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tv   Discussion on Russias Role in Syrian Conflict  CSPAN  December 21, 2015 12:11pm-1:42pm EST

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the american people. god bless our fighting men and women, and god bless america. now a discussion about russia's military operations in syria and the implications for the u.s. and turkey. analysts talk about russia's motivations and goals for their involvement and how recent actions in syria have increased russia's presence on the syrian border with turkey. this it 90 minutes.
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>> good morning, everyone. i want to welcome all of you to this discussion on russia and syria, implications for the united states and turkey. we have a great panel to discuss most recent turkish incident, the downing of the russian jet, as well as experts who can provide a broader perspective on u.s.-russia relations and see how that is going -- going forward how the relationship between the west and russia will evolve but in particular in the context of syria. as you know, russian intervention, military intervention, direct intervention in syria has complicated the dynamics on the ground. there were expectations this could perhaps lead to some
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contribution from russia to the fight against isis, but let's say that russia has been at the very least ambivalent about that. not entirely clear what russia is doing in syria. it seems to be targeting the opposition against the assad regime so russia seems to be helping the assad regime and also doing some operations against isil, but we'll discuss what the goals of russia in syria are but also in the context of the most recent incident of turkey's military downing the russian jet along the border with syria and how that will impact the u.s. u.s.-russia-turkey relation ship and also the syrian conflict going forward. i have a great panel with me
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here. distinguished speakers from dsis. to my left, jeffrey, is deputy director and senior fellow with the cis russia and eurasian program. he is then author of "the return of great power politics" and also a frequent commentator on security issues and russian foreign policy amongst other issues with u.s.-russian relationship also. he was just telling us he just got back from russia yesterday so i'm sure -- last week. sorry. so he has fresh things to say about the u.s.-russia relationships. we have hannah coburn, hannah is
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a research fill low and focuses on eastern european politics and the transatlantic relationship, and she is also a frequent media commentator on russia, ukraine, and u.s.-russia relationship as well. and to her left, my colleague, our research director here at seta, an assistant professor of science and he has written on turkey's relationship with russia and the most recent incident as well, and he is the author of both on obama syrian policies as well. so i want to thank my panel and thank you for being here for this discussion, and without further adieu, i'll just turn to my left. we'll start with jeffrey, who will talk about the u.s.-russia
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relationship in more broader terms, and then go to hannah for her assessment of what that means in the context of russia and syria, and then we'll move over for a discussion on russia-turkey relationships, and then they'll have each ten minutes and then go to a discussion and then a q & a type session as well. thank you very much for coming, and, jeffrey. >> okay, thanks, and thanks to everybody in the audience who came today. i'm not actually here to talk about the downing of the russian plane but the turkish air force. we can discuss it during the q & a. i want to provide a broader picture of russia's actions in syria and their implications for the bigger u.s.-russia relationship. there's of course, as there always is, a prehistory to this, and in this case i would say the important part of the prehistory
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goes back to the cold war when the soviet union was a key player in the middle east and had a number of client states in the region, including syria, but also iraq in the bath just regime, egypt under nasr and the pl expo others. the soviet union support for these regimes was part of the globalization of the cold war in the the 1960s and. it was -- the middle east became this kind of chessboard on which some of the latter day cold war conflicts, the proxy conflicts between moscow and washington, played out. when the soviet union collapsed in 1991 moscow lost its regional hinterland and also the role as the leading pat trop of regimes in the middle east. it lost its influence in that part of the world. to the extent that when the united states led the coalition to push the iraqi army out of
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kuwait in 1991 it got the soviet union onboard with that campaign despite iraq had been a traditional client state. so, with the end of the cold bar and the soviet collapse, russia entered a nerd which is tried to integrate more deem deeply with the west and adopt a more western identity when it came to pursuing foreign policy in line with the united states and it allies. in more recent years, though, especially since the return of vladimir putin to the kremlin, russia has reversed course and has sought to re-establish itself as an independent great power, pursuing its ohm geopolitical agenda that does nose overlap necessarily that of the west or the west generally or the united states specifically. we can see this in the middle east as one of the key areas in which russia is seeking to reassert its own role, establish itself as an independent player, and pursue goals that may or may not be aligned with those of the west but that russia defines on the basis of how it perceives
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its open interests. this is the context in which the arab spring broke out, which russia viewed in very different terms than did the united states or many of its allies. the typical way that we talk about the arab spring in this town in 2011 when it was happening, was that this was the release of spent-up frustration on part of populations who had been repressed too along, part of the natural human striving for democracy. in russia, though, this upsurge in the arab world was seen as revolt against established ledge legitimate secular authorities, a whole range of radical and uncontrollable forces, forces that threatened stability not only in the middle east butanals russia's neighborhood and given the large muslim populations that it live in russia itself in russia, too. and for that reason, moscow was quite opposed to regime change in the context of the arab
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spring, and was very worried that u.s. foreign policy in the region was promoting chaos and instability which could have blow back effect for the region and russia itself. where the u.s. has gotten involved, moscow views it has only contributed to this instability, pointing to iraq, the invasion in 2003, but more laterally as well,est involvement in libya in 2011 and the efforts in syria more recently. and in syria, russia has seen and argued the u.s. is repeating the same mistakes of the past in pushing for regime change to overthrow a secular, established, predictable government in favor of uncontrolled chaos and a very slim likelihood that a stable democratic government will emerge in its place. so, given that background, russia's military intervention in syria, despite a lot of rhetoric talked around here, i think is only in part -- maybe
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small part -- about propping up assad per se. sure, assad has been a fairly reliable partner for moscow, and there's an interest in propping up and preserving his role to some extent. i think there's a beggar set of issues here for -- bigger set of issues he for riches intervention. theirs more about maintain can coherence, whether they're ahead by assad or not, and the fate of assad is a bargaining chip that moscow holds, that it is seeking to play in ways that help secure its own larger interests. at the same time it's not only about establishing or re-asserting control of the syrian state institution but also about asserting moscow roz role again, during the cold war, as a regional power broker at a time when the relations with the west and the united states in particular have declined. so, russia's military intervention has done and what i think ultimately was designed to do was to ensure that russia has a seat at the table in any
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negotiations about a future peace deal. this includes giving russia a say not only over the future internal composition of the syrian government and state, but also as a key balancer in regional geopolitics as a role, playing a role in balancing the interests of syria, iraq, iran, saudi arabia, and other regional powers as well. and you can see, given the role that russia has bread in the recent diplomatic efforts on this front, including secretary kerry's visit to moscow a couple days ago, it's been successful in inserting itself into the center of the conversation. moscow may not hold the key to a peace deal in syria but it's impossible to vision a peace deal that doesn't involve moscow and that was part of the goal. now, russia's not going to match the influence in the middle east that it had during the cold war era, but at the same time, it forceful intervention in syria is designed to insert it as a
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player, show not only the syrian but other states in the region that russia is a force they can turn to they can rely on, in particular if they want to balance against the united states. we have seen this in the relationship that's developed over the last year or so, at least until the bombing over sharm el-sheikh between russia and egypt. egypt had been identified with the pro western camp under mubarak. after the ouster of mubarak there was a sense among the egyptian elet that the united states turned its back on the country in its time of need and when the new government under sisi son solidated its, the fact that the united states is a kind of fair weather friend, and so while egypt is not shifting out of the united states camp, the fact it has engaged in diplomatic overture to moss scour, there's been -- moscow, agreements on military sales and other cooperation, it's
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indicative how russia is seeking to promote itself as an alternative, as a kind of balance on the scale in the region for countries that don't think they can necessarily rely for their security entirely on the united states. and in doing this, russia gains additional whichs it can play in this larger global game that it's playing with us. and there's one other piece of this that i think is important. and that is the context beyond the middle east. so, of course, it's not coincidental, that's would have saved back in the soviet period, that russia's syrian intervention came shortly after a couple of weeks after the signing of yet another cease fire agreement in the ukraine. one that at least until recently appeared to actually be holding. now, the point here is that when russia started intervening in syria, and intervening in a way that seemed to lineup some ways with what the u.s. and its allies were trying to do in
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terms of allegedly fighting against the islamic state forces, pushing 0 for some kind of peace agreement, suddenly the u.s. and its allies needed russia, or were forced to engage with russia, on this issue, which made it that much harder for them to focus on russias a an adversary in the context of ukraine which had been dominating the relationship for a year and a half at that point. especially after the terrorist attacks in paris last month. a number of european countries have argued that uneed to engage russia, you need to form some kind of military partnership with russia and syria, in order to go after the people who ultimately were behind the paris attacks, who can then additional terrorist attacks in europe and as well as potentially in the united states, and also to deal with the migrant crisis that the civil war in syria unleashed. for other states these are higher priorities than the conflict in ukraine and if the price is to take the folk cause
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off of ukraine and we have seen in the last week are so in the discussion below sanctions there are growing fissures in the european coalition about maintaining sanctions and from russia's perspective that's all for the good. so i hope i've helped set the scene here a little bit and give you a sense of some of the broader interests that are at work behind russia's intervention, broader interests in terms not only of syriazc&q t of the middle east more generally, and in the overall balance between russia and the united states, which has -- which now touches on -- syria, the rest of the middle east, ukraine, and a number of other issues as well. if you want to talk about those specifics, including the downing of the jet by at the turkish air force i'm happy to do that during q & a. >> thank you. hannah? >> first, thank you for having me along, and thanks to jeff for a very good introduction.
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i'm slightly disaopinioned you couldn't start off with the treat ya of. >> i only had ten minutes. >> but 12 to 17 words, depending on how you -- win at the russian and ottoman empire. i actually wanted to agree 'largely with what jeff said. the major drivers drivers of why is doing what it's doing, you have put your finger an number of very important points, interest russias has in maintaining ideas of sovereignty, restoring its position it once had in the middle east. these questions about ukraine, whether or not it's distracting europe from ukraine, removing the pressure europe has put on russia with the satisfactions. these are all incredibly important points. i wanted to take the next level down, talk about some of the
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things that russia is doing to try to get there. i wanted to first focus in on the military aspect and note that if since russia -- the shooting down of the russian jet, russia has really used that incident as a kind of excuse to really truly ramp up it military positioning in the region, and just in the past several weeks, you have seen the russians move in a lot more military equipment, including a submarine, more ships down to the base that they have there on the met -- mediterranean sea, and perhaps the most importantly is the stationing of f-400 antiaircraft missiles, sort of very near to the turkish border in a town whose name is can't quite say, i'm not going to attempt it. but it starts with an h and m.
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that's exactly why i wasn't going to try to say it. the stationing of the -- very powerful -- antiaircraft missiles. only given the iranians the f-300, the last version. the 400 is the most up to date figures and has a 400-kilometer shooting radius, which makes it now nearly impossible for the west, if it wanted to, to institute a no-fly zone over syria because it covers much of that area. it also covers the area into turkey to the air force base where both u.s. and turkish militaries have been flying sorties to do their bombing runs on isis. i covered half of sailory air peace, lebanese air peace, turkish, syrian air space. so they really used it as a kind of excuse, a good reason to ramp up their military positioning in the region, in part, as i think jeff said to help solidify this
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idea that russia is going to be a major player in the region. they would like to re-insert. thes in a region where they were once significant and want to be known as major player. one thing i wanted to mention is what i think as a very important domestic component for the russian government. if you spend a lot of time, as i unfortunately do, watching russian television, there's a lot of talking about the other. there's always a kind of enemy that is presented on russian television. it's the u.s. -- the u.s. is standing in the way of russia's doing what it wants to do. europe is standing in the way. europe has terrible values. it's sometimes the lgbt community. and now it's turkey. now it's the turks. and we saw vladimir putin today gave his sort of annual three-hour long -- which is actually shorter than usually --
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usually four and a half or five hours -- he stood up and gave his annual press conference, and he was in fact very unkind towards the turks. he in fact used some language that won't be repeated here but we see things on russia television you see repeat by the russian authorities, talking about how russia is supporting -- turkey is supporting isis. as soon as the russian jet was shot down, they started saying -- using terms that had never been before seen on russian television like turkish isis. and they're really turns towards turkey as the new enemy, the new other, and to me that a way to distract from the realities at home, which are that the russian economy is not doing terribly well. oil is falling to an all new low, which means the russian budget is going to suffer. growth is again expected to decline. we're seeing a falling of the gdp, and this money for all of
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these wars has to come from somewhere, and by all these wars i include ukraine there as well. and so really the russian people are being asked to make a sacrifice for this, and they have sacrificed willingly to this point and will continue to do so for a good long while, and i'm happy to go into later the reasons why i think the russian people will really support their president on this. but i do think the domestic reasons behind the way russia is acting towards turkey and the kind of inflammatory language they're generally using, are also very important. so you saw president putin get up today and talk about how this is all turkey's fault, hero has nothing to do with this. up against the world in a way. and you also are seeing some of that come out, and i'm going to pick on a little pelt project of mine -- pet project of mine, in
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crimea. i spent a lot time with crimean tartars who people who are ethnically related to turks and in the past couple of weeks you started to sea a lot of talk of the crimean tartars as the kind of philadelphia column of turkey, and there's a lot of concerns about the human rights situation for the crimean tartars. a matter of point that is very much talked about and perhaps a little tangential to this discussion but i wanted to bring it out anyway just to pinpoint the way that the russians are using this as a very important internal mechanism of control. so i think i'll stop there and get to the internal turkey. >> thank you. >> thank you,. let me a little bit about background of this, and
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turkish-russian relations. patrol five months ago i was in moscow in a meeting, a meeting organized by a think tank in turkey and carnegie institute in moscow, talking bet the relations and if there was any way to improve the relations between the two countries. and there was this really high optimism much the speakers, cautious optimism in the case of syria partly in iraq, partly about in recommendations with iran and ukraine. but there was almost a high optimism that for people who define the u.s.-china relations usually use the concept, conflict enter dependence, and they were telling that the relations are entering to a phase of interdepeople dense because the economic conditions are so high, especially in the
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realm of energy. at that time turkey something present and -- high value -- the social exchanges, cultural exchanges, the fact that intermarriages between the turks and russians are probably the high nest the region, when you compare to different countries so there was optimism but caution optimism, statements about the fact that disagreements in regards to syria may affect the relation so we have to find a way to contain this crisis. so, it has -- five months ago in the period in five months, president erdogan and president putin met twice, once in moscow, and the second one in the g-20 summit, and actually they support the meet yesterday. this is 15th of december. the day before yesterdaying are
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right? the day before yesterday in st. petersburg, and a month before this foreign ministry of the strategic foreign minimum city organized a workshop in moscow about the possible areas of cooperation and how to contain possible fallout in the relation because of disagreements in sir -- syria, and however colleagues were invited for another workshop in st. petersburg to discuss the strategic relations. like the russian colleagues kind of use strategic relations, you have to improve these relations and create some kind of understanding. so there was a very high optimism among the policymakers, i guess, and the think tankers, journalists. everybody point out some of the
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problems, but there was this high optimism. and the day actually turkey shot down the russian aircraft, either in turkey, but i thought that my colleagues in ankara and when i look at the public opinion, turkey is a very foreign policy attentive public opinion. nobody seems to be cheering up, nobody is happy about this, but there was a point that yet they violated our air space, didn't happen for the first time. october 3, october 7, two instances, and in both instances turkey and nato together with nato protested this and wanted not to have this. and the turkey-syria border was a little hot border, considering the fact that a couple years ago a turkish -- f-15 -- f-4 was shot down by syrian air force
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and syrian jets were shot down by turkish air forces. so it was a hot bed. these kind of things happen unfortunately in the last two years. so there was in public opinion -- among the public opinion there was the fact that the government -- the turkish government's statement was that this was unidentified at the beginning, yet which was a standing order because of the clashes between these two incidents, so there might be a way to contain this crisis and resolve this crisis. but surprised most turks was the reaction. at the beginning, the reaction was understood that, yes, like the upsetting from the side of the russian government and public opinion might get angry about this, but first statement
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was considered like the reaction, and as far as i know i kind of understand the first reaction. of course it was very -- at that time even inappropriate statements like stabbing in the back, a country that supports isis, right? then this gradually increased as did public opinion, turkish students, issues like banning import of turnish goods. banning the turnish soccer players to play in the russian league. there was this russian authority making a statement saying that each aid from turkey is becoming a missile and are shooting turkish jets. so, everybody in turkey was trying to understand the fact that they are kind on under the first option, the protest in form of the turkish embassy but
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tone is getting more harsher and one of the more significant points here was the press conference of the secretary of defense and there was also the chief of staff in the press conference and it was amazing. they started the press conference by saying that we have now proof and we will present our proof that turkey is getting oil from isis, and happening isis, and they showed these maps, and in the next ten minutes, by the sources, said this is not relevant. this is something totally like the -- some of the -- said it was -- you had to pass through the area controlled by ypg so everybody was confused. what is russia trying to do? and what i think damaged the
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relations long-term impact of the real estates would be this preparedness by all on the part of russia how to attack or how to start these offensives about turkey, and since then it is increasing, and this press conference created another -- like it was an upper level. so, what does russia plan to do? what i understand from russia -- i partly understand. i -- i understand how some leaders, when they have some economic problems, then they have some domestic approval rating issues, can use these kind of domestic distractions -- external distractions in order to rally public opinion, but putin seems safe. seems 80% approval rate, yet they have economic problems. these usually diversionary
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policies and either one strike or the very short period over time. from the statements of the russian administration we understand that even today said the relations -- and having some kind of confusion over this. one significant, i think, point after i think it has been now i'm three weeks that russian plane was shot down -- that nobody is talking about russian plane anymore. so russia had almost a p.r. campaign linking the shotdown of the plane to the plane -- passenger aircraft that was bombed in china. right? so they were like, this is isis or turkey that is supporting isis. this should be somehow connected. and what happened after that is russia started a new offensive in syria and gets significant advantage actually, use this
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almost as an excuse to increase the f-400, increasing airstrikes in especially between damascus and latvia, and part of the -- starting to have ypg. report that a few days after the incident, russia starts to give weapons to ypg. there were multiple reports about this. so, russia started to act as itself was victimized and somehow trying to silence international community by saying we are victimized so we had good go on with there is policy. what will happen after this? turkey so far try to de-escalate the crisis, and president erdogan stated he wants to talk this issue with president putin. i think there was a phone call but president putin never called him back. the climate summit there was an
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expectation from the turkish side there may be summit meeting between putin and erdogan so they can talk this issue out but didn't happen. the only meeting so far, high-level meeting, was between foreign ministers, and that meeting didn't bring any results. so turkey is kind of still trying to de-escalate the crisis, and -- but it is not -- i'm not sure how far the escalation will continue especially after the statements by president putin today, and i president putin is kind of -- he said first it was a turkey, turkey was supporting isis, now he is trying to extend in the front a little bit by saying it was somehow the fact that u.s. had something to do with this. not saying this directly but trying to say a few thinged about the u.s. as well. so i'm not sure what he is
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thinking. it is becoming extremely up predictable and this the nature of of the relation he become so unpredictable because you never know that they try to create this status again. so at this point, we are still -- the future looks very uncertain, and the red line will be probably the starting point of good russia-turkish relations in 1999, and the support forted erdogan, the russian administration said that from now on we will not have that kind of relations with pkk, and the relation between 2000 and 2015 is probably in the last 300 years of russia-turkish relations the brightest spot, but maybe an exception would be 1921-1936, that period. but that was the golden age of the relations. so we will see now in the future
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there is this 15 years is an exception, right, or whether they can solve their problem and somehow find -- form a commission or an investigation about the incident or somehow resolve the crisis together. let me stop there. >> thank you. i think you all have really great points. i want to go back to jeffrey and ask a question. jeffrey, you talked about how russia is seeking or trying to accumulate these bargaining chips with the u.s. in this global game you talked about, and you also talked about how with the russian intervention in syria, u.s. was forced to engage them in many ways, and eu has been supportive of that. but the u.s. -- is it playing the game that russians are kind
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of trying to set up, or does the u.s. have a game plan in syria and russia is trying to ininfluence that? can you characterize the global game you talked about? >> okay. >> and hannah, maybe -- give you guys some time to think. you talked about the economy, the dimensions that was very important. how far do you think the economy punishment that russia is kind of conducting against turkey affordable for russia and also, in syria, we kind of talked about it in the room as well, this speaking of status, that does russia really seek in syria? can we establish their goals in
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syria? and can you talk about the ethnic dimension of the syrian policy concerning turkey. supporting those in on signature to turkey has been supporting and then there is pyn, ypg, that turkey is at odds with, the u.s. has supported them in the past indirectly and a little bit directly, and now playing with that. what is the implication of those ethnic groups as well as the syrian opposition and turkey's relationship with those and russia's relationship with those groups? how do you think those will play out in the syrian context? >> okay. what is the nature of the game? i think probably the best way to think about it is, as a game in
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which there are only a handful of players. the russian vision of the international system is one that i think to a lot of us tends to seem somewhat archaic. the obama administration is often used the -- secretary kerry in particular has used this phrase of, how russia is engaging in 21st century diplomacy using 19th century tactics. i think that actually is a pretty good way to characterize it in the sense that the 19th 19th century was a time that a was characterizedded bay handful of great powers, the so-called concert of europe where the major powers sat down amongst themselves and drew lines on the map and tried to dispose of the smaller territories and the smaller countries. i think this is still largely the way that russia understands the way that the international
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game is played. and you see this in europe with the ukraine crisis and you see it in the middle east with the syria crisis. if assad really is a bargaining chip-then ultimately it's not about syria as much as it's about defining the term of the interaction between the united states and russia and the middle east, who is going to get which of these squares on the chessboard to line up on their side, or maybe the chinese game is a better analogy in that sense. in ukraine, i think it's about trying to arrive at a settlement between ultimately the u.s. and russia about spheres of influence. can -- doesian does ukraine have a sovereign right. our position is they get to decide themselves. they're a sovereign country according to the established international rules of the game
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like the helsinki act and the paris charter, they have they right to pick which alliances they want to join and if they want to be members of nato, that's require right. whether that it a good idea is a separate conversation but we maintain ukraine has that right. russia argues it don't but what matters are the interests of a the great powers and russia is a great power, the united states is a great paw-under and nato is a periphery and ultimately the rules of the game have to be negotiate owned the bay of this interests of the major powers. so to the long-term goal is to silt down with the united states and maybe the europeans along the side, and negotiate a new framework that establishes spheres of influence in europe, and i think you're seeing something similar at play in the middle east. that's why russia wants to be at the table with the united states in crafting a settlement for a syria one that allows it to maintain its own self-defined interests in the region and ensure that all the other
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regional players, including the united states and also including countries like sought diarain a, have to -- saudi arabia have to account for russian equities and russian interests in the region, so i think for russia that what the game looks like. to the extent that we're engaging in that game, i think we're doing it somewhat reluctantly. again there was not much interest in having russia at the table in the middle east until russian military intervention kind of forced our hand, and ultimately once russia was at the table, you have seen the u.s. backtrack on commitmented it made, including the question of assad's future, secretary kerry after his meeting with putin in now sos said the u.s. goal in syria was not regime change per se. well, if you look at what secretary kerry and other administration officials said for the last two years, it was something quite different. and i think the change is first
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and foremost a result of the fact that now we're being forced on some level to play this game that russia is seeking to play. now in europe it's a little built different because, at least in the united states we have bon holding a pretty hard line on the question of linking syria and ukraine, of linking the middle east and ukraine. whatever engagement we're doing with the russians on the question of syria, the u.s. position is still that it doesn't change our commitment to upholding themy nsk cease fire agreement. and other european powers play a role as well and especially after the paris attacks you're seeing the europe an players, particularly france but you also heard from some of over the german officials, italians who held up the discussion of the extension of sanctions earlier this week and others say hold on
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here went have a more pressing issue we need to the russian's help on. let's not do anything hasty when it comes to confronting moscow over ukraine. so that's may be to 19th game but the russians are showing even in 21st century conditions you can play it with some degree of effectiveness. >> i think, jeff, you sort of answered in part the second question about what are russias goals and can we establish what they want? you did a very good job of lying that out. i think i would perhaps add, just that -- precisely the way you said the russias -- i agree the russians want to sit down with eunited states and europe and perhaps china and hammer out the new spheres of a influence. a lot of people call it's new yalta or yalta 2.0, back2i in 15
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when the great powers that and hammered out who was going to have what area of influence. and it seems to me that you -- that there's that famous quote that vladimir putin gave how the end of the soviet inon was a great catastrophe and a lot of people here see that as the old kgb guy wants communism back. he wants the old world back. i read it differently. he wants the great power of russia back. the status that the soviet union used to have. the wants that back, and i think in a way what we're seeing enough is perhaps vladimir putin trying to correct what the sees as the wrongs that were done to russia post 1989, when russia lost that status, and it saw the -- then the unipoll, the united states goal around in the world and doing largely as it pleased with its european colleagues and sometimes with
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china, and he is now sort of trying to come back and say, look you did thinged didn't like in the baskans in 1990s but you're going to have to sit down, every time you make a -- you have to think about what russia wants and what russia might do. we are a major player. and they're now at the table in ukraine and at the table on syria and are involve just like jeff said in all of these discussions, and i think that's precisely what they want. they're interested in re-establishing this idea of spheres of a influence, where is russia going to be a player, and where are you going to have to consider the russians in everything you do. i think one thing we actually haven't mentioned that is also perhaps connected but secondary goal is nato. we haven't mentioned nato yet, and i do, i think, perhaps at the risk of sounding slightly alarmist, think that one of putins long are term goals is to
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weaken nato, and perhaps intrinsically, perhaps see it exposed as a kind of alliance that doesn't mean much of anything, and whether or not he is trying to do that in turkey and essentially saying to turkey, well, you know, call for article 5 negotiations, but nothing may happen. i think that may be another prospect we may have to face is vladimir putin attempting to, perhaps in the baltics, perhaps in turkey, trying to really display to the world that europe its weak, that european unity is weak, that nato is weak and that none of these are actually real players in the sense that russia is. russia can be trusted. if rich is going to do something or says it's going to do something, it's going to do something, and attempting to cast itself in the kind of -- putting itself up against the united states some other international players and
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attempting to prove it is something different. ites the one that can be trusted-the one that you can go to, but it's just going to be in a very different sense, as jeff very correctly laid out. it's going to be in perhaps a 19th or 20th century, as we think of it, frame of action. >> ask one thing. jeff talked about this u.s. unwillingness to link ukraine with syria. right? and in syria, a seat at the table in -- having maybe facilitate some sort of transition of the assad regime and then fighting isis. do you think -- if putin can say -- could that change the u.s. attitude about linking
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russia -- i'm sorry -- the ukraine and syria can change and perhaps we have a new -- >> i think that certainly the fear of most ukrainians. there's really a great fear amongst all the ukrainian people to the ukrainian leadership they'll be forgotten in this and at the end of the day be given up as a kind of, well, putin played nice on syria so we'll let him have ukraine, a questions on the fact that crime -- acquiesce on the fact that crimea is now officially russian and perhaps phrase the conflict in the east. that's the ukrainian's very, very great fear. they had a lot of other obstacles to get over, but as jeff mentioned, you're now starting to see a little bit of a breakdownqn!ramongst the europeans, and unity on sanctions and there's certainly, i think, that very strong possibility. you can see the ukrainians trying to do everything in their
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power to prevent that because that's really their greatest fear, is that they'll lose the sovereignty, lose the ability to make their own decisions to determine their fate and their future because of what may or may not happen in syria. this is of course all conjecture and we'll see, but that's something that they have spent a lot of time worrying and thinking and trying to warn the we were partners against doing. >> okay. >> did you wand to jump in on that? >> they'll do everything in their power except pass an anticorruption law. >> yes. >> speaking of that economy -- >> economic punishment is funny, because when -- i guess it's not funny funny, but when the europeans first passed sanctions on the russians and were passing sanctions on corrupt individuals coming over to do business in europe, or what kind of oil drilling equipment they can send
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from france to russia, et cetera, one of the things the russians diimmediately was turn around and put counter-sanctions on europe, and they did it on sort of what we would consider sort of silly things. cheese from europe. polish apples and pears. the polls created an entire -- the pols created an entire campaign, drink side -- cider. and they made a big show of bulldozing large mountains of swiss and french and belgian cheeses, just bull-dozing it and the collective reaction of the west was, why are they doing that? they're sanctioning themselves. they're removing italian where chute to and western delicacies
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from their supermarkets and i think for a lot of people the answer came town to well, one, there's very easy ways to get that italian sausage, send today bell areduce where they repackage it under their label. put in a weird way, the people who were -- who actually could afford to buy fancy cheeses were the creative class, the ones who vladimir putin doesn't necessarily like anyway. your average russian doesn't necessarily have the money to buy cheese and neat fancy moscow restaurants ump how much is it actually hurting them is a good question but now that -- when you talk about really turnishing products, lie tomatoes, that's another question. you see overtures and platitudes from the, government like we
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need to spend our time on developing russian agriculture, and it's turn to our domestic producers, and, great, straight ahead, but i do think they're being a little bit strategic in what goods they decide to take and not to take. you saw the european instances they started substituting goods from south america or from other countries they were still friendly with, so it wasn't as big of a blow as it could have been, which i why i think it's important that you see that the russians have not been turkish lemon and i believe it's also not they have not been. two very, very key things they can't get from anywhere else. tomatoes, you know, maybe they won't be as good tomatoes. but they'll deal. jeff, would you have any input on that? >> the only thing i would add is that the sanctions that have
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been imposed on russia over its conduct in ukraine have, i think, high lighted to putin and other members of the russian government one of the dark sides of globalization for russia, which is that it make yours economy dependent on outside sources that you can't necessarily control. and so beginning with the imposition of the sanctions over crimea and the russian intervention, there's been a real emphasis on not only counter-sanctions but on reducing russia's exposure to globalization on import substitution, on stimulating domestic production, of all kinds of goods, especially consumer goods at this point but also in things like the financial sector, or if you can't do things solely domestically, find trusted partners you can work on with,
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such as the chinese, and there's been a big push on the financial side to develop alternative relationships between moscow and beijing, to limit the vulnerability of the russian financial sector to western sanctions. and i would argue that here you're seeing something similar. there's obviously something very visceral about food, and if you're -- the food that that that you feed your population with can be controlled on the outside, that obviously is a strategic vulnerability. khdeir said -- i was just in moscow and the striking this walt the extent to which the -- the striking thing is heard while being there, is the sent to which a lot of people seem to think that russia is in for a long-term period of confrontation with the outside world. not only turkey but the united states, europe, and it needs to prepare itself for this confrontation and that means in part becoming more self-sufficient so that these levers that the west and others
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have used to control russia's economy, becomes less potent, and i think that's the flip side of what you're seeing with these sanctions. it's cutting off dependence and stimulating domestic alternatives so that russians get used to the idea that they can't rely on the outside world, even for basic goods like tomatoes. >> actually, just add this as well. i should have mentioned, i think one you may be seeing a return to a kind of in away, -- that the russian people were used to during soviet years, not fully, of course, but there's that sense that we should be able to support ourselves with even the most basic of food items. because russia has been through so many famines and relatively recently, food is a very visceral thing, and being able to support yourself and being able to feed yourself with the
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tomatoes you grow and the plot on your dhaka -- what do you call -- >> cottage house. >> country house. which which most russians have and also connected to something i've seen, change in russian society you have seen over the past couple of year where the early years over the putin regime, putin made his name on being the bad boy and reviewedaddallizing the country on giving the russians a better standard of living. people were able to take vacations abroad. they could do nice renovations on their houses and kitchens and maybe send their kid to school abroad, learn a foreign language, doing doo things they never had that much access to above and that is part of what i would call the social contract
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between putin and the russian people, you let me do as i wish generally in the political sphere and i'll build the economy up and make your life a lot better. i think in the past few years you have seen an increased interest, particularfully just the showing of what they show on tv, the way things are talked about, of a change in that social contract. you, the russian people, now have to struggle a little bit. you're going to have to remember the days ofure grandparents or the lenin grad and when they were trying to build a better soviet. we're now trying to build a better russia and trying to get ourselves back to our rightful place on the world stage, and restore that kind of respect or fear that we want, and so i'm going to ask you to sacrifice a little bit, and sacrificing your vacations to turkey and egypt and sacrificing your -- >> they can go to greece, he
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said. >> go to greece, go to -- >> they can go to crimea. >> they're become asked to sacrifice in a way, and they'll have to give up their turkish tomatoes for now. >> i don't even remember your question. let me say a few words about -- well, about the polish -- the sanctions -- >> talk about the nuclear relationship and the impact -- >> the sanctions adopted for a the first time in poland. i went to an economic forum and never remember anytime that i ate so many -- cider, apples, and apple picking itch didn't understand at the beginning what was going on but later a journalist explained the situation kind of upward nationalism in poland. a couple of things i think we
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have to add. i remember that the dnc convention in 2012 and secretary kerry at that time senator kerry was making speech about the foreign policy platform of president obama, he blamed romney for reading russia from the -- he said the russia changed so far. i think is part of the problem i get, romney visited poland. that was the rope for the statement. i think the other part was reading the world a little bit from the iraqi -- i think the united states and the world milled that point. what we see is sometimes unpredictable leaders, the pattern of unpredictability becomes -- so maybe unpredictable things it becomes predictable. almost as predictable as you're unpredictable and when we see --
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because of the strike tour it is difficult to under russian foreign policy through structural means to understand because of this unpredictability, the geopolitical goals we cautiously try to read russian foreign policy by saying what is in putin's mind, right? like read biographies of putin, his kgb background, he is kind of appreciation of andropov and others, trying to figure out that this may be the reason that russia is doing -- acting certain way. i think what is -- caused a lot of speculation and number of the speculation is it may be the fact that hannah may be right, nato, it may be intervention, maybe less in russia, as a way to stop the nato membership, and to show the weakness of it may
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be asserting aggressive foreign policy towards turkey and this kind of air space violation may be a way to show that nato is weak, they talk but never walk the talk. that may be a policy. the second thing is about syria. the real question that you asked at the beginning of syria. now i remember actually. i'm not sure about russia was trying to do but it was first started the attack -- the estimated cost of the attack what $4 million. and as far as i understand, putin's russian foreign policy makers were thinking of a predetermined activity. to leave the proxy war and just get into the conflict you'll have several costs. it's not about the economy costs but today the cost of the war
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increased to $8 million today. and i'm not sure how far this -- how much this continue and how much russia can afford this. $8 million doesn't look a lot but through these kind of conflict we see that an incrementalism and it may be somehow they may consider that -- we spent so much money and did sacrifice, let's go on this and it may turn into a quagmire, because of that russia will try to find a solution in a very expedited way. they will push the diplomatic solutions and try to find solution out of this. lastly, about the economic punishment thing, here theof court the aing a -- agricultural sector turkey they're worried about this. energy sector, may not be any kind of interruption for the energy because during that
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russia lose a lot of credibility and international agreements, don't expect any kind of energy cut at this time, and regarding tourism, this year turkey got one million less tourists anyway because of the devaluation of the ruble. and then sharm el-sheikh becomes -- for russian tourists so it was in peak season and didn't influence at that it point that much, but we have seen the next summer the russian position if russia change these things because in the statement, in the presidential statement, there is a statement that these can be suspended at any moment with the decision of the executive. so this is kind of -- it is still that means an open window for negotiation and agreement about this. >> okay.
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well, i'll just open it to q & a at this point, and i want to take several questions for the sake of time. please. kuwait for the mic. >> last friday the russian minister of defense stated -- i'm quoting -- the islamic state area of influence -- talking about syria -- is expanding. he looked into -- about 70% of the syrian territory, the number of terrorists amounts to about 60,000 people, and then he added, there is a threat that these actions will be transferred to central asia and the -- seems to -- caucusus. they are concerned if this problems not addressed now, urgently, they're going to have
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a probable policemen in central asia. seven months ago, they said we're in a war of attrition. just a few days ago the israeli press had reports they bought a third of its fighters killed or wounded. who is winning the war of information? >> [inaudible] >> the goal -- russia's goals, maybe we i can taught more specific litsch about isis and how their goal on isis matches the goal of the united states to counter isis. i wanted to take additional questions before turning to this panel. thank you. >> this is -- i'm a financial analyst with global community, and my question is what are the potential outcomes of russia's
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military involvement in the region or the u.s. interests in the context of energy security -- energy geopolitics, and what should we expect, what kind of changes should we expect with regard to this? >> yes, allen. >> [inaudible] you talked about the strategic conversations -- [inaudible] -- i think the conventional wisdom for a long time was, oh, russia and turkey are great at managing the two tracks, they disagree about
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syria but moving forward in many areas and it was sort of like they -- i again issue think you showed there was a lot of concern that the center might not hold. i'm just wondering, still -- putin's strong reaction because i think he had such a good thing going with turkey. a year ago, they announced turkish stream was a high point, then the turks were very hard-nosed about getting reductions for the price of gas, about the terms for turkish -- i wonder, was that beginning of a poisoning of the relationship? nobody mentioned that. i guess for hannah, i just curious, what was the reaction -- you mentioned the tartars and the way the russian -- moscow discounts
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them. how did the tartars reaction -- reeight to this and how did the sizable sunni muslim population of russia react to this if you have any insight. >> a fascinating panel. >> thank you. thank you. let start with the isis question. i think russia has concerns about isis. report demonstrated that at least 1,000, maybe more than that, russian citizens in the -- they have concern if you have such concerns, the target of your military strikes needs to be the places isis is located, and according to reports state that intelligence source of the u.s. that 90% of the attacks so far was targeted not isis but other groups. right? so that may be -- may show that
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they may have serious concerns but didn't act like they are focusing on those concerns. that will be my question if the russian policymaker say same already thing. secondly issue wasn't sure about the turkish this. russian didn't have'm time to start -- many people said, maybe putin is using this, he knows not to reduce the prices at that it point and delay the reduction of the prices. so, i have some concern about that. as many look at turkey, that may be the starting point of disagreement, but when you look at the russian media right now -- of course i'm saying the english language russian media -- i think the problem goes back to not that disagreement about at the turnish -- they're talking about the nato radar system.
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more seous people are talking about -- some of them are talking about landing of u.s. russian passenger jets in ankara, and blame people in 2012 or 2013 they were carrying spare parts for the sir yarn military. some of them -- the syrian military so somebody of them took it to 300 years ago, but these were more -- [inaudible] >> no point to one nato, one strategic divergence over syria, so is there a way to really pinpoint where kind of -- it may have soured or just an incident. >> i did the analysis. they said kind of succeeded not to put this in a -- and then
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turn out to be turkey with the radar system. the interpretation on the part of russia, like the painting, the same plan. the implementation of the same plan. >> hannah? >> on the question of russia and terrorism, i do agree with exactly what he said, if that really was russia's main interest, then they should actually be sending 90% of their time bombing actual isis targets. i think the thing that concerns me is that russia is using isis really as a kind of convenient political excuse. i'm frankly not convinced they care that much about terrorism in their region. they have had it for a very long time. they've dealt with it quite harshly in the past, and in several instances during putin's 15-15 year tenure, there have been incidents where the kremlin
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has chosen to use particular terrorist incidents as an excuse to do something that they wanted to do anyway. and so i'm thinking of the series of apartment bombings in mid to late 1999, which essentially was used as the excuse to start the second chechen war. i'm thinking of the terrorist attack in -- i think it was 2003 -- which was used as an excuse for putin to accomplish something domestically, which was to remove the facility for the people of russia to directly elect a governor. there are several a terrorist incidents where he has been able to -- or even just tragedies like the sinking of the submarine in 2001 where he clamps down on the media inside of russia. so he is in the past to my mind been very, very adept at doing i
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guess what rahm emanuel always said, never letting a serious crisis go to waste. so i'm not totally convinced by this line that they really, truly do care. if they didn't care, then they wouldn't allow saudiz arabia to build gigantic mosques or wouldn't allow the chechens to allow student tostada in saudi arabia but a that continues. on the tartar reaction to the shootdown, there really wasn't much of one other than a fear that it would be put back on them. it's important to note there are two different versions of tartar's. there's the tartars in mainland russian and then the crimean tartars that speak a different language and are not related to each other. as far as i know i'm only talking about the crimean tartars. their only reaction was to be concerned that it would come back on them as it has a little
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bit. i'll stop there. >> okay, on islamic state. so, i do think russia has a real concern about the potential for blowback, both in central asia and the caucuses and within russia itself. i think their analysis is different. we talk about the islamic state as the problem and -- we talk about modern rebels in syria, the russian position generally has been there is no such thing as a moderate rebel. after the kerry meeting, that may beginning to change because there has been the formation of this rebel alliance with saudi help and there's some question about who the russians are going to be willing to engage. >> sounded like "star wars" there. >> i haven't seen that yet.c5kr
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but in general, as was said, the targeting inside syria has focus it primarily on nonisis forces which impose the most direct threat to the assad government. so, for the russians, this hasn't been about isis per se. and as far as the caucasus of central age goes, there's a problem. a couple thousand russian citizens finding in syria and also several thousand central asians who are fighting in syria, many of whom traveled to russia first as migrant workers before going to the middle east, and of course, at some point we would think these people are going home. one striking thing you hear from a lot of fairly well placed and sensible russians is it's bet that's right these people go to syria because then we can blow them up over there. now, i'm sure that's true to some extent, but you're not going to blow all of them up and
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certainly not going to prevent all of them from coming home. moreover, the sources of radicalization in a lot of these places are internal. you have militant groups, opposition groups, that are generated by the lack of political, social and economic right that's face in these countries. you have the islamic movement in us a beck stan which has been fighting to oust the government since the beginning of the 2000s. wait was in pakistan and afghanistan writ still has fairly substantial numbers, pledging allegiance to isis. that's not because of anything that is going on in syria, but it's because they see the isis brand as being potent and way for them to further their own militant ambitions closer to home so russia is concern about the spread of extremism and terrorism but as hannah said, not only a question of what is
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going on in the ground in syria. there's a much larger context. on energy. in the eastern mediterranean, i haven't been following this closely recently so i don't now i have a lot to say except that from a power projection standpoint, russia's -- the securing of the russian naval facility in syria is significant in that, one, -- this is one of the key equities russia will insist on in any peace deal is the man is of that facility and also over the source of the conflict the base has come frock being a small repair shed that didn't host anything or really have any protection to something that does, prettily heavily armed now, some of the people in the defense department here are worried about the installation of antiaccess and area denial weaponry there that would make the eastern mediterranean a
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no-good zone for nato naval forces. so, there is a geopolitical context here, and i don't know enough about the energy dimension to say much, except on turkey, as mentioned, this has been a troubled project for a long time, and the decline in energy prices it was never going to make sense economically anyway. now the economics make even lessens, and talking to the energy people, the project is years behind schedule into the announcement about the cancellation may be tied in some sense to the deterioration of relations between moscow and hanukkah -- and ankara and that is cover for the fact the project was behind schedule and wouldn't be launched on time anyway. >> we're going to take two more questions. yes.
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>> [inaudible] for the russian government right now emerging. what i got from the media so far -- there is need for posturing a little bit and saying that we can still protect the homeland. so, there is a -- if you deal with sanctions from europe and sanctions -- that we can achieve this, and internationally there's another situation that they are saying we are fighting against isis but the kind of --...
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i think that's more of a domestic opinion. that you need more money. my first question is to what extent do you think not from our respective but from russia's perspective they are punching above their weight? the turks brought down a plane and he didn't have to try hard to do it. at brussels miles from the pentagon, well, this is a question for second generation aircraft into the nile of every. from the russian perspective do you think that the russian
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establishment believes its punching above its weight? number two, from russia's perspective what constitutes success? you know, kilic just that if we have a little sacrifice we can achieve this. achieve what? what, what's the achievement? if it's about russia because part of the international treaty and part of the solution, achieve what? >> thank you. >> thanks a lot for this panel here at very helpful. i'm wondering if you think the russians strategy for specific on 106 or is there a broader strategy in the region? how about the russian position
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about the unity of syria? [inaudible] >> also you mentioned about the reaction after the shooting down of. that was a reaction towards turkey. [inaudible] 80% of the people right now are supporting -- [inaudible]
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[inaudible] >> on the question about do you think that the russians think they are punching above their weight, i think they are very aware of what their capabilities are and are not. and i meet in certain areas they are perhaps punching above their weight. in other areas they have very advanced capabilities. the brand-new caliber missiles we've seen them using a really, really quite advanced and very impressive piece of weaponry. the planes, however, as you rightly mentioned, are a serious concern. that said osha salon article in the new york times about how we are still flying b-52's from the 1960s. they do know what their weaknesses and strengths are. they just been through a large
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modern military program that perhaps jeff does more about the 90. they've done some work on trying to make air force professional. they're still not entirely there. are still up of conscripts are generally any of the people they're sending to syria on a contract, officially professional soldiers. they are moving in the direction of having a much more professional military. so yes in some areas they certainly are. and others they are actually quite advanced. dave mckenney large strides since the georgia war, which was in a way to kind of work that exposed to them a lot of their weaknesses and the he spent thet six years working on it. what are they trying to achieve? you know, i think we all would like to know that. i think there's never only one goal. i think that there's always going to be several different goals. and extent to which get a cheap one or several of them is of course going to determine
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whether or not they'll consider themselves successful. to my mind at the end of the day the major goal is the restoration of russia as a respected, by which many feared, international power, alongside the united states, china and whomever else, perhaps europe, perhaps the saudis come into. that to my mind is precisely what russia wants. and everything else to the it's just a matter of their getting there. under the others have different opinions. >> thank you. >> okay. to your question, i mean, yes, this was an older playing i mean keep in mind the russians assumed they would operating over territory where there was not in, a threat to the plane. they didn't assume the rebels that they were bombing at antiaircraft capabilities. since the plane was shot down did introduce the as 400 come
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also announced a only runs against rebels would have accompanied by fighter planes. so they are taking the threat environment more seriously than they did. as mentioned on the military side to have a significant strides in reform the last couple of years. senior russian, i was speaking with last week kind of pointed out semi-jokingly of all the things we said we were going reform the only one that's ever had in result was from the military. that's actually true. battle entrance of the professionalization of the forces but also in terms of developing the mitchell international complex, developing new radar, missile, and air platforms and naval platforms. there is some of the stuff happening. rush is not a full spectrum force. it doesn't have the capabilities the united states has, but it is pretty significant capabilities compared even a country like,
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say, china. i think we have to take those seriously. i think sometimes i want was that one time about the prussians that they are an army with the state more than an state with an army. in the military domain probably yes, they are. but keep in mind that the measures of national power are measured in and of other ways. on the economic front, on the cultural front, a democratic front, on others. rush is a much weaker and less potent force that it is the it is just chosen to emphasize the place a lot of resources specific on the military dimension of its power where it hasn't had success. entrance of a russian strategy for syria, i heard the term from a russian analyst looks at this usable syria and i think that's probably a good way of describing what ultimately moscow is pursuing which is to say they don't need assad to
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control the entirety of the territory of the modern city and state, or any post assad government. what they want is some sort of reliable regime whether it's headed by assad or somebody else that controls the areas that are strategically important event including would have military facilities-based. and that acts as kind of a client or partner or is at the very least respected of russian interest and equity. if by the forsaken for 70% of the country that's mostly uninhabited, i don't think the russians mr. think that's the worst outcome. >> so this goes against the russian emphasis of territorial integrity and international relations which we've seen in crimea in ukraine. >> yes. rush is very committed to territorial integrity.
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>> there wasn't any, the public is attentive and public thinks violation of their safety is consequences so the support of the covert actions people what they want is the escalation of the crisis hit and as far as i know, the diversionary ploys and if you want to detract the public opinion, create -- the action that you did need to be short, decisive and it needs to end with a victory, right? this happens mostly have a weaker country that you can do a surgical strike, et cetera if you want to distract the public attention probably you not shut down a russian jet. that would not bring any kind of victory and it will kind of -- considering the economy and considering this was relations between two countries. it is something that escalation of the crisis is not something that neither government nor turkish public wants at this
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point. >> well, i want to thank my panel. please join me in that and thank you for coming today. i think this was a great panel. thanks. [applause] >> with congress on holiday recess the c-span networks feature a full lineup of primetime programming. tonight at nine eastern on c-span our new series landmark cases. this week it's a 1973 case of roe v. wade.


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