As NATO prepares for its 60th anniversary summit in Germany
on April 3 and 4, Russia's suspicion of the Western alliance remains almost
as strong as when the grouping was founded.
Today, Moscow is not just upset that NATO's newest members include
former Soviet satellite nations, but that continued expansion of the alliance
could bring in Ukraine and Georgia, former republics of the USSR that border
On March 5, NATO foreign ministers agreed to resume ties
with Moscow frozen after Russia's conflict with Georgia last August.
ambassador, Dmitri Rogozin, welcomed the move.
"Our baseline is that this
decision is a positive one," he said. "We also take into account the
complexities and difficulties which NATO had to overcome to correct the
decision it took in August, when it adopted the popular slogan of, 'No business
as usual regarding Russia."
But Russia remains wary of NATO. Moscow is particularly concerned that Georgia
and Ukraine will join the alliance.
he served as President, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin threatened to aim nuclear
missiles at Ukraine if NATO were to deploy missiles in that country.
Last June, he also threatened to terminate
ties with Ukrainian defense industries that rely heavily on contracts with
He stated, "As for sensitive technologies, and first of all
high-tech missile as well as other modern military technologies, we will think
ahead in the case … and on how to proceed, regardless of any financial expenses
During his March 12 address in Prague marking the tenth
anniversary of Czech, Polish and Hungarian NATO membership, Secretary General
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said NATO enlargement remains part of a strategy to
consolidate Europe as an undivided and democratic security space.
same time, it is clear that the NATO-Russia relationship is too valuable to be
stuck in arguments over enlargement; or for that matter over missile defense;
or for that matter over Kosovo," said the secretary-general.
But, these issues are important for Moscow.
Independent military analyst Pavel
Felgenhauer describes Russia as an authoritarian state, which is seeking ways
to gain advantage by pressuring NATO and the U.S.
Threatening supply operations in Afghanistan
is one such pressure point, he says.
"The most important foreign policy objective of the
Obama Administration is success in Afghanistan, but in many regards, we
[Russians] control U.S. access to Afghanistan," Felgenhauer explained. "So it
seems to us that we can force the Americans to grant serious concessions."
An example of such pressure is Russia's recent two-billion
dollar aid package to Kyrgyzstan.
assistance is widely seen as the reason why the Kyrgyz government is closing
the U.S. air base in that country.
Moscow has also been waging an intense propaganda campaign
against the proposed U.S. missile defense system in Central Europe, despite
assurances from Presidents Bush and Obama that it would be aimed at Iran, not
Mr. Obama has made clear that he
seeks better relations with Russia, but not at the expense of NATO allies.
"I've said that we need to reset or reboot the relationship
there," said Mr. Obama. "Russia needs to understand our unflagging commitment
to the independence and security of countries like Poland or the Czech
Republic. On the other hand, we have areas of common concern."
Senior U.S., Russian and NATO officials have indicated all
sides can co-operate on issues of mutual concern, which include nuclear
proliferation, international terrorism, piracy and drug trafficking.