On May 28, NATO leaders, including President George W. Bush, joined with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Rome to create a new NATO-Russian body intended to enable greater cooperation between the 19-member alliance and Moscow.
The NATO-Russia Council will meet at least once a month at the ambassadorial level and twice per year at the level of defense and foreign ministers to discuss issues of common concern and, if possible, to take joint action. The 20 countries have agreed to conduct joint assessments of the current terrorism threat and the global spread of weapons of mass destruction. Other possible agenda items include crisis management, talks on theater missile defense cooperation, and pursuit of greater military-to-military contacts.
All decisions within the council are to be made by consensus. Yet Russia and NATO are free to act on their own, and Russia has no veto over any alliance decision or action. The White House explained May 28, "The NATO Allies retain the freedom to act, by consensus, on any issue at any time," and they "will decide among themselves the issues" to be addressed by the council. …