Tags: It's | Official: | Russia | Now | NATO's | Ally

It's Official: Russia Is Now NATO's Ally

Friday, 31 May 2002 12:00 AM

Yesterday, NATO formally added Russia as a partner, declaring its Cold War enemy an ally in the war on international terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other issues.

President Bush and the leaders of the other 18 Alliance nations joined Russia's President Vladimir Putin in signing an agreement at the seaside Pratica di Mare air base in Italy, where authorities deployed 15,000 security forces and sufficient air and sea defenses to protect the gathering of the heads of the NATO nations.

From now on, Russia is a formal member of a NATO-Russia Joint Council, a position created especially for Moscow, which now has a greatly expanded role in the European alliance. Without official power of veto, this membership still puts Moscow on the ground floor in making policy on Alliance peacekeeping, counterterrorism, weapons proliferation, humanitarian intervention, regional crises and other very important issues.

Russia has become a formal NATO ally under an arrangement that will afford it considerable opportunity to influence Alliance decisions and allow Moscow to undermine its strategic goals and unity. Moscow now has practically unlimited access to NATO's secret plans, intentions,and related technologies, which could easily be used to improve Russia's military preparations specifically aimed at the U.S. and NATO.

The possibility that corrupt Russian officials could sell some of this information to rogue nations and sponsors of international terrorism, nations whose leaders are traditional Russian friends and allies, also cannot be excluded.

The partnership comes as NATO plans to continue expanding its reach toward Russia's borders, adding as many as seven new members, including three former Soviet republics. Although some nations being considered for membership have little to offer the Alliance militarily, U.S. officials say the effectiveness of the Alliance will not be diminished.

It's not news that the Kremlin previously opposed the expansion, although it has softened on the issue in recent months. U.S. foreign policy experts are trying to explain these changes as reflecting the pro-Western policy of present Kremlin leaders, but the Russian press is providing us a different scenario.

As the Moscow media report, it is conceivable that Putin now speaks softly about NATO expansion because, by moving toward Russia's borders, the Alliance will eventually swallow Russia and its so-called near-abroad neighbors (former Soviet republics and its satellites by the Warsaw Pact).

The fox, as an old American phrase has it, will then be in the henhouse.

Putin has pulled it off, the Moscow press said, since Bush became a handmaiden for European resurgence. But he is still unaware of how Putin has maneuvered him into performing that role. It is true that the Russian leader wants to liquidate the Cold War, because the Cold War ended and was replaced by U.S. world hegemony – and that legacy is the one to be liquidated.

NATO was founded in 1949 to protect democratic and free-market nations and to contain communism and the Soviet Union. With the collapse of the former USSR, NATO has been reaching out to Russia, which currently cannot be considered a democratic country.

Under the new agreement, Russia will have more authority than with the less-formal arrangement of three years ago, to try to nudge Moscow closer to the West.

There is no doubt that with support from liberal Western politicians, Russia has now become a formal NATO ally and will try to do everything to undermine the effectiveness of the Alliance and the security of its members. If Russia succeeds, NATO no longer will be the alliance as we've known it for more than half a century.

Symbolically, Russia's first action as a formal partner in the Alliance was a "joke." Immediately after signing the agreement establishing a new NATO-Russia Council, President Putin said, "We should call ourselves the House of the Soviets." While Mr. Putin's remark was followed by silence from Alliance leaders, NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson announced, "I will declare that to be a joke."

Is it possible to recognize this declaration as a politically correct one?

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Yesterday, NATO formally added Russia as a partner, declaring its Cold War enemy an ally in the war on international terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other issues. President Bush and the leaders of the other 18 Alliance nations joined Russia's...
It's,Official:,Russia,Now,NATO's,Ally
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2002-00-31
Friday, 31 May 2002 12:00 AM
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