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NATO-Russian relations are relations between the NATO military alliance and Russia. Cooperation between Russia and NATO started in 1991. In 1994 Russia joined the Partnership for Peace programme.[1] During the 1990s, the two sides signed several important agreements on cooperation.[2]

The Russia–NATO council was created in 2002, for handling security issues and joint projects. Cooperation between Russia and NATO now develops in several main sectors: fighting terrorism, military cooperation, cooperation on Afghanistan (including transportation by Russia of non-military ISAF freight, and fighting the local drug production), industrial cooperation, non-proliferation, and others. Dmitry Rogozin holds the office of the Russian envoy to NATO.

Early cooperation (1991–2002)

Coat of arms of the Permanent Mission of Russia to NATO[3]

Formal contacts and cooperation between Russia and NATO started in 1991, within the framework of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (later renamed Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council) and were further deepened as Russia joined the Partnership for Peace programme on June 22, 1994.[4]

On 27 May 1997, at 1997 Paris NATO summit, sides signed a Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security,[5] a road map for future NATO-Russia cooperation. Both sides state they do not see each other as adversaries, and have political commitment to cooperate at creating "lasting and inclusive" peace in Euro-Atlantic area.

NATO–Russia Council

Meeting of the Russia–NATO council in Bucharest, Romania on 4 April 2008

The NATO-Russia Council was created on 28 May 2002 during the 2002 NATO Summit in Rome. The council has been an official diplomatic tool for handling security issues and joint projects between NATO and Russia, involving "consensus-building, consultations, joint decisions and joint actions." [6][7]

"Joint decisions and actions", taken under NATO-Russia Council agreements, include fighting terrorism,[8][9] military cooperation (joint military exercises[10] and personnel training[11]), cooperation on Afghanistan (Russia providing training courses for anti-narcotics officers from Afghanistan and Central Asia countries in cooperation with the UN), transportation by Russia of non-military freight in support of NATO's ISAF in Afghanistan, industrial cooperation, cooperation on defence interoperability, non-proliferation, and other areas.[2]

Because NATO and Russia have similar ambitions and mutual challenges, the NATO-Russia Council is seen by both sides as effective at building diplomatic agreements between all parties involved since 2002. The heads of state for NATO Allies and Russia gave a positive assessment of NATO-Russia Council achievements in a Bucharest summit meeting in April 2008,[7] though both sides have expressed mild discontent with the lack of actual content resulting from the council. In January 2009, the Russian envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said the NATO-Russia council was "a body where scholastic discussions were held." A US official shared this view, stating: "We want now to structure cooperation more practically, in areas where you can achieve results, instead of insisting on things that won't happen."[12]

Conflicts of interests

Georgia war and recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia

Relations between Russia and NATO became strained in summer 2008 due to Georgia's action in South Ossetia. Later the North Atlantic Council condemned Russia for recognizing the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia as independent states.[13] The Secretary General of NATO claimed that Russia's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia violated numerous UN Security Council resolutions, including resolutions endorsed by Russia. Russia, in turn, insisted the recognition was taken basing on the situation on the ground, and was in line with the UN Charter, the CSCE Helsinki Final Act of 1975 and other fundamental international law.[14]

Relations were further strained in May 2009 when NATO expelled two Russia diplomats over accusations of spying. It has also added to the tension already created by proposed NATO military exercises in Georgia, as the Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said,

"The planned NATO exercises in Georgia, no matter how one tries to convince us otherwise, are an overt provocation. One cannot carry out exercises in a place where there was just a war."[15]

In front of the Russian Parliamentary elections in 2011, President Dimitri Medvedev was also quoted as saying that had Russia not joined the 2008 South Ossetia war, NATO would have expanded further eastward.[16]

Future enlargement plans of NATO to Ukraine and Georgia

The Russian Government believes plans to expand NATO to Ukraine and Georgia may negatively affect European security. It is, together with common Russians, strongly opposed to any eastward expansion of NATO.[17][18] The former President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev stated in 2008 that "no country would be happy about a military bloc to which it did not belong approaching its borders".[19][20]

NATO Missile defence

The Russian Government says that a US proposed missile defence system in Poland and in the Czech Republic could threaten its own defences. The Russian Space Forces commander, Colonel General Vladimir Popovkin stated in 2007 that "[the] trajectories of Iranian or Korean missiles would hardly pass anywhere near the territory of the Czech republic, but every possible launch of Russian ICBM from the territory of the European Russia, or made by Russian Northern Fleet would be controlled by the [radar] station".[21][22]

Russia has also warned against moving defensive missiles to Turkey's border with Syria.[23][24]

Position of the NATO Secretary General

In September 2009 speech NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen stated, that NATO and Russia are going to cooperate on such issues as the fight against terrorism and non-proliferation of WMDs. With that, NATO is going to stay and to continue its "open doors" policy:[25]

I do not believe that the enlargement of NATO and the European Union has created any security problems for Russia. On the contrary: A more stable and prosperous Europe is indeed contributing to the security of Russia. We also need to be realistic in recognising that NATO will continue its open door policy — not because of any intention to "encircle" or marginalise Russia, but because respect for territorial integrity and the right of each sovereign state to freely decide its security policy and alignments are fundamental if Europe is to be truly "whole and free".

Current relations

Despite consistently being at odds, in December 2009 NATO approached Russia for help in Afghanistan, requesting permission for the alliance to fly cargoes (including possibly military ones) over Russian territory to Afghanistan, and to provide more helicopters for the Afghan armed forces.[26] Russia has so far denied these requests, although it has continued to allow transit of non-military supplies through its territory.[27]

In April 2009, the Polish Foreign Minister, Radosław Sikorski, suggested including Russia in NATO. In March 2010 this suggestion was repeated in an open letter co-written by German defense experts General Klaus Naumann, Frank Elbe, Ulrich Weisser, and former German Defense Minister Volker Rühe. In the letter it was suggested that Russia was needed in the wake of an emerging multi-polar world in order for NATO to counterbalance emerging Asian powers.[28] However current Russian leadership has made it clear that Russia does not plan to join the alliance, preferring to keep cooperation on a lower level now. The Russian envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, is quoted as saying "Great powers don't join coalitions, they create coalitions. Russia considers itself a great power," although he said that Russia did not rule out membership at some point in the future.[12] In March 2000 president Vladimir Putin, in interview to British television said Russia could once join NATO.[29]

On 6 June 2011, NATO and Russia participated in their first ever joint fighter jet exercise, dubbed "Vigilant Skies 2011". Since the Cold War, this is only the second joint military venture between the alliance and Russia, with the first being a joint submarine exercise which begun on 30 May 2011.[30]

In April 2012 there were some protests in Russia over their country's involvement with NATO, mostly made up of Ultranationalist and Pro Leftist groups.[31]


  1. Signatures of the Partnership for Peace Framework Document
  2. 2.0 2.1 Fact sheet of NATO-Russia Council practical cooperation
  3. "The Permanent Mission of Russia to NATO". Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  4. Formal NATO-Russia Relations
  5. Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation Paris, 27 May 1997
  6. NATO-Russia council Statement
  7. 7.0 7.1 NATO's relations with Russia
  8. NATO-Russia council on Terrorism
  9. NATO-Russia to practise anti-terrorist response
  10. RFS and NATO ships joint manoeuvres
  11. Allies and Russia attend U.S. Nuclear Weapons Accident Exercise
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Russia does not rule out future NATO membership". EUobserver. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  13. "NATO Press Release (2008)108 – 27 Aug 2008". Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  14. "NATO Press Release (2008)107 – 26 Aug 2008". Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  15. "Nato-Russia relations plummet amid spying, Georgia rows". Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  16. "Russia’s 2008 war with Georgia prevented NATO growth – Medvedev | Russia | RIA Novosti". 2011-11-21. Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  17. Bush backs Ukraine on Nato bid, BBC News (1 April 2008)
  18. Ukraine Says 'No' to NATO, Pew Research Center (29 March 2010)
  19. What's New In Russia's New Military Doctrine?
  20. "Medvedev warns on Nato expansion". BBC News. 25 March 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  21. "Военные считают ПРО в Европе прямой угрозой России – Мир – Правда.Ру". 2007-08-22. Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  22. "Q&A: US missile defence". BBC News. 20 September 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  23. "Russia Warns Against NATO Missiles on Syrian Border."
  24. "Turkish Request for Missiles Strains Ties with Russia."
  25. Speech of Rasmussen on September 2009
  26. NATO chief asks for Russian help in Afghanistan Reuters Retrieved on March 09, 2010
  27. Moscow denies NATO access to Afghanistan Russia Today Retrieved on March 09, 2010
  28. Ex-minister wants to bring Russia into NATO Der Spiegel Retrieved on March 09, 2010
  29. Putin says Russia could join NATO,5 March 2000
  30. Russian and NATO jets conduct first joint exercise
  31. Kramer, Andrew E. (21 April 2012). "Russians Protest Plan for NATO Site in Ulyanovsk". The New York Times. 

External links

NATO-Russia relations

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