Building the NATO-Russia Relationship

By Rogov, Sergey | Strategic Forum, May 1996 | Go to article overview
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Building the NATO-Russia Relationship

Rogov, Sergey, Strategic Forum


* Relations between Russia and NATO--not the enlargement of NATO--is the main issue in European security.

* To preserve hopes for a partnership between Russia and NATO, the gap between declarations and reality must be closed. A new cooperative relationship between Russia and the West is possible if it is developed within a year or two.

* Russia would have no reason to consider NATO expansion a threat if Russia and NATO establish an actual, equal partnership.

* A Treaty on Cooperation or a Mutual Security Treaty are the most realistic options for legally binding arrangements between NATO and Russia. Either treaty would require Russia and NATO to agree, inter alia, to neither station forces in border territories nor use military threats against any neighboring states, to continue the de-nuclearization process, and update arms control treaties.

* The institutionalization of security cooperation between NATO and Russia requires the creation of an architecture for permanent coordination of foreign and military policies. Russian political participation at the annual NATO summits, involvement in NATO ministerial committees, and the establishment of liaison missions at the military headquarters of both sides would facilitate cooperation.

* The establishment of permanent commissions to cooperate on issues such as the development of defense doctrines, force structure, nuclear policies, and others matters would further enhance security cooperation.

The Need for a New Relationship

Russia should not seek the right of veto in NATO. However, European and other international security issues affecting Russia's vital interests should not be handled without Russia's direct participation.

The main issue as far as European security is concerned is not an enlargement of NATO but relations between Russia and the North Atlantic alliance. If they establish a real rather than a declaratory partnership, an enlarged NATO would hardly pose a threat to vital Russian interests. Admitting the Visegrad Group to NATO would be dangerous only if Russia and the alliance resumed their military-political rivalry.

Moscow has been unable to specify what it expects from NATO and what forms of cooperation (or alliance) Russia would accept. It is not too late for speeding the formation of a Russian-NATO military-political partnership, complete with reciprocal obligations and the creation of interactive mechanisms. If we delay, as we did in the case of the Russian-U.S. strategic partnership, current opportunities will be irrevocably lost.

Relations with NATO are a key question for Russia. It determines the nature of our relations with the West. If NATO's expansion occurs without due account of legitimate interests of Russia's security, estrangement between Russia and the West will become inevitable. This will not mean, of course, that a new Cold War will automatically follow. But the mechanism of positive interaction in the military and political sphere between Russia and the West will not be established. This will inevitably lead to long-term internal consequences for Russia because an estrangement with the West, and confrontation with the West, cannot but affect Russian economic, democratic and political reforms.

Coinciding Spheres of Interests

There are other coinciding spheres of interest for Russia and NATO:

* maintaining peace and stability in Europe;

* carrying out peacekeeping operations and joint training of peacekeeping forces;

* establishing and strengthening measures for effective civilian political control over the armed forces;

* blocking the spread of nuclear weapons;

* preventing conflicts;

* eliminating mutual mistrust.

Russia still has a serious interest in a cooperative relationship with the West because it is in Russia's national interests.

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