31.03.2011Смирнова Юлия

"Отношения Россия-НАТО" (текст к Power Point презентации на первой голландско-российской молодежной конференции в Гааге 19 марта 2011 г.)



Do not go with the stream or against it, go the way you need.

Kozma Petrovich Prutkov

«Friendship and cooperation in the rules of international law»

‘New European Security architecture’ Russian initiative 2009

My goal today is to share an opinion about NATO-Russia relations. I’m not going to speak a lot about its history, those who’re interested already know the story during the Cold War and after it. Now the history we make sounds with such terms as “equal partners”, “friendship and cooperation”, “strategic partnership”, “dialogue”, “confidence, transparency, and predicatability”: - these are the nice words to be heard after enough time of distrust and hate. But is it possible to add the list with the word “trust” which would allow to imagine quite a bright future?..

Thinking of foreign-policy life, in which also Russia take part, there’s always something which prevents us from making a strict conclusion, plans and perspectives. The unique identity of each country, the originality in approaches of solving problems, cultural peculiarities, the role of a leader – these are the reasons why the categoricity is a danger thing in this situation.

 Russia and NATO have been living trough such an incredible relations since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was established. It’s not easy to predict them, they remind a roller coaster and harldy can someone tell what it’ll end with. The thing we can try to do is to name some common values, analyze the problems and to dream of the perspectives.

The History of the relations

Cooperation between Russia and NATO started in 1991. In 1992 Russia joined the Partnership for Peace programme. The Russia-NATO council (NRC) was created in 2002, for handling security issues and joint projects. Cooperation between Russia and NATO now develops in several main sectors: fighting terrorism, military cooperation, cooperation on Afganistan (including transportation by Russia of non-military ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) freight, and fighting the local drug production), industrial cooperation, non-proliferation, and others.

The NRC provides a framework for consultation on current security issues and practical cooperation in a wide range of areas of common interest. Its agenda builds on the basis for bilateral cooperation that was set out in the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act.

NATO’s new Strategic Concept, approved at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, stresses the importance to the Allies of developing “a true srategic partnership between NATO and Russia” and their determination to “enhance political consultation and practical cooperation with Russia in areas of shared interests” and to “use the full potential of the NRC for dialogue and joint action”.

Lisbon also hosted the third summit in the history of the NRC. The 29 NRC leaders pledged to “work towards achieving a true strategic and modernized partnership based on the priciples of reciprocal confidence, transparency, and predicatability, with the aim of contributing to the creation of a common space of peace, security and stability.”

At Lisbon, NRC leaders endorsed a Joint Review of 21st Century Common Security Challenges, which include Afghanistan (including counter-narcotics), terrorism (including the vulnerability of critical infrastructure), piracy, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, as well as natural and man-made disasters. Practical cooperation is being developed in each area. NRC leaders agreed to resume cooperation in the area of theatre missile defence as well as to develop a comprehensive joint analysis of the future framework for broader missile defence cooperation in time for the June 2011 meeting of NRC defence ministers. They also agreed on a number of initiatives to assist in the stabilization of Afghanistan and the wider region.

NRC nations agree that the NRC is a valuable instrument for building practical cooperation and for political dialogue on all issues – where they agree and disagree.

While political differences remain on some high-level issues – such as Russia’s suspended implementation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) and issues related to Georgia – the driving force behind the NRC’s pragmatic spirit of cooperation is the realization that NATO and Russia share strategic priorities and face common challenges.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has expressed his desire to see progress in cooperation on three tracks, which he deems essential to build trust between the Allies and Russia: missile defence, conventional arms control, and reducing the number of short-range nuclear weapons in Europe.

Till nowadays common threats play a role of a cement and to say with a part of cynicism create an opportunity for a compromise to fight with them. The threats and challenges which were named before are transboundary phenomenon which can be counteracted by common efforts. This is quite good understood both by Russia and NATO so that they work together to struggle against them.

Thereupon, an idea about a “Global Security Web” comes to my mind. Zbigniew Brzezinski has expressed his thought in Foreign Affairs (Spetember/October 2009) about the necessity of involving Russia to “the more widespread global security web” the way which could promote the extinction of the left imperial ambitions»[i].

According to the published report[ii] of the London independent research institute, Center for European Reform, if the East-European countries plus Norway and Island won’t feel themselves protected, this will make the “reload” of Russia-NATO relations, which is quite desirable by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Experts think that NATO has doubts about the direction to choose: either to calm down the East-European countries or reload the relations with Russia. “That’s a false dilemma, Alliance needs double-sided strategic which should let to achieve both goals”. The question is what direction will the Alliance choose.

Common values, interests, challenges, threats

The claims of the North Atlantic alliance on being all-powerful and unique (its attempts to replace the United Nations), supported frequently by not so much as actual actions, as authoritativeness inside the alliance on a world scene, do not cause delights from Russia, which is still accused with «imperial ambitions» and mistrust to NATO. It hardly helps to the aspiration towards each other.

It is caused by misunderstanding on key moments. For Moscow the North Atlantic block was and still remains, first of all, the military alliance intended for operational and tactical activity, whereas Bruxelles considers that the alliance has finished the transformation to the political organization.

Samuel Huntington, the American political scientist, analyzing possible NATO strategic in XXI century wrote: “After the end of the Cold war NATO had one main and precise objective: to provide the existence, not having admitted the return of Russia political influence to the Central Europe[iii]”.

Discussions inside of the North Atlantic alliance are concentrated on the dangers resulting from power of Russia. Such countries as Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland, see direct military threat in the policy lead by Russia.

Such thoughts aren’t denied by other members of the alliance that calls into question its assurances of the absence of any opposition to Russia.

Problems and contradictions

The growing list of the places (the Europe, Caucasus, the Central Asia, the Far East, the Near East and Arctic regions) and common problems (propagation of the nuclear weapon, disarmament, a power security, etc.) obviously show present global character of relationships of NATO and Russia to the contrary of existing misunderstanding and a divergence between both sides.

The contradictions[iv] inside the alliance also brakes outlined shifts to the convergence of Russia and NATO. However this doesn’t mean, that they aren’t going to exist. The general challenges and threats which sides collide, inevitably conduct to a question of joint efforts[v].

If to distract from the denoted «acute angles» in NATO-Russia relations and to take a detached view, then confrontations (in that meaning in which it existed half a century ago) of Russia and NATO doesn’t exist now, there is only a misunderstanding and a divergence on the important positions for both sides.

The main objective of NATO at the moment is a self-defense at any cost despite the international law and interests of countries without dominating influence in the world. It practically means the lack of limits of such actions. This approach makes Russia be on the alert. What parallel coexistence can we talk about if both sides are still waiting for whatever from each other?..


NATO – Russia relations should be built on the basis of the general interests, interoperability, transparency, and if not mutual confidence or trust (I have greater doubts about the existing of trust in politics), then compromise consideration of common interests and understanding the aspirations of each other.

So what can we wait for speaking of perspectives in the terms of interdependent world?

How far will NATO be ready to come in methods on a safety and what methods will be officially announced as admissible?

If the countries of the alliance are ready to such actions towards to Russia or not, we’ll see it only after a first step of Russia towards NATO. In this case the future looks fine, productive and promising for both sides. To predict, will it be so or not, hardly possible. Let’s hope for the best. The first step can be the Russian initiative about the ‘New European Security architecture’ and the draft of the European Security Pact which is based on one of main principles of international law: unity of the European security, i.e. inadmissibility of strengthening of own security at the cost of a security of others. This principle is also written in the Charter of the European security of 1999, in documents of NATO-Russia council, it’s not the Russian invention.

At the International Security Forum in the French city of Evian in 2008 the Russian president has stated five main principles of the new Pact: confirming of the base principles of a security and interstate attitudes on the Euro-Atlantic space; inadmissibility of using the force or threat of its using in international relations; guarantees of maintenance of an equal security; an interdiction on the exclusive right of any state and the international organization on maintenance of the world and stability in Europe; an establishment of base parameters of the control over arms and reasonable sufficiency in military construction.

Behind these general principles there is an aspiration to achieve legal guarantees from the USA and the West regarding to refusal of placing in Europe the new systems of arms and a military infrastructure, quantitative restrictions of arms, their possible variations only in the coordinated format; distinctions legally and in practice of areas of the responsibility between the basic organizations of a security operating in the Europe (and not only) – NATO, CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organisation), OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation), i.e. aspiration to legal registration of a coordinated actions, to the DIALOGUE.

Also that very important, in my opinion, the given initiative is not absolute. The Russian side is ready to discuss it, to develop ideas in the set direction of searching the new system of security in the European region.

The changes which have occured lately, connected with new names and different events (Barack Obama, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, suddenly-tragical warming of relations with Poland), gives hope that Russian authorities despite the tension will truly apprehend changing conditions and can adequately react.

What perspective do I see? Controversial. Either the NATO strategic outdated objective will disappear (See the link 9) and will probably crop up its new version (See the link 10) or the roller coaster of NATO-Russia relations will proceed – from approaching to break, now and again.


"To keep America in, the Soviets out and the Germans down[vi].”



“Europe up, Russia with, America in and danger out[vii].”

                          Past                                                    Present                                                  Future

The first variant is more reasonable, but everything as always depends on "trifles" - the new strategic concept of NATO, the destiny of the European Security Pact, ability to listen to and to hear each other, a possibility if to not trust, but al least to believe each other. Time will show.

If both sides won’t go towards each other, the intensity will increase, and the degree of confidence will fall catastrophically. Such tendency does not suit Russia at all. Its active foreign policy Russia will continue to look for understanding to the aspirations among the meaningful countries of NATO. The degree of confidence between Russia and the leading countries of NATO (each separately) significantly higher than a degree of confidence and understanding between Russia and NATO. It’s very important to transfer these relationships (the first ones) to the military-political level, probably, joint actions or other actions which have been directed on approaching of military interests.

[i] See.: An Agenda for NATO. Toward a Global Security Web. by Zbigniew Brzezinski// «Foreign Affairs».-№ 5.-Sept/Oct 2009 ;

[ii] See.: NATO: new allies and reassurance. Policy brief by Ronald Asmus, Stefan Czmur, Chris Donnelly,
Aivis Ronis, Tomas Valasek and Klaus Wittmann, May 2010 //;

[iii] See.: Samuel p.Huntington «The Clash of Civilizations».-Moscow, 2003. “AST Publishment”.- 603, [5].- P..246-247.

[iv] «I do not see the global character of NATO … This organization can provide a security outside the region, but it does not mean, that it can accept countries from other regions». The speech of the Chancellor of Germany A.Merkel in the Bundestag 26.03.2009.

[v] "We have common threats and interests, and Afghanistan is a key element of cooperation". The Secretary General of NATO Anders Fog Rasmussen during negotiations with the chapter of the Russian government in December 2009. //

[vi] The famous quote of Baron Ismey, the first Secretary General of NATO, told to name the goal of NATO existence.

[vii] См.: Europe up, Russia with, America in and danger out by Harlan Ullman.- March 10th, 2010 //; Outside view: NATO needs a slogan by  Harlan Ullman.-26.05.2010 //