Zero-Sum? Russia, Power Politics, and the post-Cold War Era
Session at the Brussels Forum with participation of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
DAVID IGNATIUS (Columnist and Associate Editor, The Washington Post): [Applause] Thank you very much. While our panelists take their seats, I want to give the briefest introduction. The title of this session really says it all: "Zero-Sum: Russia, Power Politics, and the Post-Cold War Era." It is really the case that we have entered a zero-sum world in U.S.-NATO-Russia relations, in which one side wins and one side loses? Or do we still have the possibility of finding accommodation, finding ways out of this quite dark situation of the last year? I hope we'll talk in our conversation today about how we got here, the extent to which the events of the last year have been inevitable or were the result of mistakes that were made and can be reversed. I hope we'll talk about whether Ukraine itself has to be a zero-sum game, whether it's possible, as Zbigniew Brzezinski said, "to imagine a future Ukraine that looks East and West at the same time, that is at once in a comfortable relationship with Russia and with Europe," and if so, how do we get there. I hope we'll talk about how NATO should respond to current events and whether NATO can work with Russia to find the exit ramp that President Obama so often has described in this crisis, which would take you out of zero-sum world into a different world.
I'll just close this introduction by saying that I found it quite chilling, in the sense of falling out of the world in which the Brussels Forum was created, ten years ago, a world that was optimistic, back into the language of the Cold War, as I read about President Putin's question during the days of the Crimea events – whether Russian nuclear forces should be put on alert because of the possibility of some Western response. That's a kind of talk, a kind of issue that most of us had thought was very much left behind, was part of a different era, and we're back there now by the account of the president of Russia.
So with that introduction, I want to first turn to our new NATO Secretary General, JENS STOLTENBERG, and I want to ask him to begin by addressing the basic question of this session: Are we slipping back into a Cold War situation?
JENS STOLTENBERG (NATO Secretary General): We are not in a Cold War situation because that was a global war between two blocs, military blocks, it was an ideological war and we are not there now. But we are not in the cooperative environment we have tried to establish after the end of the Cold War either. The reason why we are not in the cooperative environment we have tried so much to establish is that Russia has violated the rules. Russian troops have crossed the borders of its neighbours. They have annexed a part of another country and that is the first time since the end of the Second World War that that has happened in Europe, with the annexation of Crimea, and they have troops in Moldova, in Georgia, and they're destabilizing Eastern Ukraine. NATO has to respond to this, and as a very firm and strong response to this behaviour we are now undertaking the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War.
I think many people are not aware of how fundamental this adaptation is actually—the adaptation that is taking place now is a very big and fundamental adaptation of the NATO defence posture. We are doubling the size of our response force. The lead elements of this force, we'll be able to move in within as little as 48 hours, and we are establishing the command, the control units in the three Baltic countries, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. And this is just the beginning, so we will really see fundamental changes in the way NATO is doing collective defence, increasing our collective defence as a response to what we have seen Russia is doing in Ukraine and in Moldova and other countries.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Mr. Secretary General, I want to ask you to address an issue that the German Defence Minister, I thought, wisely put on the table at the beginning of her remarks, which is that what we're seeing in Ukraine, and what many analysts fear could be a possibility elsewhere, is what we call hybrid warfare, where local forces armed and trained from the outside, in this case NATO alleges by Russia, are operating but it's not the traditional invasion across a border, but something different, something hybrid. And the fear is that NATO, in its doctrine, in its forces, in its capability, in its mindset, really isn't prepared for that world of hybrid warfare. So, let me ask you, are there new things that you think NATO should do to get ready for this? Take a specific instance, a NATO member in the Baltics faces Russian speakers in its population, who are citizens of that country who suddenly seize a radio station, a whole part of the country, and declare as this happened in Eastern Ukraine that they're fighting for their rights – how does NATO respond to that? Is that an Article 5 issue if the country decides that its sovereignty is threatened? How would you answer that?
JENS STOLTENBERG: NATO is ready to defend all allies against any threat, and we see now an increased threat stemming from the concept of hybrid warfare. But I would like to underline that hybrid warfare is nothing new. The hybrid warfare is about the combination of military means and non-military means. It's about covert actions and overt actions, it's about deception, and actually I think the first hybrid warfare we know is the Trojan Horse, so we have seen it before, but the new thing is that it's larger scale, it's taking place close to our borders, so we have to focus more on the concept of hybrid warfare. And that's exactly what we are doing. For instance, reduced warning time deception increases the importance of readiness, preparedness. And that's the reason why we are increasing the readiness and preparedness of our forces. Deception also increases the need for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. That's the reason why one important element of the readiness action plan is to increase our intelligence capabilities, and special operation forces might be extremely important in a hybrid situation. So this is part of the adaptation which we are now undergoing, is to also increase our ability to fight hybrid warfare.
DAVID IGNATIUS: We'll come back to the question of hybrid warfare and how to respond, but I want to turn to FEDERICA MOGHERINI, who is the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, the chief EU diplomat. For this audience, it is a point of special pride for the German Marshall Fund—that she is a graduate of the Marshall Memorial Fellows Program, which is central to what GMF is. We're glad to see our graduates going to high places.
FEDERICA MOGHERINI (EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, European External Action Service, and Vice President, European Commission): That's why it's named "high representative".
DAVID IGNATIUS: You can't get any higher for a German Marshall Memorial Fellow. I want to ask you—You just had a summit meeting of EU leaders here in Brussels yesterday—
FEDERICA MOGHERINI: And today.
DAVID IGNATIUS: ...and today also, and you were talking about many of the issues that are connected to our panel. I want to ask you about two and I want to start with the question of the Minsk II Agreement, that in theory was going to deescalate the situation in Ukraine. And I want to ask you for a progress report on how Minsk II is going, what areas are solid, what areas are not, what violations you see, and then the question that I know you discussed, what about sanctions? What about additional sanctions, what would trigger them? What about reduction of sanctions? What's the situation where this famous exit ramp might be possible in terms of reduced sanctions?
FEDERICA MOGHERINI: Yes, first of all let me say that we had two days at the European Council, and I find it significant the fact that yesterday we discussed about Ukraine and Russia, but today we discussed about Libya, and I think we should keep this in the framework because we don’t have only the East-West--
DAVID IGNATIUS: But give us a Minsk II answer and then we'll come back to Libya.
FEDERICA MOGHERINI: Let me correct you, if I can. I wouldn't refer to Minsk II, I would refer to the agreement that was reached in Minsk on the package of implementation measures for Minsk. We have only one Minsk agreement. I think there is someone here in the room, the Secretary General of the OSCE sitting there, that could give us a very good report on the implementation and the monitoring of the implementation when it comes to the main, two main starting points of the agreement, the ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons. The European Union is exactly supporting the OSCE in monitoring this in different ways, if you want I can go into the details, but it's also doing another thing that is included in this package of implementation measures. While we are speaking here--
DAVID IGNATIUS: Just give us an overall. Is Minsk...
FEDERICA MOGHERINI: Working?
DAVID IGNATIUS: ...in its current version working or not?
FEDERICA MOGHERINI: Let me share what I discussed with President Poroshenko in this respect. So I take that side. The situation is much, much better than it used to be, not perfect yet. So you don’t have a white or black picture, you have a situation that is much better than before the meeting in Minsk and the agreement in Minsk, even if with some violations. I think that we need to concentrate more and more on the measures we have put in place to make it work on the ceasefire, also on the implementation of measures that need to be done on the Ukrainian side, reforms, reform of the constitution, local elections and so on, and also what refers to the European Union role. While we are speaking now, there is a trilateral dialogue, European Union-Russia-Ukraine, on gas, exactly in this hour here in Brussels. And the same we are starting, restarting on the implementation of the trade agreement. So, there are steps in the right direction. It will definitely take more political will, more time to have a complete, positive picture. I hope we will get there, but it's not now.
DAVID IGNATIUS: And what about sanctions? What was the sanctions discussion?
FEDERICA MOGHERINI: Sanctions are related to this, because we have decided yesterday night that the lifting of the sanctions or keeping the sanctions will be linked only to the full implementation of the Minsk Agreement. So the decision of the heads of state and government is that in the coming months, as you know, we don’t have to take decisions these days because the sanctions we have in place are expiring at the end of July. Before the end of July we will make an assessment of where we are with the implementation. The Minsk Agreement foresees that the control of the border, for instance, goes back to the Ukrainian authorities by the end of the year. If everything goes well, I would expect that sanctions will be linked to this and so would not be lifted before the full implementation of the Minsk Agreement, but the decision formally will be taken later on.
DAVID IGNATIUS: We'll come back to Libya and maybe Iran, but I want to give our Russian guest a chance to respond to a number of comments that have been made, so I want to introduce Konstantin Kosachev, who is the Chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the Russian Federation Council, who is with us today, and as I told him before we came out here, I want to ask Mr. Kosachev the question that I find people ask in every conversation I attend about Russia in Washington or around the world, and that is, how does President Vladimir Putin look at the world? Does he have, as he's said, a sense that the end of the Soviet Union was the catastrophe of his lifetime? And is he trying to build back some of the power and prestige that was lost? How does that translate in the current crisis in Ukraine? How does President Putin, the millions or Russians who obviously support him, how do they view this in terms of Russian national interests? Maybe you could begin there and then we'll go to some other questions.
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV (Chairman, Committee of the Federation Council on International Affairs, Russian Federation): Thank you, David. One, I would definitely prefer to speak about millions of Russians rather than Mr. Putin, because Mr. Putin represents people not just as the president of Russia, but he is a very wise man understanding perfectly well how people in Russia feel about things happening around Russia. If you go back to the history a little bit, I believe that when the Cold War was starting to get over, many things happened and many documents were signed... [missing part of recording]... CSC at that moment knows, not OC [?] but CSC is mentioned frequently, and the Council of Europe is mentioned frequently, three of them. How many times is NATO mentioned in that document describing the future arrangements of security policy in Europe? Not a single time. How many times is the European Union mentioned, the European Community at the moment? Just once, in the paragraph describing the economic calculation in Europe. So neither NATO nor the European Union were parts of a deal made at that moment by the Soviet Union and other states, the United States of America included, for the future Europe. What started to happen next? Because many people think that old troubles are related personally to the current president of Russia, Mr. Putin. They could make good deals with Mr. Yeltsin and as soon as Mr. Putin arrived, they cannot make any good deals any longer. This is absolutely false description. Russia definitely has changed, but it has nothing to do with the personalities. During the 90's, Russia withdrew all military bases from Eastern Europe, withdrew all military bases from former Soviet republics with the exception of military agreements regulating that, moved all our essential forces away from the European part of Russia out to Siberia, behind the Urals. We never started any military operation anywhere. We laid down our military bases in Vietnam and Cuba, and so on and so forth. What did NATO do?
DAVID IGNATIUS: Yes.
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: Just a second. What did NATO do? I would not describe how NATO expanded. I would not describe how NATO did not ratify the adopted CFE Treaty and other things. One thing which was crucial, the 24th of March 1999, I do not know how many people do remember it, what was the date—the 24th of March, 1999, the first time in the history of modern Europe, NATO started to bomb a European country – at that moment an integral country, Yugoslavia – started to bomb it for the reason Mr. Milosevic rejected NATO to deploy forces in a part of his country. So if you would call something an occupation of a part of an independent European state, I would call, I would recall the Kosovo case for that. Crimea, the Ukrainian crisis, is definitely not the first tragic episode in the modern history of Europe.
DAVID IGNATIUS: With respect, I think you've given us a clear sense of the sense of grievance that Russians view this history since the end of the Cold War and I think that's a clear answer to my question. I do want to ask you, looking at the media crisis that we face, that Russia faces, the West faces in Ukraine, whether a zero-sum outcome, in another words one side wins and one side loses, is inevitable? Or whether some kind of compromise, like what's envisioned in Minsk, is possible? Would you be comfortable, would the people you speak for in Russia be comfortable with a Ukraine that at once looks east to Moscow, to Russia, and looks west to Europe? Can you live with that?
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: Well, it is definitely not inevitable. And Russia, all these years, proposed both to NATO and the European Union to do something together. The first Ukrainian crisis was about gas, natural gas. Everybody would remember here that the Russian proposal initially had always been, all the time, let us sit together, the European Union, Ukraine and Russia, and talk about that. The answer was, "No. This is about us and Ukraine, this is about us and Russia, and we will not discuss it in a trilateral format." Later on, when we had other problems with Ukraine, our message, like the cessation agreement, for example, our message to the European Union again was, let us sit together and form the very beginning start talking about the future problems which may arise, in case this cessation agreement enters into power. The answer unfortunately was, "No, thank you, Russia has nothing to do with it. We will speak about it..."--
DAVID IGNATIUS: But what about now? I mean--
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: [inaudible] Russia was excluded...
DAVID IGNATIUS: That's how we got here. What about now?
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: Same goes for now. We are in the Minsk process. We are very interested in having this process finalized, and I'm very unhappy to see the linkage which was created yesterday by the European Union, the implementation of the Minsk Agreement vis-à-vis sanctions, because I am afraid that there is at least one country in Europe, and now I mean Ukraine, which is in conflict with Russia, which is probably not interested in having this Minsk Agreement implemented, for the simple reason as soon as they are implemented, Russia is out of sanctions. And I am afraid that at least certain forces in Ukraine will start to create additional problems for the Minsk Agreement, for the Minsk process, just for the simple reason they want to keep Russia inside of sanctions. So this linkage provokes certain problems in the future which we definitely would like to avoid.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Let me turn to our American representative, VICTORIA NULAND, who is Assistant Secretary of State for Eurasian Affairs, who is a leading conceptualizer and implementer of U.S. policy. And I want to begin, Madam Assistant Secretary, with a question again that would come up in any discussion group in Washington or, I dare way, anywhere else now. And that is the question of whether the United States and other allies should be providing defensive weapons, but lethal weapons, to Ukrainian forces that are facing in their southeast a continuing military threat.
This has been a debate that's gone back in forth in the administration. It's well known there are different points of view within the administration. Maybe it would help if you just sort of took us into the… you know, the virtual situation room and just what are the arguments that you hear in favour of doing this? And then at the end of the day, why is the President, as he said publicly, decided that this isn't appropriate U.S. policy?
VICTORIA NULAND (Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, United States Department of State): Well, first, David, just to say that on this particular subject, not of defensive security support but of lethal weaponry, the President has not made a decision. You are right, it's a hotly debated topic in Washington; it's a hotly debated topic transatlanticly.
Because one of the great strengths of our approach, our response to the Ukraine crisis, our response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine, has been that the countries of Europe and the United States and Canada and our G7 partners have been very united. And so it's important in any decisions that any of us make about how we're going to support Ukraine, whether it's economically, politically or in security terms, that we also discuss across the Atlantic.
First, let me say that the United States has provided significant security support to Ukraine throughout this crisis, almost 120 million dollars' worth. We are getting ready to start training Ukrainian forces in western Ukraine. We are providing things like counter-fire radar batteries that allow them to see where they are being fired on, night scopes, the kinds of things that will allow them to be more capable.
With regard to whether you take that to a more lethal level, on the side of those who favour, there is the Ukrainian government request itself. They are asking for more support to defend themselves. There is also the fact that we have seen month on month more lethal weaponry of a higher caliber, of more sophistication, poured into Ukraine by their… by the separatist Russian allies and it's, you know, now getting to the level where the kinds of equipment that the Ukrainian forces are confronting are much more sophisticated than what they have.
So the question becomes, if you are facing a T-90 tank with a T-72 tank, ought you to have antitank weapons to at least level the playing field? If you are facing Smerch artillery which can go 20 kilometres with your own local artillery, should you have some capability against that? That's the argument in favour.
The argument opposed is that clearly this would constitute an escalation on the battlefield. Would it be responded by further escalation on the part of Russia such that the whole thing becomes more bloody, more violent, and those who suffer most are the people of Ukraine?
So that is the debate. It is a fair fight. Obviously our first hope right now, as High Representative Mogherini said, is to see the Minsk Agreement fully implemented, to see a full ceasefire, to see a full pullback of heavy weapons, to see real politics begin in the east, real elections, not fake elections like the kind we had in Crimea or appointing of Russian proxies, so that those elected leaders can begin to enjoy decentralized powers that Kyiv has now offered: local policing, rights of free language, rights to keep a lot of their tax dollars, rights to make their own economic agreements. And then can we get that border closed?
DAVID IGNATIUS: Just to… to…
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: But Kyiv has not… Kyiv has not provided this format yet. They speak about that, but it's never done in a written form. It's just promises and these promises are preconditioned, preconditioned by… there are many [the remaining?] other things. So people in southeastern Ukraine feel uncertain about whether they will be able to make deals with Kyiv or not.
VICTORIA NULAND: Konstantin is just counterfactual. The Ukrainian Rada in September passed the special status law the first time, which granted huge amounts of independence and decentralized power to the east. But there was the condition that there had to be elections under Ukrainian law. Instead of that, there were fake elections in November that were not recognized. Now they have offered it again, the Rada earlier this week passed an even enhanced package.
So the question is: Are the separatists courageous enough to stand for election under Ukrainian law? And then they will have the right to make their own economic deals, to have their own police, to decide what language is spoken out there, inside Ukraine. That would be… that's what Moscow has always said it wanted for those people. That's what…
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: Absolutely. So…
VICTORIA NULAND: … when Secretary Kerry was negotiating with Lavrov in the winter, they offered [?]…
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: Absolutely. But if you read attentively the Minks Agreements, there is a road there, a dialog to be started on the thirtieth [?] day after the ceasefire is… is in power. Do they have this dialog as for now? Is it initiated by Kyiv? No. There is no dialog at all, just "You have to take it or leave it." It's not a position which leads us to a political solution, I am afraid.
DAVID IGNATIUS: But, Konstantin, on the specific question that Victoria asked, would the separatists, the forces in southeast Ukraine, be prepared to stand for election so that they had power under the sovereignty of an overall Ukraine of which they were part, are they prepared for that? Is Russia prepared to support that?
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: I do not represent here these people. And I… I… I would love to see a situation where they have agreed among them about any possible solutions and ways out, and I believe that Russia would be happy to support any agreement reached between the conflicting parties.
So if the Minsk Agreement includes certain steps to be made step by step, they are to be made step by step. They are not to be interpreted additionally, is the way it is done now by Kyiv [inaudible].
DAVID IGNATIUS: So I want to close out this little talk which… I told the panellists before we started that I wanted them to interrupt each other, and they took me up on it. So I want to ask Victoria to close this out by just responding to what Konstantin said. Is there, do you hear in anything that he said, a pathway toward confidence building, toward greater dialog, toward a structure that would reinforce what has been a pretty fragile Minsk structure?
VICTORIA NULAND: Absolutely. I mean, I think the number one thing is for Russia to stop sending arms over the border so that we can have real politics, have a real ceasefire.
Look, what Kyiv has offered is its own package of decentralized power. After an election, if those elected want to have a different kind of relationship, an enhanced relationship with the federal government, they will be able to participate in a broader process which is going on all year in Ukraine, which is the redrafting of their Constitution where decentralization across the country is very much on board. But what Kyiv is not prepared to do is negotiate the future of the country with a bunch of guys installed by Moscow. They have got to be elected.
DAVID IGNATIUS: So I want to turn back to Secretary General Stoltenberg, and I want to take you back to what I thought was the central question of the previous panel which was whether NATO's collective self-defense commitments are fully credible in a period where the time required to mobilize NATO forces, even with the improvements, remained long, in a period where hybrid warfare blurs both your clarity about what's happening on the ground, your ability to attribute actions to others, and then the request for Article 5 support. I just would like to hear you talk about what worries you as an incoming Secretary General about how to make this commitment that the members of this alliance will… are prepared to defend each other's security in an increasingly dangerous world. How do you make that commitment more believable?
JENS STOLTENBERG: Yes, the right answer is to say that I am worried because people should be worried in a difficult world. But at the same time I would like to say too that I am impressed by what I have seen since I came to NATO headquarters in October, because what has really impressed me is the ability of NATO to adapt. And that's actually the strength of NATO, is that we are able to adapt when the security environment is changing.
And… and NATO is the strongest alliance, military alliance in history. We have been able to provide deterrence and protection to all allies for more than six decades, and we did so by focusing on collective defense for 40 years since 1949 to the end of the… since to the fall of the Berlin Wall in '89. And then we focused for many years on crisis management, Afghanistan, Kosovo and those challenges.
Now we are in the process where we have to both focus on crisis management in the south, but at the same time refocus and increase our focus on… on collective defense. And that's exactly what we are doing.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Let's just take a very specific practical example of the threats of 2015 for which NATO, you know, may not be fully prepared, and that's a cyber attack. Can you imagine a cyber attack triggering and Article 5 request by the country that was attacked to NATO? And can you… how would NATO respond to that? I mean, imagine a completely disabling attack where the electrical system goes down, the ability to communicate goes down and the country says: We're under attack. How would NATO, on your current structure and doctrine, respond to that?
JENS STOLTENBERG: So the basic message is that NATO is ready to defend all allies against any threat and that one… that an attack on one ally is an attack on all 28. Then we see that the world is changing and therefore, for instance, we are addressing both hybrid, as I mentioned, but also cyber-threats. We are doing something more, we are focusing on how we can increase our own ability to defend NATO infrastructure, but also helping allies with increasing their capabilities to defend their own [?] [inaudible].
DAVID IGNATIUS: But a cybera ttack on one would be viewed as a cyber attack on all and responded to as such?
JENS STOLTENBERG: Any attack on any ally is something that we are responding to, because are defending all allies against any kind of attack. And then of course we will assess, we will… we will… we will address any kind of attack.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Konstantin?
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: May I ask you a question? Are you going to bomb a country which is supposed to be behind a cyberattack against a NATO member state? Are you going to bomb it? Are you going to… to… to start a cyberattack against this country?
JENS STOLTENBERG: We…
VICTORIA NULAND: Is this… is this a planning question, Konstantin?
[LAUGHS AND APPLAUSE]
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: No, I just… I just want… I just want to have… I just want to have NATO as transparent as possible, because sometimes we do not have answers and we have to take our own security measures for the simple reason…
VICTORIA NULAND: It was.
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: … we do not…
VICTORIA NULAND: I think it was, yeah, yeah!
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: … we do not… No. For the simple reason we do not understand perfectly well the intentions of NATO in certain cases. Because NATO—and this is a big… a big difference between and Russia—NATO is involved in many military operations outside of NATO, which creates a certain security risk for any country in the world. And this is why I am asking a question: What would happen in case certain member states of NATO would declare Russia—with or without reasons does not matter—would declare Russia as a country behind a cyberattack?
DAVID IGNATIUS: Well, let's…
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: What would happen then?
DAVID IGNATIUS: … let's get the answer's response. Because it's… you know, cyber is the frontier and it's really complicated to know who did it, to know, you know, what to do about that. What is your thinking, without giving us the planning memo? Or give us the planning memo later.
JENS STOLTENBERG: We will do what's necessary to… to do to protect all allies, and… and… and, of course, then we have to protect also those who are attacked by cyber attacks. But I am not saying… I am not going to tell you exactly how we are going to do that, because we are going to do that in a way which enables us to protect all allies. And that's the main message and… and we will know when it happens and we will respond in the proportion and defensive way.
DAVID IGNATIUS: This is the… the…
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: [Inaudible] NATO [?] is unpredictable and we have to be prepared for any possible development.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Well, so we really are back to the Cold War, you know, strategic ambiguity. I remember reading, you know, Dr. Brzezinski and Dr. Kissinger. We all know the values of not being just sure what the other side would do, and maybe we are back to that world where you are going to say, you know, you can't be sure how we will respond and the Secretary General will say we can't be sure how we would act. VICTORIA NULAND: David, as a planning matter, can we ask Konstantin how Moscow would respond if it thought it had been cyberattacked by one of the NATO countries?
DAVID IGNATIUS: I think he just… I think he has just been asked that.
VICTORIA NULAND: He's is not going to…
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: No usage… no usage of military force, definitely not. This is my absolutely clear answer. I am not entitled to give that answer, but [inaudible] my conviction, that would be the answer.
DAVID IGNATIUS: So…
JENS STOLTENBERG: But the big difference is that we are a defensive alliance. You are sending troops into neighboring countries.
VICTORIA NULAND: Yes.
JENS STOLTENBERG: And you are violating international law and you are…
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: We are not sending troops into neighboring countries. Mr. Breedlove…
JENS STOLTENBERG: Well, you send… you send troops…
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: … Mr. Breedlove believes we do. Mr. Breedlove believes we do, but we do not.
JENS STOLTENBERG: But you sent troops into Crimea.
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: Please, present… present evidence. You know, I would recall the discussion in Munich recently. Many people here were there. You would remember how Mr. Poroshenko presented five or six passports, Russian passports, for the audience. The same day, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs sent an official request to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine: Please, give us any details, names, numbers, copies, anything. Until now, there is no answer. So everybody believes that that was an evidence, but that was not an evidence.
Same goes for very many other reports delivered by Mr. Breedlove…
DAVID IGNATIUS: So I am going to…
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: … or other Americans who are very much in favour of proving that Russia is involved. Russia is not involved with regular forces in southeastern Ukraine.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Well, we will come back to this, but I want to turn to the senior diplomat in the room, the High Representative…
DAVID IGNATIUS: … and… and I want to ask Federica to, if any…
FEDERICA MOGHERINI: I don't have the proofs.
DAVID IGNATIUS: … thoughts that you have on this. But more broadly, before this session began, we talked as a group about seeing if this conversation could include the question of how you knit this world which is ripping—we can hear it ripping—knit it back together. And, you know, that's…
FEDERICA MOGHERINI: We are not going into that direction here obviously.
DAVID IGNATIUS: No, this conversation… this conversation, I'm just, no, you… this is, pick up the fabric as it rips. But…
FEDERICA MOGHERINI: But you know…
DAVID IGNATIUS: … but if you would like to speak to that. And also, we talked earlier about Libya and I would love to know what the latest is about the Iran talks [inaudible].
FEDERICA MOGHERINI: Yeah. You know, I think this is the tenth anniversary of the Brussels Forum, right? And it would be good if we could also understand the format is challenging, think of how the Brussels Forum could look like in ten years. And I hope, I guess, we won't be doing this again in ten years. This is the big question for me: How do we think our relationship can develop?
Because I—maybe it's for a generational issue—I don't give up to the idea that we overcome and we overcame and we overcome the Cold War thinking. Otherwise, Europe would be torn and borders around Europe would be torn also in ten years from now.
Ukraine I think means literally "frontier", right? It's… it would be good if we could go back sometime, once we managed to implement fully the Minsk Agreement, to understand how we can live together, because we are neighbours and you don't change geography. This is one of the few things you don't change: your parents and your neighbours.
And… and I will give you news: the European Union is for Russia the first trading partner and the first investor. How do we think in ten years from now we will relate to each other? I mean, I have the European answer. I would like to have the Russian answer. The European Union was always a project based on cooperation inside its borders and outside. And we have developed a sense of partnership and cooperation also with the Russian Federation in the last ten, fifteen years. And the big question we have, strategic question we have is, is what's happening in Ukraine the end of this or is it something we can discuss, in my point of view a violation of international law, something that can be overcome with the restauration of the international law and principles and peace in Ukraine, and to restore the integrity and Ukraine, and we can go back to cooperation? Or is that time over and we have to think of something different from the Cold War because we will never get to that kind of--
DAVID IGNATIUS: Well said, well said. Konstantin, what's your answer?
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: Well said. Thank you very much for that comment. You used now words, "I have the European answer, I would like to see the Russian answer." We are Europeans, we, in Russia. We are not aliens and Europe is also our continent. So you and nobody else, you don’t have a European answer. You have a European Union answer.
FEDERICA MOGHERINI: I have the European Union answer. I would like to have the Russian Federation answer.
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: I would prefer that we all would try to start working on a European answer because as for now, you, all the time, speak about how happy Europe is with the European Union and with NATO, in the way what is good for General Motors is good for America. But what is good for NATO is good for NATO but not for the whole Europe. What is good for the European Union is good for the European Union, but not necessarily for the whole Europe. We need to have an inclusive agenda for future [inaudible].
DAVID IGNATIUS: I need to make sure I'm understanding--
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: The whole Europe is Russia included because as for now, Russia is excluded. We are not [inaudible] to be a part of NATO or the European Union. [inaudible]
DAVID IGNATIUS: You seem to be asking for a Russian veto over European—you're saying Russia is part of Europe so we get to, we have a vote in what Europe decides, if I'm hearing. Victoria, can you straighten this out for me?
VICTORIA NULAND: We're obviously not European, although many of us are of European stock, but what binds us as a community and what we hoped we would be able to add Russia to, in all the years after the Cold War and which many people in this room have worked on, was a set of common values. and what we want, what we hoped was that Russia, too, would want to live in a world where you can't change borders by force, that Russia would want to live in a community where the individual rights of every human being are respected no matter who they love or what colour they are, who they worship, where media would be free, where we would be able to make open free trade. low-tariff deals with each other. That is what binds the United States to the countries of the EU and NATO, that is what was the basis of all of the work we did in the 90's and the aught years to try to work with Russia, whether it was the NATO-Russia Council, whether it was Russia-EU collaboration on economy, etc.
FEDERICA MOGHERINI: Strategic partnership.
VICTORIA NULAND: Strategic partnership. But in the context of a Russia that is not interested in those rules of the road, then we're obviously constrained in how much we can do together. We'll still try to do as much as we can, but we will protect and partner with those who want to join in that basic human [inaudible]...
DAVID IGNATIUS: Konstantin, before turning to you, I want to ask you to focus this a little bit more. There is a very specific way in which the world of partnership, dialogue, cooperation is unravelling in ways that are dangerous for your country, for Europe and the United States, and that is the way in which key arms control agreements that were the product of generations of work through the détente years are beginning to come undone. The conventional forces in Europe agreement seems to be basically in--you know, the meeting last week was a complete failure, people walked away. The efforts to get a new START agreement that would have additional cuts in strategic weapons, much discussion of that, several years ago, President Obama clearly interested in it, no action on that. And now, to me, most worrisome are accusations on both sides that medium-range nuclear missiles, the so-called INF agreement, which was really the foundation stone of the détente, the end of the Cold War, that that's now coming in question. So I want to ask each of you, please, briefly, to address this specific way in which we are slipping back into the world of the Cold War as these arms control agreements begin to unravel. Konstantin, if you'd start?
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: We are definitely, absolutely in favour of keeping as many arms control agreements in power as possible. CFE Treaty, we have experts here, they all remember how the adopted CFE Treaty was ratified by Russia, Belorussia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. Four countries. None of them belongs to NATO. NATO, not a single NATO member state ratified the adopted CFE Treaty. So now, we still have the original text, the original CFE Treaty, if we still have it, where the Baltic States are a part of the Leningrad military district of the Soviet Union. This is a text we have and we try to save. The adopted treaty was the way out. The option was ruined by the refusal of NATO countries to ratify it, to let it enter into force. This is not our responsibility, sorry.
DAVID IGNATIUS: But what about INF?
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: ABM Treaty. We know how the United States of America...
DAVID IGNATIUS: Let me ask about INF.
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: ...did about ABM Treaty.
DAVID IGNATIUS: That's a whole...
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: They will not speak about that because it's about principle and for solidarity [inaudible]...
DAVID IGNATIUS: ABM is a whole different set of... Let's talk about INF which is right here in Europe?
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: It's also important, ABM Treaty. Please address that question to Victoria about ABM Treaty [inaudible]...
DAVID IGNATIUS: I'll ask her, but I want to ask you about INF.
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: We are definitely in favor of keeping it and definitely we will do our best in order to keep it. There are certain questions from the American side towards Russians, there are certain questions from us towards Americans. I am not an expert on that. As far as I understand, there are questions which are to be clarified. We need to have discussions about that and I believe we need to confirm on both sides that we want to have this treaty to be in power. This is my absolute conviction.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Federica, do you have thoughts about this aspect of your slipping toward the Cold War?
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: They never [inaudible] any disarmament agreement.
FEDERICA MOGHERINI: There is no slipping back. I mean, the history is gone. We have to look forward. There is no... I mean, the world has changed. We are now focussing so much on this, I understand, this is the issue of this session, but we are not focussing on the fact that we share some security threats: proliferation, terrorism, destabilization all around the Mediterranean, Middle East, Afghanistan is still there – I mean in a transition, but we should not... I mean, two years ago, we were focussing only on this year of transition for Afghanistan, and we turned the page too quickly on the crisis and we don’t see the crisis coming – Africa, huge threats we share. The win-win situation could come only if we manage to make the common interests emerge and try to act in a responsible way, and obviously the security architecture around our continent, Europe, our continental Europe, is a major interest we share. And I skipped the question on the Iranian nuclear file, I didn't want to skip the question...
DAVID IGNATIUS: Please address.
FEDERICA MOGHERINI: ...but this is one of the issues where, for instance, the cooperation between Russia, the European Union, the U.S. and others, China, is working and is fruitful, as well as, for instance, on the Middle East peace process, where we need to sit down together and try to restart, on the Syrian chemical weapons it worked last year, other issues I hope-- Libya is something else on which we can work together in the U.N. Security Council. We have other challenges we could work on, and to be completely sincere, I think that the old set of efforts that was done in the recent years, the new START agreement for instance, of disarmament and non-proliferation agreements, it would be really an historical mistake to throw that away, because, again, it's not a matter of going back to the Cold War, the world is not bipolar anymore – it's not multipolar either, it's just no order. We should try and find a way of defining some sort of order, and it's already two decades we have wasted after the end of the Cold War without drawing any kind of design of world order. Maybe it's time to do it.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Jens, do you have thoughts [inaudible] there's a very useful bridge to what knitting back together would look like, the identification of various common interests and working on those? For example, is NATO trying to find ways to share intelligence either as a group or through member countries with Russia, with other countries that are affected by violent extremism in the Middle East? Are there examples where you're working in that direction as opposed to the more confrontational issues we've been discussing?
JENS STOLTENBERG: We have suspended all practical cooperation with Russia as a result of what we saw in Ukraine last spring. We continue to have open channels for political contact, but let me just address in a way the fundamental question you asked in the beginning, whether this is a zero-sum or a win-win situation? I can recall when I was a student, and also later when I worked in the Norwegian Central Bureau of Statistics and I worked on economic theory and game theory, and there we learned about cooperative games and win-win situations, and non-cooperative games and zero-sum outfalls or outcomes. The main message then was that it all depends on the rules. If you have the right rules and you have a minimum trust, then you are able to move from a zero-sum situation to a win-win.
The problem now is that we don't have the rules, or actually we have the rules, but they are not respected. Therefore we don’t have the trust and that's the reason why we are moving from a win-win situation toward something which is more and more like a zero-sum, a game, and we cannot go back again to the win-win situation without enforcing respect for rules. Because that's a pre-condition for trust, and trust and respect for rules is a pre-condition for win-win. This actually undermines both arms control, it undermines economic cooperation, trade, and it undermines security in Europe. So when NATO is so focussed on the respect for basic rules, like respecting the border of your neighbour – it's not a very advanced, it's not, how to say, difficult rule, it's to see the border and to respect it. Then we focus on that because that's so fundamental for the idea of coming back to a situation where we can have a win-win situation over a zero-sum situation.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Victoria, let me ask you for a final comment here and then I'm going to actually take the first question from the audience for you as well, so thoughts that you have on either the, to me, very worrisome unravelling of arms control, in particular in the INF dimension and then we'll turn to the audience.
VICTORIA NULAND: I agree with Jens that you can't have win-wins without trust. We all want win-wins, that's what we've devoted our professional lives to, that's what we need for our populations, but without trust you can't do it and you're not going to have trust if you don’t have truth. So when you have a country denying that it has troops in another country's territory, there's no trust. When you have a country denying that it is testing a new missile that may not be compliant with INF, it's hard to have trust. Our president has wanted to do not lest arms control, but more arms control. He has wanted to cut strategic weapons further. I was sent out to Europe as his negotiator to try to do a daughter of CFE, to do a brand new conventional treaty. We couldn’t get it done because Russia refused to talk about its forces that were stationed in Georgia, Moldova against the will of those governments. So we would love to do more, but it requires trust, truth, addressing the situation as it is.
DAVID IGNATIUS (Moderator, Columnist and Associated Editor, The Washington Post): I saw a question from the audience for you and I'm going to paraphrase it but if somebody would take ownership of this question it was directed to you and it was on this question of defensive weapons for the Ukrainians and it essentially asked is there something that a continuation, or increase in Russian shipment of weapons across the border as our intelligence collects that information that would change the balance in this decision which has been pending now for some months. I hope I have stated that right.
VICTORIA NULAND (Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State): Look as I said this is the President's decision to make. I think I laid out the considerations. Obviously we're watching what happens on the ground. We're hoping for, working for the best outcome which would be the full implementation of Minsk which would make the whole question mute. But if that is does not happen, if in fact we see a resurgence of aggression and violence that'll change the calculation also.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Okay. The first hand I saw was a gentleman here in the second row and then I see lots of hands waving, I'll try to get as many people as I can.
ROLAND FREUDENSTEIN (Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies): Thank you, thank you very much. I'm Roland Freudenstein from the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies which is a think tank of the European People's Party not to be confused with People's Republic.
Now my question to Secretary Nuland. We heard in the previous session from Secretary Ptiginisky [phon] about accommodation and ruling out NATO membership for Ukraine. Would that be acceptable on the basis of everything we've stood for, after the end of the Cold War, countries free to chose their alliances? Wouldn't that be a return to spheres of influence and buffer zones?
And one question to Chairman Kosachev. In the spirit of win-win and de-escalation that figures so highly in the description and title of this session, wouldn't it be a brilliant idea for those Russian military planes that have been spotted near passenger flights to switch their transponders back on?
MODERATOR: That's… so let's put that…
DAVID IGNATIUS: … what about those transponders, Konstantin, that scares people.
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV (Chairman, Committee of the Federation Council on International Affairs, Russian Federation): I'm not an expert on that but as far as I'm informed by our experts, NATO aircrafts do not switch on transponders in many cases either. Would you deny it, would you say now that each and every NATO airplane does have an air transponder on? If you do say it now I will go back to my experts but as far as I'm informed this is more or less a common practice in both cases. I don’t like it, this is dangerous, but it's not unique for Russia.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Jens, you want to respond?
JENS STOLTENBERG (NATO Secretary General): Aircrafts on the NATO command turn on their transponders and for instance all the aircrafts we have in the Baltic Air Policing Mission they turn on the transponders.
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: But there are no cases of transponders switched off by NATO…
JENS STOLTENBERG: Airplanes under NATO…
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: This is important because I have to ask my experts in that case.
JENS STOLTENBERG: Plane under NATO command turn on their transponders.
DAVID IGNATIUS: All right. That's…
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: Okay…
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: … I'll check it out.
DAVID IGNATIUS: That's the answer. I'm going to turn to the woman in the third row and then to Congressman…
JENS STOLTENBERG: But there was a question…
DAVID IGNATIUS: Oh sorry was there something Victoria? Sorry.
VICTORIA NULAND: There was a question about Ukraine and NATO. It is the long-standing position of the United States across administrations, Republican and Democratic, that any Euro-Atlantic country has the right to chose its alliance, has a right to ask. That's a different matter than the hard work that a country has to do, representatives from many of the countries who have done it in this room, to meet the rights and responsibilities of membership.
I think this is a false question to be discussing right now because Ukraine has so much work to do to strengthen and heal its economy, its democracy, its politics and it is focused on that work which is why President Poroshenko says the question is not at the top of the table, but as a general matter, absolutely.
DAVID IGNATIUS: If that finishes Mr. Freudenstein's.
THERESA FALLON (European Institute of Asian Studies): Theresa Fallon, European Institute of Asian Studies. Since Victoria Nuland is also is charge of Eurasia, and I'd like to… to the whole panel, but Russia has never been weaker in modern history, Xi Jinping so-called initiative is an ambitious strategic vision for Eurasia. How do you see Sino-Russian competition in this region shaping up, especially now that Russia is so… with the sanctions and problems in Ukraine, it is unlikely that Russia will be content to be a satellite of China, so can we open this up a little bit to the broader geostrategic issues at stake here? Thank you.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Who wants to address that? Konstantin would you like to speak to… I certainly sense that Beijing is concerned about Russia's situation in Ukraine about my own visits there most recently in December. Do you want to speak about Russia and Asia? You've had extensive dialog with Japan going on, what about Russian Asia?
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: Well we are in perfect relationship with China as for now; we never had as good relations with China as we have now. We do not have any contradictions with China on Ukraine. Yesterday when there was an informal meeting of the Security Council discussing the situation in Ukraine, both Russia and China did not attend. This is another confirmation that we do not have at least some principle contradictions.
The current sanction policy towards Russia does create additional motivation for Russia to have other projects with China and other countries which do not sanction Russia, and they believe that when, if and when, when the sanctions are lifted up, it will be very difficult for many European and American companies to come back to Russia for the simple reason these markets will [inai. That's it.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Congressman Issa. The microphone I'm sure will make its way to you tout de suite.
DARRELL ISSA (Congressman, Republican U.S. Representative for California's Congressional District): Thank you. Madam Secretary I'll sort of play the U.S.-Russian relation if I could for a moment. But not to leave anyone out, retuning to cyber, I think to sort of call it false narrative of you know would you use kinetic energy if or kinetic attack if somebody were to do a cyberattack probably was a little over the top, even by Russian-U.S. standards but when we had recently a likely North Korean attack against the U.S. and quite frankly oddly enough China's connection to North Korea went down for a period of time some might call that a measured response, neither confirming nor denying it aren't there in fact necessary measured responses that NATO, European Union, United States are going to have to develop and consistently let friend and foe alike know would be a reaction and then Dimitri I would only ask you…
DAVID IGNATIUS: Konstantin.
DARRELL ISSA: … or Konstantin, I'm sorry, I would only ask… I apologize… I would only ask you one question is…
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: Who is Dimitri?
DARRELL ISSA: [Laughter] Yes, we'll find him later.
DARRELL ISSA: … as the U.S….
VICTORIA NULAND: He just elevated you to Prime Minister!
DARRELL ISSA: Which as you know can be fatal so be very careful!
DARRELL ISSA: But on your side, if Armenia were to launch a cyberattack would you cut off their natural gas?
DAVID IGNATIUS: Let's take first Toria and then Konstantin.
VICTORIA NULAND: Well first of all Congressman you have forgotten more than I'll ever know about U.S. capabilities in the cyber arena… Yes, exactly. But just to elaborate on what Jens said earlier, the truth is that NATO collectively has already helped allies respond to cyberattack whether it's helping them restore a network, move to other network, do the forensics to figure out what happened, harden, etc., with regard to countermeasures, you know, there is a full menu of things one could think about and but we are obviously as an alliance trying to improve and perfect those kinds of things as the technology and the environment changes.
DARRELL ISSA: So measured response and kinetic attack was never on the table.
VICTORIA NULAND: Look none of us is going to say you do X and we'll do Y, that's just not the way it should work. But there are plenty of responses short of kinetic that would be impactful.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Could I just jump in and ask before we get to Konstantin, wouldn't there be some value, as Congressman Issa suggests, in just from a deterrent standpoint in greater discussion of what actions might provoke other actions so that you wouldn't have a kind of you know you're not going to bomb a country that disrupts your electrical system but what would you do, wouldn't a greater public discussion as was the case during the Cold War to establish norms of deterrence would that be useful?
FEDERICA MOGHERINI (European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, European External Action Service, and Vice President, European Commission): You don’t manage to get out of this Cold War, right. I'm sorry…
DAVID IGNATIUS: Well you're right.
FEDERICA MOGHERINI: Because the starting point was the win-win.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Yes.
FEDERICA MOGHERINI: And how do we get out of this. But my impression is that the question themselves bring us back really to last century, last millennium.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Well let's…
FEDERICA MOGHERINI: Sorry but…
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We have to take it.
FEDERICA MOGHERINI: Sorry. Sorry.
DARRELL ISSA: [Inaudible] your point, and being an atavistic 19th century person anyway, let me still ask…
VICTORIA NULAND: She says you're showing your age!
VICTORIA NULAND: That's what's happening!
FEDERICA MOGHERINI: No! Toria, I'm the senior, I'm the senior diplomat here so…!
DARRELL ISSA: You're the…
VICTORIA NULAND: Get 21st century…!
DARRELL ISSA: [Inaudible]
DAVID IGNATIUS: We will not use your wisdom and experience against her nor her youth and inexperience against her.
DARRELL ISSA: That's spoken like Ronald Reagan. If I…
DAVID IGNATIUS: Jens has a thought, let me turn to him.
JENS STOLTENBERG: We have never exactly spelled out exactly how we will respond to different kinds of situations or attacks. But we have the history of more than six decades where everything that we have done is proportionate, it's defensive and it's completely in line with all of our international commitments. So just to look on our history and our record I think you can just trust that the way we will respond to any cyber attack will be proportionate, it will be defensive and it will be in line with our international commitments.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Helpful. Konstantin.
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: Well I got a question about Armenia taking Russia and our possible response on gas deliveries. I would like to remind you then that the year of 2008 when we had this deep crisis with Georgia and tanks were shooting at each other, Russian gas deliveries to Georgia were not interrupted for a single minute; they continued during the whole crisis and they continue as for now. And this is absolutely something we will continue to practice because we do not… there is a common perception that Russia uses energy supplies as a weapon, political or economic weapon, this is not the case. We have certain problem with Ukraine but the problems were related to our commercial disputes, they were not related to our political disagreements, and I can not imagine a situation when political disagreements may lead to a situation when we switch off the deliveries of natural gas to any country.
DAVID IGNATIUS: So I'm going to take two final questions from hands that were raised right from the beginning. The woman here in the third row and then the gentleman there, yes, just under the Brussels Forum.org sign. So Madam, let's collect these two and then we'll come back to the panel.
NIKI TZAVELA (Member of the European Parliament): My name is Niki Tzavela, I'm a [inaudible] member of the European Parliament. Let's suppose that things go wrong and in June the European Union decides to extend the sanctions, we may end up with a destabilized Russia. We have a destabilized Northern Africa, we have a destabilized Syria in the Middle East, can Europe afford a destabilized Russia? This is my question. DAVID IGNATIUS: Powerful question. Let's get one more in the back, and then we'll come back to the panel, if we could get a microphone back to the gentleman who is standing.
DAVID KRAMER (McCain Institute): David Kramer with the McCain Institute. Russia started the crisis with Ukraine in 2013 not because Ukraine was going to sign an agreement with NATO, but because Ukraine was prepared to sign an agreement with the European Union. So in light of that, I'd like to ask both the Secretary General and the High representative, are they willing to state that both of your organizations remain open to the prospect one day even if it's years down the road for Ukraine if it meets the criteria to join both NATO and the European Union, both also Mr. Secretary General, in Russia's military doctrine NATO and its enlargement are considered the number one threat and danger to Russia, is it time for NATO to announce and declare that Russia is of threat to us as well? Thank you.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Those are two good questions, they're sort of the flip side of each other. Let me go down the panel, we'll start with Konstantin, if you would, the first as… as sanctions bite there is a concern about a destabilized Russia, economic difficulties, speak to the Russian future, and then there was a very provocative question from David Kramer which you may also want to respond to. And then we'll go down each of the panelists.
DR. KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: Number one, we are definitely influenced by sanctions but the damage is not crucial and Russia will definitely survive whether sanctions are prolonged or not prolonged. Russia is not isolated, they have many economic partners and we will continue to live with or without sanctions. Though we are not happy about these sanctions they have not brought any result in terms of influencing the decision-making process in Russia, they will not do it in the future either.
You are an expert, Mr. Kramer, and you understand perfectly, you know perfectly well that NATO as an organisation was never declared in any Russian document as a threat. The expansion of NATO was classified as a challenge and threat hypothetical threat towards Russian security and this is where we stand. NATO was never classified as a threat and we have to be there and I do not believe that NATO needs to declare Russia as a threat. This is my answer.
Am I supposed to give another comment because I have many.
DAVID IGNATIUS: No, I think… I think that's clear, direct. Federica.
FEDERICA MOGHERINI: First a destabilized Russia is not in the interest of the European Union and I think of the world, because the world we live in is fragile. There was one of the questions on the list asking if we were ready for a major destabilization in the world while we're still recovering from an economic crisis, this is an issue and it's an issue for Europe. Still we decided more than one year ago that as there was no military mean to face the crisis in Ukraine from the European perspective the only way of putting pressure on Russia was the economic one. So I wish we could lift the sanctions soon but it depends on the situation on the ground in Ukraine. And we are not going to leave this kind of principle. And I can guarantee you I'm confident that European Union will keep its unity in the decisions on this respect liking any decisions on sanctions only and purely to the situation on the ground in the East of Ukraine.
When it comes to the European perspective of Ukraine, this is not on the table of the Ukrainian authorities. Victoria was saying very clearly we should focus all also us but also the Ukrainian authorities more and more on the challenges they face internally now because the real point is the success of Ukraine itself which is a challenge, and President Juncker stated in July, so even before taking office, that we're not going to have enlargement of European Union in the next five years and we have countries that are cueing up since 10 years now. So imagine Ukraine. But we have a treaty, we have an article in the treaty that is very clear, and that it stays. So in that respect there is no change of the European Union policy but we have to be realistic and understand that the European perspective of Ukraine is always stated as it is in one article of the treaty but the situation, the political situation we're facing, Ukraine is facing, and the European Union is facing in supporting Ukraine in its transition is focusing on something different at the moment.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Secretary General.
JENS STOLTENBERG: When it comes to enlargement, I think it's very important to underline some fundamental principles and that is also principles which are enshrined in, for instance, the Helsinki Final Act on which all countries including Russia has subscribed to and that is that every nation has the right to decide its own path, including to decide what kind of security arrangements it will like to be part of. So for instance whether Ukraine is going to be a member of NATO or not is first of all a question which Ukraine has to decide whether they would like to apply, and if they apply well we will assess that application in exactly the same way as we will assess any other application for a NATO membership. And that would be a relationship between the aspirant country and the 28 allies, no other country has the right to intervene or to try to veto such a process and that's a fundamental principle of the sovereignty of individual nations and it's something which also Russia at least subscribes to or supported when they signed the Helsinki Final Act.
Then I would like to underline that for me there is no contradiction between the idea of a strong defense and dialog, a strong defense and accommodation. Actually for me it very much works together because the only way we can have the confidence to engage with Russia, Russia is going to be a neighbour, it's going to be there, is to have the confidence and the strength which is provided by strong collective defense, the NATO alliance. That provides the basis for also in the future to be able to re-establish some kind of cooperative relationship with Russia. So for me to increase our collective defense is not a contradiction to at the same time aspire for a more constructive relationship but it's a way to establish the predictability the trust which is needed for a more win-win situation in the future.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Toria and I just want to say to those who I can't call on I apologize I just got a sign from the person who runs this you know a knife across my throat so I apologize. Victoria.
VICTORIA NULAND: Well just in the interest of being provocative which is why Karen invites me to things…
VICTORIA NULAND: Exactly. Yes. Yes. Very diplomatic diplomat. I would just recall an instance in 1993, more than one in fact when then President Boris Yeltsin of Russia raised with senior Americans the prospect of whether Russia would ever be welcomed as a NATO member if it applied and I also remember conversations when President, when Medvedev was President when he was asking rhetorically publicly whether Russia should aspire to join the European Union because we were in that period of high economic integration. I would like to live in a world, I would like my children to live in a world where more Russians would be asking themselves the question about whether their future knitted together with us sharing our values is in their interest. I would like to live in a world where more Russians had a chance to come and hear what we have to say to attend our schools, and have an open debate, have that real debate. And what I worry about now is that we are foreclosing the very options that many of us spent our lives trying to work for which is a closer transatlantic community truly from Vancouver to Vladivostok, and that's what we should aspire to. And I would like to hope that when we're doing the 20th year anniversary that might look more possible.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Powerful discussions are going to continue the next two days. This who weren't called on we're going to have so many panels for you to jump into, thank you everyone for being part of this, thank you especially to the panelists.