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"Russia's future fundamentally is in the hands of the Russian people. It cannot be determined by others and it should not be. But Russia's future is very important to others, because it is among the most important journeys the world will witness in my lifetime. A great deal of the 21st century will be strongly influenced by the success of the Russian people in building a modern, strong, democratic nation that is part of the life of the rest of the world."

President Clinton
Remarks to the Russian State Duma
June 5, 2000

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States acted quickly to seize the historic opportunity to end fifty years of global superpower competition. With strong U.S. support, Russia has begun an unprecedented transition to democracy and free markets, undergoing fundamental changes in its political, economic and social life with virtually no bloodshed. Changes in Russia have also had an impact on the Eurasian political landscape, as 12 New Independent States emerged, the Warsaw Pact quietly disbanded and Central European countries finally emerged from Moscow's shadow. But the Soviet system's collapse created new challenges, as rigidity gave way to laxness, a monolith gave way to near-anarchy - too many rules were replaced by too few. There were fears that Russia itself might break up; that nationalist or communist extremists would seize power; that regional conflicts in the New Independent States would spread and grow. President Clinton responded to these challenges by increasing U.S. support for democracy, the rule of law and grassroots entrepreneurship in Russia, while working steadily to help dismantle Russia's nuclear arsenal and other weapons of mass destruction. President Clinton's direct engagement with the Russian leadership was central to achievements such as withdrawing Russian troops from the Baltics, securing Russian cooperation in peacekeeping missions in the Balkans and reducing nuclear dangers. Vice President Gore's U.S.-Russia Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation served as a focal point for supporting Russia's unprecedented transformation and managing key areas of the U.S.-Russian relationship. Russia's transformation will take decades to complete, with inevitable disappointments along the way. But while Russia's future is not ours to chart - that task belongs to the Russians - the United States has a stake in Russia's success as a democratic, market-oriented and peaceful state. President Clinton has been deeply committed to strong U.S. support for Russia's historic transformation and deepened engagement with the Russian government and people.


Strengthening U.S.-Russia Cooperation and Reducing Threats to Americans

  • Helped deactivate 5,000 former Soviet nuclear warheads, over 600 missile launchers (including over 360 ICBM silos), over 540 ICBMs and SLBMs, 64 heavy bombers and 15 missile submarines through U.S.-Russian cooperative threat reduction programs. The Clinton Administration also worked with Russia to ensure successful denuclearization efforts in Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakstan; 3,300 nuclear warheads were moved to Russia and placed in storage. And today, no Russian nuclear weapons are targeted at an American city.
  • Promoted passage by the Russian State Duma of the START II Treaty and its related Protocol. Together with the START I Treaty, it will lead to a two-thirds reduction in strategic nuclear weapons from Cold War-era levels and add momentum to our discussions on START III and adapting the ABM Treaty.
  • Prevented the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction from Russia through the Expanded Threat Reduction Initiative (ETRI), complementing and reinforcing other nonproliferation efforts, such as in 1995, when Russia agreed to forego sales of cryogenic rocket engines to India. The Clinton Administration also provided critical support to safeguard fissile material that was not properly stored or protected. A June 2000 agreement between President Clinton and President Putin provides for the safe, transparent and irreversible destruction of 68 metric tons of Russian and American (34 tons each) weapons grade plutonium - enough plutonium to make thousands of nuclear weapons. Cooperative civilian research projects under ETRI have kept tens of thousands of high-tech engineers and former Soviet weapons scientists from selling talents elsewhere. Collaborative projects are redirecting former Soviet chemical and biological weapons scientists toward peaceful work and supporting the dismantlement of former CBW facilities and chemical weapons stockpiles. Health related nonproliferation programs under the International Science and Technology Center in Moscow have already led to development of new Hepatitis A and measles vaccines.
  • Promoted regional security and integration by strengthening the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the New Independent States. The Clinton Administration also sought to promote Russia's integration with the new Europe and its participation in institutions such as the G-8. Russia withdrew its troops from the Baltic states and Central Europe. Russia reaffirmed the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine as part of the landmark 1994 U.S.-Ukrainian-Russian agreement on post-Soviet denuclearization. Russia signed the NATO-Russia Founding Act in 1997, codifying a cooperative relationship with NATO, despite Russian objections to NATO enlargement. For the first time since World War II, Russian and American troops serve side by side in Bosnia and in Kosovo. Russian diplomacy was critically important during the Kosovo conflict.

Promoting Democracy and Human Rights in Russia

  • Provided strong support for Russia's successful transformation to an electoral democracy. Parliamentary elections in 1995 and 1999 and presidential elections in 1996 and 2000 demonstrated Russia's new democratic system at work. The outcome of these elections was determined at the ballot box; the losers accepted defeat and went to work preparing for the next electoral contest. These are the building blocks of democracy and a key aspect of Russia's transition toward a more pluralistic society. The Clinton Administration has targeted resources to help create the infrastructure for free elections and to address concerns regarding media access and other issues.
  • Advocated human rights by encouraging Russia to adhere to international norms on human rights. The Clinton Administration pressed Russia to conduct thorough and impartial investigations of credible reports of human rights violations in Chechnya and to strengthen cooperation with international organizations such as the OSCE. Today Russians enjoy the basic freedoms of speech, religion, association, travel and the press. The Clinton Administration was at the forefront in the fight for human rights and democracy throughout Russia and the New Independent States.
  • Promoted legal reform and the rule of law in Russia through assistance, aimed at developing an independent judiciary and improving legal decision-making and respect for the rule of law. The Clinton Administration launched a project to promote the rule of law and to support the drafting of a new Criminal Code immediately after the first Clinton-Yeltsin summit in 1993. U.S. assistance programs promote independence of the judiciary, support for various Russian law schools, creation of legal aid clinics, law-related nongovernmental organization activities and the role of the legal bar in society.
  • Strengthened independent media in Russia by providing training, small grants and technical assistance to independent TV, radio and print media across Russia. Support for independent media was a key theme of President Clinton's June 2000 visit to Moscow. U.S. assistance programs are helping Russians connect with the world via the Internet. U.S. assistance to over 300 regional commercial TV stations helped raise their audiences from zero in 1991 to over 30% in many markets. In 1997 only 19% of local TV stations were producing local news programs. By 1998 U.S. assistance had helped raise that number to 87%. Since 1996, USIA's Internet Access and Training Program has provided access to and training in the use of the Internet. There are today 32 public access sites in Russia that receive 25-30,000 visitors per month. Twenty-two additional sites will be added in 2001.
  • Cultivated civil society in Russia. Development of healthy civil society is a cornerstone of U.S. assistance efforts. Before 1989, there were no NGOs in Russia. Now there are 65,000 -- and this number is growing. Since 1993, nearly 40,000 exchanges from Russia have been completed. In FY 2000 the Clinton Administration spent nearly $50 million to sponsor exchanges involving over 5,000 Russians. These exchanges have had a palpable impact on all spheres of life in Russia, and U.S. exchange alumni programs in Russia create a community that continues the benefits of the exchanges long after they are over.

Supporting Russia's Transition from Communism to Free Markets

  • Assisted Russian dismantlement of its once centrally-planned state-controlled economy. The Soviet state apparatus controlled nearly all economic decisions. Today the market largely determines prices and how resources are allocated, and the state's grip on economic activity has largely been severed. The Russian economic debate has shifted decisively from restoring the communist past to setting priorities on fiscal policy, taxation, pension and health care reform - the core bases of market democracy.
  • Fostered grassroots entrepreneurship in Russia by focusing U.S. economic assistance on small and medium-sized businesses that are building a new Russian economy from the bottom up. U.S. assistance for small and medium enterprises has created or sustained more than 60,000 jobs and more than 15,000 businesses across Russia. In 1991, the small business sector was virtually non-existent in Russia and the New Independent States. Today there are upwards of 900,000 small businesses in Russia, producing 12-15 percent of the GDP. Over 250,000 Russian entrepreneurs have received training, consulting services or small loans through U.S. Government programs. A majority of participants in U.S. Government programs report increases in production, sales, customer base and profitability. The United States has focused assistance programs on three regions - Novgorod, Samara and the Russian Far East - where regional reformers and entrepreneurs are demonstrating that they can generate growth even in adverse circumstances.
  • Helped Russia build the infrastructure for a market economy, including the creation of a securities and exchange commission and a joint training program with the World Bank - for employees of banks - that promotes international standards. U.S. assistance has developed training centers and lending programs for small business that could generate new economic activity.
  • Supported Russia's efforts to reform its commercial legal infrastructure and develop an independent judiciary that can protect investment and enforce the sanctity of contracts. The Clinton Administration launched a project to promote the rule of law and to support the drafting of a new Civil Code, a Criminal Code, bankruptcy laws and much of the legal and regulatory framework for Russia's Securities and Exchange Commission immediately after the first Clinton-Yeltsin summit in 1993. U.S. assistance programs promote independence of the judiciary and provide training for judges in commercial law.
  • Helped make the privatization process in Russia as transparent and efficient as possible. While the privatization process was imperfect, two-thirds of Russia's GDP is now generated by the private sector. Russia has also developed, with U.S. help, a legal framework and process for housing privatization. Today, over half of Russia's housing stock is privately owned, up from 20% in 1991.
  • Fought crime and corruption in Russia and curbing its spread to the United States by collaborating with Russian law enforcement to identify and prosecute crime groups, to combat financial crimes such as money laundering and to set priority targets for intelligence collection and other action. U.S. police officers are helping Russian police improve law enforcement skills and respond to public needs.
  • Worked with our G-7 counterparts to encourage international financial institutions, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, to develop a system of financial safeguards and transparency practices in their lending to Russia, to ensure that funds lent to Russia are used for their intended purpose.

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