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NATO and Russia Sign Historic Partnership Agreement, May 14, 2002

Дата публикации: 04 сентября 2007
Публикатор: Александр Павлович Шиманский
Источник: (c) http://russia.by
Номер публикации: №1188908758 / Жалобы? Ошибка? Выделите проблемный текст и нажмите CTRL+ENTER!

In a move that would have been inconceivable just a few years earlier, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) approved a partnership agreement with Russia on May 14, 2002. The meeting took place in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, where presidents Reagan and Gorbachev in 1986 engaged in arms-control talks that helped bring about the end of the cold war. The location only added to the symbolic importance of the event. But the agreement also raised many questions as to just how NATO-Russia cooperation would work--and how far it would extend.

In 1949, the United States, Canada, and 10 liberal democracies in Western Europe formed NATO as a bulwark against Soviet aggression. By 1955, NATO consisted of 15 nations. In that year, the Soviet bloc and the Communist nations in Eastern Europe formed the Warsaw Pact. Ostensibly the latter was a mutual- assistance alliance, just like NATO, but in practice the Soviets used it to put down revolts in satellite nations.

As the Communist world, and the Soviet Union itself, began to disintegrate in the late 1980s and early 1990s, so did the Warsaw Pact, which formally ended in July 1991. In 1997, NATO extended membership to three former Warsaw Pact countries: the Czech Republic (formerly part of Czechoslovakia), Poland, and Hungary. Also in 1997, NATO and Russia established an alliance called the Permanent Joint Council, but this agreement did not outlive the NATO war on Yugoslavia, a Russian ally, in 1999.

Still, it was clear that the old systems of alliance had become defunct, and that former Communist nations were eager to align themselves with the powerful, wealthy nations of NATO. For this reason, Russia's President Vladimir Putin welcomed the prospect of a new agreement in 2002. The timing was particularly good, Putin noted, as the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States had reminded both sides of the threat terrorism posed to both.

On May 13, the day before NATO made the decision that would (in the words of British Foreign Minister Jack Straw) allow Russia to "come out of the cold as a partner, ally, and friend of NATO," Russia and the United States reached an agreement to reduce their stockpiles of nuclear arms by two- thirds over the next 10 years. Combined with events the following day, this truly seemed, as Straw said, like "the funeral of the Cold War." Said U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell in Reykjavik, "We don't yet quite have a cliché to capture this all."

The agreement led to an accord, formally signed by Russia and the 19 members of NATO outside Rome on May 28, which established the NATO-Russia Council. The accord also provided for increased military contacts, joint training, joint assessments of security threats, and sharing of information. At the same time, it included a number of safeguards to prevent Russia from gaining too strong of a position with NATO.

Nevertheless, a number of obstacles to implementation of the agreement remained. Among these was the fact that the Russians might become dissatisfied with an agreement that effectively gave any NATO member--even tiny Luxembourg--the power to override Russia in decision-making. Also, as Michael Wines noted in the New York Times, "experts on both sides say their greatest fear is that the Kremlin lacks the experienced and Western-savvy bureaucrats essential to the council's success."

There also remained the danger that military leaders in Russia and the United States would prove so fixed in their cold- war sensibilities that true sharing of information and decisions would be impossible. Since Russia's influence had shrunk considerably, it was particularly likely that the Russians would object to true joint operations. A U.S. official told Wines of a concern that the Russians would staff their mission to NATO with "people who largely look at this as an intelligence-gathering operation, not as an opportunity for genuine cooperation."

In November 2002, the Russian side of the new alliance encountered a powerful test when seven former Soviet republics or satellites--Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia--joined NATO. U.S. President George W. Bush rushed to allay Putin's fears that NATO was expanding deeper and deeper in Russia's former sphere of influence. Putin expressed willingness to cooperate, even though he told Bush that he considered such expansion unnecessary. Meanwhile, Ukraine and Georgia expressed an interest in joining NATO, which raised an even more troubling specter, from Russia's perspective, of creeping NATO influence.


"Expansion No Threat, Putin Told." Chicago Tribune, November 24, 2002, p. 3.

Purdum, Todd S. "NATO Strikes Deal to Accept Russia in a Partnership." New York Times, May 15, 2002, p. A1.

Richter, Paul. "Pact Gives Russia a New Role in NATO." Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2002, p. A1.

Wines, Michael. "NATO and Russia Shake Hands, But Will They Come out Sparring?" New York Times, May 29, 2002, p. A12.

Witt, Howard. "Russia Gets Key NATO Role." Chicago Tribune, May 15, 2002, p. 1.

Опубликовано 04 сентября 2007 года

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