Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman
CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, February 25, 2003

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Russian Policy Toward Iran and Iraq
Hyde schedules Wednesday hearing with Russian parliamentarian

BACKGROUND -- The immediacy of U.S. preparations for war with Iraq and Russia’s key role in our efforts to secure a favorable resolution in the United Nations Security Council make this hearing well-timed to provide an in-depth analysis of the motivating factors behind Russia’s policy in the Persian Gulf. In addition to the panel of American experts, Mikhail Margelov, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation, will testify. Margelov will provide an authoritative insight into the Russian government’s current thinking regarding a possible war with Iraq. Viewed within the larger context of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategic decision to shift Russian foreign policy toward cooperation with the United States, Moscow’s current policy toward Iraq and Iran presents troubling exceptions, and Putin’s motivations remain unclear. The Bush Administration has emphasized that Russia’s construction of a nuclear reactor at Bushehr in Iran, and its opposition to U.S. efforts regarding Iraq, pose serious challenges to Russia’s relations with the United States. While Russian policies may have multiple motivations, many U.S. and Russian experts assert that economic considerations appear to be very significant, even paramount. A senior Russian official has stated that, "Economic policy is dictating all the other aspects of international relations.... Putin sees that without positive economic development, Russia has no future."

WHAT: Full Committee hearing: "Russia’s Policies Toward the Axis of Evil: Money and Geopolitics in Iraq and Iran"

WHEN: 10:15 a.m., Wednesday, February 26, 2003

WHERE: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES: The Honorable Mikhail Margelov, Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Federation Council of the Russian Federation; Celeste Wallander, Ph.D., Director of Russia and Eurasia Programs, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Eugene Rumer, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University; Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., Senior Policy Analyst, The Heritage Foundation.

What are some of the questions raised by this hearing?

How do Russia’s economic and strategic interests in Iraq and Iran affect U.S. efforts to secure Moscow’s cooperation regarding the conflict with Iraq? What must the U.S. do to persuade Putin to cooperate or to prevent Russia from vetoing a new UN Security Council resolution?
Are Russia’s policies toward Iran and Iraq motivated primarily by economic or geopolitical considerations? Do Russia’s policies toward Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and China represent a carry-over of Soviet and Russian policies opposed to U.S. influence?
Will the results of Putin’s decision to align Russia with the West after September 11th be short-term or enduring? What levers does the U.S. possess regarding Russian policy toward the region?