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Research Report

The Future of NATO-Russian Relations:: Or, How to Dance with a Bear and Not Get Mauled

Gordon B. Hendrickson
Copyright Date: Dec. 1, 2005
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 49
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)

    Over the past decade, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has undergone the most significant changes of its more than 50-year existence. Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has expanded twice, in 1999 and 2004, and has added 10 new members in the past six years. The Alliance has also undergone a fundamental shift in focus, from purely a collective defense alliance designed to counter the Soviet and Warsaw Pact threat during the Cold War to a collective security organization designed to bolster and fortify the overall security posture of the Euro-Atlantic area. This shift has significantly included...

  2. (pp. 2-7)

    The relationship between NATO and Russia began informally in December 1991 with the inaugural session of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC), later renamed the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). NATO leaders created the council after the end of the Cold War as a forum for political dialogue, consultation, and cooperation in an attempt to foster a new relationship with Central and Eastern European countries.¹ Although it stopped short of establishing a formal relationship between NATO and Russia, it did at least create the initial conditions for the two to begin consultations and dialogue, and set the stage for future developments....

  3. (pp. 7-11)

    While Russia has accepted NATO expansion thus far and is consulting with the Allies in the NRC, the Kremlin nonetheless has continued to express its view that enlargement of the Alliance is unnecessary and unhelpful in furthering Euro-Atlantic security. In its view, other international bodies and organizations are perfectly suited to take on the role of collective security that NATO has grown into over the past few years. President Putin, in his remarks at the Rome Summit, made clear the Russian position that other international agreements and bodies will also play a critical role in supporting the new NATO-Russia relationship...

  4. (pp. 12-21)

    In light of these issues, NATO and Russia still face significant challenges to their relationship. This chapter will examine a number of these contentious issues and will highlight their root causes, for it is these causes that will continue to plague the Alliance in its relations with Russia. These issues are highlighted due to their underlying sources of friction and disagreements, problems that both sides can expect to continue into future years, and that must be dealt with to make it possible for NATO and Russia to continue working together productively. Chapter Six will later address several recommendations for the...

  5. (pp. 21-27)

    Despite the significant challenges and obstacles still facing the Alliance and Russia, both sides have seen the need to cooperate more fully in areas of mutual security concern, and have dedicated themselves to working more closely together, particularly over the past two years. Although President Putin has again made clear recently that he has no intention of joining NATO,71 he has personally made good relations with NATO a priority. General Totskiy relates that before he left for Brussels, President Putin summoned him and instructed him that “NATO is now a serious and important organization with a visible role to play...

  6. (pp. 27-35)

    In light of the previously mentioned underlying issues that have either caused contention or contributed to better cooperation between NATO and Russia, NATO can and should take a number of recommended actions and policies to foster better relations with Russia. Although there will always be disagreements and contentious issues between NATO and Russia, these recommendations are based on actions that will minimize those contentious issues in the future, along with accentuating the policies that are more likely to contribute to continuing success between the two. This chapter will examine specific underlying Russian causes for concern, and then will describe concrete...

  7. (pp. 35-36)

    In considering the future of NATO-Russia relations, there are reasons to be hopeful. There have been many accomplishments, and the road ahead, while filled with certain challenges, still looks passable. However, both sides will have to continue their current course of cooperation and keep their focus on the will to work productively together. When the inevitable challenges and disagreements arise, both sides must remain committed to work through them, just as in any successful marriage. The most successful cooperation will undoubtedly arise from a framework of stability, confidence, predictability and transparency in the NATO-Russia relationship. Such a relationship can lead...