Iwelcome the opportunity to discuss with the [Senate Foreign Relations] Committee developments in Russia and U.S. policy toward that country. . . . Russia is much on our minds these days, and rightly so. Secretary Albright is at the United Nations this week [in September 1999], and she has heard repeatedly from our friends and allies around the world that Russia is much on their minds too. They are counting on us to manage U.S.-Russian relations with skill, foresight, and clarity of purpose.
Not for the first time and not for the last, the Russians are undergoing what many of them call “a time of troubles.” Those troubles pose a complex set of challenges to American foreign and national security policy. The trouble that has received the most attention of late is a spate of allegations and revelations about large-scale financial malfeasance, including charges of money-laundering through American banks.
The challenge to us is threefold: first, to ensure that we are enforcing our own laws and protecting Americans from international organized crime; second, to ensure that we are doing everything we can to protect the integrity and effectiveness of our bilateral and international assistance programs; third, to intensify our supportive and cooperative work with those Russians who realize—as Foreign Minister [Igor] Ivanov stressed in New York when he met with Secretary [of State Madeleine K.] Albright on Monday and with President [Bill] Clinton yesterday [September 21 and 22, 1999]—that their country and their people are suffering from rampant crime and corruption and who are therefore committed to fighting back against that scourge.
Russia has other troubles too. Continued fighting between insurgents and Russian troops in the northern Caucasus is claiming hundreds of lives. Terrorist bombings in Moscow and two other cities have exceeded the death toll of Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center combined. Like crime and corruption, terrorism is not just a Russian problem—it’s a global one, and like crime and corruption, it won’t prove susceptible to just a Russian solution.
On both issues, the Government of Russia has sought help from us and from others. One of the several issues we in the Executive Branch are discussing in our current consultations with the Congress . . . is the terms of our ability to provide that help and the strategic goals that our support for Russian reform is meant to serve.
America’s National Security
Let me, before going to your questions, suggest an overall context for that discussion: First and foremost, our policy must advance the national security interest of the United States—both in the short term and the long term. The test we must apply—day in and day out, year in and year out, from one Administration to the next—is whether the American people are safer as a result of our policy. This Administration’s Russia policy meets that test.
When we came into office, there were roughly 10,000 intercontinental nuclear weapons in four states of the former Soviet Union; most were aimed at the United States. Today, there are about half as many—some 5,000; they’re only in Russia, none are targeted at us, and we’re discussing significant further reductions in overall numbers and further steps to diminish the nuclear threat in all its aspects.
That’s one of several issues of vital importance to the U.S. that Secretary Albright and Minister Ivanov grappled with earlier this week, along with peace in the Middle East, in the Balkans, in the Gulf—and in the Caucasus. My point is simply this: Corruption is an important issue that we are taking very seriously. But as we probe its cause and as we refine our response, we must keep in mind that it is part of a much larger process underway in a vast and complex country—a country whose nature as a state and whose role in the world will have a lot to do with what sort of 21st century awaits us.
An Extraordinary Transformation
For a decade now, Russia has been undergoing an extraordinary transformation. In fact, it is undergoing three transformations in one: from a dictatorship to an open society; from a command economy to a market economy; and from a totalitarian empire and ideological rival toward becoming what many Russians call—and aspire to as—a “normal, modern state,” integrated into the international community of which we are a part. We’ve been helping keep that process going.
Just as one example, the FREEDOM Support Act [a U.S. foreign aid program to Russia and other former Soviet states] and other programs have helped Russia make dramatic improvements in the protection of human rights and religious freedoms. All of us are realistic about the difficulties. Russia’s transformation has encountered plenty of obstacles, none greater and more challenging than the crucial need to create the laws and institutions that are necessary to fighting crime and corruption in an open society and market economy.
Still, the transformation continues and so must our commitment to...