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Unformatted text preview: 1 “Extremists and Bandits” “Extremists and Bandits” “Extremists and Bandits” “Extremists and Bandits” How Russia Views the War against Terrorism How Russia Views the War against Terrorism How Russia Views the War against Terrorism How Russia Views the War against Terrorism PONARS Policy Memo No. 246 Fiona Hill Brookings Institution April 2002 When President Vladimir Putin picked up the phone to express his sympathy to President George W. Bush in the aftermath of September 11, and then followed-up by providing concrete assistance to the campaign in Afghanistan and quickly acquiescing to U.S. plans to establish bases in Central Asia, Washington policymakers and analysts reasonably concluded Putin had made a strategic, even historic, choice to align Russia’s foreign policy with that of the U.S. From the beginning of his presidency in January 2000, Putin pushed the idea of a concerted campaign against terrorism with U.S. and European leaders. He was one of the first to raise the alarm about terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, and to warn of linkages between these camps, well-financed terrorist networks, and Islamic militant groups operating in Europe and Eurasia. Russia also actively supported the Northern Alliance in its struggle with the Taliban in Afghanistan. In December 2000, Moscow joined Washington in supporting United Nations sanctions against the Taliban, and later appealed for additional sanctions against Pakistan for aiding the Taliban. After the attacks on the United States, Putin even went so far as to suggest he had been expecting a massive terrorist strike––it had only been a matter of time. The events of September 11 were a shock, but not a surprise. Putin’s support for Bush was, therefore, entirely consistent with his efforts to draw world attention to the terrorist threat. The terrorist attacks also occurred at a juncture when Putin was actively seeking to change and improve Russia’s relationship with the United States. After a rocky start with the Bush administration––marked by spy scandals and a dispute over U.S. intentions to build a missile defense shield and withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty––Putin had worked hard to build a personal affinity with Bush, remove the sense of confrontation, underscore that the Cold War was finally over, and find some mechanism for transcending differences. After September 11, the war against terrorism seemed to be that mechanism. Russia and the United States had finally made common cause. Common cause, however, assumes both parties have a shared view of the problem and the potential range of solutions. Unfortunately, Putin does not view terrorism in the same way as Bush. The terrorist threat to Russia is not equivalent to the threat to the United States, and Russia’s responses to terrorism have been quite different from the United States’....
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This note was uploaded on 08/27/2011 for the course GOVT 312L taught by Professor Dennis during the Summer '11 term at University of Texas at Austin.
- Summer '11