Russia in Review

I. U.S. and Russian priorities for the bilateral agenda

Nuclear security:

  • During a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefiting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Russia’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews. (The Hill, 10.17.17)
    • The critical question in the uranium story is whether the agencies involved in the deal with Russia knew about the criminal probe. (Axios, 10.19.17)
    • During a trip to Moscow in June 2010 for a paid speaking engagement Bill Clinton met with Putin, who was then prime minister, at the latter’s home; prior to the trip Clinton had sought clearance from the State Department to meet with a top nuclear industry official. (The Hill, 10.19.17)
    • U.S. President Donald Trump on Oct. 19 blasted the media, saying it doesn't want to cover an Obama-era uranium deal with Russia. (The Hill, 10.19.17)
  • In a far-ranging speech and question-answer session on Oct. 19, Russian President Vladimir Putin repeatedly voiced a new take on an old grievance against the U.S.: Not only did Washington and its allies take advantage of Russia’s weakness in the 1990s, it did so by betraying Moscow’s trust on nuclear-security cooperation. Russia, he said, let Americans into its “holy of holies”—its nuclear weapons complex; in return it saw Washington repeatedly ignore its interests because of America’s new-found understanding of what bad shape Russia was in. (Russia Matters, 10.19.17)
  • In the same speech/Q&A Russian President Vladimir Putin also said that foundational multi-lateral and bilateral agreements are being "devalued." He accused the U.S. of unilaterally abandoning the two countries’ 123 Agreement and violating the terms of the U.S.-Russian plutonium disposition agreement. (Russia Matters, 10.19.17)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Oct. 19 that Russia is fulfilling all United Nations Security Council resolutions, but the Korea problem should be solved diplomatically, through dialogue, not arm-twisting. “North Korea should not be backed into a corner,” he said, and threats of a disarming strike create a dangerous situation. On Oct. 16 Putin signed a decree imposing restrictions on North Korea in compliance with a UNSC resolution responding to Pyongyang’s 2016 missiles tests. (Russia Matters, 10.19.17, Reuters, 10.16.17)
  • North Korean officials rejected a proposal to hold direct talks with their South Korean counterparts in St Petersburg on Oct. 16 about Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile program despite Moscow’s call to do so. (Reuters, 10.15.17, Reuters, 10.16.17)
  • A senior Russian diplomat said Oct. 20 that Moscow and Washington are continuing a dialogue on North Korea, while Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged world powers to get behind a joint Russian-Chinese roadmap for settling the crisis. (Reuters, 10.20.17, Reuters, 10.20.17)
  • Sea trips between Vladivostok and North Korea have resumed after a two-month break, with the transport of cargo. (Reuters, 10.16.17)

Iran’s nuclear program and related issues:

  • Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has told his Iranian counterpart, Abbas Araqchi, that Moscow remains committed to the Iran nuclear deal. (Reuters, 10.19.17)
  • Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Oct. 20 that the break-up of a deal on Iran’s nuclear program would send an alarming message about international security mechanisms, and could impact the situation on the Korean peninsula, while a senior Russian diplomat said Moscow and Washington are continuing a dialogue on the deal’s future. (Reuters, 10.20.17, Reuters, 10.20.17)

Military issues, including NATO-Russia relations:

  • NATO says its ambassadors will hold talks with Russia's envoy next week in a rare meeting of the NATO-Russia Council. Afghanistan, Ukraine and reducing the risk of accidents and clashes during military exercises are expected to be on the agenda. (AP, 10.20.17)
  • A resurgence in Russian submarine technology has reignited an undersea rivalry that played out in a cat-and-mouse sea hunt across the Mediterranean. (Wall Street Journal, 10.20.17)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin said Oct. 19 that Moscow is not concerned by the U.S./NATO presence in Eastern Europe. (Russia Matters, 10.19.17)

Nuclear arms control:

  • Yes, Russia wants full nuclear disarmament and will strive for it, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Oct. 19. However, he added, modern states are developing new high-precision weapons whose destructive power is coming close to that of nuclear weapons. The Russian leader also called the ABM Treaty a cornerstone of strategic stability and said Russia is not planning to exit New START. (Russia Matters, 10.19.17)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin said Oct. 19 that Russia has “complied and will continue to comply” with the INF Treaty, but if America abandons it Moscow’s response will be “immediate and mirror-like.” He added that Russia may have had the “temptation” to violate the treaty if it hadn’t developed sea- and air-launched missiles, including the Kalibr. The U.S. has long had such missiles, he said, which made the INF effectively a unilateral disarmament treaty; now that Russia has sea- and air-launched missiles, Moscow feels it’s simply leveled the playing field. (Russia Matters, 10.19.17)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin said Oct. 19 that Washington has failed to fulfill the terms of nuclear and chemical weapons treaties. (The Washington Post, 10.19.17)
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