Ambassador Anatoly Antonov held a speech at Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs
I commend Princeton University’s initiative to launch a multi-year series of workshops and lectures devoted to improving Russia-U.S. relations. I would like to emphasize that it is young people who will determine the spirit and substance of relations between our nations.
Unfortunately, nowadays there is a lot of fake news surrounding Russia and its foreign policy. To break the stereotypical thinking, to oppose it with an unbiased analysis and positive knowledge is a task where your direct involvement is very important.
Let’s try and discuss two issues: Russia-U.S. relations and the future of international arms control system. Why are these topics so relevant for the world’s destiny, for ordinary Russians and Americans, for all of you sitting in this auditorium? The thing is that the United States and the Soviet Uni on and now Russia possess ninety-five percent of nuclear and missile arsenals of the entire world. Over several decades the Soviet/Russia – U.S. treaties on the reduction of nuclear and missile arsenals were not only at the center
of bilateral relations, but at the same time essentially defined the state of global security. Positive outcomes of the negotiations had a favorable impact on disarmament in other areas, as well as on the international situation
Russia-U.S. relations have deteriorated. This situation does not meet the interests of both countries, which are two permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. We bear a special responsibility for peace and security on the planet. That is why we have to be cautious, responsible, avoid confrontation, and coordinate, where possible, the steps on global arena.
So far it has not been possible to organize such a skilful work. Moreover, Russia is defined as an “adversary” in the U.S. strategic documents. It seems that political and economic sanctions, media attacks, attempts to isolate Russia are used by certain politicians to bring our country to its knees, force it to change the course of its foreign policy. I am confident that you will understand our desire to preserve and strengthen Russian sovereignty. We are not doing that at the expense of the security of other states, including the United States.
Let us put aside the causes of the current crisis in Russia-U.S. relations.
I will just say this. During the nineties, a very hard time for my country, we put too much trust in the outer world, counted on the help and readiness of other countries to build a common and indivisible security, with no room for the weak and strong ones, where everyone would have equal rights and responsibilities.
What eventually happened was well-described by an American writer and journalist fr om San Francisco Chris Kanthan: “The Globalists did trap the bear in 1991 when the USSR failed. However, rather than befriending the bear, they caged it and then starved, tortured and humiliated it for the next eight years. That’s when the bear tore down the cage and fought back”.
I would like to point out that from historical standpoint the fundamental interests of our countries have almost never clashed. Let’s leave aside the time after the October Revolution, when it took years for the U.S. to recognize and accept a young Soviet Republic. Even the “Cold War” was a conflict
of ideologies rather than basic national interests. I must emphasize – we have no territorial claims to each other.
The Russian Empress Catherine the Great supported the U.S. in its struggle for independence. Emperor Alexander the Second and Abraham Lincoln called each other “good friends”. Our country supported the American president during the U.S. Civil War.
We fought side by side against Nazism. Millions of our citizens died to give us a chance to live in peace. Each year, on April twenty-fifth together with our American friends we commemorate the historic encounter between the Soviet and U.S. troops on the Elbe River. The event is one of the most powerful symbols of our brotherhood-in-arms.
These few, yet important examples show the significant benefits we can provide for the Russians, the Americans and the entire world when we join forces against global threats.
Today the international community faces serious challenges in international security and strategic stability. The situation is aggravated by unresolved regional conflicts, the rise of the “power factor” in global relations. The international law is being grossly violated. Attempts are being made to replace the notion of law with a “rule-based order” the parameters of which will be determined by a sel ect few. There are also attempts to undermine the role of the UN Security Council, to create coalition of states “on certain interests”. We have seen dangerous illegitimate decisions to revise internationally recognized documents, as it took place in the Hague regarding the Convention on the Prohibition and Elimination of Chemical Weapons. Experts talk about the beginning of a new arms race.
Today everyone again looks at Moscow and Washington. Leaders of a number of countries offer their aid in arranging a meeting of the two presidents. We hear warnings from reasonable politicians against the collapse of disarmament and arms control system. Matters of particular concern are the prospects of non-proliferation of the WMD and means of their delivery.
It is high time for President Putin and President Trump to discuss strategic stability and the future of nuclear arms control, primarily the INF Treaty and the New START.
The history of nuclear and missile agreements reminds us of how hard those breakthrough deals were struck. Both sides showed political will and understanding that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.
It seems that this principle deserves to be reaffirmed nowadays.
U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty in 2002 was a serious blow to strategic stability. The point is that the ballistic missile defense system, despite its “defensive nature”, can have a significant impact on the implementation of the deterrence concept. This concept is exactly the foundation of the global security system, Russian and American as well.
The interrelationship between strategic offensive and strategic defensive arms is clearly stated in the preamble of the New START. The future of the U.S. missile defense system development will directly affect the prospects of reaching next agreements. Today we are patiently waiting for the U.S. to define its stance on the future of the New START.
In Helsinki Vladimir Putin proposed to extend the Treaty for another five years, which can be done quickly enough. However, there is not too much time. The New START expires in 2021.
The current U.S. Administration is yet to outline its approaches on missile defense. Policy review in this area got delayed for some reasons.
Perhaps, it would be no exaggeration to say that today politicians and political scientists, legislators and arms control experts are worried about the U.S. plans to withdraw from the INF Treaty, concluded in nineteen eighty-seven. I would like to remind that due to this Treaty two classes of ground-launched medium-range (1 thousand – 5,5 thousand kilometers) and shot-range (500 – 1 thousand kilometers) ballistic cruise missiles were eliminated. It was the first international agreement in history on real nuclear disarmament.
Now it is on the brink of collapse.
Russia and the U.S. have mutual complaints over the implementation of the INF Treaty. We have always expressed our readiness to maintain a professional dialogue with the U.S. colleagues to address mutual concerns. However, the U.S. Administration sticks to finger-pointing, blaming Russia for destroying the Treaty. The Americans prefer to remain silent on their own violations. We are confident that should there be political will, a compromise can be reached. We still stand for continuing consultations with a view
to preserve the INF Treaty as one of the cornerstones of international security.
Today one can hear opinions that nothing will happen if the U.S. abandons the INF Treaty. The argument is that over 15 years ago Washington withdrew from the IBM Treaty and there were no catastrophic consequences.
I don’t think it would be accurate to paint such a rosy picture. Denunciation of treaties or conventions has never led to strengthening of international security, be it the IBM Treaty or the JCPOA. As for a response to the U.S. withdrawal from the IBM Treaty, on March 1, 2018, our President Vladimir Putin announced a new weapons system, which Russia had been forced to develop in order to maintain strategic balance. We warned our American colleagues about this back in 2004.
The future of the INF Treaty or the New START concerns not only Russian or U.S. security. It affects the underlying problems of the international security. Preserving these treaties would be a proof that our countries adhere to their obligations on nuclear disarmament in accordance with the NPT.
More and more often colleagues ask about the future of the NPT, given the current erosion of the nuclear disarmament process. This Treaty is a solid nuclear non-proliferation barrier. Apart from its non-proliferation task,
the NPT is a unique instrument that promotes nuclear disarmament, as well as international cooperation in peaceful use of nuclear energy.
The situation with the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is troubling. I wish to remind that Russia, Great Britain and France that possess nuclear arsenals have already ratified the Treaty. We expect a clear and simple U.S. position on the CTBT – a Treaty, the fate of which will directly influence future steps on nuclear disarmament.
We still believe that the fulfillment of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iranian nuclear program is relevant. The UN Security Council resolution 2231 must be observed by everyone. In our opinion, the measures stipulated by the JCPOA, including verification and control, as well as mechanisms of information exchange, are unprecedented and effective. They provide reliable guarantees that Iran uses its nuclear program for peaceful purposes only, which was repeatedly confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
There is much to be done in order to reach denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. We welcome the establishment of U.S.-North Korea and inter-Korean dialogue. Such positive momentum goes along with the “roadmap”, which was worked out earlier by Russia and China including a comprehensive and incremental approach to resolving this issue.
Dear friends, there are many problems with strengthening arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament. The Russian side is ready for serious substantial discussions on all matters. But the conversation has to be candid, respectful, transparent and professional, with no “megaphone diplomacy”.
Creating a crisis is always easier than finding a solution to it. Mending Russia-U.S. relations will take long-term and persistent efforts. A lot of ground, and above all – trust, will have to be rebuilt from scratch.
But the complexity and scale of the task is no excuse for doing nothing.
It is important to promote bilateral projects with less disagreements and more binding ties. A good example – our bilateral cooperation in outer space wh ere it is obviously much better than on Earth.
One can only welcome the statements made by the U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton at the conclusion of his October visit to Moscow on enhancing the coordination between our military representatives. By the way, restoration of a full-fledged dialogue between our Defense Ministries would facilitate preventing conflict situations and improve bilateral relations. It would have a positive impact on the global state of affairs.
A few more examples of fruitful cooperation. In December, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked the CIA in his conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump for providing intelligence information that helped to prevent a large-scale terrorist attack in Saint Petersburg. On our part, the Russian side notified the U.S. intelligence services that the Tsarnayev brothers were planning a terrorist attack in Boston. Unfortunately, the outcome was different. We can also recall constructive cooperation during the Sochi Olympics in 2014 and the recent FIFA World Cup in Russia.
I would like to remind that during the Soccer World Cup our country was visited not only by leaders of many countries and governments, but also, most importantly, by hundreds of thousands of soccer fans from across the world (46 thousand U.S. fans, second place after China), who saw the real Russia –
an open, friendly and modern country. The majority of guests were genuinely happy and expressed hope to return, they obtained their personal experience of the hospitality of our people. This was a triumph of public diplomacy, which showed that all “boogeyman stories” spread in the West about my country are fake.
Russia-U.S. relations cannot stay on the decline forever. The world needs strengthening of strategic stability, which, for its part, depends on the quality of dialogue between Moscow and Washington. We need to step back from confrontation, look for compromises and ways to reconcile. The goal is to develop equal, mutually beneficial relations that would meet the interests
of both Russians and Americans. We are ready for such work.
Thank you for your attention.