DoD Briefing, Thursday, October 17, 1996, at 1:30 p.m.
Thursday, October 17, 1996 - 1:30 p.m.
Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon.
I just want to start the briefing by noting that in the audience today are journalism students from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. They're sponsored by Fox Television.
Also, I would like to remind you that Brigadier General Thomas Goslin is here to give a briefing following this one on the recent B-2 conventional weapons tests at Nellis Air Force Base. He's brought some video of the tests and some of the pilots who were involved in the mission.
I thought that it might be wise to start the briefing today with a kind of a read-out on some of the things that Dr. Perry has been doing. I think there is some interest in Dr. Perry, and many of you have seen wire stories, but just in case you've missed them, let me go through a few of these things first.
Dr. Perry's primary objective in Moscow was to continue to develop his relationship with the new Minister of Defense who is General Igor Rodionov. This builds on the relationship that he previously started when he visited Bergen, Norway, last month.
He met with Minister Rodionov yesterday for close to three hours. They agreed on a variety of military exchanges -- American students at the Russian General Staff Academy, and Russian students at the Army's Command and General Staff College here in the United States; also expanded Russian participation at the Marshall Center in Garmisch, Germany.
The Russians are very interested in learning more about training non-commissioned officers. This is not something that is done by the Russian military. That was another area where there is going to be some additional training. They also agreed to reinvigorate the bilateral working group process between the two Ministries. They talked about the possibility of cooperation on theater missile defense, since both countries share concerns about the proliferation of short range ballistic missiles. They also discussed initiatives between NATO and Russia, for example, [establishing] the Russian military exchange officer who is in Mons and the NATO exchange officer who is in Moscow.
The two Ministers discussed their next two meetings. The Secretary invited Minister Rodionov to meet him in Bosnia on Thanksgiving Day where he plans to visit. We believe that that meeting will, indeed, take place. Also Minister Rodionov confirmed that they will meet in Washington in December.
Today Secretary Perry had equally productive meetings with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and with First Deputy Minister of Defense Kokoshin. He also spoke to the Duma, as many of you know, and he made a strong case for the START II ratification.
We have the prepared remarks that he used in addressing the Duma, and DDI will have those for your use shortly after the briefing.
The Duma members listened carefully to what Dr. Perry said. They raised many questions, both related to START and also NATO enlargement. Secretary Perry addressed those concerns. This represents a valuable beginning to what we expect will be a continuing dialogue on those issues.
The Secretary also gave a speech at the Military Academy of the General Staff, and we have the text of those remarks also for you, and DDI will have those after the brief.
Regarding Security Chief Lebed. The Secretary learned of his resignation during a scheduled media roundtable with Moscow- based media and the traveling media. Some of you have already seen his remarks. He does not think this will have any impact on the U.S./Russian relationship. As this visit demonstrates, we have a strong working relationship with Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, with Minister of Defense Rodionov. Secretary Perry had not met with Mr. Lebed. A meeting was tentatively on the Secretary's schedule for today, but it never was confirmed, and as you know, did not happen. Their schedules did not work out for this meeting.
The events of today will have no impact on the rest of the Secretary's schedule. He travels tomorrow to Severodvinsk. He's going to be accompanied as he travels by Senators Nunn, Lugar, and Lieberman. They will go there to observe Russian submarine dismantlement, which has been supported through the Nunn-Lugar funding. The Secretary returns to Washington tomorrow evening.
With that, I'd be happy to try and answer some of your questions.
Q: Captain Doubleday, have you or has the building noticed any unusual troop movements, or what's the situation regarding the Russian troops?
A: The Embassy in Moscow reports absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. No signs of increased military presence. That's the extent of what I can report to you on that one.
Q: Have we done anything at all in reaction to this?
A: No, in fact, we haven't. This is an internal matter that the Russians are dealing with.
Q: Did Minister Rodionov, when he met for three hours with Dr. Perry yesterday, discuss in any way some of the tensions he was observing within the Russian hierarchy?
A: I'm not aware that that subject came up.
Q: When was the Lebed meeting scheduled, or put on Perry's schedule, and when was it removed?
A: When he arrived there, my understanding is that Lebed asked for a meeting to be scheduled. It was to have taken place today, but as I say, the actual event, although tentatively arranged, was never actually pinned down and has never occurred, of course.
Q: I'm asking you whether intelligence was watching for any Russian troop movements? You said that the Embassy hasn't seen any...
A: Right. I'm not aware of... We don't comment on intelligence activities, so I'm not going to comment on that one.
Q: Is the United States watching closely to see whether there are any rumblings as a result?
A: As I say, we have good relationships with the Russians, and I think Dr. Perry and everybody else feels those are on very firm footing, and we don't expect any changes as a result of the day's activities.
Q: Can you comment with regard to rumors that the Kremlin was reacting to the possibility of a planned coup d'etat by Lebed?
A: I'm not able to speak to what was in their mind in connection with this. I don't really think it's appropriate for me to address that.
Q: Did anyone in the intelligence community or the Pentagon detect any kind of rumblings of a coup?
A: Not to my knowledge.
Q: What about the situation of developing a rogue army? Was that brought forth? Speculation that he was going to develop a rogue army.
A: Other than what I've seen in the press, I'm not aware of anything that we have on that one.
Press: Thank you.