NATO’s halt to eastward expansion eases Moscow relations
It marks a sign of hope for improved Russia-NATO relations. The tension between the two over the war in South Ossetia, when the organization sided with Georgia, appears to have eased.
It's all because of a change of heart by NATO over offering Georgia and Ukraine membership action plans.
“There's a long road ahead for both Georgia and Ukraine to reach those standards and the U.S. stands resolutely for those standards meaning that there should be no shortcuts to membership in NATO,” said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
And judging by the reaction from Russia, the warming in relations with the U.S. came sooner than anticipated.
Russia’s President, Dmitry Medvdedv, said: “We expect that the new American administration and new President of the United States will take a constructive and reasonable approach and demonstrate the will to search for compromise on the most difficult subjects. What we recently heard from Washington makes me feel cautiously optimistic.”
NATO has offered assistance to Georgia and Ukraine but no time frame for when the question of membership may be raised again.
However the Georgian opposition isn't surprised by the decision.
“Georgia is not ready right now to get a MAP but Georgia has a chance. Georgia needs new reforms, probably or maybe a new government even, to proceed with democratic reforms, because Saakashvili's government failed to proceed with democratic reforms during these last four years,” said Kakha Kukava , the leader of Georgia's Conservative Party.
As for Ukraine, political turbulence in the country played a key role in the rejection of the MAP.
Over 60 per cent of Ukrainians are against joining NATO.
Political analyst Vitaly Bala said: “Politicians use their foreign relations factor for the electorate and the issue of ties with Russia is used here as well. That’s why people rely on emotions in the west of the country – they support the idea simply because in the east they don't. However in both parts of Ukraine hardly one person in a hundred would be able to explain what NATO is.”
However NATO doesn't want Moscow to think it has a veto on who joins the alliance. But it hasn't ruled out the revival of the NATO-Russian council put on ice after the war in South Ossetia.