Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 10

Russian officials continued to rage yesterday at the Clinton administration, both for its decision to level sanctions against three Russian institutions and for parallel threats to curtail Russian launches of U.S. satellites if Moscow fails to stop leaking sensitive military technologies to Iran. Moscow portrayed the U.S. actions as Cold War style strong-arm tactics likely to further complicate relations between the two countries. “Any threats, or hints of some kind of sanctions, are… outdated instruments,” Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said, “[and] do not correspond to today’s level of… bilateral relations.” Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Yakushkin said that President Boris Yeltsin had ordered the Russian Security Council to investigate the situation, and suggested that the Kremlin’s response to the U.S. actions could be a “harsh” one.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), domestic successor to the Soviet-era KGB, also got into the act yesterday. Spokesmen for the agency said that the FSB had investigated the three institutions in question and had found no evidence suggesting that they had–as Washington had charged–leaked either sensitive nuclear or missile technologies to Tehran. The FSB repeated an earlier Russian charge that Washington’s allegations against the three institutions–and against Moscow more broadly–may have been the result of sloppy investigative work by U.S. intelligence agenciesthe Monitor. An FSB spokesman also repeated earlier Russian assurances that the agency had successfully thwarted several attempts by Iran to acquire weapons technology from Russian organizations.

Russian officials also suggested yesterday that a decision the Monitorby the Clinton administration to curtail Russian launches of U.S. satellites would hurt not only Russia’s space program, but also the American companies involved in joint projects of that sort. “The cessation of [space] cooperation would be bad not only for Russian companies–and of course it would be very bad for Russian companies–[but also] for American companies involved in this cooperation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin said. Rakhmanin also deplored Washington’s attempt to link cooperation in space cooperation–“which is rather effective and advantageous for both countries”–with the issue of Russian technology leaks to Iran (Reuters, AP, Russian agencies, January 14).