The Lozansky Forum

Organized by its founder and spiritual leader, Edward Lozansky, the 28th World Russian Forum took place in Washington, DC on April 27-28.  It's time to give this event its proper name: The Lozansky Forum.

This year, I was able to attend only the opening day's session, which covered the most interesting (for me) topic: the present state and the future of U.S.-Russia relations.  Without any pretense of a detailed analysis, just a few thoughts.

The mood of the Forum was best summarized by the first guest-speaker, William Burns, U.S. Under Secretary of State and former U.S. Ambassador to Russia:

"Russia matters"

and

"The United States and Russia matter to one another." 

Even participants who don't count themselves among the friends of the current Kremlin regime — and those were present in the audience too — would nevertheless agree that the "reset" stage in U.S.-Russia relations has created a window of opportunity that cannot be let shut.

Many of the speakers argued that two areas of cooperation between the two countries – arms control and economy, especially energy cooperation — are particularly ripe for early progress. 

Naturally, a lot of attention was paid to the START treaty negotiations.  A consensus has emerged — as articulated by Russian Ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, and Robert McFarlane, National Security Adviser to President Reagan — that although it's incredibly difficult to reach a new agreement by December, when the current treaty expires, this still can be done. 

A contour of the new treaty was drawn by the Russian academic, Sergei Rogov, who suggested that the new agreement will call the two sides to limit their strategic nuclear arms to 1,500 warheads and 700-800 carriers each.  Rogov also spoke about the need to draw a road-map to achieving the complete destruction of nuclear weapons: from 2,500 to 1,500; from 1,500 to under 1,000; from under 1,000 to perhaps 500 or so; from 500 to zero(?).

Rogov was echoed by Robert Legvoldof Columbia University who asked what a strategic direction for the relationship should be and where we will find ourselves 4-6 years from now.  Legvold was joined by Thomas Pickering, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, with a call for "ideas":

"We should again look for ideas…We'd better have a common agenda; it worked before."

Ambassador Kislyak pointed out that the volume of U.S.-Russia trade, currently at $36 billion, doesn't reflect the real potential of economic cooperation between the two countries.  (He was quick to add, with a smile, that it's still almost a 4-fold increase in just 5 years).  For the United States, Russia represents only 1 percent of the foreign trade, and the United States sits somewhere at the bottom of the list of Russia's first 10 trade partners.  Nevertheless, some positive trends seem to be forming.  The U.S. businesses have invested about $30 billion in Russia, and Russian private companies have reciprocated with about $12 billion in investments in the U.S.

Robert McFarlane suggested to revive an old project of selling liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Yamal to North America, with a potential to provide the cheapest LNG in the world.

Many speakers called on President Obama to spend some political capital on persuading Congress to ratify the so-called 123 (nuclear cooperation) Agreement and to repeal the anachronistic Jackson-Vanik amendment.

The second guest-speaker was Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC).  It would appear that his short speech was written in the midst of the Cold War and has never been updated ever since.  A number of Russian participants were visibly impressed with the diversity of opinions.  (A journalist from Moscow asked me, during the lunch, "why wouldn't Obama just throw away the whole idea of anti-missile defense?"  I explained that Obama would face a strong opposition to such a move, including that in Congress.  The journalist grimaced and shrugged.  After DeMint's speech, our eyes met: I felt he was getting my point better now).  

The now famous Prof. Igor Panarin has also made his appearance and turned out to be much less radical, more convincing and, yes, more charming than what one would guess from his descriptions in the American media.  While gently insisting that his prognosis about America's disintegration in 2010 still stands, Prof. Panarin made it clear that he didn't want this to happen.  Instead, he'd rather attend the Lozansky Forum next year and in the years to come.  Needless to say,  Igor Nikolaevich will always be welcome in the united United States of America. 

Two last things.  First, hats off — and many thanks – to Edward Lozansky and his ever classy wife Tatiana for the impeccable organization of the Forum.  Second, the severe economic crisis in Russia didn't affect the quality of food and drinks served at the Russian Embassy reception Monday night. 

About Eugene Ivanov

Eugene Ivanov is a PMI-certified Innovation Management Consultant who helps organizations increase the efficiency of their internal and external innovation programs.
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9 Responses to The Lozansky Forum

  1. Sounds like an interesting meeting you had there – a pity I’m on the other side of the continent.😉
    Re-nukes. Sole objection here, it would be madness and perhaps suicide for Russia to give up on its nuclear arsenal as Rogov suggests, even if in conjunction with the US.

  2. Thanks Anatoly,
    You should come next year. Hey, people flew over from Moscow, and you’are “only” in CA.
    Re: nukes. Sure, I agree — in short-term. Obama and Medvedev publicly say that this may not even happen in their livetimes.
    Besides, this is “mostly” American idea: Kissinger, Nunn, et al. To me, it was interesting that Rogov, who should in principle treat it as anathema, still mentioned it as a noble goal.
    Best,
    Eugene

  3. Alex says:

    Thanks, Eugene – a carefully succinct field report. Did they publish the transcripts? I am primarily interested in Panarin’s speech. And – yes, those bloody nukes..Perhaps, if the US let Europe (mostly NATO) to sort out their “problems” & simultaneously try to use its formerly world-class brains (science) to solve the resource/energy problems – instead of the bushistic Drang-Nah-Osten approach, the ~ 1,500 levels would be more than realistic.
    Cheers

  4. Upon viewing this blog, I suddenly developed an urge to go grenade fishing. Before I leave, here’re some links on the WRF, which were forwarded to my attention the other day:
    http://www.rusintercenter.ru/?lang=ru&text=5174
    http://www.voanews.com/russian/2009-04-29-voa3.cfm
    http://vremya.ru/2009/71/5/227845.html
    http://www.inosmi.ru/translation/248779.html
    http://www.russiatoday.com/Politics/2009-04-24/ROAR__Russian_Opinion_and_Analytics_Review__Apr.24.html
    http://blog.heritage.org/2009/04/28/the-russians-are-coming/
    http://www.russiatoday.com/Top_News/2009-04-28/Washington_forum_sees_US_and_Russia_put_differences_aside.html
    http://www.america.gov/st/peacesec-english/2009/April/20090428135258FJreffahcS0.9358484.html?CP.rss=true
    http://www.russiablog.org/2009/04/russia_today_coverage_of_world.php
    http://news.google.com/nwshp?hl=en&tab=wn&q=World%20Russia%20Forum
    http://newsblaze.com/story/20090429055845tsop.nb/topstory.html
    http://www.russiablog.org/2009/04/power_and_population_debating.php
    http://www.russiablog.org/2009/04/world_russia_forum_2009_april-27-2009.php



    http://www.voanews.com/russian/2009-04-30-voa11.cfm
    http://www.pravda.ru/news/world/28-04-2009/309419-pro-0
    http://www.vz.ru/politics/2009/4/28/281068.html
    http://www.novopol.ru/text66714.html
    http://www.barentsobserver.com/usa-russia-seek-common-ground-in-arctic.4586085-116320.html
    I’d a blast there on Tuesday, while regretting not having been present at day one to meet Eugene and some others not present at day two. It’s a shame that the scheduled Crimean and Abkhaz panelists ran into some visa problems which prevented them from appearing.

  5. Eugene Ivanov says:

    Thanks Mike,
    Are you calling this “grenade fishing”? Your grenade reminds me of a warhead which is supposed to be regulated by a new START treaty🙂
    Best,
    Eugene

  6. Eugene Ivanov says:

    Igor privet!
    No, they don’t publish transcripts. As for Panarin, this is easy: here is his website
    http://www.panarin.com/
    with his speech at the top. (A heavily edited copy, as compared to my notes, but still gives a sense of what he was talking about).
    As for your assertion that “…US let Europe (mostly NATO) to sort out their “problems””, two questions are crying out:
    1. Can the US let Europe alone? (my answer is no)
    2. Does Europe want to sort out its problems w/o the US? (my answer is no).
    Regards,
    Eugene

  7. Alex says:

    I am not so sure about #2 (depends, of course, what one defines as “Europe”). As for the #1, what are the real economic benefits for the US economy due to its military presence/domination in or control of Europe? Sales of weapons alone? Can you think of some?
    Cheers

  8. Eugene Ivanov says:

    Igor,
    You’re involving me in a grand discussion, but after the WWII, providing security to Europe has been the primary goal of U.S. foreign policy. Everything else (like NATO, AMD, etc.) derives from this. Many people here believe (and they’ve got a point, IMHO) that Europe’s prosperity is based (at least partly) on the fact that it’s been able to spend so much on wellfare because it’s been spending so little on defense.
    That was the basis on both questions. Europe’s security is so fundamental to the U.S. reason-d’etre, that it simply cannot leave Europe “alone.” On the other hand, are Europeans ready to increase military spending and go on their own?
    Thanks,
    Eugene

  9. Alex says:

    Eugene, don’t worry about the grand discussion – I agree more than dis-.. with what you said previously. I just thought of an option to save the US money🙂 during the crisis; another implicit point was that if not for the US efforts, most European countries, it seems, would not really have an enemy (the Russkies) to spend much on their military.
    And – thanks for the link to Panarin’s site – I enjoyed reading some material (and links) there
    Cheers

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