of large-caliber multiple rocket launch systems and gunships has significantly higher chances of leading to an accidental war because of casualties it can cause. If Azeris did initiate the April 2nd clashes  (and evidence is strong that they did), then this may also increase probability of a full-blown war because it may lead to hardening Armenians’ negotiating position. Azeris’ initiation of what has turned out to be deadliest clash since 1994 also gives the Armenian side serious reasons  to even more distrust proposals for a step-by-step resolution, in which Armenians first give up some of the land they control in exchange for Azeris’ commitment to honor results of a new self-determination referendum in Karabakh. Eliminating of the step-by-step approach, which I personally have had qualms about, significantly reduces what negotiation professionals describe as ZOPA (zone of possible agreement)  between Armenians and Azeris, increasing the attractiveness of war  as BATNA (best alternative to negotiated agreement) to the Azeri side.

The latest clashes once more underscore how dangerously wrong are hopes, which some leaders nurture, that they can up the ante a bit for purposes of signaling resolve to the opposite side or coercing the latter into concession, and then control/manage the resultant escalation. What these leaders do not realize is that SOPs, which the conflicting sides’ militaries begin to implement, following the ‘up-the-ante’ orders, may lead to escalation of a stand-off into a full-blown war against these leaders’ wishes, and so can accidents.   Both U.S. and Soviet leaders learned those and other lessons after living through the Cuban Missile Crisis and us outlined seven of these lessons for the Karabakh conflict in a 2012 Belfer Center paper, including the following:

  • Armenian and Azeri leaders should review their militaries’ routines to weed out those contingency SOPs that may lead to escalation of a crisis into a war against their orders.
  • Parties to the Karabakh conflict should keep in mind that escalation can acquire its own logic, noting how exchange of fire between the militaries can accidentally lead to massive casualties among civilians on either side “eventually escalating the fighting to a level, where leaders on both sides feel compelled by the public outrage over casualties (and their leaders’ own past vows) to retaliate with more and more firepower.”

The paper ended with the following conclusion: “Institutionalizing lessons of the Cuban missile crisis would help leaders on both sides of the Karabakh conflict to avert an ‘accidental’ devastating war. If, of course, they wish to avoid it.”  Maxim Yusin of Kommersant  believes that leaders on both sides presently wish to avoid resumption of the war. Indeed, Armenian leaders obviously are content with what Armenians have gained in the war that ended in 1994 while Ilham Aliev probably realizes that there’s no guarantee that Azeries will win the new war, but that  there is a strong probability that a defeat may lead to implosion of his regime. However, Armenian and Azeri leaders’ perceieved aversion to resumption of full-blown war may change due to a number of factors.  For instance, aprotracted decline of oil prices leaves Aliev facing protests so serious that he would come to view probability of losing his seat because of such protests greater than probability of losing a war over Karabakh, then chances are that he may attempt such a war. A significant decline of one of the sides’ power relative to the other may also affect the cost-benefit analysis that leaders on both sides engage in as they weigh whether to go to war. Such analysis applies, however, only if we view both Armenia, Karabakh and Azerbaijan as unitary rational actors acting in their national interest in what would conform to behavior of Model I actors in Graham Allison’s study of decision-making. However, there are also Model II and Model III and that’s where organizational interests and internal government politics come into play in ways that may enhance probability of full-blown war against heads of states’ wishes.

PS This is an evolving draft.

UPDATE 04.04.16: Two additional points:

  • If this evolves into full-blown war, then whether and what CSTO does will entail significant consequences for credibility of this organization.
  • Russia’s talking point that it supplies arms to both Armenia and Azerbaijan (latter reportedly bought some $2 bn of Russian arms) “taking into account the need to maintain balance of forces in the region” is no longer tenable, especially if claims of Azeris using Russian-made TOS are true.
  • Vladimir Putin urged Azerbaijan&Armenia to stop hostilities. Should not Barack Obama do that too? Having Vice President Joe Biden do that signals it’s not a priority for Obama.