The U.S. Senate will shortly be asked to consider a $2.5 billion appropriation sought by the Clinton Administration in the name of shoring up Boris Yeltsin’s faltering reform program and rewarding the Russian Federation for its cooperation on the international stage. Unfortunately for the Clinton Administration and its advocates on Capitol Hill, the case for this largely undisciplined transfer of American taxpayer funds to Moscow has been rocked by revelations contained in the attached, portentous op.ed. article published in today’s Wall Street Journal.
Written by John Hannah, deputy director of the respected Washington Institute for Near East Policy, this article — entitled "How Russia Still Abets Mideast Terror" — makes clear that such foreign aid may simply wind up in the hands of those opposed to genuine systemic change in the former Soviet Union, perhaps with the knowledge of Yeltsin himself. Worse yet, it may help bankroll ongoing Russian proliferation and other activities that are inimical to vital U.S. security interests worldwide.
In the latter regard, it is hard to imagine a more blatant and contemptuous dismissal of U.S. concerns about Russian involvement in the transfer of missile technology (in direct contravention of the Missile Technology Control Regime and bilateral agreements with the United States) than the reported involvement of former Soviet air transport assets to deliver North Korean Scud-C missiles to Syria. Both Pyongyang and Damascus are certified sponsors of international terrorism: There can be no excuse for Russia facilitating the former’s efforts to earn hard currency by selling arms with weapons-of-mass-destruction potential nor the latter’s determination to acquire them.
As charter members of what the Center for Security Policy calls the Radical Entente, these nations pose a threat to the United States and every other civilized nation — a category Messers. Clinton and Yeltsin would have one believe includes Russia. Particularly in light of the intensified efforts now being made (ostensibly by both Washington and Moscow) to translate the new Israeli-PLO agreement into a lasting regional peace agreement, Russia’s role in enhancing Syria’s medium-range missile capability is utterly reprehensible.
The Bottom Line
The Center for Security Policy believes that immediate congressional hearings should be convened to confirm Mr. Hannah’s highly credible charges and to establish what the Clinton Administration (in particular Vice President Gore) and the Yeltsin government (in particular Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, the Vice President’s partner in a recently unveiled U.S.-Russian space cooperation initiative) knew about Russia’s ominous new "Federal Express"-style international weapons delivery service.
If validated, Congress should consider corrective action at once and along several fronts. Such action should include the following:
- Explicit conditioning of further U.S. aid disbursements to Moscow (including the $2.5 billion now awaiting Senate action) upon a complete and presidentially certified cessation of Russian transportation or other support for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to and between former client states.
- Suspension of further planning for cooperative space ventures or the related transfer to Moscow of any sensitive U.S. technologies or information. (In this regard, see the attached column by Center director Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. which appeared in this week’s edition of Defense News.)
- Revisiting assumptions underlying the recently unveiled "Bottom-Up Review Force" — a plan for recklessly downsizing the U.S. military force structure. In particular, in light of Russia’s apparent involvement with a Radical Entente that poses a relentless, if multi-faceted, menace to the United States and its allies, pivotal judgments about future Russian cooperation, solidarity and reliability must be completely reassessed.(1)
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1. If evidence of Russian support for state-sponsors of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction were not sufficient to warrant such a reexamination, an article in yesterday’s Washington Times entitled, "Russian Nuclear Exercises Include Mock Hit On U.S." should make it mandatory. This article reports that Russian nuclear forces are continuing not only to be targeted against the United States — but to exercise periodic attacks against it as well.