N.A.T.O.-Russia Cooperation: Political Problems Versus Military Opportunities

Posted in NATO , Russia | 29-May-06 | Author: Dr. Marcel de Haas

The relationship between N.A.T.O. and Russia is one of ups and downs. Structural cooperation started in 1997 with the Founding Act providing frequent consultations on a number of security issues. As a result of N.A.T.O.'s air attack on Kosovo in 1999, however, Russia postponed all cooperation with N.A.T.O. In the beginning of the current decade, Russia returned to negotiations with N.A.T.O., which led to the foundation of the N.A.T.O.-Russia Council in 2002. Since 2002, mutual consultations have been intensive and a considerable number of political and military forms of cooperation have been enacted. Now and then, however, differences of opinion still occur.

N.A.T.O.'s Actions Rejected

In the 1990s, N.A.T.O. developed from a collective defense organization into a collective security alliance and has broadened its "area of responsibility" from N.A.T.O. territory proper via Europe into the Euro-Atlantic region, as stated in its Strategic Concept of 1999. Along with conceptual and organizational changes in the 1990s, N.A.T.O. has conducted operations outside of its territory and enlarged its membership. A number of these developments have specifically annoyed Russia:

  • N.A.T.O.'s involvement in the former Yugoslavia, with the air attacks on Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995 and the air campaign on Kosovo in 1999, in particular. Russia was neither consulted nor informed about these operations prior to their start.

  • N.A.T.O.'s 1999 Strategic Concept. With this concept, the alliance ensures stability in the Euro-Atlantic region. The document, however, does not state what the boundaries are of this region. Furthermore, as demonstrated by the Kosovo conflict, N.A.T.O. can act even without consent of the United Nations Security Council (U.N.S.C.). These entries in the Strategic Concept -- from Russia's point of view -- provide the alliance with a carte blanche to use military force wherever considered necessary.

  • N.A.T.O.'s 1999 and 2004 enlargement rounds. Russia usually refers to these enlargements as "expansion." Apparently, Russia did not accept the Founding Act of 1997 as a trade-off for the introduction of former Warsaw Pact members into the alliance. Russia was especially disturbed by granting the former Baltic Soviet Republics N.A.T.O. membership, which formally was considered a threat to Russia's national security.

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