Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Seventh Report


280.  The Russian Federation has become a close partner of the West in the years since the fall of communism. After 11 September 2001 Russia made clear its support for the US in the war against terrorism. This support continues - President Putin said in his State of the Nation address on 27 May 2004: "Our line in the struggle against terror remains unchanged and consistent. We will continue to work on the development of internationally recognised legal instruments and collective mechanisms for the neutralisation of global threats. I regard the task of strengthening the anti-terrorist coalition as one of the most important ones."[367]

281.  The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the growing challenges of Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan and Chechnya present major threats to the Russian Federation's national security which the authorities are working to tackle. For instance, on 31 May 2004 Russia joined the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), an effort to control WMD proliferation by stopping and searching ships and aircraft outside states' legal boundaries, despite previous doubts about the initiative.[368] The war on terrorism has presented opportunities for Russia, according to Mr James Sherr, a fellow of the Conflict Studies Research Centre at the United Kingdom Defence Academy, when he gave us evidence because:

    it has enhanced their position in Europe and the world, especially as a major player in energy. It has afforded them a new set of justifications for enhancing their own influence and domination over certain countries in the former Soviet Union, particularly Ukraine and Moldova, and certainly there are strong aspirations in this regard with respect to Georgia.[369]

282.  However, Russia's anti-terrorist stance does not match either the Federation's military capacity for anti-terrorist operations or its strategic thinking. Reform of the armed forces is slow, while strategic planners retain some degree of scepticism towards the international anti-terrorist coalition. The president of the Academy of Military Science Army, General Makhmud Gareev, encapsulated the institutional scepticism of the war against terrorism when he wrote in mid 2003: "The US and some other NATO countries try to use the threat of terrorism to cover their far reaching geopolitical goals…Orientating the armed forces only toward low intensity conflicts and local wars or only for the war on terrorism is rather dangerous. Such an orientation in the structuring and training of armed forces could lead to a deterioration of the army, the fleet and the officer staff."[370] Many strategic planners still see Western military dominance as the major threat to the Federation's security, with particular concern for US dominance with precision weapons.[371]

283.  Mr Sherr explained to us why Russia was sceptical of the war against terrorism. He said:

    Even as of 12 September 2001, we succeeded in developing only a limited partnership with Russia in the global war on terrorism. That is because there are a number of considerable differences in approach. They have developed over the years, and the Iraq war has intensified them. The first of these is that, from a Russian perspective, the war on terrorism is a matter of national survival. Many people in Russia perceive that we—particularly the United Kingdom and the United States—are using the war on terrorism as a way of enhancing and extending our domination of the international system. Secondly, whereas we are inclined to link the issues of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, nuclear proliferation, other dangerous proliferation of weapons and material, the Russians are not inclined to do this and very clearly separate these issues.[372]

284.   This section of the report will examine Russia's contribution to the war against terrorism by looking at Russia's involvement in the war against terrorism, involving its position on the conflicts in Iraq and in Afghanistan, its military reform process and its relations with NATO. Then, it will examine the war in Chechnya, before discussing international non-proliferation efforts, such as the G8 Global Partnership and the Nunn-Lugar Co-operative Threat Reduction (CTR) Programme, and Russia's role in Iran's nuclear programme.

Russia and the war against terrorism


285.  Russia voiced loud opposition in the run up to the war in Iraq last year. On 16 March 2003 President Putin told the Duma in a debate on Iraq that "strong, well-armed national armies are sometimes used not to fight this evil [international terrorism] but to expand the areas of strategic influence of individual states".[373]

286.  Putin opposed the war for a number of reasons. First, Russia had a strong economic commitment to Saddam Hussein's Iraq, which included lucrative construction and oil industry contracts, and a Soviet era debt owed by Baghdad to Moscow, worth about US$8 billion. Negotiations on Iraq's debt are ongoing.[374] Second, the US war in Iraq was very unpopular in Russia, where many people saw it as a threat to Russia; Putin was also aware that 18% of the Russian population is Muslim.[375] The third, and perhaps most important reason, is Russia's commitment to the United Nations, and the Security Council as a remnant of its superpower status. Putin told the Duma in his 2003 annual address: "In the event of an aggravated threat to the world community as a whole or to an individual country, it seems extremely important to have a decision making mechanism which has to be comprehensible, transparent and recognised by everyone. It goes without saying that the United Nations and its Security Council is the most important such mechanism."[376]

287.  Events since the invasion, including the strategy outlined by US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to "forgive Russia", have softened the rhetoric; for instance, the passage of UNSCR 1546 on Iraq on 8 June 2004 has reduced acrimony over Iraq.[377] On our visit to Moscow we learnt that the Russian Foreign Ministry welcomed the compromise text of the resolution, that the willingness of the former Occupying Powers to consult Moscow had led to Russia's more conciliatory stance, and that a similar approach in 2003 might have lessened opposition to the war.

288.  Russia's interests in peace and stability in Iraq and the broader Middle East are strong, since the Federation has large and transparent economic interests in Iraq, mostly in the oil, power, transport and infrastructure sectors.[378] Referring to these interests, old and new, Elizabeth Jones, the US Undersecretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, said on 18 March 2004:

    Russia has not yet pledged major economic assistance to Iraq, but Russian companies are eager to participate in its reconstruction on commercial terms, and are already doing so under contracts already funded under the Oil-for-Food program, to the tune of almost two billion dollars. We have assured Russian leaders that Russian firms are welcome to bid on sub-contracts associated with U.S. tenders. Moscow has also expressed its willingness to reduce Iraq's Soviet-era debt of approximately US$8 billion in accordance with its memorandum of understanding with the Paris Club.[379]

However, the Russian Federation still has major concerns about Iraq's sovereignty and the course of the political process, and the importance of preserving Iraq's unity.

289.  We conclude that the latest diplomatic efforts have re-engaged Russia on Iraq and are contributing to a less divisive climate. We commend the Government for its work on the latest United Nations Security Council Resolution on Iraq, but we also recommend that the Government continue to consult the Russians closely so that it is in a position to take account of their concerns in Iraq and the broader Middle East.


290.  The Russian Federation supported the US-led campaign in Afghanistan, because of longstanding concerns about the situation in the strife-torn state. Afghanistan's instability and its impact on Central Asia has shaped Moscow's policy in the region, which involved assistance for the pro-soviet government until its fall in 1992 and opposition to the Taliban take over from 1994. The Russians accused the Taliban of aiding the Chechen separatist effort, and declared their support of the Northern Alliance/United Front.[380]

291.  In September 2000, the US-Russia Working Group on Afghanistan released a joint statement calling the situation in Afghanistan a continuing threat to regional security, and pledging to counter the threats emanating from Afghan territory.[381] The Group's concerns appeared vindicated following the 11 September 2001 attacks. Since then, Russia has cooperated with the United States, supporting the establishment of bases in Central Asia and providing intelligence and diplomatic support for the campaign in Afghanistan. Mr Sherr described the Russian Federation's involvement in the campaign as "a very firm partnership",[382] and Russian troops continue to play a key role on the Tajik border preventing the escape of former Taliban.[383]

292.  Russia has strong concerns about the reconstruction process, however. A major reason for Russian concern is the flow of drugs from Afghanistan. As we note above, under the US-supported Afghan Transitional Administration of President Karzai the production of opium has surged, and this year's harvest could reach 4000 tons, up from 3,422 tons in 2003 and a radical increase from a low in 2001 when, after the Taliban banned the crop, production plummeted by 96%.[384] We learnt on our visit to Moscow of the Russian authorities' concerns about the export of opium and heroin from Afghanistan, because Russia currently has between 3 and 4 million drug addicts in a population of about 145.5 million.[385] The Russians felt that the US has been slow to understand both the scale of the problem of drugs production and how anti-drugs policies needed linking into a wider approach which includes the diversification of agriculture, interdiction of trafficking and greater use of aerial reconnaissance.

Russia is concerned that security concerns override the war against drugs. Speaking in Munich in February 2004, Sergei Ivanov, the Russian Defence minister, criticised NATO for turning a blind eye to the flourishing opium trade in Afghanistan—a policy he claimed the USA and its partners pursued to ensure the support of warlords for reasons of security—saying that "following the operation in Afghanistan, this State has once again turned into a major source of drug trafficking which crosses the CIS and Russia on to Western Europe".[386] Our recommendations on Afghanistan are set out above.

293.  We conclude that the Russian Federation's support for efforts to bring peace and democracy to Afghanistan is valuable, but that support for the reconstruction process is being damaged by the slow progress on the counter-narcotics strategy.


294.  The Russian Federation's contribution to the war against terrorism is linked to its progress on military reform. A strong effort is under way to reinvigorate the armed forces, which President Putin emphasised in his State of the Nation Speech. He said: "The modernisation of the army is…undoubtedly one of our national priorities. We need battleworthy, technically equipped and modern armed forces for the secure defence of the state."[387]

295.  Mr Sherr told us that military reform remained a priority:

    I think it is fair to say with regard to the key instruments in combating terrorists or dealing with Russian national security — and I do not simply mean the armed forces of the Ministry of Defence but this formidable array of other military structures outside the Ministry of Defence — the Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Security Service (FSB) and so on — that there has been a very concerted effort, beginning in 2001, to conduct systematic reforms of all these structures; but there remain serious problems.[388]

296.  Reorganising the Russian military has met intense opposition from entrenched interests. Mr Sherr described the problems facing the Russian authorities:

    When President Putin came to office, the Russian armed forces and security services had become so deficient in their capabilities and so pathological in their way of dealing with problems that they were actually a threat to Russia's national security, rather than an instrument of national security. Now the picture is much more mixed, but there remain very deep-seated problems in all of these structures. Many of them begin and end with morale, training and the quality of people who are called upon to undertake what we all know are extremely complex and difficult tasks. If the buoyancy of the Russian economy fails to sustain itself, I think that the significant but limited gains which have been achieved will not be sustained either. This therefore remains an area with which we all have to be concerned.[389]

He added that the demise of the Soviet Union resulted in the collapse of a "global intelligence entity", and that corruption was still a major problem in the intelligence services.[390]

297.  Without an effective military geared towards the challenges of the war against terrorism, the Russian Federation's contribution will be less effective than hoped. However, on our visit to Moscow we saw some signs of a commitment to military and security reform. For instance, we heard that the reinvigoration of the National Security Council under former Minister of Defence Igor Ivanov points towards an increased determination to tackle the threats facing the Federation by bringing together all the organs associated with Russia's national security.

298.  We conclude that reform of the military and security services in Russia would contribute to the international struggle against terrorism. We therefore recommend that the Government continue its support for Russian efforts to reform its military and its contribution to mutual understanding by increasing exchanges of military personnel between the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation. We recommend that in its response to this Report the Government set out how it intends to strengthen military ties with the Russian Federation.


299.  The growing relevance of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) to the reconstruction effort in Afghanistan means Russia's relations with NATO are central to any successful conduct of the war against terrorism. For instance, the expansion of NATO into eastern Europe and the Baltic states in April 2004 and its involvement with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, mean both that Russia's relations with NATO need to take into account the Alliance's changing role and that NATO needs to dispel Russia's traditional fears of containment by the Alliance.

300.  The Russian Federation currently enjoys closer relations with NATO than at any time in the past, despite its concerns about the expansion of the Alliance to its borders. These links are, in part, a response to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 which resulted in the creation of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) at the Rome Summit on 28 May 2002. The NRC meets at ambassador level once a month, and at six monthly intervals at foreign minister level, and builds on co-operation in certain key areas, including the war against terrorism, crisis management, non-proliferation, arms control, theatre missile defence, sea search and rescue, military-to-military cooperation and civil emergencies. Russia has no right of veto in the NRC and NATO reserves the right to keep discussion on contentious issues amongst members. All 27 members of the NRC, including the Baltic states and Russia, met for the first time on 2 April 2004.[391]

301.  Despite the evolution of the NRC, Russia still has powerful doubts about NATO's aims. When NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer visited Moscow on 9 April 2004 in an attempt to allay Russian fears about the expansion of the Alliance, President Putin made clear his scepticism of NATO's place in the war against terrorism. He said: "This purely mechanical expansion does not let us face the current threats and cannot allow us to prevent such things as the terrorist attacks in Madrid or restore stability in Afghanistan."[392]

302.  Many Russians still feel that NATO has aggressive intentions towards Russia. For instance, the Duma passed a resolution in May 2004 attacking the deployment of Belgian F16 fighters in the Baltic states as a threat to Russia.[393] This is symptomatic of 'old thinking' in the State Duma, since the Russian government had been given two months notice of the deployment and had made no formal protest. Another source of concern is that the Baltic states have yet to sign an amended version of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which controls the continent's troop numbers and equipment quantities.[394] Russia fears that NATO could build up its forces in the Baltic states until the new members adopt the treaty, but NATO has linked the issue to the frozen conflicts in Moldova and Georgia and the failure of the Russian Federation to meet its undertakings to withdraw its forces made at the 1999 Istanbul conference of the Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe.[395]

303.  NATO's decision to step up Partnership for Peace programmes in Central Asia and the Caucasus, as well as the diplomatic impact of the new US airbases in Central Asia, will also require careful handling in order not to increase fear of competition or threat among Russian policy makers.[396] Responding to the concern in Russian strategic circles, Elizabeth Jones, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, said in March 2004: "We have no desire to compete with Russia in a modern version of the 'Great Game.'"[397]

304.  The threat of competition rests on lack of mutual understanding. Strengthening links between NATO and Russia is essential to overcome the difference in perceptions between the sets of foreign policy makers. Currently, the NRC plans a number of confidence building measures including further work on the fight against terrorism, co-operation on defence reform, efforts to develop interoperability between NATO and Russian forces, work to implement modalities for NATO-Russia peacekeeping operations, co-operation on civil emergencies, dialogue on nuclear issues, the development of theatre missile defence capabilities, and approval of the Co-operative Airspace Initiative Project Plan.[398] However, the NRC must overcome difficulties such as the linguistic capability of Russian officers, many of whom speak no English, the limited financing for the Russian armed forces, and the negotiation of Status of Forces Agreements (SOFA) between the two, for future consultations to proceed.[399]

305.  We conclude that the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) is an essential tool to improve the political and military engagement between Russia and the alliance members. We recommend that the Government encourage its fellow members of NATO to expand co-operation through the NRC in order to alleviate concerns in Moscow about NATO's expansion into eastern Europe and to prevent a 'Great Game' between Russia and NATO in Central Asia. We also recommend that in its response to this Report the Government set out its plans to develop the NRC as a tool in the war against terrorism.

The War in Chechnya

306.  The Russian Federation contends that the conflict in the secessionist region of Chechnya epitomises its ongoing struggle against international terrorism. The war started when the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 offered the Chechens an opportunity to declare independence under Dozkhar Dudayev. No Russian military response took place until 1994, when 35,000 Russian troops entered the secessionist republic, in response to which the Chechens launched an imaginative guerrilla campaign led by Shamil Basayev and Aslan Maskhadov. The Russians withdrew, defeated, in August 1996, and signed a formal peace treaty in May 1997.[400]

307.  Chechnya became a failed state in the period following its successful secession from the Russian Federation. Lawlessness defined the Republic between 1996 and 1999, while Wahabism funded by Saudi supporters took hold in the traditionally Sufi population and contributed to a rising tide of Islamic militancy. In August 1999, a raid aimed at establishing an Islamic Republic led by Basayev and the Jordanian Arab, Khattab, into neighbouring Dagestan, started a new war. Russia launched an assault on Chechnya with 90,000 troops in December 1999 and took Grozny in February 2000.[401]

308.  The Russian Federation decided to "Chechenise" the conflict following the capture of Grozny. President Putin appointed Ahmad Kadyrov, Chechnya's Grand Mufti — its most senior Muslim cleric — and a former resistance leader, head of a civilian administration and scaled back the Russian military presence in Chechnya; an election replete with irregularities in October 2003 sealed Kadyrov's position. However, Russia's efforts to normalise Chechnya faltered with his assassination by bomb on 10 May 2004. The attack, for which warlord Shamil Basayev claimed responsibility, also severely injured Russia's foremost military commander in the region, General Valery Baranov.[402] The assassination was a body blow to Russia's policy in Chechnya.

309.  In response to the crisis, President Putin appointed Kadyrov's 27 year old son, Ramzan Kadyrov, as Deputy President, pending elections in August 2004. Ramzan controls a 2000 strong militia, known as the Kadyrovtsy, that intimidates and murders opponents of the regime.[403] Putin also paid a rare visit to the secessionist republic and declared that he would send another 1000 troops to supplement the approximately 80,000 troops already there.[404] The current favourite to succeed to the Chechen Presidency is Alu Alkhanov, who appears to have the official endorsement of the Kremlin.[405]

310.  The place of the conflict in Chechnya in the wider war against terrorism is complex. In Moscow we heard that Russian security forces had found foreign passports on insurgents captured or killed in Chechnya and that ties between al Qaeda and Chechnya were strong. Indeed, in a response to the attacks of 11 September 2001, President Putin said that "Chechen developments ought not to be regarded outside the context of efforts against international terrorism."[406] However, some observers contend that the Chechen war is not strictly an Islamist movement. For instance, elements in Chechen society have struggled to resist the Islamisation of their war efforts - most notably Aslan Maskhadov, president of the secessionist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria who reluctantly espoused Islamist principles in 2003.[407]

311.  Tom de Waal, who heads the Caucasus project at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, said that three conflicts existed in Chechnya. He told us:

    One is a conventional sort of colonial/separatist conflict that we could know from places like Algeria, with a rather brutal government trying to defeat secessionists. The second one is an internal Chechen conflict—again a feature of the last two or three years—where you have seen Chechens fighting Chechens, and Chechens becoming victims of bombings. Again, this is a result of Russia's policy of what they call "Chechenisation", which is…subcontracting the war to loyal Chechen satraps—although Chechenisation is in a lot of trouble since the assassination of Akhmad Kadyrov, its main object, on 9 May. The third one, as you say, is a terrorist war.[408]

312.  He contended that before 1994 Chechnya was not a strongly Islamic society.

    Slowly, in the 1990s, you saw a radicalisation, as a result of the appalling destruction of people's lives and homes. People started turning to Islam. Simultaneously, you saw the arrival of foreign volunteers, and then you had a period of de facto independence when more volunteers arrived between 1997 and 1999. Of the two wings of the Chechen rebel movement during the current war, the Islamist radical wing suddenly became much stronger. Having said all that, I think we should put this into context. We are not talking about Afghanistan. The number of foreign volunteers is probably a few dozen, rather than in the thousands. You have to remember that Chechnya is surrounded by high mountains. It is very difficult to access…Secondly, the Chechnya population is still quite resistant to radical Islam. I have seen estimates that maybe 10% of them subscribe to radical Islam. Thirdly, I would go back to my main point: that even if all the foreign volunteers and all the Islamists were to die, you would probably still have a conflict in Chechnya - in the sense that fundamentally, underneath, that colonialist/nationalist conflict remains.[409]

313.  In Moscow, we heard that the greatest importance of Chechnya was its role as a rallying point for Islamist groups. Mr de Waal underlined this point when he said:

    I think that the foreign Islamist jihad interest in Chechnya is stronger than the other way round. We have had, for example, Ayman al Zawahiri trying to go to Chechnya, in 1998 I think, and actually spending six months under an assumed identity in a Russian prison - a very bizarre incident. His identity was not rumbled. You saw people trying to go to Chechnya and there is this Saudi warrior, Abu al-Walid, who is still believed to be in Chechnya and who had been in Afghanistan. Obviously there are links there. You also saw phone calls being made during the Moscow theatre siege to Chechens based in Qatar and places like that.[410]

However, he played down the reports of Chechens fighting in Afghanistan or Iraq, saying that "when people come across Russian speakers they tend to dub them Chechens, whether they be Tajiks or Uzbeks. There is almost no evidence of real, live Chechens being found in Afghanistan."[411] He then summed up the links between international terrorism and the Chechen fighters by saying that there was "a lot of ideological support, some financial support; but in terms of actual, logistical physical support, still fairly limited - fortunately."[412]

314.  The intransigent position of the government in Moscow has prevented any resolution of the crisis, while frequent human rights abuses by Russian or pro-Russian forces have seriously damaged any support for the Federation in the region, and risk contributing to the spread of the conflict. Mr Sherr told us:

    Beginning in 1996, and more intensively in 1999, the Russian federal structures systematically eliminated any people, any networks and any institutions from Chechnya, which had credibility amongst the Chechens and which could have secured some kind of stable peace. The result of this, in my view, has been that a vacuum has been created into which foreign forces and radical Islamists have entered and who are beyond the control of anyone…Solving the situation is a very long term issue, but the urgent priority is not to make it worse. The problems that the Russians continually face…are almost always the fruit of previous Russian conduct.[413]

315.  The record of human rights abuses in the secessionist republic is appalling. Mr de Waal told us:

    I have some figures here from last year from Memorial, the human rights organisation. In 2002 they recorded 729 killings of civilians [in Chechnya]; 537 people abducted and disappeared. In 2003, 500 civilians killed; 470 disappeared. Most of these people were killed and abducted at night, when it is very difficult for the rebels to operate. We must therefore presume that these are either by the Russians or the pro-Russian forces.[414]

These figures only covered 25 to 30 per cent of the territory of Chechnya.[415] Amnesty International also released an extensive report documenting human rights abuses in Chechnya on 23 June 2004, which the report claims are happening in the neighbouring republic of Ingushetia.[416]

316.  The grounds for optimism are not strong. A raid into Ingushetia on 22 June 2004 by Chechen forces points to an intensification of the conflict, and Mr Sherr told us that "even in the short term we will see a noticeable deterioration of the situation there".[417] Some of what we heard during our visit to Moscow tended to support his fears, since we learnt that some Russians feel that attempts to resolve the crisis politically had led to the current impasse, and that a military solution would already have terminated the conflict.

317.  Chechnya, then, is more an issue to rally support in the Islamic world than a breeding ground for terrorism itself, although the brutal policy pursued by Russia risks contributing to the spread of the conflict by radicalising a desperate population. The Russians argue that the Chechen conflict is part of the war against terrorism, and there is little doubt that groups linked to al Qaeda have shown an ideological interest in and provided limited support for the secessionist Chechens. However, the Russian authorities adamantly refuse to internationalise the war and claim that it is an internal matter.

318.  Mr de Waal suggested that there are two groups the Russians should engage in an effort to resolve the conflict.

    One is the international community. They continually say now that this is an international problem but deny there should be an international aspect to the solution, which seems to me to be a paradox. They do allow, on a limited basis, the Council of Europe to visit Chechnya; but the OSCE mandate is now very limited. It seems to me that, if we can push the Russians on getting an expanded Council of Europe and OSCE presence in Chechnya to monitor what is going on, that would be in everyone's interests, including the Russians. The second group that they have consistently failed to talk to is the Chechen population as a whole. All elections have been rigged in Chechnya, and Chechnya actually has a very decentralised, community-based culture—or at least used to before it was shattered by war. Everyone who knows Chechnya says that some kind of parliamentary system, some kind of Loya Jirga for Chechnya, would be a way forward in which different groups could be brought together. Again, that involves the Russians loosening control, delegating power to ordinary Chechens—which is something they are very afraid of doing.[418]

319.  We conclude that links exist between the Chechen rebels and the international network of terrorists affiliated to al Qaeda, but that the conflict is not purely a terrorist insurgency. We further conclude that Chechnya has great importance as a rallying cry for Islamist insurgency throughout the Muslim world, and that the heavy handed approach of the Russian authorities, including repeated human rights abuses, risks further radicalising the Chechen population and spreading the conflict in the North Caucasus. We recommend that the Government engage the Russian Federation on Chechnya, and comment on Russian policy in the region—in private if necessary. We also recommend that the United Kingdom encourage the Russian authorities to increase the role of the international community in the secessionist region, and that in its response to this Report the Government set out how it will seek to encourage the Russians both to expand the OSCE and Council of Europe mandates in Chechnya and to consult with the ordinary people of Chechnya.


320.  The Soviet Union took non-proliferation seriously, supporting both the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty and the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Soviet military also took great pains to remove nuclear weapons from Russia's borderlands in the wake of the 1991 dissolution of the Union. However, Russia's record since 1991 has raised major concerns for the non-proliferation efforts associated with the war against terrorism.

321.  Currently, Russia provides aid for Iran's nuclear energy program and exports nuclear reactors for ships and submarines, which rely on highly enriched uranium fuel, to states such as Indonesia and India. The nuclear sector still produces large quantities of weapons grade plutonium, and no comprehensive inventories of fissile material stockpiles exist, despite the accumulation of large quantities of weapons grade plutonium from civilian reactors each year. For instance, three reactors in the closed nuclear cities of Seversk and Zhelevnogorsk generate enough plutonium for a nuclear weapon every day, although the US and Russia have agreed to shut them down.[419]

322.  The military also still has a vast number of nuclear warheads - the current Russian nuclear stockpile is estimated to include about 5,000 deployed strategic weapons, about 3,500 operational tactical nuclear weapons, and more than 11,000 stockpiled strategic and tactical warheads, for a total arsenal of about 19,500 nuclear warheads.[420] Many other less radioactive substances, such as material used in hospitals, also remain at large. For instance, the 132 nuclear lighthouses along the Arctic Coast powered by Strontium 90, some of which have not been inspected in years and have even gone missing, could present terrorists with the means to obtain radiological material.[421] The Russian Federation's chemical weapons facility is also vast but the biological weapons programmes may be a greater concern, since international observers cannot visit sensitive laboratories and the Russians are reluctant even to admit their existence.[422] The greatest difficulty in dealing with the Soviet Union's weapons legacy is that individuals and institutions in the Russian Federation profit greatly from the trade in WMD materials and know-how.[423]

323.  The international community, particularly the USA, works closely with the Russians but differences in perception of the WMD threat are substantial. Mr Sherr told us that :

    there are some very significant differences in official policy between Russia and ourselves, particularly with regard to providing defence and technology and the nuclear relationship between Russia and Iran. In some respects these disagreements have hardened since President Putin came to office. They have not diminished just because our relationship has become stronger.[424]


324.  The support Russia provides for the Iranian nuclear programme underlines the differences in perception of the WMD threat. Russian co-operation with Iran has raised concerns in London and Washington since President Putin restarted support for the Bushehr nuclear plant in 2000. The US claims that the plant provides Iran with an opportunity to build up supplies of enriched uranium and contributes to the Iranian nuclear weapons programme, but the Russian Federation contends that because Iran is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty—and has even agreed an action plan with the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) under the Additional Protocol—its policy is legitimate.[425]

325.  On our visit to Moscow we heard that the Russians believe that denying Iran its nuclear programme would be unwise, since Russia takes back spent nuclear fuel and monitors Iran's nuclear programme closely. The Russians contend that a monitored programme is better than an unconstrained one, and their stance appears vindicated by comments from Mohamed El Baradei on 29 June 2004, stating that the Bushehr nuclear plant did not contribute to an Iranian nuclear weapons programme.[426] In our last Report, we expressed our strong support for the IAEA's inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities, and concluded that Iran's willingness to comply with the Additional Protocol demonstrated the influence of a joint approach.[427] In our Report on Iran earlier this year, we also noted that Iran was likely to test the agreement with the IAEA to its limits, and called for very close monitoring and supervision of its compliance.[428]

326.  We conclude that Russian support for Iran's nuclear activities could risk contributing to the spread of WMD capabilities in the Middle East by advancing the Iranian nuclear programme. We recommend that the Government, together with its EU and US partners, seek to persuade the Russians to ensure that their support for the Bushehr nuclear plant does not extend to assistance with activity consistent with a nuclear weapons development programme.


327.  The Russian Federation's WMD arsenal has concerned the international community since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Gary Samore, Director of Studies at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, explained the nature of the threat. He told us:

328.   Despite these improvements, the Russian Federation still receives extensive financial and technical support from the USA as part of its international non-proliferation efforts. For instance, the USA has played a prominent role dealing with Russia's WMD with its Co-operative Threat Reduction (CTR) programme, which includes the Nunn-Lugar programme dealing with security and safety of nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union. To date, the Nunn-Lugar Programme has funded the disassembly of thousands of strategic nuclear weapons, dozens of nuclear submarines, and put tonnes of fissile material into safe storage, at the cost of no more than 3 per cent of the US defence budget.[430] The scale of the CTR programme is huge: President Bush recently signed a waiver granting $450 million of federal funds to finance its initiatives.[431] We discussed the CRT programme with Senator Lugar on our visit to Washington in March 2004.

329.  The European Union also has a role to play in dealing with Russia's WMD legacy. The EU provides funding for the non-proliferation efforts in the former Soviet Union, through its TACIS programme supporting nuclear safety in the Russian Federation which provided about 3 million euro in 2003, and 2.4 million to the middle of 2004.[432] The projects include support for plutonium disposition and the security of storage facilities, efforts to develop MOX fuel development, and the transport of MOX facilities.[433] The EU also supports the work chemical weapons destruction plants at Gorny, Schuch'ye and Kambarka with funds of about 15 million euro, by establishing environmental monitoring projects, and also provides advice for Russian strategic export controls, by streamlining the system with electronic licenses.[434] However, the EU's contribution is not commensurate with its economic weight in the world.

330.  We conclude that international efforts, such as the CTR programme, to counter the proliferation of the Soviet Union's WMD legacy are essential work. However, we also conclude that while the efforts of the EU are welcome, its contribution to non-proliferation efforts neither takes account of the scale and threat of the task, nor of the EU's economic importance. We recommend that the Government encourage its partners in Europe to increase the EU's contribution to non-proliferation efforts in the Russian Federation.

G8 Global Partnership

331.  The G8 Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, also seeks to secure and destroy Russian WMD. The Partnership was launched in June 2002 at the G8 summit at Kananaskis in Canada, when the G8 states pledged 10 plus 10 over 10 - US$10 billion from the US, US$10 billion from the other member states, over the next ten years to manage Russia's WMD legacy. The United Kingdom pledged £750 million to fund G8 Global Partnership projects under the co-ordination of the FCO, DTI and MOD, Baroness Symons, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, told the House of Lords on 25 February 2004.[435]

332.  A joint statement issued by the G8 at Kananaskis stated:

    Under this initiative, we will support specific cooperation projects, initially in Russia, to address non-proliferation, disarmament, counter-terrorism and nuclear safety issues. Among our priority concerns are the destruction of chemical weapons, the dismantlement of decommissioned nuclear submarines, the disposition of fissile materials and the employment of former weapons scientists. We will commit to raise up to US$20 billion to support such projects over the next ten years.[436]

The most recent Sea Island Summit in June 2004 took the initiative further. The Global Partnership Annual Report, published in June 2004, described the progress to date. For instance, pledges of funding have come in, discussion on the legal basis for work is under way, projects have started, work is under way to improve co-ordination of projects, and states are working to establish guidelines to form the basis for specific agreements.[437] Additionally, more states have joined the G8 Global Partnership, including Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand, as well as Finland, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and Switzerland who joined last year.[438]

333.  On our visit to Moscow we heard that the G8 Partnership has had some successes, but that problems continue to delay its thorough implementation. The greatest difficulty has been disputes over the potential liability for future damages, the tax obligations of donor funds and issues of access to the sites.[439] One of the G8 Partnership's targets is to establish agreements that settle these difficulties effectively; a successful example is the Multinational Environmental Programme in the Russian Federation (MNEPR), which watered down demands that full liability for accidents rest with the Russian Federation.

334.  We conclude that the G8 Global Partnership makes an essential contribution to the reduction of the threat of proliferation of WMD, although certain difficulties remain between Russia and the other members. We recommend that in its response to this Report the Government set out how it has resolved the differences over liability for future damages, the tax status of donor funds, and issues over access to the sites, as well as how it is working with the USA to help overcome American differences with the Russian authorities.

Chemical and Biological Weapons

335.  The FCO, DTI and MOD outlined progress on the destruction of Russia's chemical and biological weapons in their first Annual Report on the G8 Partnership. Examining chemical weapons, the Report says:

    Russia has declared 40,000 tonnes of chemical weapons, stored at seven sites on its territory. Over 30,000 tonnes is in the form of more than 4 million munitions containing nerve agent … Russia's initial progress with destroying its chemical weapons was slow, with insufficient resources being allocated. However, increased funding and commitment to progress have been evident in the last three years. The first of Russia's chemical weapon destruction facilities (at Gorny in the Saratov region) became operational in December 2002.…[However] Russia has already made clear that it will not be able to complete destruction of its CW stocks by the 2007 final deadline, and has sought an extension to 2012.[440]

The United Kingdom plays an important role in the construction of the Shchuch'ye destruction facility, for instance by establishing water and electricity for the plant.[441]

367   In quotes: Putin vows defence of democracy, BBC, 27 May 2004  Back

368   Russia to participate in Proliferation Security Initiative, Russia Journal, 1 June 2004. Back

369   Q280 Back

370   Alexander Golts, "Military Reform in Russia and the Global War against Terrorism", in Journal of Slavic Military Studies vol 17 (2004) : pp 29-41 Back

371   Trenin, Dmitiri, "Russia and Global Security Norms", Washington Quarterly, ,vol 27: 2 (2004), pp 63-77 Back

372   Q280 Back

373   Alexander A Belkin, "US-Russia Relations and the Global Counter-terrorism campaign", Journal of Slavic Military Studies vol 17 (2004) ,pp 13-28 Back

374   'Russia discusses old Iraqi contracts', BBC, 22 December 2003, Back

375   'Russian muslims hail headscarf ruling', BBC, 15 March 2003 Back

376   Alexander A Belkin, "US-Russia Relations and the Global Counter-terrorism Campaign" in Journal of Slavic Military Studies Vol 17 (2004) pp 13-28 Back

377   'Iraq vote gives G8 fresh impetus', BBC, 9 June 2004. For the full text of the Resolution, see Appendix to this Report. Back

378   Russian contractors to quit Iraq, BBC, 26 May 2004 Back

379   US Department of State, US-Russia Relations in Putin's Second Term: Back

380   Russian policy towards Afghanistan, Michael Jasinski, NIS Nonproliferation Program, 15 September 2001 Back

381   Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Press Statement: Back

382   Q280 Back

383   'Putin sending troops to Tajikistan', BBC, 27 April 2003 Back

384   'Russian drug official criticises US for Afghan heroin surge', Wall Street Journal, 11 August 2003 Back

385   'Russia fights heroin attack' BBC, 26 August 2003 Back

386   Munich Conference on security policy, Back

387   In quotes: Putin vows defence of democracy, BBC, 27 May 2004 Back

388   Q282 Back

389   Q282 Back

390   Ibid Back

391   NATO: The Prague summit and beyond, Research Paper 03/05, House of Commons Library, Back

392   'NATO chief tries to sooth Putin's fears', Chicago Tribune, 9 April 2004 Back

393   'Sergei Lavroy on NATO's decision to patrol Baltic airspace', Pravda, 2 April 2004. Back

394   Ibid Back

395   'NATO chief promotes friendlier ties', Moscow Times, 9 April 2004 Back

396   'Engaging Russia as Partner and Participant', The RAND-ISKRAN Working Group on NATO-Russia Relations, Brussels. June 2004 Back

397   US Department of State, US-Russia Relations in Putin's Second Term:  Back

398   'Engaging Russia as Partner and Participant', The RAND-ISKRAN Working Group on NATO-Russia Relations, Brussels. June 2004 p12 Back

399   Ibid p 31 Back

400   Chechnya, Research Paper 00/14, House of Commons Library November 2002. Back

401   Ibid Back

402   'Russia to boost Chechnya forces', BBC, 11 May 2004 Back

403   'Son of murdered Chechen leader given senior role', Financial Times, 10 May 2004 Back

404   'Russia to boost Chechen forces', BBC, 11 May 2004 Back

405   Chechnya Weekly Vol V, Issue 25, The Jamestown Foundation, 23 June 2004 Back

406   Chechnya, Research Paper 00/14, House of Commons Library, November 2002 Back

407   Jeffrey M Bale, "The Chechen resistance and radiological terrorism", Centre for Nonproliferation Studies, April 2004: Back

408   Q285 Back

409   ibid Back

410   Q286 Back

411   ibid Back

412   ibid Back

413   Q287 [Mr Sherr] Back

414   Q288 Back

415   ibid Back

416   Normalization in whose eyes?, Amnesty International, June 2004: Back

417   Q291 [Mr Sherr] Back

418   Q288 Back

419   'US, Russia agree to plutonium reactor shutdown', Arms Control Association, April 2003, Back

420   , US/Russia Arms Control, Arms Control Association: Back

421   'Nuclear light houses to be replaced', Bellona, 2 February 2002: Back

422   Testimony of Dr James Clay Moltz, Director, NIS Nonproliferation Program, Centre for Nonproliferation Studies, 14 May 2003 Back

423   US efforts to halt WMD proliferation, Centre for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Affairs, 14 May 2004 Back

424   Q284 [Mr Sherr] Back

425   Victor Mizin, "The Russia-Iran nuclear connection and US policy options ", Middle East Review of International Affairs, vol. 8, No. 1, March 2004 Back

426   'UN clears Iran nuclear facility', BBC, 29 June 2004 Back

427   Foreign Affairs Committee, Second Report of Session 2003-04, Foreign Policy Aspects of the War against Terrorism, HC 81, para 221 Back

428   Foreign Affairs Committee, Third Report of Session 2003-04, Iran, HC 80, para 58 Back

429   Q69 Back

430   'The Nunn-Lugar Program', Senator Richard G Lugar: Back

431   'Bush signs three year Nunn-Lugar waiver', Bellona, 14 January 2004 Back

432   Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, European Union: Back

433   Ibid Back

434   Ibid Back

435   HL Deb, 25 February 2004, col WS25 Back

436   Statement by G8 Leaders at Kananaskis Summit: Back

437   G8 Global Partnership Annual Report, G8 Senior Group, June 2004 Back

438   Ibid Back

439   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Defence, The G8 Global Partnership: First Annual Report 2003 p 9 Back

440   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Defence, The G8 Global Partnership: First Annual Report 2003 p 13 Back

441   Ibid p 14 Back

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