Сдерживание Путина - Новая политика запада в отношении России
Welcome, everybody! This is a timely and important panel. For decades various American leaders believed that they could counter Russia's expansionary and aggressive foreign policy through international agreements and accommodating what they saw as the Kremlin's legitimate security concerns. But strategic narcissism blinded those, who were hopeful about warm relations with Russia, because they failed to consider adequately the ideology, emotions, and aspirations that drove and constrained Vladimir Putin's strategy toward the United States and Europe in particular. Since he ascended to power, when president Boris Yeltsin resigned unexpectedly on the last day of the 20th century, Putin's goal has been to return Russia to great power status.
But with the declining population, dwindling influence, and a weak economy the country can't compete directly with the United States and Europe. So Putin adopted a strategy to drag others down to Russia's level. So division weakens rival states and unravels alliances, that give other states strategic advantages. Foundational to that strategy are disinformation campaigns, designed to destroy trust in democratic principles institutions, and processes. Russian disinformation is really cyber-enabled information warfare, designed primarily
to shake citizen's belief in their common identity through the manipulation of social media, the creation of false stories, and the creation of false personas. emphasis is on widening divisions related to race and divisive political issues such as immigration and gun control. The objective is to incite fear and anger on the far right and on the far left in a way that leaves the American people polarized and pitted against one another. So this is a great panel to help us understand how should we defend against Russia's sophisticated form of aggression. Perhaps most important - the United States and Europe must generate the will to counter Russia's toxic combination of misinformation and denial and its use of disruptive technologies.
You know, of course Vladimir Putin will not be in charge of Russia forever. Oppose Putin Russia should know that it would be welcomed into the Euro-Atlantic security system, that aims to preserve peace and promote prosperity. No one saw the threat from Putin's Russia more clearly than Senator John McCain and this panel is a great way to honor him. Over to Bill Browder. My name is Bill Browder, thank you for joining us today. For those of you who don't know me, I am the person behind the Magnitsky Act, which is a piece of legislation that Vladimir Putin probably hates more than anything else. Sergey Magnitsky was my lawyer in Russia. He exposed corruption, he was subsequently arrested, tortured and killed 11 years ago and since then I've made it my life's work to get the Magnitsky Act passed and to hold Putin accountable wherever I can. And so I'm delighted to be here to talk about Russia today. I thank Cindy McCain and the
McCain Institute for organizing this event and I thank the McCain Institute for gathering together such an esteemed panel of guests. To introduce the guests on this call: first, we have Senator Menendez, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - an extremely experienced politician and an extremely experienced statesman when it comes to Russia, and we'll be very much looking forward to hearing his comments. We have congressman Kinzinger from Illinois who also joins us. He is
one of the bravest members of Congress, standing up for principles, standing up for his ideals, and we saw, that during the last administration, when he wasn't afraid to stand up to Donald Trump, when he disagreed with what he was doing - and I'm a great admirer of him for that. And last but not least - Vladimir Milov, who is the former Energy Minister of Russia, who saw the terrible path that Putin was taking it down and has now become a member of the opposition, and in this really very worrying moment in Russia it'll be very interesting to hear Vladimir's views on what's going on. I don't think we could really have this conversation without starting off with the elephant in the room, which is Alexei Navalny. As all of you know, Alexei Navalny is currently on a hunger strike, he's literally on death's door right now. Vladimir Putin tried to assassinate him with Novichok through his secret police. Eight months ago he survived, he's now back in Russia. He went back to Russia after being threatened and he's probably gonna die,
if something is not done dramatically to save him. And so the first question I have for the panel, and I will start with senator Menendez is, there were some sanctions already imposed. That hasn't changed anything. What more can be done? What more should be done? If Alexei Navalny dies,
what should the US reaction be and anything else you can add on this really heartbreaking subject. Well thank you, Mr Browder. And it's good to be with my fellow panelists, a great group of people and i appreciate the McCain institute bringing us all together. I served with senator McCain and on the question of Russia there was no one who was more direct and forceful about what the U.S role should be. Look, the ongoing abuse of Alexey Navalny is appalling and I share your concern and uh your allusions to parallels to Sergey Magnitsky. Allowing medical treatment and care is a humanitarian issue, not a political one. In addition
to the fact that of course that he shouldn't be in prison at all. I'm glad the Biden administration sent a clear signal that it will hold russian officials who abuse their people accountable with some of the marked sanctions. But that signal just has to be a first step. And in this case joining with the european union to send very clear and powerful messages is incredibly important, I think. Treasury should be reviewing the list of 35 putin oligarchs, that Mr Navalny and his team
have flagged as sanctioned targets. But given Mr Navalny's current situation the immediate targets of new sanctions need to be his jailers. "The Magnitsky" as you well know was created in response to exactly this type of abuse. So those are some of the things I'd like to see the administration
move forward, do it rapidly and send a very clear message, hopefully, in a multilateral way; that it is going to be held on Putin if something happens to Mr Navalny. Congressman Kinsdrew, what is how do you feel about this? Well thanks, Bill, by the way you get a lot of credit for where we're at. And I appreciate your hard work and continuing hard work. Vladimir, it's great to be with you. Thank you for your kind of strength of character, I guess, it's probably how I can put it most accurately. And Senator, great to see you! Thanks for your leadership on a lot of these issues. I also want to say just on to the McCain institute thank you. Thank you for continuing the amazing legacy. John McCain was a hero of mine. When I got elected I got to know him well.
I traveled with him, we had a lot of funny stories together. And uh if I can even, you know, replicate ten percent of the honor that he showed, it would be a career worth it. But you know, look, as as the Senator said I agree with everything he said. I think what's clear is, you know, we are up against Russia that will push as far as they can, until they meet significant resistance. We all
know Vladimir Putin's a smart guy. He doesn't want to put himself in a position where he loses. But he will advance until he hits a brick wall. So i think that's going to include, again, looking at his oligarchs, being very clear about exposing to the russian people the kind of abuses the trillion dollars of wealth that has been stolen from Russia. Those are the kind of things that i think would put Vladimir Putin on edge. He fears losing control which is, I think, part of the reason we
see the build up on Ukraine's border is to try to uh in essence kind of change the narrative. But i also think we have to look beyond just kind of the immediate sanction side of things when it comes to, you know, really dealing with russia largely and especially with Navalny is. There are russian forays into the world everywhere. And as we all know it's kind of this below the threshold fighting that Vladimir Putin does, the little green men. We know about the Wagner group, their actions
in Syria and Libya. We look at Venezuela. Pretty much everywhere. And so I think seeing this is a battle in essence around the world and engaging in other areas outside of just sanctions. So if you have, you know, russian little green men, for instance, working in Libya, and they're not officially russian soldiers - there's areas where we have to look at, maybe, you know, potentially targeting stuff like that. So there's a lot i think of options at our at our disposal but the real key to all of this
is we need Europe and we need the US to be unified. And that's why we need to stress the importance of NATO. That's why we need to stand with partners like Georgia, who's dealing with a third of their country being occupied, standing with Ukraine and everywhere else and making it very clear that this is a broad engagement and we take the Russian threat seriously and we stand up to it. Great, thank you. And Vladimir, you bring a Russian perspective to this conversation. What's going to
happen on the day that - there's now a call for a major demonstration. What's going to happen and how is that going to play itself out and how's Putin going to react? Well thanks so much for having me. It's a great honor to be part of such a distinguished company. It's going to be a clash, it's going to be a clash. Essentially what is happening right now, is - that was long in the making, it's direct clash between forces who are really tired of Putin's mafia rule for over 20 years and the mafia government, which shows that it wants to maintain the grip on power at any cost, pretty much in a similar way that Lukashenko did last year in Belarus. So it's gonna be a clash. Remarkably on the 21st Putin has scheduled his annual address to the Federal Assembly - well, as a matter of fact, we don't have much of a parliament left in my country. There is no Federal Assembly as such, there's just bunch of androids, who are
appointed by the presidential administration, rather than elected in the free and fair elections. We haven't seen free and fair elections in more than 20 years in Russia, so essentially they're going to be listening to Putin announcing some major plans. There are wild speculations about what that might be but the issue that Putin is facing a very difficult parliamentary election in September. With all the control that he exerts
he cannot go against the tides of his approval ratings hitting historic lows and Russians being sick and tired of many years of stagnation, economic decline, lack of positive prospect. So there are many rumors in Moscow that Putin might deliver another, you know, geopolitical gift to the Russian people whatever that might be, declaring an occupation of another part of Ukraine or you know that Belarusian dictator Lukashenko has announced recently that he made some historic decision of a lifetime, might be as well something about an occupation of Belarus. We don't know. What we do know is Putin is preparing for some sort of historical move. At the same day obviously Moscow will turn one more time into a fortress because opposition have scheduled a rally in support of releasing Alexey Navalny and stopping this inhumane treatment which he currently encounters so there's gonna be a clash I think you will see another day of pictures of you know Moscow filled with heavy armored trucks, riot police, maybe, I don't know, maybe even some army vehicles or whatever, and Putin will deliver, his fortress heavily guarded, will deliver his address in the in a heavily guarded fortress with his bunch of loyalists so this this is, I don't know, this will probably won't be a better picture of a contrast between two different Russians. Putin's mafia which has captured the country and
is not giving up power despite calls for that from the Russian society. Plus the Russian society which is not afraid to go out on the streets and to demand change. Just a quick follow-up. Do you think that Putin is more scared of Navalny living or dying? I think, Bill, I think it would be fair to say, he's just scared. He's just scared of the Russian people finally turning against him after all these years. So, I don't think, I think, it's a hard choice for him which is why he's hesitating to make an ultimate decision.
Because it's kind of stupid, uh, not to provide, uh, thorough medical assistance to Navalny in the current condition. There is a big risk that he would die, which would spark outrage. But he is also, uh, afraid of him being released and being out in the open as the open leader of the people. So, that's, you know, Putin is somewhat in between a rock and a hard place: he wants to maintain this strong man image, but he's not a strong man for quite a long time, save for, for all this armored, uh, stuff and the weaponry that he's preparing to use against his own people.
Yeah, yeah, that's what it looks like. So, um, you know, the other, uh, the other big headline, coming out of Russia, is this massive mobilization of troops, uh, on the Ukrainian border. And I've got my own theory about this. I, I think, that, that, um, that the Navalny situation is so upsetting for Putin and so scary for Putin, that he needs to create a distraction. And so, and I, I don't know myself whether it's just creating the distraction or whether he actually wants to go into Ukraine, but I guess, the question, the real question is, um, if he does go into Ukraine, uh, what do we do. What I mean, what, what, what does the United
States do? What does, what does Europe do? How do we, um, how do we respond? Um, what, what tools do we have to respond? How do we, how do we deal with this, senator Menendez? Well, again, alliances are important. This is one in which the European Union and others can play along with us a very strong role in sending a message to Putin that there will be real consequences for any possibility of the further invasion into Ukraine. I think one of the things that Putin should know is that in the Congress of the United States Ukraine has bipartisan support. Mean, that have a lot of different areas of the world, but we have
bipartisan support on the question of support for Ukraine. I know that, I previously worked with senator McCain on the question of the freedom support act of Ukrainians and an advocate of selling including offensive weapons as necessary, we are working now on the Ukraine security partnership act which is to bolster that support which would authorize 300 million dollars per year of foreign military financing to Ukraine including lethal military assistance and expedite the transfer of excess defense articles to Ukraine. And we're hoping to get that up and pass soon. In addition i think that we should be pursuing freedom of navigation operations in the Black Sea as a method of pushing back on the disruption to Ukraine's commerce and standing up for Ukraine's sovereignty. And, of course, follow on to the sanctions that president Biden levied earlier for the illegal actions in Crimea and especially in coordination with other partners in Europe and Canada. I think the confluence of all those things makes, has to make Putin understand what price does he pursue for such an incursion. Because I believe that he only understands strength, and unless he sees strength then he he will actually pursue a potential invasion. So, i think the amassing all of that is incredibly important at this time. Thank
you thank you very much. Adam? Yeah, so, agreed, I think I think there are two options here, and one won't be as popular as the other. But the first is, at a very minimum, I think, we need to make it clear, that if Vladimir Putin engages with Ukraine further, that this will implement a massive united front in terms of ideas. We will aggressively, like we did during the cold, begin, to make it clear, you know, that we will fight for western democracy in countries, maybe where you have Russian influence. We will push back harder than we ever have, we will return to a massive operation of informing the Russian people just how corrupt Vladimir Putin and his cronies are. We will make
it immediately. Clear, that the Nord stream 2 pipeline will not be completed, as it shouldn't be anyway. And that's one of the concerns I have is how long it has taken our administration to follow through on the mandated sanctions by congress that can stop this from being completed. But, beyond that, we will as a united west engage in energy security for all of us. So that Russia can no longer use energy as a weapon, and we will begin to refocus on places like Georgia to make sure, that their democracy is strong and pro-west, as well as any other sanctions, of course. On the other hand, I
agree with FONOPs, freedom of navigation operations, but, I think, we need to make it clear, that there is a military option on the table. If we go to that, what we're starting to see with Vladimir Putin is something of which you can compare to, you know, Germany in pre-world war II where it was just a little bit and then a little bit here and eventually people woke up to the threat that the Baltics, you know, in this case might be next and we have all these other issues so I don't, you know, suggest stationing American military in Ukraine right now but I think being prepared to have a military response if necessary with our allies is extremely essential. This is because, look, Vladimir Putin knows that he will not defeat the United States in the West on the battlefield but he thinks he can push to where we won't engage ever as we saw in Syria when we had, we took out a number of Russian mercenaries threatening US troops. Vladimir Putin was pretty quiet in Syria for a while after that we have the capability and I think we need to make it clear that we're willing, not eager but willing to use it if necessary. But do you really think that we are willing to use it? I mean this, I mean so Vladimir Putin, I mean the the Russian military budget is 90 percent less than the US military budget. I mean their economy is the size of the State of New York if we
ever actually stood up to him he would back down in a second but the reason why he does this stuff is that we really, i mean, it's, it's kind of easy for all of us to say but, but do you believe that the United States, or any of our allies would actually, if he invaded, do anything other than some token gestures, because that my fear is - It's just going to be more,... you know, we've been here, we've been here a bunch of times. yeah, and it's my concern, as well Bill I'll tell you and because I really do believe I'm not, you know, eager to find ourselves in any kind of a shoot match or anything like that. I don't want to be misconstrued but I also know Ronald Reagan always said there is, you have peace through strength. Being willing to use the military if necessary, not eagerly is actually makes war far less likely to happen and we don't want to get to a point where then Russia decides we're not going to react in Ukraine no matter what. That reaction looks like it doesn't necessarily have to mean an equal force reaction and then he thinks that he can now take out the Baltics for instance and if he does and we don't respond to that.
It's the end of the Nato alliance and all effectiveness, yeah that's true. So, Vladimir, from a Russian perspective it's a very costly exercise to go into Ukraine, you know. Is this something that the russian people would be happy about or would they be condemning it or what where's what's going on from that perspective? -Yeah, Bill, costly is a very important word. That's a very
very important point and i have been talking to some pollsters who were doing this. These are a bunch of the same people who do polling for various parties depending on who pays, like i know some folks who've been working for Putin and United Russia in the regions, and believe me, there's an overwhelming negativity in the russian society for spending more resources on wars, foreign invasions, financial aid to places like Crimea, Donbass or Syria. About 80 % would say that we need to spend more money at home rather than on all these foreign adventures. That's a very important part because russian people in their great majority are essentially an ally of the free world, the global community in terms of russian. Putin's aggressive terms and behavior being extremely costly for everyone including us. Now i want to go back, also, to this discussion and add you a couple of points which might help to get a better understanding of what Putin is up to.
Despite his strongman image that he is trying to portray, you know who is being persecuted to a greater extent in russia than the opposition? Relatives of the people who were killed in action in Donbass or Syria, relatives of the military servicemen. I'm not talking about Wagner or in this mercenaries because Wagner. Officially russian propaganda is saying that we don't know who these people are. But i'm specifically talking about relatives of official military servicemen who died in Donbass or Syria. FSB, russian security service, comes to their homes, threatens them and says: If you speak out, you'll be punished you'll be persecuted, you'll, you'll lose any, any opportunity of a normal living forever. Why is that? Because Putin remembers Afghanistan, he remembers Chechnya, and
he knows what it does to popular opinion. When you start to do a body counts, when a lot of, you know, dead people arrive back from foreign lands that you invade - he's very much afraid of that. Which is i would then go to argue, that he actually stopped military incursion into Ukraine in 2015 after the battle of Mariupol when it became clear that urban warfare is a mess, that it will do a lot of harm to him by vis-a-vis public opinion in russia. So that's a very important factor. Of course he's crazy, he might be up to absolutely anything. But when you assessing what he is up to do and what can be the response of the free world, you always have to bear in mind and analyze that like in Syria he uses only air power and mercenaries. He's very afraid to send boots on the ground.
In Donbass he's fiercely suppressing any rumors or information in public about people being killed in action, russian servicemen being killed in action. So he's extremely afraid of public opinion, he's extremely afraid of anything like that turning into a bloody mess. So, i don't think the west should be discussing him in terms of this, you know, like Kremlin-based strong man that is up to take the world tomorrow. No. He's a weak man he's got a lot of weak points,
he's got a lot to fear, and domestic public opinion in the first place. You should always remember that. - So as a betting man, it sounds to me like you would be betting that he wouldn't that he is just sabre-rattling, that he's not actually gonna pull the trigger and and go further. Listen, you cannot exclude an irrational element in this like late Boris Nemtsov, my co-author used to say - i wouldn't repeat the language that he exactly used - but say you know Putin is nuts, you know, this is a widely circulating video on youtube. So you cannot i mean we we should always calculate the risks and these elements should
not be excluded but to me it looks like it is more about some, you know, relatively peaceful not including direct combat action but a relatively peaceful operation more like russian troops officially entering this occupied area of Donbass and Putin says we recognize them now we're not hiding anymore we're there there will be a russian flag we're gonna recognize these territories, give them russian passports, here's a gift to you Russians in front of upcoming elections in return for a bad economic situation. You don't have anything to eat but at least you have to be proud of something geopolitically. Yeah so senator Menendez you spoke about doing things with our allies and Europe in theory is our you know shared valued ally in this whole story but Europe has been sort of a disappointment and i've seen it up close and personal in my work trying to get the Magnitsky Act passed. It was passed in 2012 the United
States and it took until 2020 in Europe. And one of the big problems with Europe is that it doesn't speak with a single voice it speaks with 27 voices and all 27 voices have to be in unison for them to make a decision and that creates this hugely horrible leverage opportunity for little countries to hijack the whole foreign policy and like Hungary for example Victor Orban is a big friend of Putin's and he can veto all EU legislation and so if we're in a situation where we're being effective we're trying to be doing things in concert with Europe and we have a country like Hungary or Cyprus stopping our foreign policy at what point do we just go unilateral and just do what needs to be done as opposed to holding out for a sort of broad-based alliance. Well, Bill, look we have very often in the past led unilaterally on the questions particularly of the sanctions regime and then others have joined but i think we need robust diplomacy right now because as we both know multilateral sanctions have far more effect than unilateral sanctions. Our sanctions are pretty powerful because of the desire to be in the most significant marketplace and financial transaction capital of the world but nonetheless when they are multilateral is a lot more powerful i'm glad to see even though it took them time that the European Union now has a human rights sanctions regime of its own we've got to get them to robustly use it. We have to think of our bilateral diplomacy with countries
that create an impediment within the European Union and more robustly engage in that regard but even when we can't partner with the European Union as a whole we can partner with individual european union members to impose sanctions and make the Kremlin pay for malign activities you know And countries outside the European Union like Great Britain for example can be an invaluable partner standing up to Putin. So those are some of the things I'd like to see but obviously our values based alliances are an important one it's taken to beaten over the last several years we just can't say okay we're back and we're you know all together again we have to build that but i think these are some good opportunities because i agree with the congressman on the North Stream. We passed that out of the Senate foreign relations committee sanctions who had bipartisan support.That's a really powerful message to the russians at the end of the day. And i hope that the administration will finally deal with....my view the previous administration lasted waited too long to engage in doing. So we need that to be done and i also think we need to deal with the question of cryptocurrencies as it relates to how do we avoid circumvention and in this effort not only do we have to do this domestically but we see cryptocurrencies in other countries, China for example, is developing their own - not only is it a concern of the reserve capital of the world which right now is us but secondly it can be used not only for tax evasion purposes but more importantly for malign activities like law money laundering and whatnot. So how we get that together and
correct it is a tricky regime but as a member of the Senate banking committee i'm also looking at that because i think that's the next frontier of how people will evade. I completely agree with you and in fact i'm amazed that that people don't talk about it. I mean it's if you you go to the bank and you want to withdraw more than ten thousand dollars you've got to like you know write an essay about why you want to do that and then they send ,you know, a message to the regulators that you did that. But you can move 10 million dollars in cryptocurrency and no one's asking any questions at all. That's just got to be regulated. I just can't imagine that you know in
five years time that we're living in a world where that's not regulated and i know for sure that the traditional money laundering systems that they used to use in Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Cyprus have been shut down and that the cryptocurrencies have now become more the way that they're doing it. Adam, just to go back to Europe for a moment i know you you've been really you know sort of vocal on the whole Nord Stream story and i'm trying to understand and maybe you have a perspective or understanding that i don't. You know Russia has used natural gas as a weapon multiple times against Europe and so the logic would be that country that's been on the receiving side of that would not want to be dependent on Russia going forward, become less dependent and so ,you know, putting aside our interest for a second i can't really understand how Germany would want to become more dependent on russian gas and be fighting us on this! So how do you see this? Yeah i mean look i obviously share your confusion about that. We can go all the way back to you know Germany closing their nuclear power plants that affecting their ability to be carbon neutral and then now importing gas from Russia still allows them to be carbon neutral because they're not producing it now. You know it's kind of a little trickery. There there's economic interest and you know all of us have to think through and resist certain economic temptations when it comes to standing up on foreign policy. For instance i've been generally pretty impressed with Europe's reaction to China. I feared when Covid hit that China and they have would use that
as an opportunity to further invest themselves in Europe with 5g Huawei everything else and they've woken up but you know i think the thing they keep in mind too on Nord Stream. i think it was something like 350 to 100 was the vote in the European parliament against Nord Stream in opposition two or three years ago. Most countries in Europe opposed Nord Stream, so when we think about sometimes i can get in the habit of saying "Well Europe supports it but we don't" and that's actually not true. You talk to most european countries - they're concerned with it but it's going to take some real investment and that includes by the germans as well, you know. My
family by the way is german so i can kind of like ,you know, what hit your own or whatever... But you know what it looks at is that includes upgrading, updating eastern europe gas infrastructure to be more competitive or more whatever compatible - that's the word - with us. You know, obviously our natural gas exports are important helping europe develop theirs better as well as green energy and alternate energy and i think we just have to all hold hands on this and have really a strong kind of alliance when it comes to energy. You know, if you look at for instance ,you know, Georgia and that whole region in the Caucasus continuing to maintain their strength with us as Russia tries to go around them as a supply route. So i don't understand besides the economics of Europe, of some in Europe's hesitancy but i know we have the ability to stop this and i know this is a moment where we simply just need to stop it. We have great initiatives like the "3C" initiatives you know to help draw investment in encounter Russia as well leveraging both the private sector and the government which as we all know is the best way to do things. But on the original part of the question
i think the bottom line is this: we have to work with the broader European Union as often as we can but as the senator said correctly where we need to work individually with different countries we have to do that as well. And not just on the Russia issue but Russia, China, everything else because we've taken the idea of western democracy being safe we've taken that for granted and we're seeing now that. In reality Vladimir Putin can exploit things like cultural divisions like he does in our own country for his own benefit and he's doing it in a lot of places. You know, this whole Nord Stream thing reminds me a little bit of this: i don't know if you remember but back in 2013 the the french government had contracted to sell two huge aircraft carriers to Russia. Yep! And then Russia invaded and took Crimea, invaded Ukraine. And they were still planning on selling the aircraft carriers and finally you know
we finally had to beat them up so much that they ended up selling them to the egyptians and i guess the egyptians had to learn russian to operate them. But i kind of feel like that's where we are with Nord Stream right now. I mean it's just it's so out of sync with what's going on it really kind of perplexes me that the germans are still so insistent on it.
Vladimir, part of your expertise has been focusing on russian corruption and same here i've spent a lot of time looking at russian corruption and we've i don't know if these numbers are exactly correct but i think about a trillion dollars has been taken out of russia from corrupt officials since the Putin's regime began and it's all been pretty well clarified that it was going through Dansky bank in Estonia and a bunch of these other banks - latvian, lithuanian,cyprus... And it's all been exposed and shut down. And we were talking about cryptocurrencies a moment ago. The corruption is still happening and the money is still being exported: is it cryptocurrencies? Is it art? How do you see? Because these guys aren't keeping their money in Russia. How are they doing it? - I'll come back to that in a second, but i'm tempted to comment also on the North Stream situation. I think what is a bit missing in this transatlantic debate on Nords Stream 2, is the German business angle. Because this is actually what the russians do.
Yes, obviously there are uh political, negative political consequences for Europe and Germany from overdependence on the Kremlin uh in terms of energy. But what they do is they bribe specific companies. They say: Your businesses operating in an energy import dependent countries, we help you to book cheap reserves, we help you to book cheap gas to be delivered to your customers, so you can get market advantage. And German businesses, they are very pleased with it, they are very
pleased with the prospect that Germany would turn into a major redistributing hub for russian gas after, let's imagine, Nord Stream 2 is commissioned. So, German businesses are very happy. They go to their government and say: We have commercial interests, we provide you jobs, so you got to support this project. So, i think this is being discussed a bit too much in a political sense, unless in a very practical sense of how do you work with German businesses to actually explain that there are better alternatives and they don't have to be lured simply into this Kremlin trap of offering them specific cheap gas for specific contractual relationships. Now on corruption, i think the figure is right, a trillion. But that's only we're talking about specifically a trillion of dirty money, which is really criminal money that was a phone through all these schemes that we're talking about what is far less addressed, and yes i agree that they will be moving more because of the tightening of financial regulation in the Western system, so they will be moving towards crypto that's a no-brainer. But however, i think what should be addressed, is something that is considered by
many as a legitimate inflow of russian money now the official figure of capital outflow from russia during the Putin era is is just another trillion this is not a criminal trillion this this is considered to be a pretty legit trillion which was simply classified as exported capital now this is oligarchic money which could never been earned in russia without siding up with Putin essentially, and providing major preferences to oligarchic structures and squeezing out competitors and creating this state-dominated economy that we are currently observing in in Putin's Russia. So, on paper it's legitimate. As a matter of fact, this is a result of a preferential treatment of favoritism from Putin to very specific oligarchs. So, i think it's when we speak about chairman Menendez has been mentioning the list of 35, what this list is about it's not just about like you know revengeful attempt on some 35 individuals. These are people who are channeling large amounts of money into western financial system with purpose to corrupt it to get intertwined, so western politicians always hesitate to take measures against Putin's arrogance and aggression.That is done specifically, on purpose, and it's, not it's not a nominally criminal activity. On paper that's legitimate activity. I think, we need a bit of reclassification
here. I think we need to understand that this money is made not through a legitimate matter, but through monopolizing russian economy, using "siloviki" and all the methods of establishing control, squeezing out private businesses. I'm sure, Bill Browder knows a lot about that as well. So we need to reclassify that and say: Listen, oligarchs are not legitimate businessmen.They do their dirty job of integrating Putin's economy into Western financial world. That's no good, that's enabling, and this has to stop. This is why we, the russian opposition, call for sanctioning the oligarchs is probably the key step that should be taken at this moment. - I couldn't agree with you more. It's
In 2018 when i guess it was part of the CAATSA Act when they sanctioned seven oligarchs that was like a neutron bomb going off over Moscow. And i think that was probably the single most powerful thing the United States have ever done by going after Derapaska and all these other characters. And my theory on Navalny is the U.S. should take this list of 35 and sanction five of them tomorrow. Five of the 35 tomorrow while he's still alive. First of all because they've tortured him and second of all to show that the list of 35 is a real list and that and then another 30 to go. Because that would stop Putin in his tracks.
Sort of coming towards the end of our session but i thought i would just open this up a little bit to any other thoughts about how we contain Russia how we address Putin any other thoughts that you have and maybe start with you, Adam, and then we'll work our way around the panel. Yeah, i'll be very brief: it's an honor to be here this is a challenge you know it's a challenge that we're totally capable of handling and i just want to say that i can't wait for the day even though i've never met you in person Vladimir i can't wait for the day when you can take me to Russia and show me around and and we can be there with a free and democratic Russia and you can show me all the good sights, good vodka.... Senator Menendez? Yeah, well I'll join congressman Kissinger. I look forward to visiting with
Vladimir too but i can't because I'm sanctioned by Putin so i can't go to Russia but at some point that will and look I think this is uh had been a great conversation but we need a holistic approach to deal with Russia. We've got to think about our sanctions regime we've got to think about getting other allies and common cause. We have to stop Nord Streem. We have to fund Ukraine so that there's real consequences. We mentioned body bags. If Ukrainians have the wherewithal to fight back successfully even though obviously they would be outgunned. If he wanted to be serious, Putin wanted to be serious about it but there would be real consequences and that sense of strength would be a I think a chilling. And I agree with you, Bill, you know I have urged the administration to pursue sanctions vigorously against oligarchs and Vladimir is a, you know, observation I think is very important. I think that is the heart of how Putin palpitates his economic resources and
and viability. And when you start severing some of those you send a very clear message as well as finally getting out there about Putin's own wealth in a way that i think would be you know people like vladimir know know but i don't know if all the russian people know and if we did that type of job at the end of the day i think there'd be a new russian revolution. So in any event those are just some ideas and thank you for this opportunity. Thank you. Vladimir. I'll just be very brief because many people think that domestic russian policy developments are some isolated sort of thing, just another third world dictator going after his political opponents. They are not. It's all intertwined - domestic and foreign policy - because
when putin developed an appetite for total lawlessness and aggressive behavior unpunished he began to export it. We actually warned about these things going to happen before the war in Georgia in 2008, before aggression against Ukraine in 2014 we told many westerners that look, this authoritarian consolidation of power will not just end up at home. Putin will become more aggressive internationally. So i think it's important to understand that we're all in the same
boat: we are the three people of the free world fighting against this big autocrat international which includes not only Putin, but also his friends in Beijing and other places but that's a global thing. It's it's not just on domestic developments in Russia, it's not an isolated thing - it's part of a democratic rule-based order versus total autocratic mafia style, dictatorship which Putin and his friends want to impose all across the globe. We can't let that happen. Thank you very much. Yeah it's you know back in the back in the days of the Soviet Union
we had a containment strategy to stop communism from spreading around the world and there's no longer the risk of communism but we have the risk of ,you know, kleptofascism to spread around the world and that's what Putin wants to spread. And and i mean it's remarkable that like you know in Myanmar while everybody is condemning them Putin is sending generals to their military parades and providing them with arms. And what it says to me and i think what you know this one of the summaries of this conversation is that we need to pursue a sort of policy of containment like we had during the cold war but it's containment of a criminal regime, not a containment of a political regime and that's what this is all about. Well it's been an honor to have such an esteemed panel today and senator Menendez, congressman Kinshinger and Vladimir Milov, thank you all for for joining and again thank you, Cindy Mccain, and the Mccain Institute for uh for bringing us all together. I think it's been a great conversation.