Russia-NATO strategic partnership may be easier said than done

14:09, November 21, 2010      

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev attends a press conference after the conclusion of the NATO Summit in Lisbon, capital of Portugal, Nov. 20, 2010. (Xinhua/Wang Qingqin)

Leaders from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states, met in Lisbon on Friday and Saturday, have adopted a new Strategic Concept that will serve as the alliance's roadmap for the next 10 years.

The Concept expresses NATO leaders' willingness to build a real "strategic partnership" with Russia, but given the current political divergences and long-time distrust between NATO and Russia, this goal is still hard to reach in short future, analysts said.

Since the end of the cold war, "partnership" has become a frequently mentioned word in NATO-Russia ties. From the "start of a new age of partnership and cooperation" declared by then- Secretary General of NATO Manfred Werner and Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1992, to the various cooperation systems introduced by NATO and Russia in different times, the two sides have gave many tries for setting up a new type of relationship.

However, these efforts failed to withstand tests, such as NATO' s enlargement to the East. In 2008, relations between Russia and NATO soured due to Moscow's brief war with Tbilisi.

In 2009, due to the relationship "reset" between Russia and the United States, as well as the improvement of Russia's ties with European countries, the NATO-Russian cooperation began to rebound.

Earlier this month, the NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen paid one-day visit to Moscow, where he stressed that the West sees Russia not as an enemy, but as a partner of strategic importance.

During the Lisbon summit, Russia accepted NATO's invitation to join in the creation of a missile defense shield in Europe, and President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia is ready to work together with NATO to monitor nuclear programs in other countries.

Experts noted that in certain fields where the two sides share common interests, Russia and the Atlantic bloc have been ready to cooperate.

In fighting against terrorism, preventing the spread of massive destructive weapons, enhancing energy security, the Iran nuclear problem and Afghanistan, NATO needs assistance and supports from Russia, experts believed.

There is notable potential for more intensive cooperation between NATO and Russia, but the partners with their long history of distrust cannot transfer themselves into a loving couple swiftly, analysts warned.

While Fogh Rasmussen repeatedly said that NATO did not want to impose any specific missile defense architecture on Russia, he reiterated the bloc's readiness to admit Georgia's membership, which was highly sensitive for Kremlin.

The NATO chief also reconfirmed Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, regarding it as one main dispute between the alliance and Russia.

Although neither Russia nor NATO wanted confrontation, none of them has discovered a mode so far in which they would coexist, and the long-term issues of dispute between them are not solved yet, Moscow-based defense analyst Pavel Felgengauer told Xinhua, adding that there is a long road ahead for both parties to bridge over long-existing differences.

Source: Xinhua


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