A panel of former ambassadors hosted by the Weiser Diplomacy Center and the American Academy of Diplomacy will focus on the implications of the war in Ukraine globally and for NATO, Europe, Russia and China. October, 2022.
From the speakers' bios
Ambassador (ret.) Susan M. Elliott is an accomplished diplomat with a doctorate from Indiana University. During her 27-year diplomatic career, Ambassador Elliott held a variety of leadership positions at the U.S. Department of State, including Civilian Deputy and Foreign Policy Advisor to the Commander of the United States European Command, Deputy Executive Secretary and Director of the Executive Secretariat Staff for former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan from 2012 to 2015, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs. Earlier in her career she reported on conflicts in the countries of the former Soviet Union when she worked in the Office of the Coordinator for Regional Conflicts in the New Independent States. She became President and CEO of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy in August 2018.
Ambassador (ret.) Richard A. Boucher is a senior U.S. diplomat turned teacher. Over a thirty-two year career, he served in numerous leadership positions, including Ambassador to Cyprus (1993-1996) and U.S. Consul General in Hong Kong (1996-1999). In his later career he became the longest serving spokesman in the history of the State Department, serving six Secretaries of State. From 2006 to 2009 he served as Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia. After retiring from the State Department Ambassador Boucher served as Deputy Secretary-General for Global Affairs at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris. Since 2014 he has taught diplomacy and foreign policy at Brown University, University of Michigan and George Mason University.
Ambassador (ret.) Robert Cekuta has long and extensive experience as a top-level U.S. diplomat. His positions in the State Department included Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Resources, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy, Sanctions, and Commodities, and U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan from 2015 to 2018. In addition to numerous overseas postings, Ambassador Cekuta established the Economic Policy Analysis and Public Diplomacy Office in the State Department’s Bureau for Economic and Business Affairs, and served on the boards of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the International Energy Agency (IEA), where he also chaired the IEA Board’s Standing Group on Long-term Cooperation charged with anticipating global energy developments.
Ambassador (ret.) Ronald Neumann is President of the American Academy of Diplomacy, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, and former Ambassador to Algeria, Bahrain and Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007. Before Afghanistan, Ambassador Neumann served in Baghdad with the Coalition Provisional Authority and as liaison with the Multinational Command, where he was deeply involved in coordinating the political part of military actions. In addition to his multiple overseas postings he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs and Director of the Office of Northern Gulf Affairs. He was an Army infantry officer in Viet Nam and holds a Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal and Combat Infantry Badge. Ambassador Neumann is the author of Three Embassies, Four Wars: a personal memoir (2017) and The Other War: Winning and Losing in Afghanistan (Potomac Press, 2009). As President of the American Academy of Diplomacy he has focused on maintaining adequate State Department and USAID budgets and staffing.
0:00:00.5 John Ciorciari: Okay, good afternoon everybody, welcome. I'm John Ciorciari, I'm a Professor and Associate Dean here at the Ford School, and I'm also the director of our Weiser Diplomacy Center. Delighted to welcome you to this event with our partners from the American Academy of Diplomacy, which is a premier forum for former US ambassadors and other high-ranking foreign policy officials elected by their peers for their excellence in service. Their mission at the American Academy of Diplomacy, with whom we've partnered now for four years, is both to strengthen US diplomacy through policy engagement and advocacy, and also to communicate the importance of diplomacy as an instrument of advancing American interests and values to the public at large. And it's part of that ladder prong that brings them here to UM for a return visit to talk to us about the international global implications of the war in Ukraine.
0:00:54.0 JC: Our four expert guests have diverse regional expertise, you've already been able to see their bios and they're very illustrious, I'd spend the whole hour if I were to run through them in detail, so I'll just share a few highlights with you about our guests. Sitting furthest from me, Ambassador Bob Cekuta, who was US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, along with occupying senior posts in the State Department focusing on energy and on Economic and Business Affairs, he's also served in senior roles on international bodies, including the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, and the International Energy Agency.
0:01:30.3 JC: To his right, your left is Ambassador Susan Elliott, who served, among other roles, as US Ambassador to Tajikistan. She's also held senior roles at the US European Command, at the State Department's Executive Secretariat, and the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. Her current role is as President and CEO of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy.
0:01:53.4 JC: To her right, returning, actually, and she also has come here to the Ford School before and helped to train some of our students, as has the gentleman to her right, Ambassador Richard Boucher, who has taught here at Ford before, who served as US Ambassador to Cyprus, as Consul General in Hong Kong and Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, as well as spokesperson for the US State Department. He's now teaching, including, as I mentioned, some teaching that he's done here in the past at the Ford School, so welcome back. And Ambassador Ron Neumann seated closest to me, has served as Ambassador to Algeria, Bahrain and Afghanistan, among other senior roles in the State Department, focusing primarily on the Middle East and North Africa, and he's the current President of the Academy of American Diplomacy.
0:02:46.4 JC: Before I turn it over to Ambassador Neumann, who's going to moderate and chair our panel, I wanna point out that these aren't the only ambassadors and senior foreign policy officials who are giving to our community. We've got our clinical faculty, Ambassador Mel Levitsky and Ambassador Susan Page sitting here in front of me, we also are just wrapping up the stays of two exemplary visiting experts, Ambassador Dan Shields and former Deputy Secretary Steve Biegun, who have just completed teaching courses here in the Ford School, in Dan's case on Diplomacy in Asia, and Steve's case on US Foreign Policy and Grand Strategy. I know a lot of you have been in one, or both of those classes, and so I wonder if you would join me in giving them a round of applause for the time that they spent here.
0:03:39.5 JC: Lastly, of course, I always like to thank our excellent staff at the Diplomacy Center, Zuzana Wiseley and Matt Doss, you all have gotten to know them, I'm sure in the many programs that we run at the center, including the wonderful panel event today. And with that I wanna turn over to Ambassador Neumann, who will moderate our discussion of the Global Implications on the War in Ukraine.
0:04:00.6 Ron Neumann: Thank you. Thank you, John. It's a pleasure to be back. We started this program a few years ago, I know... I think this is the fifth, but maybe it's the sixth, I'm not... Fifth? Yep. It's a real treat with...
0:04:18.3 JC: We can replace [0:04:18.6] ____...
0:04:21.4 RN: Yeah, it helps to have context, you know.
0:04:25.5 RN: And so Ambassador Levitsky, was the original go-between, and matchmaker here, and we're very grateful to him 'cause we keep coming back and we keep enjoying the interchange, and I know it's been stimulating every time. I just wanna say a word about today's program, because obviously, there are no shortage of programs on Ukraine these days. But we wanted to do something different, a little different, because Ukraine has implications that go way beyond the Atlantic Alliance, Russia and America. And that is almost the total focus of everything being written in kind of a popular press and a lot of the articles. And we wanted to get people to think a little bit beyond that, because in fact, it's having implications all over the world. We will, I am sure... We will certainly come back to all those questions. Also, this is not a military panel, but I would just note in passing that there's an awful lot being written, which seems to treat the military situation as though it were predictable, foreseeable, and scriptable.
0:05:44.1 RN: Now, I was an infantry officer about half a century ago, and I remember they taught me before I went off to my first war, that the enemy gets a vote. There are lots of things we do not know that people are ignoring in much of what is written in the popular press, we have... I have no idea what our intelligence community has, we have almost no insight into the degree of casualties, or strain in the Ukrainian forces, we treat what they're doing as a constant that they can maintain, and I hope they can personally, but I have no idea. We have very, very little insight into all kinds of things military. And that's not to say that what you see is... What you see is not necessarily what you get today, war is full of surprises. Nobody ever starts a war thinking they will lose. And that happens 50% of the time.
0:06:44.2 RN: So, just remember as you read stuff to be a little more limited about this. So we're gonna try to get you to think largely, to push your thinking out beyond just the Atlantic basin and the Ukrainian issues, not to exclude them, we're gonna come back to them, but I wanna ask... I've asked each of my colleagues to start in their initial presentations by talking about one piece that isn't the Atlantic and Ukraine. And I have to say, I'm sorry this, there are so many subjects out there we could talk about in that focus that ordering breakfast would not be amiss, and then we wouldn't complete the program, but to get us launched, I wanted to ask my colleague, Mr. Boucher, if he would start with particular reference to China. Where, China? This is about Ukraine. Well, not necessarily.
0:07:47.6 Richard Boucher: China. I think you all remember at the Beijing Olympics when Xi Jinping met with Vladimir Putin. They did the pinky square and declared themselves blood brothers, a friendship that has no limits, and then about a week or two later, Putin invades Ukraine. Most of us think that he didn't tell Xi what he was gonna do, or he might have sort of alluded to rectifying some of the problems. China is a bit shocked. They've played a very careful... Tried to find a very careful line on this. They don't wanna break with Western sanctions, they don't wanna get in trouble with their biggest customers in the outside world by breaking sanctions, but they don't wanna do too much to offend their Russian friends.
0:08:38.7 RB: It's been of an interesting thing to watch. They have gotten a little more squarely on this one as they have seen what Russia has done. So they've just the other day, they stood up for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Kazakhstan, where a lot of the Russian draft dodgers have gone. They didn't stand up for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, but they're getting to the point where kinda drawing a couple of lines for the Russians about what they might do if Russia should think bigger is important. And working their way into Central Asia has been really important for the Chinese, and you see them sort of flooding Central Asia, in a whole lot of ways, and displacing the Russian something that really reverses 150 years, 200 years of history when the Russians went in in the 1800s with the railroads and military.
0:09:38.6 RB: So some big changes going on in this part of the world because of this invasion. China is generally happy to see people pushing back against US unilateral assertions of security, the way NATO has defined security in Europe, and the United States along with its allies in Japan and Australia, etcetera have defined security structures in Asia. So China is kinda glad to see Vladimir Putin pushing back on that and said, "No, you can't have it your way all the time." They have a very comfortable economic and security relationship between China and Russia. China buys raw materials, hydrocarbons, metals especially, sells consumer goods, and they're taking some advantage of the situation. They're buying more Russian oil at cheaper prices, oil and gas, but it's still only 21% of their hydrocarbon imports and the rest of the stuff, they've gotta pay for inflated prices from Saudi Arabia, Iran and elsewhere. So it's not all manna for the Chinese economy.
0:10:50.5 RB: Russia is becoming more dependent on China. The 1950s, they used to talk about the big brother, little brother, Dage Xiaodi, kind of relationship that they had, and the big brother was Russia. Well, the big brother's turning into China. Russia needs China a whole lot more than China needs Russia right now, and I think China will take advantage of that. The Chinese are also happy to see the West preoccupied. China can portray itself as a foundation of stability in the global order. President Xi's global security initiative keeps coming around, and he's on his way to a third term. We'll talk about that more later.
0:11:39.2 RB: Still, all is not well. They had very significant interests in Ukraine, 6000 citizens there, along with business interests and other things like that that are being disrupted and destroyed. They see a strengthening of Western alliances and solidarity, and to China, that has to be a bit disturbing. They were counting on dividing off the Europeans, promoting what Xi called indivisible security, basically multi-polarity, which is something the Europeans have long advocated, and the Chinese thought they had a friend in Europe on this, and now they see Europe falling very squarely back into the US/NATO camp and the Western solidarity in Ukraine is, I would say, something of a warning to China about what might happen if they should try to act militarily against Taiwan. We'll get to Taiwan maybe later in the questions, but I really don't think they have any intentions with regard to Taiwan militarily, but they wanna maintain enough military force to sort of warn Taiwan Taiwan doesn't have an independence option.
0:12:53.2 RB: China needs technology and productivity at the stage it is with its economy. They've got a declining population, they've got export industries leaving because of wage rates and COVID lockdowns, they've got economic troubles because of all the lockdowns and some of these fundamental problems, and what China needs for its next phase of economic growth is technology and productivity enhancements. They're not gonna get that from Russia. That's gotta come from the Western world, and to some extent, they can develop it internally, but in the end, the technology and productivity enhancements have gotta come from outside, and that means the West. That means the US and Europe.
0:13:35.8 RB: So yeah, having a good relationship with Russia, relying on Russia for certain products is great, but they're not gonna succeed without a good relationship outside of Russia, so that kind of explains it. So, President Xi... This is all very interesting, but frankly, none of it matters. The only thing that matters in China is the continued rule of the Communist Party, and the only thing that matters to the Communist Party right now is Xi Jinping getting his third term. Looks like that's gonna happen next week, and this doesn't play really well for that. Those pictures of the pinkie-swear, they're all over the internet, everybody knows, and it kinda looks like maybe he backed the wrong horse.
0:14:23.7 RB: Now, this falls into the trap of saying, no, he may emerge victorious. As Ron said, military fortunes can change overnight. But for the moment, Xi's best friend doesn't look like he's succeeding, let's put it that way. So did he bet on a loser or not? We don't know yet. Strengthened Western resolve, US victory, don't really help Xi's best efforts to raise China's status in the world. Also, the failure of Soviet and Russian military equipment in Ukraine is not looking very good, and that has implications for the Chinese military. As much as Xi relies on the Chinese military, talks about the Chinese military, Xi believes that the fall of the Soviet Union was because the military was no longer under control of the Communist Party, and he's invested in an awful lot in having a strong military under control of the Party, and now, at least some of the weaponry that they use is not living up to its promise in Ukraine.
0:15:34.8 RB: So there's a lot of things that make it a little bit of a downside for Xi, personally within the party. He's gonna get his third term, but it's looking a little rocky and not as abundantly wonderful as one would think, based on the propaganda. So there's a lot of implications for Ukraine, for China's position in the world. Also for Xi Jinping's personal position in the Communist Party, and we'll just have to see how it works out.
0:16:08.0 RN: Thank you. If that wasn't enough to think about, we're gonna go down the line and let Susan talk about it.
0:16:19.7 Susan Elliott: Yeah, thanks, Ron. And because I do what the moderator tells me to do, even though I've focused probably most of my career on former Soviet Union and NATO, Trans-Atlantic relations, in my current job running a non-profit focused on US foreign policy, we do a lot in the Asia-Pacific, so we do talk with China, but since Ambassador Boucher has really giving you a good overview of what the implications of Ukraine are for China, I wanna talk to you a little bit about some recent discussions I've had with other Asian and especially Asian partners and friends, Japan and Republic of Korea. And one of the things that always came up... We're fortunate, these aren't government groups, these are scholars who have... Thankfully, now that the pandemic has eased up, are able to come back to the US and hopefully later this year, we'll be able to travel and have more discussions.
0:17:17.8 SE: But it was clear to me and a little bit different points of view from Japan as opposed to Republic of Korea, but the Japanese group that we discussed... Again, these are scholars and people who work in think tanks... Who really wanted to discuss... In the past, we always discussed China or we discussed North Korea, but the main topic was Ukraine and what did I think about whether the Ukrainians can win? What is the US going to do to help the Ukrainians? And then in their mind, there is no option but for Ukraine to win. And so one of the discussions I had, well, what does winning mean? And I think we still really don't know exactly what that means.
0:18:05.2 SE: Does that mean Ukraine gets all its territory back? Does that mean that Ukraine comes to some kind of a solution? Has a truce with Russia. It's unclear what it means, but I thought it was very interesting that this delegation said, "Well, there's just no other option," that Russia has to be defeated, Ukraine has to win. And so that was interesting thing that I didn't think that I would see. And the other thing they talked about is the importance of relations, especially military relations with the United States. They didn't go as far as saying, "Well, what do you think about Japan joining NATO?" But I think the idea that countries that are not contiguous with... Although Japan is close to Russia and they have had their own disputes over territory with the Russians, but this is something that people were thinking about, especially scholars are thinking about, which actually took me a little by surprise when we talked to them, because normally we talk about, "Okay, what do we do about North Korea? How can we work together on that?" But they really wanted to talk about, well, what will be... What did I think that the US strategy was gonna be to help the Ukrainians to win? And will the...
0:19:23.2 SE: Will the countries that are supporting Ukraine, whether it's NATO, Europeans or others, will they be able to keep this strength going? The Koreans had a little bit different point of view. While they in general agreed that... Again, we talked about Ukraine, maybe more than we talked about North Korea. We did talk about North Korea, but Ukraine seems to be in any kind of informal discussion that I've had, be at the top of people's list. And so the scholars from the Republic of Korea were talking about... They weren't all in, like the Japanese, on that Russia has to be defeated because they have business interests with Russia, and they were thinking about you have to weigh your options. How does this go beyond just sort of a military conflict? But here's a democracy who has strong military and other trade and other relations with the United States of America, but yet they have to feel like they're walking a tightrope, a fine line for, how can we support what's happening but not lose maybe business interests that we will need in the future? So that's another thing that again, as I said, prior to February, we didn't really ever talk much about Russia or Ukraine, or any part of Europe when we talked with people in the Asia-Pacific.
0:21:04.0 SE: The other thing, and... I also recently met with a group of scholars from... And some of those people work for the government... But from Vietnam. They also wanted to talk about Korea, and in their case, it was, more not about Korea but about Ukraine. What is the US-China relationship going to be, because they share a border with China, but and then in relation to, again, Ukraine and Russia, what did I think the Chinese would do? Would they support Russia? And even I said, "Well, it doesn't appear that they're supporting them militarily," and then they were like... Well, how do you know that? I mean, how do you know. And maybe they're giving weapons via North Korea. So, it was a very interesting, kind of point of view, that China may say they're not giving military assistance, but how do you know? And of course, I don't really know because I don't have access to that information, but I thought that was an interesting perspective.
0:22:04.0 SE: And finally, I'll just say, most of my career, again, I've focused on former Soviet Union, but I think the people of Central Asia are in a very difficult position because Central Asia really is... When you talk about the Silk Road... But to me, it's kind of the crossroads in a very important area of the world that maybe has been ignored, especially 'cause it was part of the Soviet Union. But having lived and worked in that region, the influences of Russia, China and Iran, and especially when I lived in Tajikistan, of course, what was happening in Afghanistan was extremely important, but I think the people there have another balancing act. I can give you, for example, Tajikistan, a large portion of Tajikistan's GDP is from remittances, or it was from remittances because people would go to Russia to work, but now they really... Not only do they not go to Russia to work, but Russian seem to be going to... If you've seen on the news... Going to Kazakhstan, going to Georgia and other countries in there to get away from the conscription.
0:23:12.9 SE: There also were and have been... I think this is not just a report, but it's true that Russians were trying to entice Central Asians, citizens of countries of former Soviet Union, to serve in their military, giving them financial or other kinds of incentives, because Russian citizens don't necessarily wanna fight the war that's being fought. So I see it as, at least before this happened, when I lived in Central Asia, one of the things, is in terms of the US government, well I saw, they said, "You need to strike a balance among these three important... It's not a zero-sum game. You have to deal with Russia. You have to deal with China. China has a big influence in Central Asia, in Iran, as well." But now, if I were the ambassador in one of the countries of Central Asia, the calculus on Russia is completely different.
0:24:13.8 SE: And again, I met with the group of... I live in New York, and a lot of scholars come to New York, and I met with some Uzbek scholars who were interested in studying China, but we ended up... Because my organization does a lot of interaction with China... But we didn't spend that much time talking about China. We talked about Ukraine, and what did I think about... And so I asked them, "Well, what do you think?" And they told me, it was very interesting, that they... Having spent... They were on a program like two weeks in the US, and they said, "What you can see in the US press and media is so different than what we can see in Uzbekistan," because they get mostly Russian media and in the Russian and Russian language media, it's a special operation, you know, they had to... "The Ukrainians are fascist." Whatever, whatever, you know, you name it. So, and then they said... But people are very concerned about saying what they really feel for fear of being somehow disadvantaged in... Maybe in the future by something related to Russia, because in the end, they also share a history, and a lot of trade and other things are related to Russia, especially the economic migrants, the workers that would go to Russia to work, and a lot of that because of the sanctions and because of the war have dried up.
0:25:48.5 SE: So I would say for me, as now not a US diplomat but someone who conducts informal discussions with many countries but most of them in the Asia-Pacific region, I would just say, everyone...
0:26:04.8 SE: Wants to talk about Ukraine. What is the US gonna do with you Ukraine? What do I think NATO will do? And even we talk with people in Taiwan, same kind of thing. I had a delegation recently from a foundation in Taipei, and we did talk about cross-strait relations, but a lot of the discussion was, what was our analysis of what would happen in Ukraine? So I think to just follow up the, really, the extent to which this regional conflict has affected every country in the world, it's hard to determine... We know now, but what will the future implications be as the conflict continues, or even when we get some kind of resolution to the war? So, I'll leave it at that.
0:26:57.8 RN: Thank you. Now in case you thought by the time we'd added China, potential conflicts over Taiwan, implications in Asia, they're now thinking about Ukraine and wars that we had brought to the subject sufficiently, we have a whole another dimension in energy, which is becoming again something of a subject to the United States, and so over to Ambassador Cekuta to enliven you on that problem.
0:27:32.3 Robert Cekuta: I'm going to pick up on something ambassador Elliott said. I was out in the Caucasus in March, and to summarize, and it's something which I've heard from conversations with ambassadors and so forth from Central Asia, a deep fear of, "We're next." And this is something in the Baltics and so forth, "We're next." And that's the sort of summation I think on the government side. So how do you manage that? It's been interesting to see how some... Kazakhstan, for example, have been rather neutral, which neutrality is not the same thing as being on the same side as Moscow, but I wanna talk in a sense about how this war is affecting shopkeepers in Cairo, farmers in Argentina, and everybody in this room, because it's through economics that foreign policy affects everybody on a global world and global systems.
0:28:34.2 RC: And so what we've seen, yes, there were factors in the international energy market before this that were pushing prices back up and so forth, but Russia's invasion of Ukraine seriously disrupted the energy markets, it seriously disrupted agricultural markets, it's seriously disrupted food security for literally billions of people around the world. This is not a cost-free exercise, and we have an interest in this. Starting off on the energy side, to be a little bit easier, yes, there are three major, three top energy producers in the world today: The United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia. Each produce roughly in the neighborhood of 10 million barrels a day of oil. The world consumes roughly 100 million barrels a day, so we're talking a third is produced by these three countries. You knock Russia out, that's going to have an impact on oil supplies. That's going to mean an impact on oil prices. That's one factor going on.
0:29:40.0 RC: Second factor: The world is looking at what Russia is doing with horror and doesn't want to support it, so there's a move to stop buying Russian oil, a move to stop buying Russian gas. Now, if oil is a source of income for Russia, gas is a source of power for Russia. The gas pipelines that Russia has built over the decades to Western Europe were seen by many West European governments... And I spent time working in Berlin, the Germans in particular felt, "Well, we're gonna bind people together. We will work together. We'll be so integrated together, we can't have a war." Well, we've seen what happened.
0:30:21.9 RC: Europe right now is desperately trying to break its dependence on Russia. At the same time, Russia is taking actions which show the extreme wisdom of breaking energy relations with Russia. Exploding pipelines don't just happen. Like Susan said, I don't have the intel anymore, but there are lots of pipelines around this world, gas pipe lines around this world, they don't blow up, especially at the bottom of a sea. That's not the place your average truck bomb can hit. We'll leave it there. Russia has shut off gas supplies to different countries. Russia has driven up the prices to various countries. It has used gas as a weapon, and so the Europeans, wisely, they will claim belatedly, are trying to get away from this. They have stored up all the gas they can get. They're probably at about 85% of their storage capacity for the winter. 85% sounds good, but that's also a 15% shortfall.
0:31:33.8 RC: This is great for Europe. Why? Europe is rich. They can afford to pay the high prices, but the gas had to come from some place. It takes years to develop gas fields, it takes years to develop oil fields, so the European gas, much of which has been bought from us, was originally going to be going to China and Japan and Korea and other countries. That means they are now scrambling for gas. One alternative to gas is to go back and use coal-fired power plants. Oh, by the way, those coal-fired power plants aren't the most recently built ones. They're old. When some of these countries talk about coal, they talk about what we call lignite, which is brown, wet, dirty, dirty coal. We're fighting to save the climate. We are going to be burning more carbon because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
0:32:41.2 RC: There are countries that... Kazakhstan, for example, ships its oil, 1.4 million barrels a day through a pipeline that empties into... Goes through Russia to the rest of the world. There have been maintenance issues on the Russian side that have shut down that oil. As a result, Kazakhstan is being pressured, the world is missing oil it needs, the price is going up. Oil is not just used for driving cars. Gas is not just used for generating power. It's a feed stock. It goes into plastics. We might not love plastics, but face it, how much plastic is around us? Go grab your phone. Now, that's going to drive up prices of all sorts of products. That's going to increase inflation. The world is dealing with a difficult economic crisis, to begin with impossible global recession.
0:33:43.0 RC: At the same time, we're fighting inflation by increasing the price of the dollar through higher interest rates. That means other countries which buy their oil and buy their gas in dollars are not only gonna be hit by the higher price, they're gonna be hit in a higher real price because they're gonna have to spend more of their currency to get the dollars they need to pay. Okay, so now you're seeing inflation and high prices around the world. Gas is not just used to make plastics. It's used to make fertilizer. Fertilizer prices around the world have gone way up. Go to your local Home Depot and look at what you pay for a bag of fertilizer now. Russia and Ukraine, by the way, were big fertilizer exporters.
0:34:38.0 RC: So the farmers are now gonna be paying more for their fertilizer. Oh, but, wait, they don't have the money to pay for the fertilizer. That means not enough farming. Oh, here's another problem. How do you drive your tractor? That's the farmer in Argentina. Farmers in Argentina this year were not plowing as much as they normally would because they couldn't afford the diesel. That means they won't produce as much. That means they won't be putting food out as much. That means food prices will go up around the world. This comes to our shopkeeper in Cairo. Egypt got huge amounts of wheat from Ukraine. Oh, you can't export wheat from Ukraine. Oh, the price of energy in Cairo is going up. Oh, inflation is going up, prices is going up. How is that shopkeeper in Cairo gonna take care of his family and what are the political ramifications in Egypt? And now I come home to us. The prices here are going up. So, Russia's actions have had global ramifications. We're looking to address them now. Expectations are a tough winter. Expectations are for a tough winter in '23, '24 as well right now.
0:36:01.2 RN: And I'm gonna leave you with the formal part was just a couple of observations. One is that because the United States is such a big power everywhere in the world, US policy is a central concern of countries all over the world. It doesn't mean they necessarily want to do what we want them to do, but the vast majority of countries in the world, as they think about what their policies are, want to take into consideration, where's the US gonna be, whether they're opposed to us or in favor of us. And US policy has been seen to be in flux. It was in flux with Afghanistan. Ukraine, it's pretty steady, but it means the price of that is often that our attention just doesn't stretch to Central Asia.
0:36:56.0 RN: Now, Secretary Blinken is off on a trip to Africa. We're trying to say that finally, we're gonna pay attention to Africa. We're gonna pay attention to Latin America. We have made such claims before over 40 or 50 years, and we're usually seen as defaulting on them. We lose focus, and it's human. There's only so many places you can focus in the world, but the intense focus of Ukraine, which may go on for a long time, is depleting the American ability to focus on multiple other issues, and other countries know that, and so they have to guess. Where is the US gonna be? How much can I count on it? That has ramifications. It bleeds into the Middle East, where I spent most of my career. It's just... This stuff goes on and on. You can't think about it in silos.
0:37:53.5 RN: Although there's a point at which you sort of say, "My God, I can't think about all this at one time," which is perfectly true also. I can't fix that for you, by the way. But you've got that, you've got this question and it comes back into other issues, and to pull back a little bit into the Trans-Atlantic, one of the questions that... Some of you gave us questions... One of the questions we had was about, where is the whole future of the Trans-Atlantic alliance? And nobody and really you can't say. Right now, solidarity is higher than it's been for a long time, NATO's looking good, but if three years from now, Ukraine is still at war with Russia, people are in the second or third winter with inadequate heat in Germany and all across Europe, Congress is looking bad, will we all be holding together, or will we not?
0:38:57.9 RN: And you see, the question of the Trans-Atlantic alliance and its solidarity, not to mention, of course, if Russia makes a mistake, we could get to World War III. We'd rather not do that. But how these things come out, the military development, the length of the war, is going to impact our entire structure of our central or Atlantic alliance in those relationships. If you have a miscalculation that actually led to some form of nuclear exchange, there's a whole lot of countries that might think that's not so cool. I think we'll avoid that, but all I'm trying to say is, you can't look at exactly where we are now in solidarity and say that tells you where we will be in a year or two, nor can you do the reverse.
0:39:56.0 RN: You can't say, "Well, it's all gonna go to hell." Not necessarily. This world is full of surprises. NATO has proven far more solid, and the support from countries with very disparate views has been well beyond what most analysts probably would have predicted, so I'm not trying to predict that it gets worse at all. It may get better. All I'm trying to say is, there's this huge potential of... This is the bedrock of prosperity in the post-World War II world is the American-European relationship, and we don't know where it's going to be affected by this. So on that happy note, I'm going to stop our presentation about where I said I would, and I wanna give you all a chance... We want to devote a substantial portion of this session to questions, both from people here and we have some online. We have two mics, do we? We have two microphones. I ask you to wait for the microphone before you start your question, particularly because there are people online as well as in the room, and they can't hear you when you start without the microphone, so then we will yell at you to wait for the microphone.
0:41:18.7 RN: Also, I would ask that questions be as short, crisp and direct as possible. I will ask my colleagues that we will try to keep our answers as short as we can, not always a function of answers, but we will do our best in order to get to more questions. So who wants the first question? There's one over here.
0:41:46.9 Speaker 6: There's been a huge outflow of people from the Ukraine, and that's something you didn't address. What do you see is the impact of all of those refugees?
0:41:58.2 RN: Who feels like starting on that one?
0:42:00.3 SE: Well, I could start.
0:42:00.4 RN: Yeah. Do.
0:42:00.8 SE: Back in April, I went with a delegation to Poland and to look at this issue. And just to give you an example of, again, I think it was Ambassador Neumann that brought up we don't know exactly the numbers, but thousands of people have fled Ukraine and thousands of people within Ukraine have been displaced. So maybe you lived in Eastern Ukraine, but you're living in Western Ukraine. But one of the things that we saw in Poland at the time was just the impact that this had on... Not the federal government, the federal government was involved, but just the local governments. We met with one of the mayors of a suburb of Warsaw and talked about how he, as the person who is in charge of the schools, how did he cope with an influx of maybe a third more children in the school system who can't speak Polish? And how would you accommodate them in a very short period of time?
0:43:09.6 SE: I was very impressed, and again, this was back in April so things may have changed, but very impressed with the ability that... And it was a lot of NGOs who got together and helped people, the European Union as well, to figure out where they could go. I think the interesting thing for me in this is that most of the people we met with didn't really want to go far from Poland because they were hoping that they could soon go back and try to restart their lives. And I lived in Germany in 2015 when there was a migration of people from Syria, and that was kind of a completely different group. It was all men, and they were people fleeing and really didn't want to go back but wanted to start new lives, other places. I think we even see a migration that we see to the US are people who come here to try to find a new life.
0:44:11.5 SE: But the Ukrainians that we met, they weren't in that category. They were people who had to flee to protect their families, protect themselves, and hoped that they could go back because... Oh, by the way, they had... Usually, it's... We see this in the US. A male member of a family leaves, establishes himself, get going, and then they bring their... Maybe the wife and the children, or the partner. These were all women and children who had left fathers, brothers, spouses behind, so their intention was really not to start a new life but to try to weather the war. And so I think that's going to be an issue because as the war goes on...
0:45:07.2 SE: What happens to those people, what happens to those children, what happens to the disconnection in the families? And I think European Union has done a lot. I think US has done some, but I think I've been amazed... I think one of the things that amazed me about the Polish people, and it's not that I'm not a welcoming and nice person, but I can't envision welcoming a stranger who doesn't speak the language into your home for not just a day or two but for an unlimited period of time, and that really made the difference, I think, in a lot of this situation. But I think this is something that is... We're gonna have to deal with for a long time to come, because even if the war were over tomorrow, how are people gonna go back and how are we gonna rebuild, and what's the situation gonna be like?
0:46:05.5 RN: Each one of these questions in a way is like throwing a rock into a...
0:46:08.5 SE: It is.
0:46:09.4 RN: Into a puddle of still body of water and watching the ripples spread. And so Susan was talking about the Poles. Well, historically, countries' patience dries up over time and people start getting resentful. Right now, this is really challenging that kind of historical pattern, but what is happening, of course, is that all the attention comes on to Ukrainian refugees. Well, if you happen to be an Afghan refugee with a claim on a Special Immigrant Visa, go whistle for attention. The Biden Administration didn't wanna talk to you anyway 'cause they'd like to forget about Afghanistan, but apart from that, the attention, the money that all focuses on Ukrainian refugees then takes the attention away from the millions of Afghan refugees, of Syrian refugees, of other groups, except they're all still sitting there in Europe, in Turkey, in the United States.
0:47:08.2 SE: Or on the Mexican border.
0:47:09.8 RN: Who's got the next question? We got one over here. Yes, we got one right here.
0:47:15.2 Speaker 7: Hi. I just had a question relating how likely or how probable is it for a national security advisor to recommend a full-on direct conflict with Russia? Keeping it short.
0:47:33.1 RB: How many nukes do you wanna use?
0:47:36.7 RB: The problem with a full-on direct conflict with Russia, the problem with the US getting directly involved is the prospects for escalation are enormous, and you'd have to do this very carefully with NATO, with all your friends and allies, and you'd have to think very carefully about the nuclear consequences. And I can't imagine... If Russia started making serious gains on the battlefield, and we were no longer in a position to help Ukraine with ever more advanced hardware, it would be a very difficult decision for a President to make, because as soon as you get NATO and Russia going head to head, you think you're gonna end up in a nuclear war, and it may be theater nuclear war, but something's gonna glow in the dark by the end of it.
0:48:45.7 RN: People have been writing about limited nuclear war for, well, 65 years roughly since Herman Kahn. Nobody has made an argument that everybody believes that you could limit this. It is in Russian doctrine, but I'm not sure they believe it either, and so Richard says, quite correctly, you have to think carefully. You also have to think carefully that it may be outside your capacity to think carefully, 'cause you may not... You simply may not be able to calculate. Question over here.
0:49:21.3 Will: Hi, my name is Will. This question is for... One question for Ambassador Susan Elliott. This is in regards to the recent conflict that went on in the Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. With the Russians having historically good ties with Emomali Rahmon, given their involvement with the Tajikistan civil war after the collapse, and given that the Russians have more or less had an imperial overstretch with their fight in Ukraine and the subsequent brokered peace ceasefire, how do you envision a Russian hold on Central Asia going forward, as well as China's involvement in Central Asia, given that they have more or less expanded their influence through the SCO meetings? And also another question is on Aliyev, whether you believe that there's an opportunity for the West to potentially work with Azerbaijan and Aliyev in regards to containing Russia on the Caucasus front.
0:50:30.9 RN: Everybody.
0:50:31.7 SE: Well, the one thing I would just say he can talk about President Aliyev because he was US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, but I would just say, even though Tajikistan and many of the countries in Central Asia have enjoyed relatively good relations with Russia, I won't say that they're fantastic. I think the calculus in my mind with Ukraine and having Russia forcibly come and try to take over a sovereign country is of a concern. So if I'm President Rahmon, while maybe I've had traditionally fairly good relations with President Putin, I need to have somewhat good relations because I was dependent on the Russian economy for about 1.2 million of my citizens to work who send money back that helped my economy. I think that's probably changed now because of the sanctions and the war. So it's a different thing to say...
0:51:29.5 SE: Yeah, I will have a working relationship with someone, but then when you say, well, will that working relationship turn into a more hostile relationship if perhaps I don't agree with or I don't do the kinds of things they want me to do, I think that's a dilemma not just for Tajikistan but for all the countries of Central Asia. Because as Ambassador Cekuta said, I think at the beginning, "Am I the next one?" Even when I was in Poland, as I mentioned, we met with the President of Poland, and one of the things that I think a lot of countries are thinking on the periphery of Europe, on the East... I'll call it the Eastern Front is, "Am I next?" If the Russians succeed in taking over Ukraine, will they then decide Poland is their next target? And then you could say, "Okay, they're a part of NATO, so they don't have to worry." Well, even if you're part of NATO, who would want a conflict on the soil of their country? So this is, I think, a dilemma for all the countries of the region, and I'll let Ambassador Cekuta talk about President Aliyev.
0:52:47.8 RC: Yeah, I think I totally agree with what Susan said. This is a problem for everybody, and it's a question of trying to figure out... What's the... There was a term that Kazakhstan talked of, multi-vector diplomacy, balance of power diplomacy where you're balancing off those who are influencing you, Russia, Turkey, Iran, China, less extent, India. The US, West, we're further away, seeming a little bit more benign. In some cases, they complain, we're not closer and more involved. So I think same thing holds true. Maintaining your sovereignty that was hard won is now being realized. Younger generation doesn't remember being part of the Soviet Union, and in many of these countries, 60... Two-thirds of the population was born 1990 or later. So, how much do you remember of the Soviet Union?
0:53:44.9 RC: As far as Azerbaijan is concerned, yes, it's the same thing as Tokayev or Mirziyoyev or the others in the region. I think the real issue there is Armenia and Azerbaijan and finding a way forward, and one thing which the Russians have used these protracted conflicts for years as a way to gain influence. The solution to the problem is in Moscow, we hear repeatedly. You've got Russian troops in Azerbaijan and Armenia, in Georgia, Moldova. I would say that the other thing right now to be doing is something which is actually quite good that the administration is doing, is engaging to try to bring the Armenians and the Azerbaijanis together and finally end 30 years of warfare.
0:54:33.6 RB: I wanna say one short thing on this, that as much time as we spend trying to open up avenues for the folks in Central Asia to deal with the rest of the world, outlets to east, north, south, east, west, the south hasn't worked out very well. The lines down into the Persian Gulf and Pakistan have never really worked out that well. There are still hopes and dreams of railways and pipelines and all that stuff, but they're still really stuck between Russia and China, and they can do a lot with China, but it's not an alternative. Russia's still up there around them, all the... As we said, workers go up there to work, pipelines come down, oil and gas price is determined by what Russia does. One of the leaders, Nazarbayev, in Kazakhstan said to me once, "We can't change our geography," and that's something you gotta remember as much as you might think of alternatives.
0:55:41.6 RN: Do we have any online questions that we should be... I'm not sure who's monitoring the...
0:55:46.3 Speaker 9: I think we'll just take the in-room.
0:55:47.3 RN: Okay. Have we got anything on the other side? I don't wanna be neglecting people here. We had some others. No, please.
0:56:00.2 Speaker 10: I just want to...
0:56:00.8 RN: No, no... The microphone, so that the people online can benefit from your question.
0:56:08.8 John Ciorciari: Yeah. I just wanted to say one thing, that for me, I'm Jewish, and my grandparents died in the Holocaust, and for me, watching the TV and seeing what's happening, it's exactly what was going on during Second World War. The whole world is looking around, looking and feel sorry while they are taking them to the concentration camp and killing you, killing them. So today, it is exactly the same, and the world didn't change, didn't improve at all, which brings me to the issue of the United Nations. Why do we need the United Nations? What do they do? They absolutely did nothing. They're actually make it even harder. So fold the United Nations and use this money for something better.
0:57:04.8 RN: I can start, but who... Is somebody motivated or shall I?
0:57:08.3 SE: I would just say, you bring up a good point, is that the United Nations, who should be dealing with this issue, is unable to just because of the way it was structured. So in my opinion, maybe it's time, and I've heard more people talking now than ever before about it's time to not get rid of the UN, as you said, but to reform the UN, so it works better. How that can be done, how quickly, but it's something that I think we need to think about because the UN should be really working hard to help resolve this kind of an issue.
0:57:43.3 RN: Yeah, we can think about it, but there is an unpleasant reality... Sometimes it's pleasant, sometimes it's unpleasant... Which is that there is no greater power for international law than states. It would be desirable to... It might be well desirable to have one. It is not there. It does not exist, and you cannot call it into being because you want it to be, and states won't... The UN is blocked. It serves a very useful purpose as a place to bring nations together when they can come together. It does not have, as you say, exactly, the power to take action when the big powers don't agree, but I do not know how you would... How you can create an organization that has a power that does not exist in the world, and for that matter, the United States would not easily surrender its veto and its power to block other actions, the world doesn't always agree with us.
0:58:52.0 SE: That's true.
0:58:52.0 RN: And maybe there should be a greater authority that could tell the United States, "Get in line," but I don't think we're gonna get one.
0:59:02.4 Speaker 11: Can I make a comment?
0:59:04.2 RN: Wait for the mic. We will let you make a comment. But just on your last point, the world is not doing maybe enough to aid Ukraine, but I think there is a considerable difference between the early days of World War II and the number of weapons and arms that are going into Ukraine. Western forces are not going in. That's a calculation. Would it be worth risking nuclear war to enter directly, is a question you can legitimately pose, and I won't try to answer it, but that really has to be the question when you talk about Western... When you talk about doing more than increasing arm supplies, which I'd like to see us do even faster, but if you really want to do something significantly more, then that's military engagement and its military engagement between nuclear powers, and that's the... I'm not trying to answer the question, but that's the question you have to deal with. Mel, do you want to make...
1:00:14.9 Mel: I can sit there, it's fine. Just the point, there is a way of doing it. It was tried in the Congo a number of years back. It's called uniting for peace. Just for our students here, if the Security Council is, the word is stopped from taking action in a certain situation, there is a possibility of doing uniting for peace. It was a complete failure when they tried it in the Congo. So although there's a... As you say, you need all five security permanent members to be able to do anything in the form of peacekeeping, you're not gonna get it that way. So it may be a sad fact, but it's also a reality. If you don't get cooperation and agreement among the founders of the organization, all of which have a veto, the United Nations is just not... Is worthless in that kind of situation. If it's outside the Security Council, the United Nations has done and can do things to promote peace, but in this situation, you're gonna have to rely on something else besides the UN.
1:01:21.7 RC: But something else on this. There's another aspect to the UN which is the technical agencies and the humanitarian agencies. Some work better than others. I'll be diplomatic. But if you've got people who can go out and work with these millions. What was it? One number, I think at one point it was like 10 million... Ukraine...
1:01:44.4 SE: With like UNHCR.
1:01:46.2 RC: 10 million Ukrainians were displaced I think at one point. So you have UNHCR, UNICEF, all these outlets sue, if they can go out and they can help people, then that's something. Again, as everybody has said, you're not gonna get... The veto will disappear when the United States gives up its veto, and I don't expect that any time soon, but there are other ways that they can be helpful. And so while not perfect, let's do what we can at least and encourage people to do what they can.
1:02:22.3 JC: I'll go next, because we have a question from an online viewer, and the question is, to what extent do regular people in Russia support this war, and to the extent they do, what can the international community do to appeal to them or to help Russians who oppose the war effort?
1:02:41.0 RN: I'm not sure whether we're the right group, but we can pass...
1:02:44.3 RC: Speculate.
1:02:45.6 RN: We're always happy to speculate. Who would like to speculate first?
1:02:50.3 SE: Go ahead.
1:02:52.2 RB: My answer is, who knows? Second is, remember their sources of information are limited. And third, even if they did oppose the war, their ability to influence their government as currently constituted is limited as well, so I wouldn't put too much hope in that camp.
1:03:12.5 SE: I would just second what Ambassador Boucher said is that the... Having lived in Russia and former Soviet Union, the Russian language media has a big influence, and especially in countries like Central Asia, so even in 2014, when I lived in Tajikistan, and I remember when the Russians took Crimea, a lot of people that I talked to who didn't speak English, said, "Well, Putin had to go in because the Ukrainians are fascists and the fascists have taken over and they are persecuting the ethnic Russians."
1:03:48.6 SE: But that's what they heard because especially in poorer countries, if people don't speak English or they don't have access to the internet... At one point in time, it's probably gone up now. But in Tajikistan, only about 17% to maybe 25% of the people had access to the internet, and their main source of news is television, and television is Russian, coming from Moscow. So it's very difficult to make a decision on, as I said, these Uzbek scholars that I spoke to said, "Wow, you're really seeing a lot different aspect of what's going on in Ukraine than we are." So I think that makes it hard to make a decision, but also when you live in a country where you don't have freedom to express your points of view, you've gotta be really courageous and brave to speak out against the government.
1:04:44.8 SE: So that's what I would say, having lived in and visited every country in the former Soviet Union, that it would be really difficult. And I think the only thing I would say is, look at what we see on the media. Again, I don't know, but with the conscription, look at all the the Russians who are going to Central Asia and Georgia. And I can tell you, I don't think, at least in the past, that a top vacation destination for Russians is Central Asia, so I'll leave it at that.
1:05:19.6 RN: Please, there's one here and there's one next to another we've got over here.
1:05:22.2 RB: We had one farther in the back earlier.
1:05:22.6 RN: Okay. Who was in the back earlier? Okay, let's start with the lady in the back who had her hand up earlier. Or did we steal it from somebody who was about to ask a question? Well, give it back to them. Give them the other mic. We'll go back to her next time.
1:05:38.0 Speaker 13: Thank you so much. I would like to start by saying that I lived in Ukraine from 2017 to 2020 when I was evacuated as a Extended Service Peace Corps Volunteer. And since I've been out and watching these events unfold, there's a little bit of a dialogue that I would like to explore a little bit more maybe you can help share some light on, in that how are institutions supporting the psychological implications of the generational trauma domestically in Ukraine and internationally when it comes to the mental health of this event?
1:06:12.9 SE: I'd say one quick thing, and again, this goes back to when I went to Poland. That was the discussion that we had with a lot of the workers who were at NGOs about not just where will people live and how will they find something to do, but what's the impact on children? What's the long-term impact, and how can we help people who are afraid or upset to cope with this? And I think it's not a problem as the war drags on that can be answered or resolved quickly, but I think it's a really good one that we all should be thinking about, not just helping people find food, shelter and jobs, but helping them to cope with what's happened to their country and their families and their life.
1:07:00.6 RN: I wish there were a better answer out there. I've seen a little bit in the press. I don't know if anybody has an answer. I don't know if anybody actually... I don't know what's within the sum of our human knowledge to know how to deal with a country-wide problem like that, and I was living with this in Afghanistan where they've been at war for 40 years. If you could talk about a country that has nationwide PTSD, they would qualify. And people cope with it in various ways, and it's another subject we won't get into. We had one over here. Who's got the mic? There.
1:07:41.3 Speaker 14: Yeah, so I think my question was just, we've seen in the past years, in the past decades with Putin just how a personalist dictator or a personalist authoritarian ruler can kind of give us unpredictability and provide an obstacle to negotiate peace settlements or just to try to maintain the status quo of peace. And so I guess my question is, do you think there's any kind of lessons we've learned from the example, the war in Ukraine, of how we can manage the obstacle of a personalist ruler in trying to prevent conflict and/or to resolve conflict?
1:08:14.6 RN: Peace in our time.
1:08:16.4 SE: That's a hard one.
1:08:18.2 RB: Let me say one thing. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
1:08:23.2 RN: According to Lord Acton.
1:08:26.5 RB: It's a law of nature and mankind, and the only thing you can do to prevent this from recurring in other places and other ways in the future is to try to balance out the power of autocrats, open up the channels of information, and I think it's probably one of the arguments for democracy we don't make as often as we should.
1:08:52.9 RC: But isn't it also true, one of the factors is, Putin is... We identify a lot of this with Putin but Putin has supporters and there are lots of people in Russia who for years have called for some of the same sort of thing, tragedy of the collapse of the Soviet Union, reunification of the old Soviet space and so forth.
1:09:10.8 RB: He's not alone, yeah.
1:09:12.3 RN: And there was also a... In addition to everything else, there was a role here for simple miscalculation. Putin got it wrong in his calculation of what would happen if he went into Ukraine. His calculations weren't very different from what our own military and intelligence agencies were calculating about how war would go. They were calculating differently about how long-term resistance would be, but in fact everybody got it wrong. From my point of view, thank God, but I don't... There are lessons, and going back to the question, the gentlemen has now left, but there are an awful lot of nations who are unhappy with this. If Russia fails demonstrably, that is going to be a very large lesson for some time. Won't last forever, but it will be large and it will have an impact. On the other hand, if the West breaks down and Ukraine loses, that's gonna be a different kind of lesson.
1:10:18.8 RN: Who had the... Who's got the mic? You got the mic. Go.
1:10:21.5 Speaker 15: Hello. Thank you for coming here to the University of Michigan.
1:10:24.3 RN: Is it on?
1:10:25.8 JC: I can put it closer, yes. Prior to coming to Ford, I worked in financial services, in anti-money laundering compliance and sanctions compliance, and that requires keeping track of all the numerous sanctions regimes that each country has. So what has impressed me most about the diplomacy in this conflict has been the US's ability to get the Western Coalition on board with a more coordinated sanctions effort, but it appears as if this is not exactly affecting the Russian economy to the extent to which the United States and its allies are hoping. To what extent... What is the next tool that is available to the United States if economic sanctions continues to fail, and to what extent does this harm Western efforts to curtail other conflicts, if it appears as if economic sanctions are not very fruitful?
1:11:33.7 RN: I'm looking at the...
1:11:34.3 SE: You're the econ officer.
1:11:34.4 RB: Yes, there goes the Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Sanctions. A couple of things I would say to begin with. I think one thing that is really impressive here is it's not just US sanctions, although I know that kinda comes across in the US press here. They are sanctions that are being imposed by a number of different governments. The European Union is really taking the lead on sanctions. There are things that they're sanctioning that we don't sanction yet, particularly on the energy front. They are really of this plan to stop imports of Russian crude and refined product by December 5th, for example, and the work they've done to really start weaning themselves off the gas, that's the stuff that we would like to have seen but they've really done it. That helps a lot.
1:12:20.8 RB: Go back to the early days when various sanctions were put on the Russian Central Banks and so forth, when the Swiss froze Russian assets, which is something that they didn't do to Nazi Germany. Okay, so there are some things here that are really far reaching. Sanctions are not going to solve the problem completely. They will help. Now we're seeing some impacts of sanctions, and again, I'm not coming at anything from the intel side here 'cause I don't have that anymore, but there are some signs. For example, microchips, and the flu vaccination, we all have our microchips 'cause we realized where microchips are. Where this has had an impact on manufacture of cars, washing machines, things like that in Russia. Something that we announced... I've heard at a recent conference in Washington concern about... This comes back to Central Asia. Is the extent to which Central Asian countries might become avenues for microchips, not 'cause you're getting a box of microchips, but you're getting something where you take the microchip out and you then re-use it someplace else.
1:13:28.5 RB: And you go back to the Cold War days and the whole shenanigans that used to go on in getting products that we would not let into... Would not export to the Soviet Union, how they would transit through Austria or something like that. That's something. The sanctions are having an effect in slowing things down in the Russian economy, but the bigger thing I think becomes how do you actually have the pain that moves the economy... That moves a government? We've put on really tough sanctions on Iran. We have killer sanctions on North Korea. What are the impacts? So you do what you can, to an extent, but sanctions can be a tool, but a tool. They're part of an overall strategy, and I think sometimes that gets lost in some of the discussion.
1:14:25.0 RC: To follow on where Bob left off, I've worked on sanctions my entire life, from 1980 when I was in the Office of East-West Trade administering the sanctions on Iran and Iraq and things like that. A hundred years ago, Woodrow Wilson said a nation boycotted is a nation about to surrender. He was wrong. He's still wrong. People manage. They manage to evade sanctions, they manage to smuggle stuff. Kim Jong-un still gets limousines. He drives around a Mercedes and stuff like that. The places where sanctions work are the pariah factor. People who don't wanna be seen as illegitimate in polite company. So a somewhat democratic White-dominated South Africa, eventually those people decided they wanted to be accepted in the world, and they had to negotiate with Nelson Mandela, partly because he was leading a movement that was so strong that they knew they could not resist it forever.
1:15:36.0 RC: So there's gotta be a whole bunch of factors, but the pariah factor seems to me the only reason that people really try to get out of sanctions, and that making Russians feel unacceptable in polite company has gotta be part of it. The economic factors, people get around.
1:15:54.5 RN: John?
1:15:55.5 JC: We've got another online question, and this is from someone from Taiwan who asks, what can we learn from this war that can help prevent Taiwan from becoming the next Ukraine?
1:16:09.4 RN: You're the China man.
1:16:12.7 SE: Let me let Richard.
1:16:13.9 RC: I think the first thing you can learn is that defense is stronger than offense, and that China should be very careful about over-estimating their capabilities. They can cause a lot of damage to Taiwan and Taiwan's trading ability, but actually going in and trying to change things and take over the place, is a hell of a lot harder than they think, and I think China has learned that lesson as well. The second lesson is...
1:16:44.7 RC: Soviet military equipment, Russian military equipment is not as good as American, and if Taiwan has got the latest, almost the latest Western technology, it's gonna be very hard for the PLA to go up against that. The PLA was an army that was founded on the principle of overwhelming the other side with the numbers of people that they could throw into a battle, and it worked in Korea, but in the end it's not enough for Taiwan. You gotta be able to move people across the straits, you've gotta be able to move equipment. So there's military lessons, there's political lessons.
1:17:24.0 RC: I think the other lesson is Western solidarity, that the West is prepared to pay a price in terms of our own economic capabilities to defend friends, democratic friends and principles. So I'd say the Chinese have to be a little bit chastened. On the other hand, they still have this ability to scare off shipping, to disrupt supply chains, to run airplanes up and down the straits and make people in Taiwan more nervous. And I think that kind of pressure is gonna remain, and because that's the kind of pressure that, as I said before, sort of gives a message to Taiwan, "We have other options remaining, and you can't declare independence." But in the end, if you look carefully, both sides are still saying, "We have to figure out a way to talk and get along," and I think eventually, we may get back to that.
1:18:33.2 RN: We've got about eight minutes left. Susan, you got one down here, and you've got one over... Well, the mic's coming down here. Please go ahead.
1:18:39.2 RC: I got two down here and two up there.
1:18:41.3 SE: Okay, we're gonna run out of time before we run out of questions.
1:18:44.8 SE: She's got the mic.
1:18:45.3 RN: You've got a mic. Go ahead.
1:18:45.8 Speaker 16: Yeah, I got a mic.
1:18:47.3 SE: Yeah. Go for it.
1:18:48.4 JC: Thank you all for sharing your time and expertise with us today. I really appreciate it. I'm curious to hear your thoughts on how you think... You kind of touched on it a little bit, but I'd like to hear a little bit more on how you think the West should respond or could respond to Ukrainian victory. In other words, should Russia suffer a decisive defeat, we can assume their power is gonna be diminished for years to come. Putin may even be removed from power. How should the West respond to that and maybe not repeat, or maybe take some lessons learned from how many responded to the collapse of the Soviet Union? Thank you.
1:19:26.0 RN: We've got a bunch of Russian experts. We're gonna have to move really quick. I'm just gonna say, this is gonna be very... A hugely situational dependent. I don't know how you can script in advance if you have Russia loses and you have the hardest line military critics of Putin taking charge, or you have some massive dissatisfaction with having committed... You get totally different geopolitical situations. I don't think you can have... One knows one does not want Russia permanently isolated, but beyond sort of those very basic principles, I don't think you can script a policy without knowing the situation in which you're gonna have to apply the policy. Who's got the next mic?
1:20:12.2 RB: Sorry, can I add one thing to this?
1:20:14.9 RN: Yeah, go ahead.
1:20:15.8 RB: The military, when they study war and all that, they always quote Clausewitz that war is the continuation of policy by other means, and there's another implication to that. People don't just fight wars for political reasons, but wars end, modern wars end politically. They don't end on the battleship Iwo-Jima, they don't end at a conference in Versailles. They end with some kind of deal, and people make deals when they think they can get more out of peace than they can get out of continuing fighting. And once the parties themselves find a way to make a deal, then the rest of the world has to accept that. And so whatever that status quo is gonna be, it kinda in the end, we're gonna be stuck with it too. So I don't think there's gonna be a way to sort of isolate so and so or suddenly admit the Ukraine into NATO. I don't think those options are gonna be available after the parties themselves reach some kind of agreement, but what kind of agreement that becomes depends on how things evolve on the ground when the parties... And when do the parties decide they can get more out of making the deal than they can out of fighting.
1:21:34.5 RN: The rest, please.
1:21:38.2 Speaker 17: Thank you, I just have a very brief question. We've talked a lot about the impact on the rest of the world but... And the West and then Central Asia, but not much on Africa beyond a few stories of sort of the shopkeepers, but not many of the African countries are ready to sanction Russia, and what do you think the impact longer term on that will be including... Even though this is obviously not Africa... But OPEC's decision. Putin's getting wealthier even with the sanctions, and then OPEC went and decided to cut the output. Thanks.
1:22:20.6 RN: I'll let Robert to make comment on the economic if he wants to.
1:22:24.1 RN: Yeah, I was looking at the vote spread from yesterday's vote at the Security Council and the Africans are not together. They're just quite a spread. I think... Well, they're spread, but they're spread in mostly abstentions, but some voted... Many voted against Russia, so I don't... You're really the Africanist, I'm not. You should be answering your questions instead of asking them probably, but...
1:22:52.7 RB: There are 50... What is it, 51 countries?
1:22:54.2 JC: Yes.
1:22:55.8 RN: 55. You can't really speak of Africa as a whole, but I would say the two things I'm seeing are, one, there's incredible discomfort with being in the middle of this wedge. They don't like it, but it's raising huge numbers of new questions about where they can rely on and financing and all kinds of things. I don't think any of those questions have settled yet. I think it's just stirring up a lot of dust and a lot of thinking that's gonna go on for a long time.
1:23:31.8 RN: I don't know where the US is yet, really. I don't have the sense that we've really seen this as an opportunity for us to have a... Not just a more engaged policy with Africa, but a more sustained policy, which as you well know, is a perennial problem. So that's a potential opportunity, but that means we have to actually walk and chew gum at the same time, and we have yet to demonstrate that we're good at that.
1:24:02.3 RC: I guess two things. I wanna just start actually with politics. I'm mulling about this. I have this horrible like, "Oh my God, what if we go back to Cold War dynamics?" Will you have an us, them and an unaligned movement or people in between playing the us and them off against each other, which is what we had during the Cold War days? I think in terms of Africa, I think a couple of different things. One is... And God knows, Susan, you know this better than I do... Attention deficit disorder in Washington and elsewhere, meaning that, "We've got this problem." "We'll get to you." And I mean I used to see this when I was working on preps for the G8 and things like that. And 1.4 billion people, these evolving countries, this is not... The dynamism that's going on in Africa, the people in the know about... You can't just sort of ignore this, and this has gotta be... You're gonna have to start chewing gum and clicking your fingers while you're walking.
1:25:04.2 RC: The thing in terms of OPEC and oil, one of the things which I find very interesting right now is the way this is being covered in the press, and this is again flashback to the OAPEC... Not OPEC, OAPEC... Sanctions against the United States following the Yom Kippur War in '73. After, when oil prices were hiked following the Yom Kippur War, the fall of the Shah, there was tremendous nervousness in Kuwait, in Riyadh, in Tehran, Venezuela, other places that these countries, which were at that time also developing, lower... Middle, emerging market, middle-lower income countries in the non-aligned movement of, "Wait a minute here. As I said earlier, I'm paying in Botswana, in Ethiopia, in wherever, higher prices for energy. This is having a negative effect on my economy, and you guys are making a fortune off this."
1:26:25.5 RC: So that was when they set up the OPEC fund, the Saudi Fund, the Kuwait Fund, the Abu Dhabi Fund, to sort of go out and say, "Yeah, we're getting this money, but we're recycling this. We're with you, we're showing solidarity, we wanna help your development." The way this is all being covered right now is this kind of Russia-West fight, and where I kind of wonder is when the press or when opinion may cycle back to this earlier sort of argument, which is valid, because the person in... You pick the city anywhere but in African... Capital, African... Small town, African crossroads who's paying more money for gas that they can barely afford, that money's heading off to Riyadh or wherever, and maybe they've got plans in Riyadh for development, but at some point, there's gonna have to be a sort of an uncomfortable moment of like, "You're taking... Okay, you're taking the money to the Americans. All right, we'll give you... " But you're taking this money from some really poor people out there, and how are politically you gonna answer that?
1:27:33.0 RN: Sorry.
1:27:34.3 RC: You're the former Saudi tie.
1:27:35.0 RN: No, no, but I'm not gonna answer because unfortunately, we're out of time.
1:27:42.3 RN: And now that we've... We haven't really answered the questions, we've raised your confusion to a much higher level of detail.
1:27:49.3 RN: And we've had a really good time. I hope you've had a good time. I think we've covered... I think we've talked to some really interesting stuff. I'm sorry 'cause I know there were some other really good questions out there that we're not gonna get to. All I could say is, I appreciate all the really good questions we have had, the opportunity to be here with you, and John, back to you.
1:28:11.0 JC: Thank you everybody for coming. I hope you'll join me in thanking our panel for a wonderful discussion.
1:28:26.0 JC: We really value our partnership with the American Academy of Diplomacy, and for all of you in the audience or online, stay tuned for more events soon. We have events coming up soon on the US National Security Strategy, on disaster relief in South Asia, and much, much more. Keep your inboxes in view and you will see from Zuzana our full list of programs. So thanks for coming again and have a great night.