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tv   2018 Russian Presidential Election Preview Panel  CSPAN  March 16, 2018 9:14pm-10:33pm EDT

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here and thank you for taking interest in this incredibly important issue for our national security. we have a lot of work to do as the united states of america. but i'm confident that if we come together, to do it, we can beat the threat just as we always have. >> perfect. >> thank you very much, sir. >> thank you very much. welcome to the second part of our event today. you have biograhies of the participants, i was told, on
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your phones. if you registered there should be a link. but let me very briefly introduce them, with my thanks. so, agnia gregis, known fellow at the atlantic council and the author of three books. michael kaufmann, currently absent, but he is a senior research scientist, he is coming up, i think he is being mic'ed, yeah, there he is. senior research scientist at the cea corporation and a fellow at the cannon institute. and we have a political analyst at moldova and paul stronsky, our neighbor here, a senior fellow at carnegie eurasian program. i asked the authors, and i know it's brutal and unfair, to summarize their key finding or
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perhaps the most urgent issues they want to touch on in no more than 5-7 minutes, in order for us to leave time for questions and answers where i think is the most profitable part. well the second most profitable part after their presentations will be. so, we will start with you, agnias, thank you. >> it's a pleasure to be here and speak on such an important topic and i appreciate the opportunity for putting the book out at such a timely occasion. so, i wrote on estonia and first, i have to note that, you know, estonia stands apart and i think their representatives want me to say that. certainly, they are and have been for more than the last ten years a nato member state, eu member state, they don't like to be referred to as post-soviet
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republics. in fact, they were forcibly annexed in to the soviet union and this fact was never recognized by united states or the other western government,s. >> so indeed, their history and geopolitical position is different than other states in question. at the same time, i will say, you can't really escape your geography or your demographics or kremlin's ambitions so easily. and estonia like the other two baltic states shares a border with the russian federation and certainly we have seen countries that share borders with the russian fedrations face significant risks in the past and currently ongoingly. and estonia has a significant russian speaking population and both ethic russians and russian
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speakers and i make that distinction, because i think it's important to note that we are not only talking about the ethnic minority but others that speak russian in their daily lives that also get targeted by the kremlin and whom the kremlin tries to co-opt in their various efforts. i will give you numbers here so you get a sense, but they are all in the book. ethnic russians in estonias 24% of the population. they make up 37% -- but if we look at one region, on the border of the russian federation, they make 73% here and 82% in the city of narva, it's a small city, again, with the russian federation border. these numbers are illustrateive
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and certainly the russian speakers and the russian minority in estonia is general ly very well integrated, especially the youth. they are happy to live in estonia which has the highest standard of living than any other country that was formerly a member of the soviet union. and in fact, you know, high standards of living in comparison to new eu member states. again, here, the issue is about the small minorities of these groups that russia continuously tried to, tries to engage and in a way brain wash with their endless propaganda. you know, as doctr. aaron noted about the influence of russian media all throughout, well, certainly eastern europe, central europe, post soviet space and now in the united states. and one other element that i would like to highlight here which is more important, i think, when looking at the
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countries, it's not the numbers of, the percentages of their minorities, but it's really, i would say, the percentages of russian citizens, or russian passport holders. because, russia has also pursued a policy really, since the mid 2,000s of trying to hand out of the passports in the neighboring states and particularly trying to do it in specific regions, quite concentrated regions that border the russian federation, and regions where there's either, you know, a russian speaking majority, or there's potentially a receptive population. we have seen this passportization effort, and we have seen a driver there for the more aggressive military tactic. in these other areas where russia would first handout russian passports and say, well, now, we have to protect our citizens here.
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so, this is the one number that concerns me in estonia and particularly looking at either the numbers, we have 36% russian citizens in the city of narva, and again, this is a small city. so, i don't want to over dramatize it, we are talking about 23,000 people. but given russia's history of how they used passports in the past, this is an area where we have to be concerned. other risks in and economic sector, we know, russia -- they don't just export their natural resources or gas, they export corruption and estonia has not been imimmune to it either and of course, they do a lot of business with the european union, rather than russia, but you know, the recent incident of money laundering for money
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laundering is one example. of course, domestic politicpoli you can say, certainly, esto nim -- estonia is a democratic state and it's like many countries we have seen, there's still arguments of russia's attempts to influence them, and with a somewhat fragmented political system, where there's always about six political parties vying for power in estonia, you can say, there's more room for russian interest, let's say, to creep their way in to the political parties and it has also been shown in the past with the center party, that dominates the political scene, and the various corporation agreements that the party has had with the putin united russia party. i think, i will wrap up my comments. i would like to hear your questions afterwards. i think it will be a more
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interesting way to spend our time. thank you. >> thank you. and thanks for sticking to the schedule. michael kaufmann is, has a distinction or burden of representing a country as it were, where the, the, whatever you want to call it, the hybrid war or the semiwar could actually become a real war. go ahead. >> yeah, so, i have the task of trying to cover the ukraine in about 5:00, a conflict that i am sure everyone here is familiar with. what i will do, instead of trying give you my universal theory on the ukraine. i will cover background of what the chapter covers and then delve a bit in the three scenarios that i implore explore chapter. first, a key point, have a
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general perspective that ukraine remains an unsettled interstate war where the operation on the ground is not unfamiliar from world war i trench warfare, where there's cycles of escalation that is destructive and indesiesive and does not make substantive gains on the ground. they shape strategic choices. which is to retain the influence as much as possible in the ukraine's domestic politics. so, there's a long game, and by and large, our assessment is while it's not gotten a lot of what they wanted in the near term, it has good cards to play and stands in a reasonable position over the medium long-term depending on how things shake out. ultimately, ukraine is not moving off of russian borders soon. and ukraine has a long,
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challenging road ahead of it. leadership is now largely void of course, of skt. it was fairly effective in early 2014/2015. but all strategies, especially the one russia pursued has diminishing returns. eventually they stall out and the same can be said about russian's ability to influence european politics to get what i wants. neither of those two things have had much success lately and there's not a fair way forward, so russia is remaining dissatisfied. it achieved minimal goals and not the maximum goals. it's important, that it's not settled where it is because of the balance of power. right, for much has been said about the restoration of the ukraine military and it's day and night compared to what was in summer of 2014 t reality is the russian military remains far
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superior by all metrics, but russia sought to minimize costs and engage in indirect warfare as much as possible and minimize the conventional warfare, so make an effect and withdraw. russia's goal traditionally has been to shape effects in the battlefield environment as much on the ground with minimal application with hard conventional military power. why? it's expensive. has a lot of cost on the international system, and has domestic costs and gets messy fast. here are the three 16scenars that i explored. the first is political warfare. this is the most likely and could ensue after the election or selection complete this is month in russia's election. by which i mean putin gets re-elected. political warfare, one low cost, low risk strategy --
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[ inaudible ] immobilize the protest from the population. move from various conventional forms of warfare. part of it has played out in different parts and pieces of the conflict over the last couple of years and then increasingly take the lessons they learned from february, march 2014, which was an early attempt at political warfare in ukraine to create the russian spring, it was ad hoc. but because people failed the first time at something, does not mean they will not take lessons and adapt and try again and again, right? especially they are low risk, low cost. what is the down side for russia? nil, a scenario, and -- to
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disguise forms of influence in ukraine. ukraine is a pluralistic society. next is provocation or -- it's a campaign of sub version, taking advantage of the weaknesses of the ukraine as a state. the ukraine was consistently seeing that today, nonstate actors have a lot of power. right. the state actor model has a level, that is grossly insufficient. maybe the best analysis of russia and worst level of analysis for ukraine. and still discourage political transformation and convince, besides encouraging forces friendly to russia, and encourage ukraine that they have no way forward on a democratic
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or european path. and the last i will cover briefly. the last one is a low probability event. as a military annialyst this is what interests me the most. if you exclude these, you greatly increase your chance of -- we spoke earlier. a second ukrainian war. it's a low likelihood scenario. i urge caution. in this regard and i will cover briefly before i get the evil eye. >> okay. >> i need more time. in this regard, so, most of russian operational planning and change of military force posture has been focused around the high end contingency with ukraine. they have deployed a lot of forces and created new divisions.
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there's a colossal amount of manpower that is concentrated around ukraine. and ringing around down south and ringing down toward rcrimea. they feel they could have a military to restore themselves. but that said, they have a clear plan and they have the forces in place, for real war with ukraine. a short war and a decisive war. this is the kind of war where you have a rapid attack, splits away the forces that are pinned across the separatist lines and there's not much between that and frankly kiev, so, just important to understand that, from russia's perspective, they still have considerable military over-match and down the line, you can definitely see some scenarios where ukraine and the russian politics shape up in a way that you can easily create a
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provocation to have a second conflict. and a lot of conflicts that we have seen, in general, as we understand the international relations, these wars have similar over time, and there could be a second and third war and most russian military planning since 2014, at least on the western front has focused around the proposition of a second war with ukraine, thousand to deter it and equally, how to win it. all right. i will leave us with those dark and evil thoughts. >> thank you. so, michael, he has again, the burden or a privilege in two regards. first, he is the author of both chap fors on chapter was so excellent that we thought he would write the second one and he did. so, he will, he is just to remind you about the structure of the book, i think it's the most original part, each country is cover friday two angles.
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one in terms of domestic vulnerability and the other, in terms of what russia could do with them and how they could proceed. michael took care of both things. now, another interesting thing about moldova, you will see in the book, i think in my conclusion, we will rate the countries along three criteria. kneeing impact on russian politics. geo strategic importance to russia. this is how we believe putin shapes policies. and the third is domestic vulnerabilities and what is interesting about moldova, and based on the chapters provided, is that moldova is low on symbolic significance for russia. moldova is relatively low on geo strategic significance. but it's the top in domestic
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vulnerabilities. now i give it to you. >> such a generous introduction. i will start with the military vulnerability and then go to political vulnerabilities. from a military vulnerability, as i'm sure you are aware. moldova lacks a border with russia, thanks god, most would say. but that does not keep russia from intervening in affairs. and the remnants of the last conflict lingers to this day. whether or not russia can intervene again in moldova, it's in the sense of the direct mill tear assault. it would have to cross the ukrainian or romanian territory and romainia being a nato membe, that would be a problem to say
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the least. ukraine has repositioned several important military equipment such as s-300 missiles to crimea, in order to protect its air space and romania is in the process of acquiring, $4 billion worth of missiles thus, making the air space virtually impenetrable and the land assault is less likely. that does not mean moldova is safe, not at all. if you look at the russian military presence existing on the territory of moldova, only, the only caveat being that they are not present on the portion that is not controlled by the authorities. there's 1200 group of russian forces, which is, which is the former 14th soviet army.
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and another to stall the withdraw of the army the russians changed the status and that presence should have been withdrawn along with the 1999 istanbul summit commitments taken by russia. and then, moscow went back on the commitment. to this day, there's 1200 russian personnel there and about 500 russian peace keepers. that's a three-part area. but, this, 1200 russian military personnel technically is not really the main threat. the main threat is the army. it's army is equal if not
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slightly higher and it much better trained and equipped than the moldovan army, in a scenario of an army, they would likely overpower the moldovan defense. it's important to note that there's a soviet time, military depot with tons of military equipment, in the cause of a conflict could be well used by the russian forces. because, military forces would foresee the presence there as being a part of an integrated military controlled from moscow. so, there's basically no difference between the army and the russian military presence there. as i said, a large russian offensive, especially in the follow-up of the dombos ddebacl,
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it makes them a large scale military intervention less likely. from a political perspective, it's not needed for russia. russia's political influence is so high, that it makes military intervention superfluous, the largest military party in moldova the socialists is strongly backed by had moscow and the russian president elected at the end of 2016, dodon, has the dubious honor of having met with putin seven times in the last year. which is probably a record in terms of international affairs and he has the dubious honor of being the only foreign dig thniy at the may 9th parade in mo
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moscow. so that will tell you the significance of that. let's go back to the russian exercises in moldova, it's through political parties, the main party is the main avenue and the part of communists that is in freefall. has affinity to russia. and there's another party, that is how it's called, led by a highly controversial figure, who is in exile in moscow, that political party has some support in moldova and that is very much a russian political party. if you add together russian forces, then it's half of the political expect rspectrum in t the political potential. in the next election, there's a high chance of the russian power gaining a majority. if you look at the change of the
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electoral system being introduced, a mixed system. you tonight have to have a ph.d. in political science, when you have a fractionalized pro western right. and you have a strongly consolidated pro russian left, and in the form of one party, and the first system, the party is a front-runner. so, in that sense, russia, pro russian forces -- in the next election. therefore, if you add up the other avenues of russian power of influence in moldova and the church, and the ngo sector, it will create a perfect storm for russia to turn moldova back towards russia. and because in 2009, up to the so-called twitter revolution, even though it had nothing to do
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with twitter. moldova became pro western. it signed the cessation aagreement with the european union. and now, there's a high chance that, if, if not actually cancelling the cessation agreement with the european unit, it would be too costly from a economic standpoint, there's a high chance that moldova's integration would stall and that is seeming to be perfect for putin because, from an analytic cal point of view, russia is not as much interested in having them strongly integrated in to the union and being sponsored by russia. because russia does not have a lot of free cash to throw around at this point. the best thing for the kremlin to have moldova in the gray zone, with no chance of joining nato, and not necessarily turn and be integrated in to the
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russian sphere but remain in a gray zone with increasingly low democrat i cann -- decmocratic standard. that is perfectly fine with russia, without investing and having to spend money for that. and, in terms of being able to implement this scenario, it's easy given how politically divided they are, and how volatile the system is, and by virtue of using the incredible influence via russian media as was pointed out in the beginning, the influence of russian media over the moldovan median market is 60-70% and recently we havismite implement law against russian propaganda, it's been executed with a half
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measure. it's also several european countries. but they don't have any broadcasting in moldova, but that, that is sort of a half measure as long as you have internet propaganda, and you have propaganda at the russian tvs through the entertainment channels. through movies. that also adds up to the influence that russia is impleme implementing. >> thank you very much. so, paul has, i mean, everybody on this panel has something, you know, we have a country, a representative that is a nato member. a country represented that is in danger of a war. we have deep, the most vulnerable country and i think, i will be correct to say, that paul will talk about two countries that are not often mentioned.
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i would say, almost overlooked as potential casualties or targets. and that's, kazikstan and belarus, they are both important for various regions. paul's chapter is on the kazakhstan and i asked if he would cover belarus briefly and he agreed. and as a result, we will give him a bit more time. >> i will try to not take too much of it. i want to that i aei for the ability to participate both in the project and the conference. i was really sort of finding it very enjoyable. and really sort of pushed my assumptions of countries around russia's borders. and as he said, it seems strange to lump belarus and kazakhstan with countries that are either part of the west or made great strides to join the west.
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in this sort of list of countries that are vulnerable to russian meddling and russian intervention. belarus and kazakhstan are both military allies of russia, and are core members of the eurasian union, and part of the russian speaking world that russia clearly sees them part of. but that is part of the problem. because the kremlin needs both to stay that way. and particularly in the last few years as sort of russia's economic problems have bubbled through the eurasian union, as russian's aggressions have unnerved the elites, both countries have been trying to get a bit more breathing room between themselves. the eurasian union has been very unhappy, every member of it. it does not function well, and what we have seen in both countries, since 2014, we have seen an uptick of sociaosocio-ec
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discontent and socio-economic discontent. and these economic problems, which are made worse by you know, the eurasian union and economic slow down is keeping both countries from keeping up their social contracts. that is has been popular decision making. and you have the basic guarantees of life and a higher standard of living each year in kazakhstan and both countries had a difficult time keeping up of those issues. um, and the other thing that i think, you know, looking at the countries that makes them similar, is that both, you know, president of belarus, and the president of kazakhstan, they have been in office for years. and they have created political systems that depend on them.
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and what should happen if either of these people leaves the scene, it's more likely to be mr. president bia first, he will be 78 in three months. what happens to that stability, what happens to the government and what role does russia play in trying to ensure that whoever comes next is in that sort of pro-russian world view. most likely, you know, both countries they are going to be, but you know, some are a little more outward looking. some are pushing, there's internal pushes for reform in both countries and some of the reforms could put some of the distance in between russia and either of them. now, for belarus, and i would urge everyone to read the chapters on belarus, i was not the author, so i cannot give justice to the nuance that is in here, but as i said, the over arching russian goal in belarus is to keep a stable, pro-russian regime in place, and provided that remains the case, i think
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the likelihood of intervention is low. and the president has kept belarus more or less stable. but as i said, the social contract in belarus is becoming more difficult to keep up, russias has stopped subsidizing oil exports. you have had growing friction over trade. there's now a ban on belarussian dairy, this is between two eu s eurasian union members and it is not supposed to be happening. there's dispute over oil and payments being in awrears. the government had to end subsidies last year. it tried to sort of implement an unemployment tax of $230 for
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anyone that is unemployed for six months or more annually and this is what sparked a protest in the country. and, what was russia's response? russia's response was urging a strong crack down and russia's response was highlighting the fact that it's not a domestic revolution, it was a revolution instagated from the west. and russia has that world view that any sort of discontent in either of the countries will be seen not as legitamately from the bottom up, but stoked from beyond. the other thing about belarus is, i think we have to you know, highlight the difficulty that russia's annexation of crimea and war has put belarus in, it put it in a difficult position. the president is trying to spopd by becoming the mediator. there's a reason we call it the
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minsk agreements. it's been a difficult process. but, at the same time time, this, this sort of effort at mediation has improved his standing in the west at a time when he realizes he needs to have, you know, greater economic relations with the rest, greater political relations with the west. belarus has removed visa restrictions for most western countries for at least, if you go to belarus, you can stay five days without a visa and russia's response was putting up passport controls again, making sure this was not something that was welcomed. kremlin is fearing that belarus is pulled closer and closer to the west. and it has tools to prevent it. one is, as we talked about before, is information space. there are pro kremlin websites and pro kremlin media outlets
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that are pushing pro russian things. and it warns against nationalism and color revolutions. we do have, you know, have conca lot of former separatists that are sort of going around lots of weapons that are sort of lost in the ukraine conflict. so that clearly is the potential for people to move in. you also have a military that is inside belarus that looks generally toward russia. it's oriented toward russia, and a population that's lived under the russian narrative. the elite in the country is recognizing the need to put some space between it and russia, and to try to sort of ease the economic problems of the country by reaching out to china, reaching out to the west, but russia, i think, still is hopeful to be able to sort of use the population inside as well. kazakhstan, briefly, the
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strategic goal is the same as in belarus. keep the country stable and keep a pro regime person in power. n bazer bief is 77. kazakhstan defied expectations. everyone thought it was going to be unstable and there would be ethnic tensions. neither has happened because of the president. he's created a multiethnic image for kazakhstan. that border between russia and kazakhst kazakhstan, we talked about the estonia border. it's a large border. and the majority of russians live in the upper north of the country near that border. in 2000s there was a russian stoked separatist movement we have forgotten about. that makes kazakhstan nervous
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about separatism and they've been looking for and found citizens who have gone fight with the separatists in eastern crane. those people, when they come back, they usually end up in jail in kazakhstan. sort of another aspect of this sort of multiethnic vision of kazakhst kazakhstan. it's been tested inside kazakhstan and in part because of russia's aggression in ukraine and president putin's question of kazakhstan sovereignty, he questions whether there was a nation without president naz nazarbayev nazarbayev. we've seen an uptick in kazakhstan nationalism. when you go to kazakhstan, if
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you went 20 years ago, you walk around, it was very much a russian speaking world. now you hear a lot more kazak on the streets. there's now a move in response to this growing calls for greater kazak identity to to the latin alphabet. it's not been received well in russia. a move that i think is in response to this growing calls for sort of a greater identity. kazakhstan, the officials have been careful. it's all about learning english because you need a latin afl bet. it's about typing on a smart phone. it's easier in the latin alphabet. they say it's nothing about russia, but they protest too hard at times and i think you can clearly see this is in response to this rising call for kazak nationality. the big question is will
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nazarbayev's successor manage the rising kazak nationalism as well as sort of the multiethnic. there's still 24% of the country that's still russian. and how does that mix go? particularly because whoever comes in after nazarbayev is not going to have that lengthy time in office that gives him legitimacy and is not going to be presiding over a country where economic standards are rising, rising as they have over the last 15 years. now, the other aspect just very briefly, if you go through the chapters, there's a lot of talk inside russia about instability emanating from central asia. islamic instability. i don't see a whole lot of islamic instability from kazakhstan. there are weaker states, but it's almost as if the russia media is creating scenarios for
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instability if they needed it down the road. even if there is instability in central asia, it would likely be from the weaker countries. but kazakhstan, you have afghanistan and then you have the more stable central asian states. so i think you know, that is also a concern. if you read the chapters both of mine and others we go into that in more detail. >> thank you very much. thanks to the authors for sticking very nicely to the schedule. so we have plenty of time for questions and answers. let me recap. anything you ever wanted to know about russian policy, the baltics, ukraine, mel doe va, kazakhst kazakhstan, belarus, this is the time and place. we're open for questions.
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wes, i wonder if you could keep track of raised hands so we don't miss anybody. >> my question is more michael cou kaufman. could you talk about the peace keeping talks and do you think peace keeping forces is a realistic way to keep things simmered down? >> let's do one at a time. >> on the peace keeping proposal, i thought from russian perspective, there was a clever ploy. first, maneuver the ukrainians in the u.n. and make a peace keeping proposal, but to do that that would be focussed on a line of control. of course, the point of peace keeping force is to harden the line of control. it freezes the conflict in a way that ukraine does not restore control up to their own border. this was russia's proposal. they were talking about
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negotiations, but the point is to engage in a political process and set the agenda. behind that proposal, there's never any russian intent to have a multinational peace keeping force that somehow seeds the current occupied territories and returns them to ukraine control. they were looking for a way, a new political process that would get around the fact that minsk is in reality a dead but local agreement and there's no way forward for russia to reduce the costs in the conflict or to settle it in some way that creates problems for europeans maintaining cohesion. they thought this would be a clever way guard. their concept of the peace keeping force was meant to actually harden that line of control into a would be then at best a permanent frozen con dplikt. essentially ukraine would then reduce the likelihood it would get control of the territories baccarater than increase it.
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it would be like many conflicts we've come to know in the soviet space. that was part of the design. >> okay. >> good morning. al alex sanchez. two questions about russia. when president nazarbayev, how was the meeting received by the russian government and how second question, somebody told me that in president putin's recent federation, it was not communication at all, is that true and how should we interpret that? is that a sign that united nations has lesser interest in the union in thank you. >> well, i mean, there wasn't a whole lot of discussion in the russian media about nanazarbayes trip to washington. i think they tried to pretend it
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wasn't happening. part of the message that nazarbayev gave, and i think russia is more in -- war in ukraine has put countries in a difficult position, including the ones oriented toward russia naturally simply because they don't want to pick sides. they want the space and breathing room, and i met with several people from that delegation, and part of their message was they want to be a mediator and they want to somehow figure out a way to play a helpful role, and that was largely what the message was. another part of that message, and i'll say it here. the message was to the trump administration, and to congress as well, because we had people going up there, was a desire for the united states not to disengage. there's a sense that the united states has disengaged from across the region, but when you're in central asia, it's not
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part of the partnership. it's an area that feels very often neglected by the united states and so there was an urgent, and europe as well, and there was an urgent sort of plea not to disengage from the region. we have afghanistan there. we have china's growing footprint there, and so that was part of the message as well. on the eurasian union, i didn't notice it, but that might just be because i didn't notice it. that's a good thing to go back now and reread it, because i hadn't noticed that it wasn't in there. not a surprise. he talks about the eurasian union every once in a while, but the eurasian union, the biggest importance is its symbolic importance more than its real
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importance, because i mentioned the sort of trade dispute between belarus and kazakhstan, we've had a border closure between keerz ig stan and kazakhstan. and problems over chief russian products flooding kazakhstan since the eurasian union started. this has been an unsuccessful, unhappy organization, and i think it's one where it's still important symbolically to the kremlin, but it doesn't seem to have the teeth of what it was supposed to have which was supposed to be the response of putin to the european union. >> we have a question here. thank you for being patient. >> hello. pete. i want to know to what extent does putin believe protests outside is driven by domestic discontent. you said any time he sees social
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police cal discontent, is there an effort to distract or is an effort to rechannel negativity he may experience outside to the west? >> well, it's a question that everybody here could answer. anybody particularly of the country specialists that you would like to address it to? >> to paul? >> sure. russia is a top down government. and it is a government that does not see agency in the population. so it generally does not russian officials particularly those with a sort of security service mind set which seems to be all the people put season listening to in the last few years, the tech no karats out there probably have more nuance to
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use. at least in the kremlin, they sort of identify any bottom up socio-economic discontent as nonlegitimate, something imposed from the outside, orchestrated from the outside, not something bubbling up from the bottom. i don't think there is anything we can do to change that. i think that is a conviction that he and other people have. but it is i think going to be a problem in a perennial friction between russia and the west, because we see these movements as legitimate. they are usually arising from anger within society. discontent within society. we see that in our society. we see it as legitimate in our society, and so we see that elsewhere and expect it elsewhere. i think given the economic trajectory of many of these countries, we're going to see more and more of it.
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think the potential for more tension between russia and the west and between russia and some of the countries is there because this is not a phenomenon that governments could always control. >> if i may jump in, my view is a little different. i think it's tough for us to really know what the leadership in the kremlin is truly thinking. i frankly think a lot of this presentation of popular movements, civil movements and civil society as being instigated by the west or being paid off is, frankly, just a cynical propaganda on the part of the kremlin, because they can't explain to their public and they can't explain in the media that, in fact, the populations are dissatisfied. in fact, that they want a different way of life, because then they would have to extend that same explanation when there are protests in russia domestically. that's why it's easier in the russian media to say the youth
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that came out are being paid by who, western powers, or person influenced organizations rather than there's real civic discontent in society. >> okay. yes, please. >> hi. i'm from ukraine, a student here. my question is the ukraine institute for the future has recently published their own report stating the challenges and opportunities in ukraine. one of the biggest issues when they talk to people, was corruption. i'd like to hear more about corruption as a future of the country. >> you sure? >> i am sure. i am sure. but to be honest, specifically, we feel very discouraged, and we feel as youth, almost depressed. i get texts from people saying that dealing with everyday
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corruption is just awful. and we don't see any in the common election. we don't see a candidate that's going to have a strong anti-corruption message. we don't see any progress being made. we see the internal anti-corruption measures being butchered and killed and what not. is there any chance that western support is -- there's more effort from the western support? >> michael? >> you're asking about the challenges ukraine has faced since independence and the breakup of the soviet union. this is one aspect that hasn't change. it's a futile oligarch system where they own most of the party. and the absence of rule of law. the fish rots from the head. i'm originally from ukraine too, just one from an earlier
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generation. and with the rule of law, you have no backbone for the state. you don't have the processes you need to build on. it's been a long-running challenge. my personal view is that probably 2014 was the best chance ukraine was going to have to really make progress on these fundamental techtonic issues that struggled with in all the independence. and clearly expectations i think were a bit high, but ukraine is territory wise the largest country in europe. population, it's a large country. and the palms are deep seeded. you'll see an evolutionary approach. i can tell you from my own personal experience, the west has done everything it can but a lot of the support and cajoling and prodding and lecturing ultimately does not translate all that much into progress and reforms in ukraine political system. ukraine is effective at absorbing western aid and money
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in support and translating to nothing. i know other countries in central middle east that are good at that. it's not simply ukrainian talent. others have absorbing capacity for western resources. but i have seen over time that pressure and when it really comes down to money, it does have some effect. there's been a lot of progress in terms of civil society. and the sort of bottom up shift in national consciousness in ukraine, but i would also discourage you a bit from expecting any sort of quick results. there's a lot you can do, but then from what i've seen after years of west trying and nudging ukraine along and these sort of cycles of recidivism is you're going to have to do it. i learned one thing in d.c. a long time ago. the west cannot want it more for ukraine than ukraine wants it
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itself. >> if i may pitch in here. you can't beat meldova when it comes to corruption. a couple years ago, the prowestern coalition in power embezzled over a billion dollars from three banks and that was the equivalent of 12 % of gdp. think about that. put it in context of another country. it's mind boggling. this is a major problem, because corruption is destroying any potential of reform in these countries, and one of the solutions that could help is something that the european union is doing increasingly more effectively, political conditioning when it comes to aid and financial aid. and u.s. has been slightly more reluctant to do that. they're catching up with that. in international organizations
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and banks should also seriously consider that. there is an anticorruption component to the deal with ukraine. we see the impact in meldova with the european assistance. when they're imposing strong political conditions, the government which, again is nominal and pro european has to abide, because they are running on external legitimacy. it's important for them, the relations with the european union and the west in general. if you have better strong conditions, and reforms that need to be taken, there is much more room for progress as opposed to when you provide them a blank check as has been the case in maldova and other
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countries. they have been very adept in exploiting this geo political situation. almost blackmailing. that sort of scenario, it's there and important for the western part of the country not to buy into this blackmail. >> there you go. >> yes, please. right here. i know these were not case studies in the book itself, but if i may ask, what are your observations on russian inroads in the balkans right now? >> where? >> the balkans. also other ones if that's where you're more familiar with. >> geographically, you're probably the closest, and then whoever else, michael.
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>> so mehi first. we've seen the reports about the alleged coupe attempt in have a done ya and the problems in serbia. they're trying to sop serbia from join. that is very much a problem for us, or more romania. i mean, myself and many others also, citizens of romania. so we the balkans is known as the powder cake of europe. and russian influence is important. and in an attempt to influence their pro western ambitions, it feels very much as sort of trying to encircle eastern europe and i'm sure you're aware of russia having special relations with the governments and in hungary and czech
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republic and a feeling of encirclement. it's a problem, and hopefully we've seen the attempt in sedonia failed and hopefully serbia is able to withstand the pressure and able to deliver on its commitments and start actually a meaningful negotiations toward joining the european union. for all the problems of european union, this european countries that have managed to join the eu are by and large success stories. they've been transformed not just economically but in terms of how the national government is run, how the institutions work. so that's sort of a long-term transformation for the balkans and hopefully for the eastern countries. that's something that we are very much looking forward to. because this am bbiguity of bei
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neither with the russian soviet integration creates a lot of room for instability. and it's very important to have a strategic choice. it seems like the balkan countries have made it. it's important that the balkans are fully integrated. it creates much more hope for some of the other countries in eastern europe. >> well, i would like to just note that even though we're discussing these select case studies in these countries which are probably really on the front line of russia's influence, but frankly, i think we would have trouble finding a country, a single country on the european continent today that hasn't faced russia's attempts to
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influence it, that hasn't faced an effort to play a role in their big elections. over the last couple of years, every single significant election in the european union, russian propaganda, cyber attempts were all at play. i think we would be again, surprised to find a spot on the european map that is not facing this problem. >> michael? >> yeah. it's an interesting soft theater for competition, but the competition is one where there's a lot of activity and not necessarily a lot of achievement because it's pretty low cost theater play in. and the russian message is different than from countries in former soviet space. nato members, first they're trying to reduce their attractiveness of liberal democracy as a model and european institutions. they don't have more specific target message so much as they're broadly trying to shape perceptions in those countries
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and the attractiveness of what the european union has to offer to them. to reduce the demand for it. beyond that, some of the efforts that you see playing out here is like the attempt on the assassination in montenegro. it's complicated. as it spirals out, there's a lot of sanction in russia for engagement of all sorts of activities. some of them are pretty clumsy. montenegro is not like the a-team type of assassination plan. you'll see integration of nonstate actors with a lot of interest in europe together with russian state security services. ultimately i don't see russia necessarily making particular gains as i said. there's often times we look at russia and other powers, adversaries and see they're doing lots of things. bureaucracies have a natural
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predilection. when they see someone doing lots of things, they assume there's things they have to counter. they must be successful. we do lots of things. that's how we measure success. the reality is the balkans have a lot of absorbed potential for lots of powers to do a lot of things. i don't see a lot of achievement there. for russia it's more an area both to stall and to create problems for the west which is always trying to expand as we said, trying to integrate them. >> and just to add onto that. i think we can tie some of the activities of russia elsewhere in europe trying to stoke discontent and dysfunction within the european union and make it look not as attractive to some of the things you see in the balkans. i also would agree with michael. we see a lot of activity and a lot of promises of loans, but we're not seeing as much follow through on the loans. it looks like it's active. and it looks -- it's potentially a problem, but i think russia
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could be stretched. i think in some places it's trying to sort of stoke dysfunction between different ethnic groups in different states. it's trying to stoke problems with macedonia. they're on the verge of overcoming their name issue, and there's the russian media that's heightening that. i think some of this is dangerous. another thing, i want to take it back to our discussion about corruptions. these are countries with huge problems with corruption. you're seeing a tremendous footprint in energy and retail and banking in this region with russian companies coming in not always some are pushed by the center. some are coming in because of opportunity, and i think this corruption sort of angle provides a lot of opportunity for russia to expand its influence. and if you move it beyond outside of europe, you see in south africa, jacob zuma fell
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because of a corruption that had russian fingerprints on it. you see it broader than just in europe. >> all right. any more questions? yes, please. >> i think we'll make it the last question, the last answer. >> hi. matthew brown. given that this is more than likely putin's last term and that -- >> huge question. >> enormous. >> those are assumptions at play. go on. >> effectively, is there a possible -- is there any pressure inside of the kremlin or the russian state to see or to accomplish or find success in the next six years in any of these theaters? does putin feel like he needs to consolidate or wrap up what's going on in ukraine or estonia
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or any of the interferences going on in the european union before it looks like he might have to pass off the baton to someone else, given that so much of the russian state is centered around him at the moment? >> it's interesting and complex question. let's try and answer it. i think everybody has a say. so we'll start and try limit yourself to a couple of minutes. >> i think it is a big question. if this will be putin's last term, it will probably be only nomin nominally, only in name. he will likely remain in power in some form or another. that would be my, at least, my thoughts. what i do believe he is trying to do, he is trying to in a way crown, you know, his now, well, by the time it will be over, 24 years in power roughly, try to demonstrate his successes to the russian public as well and to the world. he essentially has created post
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soviet russia really well. we think of post soviet russia now. we really kind of modern day russia, whatever it is, it's been putin's creation, and part of that, of course, has been an effort to aggrandize the status in the interdmasnational arena trying to regain influence in the former soviet union and beyond. so i do think he will try to in a way, again, package, and kind of maximize his achievements, but i think he's also treading a thin and dangerous line, because, frankly, i think russia is overstretched in its capacities in all these different fronts and theaters, and let's not forget syria. so i think for now it can kind of nominally check the successes. yes, we destabilized the countries and have frozen conflicts, but operate they haven't scored full success.
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i think pushing further could derail russia. i think pushing any of these theaters further could become dangerous as well for the russian federation. >> michael? >> okay. >> great questions. so i agree with her. he's a legacy figure. it's more like a statue of putin the first, the person who restored russia after the crush of the soviet union and is much more interested now in both his legacy and making sure that the country is successfully positioned for a transition of a successor. i've heard from a number of officials the vision is that by 2024 russia has to be ready for the beginning of a transition for him for something else. they have a number of projects in mind to do that, but they
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expect a pretty tough competition for leadership, and for succession. that said, will that reflect foreign policy? right? in and of itself, there's something specific you can pull from that, but i would look at two things. one, there's been a really classical ire proposition from russia to the united states and to the rest of the world which is that russia is a great power. maybe a great power, it is a great power. they believe it is so as a hereditary status. there's no objective measures. they inherited it from the soviet union. and so on and so forth. it is a key power in the international system, and their whole goal has been to get other countries to recognize russia is a great power. why? they themselves believe in it. the others have to believe it. the argument is if you recognize russia is a great power, you agree to what we believe a great power gets.
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a great power gets privileges and the privileges we get is one the supremacy of art and security over the independence of other states bordering us. three, the right to arbitration between other disputes. over ukraine which is just sitting down with the united states and like france and handshake on it and we'll settle that over all the fall countries in. >> from russia's perspective, the norman di approach is what they would see them, france, and germany sitting together to figure out what to do with ukraine. the division reflects it. the problem is france and germany are not the great powers they were 100 years ago and they're not willing to have this wfr conversation with a map and a pen and say you get this. i get here. this conversation can no longer happen. so they're unable to get any of the things they want. russia continually demonstrates,
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and the united states had substantially underestimated the power russia still has in the international system, particularly the mill tower pow -- military power. and a lot of people missed the entire boat on russia internal balancing and modernization. in 2013 you couldn't sell the story to anybody in the united states. they couldn't care less about russian military power. in 2014 they woke up and said my god, how long has this been here? i didn't know they had all these things. and recently they found out russia has nuclear weapons too. my point is you'll continue to see movers in the middle east to drive the point home to the united states and others that russia is a great power, and is able to take on more. how much? i would never take bets. maybe it's the one area we'll disagree. i think people continuously underestimate russia's ability to sustain.
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both adventures abroad, but also look. it's always weak, but the exception was based on the resilience. the russia is never weak or as strong as she looks. you don't want to be the person who places bets on either side of the ledger. often you can come up short. it's very hard to tell. on ukraine, i only make one comment. i think ukraine is one particular area where moscow is not happy. it's not happy where they currently stand in terms of policies and the costs. maybe long to medium term they think they have good cards and a decent hand. i think we'll start to see movements on ukraine again. i don't know if it will be a new political gamble like the peace keeping proposal. they love a process. they'll work on it even if it leads to nowhere. i don't know if it will be a new
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campaign of unconventional w warfa warfare. it could be. russia has a lot left in the tool kit. the things they can do in ukraine that are fairly low risk and could prove consequential. i don't think they're happy with where they are, and i suspect there will be changes in their approach in the coming year. >> all right. i want to be optimistic. identify book from the late 2000s that said there will be no third term? with the benefit of hindsight, that, of course, is redundant. putin is now entering his fifth term if you factor in the time he was defactor ruler. so the problem can a successor, there is none. they are powerful. a lot of people would miss the
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days of putin if one takes power. in that sense, i think it's safe to say that russia is going to become increasingly more conservative. it's going to try to be more resilient and try to withstand this notion and try to build this narrative that it's a fortress under assault, and the resilience is incredible there, but nonetheless, there are opportunities for conflicts to be solved around russia if there would be a saving face option. and putin himself tried to solve the conflict in 2003 that didn't quite work out because the solution wasn't acceptable. but perhaps there is some hope that some proposal would be more acceptable. but from where i stand in maldova, there is very limited opportunity. >> i would just sort of echo. i think one thing that i've learned since 2014 is being certain about anything in russia
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could very -- might be a mistake. and so yes, we think this is putin's last term, but who knows? i think we also need to be a little bit humble and realize that who comes after putin might not be any better, could be worse. and you know, i think just what happened in the uk just last week with this nerve agent, what happened with the mercenaries in syria, all of that is troubling to me. all of that suggests there's a lot of things going on in russia that we don't all know about, and we have a vision that putin is on the top playing chess and orchestrating everything. i'm not sure it's that easy. and i think it's not clear -- i mean, we don't even know who is going to be rising in the next six years and who might be a potential success or. we see security services and black operations, people
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increasing their power. so i think who could be successor? it could be somewhat troubling. in my biggest concern about sort of both immediate area around russia, but also the middle east is that russia if it was coming in and solving syria and making syria a better place, that's a positive thing, but it really doesn't seem to be coming in with this. i mean, it's trying to influence syria, but it's not necessarily ending the hor ror of what the syria people have been going over. it's not ending the horror of what people in the eastern ukraine has been going through. a lot of this is flexing muscles and causing problems, not solving problems. >> thank you for the question. it's a perfect conclusion to our discussion. thank you very much authors, again, for an excellent book. there are still, i believe, some
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free copies if you like it, maybe the authors could sign them for you. and thank you very much for coming. >> thank you. we'll look back 50 years to the time marked with war, political assassinations and the space race, women's rights, a fractious presidential election and the rise of the political left and right. this sunday the vietnam war from major military, political, and
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diplomatic developments through the undoing of linden b joh johnson's presidency with jim webb, author of the vietnam war novel, fields of fire, and "i heard my country calling". and author of the book "they marched into sunlight" "war and peace". 1968, america in turmoil. live sunday at 8:30 a.m. eastern on c-span's washington journal, and on american history tv. on c-span3. >> next, former british prime minister david cameron on capitol hill testifies on global security. in this senate foreign relations committee hearing, he talks about the u.s./uk relationship, foreign aid, and the recent nerve agent attack on british


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