It is interesting how previous and current agreements on nuclear assets between Russia and the United States plays very strongly into the level of protection for sovereignty of former USSR states. Jane Armstrong, for example, writes on her blog that Ukraine should enjoy a much stronger obligation to its security and sovereignty from the United States than Georgia did because of Leonid Kuchma’s clever deal to guarantee the country’s sovereignty in exchange for the surrender of nuclear arsenals. She writes “In essence, Washington is guarantor to Ukraine’s sovereignty, unlike Georgia’s, which was punished by Russia for an incursion, invaded temporarily and two of its breakaway provinces acquired.” A civilian nuclear deal with Russia is also being scuppered by the Bush administration as an expression of its disapproval of Moscow’s war conduct (never mind that the deal wasn’t going to get passed by Congress anyways). The AP reports that the Kremlin “might not be much inclined to hear” to hear this warning, given that Russia “appears to feel it no longer has as much need for the potential billions in revenue the deal would have provided.” To us, this seems very, very ill-considered on Russia’s behalf, especially as the markets there hit a new two-year low today.
Money can once again become a problem for Russia as fast as you can say “inflation.” A recent risk analysis from Kiplinger states that “Moscow can’t turn a blind eye indefinitely to investor discontent. Its growth plans depend on access to foreign capital and the ability to expand into foreign markets. Whether or not the European Union can act collectively to impose sanctions, its members will be far less willing to go along with Russian investment in their energy sectors.“Although I think we are still very far away from any Dr. Evil-like scenario of Russia’s leadership pushing for world domination before they act in defense of their personal checking accounts, the nuclear issue is one to keep in mind. Given that so much of this war is tangentially related to Washington’s frustrations with Russia running interference on Iranian nuclear proliferation, and Russia’s distaste for American missile sites being installed because of Iran, I am beginning to wonder if there is enough diplomatic leverage available in the world to produce a solution for the security and sovereignty of post-Soviet states that doesn’t involve some kind of radical new nuclear arrangement on updated consensus. I suppose we are being naive if we can’t accept that realpolitik after Bush is firmly wedded to the atom.(Image source: Villagers with Torches)