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NATO-Russian relations is about the relations between NATO military alliance and Russia.


Early cooperation (1991-2002)

Formal contacts and cooperation between Russia and NATO start in 1991, within the framework of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (later re-named Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council) and are further deepened as Russia joined the Partnership for Peace programme on June 22, 1994 [1]

On 27 May 1997, at 1997 Paris summit of NATO, sides signed a Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security[2], 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." [3][4]

"Joint decisions and actions", taken under NATO-Russia Council agreements, include fighting terrorism[5][6], military cooperation (joint military exercises[7] and personnel training[8]), 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.[9]

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,[4] 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."[10]

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 and the overwhelming Russian response. Later the North Atlantic Council condemned Russia for recognizing the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia as independent states.[11] 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.[12]

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."[13]

Future enlargement plans of NATO to Ukraine and Georgia

The Russian Government is fiercely opposed to Ukraine and Georgia joining NATO. Largely due to the close historical and cultural ties between Russia, Ukraine and Georgia and considers NATO's enlargement its top "military danger".[14][15]

Missile defence in Central Europe

The Russian Government says that a US proposed missile defence system in Poland and Czech Republic could threaten its own defences. The system might start small, it says, but could expand. The radar could then be used to spy on Russia.[16]

Position of the NATO Secretary General

In September 2009 speech NATO Secretary General 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 [17]:

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.[18] Russia has so far denied these requests, although has continued to allow transit of non-military supplies through its territory.[19]

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.[20] However Russian leadership has made it clear that Russia does not plan to join the alliance, preferring to keep cooperation on a lower level. 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.[10]


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