Publications By Category

Publications By Type


In-House Bulletins


Policy Papers


Russia Reform Monitor - No. 1672

Ukraine, Georgia off NATO's agenda;
Putin, Medvedev split on Soviet legacy

Edited by Ilan Berman
June 2, 2010

May 4:

Russia’s recent agreement with Ukraine to extend the lease of its naval base in Sevastopol effectively ended any possibility for Ukraine to join NATO in the forseeable future,
RTTNews reports. Ukraine reportedly received a “dramatic cut” in natural gas prices from Russia in exchange for the twenty-five year lease extension, but the country’s next chance to join NATO will likely not come until the agreement’s expiration in 2042.

According to Russia’s envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, Georgia’s chances of obtaining NATO membership in the near future are equally poor. “The Western alliance would not accept Georgia as a member due to territorial disputes over South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” Rogozin has told reporters, adding that “Georgia cannot become a NATO member for one simple reason: NATO should either recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states or admit Georgia together with South Ossetia and Abkhazia within the borders set by Josef Stalin.”

May 5:

Is the Kremlin leaving Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko out in the cold?
The Moscow Times reports that Russia's state-owned Transneft oil transport concern has announced progress on a new pipeline — one which will effectively circumvent Belarus. The news comes just days after Minsk - whose relations with Moscow have been increasingly strained in recent months - received its first shipment of crude from Venezuela as part of an experimental trade agreement. That deal was a product of necessity, following unsuccessful efforts by Belarusian officials to obtain steep discounts in crude oil prices from Russia, and government officials are bullish on its prospects. Russian observers, however, are not: “these shipments have no future,"Rustam Tankayev, director of the analytical firm InfoTEK-Terminal, has said. "They are just an absurd and childish demonstration of independence.”

May 7:

President Medvedev has leveled the most public criticism to date by a Russian leader against the Soviet system. “The Soviet Union was a very complicated state and if we speak honestly the regime cannot be called anything other than totalitarian,” Medvedev said in a recent interview, excerpts of which
have been published by London's Telegraph newspaper. “Unfortunately, this was a regime where elementary rights and freedoms were suppressed.” In his remarks, Medvedev also slammed the excesses of Soviet leader Josef Stalin, saying that "despite the fact that he worked a lot, and despite the fact that under his leadership the country recorded many successes, what was done to his own people cannot be forgiven." The statements put Medvedev at odds with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has called the collapse of the USSR the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century."

May 8:

Former president (and current premier) Vladimir Putin is still more popular than his successor.
According to the Gulf Times, a new poll by the research institute VTsIOM has found that, two years into Dmitry Medvedev’s term, only 44 percent of those polled said they trusted the new president, while 49 percent of respondents said they trusted Putin. The reason, according to the Gulf Times, may have something to do with Medvedev's governing style; while the new president has emerged as a vocal critic of the existing political system, he has done little to implement structural changes to it, preferring reform over reorganization.

[Editor’s Note: Given the effect of Russia’s increasingly authoritarian political climate on pollsters and respondents alike, the results of public opinion surveys in Russia should be viewed with some caution.]

May 10:

The Kremlin is deepening its involvement in Middle Eastern energy.
According to Reuters, the state-owned natural gas concern Gazprom is beefing up its participation in the "pan-Arabian pipeline" - an energy route that, once completed, will bring gas from Egypt to Eurp[e via Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey. One of Gazprom's main contractors, Stroitransgaz, has already helped build parts of the emerging energy route, as well as beginning work on two gas processing plants in Syria. And Gazprom is "ready to look into possibilities of taking part in oil and gas project in Syria if it's highly economically viable," a Kremlin official has told reporters.

For the first time in history, troops marching through Moscow's Red Square on Victory Day were not only Soviet or Russian. To mark the sixty-fifth anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, American, British, French, and Polish troops, along with servicemen from the former Soviet states, were invited to march alongside the Russians,
according to The Hindu. Numerous foreign leaders were also invited to witness Russia’s largest military parade since the Soviet era.