Dimitry Rogozin is a retired three-star general and nationalist politician
The last time Dimitry Rogozin appeared on Russia Blog over two years ago, he was starring in a television ad for his nationalist Rodina (Motherland) Party, in which he depicted Azerbaijani immigrants in Moscow as scruffy watermelon-eating hooligans. In this notorious video, Rogozin and an elderly man confront a group of migrants over their insulting a young Russian mother pushing a pram. As action movie music blares in the background, Rogozin and the elderly man place firm hands on the ruffians and demand , "Do you understand Russian?" A slogan then flashes across the screen which translates as, "We will sweep the garbage from our city". The ad was so blatantly racist that it actually got Rogozin banned from running for a seat in the Moscow City Duma in 2006.
After throwing Rodina's support behind Putin and United Russia, Rogozin has been given a new platform to air his strong nationalist views, this time as Russia's Ambassador to NATO. However, it would be difficult to characterize the remarks he made at a recent speech delivered at the Nixon Center in Washington D.C as extreme, pugnacious, or chauvinistic.
Click the extended post to read highlights from Ambassador Rogozin's speech in Washington D.C. on July 1, 2008.
Rogozin and his Rodina Party were known for exploiting anti-immigration sentiment in Russia
Click here to read the full article over at The National Interest magazine.
Introduced by Richard Burt, a former Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs and U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Rogozin argued that America's missile-defense plans would serve only to raise barriers between Russia, on one hand, and Poland and the Czech Republic, on the other. And although this agreement between the Czechs and the Americans is signed the Ambassador pointed out that Poland had yet to agree to host American interceptor missiles and sought billions of dollars in assistance from the U.S. to upgrade its air defense system. "Against whom?" Rogozin asked.
Notwithstanding U.S. and NATO claims, he said, Poland for its part is making clear that it sees missile defense as creating a new security threat from Russia and is demanding American compensation. Thus despite assurances that the anti-missile system is not directed at Russia, Rogozin said, "we feel that we are being deceived," especially because Russia does not believe that the Iranian threat justifies such a system. Even if it did, he argued, Israel would always check Tehran's power--via military strikes, if necessary. Rogozin also expressed surprise that the U.S. would invade Iraq because of concerns over Baghdad's nuclear ambitions only to respond to a similar problem with Iran by deploying missile defense in Central Europe rather than direct military action. Still, while Rogozin argued bluntly that significant hurdles remain, he was hopeful that Russia and the U.S. could develop a meaningful partnership in the future.
Rogozin too shared some admittedly "frank words about the state of affairs today" between the United States and Russia: "We are not enemies . . . but we are not allies or friends either." The reason? In a nutshell, he said, American foreign policy is "excessively ideologized."
To make a broader point about the thrust of U.S. foreign policy, Rogozin brought up what he called the "common pain" of the White House and the Kremlin: Afghanistan. That country, the Ambassador argued, "will always burn" due to the "artificial borders" imposed by the British Empire, which he asserted sought to separate the region's ethnic groups into distinct administrative units to ensure that they could never unite in rebellion. He went so far as to say that elements of this imperial divide-and-conquer strategy are alive and well in American policy today, especially on three issues of major concern to Russia: missile defense, NATO expansion, and the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty.
On NATO, Rogozin repeatedly stated that expanding the Cold War-era alliance was not in anyone's interest. It would only damage regional security, he said, by creating divisions between Moscow and its "close neighbors" in Eastern Europe. "Insurmountable barriers" would emerge between Russia and Ukraine or Russia and Georgia if Kyiv or Tbilisi joined NATO: these moves "will not bring any stability to our relationship--everything will deteriorate." Later, he stated that U.S. efforts to expand NATO, which came up short at the Bucharest summit, seemed to be designed "to reshape the map of Europe, and in particular Eastern Europe." Moreover, he said, multiple references to no outside country having a veto over NATO Membership Action Plans for Ukraine and Georgia seem to many in Russia to be a deliberate slap at Moscow. While Washington and other NATO capitals profess interest in partnership, he continued, the West's actions do not live up to this rhetoric because the U.S. and its allies are essentially telling the Kremlin to keep quiet when it believes Russian interests are affected. According to Rogozin, Russia is not asking for a veto over membership for Ukraine and Georgia, but does feel entitled to express its reservations and to make clear that allowing them to join the alliance would be crossing a "red line" beyond which partnership of any kind would be impossible.
On the last of the three issues, the CFE Treaty, which sets restrictions on the numbers and movement of troops and materiel in Western Europe and Russia, Rogozin argued that the agreement was fundamentally unfair in requiring Russia to seek permission from NATO to redeploy "one tank" within its borders without imposing similar requirements on the U.S. or NATO. The Ambassador then asked rhetorically whether the United States would be prepared to ask permission to move military units from Kansas to Arkansas. He proposed to "resolve the deadlock" with the United States by negotiating a new deal more reflective of current geopolitical realities.
Turning to NATO's role in Afghanistan, Rogozin was critical of the United States for its missteps there--and skeptical that America could succeed with a fraction of the force the USSR had deployed in the 1980s--yet recognized a clear confluence of interest between Moscow and Washington. He pointed out that Russia hoped America would prevail: "If you lose in Afghanistan, then we will face very serious and unpredictable problems...We do not want that."
Rogozin also recently published an article in the International Herald Tribune newspaper to promote his views opposing further NATO expansion into Ukraine and Georgia and missile defense bases in Poland.
Global security and propaganda
By Dmitry Rogozin
The International Herald Tribune
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
With the demise of Communism, reasons for the West and Russia to be in confrontation vanished. Russia entered on the path of European democracy.
In many areas, cooperation between Russia and NATO has yielded positive results. This is true in Russia's support for the transit of cargo by the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. We are also gaining momentum in civil emergency planning, and our scientists are successfully collaborating on equipment to fight terrorism.
Such successes, however, are largely overshadowed by contradictions in another issue - NATO enlargement and the admission of Ukraine and Georgia into the alliance. As the official representative of Russia to NATO I have to deal with what NATO representatives give as arguments, which are in fact fusty propaganda rhetoric of the Cold War. These dogmas threaten both progress in Russia-NATO relations and the prospects for global security, and even the process of cementing democracy in Russia.
Dogma No. 1: NATO is a union of democratic states, and democratic states do not fight other democracies.
This is totally meaningless. NATO is not a union of democracies; it is a union of militaries. When the NATO secretary general criticizes parliamentary elections in my country, he oversteps his mandate. Combining his evaluation of Russian democracy with the thesis that NATO does not fight democracies - and conversely does fight non-democracies - his words could be interpreted as a threat to Russia.
The second dogma - "Russia and NATO are not enemies but partners" - resonates with irrelevance.
The final document of the NATO summit in Bucharest in April promises that Ukraine and Georgia will become members of NATO. This is an obvious affront to any vision of a partnership or democracy.
Neither Georgia nor Ukraine have full domestic support for the accession of their countries to NATO. In Georgia, residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia did not take part in the referendum on the accession to NATO. And as far as Ukraine is concerned, only a fifth of its population, concentrated mainly in Western provinces, embraces the idea of joining NATO. Despite that, the "alliance of democracies" is trying to drag the rest of the country into its barracks, establishing new lines of division not only within Europe but between nations that have more than a thousand years of common history.
Dogma No. 3: Countries that joined NATO have improved their relations with Russia.
The reality is the opposite. Once they get hold of a club card, NATO neophytes press for globalizing their relations with Russia. When Poland entered European structures, it drew its new partners into its "meat war" with Russia. This scandalous marketing was unsuccessful and had no impact on Russia-EU relations, but it did attract a good deal of attention.
Estonia, obviously counting on the protection of NATO partners, blasphemously ravaged a communal grave of soldiers who died liberating Tallinn from Nazis and dismantled a monument to soldiers who fought fascism. Lack of a definite stand among Western countries was sobering even for the most pro-Western of politicians in Russia.
Dogma No. 4 also resembles propaganda: NATO pursues an "open-door policy."
Russia cannot enter these doors - unlike, for example, Albania or Croatia. That means the enlargement of NATO diminishes the political weight of old European democracies in favor of the United States and to the prejudice of a security environment in Europe that could address real threats.
On the issue of the American plans to deploy elements of strategic missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic: We are reassured again and again: "Russia is not our enemy"; "The missile defense is an umbrella to protect us against bad guys from Iran who threaten the good guys in America and Israel."
In fact, nothing consolidates and compromises opposition better than an outside enemy. As one who lived a significant part of his life under the Soviet regime, let me tell you that if it had not been for the Cold War, democratization would have begun in the USSR decades earlier.
Secondly, plans to intercept Iranian missiles over the Czech Republic and Poland is a joke. Even if we assume Iran is ready to produce these missiles, wouldn't it be more logical to deploy defenses in Turkey, Bulgaria or Iraq? Yet Washington persists in reiterating its arguments, which gives us grounds to believe we are not being told the whole truth.
Then there are the references to the famous Munich speech made by President Vladimir Putin and other claims that Russia is getting more aggressive.
What, did Putin reveal some dark secret? The secret that NATO is enlarging, opening new military bases and establishing division lines in Europe? Is it a secret that NATO has been challenging the UN and ignoring international law?
It's just that Putin said these things in an open and honest manner, as befits a leader meeting with foreign colleagues, urging them to share his concern.
We also have a hard time understanding what drives the USA in partitioning Serbia and creating a criminal state under the de-facto control of a drug mafia. According to UN experts, Kosovo smuggles up to 75 percent of the heroin consumed in Europe.
So where is the alleged Russian aggressiveness? Is it in trying to convince partners not to make fatal errors? Is it that we state openly that the "deterrence of Russia" concept is senseless, and that the enlargement of NATO does not solve the problems of European security but on the contrary creates an illusion of security, rendering Europe vulnerable to new threats, such as terrorism, religious extremism and illegal migration?
New threats necessitate a new vision of the Russia-NATO partnership, which President Dmitry Medvedev has defined as the "unity of the whole Euro-Atlantic space, from Vancouver to Vladivostok."
Please read the rest of the article over at IHT.com.