tv Senator John Mc Cain on Ukraine CSPAN December 22, 2013 12:35pm-1:36pm EST
stability as we did that. from my perspective, this is how a mature and responsible country should operate. [applause] as a result, jointly with partners, we have been able to turn around the developments from war to the establishment of a syrian process and the chemical arsenal has been put under international control. elimination of this arsenal is in accordance to first run hitting the regime of nonproliferation. the syrian president has confirmed the united nations central role in global politics. as the situation around syria has indicated and also iran, central point, any problem must be solved politically without resorting to power.
as far as the iranian nuclear program, the breakthrough has been achieved this year, but it is just the first step, and the search must be continued for a broader solution that guarantees iran's inalienable right to develop peaceful nuclear energy and also region including israel. now what is happened? the iranian nuclear program is -- problem is going away but the adm system is still there, not just there, but the situation is developed further. more on that later. once again, russia is prepared to join any and all partners in the interest of securing shared, equal, and individual security. and fighting drug trafficking, enhancing the mpt, fighting international terrorism and other things is what we will
continue to do this year. we will be guided by the same principles in the course of preparing the summit that russia will host in 2015. we are entering the final stage of reparation of the agreement on eurasian economic union. we believe that by may 1, 2014, the language of the agreement will be approved and it will be submitted to the parliaments of russia and belarus. dear colleagues, i'm asking you to support this document on a priority basis. already working groups are in place, preparing roadmaps. i'm sure that the real achievements of eurasian integration will only increase interest in it on behalf of our other neighbors, including ukraine, even before what is happening in kiev started could
-- started, and i'm hoping that the political forces in the country will be able to solve all the problems, but even before all those problems, starting in may 2013, ukraine expressed a wish and has attended all the meanings of the troika as an observer, has participated in all the discussions, and has repeatedly stated earlier its interest in joining some of the agreements within the customs union. we do not impose anything on anybody. if our friends had a wish to work jointly, we are prepared to continue this work at the expert level. our project is based on equal rights and real economic processes. we will consistently advance the eurasian process without putting it in confrontation with other integration projects, including, of course, such a mature integration project as the european project. we will base ourselves on our mutual complementary nature.
dear colleagues, the work on our -- a few words on our steps to continue to strengthen the armed forces -- i've just mentioned the issue of the missile-defense system. here is what i would like to say in this regard. we perfectly understand that the missile-defense system is going to be a defensive system because it is called that way. however, in real terms, this is a significant part of a strategic offensive potential. of concern is the development of new weapons systems, such as low yield nuclear explosive devices, conventionally tipped strategic missiles, hypersonic non-nuclear systems capable of delivering strikes within a short time, great distances. we have been following the development and evolution of the
first strike disarming attack if there is such a conflict and it is actively being developed in several countries. implementation of all these plans may cause some very, very negative implications for regional and global stability, increase by foreign countries of the potential of strategic, high accuracy systems, conventionally armed, along with increasing the capabilities of the antimissile defense systems, may completely neutralize all the previously achieved agreements in the area of limiting and reducing strategic nuclear weapons and may disrupt the so-called strategic balance of forces. we understand this perfectly well. in this regard, we know that work needs to be done. -- what needs to be done. [applause] nobody should have any illusions as far as the capabilities to gain an upper military hand over russia.
we will never allow this to happen. russia will meet all its challenges, political and technological. we have the potential for that. our military doctrine and promising weapons samples, which are and will continue to be made available to the troops, certainly will enable us to ensure security of the russian state. [applause] a great deal more needs to be done as far as development of modern and high accuracy weapons systems. even now, as far as quality barometers of deterrence forces, we successfully and based on a plan are coming to new frontiers, and our partners have catching up to do. if our try it is to be increased even further, development is
under way on new weapons systems of strategic designation based on land, sea, and air. we will continue to build missile forces to develop the nuclear submarines. we will continue to work on the promise of long-range aviation. next in line is to create a global reconnaissance system and targeted acquisitions which will work in a single information space and real-time in the interests of the russian federation. it also has to do with strengthening -- we will continue to build up general purpose forces, aviation, navy, and land forces. this year, based on our plans, the number of contract personnel has increased to 120,000 individuals. here is a proposal -- without moving student deferment, the
system of military preparation and educational establishments need to be changed so that all students can, as they undergo their studies, they have their subsequent military boot camp, obtained military training and specialties. this mechanism would enable us to prepare the needed number of reservists most in demand, mostly technical military occupations, which -- without threatening them in the armed forces. i'm asking the security counsel to summit specific proposals. -- submit specific proposals. furthermore, the funds we are allocating to equip land forces and navy and modernize the military industrial complex, as you know, are unprecedented. they stand as 23 trillion rubles. over the next decade, the national defense and military
complex will have enough orders that will be able to renew their productive capability, create new jobs. so far, we have about 2 million people working in the military industrial complex, which is about 7 million people, including their families, experts operating in this will have stable, highly paid jobs, and therefore their families will have comfortable living. of course, what will happen after 2020 is also important. we cannot allow these companies to be oversized and not having any demand. our positions at the international market have to be increased and the military- industrial commission to summit proposals in this regard so that our companies can timely switch to making civil products that are in demand domestically and internationally.
we have said all the serviceman of the defense ministry who joined the list for 2012, and at the end of this year, be provided with permanent housing. in the near future, this goal must be fully solved. i'm calling attention of the defense minister to this and i'm asking him to take care of each specific case, having people find the scenarios of the system that is best. for the first time in this country's history we will close the issue of permanent housing for servicemen of the land forces and navy of russia. we are in a position to focus our attention on creating a modern tool of service housing -- pool of service housing and comfortable military communities. dear colleagues, the responsibility of this country
is the axis of the constitution of russia. it is a call on every one of us. the strategic development agenda of this country is well-known. it stresses the key avenues of work, the ways and methods of achieving the goals from everything that has been declared must be executed without any excuses. our debt -- our duty, rather, is to increase people's confidence. only in that case there will be more citizen engagement. let me repeat this -- where a decision has been made, and must be implemented. -- it must be implemented. i believe this approach is the concentrated expression of response ability, and i suggest it be made the motto of this year, the motto for everybody and everything, for authorities, society, and citizens. it is my absolute conviction
that as we rely on our people, we take advantage of the most modern ideas of development and solve all the objectives in front of us and we will definitely achieve success. thank you for listening. [applause] ♪ [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute]
♪ [applause] >> part of president putin's stated in the nation address made mention of the evolving situation in recurring -- ukr aine. it was announced that the ukrainian president was pursuing a bailout package with russia instead of joining the european union. that action sparked protests in ukraine. there are reports today that about 100,000 people rallied in ukraine's capital, calling for the ukrainian president's ousting. reuters writes that although it was a relatively strong showing,
the number was around half the previous weekend's turnout, which was estimated at up to 200,000 people. john mccain was in that region last weekend. he talked about the trip in this next event. atlanticted by the council and is a little less than an hour. all.od morning to you i am president and ceo of the atlantic council. the cold war seemed to have ended with the fall of the berlin wall in 1989 and the subsequent collapse of the soviet union, soviet empire. following that, both the european union and the nato enlarged.
next year, at the atlantic council, we will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the berlin wall's fall and the 15th and 10th anniversaries of nato and eu enlargements. we will have a tribute to those enlargements at our annual awards where we will be honoring secretary of defense chuck hagel, the eu commission president, and others. recent events in the ukraine have underscored how far we remain from president george h.w. bush's dream of a europe whole and free, one that ultimately could embrace russia and its closest neighbors, former elements of the soviet union, in one form or another. one of the best forms was the eastern partnership agreement of the european union. the latest news from the region underscores further that the
future is unlikely to be determined by tanks and troops in this new era of global competition that we have entered. russian president vladimir putin on tuesday said he had agreed to loan ukraine $15 billion and cut the price of critical natural gas supplies. ukraine's prime minister called the deal historic. in brussels, a draft eu document indicated ukraine could have gained even more from the west but with different conditions and perhaps not as plainly put. had it signed the eu pact, it might have had $26 billion in loans and grants from the eu over the next several years, it if it also agreed to the imf package. the ukraine pivots eastwards, hundreds of thousands of ukrainians pivot westward,
desiring to be part of a europe whole and free. it is in that context we welcome back a great friend of the atlantic council, senator john mccain, who visited these protesters over the weekend with senator chris murphy, and can 10 and -- and continues to play a you consistent and -- to play a consistent and leading role in change around the world. thinking through what role the united states should be playing in these challenging times. for those reasons and many more, the atlantic council presented senator mccain with the freedom award in 2011 at our global for forum in poland. he said then --
one could add, the word ukraine -- are peacefully demonstrating to change the characters of their country not by hateful ideology, violence, but by the end it -- the longing for human democracy." -- indivisible longing for human democracy. we look forward to your comments and the discussion that will be moderated by the vice president of the atlantic council, who has impressively led our team effort in trying to make sense of events in ukraine. for those in the audience who have heard senator mccain before on this set of subjects, this is on the record. feel free to tweet. the hashtag is #acukraine. senator mccain, it's an honor to have you with us. [applause] >> thank you very much. thank you for that kind introduction. thank you for your wise advice and counsel that you always provide me on transatlantic issues. i want to thank all of you of
the atlantic council, which is now, i believe, one of the premier intellectual leaders in foreign-policy and national security, not just transatlantic, but on global issues. i'm very happy to have those kind words. thank you for not mentioning that i ran for president. [laughter] i appreciate that. as i often said, after i lost, i slept like a baby. sleep two hours, wake up and cry. [laughter] i also thank you again for your warm words, given the approval rating of congress here in case you missed it, it is now 9%. it is a line i use all the time that we are now down to paid staff and blood relatives. i received a phone call from my mother who is 101 years old. we are now down to paid staff. [laughter] thank you.
i'm pleased to have the opportunity to be here. as mentioned, last weekend, i went to the ukraine with my friend and fellow member of the foreign relations committee, senator chris murphy. we met with senior governor officials -- government officials, president yanukovych, and major opposition leaders, members of civil society, including the daughter of tymoshenko, many of the so- called oligarchs, youth, and students, and some of the hundreds of thousands of peaceful demonstrators. in all of my many years of travels abroad, i have never seen anything like what we witnessed last weekend in ukraine. on saturday night, we stood in the trade union building overlooking the -- while roughly a quarter of a million ukrainians cheered and jumped up and down in a sea of sparkling cell phones.
on sunday when we addressed the crowd, it was estimated to be as many as one million people. there were ukrainians from all walks of life, men and women, young and old, from all parts of the country. there were ukrainian veterans of the soviet war in afghanistan helping to protect the demonstrators and securing our passage through the crowd. as we spoke, thousands interrupted us with cheers of "thank you, usa!" it was one of the most moving experiences i have had. senator murphy and i did not go to ukraine to interfere with its internal affairs or to favor one group or leader or party over another, but rather to support the peaceful aspirations of all ukrainians and affirm their sovereign right to determine -- and affirm their sovereign right to determine the future of their independent nations by themselves in freedom --
when we returned, it was rush decision to purchase about $15 billion in ukrainian bonds -- this was a big deal, to be sure. i think we need to recognize a few things about russia costs -- russia's financial intervention. all this russian money will not solve ukraine's problems. it will at best postpone them. in many ways, it will likely exacerbate them. by most estimates, president yanukovych has bought about a year before ukraine is once again staring down the barrel of an economic crisis. we can all hope he uses the time wisely to address the crisis, namely the mounting debt burden, unsustainable currency peg, and a large distorted energy subsidy
as imf has insisted -- subsidy. somehow i doubt it. more than likely, the president will kick the can down the road. ukraine will be facing the same problems it is now. we need to face the reality of how president putin's temporary bailout of ukraine fits into his larger ambition toward russia 's so-called "near abroad." putin has pulled out all the stops to threaten ukraine away from europe. russia has bought large amounts of ukrainian trade and threatened to cut off the gas supply in the dead of winter. president putin threatened president yanukovych with far worse economic retaliation if he signed the economic agreement
with the eu. -- association agreement with the eu. president putin said that russia's agreement with ukraine is free of conditions. if you believe that, i have some beachfront property in arizona to sell you. russia's bullying extends beyond the ukraine to the other so- called eastern partnership countries. it has sought to prevent mold over from signing its own -- prevent moldova from signing its own agreement with the eu by threatening to cut off its supply of gas and suggesting it would stoke separatism. russia has blocked lithuanian trade and deployed its missiles
to -- it is working to establish pardons -- borders by building fences that encroach deeper into jordan territory. today, we hear news that russia will soon deploy new rail-based nuclear capable icbms. this pattern of behavior amounts to a russian bid for a kind of quasi-imperial dominance over its neighbors. a new find -- newfound assertiveness that has only grown in the void left by the administration's absence of leadership in other parts of the world, especially syria. president putin has been emboldened by president obama's empty threats of red lines and the resulting loss of u.s. credibility. we now have the bizarre situation in which we are working with russia to dismantle chemical weapons in syria, while russia is supplying assad with conventional weapons to continue the slaughter and maintain his hold on power.
resident putin has taken a clear lesson from all of this. if the united states is unwilling to stand up to him in the middle east, he can do as he wishes closer to home. and he has. the key to president putin's view of political ambitions is ukraine. it is more populous than all of the other eastern partnership countries combined. it shares the same cultural, religious, and historical heritages -- heritage as russia. and president putin still does not accept that ukraine is an independent country. he has said as much publicly. first of all these reasons, the russian led customs union cannot be viable without ukraine. the idea of a modern, democratic ukraine that is part of europe is president putin's worst nightmare because, eventually, russian citizens would look at that floors in ukraine and ask why not us. that is why president putin will
stop at nothing to thwart ukraine's aspiration to become part of europe. that is the bad news. but we also need to recognize the good news. regardless of the short-term pain that president putin can inflict on russia's neighbors, history is not on his side. eastern partnership countries want the benefits of european integration, a reality that was demonstrated clearly last month when georgia and mold over -- and moldova signed their own association agreements. no matter how much money president putin commits, he cannot change the fact that a majority of ukrainians, not just in the west but in the south and east as well, especially amongst young people, see their future in europe. poll after poll confirms that, as does any time spent with
young ukrainians who have no memory of the soviet union and who want everything europe has to offer. for this reason, no ukrainian president, not this one or any other, will ever be able to take ukraine off the path to europe. doing so would be political suicide. and for russia to insist on it would only engender the animosity of millions of ukrainians. the fact is, russia is not 10 feet tall. it cannot bail out ukraine forever. russia's economy is growing sluggishly, plagued by corruption and capital flight dependent on hydrocarbons. under these circumstances, i imagine many russians are not too happy to see $15 billion of their natural resources heading to a foreign country in furtherance of president putin's selfish ideological ambitions. the question now is where do we go from here. first, we must continue to
support the peaceful aspirations of ukrainians for democracy, rule of law, uncorrupt governments 0-- governance, equal opportunity, and integration with europe. we must insist that the ukrainian government uphold the rights of all ukrainians, especially the freedom of speech and association. and where ukrainian citizens remain detained for peacefully exercising these basic rights, we should continue to call and work for their immediate release. second, we must continue to demand that all sides from the current political crisis refrain from violence. something that the demonstrators have done to a remarkable degree. both the administration and the congress have put ukrainian authorities on notice that any further use of violence or other human rights violations against peaceful citizens will be met with targeted sanctions against those responsible. this is not an idle threat, and i hope we never have to make good on it, but we will
vigilantly monitor events in ukraine and whether the demonstrations continue or not, we will be prepared to respond if it is necessary. third, we must support ukrainian demands for accountability for those who ordered and carried out past acts of violence against peaceful demonstrators. president yanukovych has initiated this process and we should support ukrainian efforts to see it through and to expand its scope where the evidence warns. fourth -- warrants. fourth, we must support demands for transparency on the agreement that was signed in moscow last -- this week. many ukrainians fear that president yanukovych has made a decision that puts his own self interests above the best interests of the country. and if he did, it wouldn't be the first time. we think ukraine's citizens have a right to know the details of what russia will get out of this
deal. fifth, if ukraine's political crisis persists or deepens, which is a real possibility, we must support creative ukrainian efforts to resolve it. senator murphy and i heard a few such ideas last weekend, from holding early elections as the opposition is now demanding, to the institution of a technocratic government with a mandate to make the difficult reforms required for ukraine's long-term economic health and sustainable development. decisions such as these are for ukrainians to make, no one else. and if they request our assistance, we should provide it where possible. finally, we must encourage the european union and the imf to keep their doors open to ukraine. ultimately, the support of both institutions is indispensable for ukraine's future and, eventually, a ukrainian president, either this one or a future one, will be prepared to
accept the fundamental choices facing the country, which is this -- while there are real short term costs to the political and economic reforms required for imf assistance and eu integration, and while president putin will likely add to these costs by retaliating against ukraine's economy, the long-term benefits for ukraine in taking these tough steps are far greater and almost limitless. this decision cannot be borne by one person alone in ukraine, nor should it be. it must be shared, both risks and rewards, by all ukrainians, especially the opposition and business elite. it must also be shared by the ey, -- eu, imf, and the united states. the west should be prepared to help the ukraine financially and otherwise to overcome the short- term pain that reforms will require and russia may inflict. in short, the west must show
ukraine's leaders and people that they will not face short- term economic destruction in pursuit of a better future. this is the challenge we now face with georgia and moldova, which have decided to deepen ties with europe and the west. these countries must know we will help them weather any loss of economic activity or energy supplies, in a sense by helping georgia and moldova meet their short-term needs during this transition, we in the west can convince ukraine and others that they can count on us, too. if we are committed to expanding the promise of the euro atlantic community, we will have to stand up more forcefully to russia. this is not the way it should be and certainly not the way we want it to be. eastern european countries should not have to choose between good relations with ae yo -- the eu or good relations
with russia. that is not a choice we are asking them to make. it is a false choice premised on an outdated zero-sum view of the world. unfortunately, this is exactly the choice that president putin wants to impose on these countries. as long as this remains the case, there will be tension with russia that no amount of happy rhetoric or resets in relations can rectify. for the past two decades, administrations of both parties have sought to cooperate with russia where possible and compete with russia where necessary. the unfortunate reality is that, despite our best intentions and efforts, there is more competition and cooperation -- competition than cooperation. we must face this reality squarely and we must be willing to support our partners when they face undue russian pressure for making their own sovereign decisions. many americans will ask, why should we care? why should we care what happens to a country like ukraine? why does that affect our national interests? here is why.
for the entirety of the last century, the united states and our friends and allies pursued the vision of a europe whole and free and at peace. we sacrificed our resources and shed our blood for it time and time again. we did so simply -- not simply because this vision of europe's future is just and right, though it is both, but also because it is the only path to lasting stability on the continent, because it benefits our people economically, and because, ultimately, it makes our nation safer. despite growing challenges in the middle east and asia and other parts of the world, we cannot forget that this work of a europe whole, free, and at peace is not finished. this struggle continues today in ukraine, moldova, georgia, the baltics, and other countries in eastern europe. we must be no less committed now than before in pursuing our national interest of a europe whole, free, and at peace, and
supporting the right of all countries to share the benefits of it. that includes russia. this vision is always -- has always drawn on europeans, americans, ukrainians together. we see evidence of that all around us. just a mile west of here, off of dupont circle, is a statue of the great ukrainian poet, dedicated nearly 50 years ago by president eisenhower, who expressed his hope that the statue would "rekindle a new world movement in the hearts, minds, words, and actions of men a never-ending movement dedicated to the independence and freedom of peoples of all captive nations of the entire world." after eisenhower spoke, a ukrainian chorus led the assembled crowd in singing one of his most famous poems -- of the poet's most famous poems.
"o, bury me, then rise up and break your heavy chains. and the great new family, the family of the free, with softly spoken, kindly word, remember also me." america will always remember ukraine, and we will always support the peaceful aspirations of her people as we -- her people, as we do on behalf of all people in europe and beyond. thank you very much. [applause] >> senator mccain, thank you so much for that remarkable and very important speech not only on ukraine but on europe and our strategy behind europe whole and free. i'm the executive vice president here at the atlantic council. we have a few minutes to have a conversation about your trip and the remarks you just delivered.
you are free to tweet, #acukraine. senator, you have laid out six principles to guide our way forward as we think about ukraine. you offered broader remarks about russia, about russia's strategy, about u.s. and european strategy, and the eastern partnership in general. we have many ambassadors, representatives from those countries here today. let me bring you back to your trip here you spend some time with president -- your trip. you spent some time with president yanukovych and senator murphy. what did you take away from your conversation in terms of his motivation and goals? president yanukovych was preparing his own country over two years for this process -- this agreement with the eu, only to surprise them with this turnaround before the end. how did your conversation lead you in terms of understanding
where do you think he is trying to go, what do you think he is trying to achieve? >> on sunday night, we spent 2 1/2 hours, from 9:30 till after 11:00 with president yanukovych. about 95% of the conversation was about the technicalities associated with the -- any negotiations that he might have with russia or with the eu. there was about one minute's worth of condemnation of the protesters in the square. i got the distinct impression that president yanukovych is either insensitive to or not concerned about or does not understand the impact of a million or two, depending on what numbers you use, estimates of his fellow citizens demonstrating in a way that is
peaceful, but certainly one which has to be viewed as incredibly impressive. i have never seen anything like it in my life. i think he also did realize that two out of hand projects membership in the eu -- reject membership in the eu would've been a catalyst that caused real disruptions. he also realized that the announcement of an agreement with the customs union also would've had the same affect. he is trying to walk a middle ground here. he is accepting the money in the bailout, hoping that people will be satisfied with that. i do not think they will be satisfied with that. membership in that you was not what got millions of ukrainians to demonstrate. you can view that as a technical
matter. let membership in the eu meant was an alignment with europe rather than russia. invented outcry against the corruption that now besets the entire country. president yanukovych now lives in a home that is estimated to be $100 million. it is estimated that his son was a dentist who is now a billionaire. i know that dentistry is a lucrative business -- [laughter] and of course the corruption that permeates the country is something that -- they look at their lives and their standard of living for says that in europe versus that in russia. these demonstrations are not just about joining the eu.
they were demonstrations as to what the direction and correction of the path that the country is on -- that is the only way you get people to decide whether to stand and demonstrate the way that they have. i don't know exactly what is going to happen in the short term. i would think that president yanukovych would tell his citizens that they now have significant relief from an immediate breakdown of their economy. they are in an economic crisis. maybe that will satisfy some of their citizens. but i don't think that addresses the fundamental ambitions of most of the young people, particularly all people, but the young people i thought -- there
is a degree of fervor and passion that is quite remarkable. one thing i'm confident about, any economist who is aware of the ukrainian economy can tell you that $15 million is a band- aid. it is not stopping the bleeding. they have to enact fundamental changes in how their economy does business. that means compliance with the imf's demands for fundamental changes to their economy. second, the corruption has got to be addressed. corruption has got to be addressed. they do not see that with this agreement with russia. they see the opposite. >> let me pick up on that and turned to the opposition. you spend time with opposition leaders, you have talked about never seen anything like the energy. we side version in 2004, so how
do folks watching ukraine, how did the ukrainians themselves, not have a déjà vu experience of an opportunity where in 2004 the current government came to power and brought promise and the prospect of a democratic ukraine but because of infighting and corruption that plagued her own administration, they failed to deliver on that. they brought ukraine to where it is today in some respects. how did you take away in your conversations how this has the potential to be different? >> i believe that the orange revolution was primarily aimed at their own leadership. the regime and all of the things that were undemocratic.
i think this "revolution" is more against russia and a desire to join europe. i think there is some difference there. i also think that this group of opposition including the two that you mentioned, they are in favor of bringing a new leader into power. they want that to happen after they have replaced the government. it is a demand that he goes to germany for medical treatment. we know that her health is poor. that is not the central issue as
far as what their agenda is concerned. also, they have a legitimate concern about the drill -- the betrayal of the revolution that took place in 2004. they do not want that to happen again. i have great sympathy for them and they also see that this have to democracy is a very difficult one. we have seen other countries go forward and back and forward again. i think they have learned a lesson from the orange revolution. >> you make the links that if you are sitting in moscow, you have to be concerned and garrett of what might be happening in ukraine. -- scared of what might be happening in ukraine. tell us what this could mean for
the future of russia. you had strong words about the issue of u.s. leadership on this. if there are broader dynamics in play, what do we do? what do we do with the russia right now, led by putin who feels confident that he is ascendant in a way. they are involved in the world community. the senate has acted and spoken on certain things. in addition to just calling out and complaining and putting a spotlight on what is happening, what is the strategy vis-à-vis russia and the long term that could take this in a different direction and give hope for more than just confrontation over countries like ukraine? >> could i just say that you approve -- i appreciate, and the ukrainian people appreciate, the statement that secretary of state john kerry made.
it was very welcome. secondly, we have done an outstanding job in this crisis. i think the first thing we need to do is to understand who and what we are dealing with. tell vladimir putin that i will be more flexible. that will go down in history, along with telling bashar al- assad that the strike will be unbelievably small. if you like your health insurance, you can keep it. those are three of my favorite in recent years. it is not just this administration. the last administration two. i looked into putin's eyes and saw his soul. this is not a man with a soul.
this is a kgb colonel who was risen to the top. we must understand who we are dealing with. all of these years, he was the guy. did anybody know that he was the topic? did anyone know who really was the dictator for life in russia? we have to have a fundamental understanding of who we are dealing with. that doesn't mean confrontation or reignition of the cold war. but it means speaking up. it means supporting people like in georgia right now. every few months, the russians move the fence further and further into georgian territory. what do we say? nothing. do we know that mulled over his being pressured in or mislead, this tiny little country. we have to understand that
ukraine, which is where russia began, is the crown jewel. what happens in ukraine is incredibly vital. we need to speak up for these people as john kerry did. we need to make sure that we are there to assist as they make is very difficult transition. it is not a confrontation with tanks on the border. but for us to believe that vladimir putin is going to give up ukraine to the west without a fight, and exercise many options, it is sheer foolishness. we have to understand what we are dealing with here. we are dealing with an individual who wants to restore abroad. as the georgians, the latvians, as any of those countries on the periphery.
they will tell you that they are under nearly constant pressure from russia and for vladimir putin. what would he do? there are many scenarios. the criteria -- the crimea is very pro-russia. we could see problems in the east. i do not think putin will send in tanks, but he certainly can cause great difficulties and unrest in that country. the best antidote is solid western support and assistance of the imf loans. we should have an open door to an application to join the european union. >> thank you. i do not want to monopolize the conversation so i will turn to
the audience. we have delegates from countries you mentioned and we have been focused on programming here at the atlantic council. by multiple then -- buy moldovan wine. do we have a mic up here for bruce jackson? please identify yourself and keep your question brief. you will be allowed to act a follow-up. qwest -- >> in addition to the opposition, you also met with business leaders on both sides of the issue. you probably met with more business leaders in any senior american had done. is there a future in europe, is there a future in russia? what was your impression of these men and their impact in ukrainian politics? >> i should've mentioned that in my remarks. it varies to the degree to which
they have been affected by russia. one of the oligarchs had an empire that was originally based on chocolate. since then he has been cut off and embargoed by putin and the russians. that has had more of an effect. i get the impression that they are very smart man. i got the impression that they are watching carefully the flow of events. there have been guarded remarks supporting the demonstrators but not calling for a change in government or even specifically a change in government policy. i think they are going to primarily weathervane as to how the course of events take place. on the one hand, they would view economic reforms as a threat to the virtual monopolies that they have in certain aspects of ukrainian economy.
but on the other hand, they see the economic benefits to being part of the eu. they are dramatically better than economic ties to russia. they are balancing that out. do not underestimate how smart they are. we think is an old guard -- that we think that an oligarch is an old fat guy smoking a cigar. these guys are not that. they are smart and they have gotten to the top of the economy with its fierce competition. four of the five that i met with will go when they see which way the wind is blowing. right now, they are not sure. >> johns hopkins, thank you for being here and for your leadership in foreign affairs and in general.
i would like to pick up on what you said about standing up to putin in your answer to the earlier question. i would like to ask you to comment on a suggestion or two. the suggestion to work with the eu jointly to bring a suit before the wto against russia for violating cardinal principles of the organization, namely that a country is not allowed to use its economy as a political weapon. secondly, make it clear to putin that there is a price to be paid for these sorts of behaviors and at least temporarily block their application to join. third, within environmentally acceptable bounds, and this is a
medium-term suggestion, continue to stimulate shale gas exploration so that over time, the russians' chief economic weapon will be undercut. fourth, and this goes to a different part of europe, but it does have to do with russia's behavior, quietly make clear to our good friends and de facto allies sweden and finland that the best way to guarantee stability in the north of europe is to join nato. could you comment on these? >> i think on the eu and oecd, we would have to use some powers of persuasion amongst our european friends. they are becoming more and more
concerned as we are when they see the events that we have been talking about taking place. it touched on something important. we all know that the united states of america is a major exporter of energy. we are seeing the entire equation of energy thanks to fracking and shall class -- shale gas reversed. this is having a profound impact around the world. including how dependent we are on the middle east for our energy supplies. every expert i've talked to has said that if the price of a barrel of oil goes down below $80 a barrel, the russian economy is in very serious trouble. hydrocarbons are propping up mr. putin. i am curious what the average
russian is thinking today about giving the ukrainians $15 billion. i'm sure they are impressed of his generosity. as far as the nato issue is concerned, i do not think sweden will ever contemplate such actions, but i do believe that georgian membership in nato would have a progress towards that. that would have a significant impact. particularly in light of the new government and the peaceful transition, though not without problems, but the transition that has been made in georgia. we should renew their application as far as nato is concerned. that would have a very significant effect. >> we have a few minutes left. i want to pick on these two ladies here if i may. >> thank you so much. we are from the ukrainian
american association. we are grateful to know that you are standing by. you mentioned those individuals who will engage in violence. people are hoping and it is really important for them that you will be able to introduce sanctions on those individuals who are engaged in violence. they may be engaged in open russians that are not criminal, but a pressure on the business. you and the u.s. would be able to go after the current regime. they are operating in a corrupt way. it is estimated that annually bna covert family -- president yannick kovic and his family is taking a certain amount of money from his budget. can something be done? what is the answer to the people
who are hoping for that? >> two quick points following on this about the sanctions. i'm sure you are aware about the whole issue of scapegoating. some of what we are seeing is reminiscent of what we saw earlier when we were talking about government corruption. they hired some lower-level employee or mayor. there's is a lot of hammering about russia and what russia is doing in terms of pressuring ukraine. on the other hand, what are we doing to express our concern about this when we hear about us purchasing russian helicopters.