ROAR: Russia insists on joint agenda with NATO

As Russia and NATO prepare for the next summit, Moscow must not be simply informed of decisions taken by the alliance’s member states, politicians and analysts stress.

As Russia and NATO prepare for the next summit, Moscow must not be simply informed of decisions taken by the alliance’s member states, politicians and analysts stress.

President Dmitry Medvedev agreed on Tuesday to attend the Russia-NATO summit in Lisbon in November. The meeting is to take place as the alliance will be considering its new strategic conception and plans to create a European missile shield.

On Monday, Russia’s NATO ambassador Dmitry Rogozin stressed that Moscow could accept the invitation to hold a summit in Lisbon in November if the agenda was formed by both parties.

Speaking on Ekho Moskvy radio, Rogozin made it clear that the Russian president would not attend someone else’s event, referring to the forthcoming NATO summit. As for the Russia-NATO meeting, it is a joint event with a joint agenda, he noted.

The approach when NATO member states make their decisions and then brief Moscow on them is “unacceptable,” he stressed. All the draft resolutions should be negotiated with the Russian side, Rogozin added.

Earlier Rogozin said that NATO was preparing to adopt the political decision the European missile defense project in Lisbon on November 19-20. The alliance’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has invited Moscow to take part in the project. However, Russian officials have noted the details of this project were still unclear.

The alliance’s member states are also expected to adopt a new strategic concept during the Lisbon forum. The concept “is likely to contain already tried appeal for cooperation rather than fundamentally new attitudes to Russia,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily said.

The paper asked why then Brussels has proposed that in Lisbon “another summit should be held – the meeting between the Russian and NATO leadership.” This looks like “a polite attempt to allay Moscow’s anxieties over the alliance’s intentions,” the paper assumed.

It will not be easy to overcome misunderstanding in bilateral relations, despite the latest diplomatic efforts to boost co-operation, analysts believe. The last example of such a misunderstanding came on Monday as large military NATO exercises, “Saber Strike 2011”, began in Latvia.

Over 1,700 servicemen from the Baltic States, Poland and the United States are taking part in the maneuvers, which started on Monday and will last until October 31, as troops prepare for possible deployment in Afghanistan.

The aim of the exercises at the Adazi Training Area is to practice “interoperability procedures and improve the integration of the land and air operational ability of three Baltic States and the United States,” RIA Novosti quoted the Latvian Defense Ministry as saying.

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are considering the maneuvers as a preparation for possible participation in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operation in Afghanistan and other multinational operations. The three Baltic countries contribute 580 troops to the ISAF contingent in Afghanistan.

The exercises are considered the largest since Latvia joined NATO in 2004. For the first time, the Saber Strike, organized by the US military, is being held in a Baltic country. About 800 US troops are taking part in the exercises, and three pilots are representing Poland. Russian and Belarusian military observers have reportedly been invited.

Meanwhile, the Latvian Defense Ministry has not connected the Monday incident involving two Russian bombers allegedly flying at the border of the NATO-controlled air space with the ongoing military exercises.

According to Latvian Defense Minister Imants Liegis, the planes flew over the Baltic Sea between Liepaja and Ventspils on Monday, Interfax reported. Flying over the neutral waters of the Baltic Sea, Su-24 bombers “did not respond to an identification request,” the agency quoted Latvian Defense Ministry spokesman Airis Rikveilis as saying.

The accusations of “unfriendly” moves are baseless, the Russian Defense Ministry said. “Russian planes did not violate Latvia’s air border,” the representatives of the ministry told Interfax on Monday. “It was part of a scheduled training mission,” they stressed.

Sergey Borisov,
Russian Opinion and Analysis Review, RT