ROAR: Russia’s admission to NATO is “premature question”

Moscow is not ready to participate in the Western military alliance, but intends to cooperate with it on particular directions.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen again said on Wednesday that the alliance is ready to cooperate with Russia, Ukraine and European countries in the creation of the missile shield.

The Western bloc will focus on Russia because the two sides have already cooperated in this field, he told Interfax and Ukrinform news agencies.

Last week, Russia received an official invitation from NATO to attend the alliance’s summit in Lisbon in November. The final decision on Russia’s participation will be made by the president, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

The main matter of concern is NATO’s new strategic concept, Lavrov told Rossiya channel. According to the document, Russia and NATO are partners, but it also implies that the alliance’s new members “should be protected from us,” he said.

Moscow is wondering what attitude will be chosen toward it and the prerogatives of the UN Security Council, the minister said.

As Russia is considering different ways of cooperating with NATO, the state and military officials stress that Moscow is not ready to participate in the alliance, a possibility discussed by some analysts.

Russia’s admission to NATO is a premature issue, believes Chief of the Russian Armed Forces’ General Staff Nikolay Makarov. “We are not prepared – the country, the nation, the armed forces – to join the North Atlantic Alliance,” he told Rossiya TV channel last week. Russia and the alliance have different tasks, he noted.

The threats and challenges of Russia have changed dramatically recently, Makarov said, adding that the alliance is already on Russia’s borders. In particular, he described the situation in Central Asia as “explosive.”

Analysts doubt that Moscow and the alliance may go farther than cooperation on particular issues. “Russia now needs balanced working relations with NATO – and no more,” Expert magazine said. “Trying to quickly make positions closer will harm our security and bring the risk of new conflicts with the West in the future.”

The Russia-US reset clearly gives a good chance to bringing the relations to a new, more trusted level, the magazine wrote. “As for the relations with NATO, they must have inevitably become one of the key issues,” it added.

However, this may bring a number of strategic risks, the magazine said. “Evident misbalance of strategic and economic potentials does not allow Moscow to mistake.” It may occur that “a new round of flirting with the West will not strengthen Russia’s security, but weaken it.”

Among other things, Russia and the alliance see differently the goals of the creation of European missile shield, the magazine said. Russian participation will only be a supporting part of the project. It may “legalize the system, but will not bring guarantees of security and influence to Russia,” it added.

The issue of the level of possible Russia’s integration is even more complicated. Russia is not interested in a position of a partner and will need the right of veto on a number of problem. At the same time, Moscow is not interested in a deep integration to NATO structures, the magazine said.

“Russia and NATO have different global views,” the magazine said. “We have different adversaries and partners. In addition, Russia now remains a kind of intermediary state between Western and Eastern countries.”

“Russia cannot become economically prosperous country confronting the US and European Union,” the magazine noted. “But the Americans and Europeans should decide at last whether they see Russia as an ally or a dangerous geopolitical competitor. Until the West finds an answer to this question, no breakthroughs in our relations are possible.”

Not only is the idea of Russia’s admission to NATO being discussed by analysts, but also the report considering this proposal has been prepared by the Institute of Contemporary Development for the president, Itogi magazine wrote. However, contrary to tradition, the document has not been published.

Russia’s envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin, commenting on the idea, said Moscow’s joining NATO was impossible. After the enlargement and admission of the Baltic and Eastern European countries the alliance will never invite Russia, he told the magazine. “For those who escaped the Soviet Union to NATO, the appearance of ‘the Russian Bear’ at the door is a nightmare,” he said. “We could have discussed this topic when NATO had 15-16 member states,” the envoy added.

Russia could be interested in joining the alliance only “if the country exhausted all internal resources to ensure its own security,” he stressed. “But it is not the case. We have a strategic potential of containment, we are reforming armed forces and planning serious purchasing of military equipment.”

Aleksey Arbatov, the head of the Center for International Security of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, does not see any provocation in the idea of Russia’s admission to NATO.

There are different attitudes among the political elite, he noted. The proposal may probably have fewer supporters than different forms of cooperation with the alliance. In this case, “Moscow will not have to stand in line and wait to be invited,” Arbatov told the magazine. “The idea of a union with NATO on particular directions has already been approved at the highest level,” he stressed.

Sergey Borisov,
Russian Opinion and Analysis Review, RT