CIA Director George Tenet recently singled out Russia as a massive contributor to the spread of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Despite the cooperation Moscow has given to Washington’s anti-terrorism campaign, the Bush administration is putting the Russian government on notice. A severe crisis between the two sides may now be forming.
Yeah, OK, Russia sells things we don’t like to countries we like even less. Hell, to countries who don’t even like Russia. But the big problem isn’t how many tanks or SAMs the Iraqis buy, or even how many nuclear reactors get built for Iran. We can deal with those, should the need arise. Meantime, they’re paying customers who we won’t sell to, so Russia is just supplying a demand.
The big problem is Russian germs, chemicals, and nuclear weapons materials — and for those there’s no easy answer.
The heart of the problem lies not so much in a Kremlin desire to proliferate WMDs, but in a lack of Kremlin control much outside of Moscow.
Russia is barely held together, what little coherence exists is mostly due to fear and enertia, and is desperately poor. Until Russia is a real, functioning country with a real, functioning economy, then we’re going to have a problem with rogue, uh, entrepreneurs selling bad things.
There’s no easy fix — and so there’s no reason for us to rupture relations over something the Russians can’t do much about. StratFor is wrong on this one.