Wednesday

11th Dec 2019

Russia does not rule out future NATO membership

  • "Great powers don't join coalitions, they create coalitions. Russia considers itself a great power." (Photo: European Commission)

Russia does not rule out NATO membership at some point in the future, but for the moment it prefers to keep co-operation on a practical, limited level, Moscow's envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin told EUobserver.

"There is no such necessity at this moment, but we cannot rule out this opportunity in the future," Mr Rogozin said in a phone interview on Tuesday (31 March), one day after Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski said Russia should join the military alliance, if it meets the membership criteria.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

"We need Russia for the resolution of European and global problems. That is why I think it would be good for Russia to join NATO," Mr Sikorski had said at an acacdemic symposium in Poland, as quoted by Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza.

The same view was echoed on Wednesday at a civil society event in Brussels called the "Shadow NATO summit," aimed at feeding the debate around the future of the military alliance.

"The problem is not that NATO extended to Russia's borders, but that it stopped there," said Gareth Evans, President of the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based advocacy group. "NATO should welcome Russia in its inner ring, provided it complies with the human rights criteria," he added, while admitting that this was not a short-term option, especially after the Georgian war.

However, Mr Evans stressed that allies should at least start to "conceptualise" Russia's potential NATO membership.

On the other hand, a British academic with the Loughborough University, stressed that such an option "had to be looked at soberly," pointing at Russia's membership of two other international organisations - the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) - where Moscow was hampering deployment of election monitors in Russia itself and in its neighbouring countries.

Russia's NATO membership has never been seen as a serious option, while Moscow maintains that it sees the alliance as a threat. NATO came about in 1949 as a US-led military alliance guaranteeing the security of the then Western European allies from any potential attacks by the Soviet Union.

Once the USSR collapsed, eastern European countries requested NATO membership and underwent major military, police and rule of law reforms before joining the alliance. Russia has fiercely opposed NATO enlargement to its neighbourhood, which it still considers under its sphere of influence.

"We don't consider it necessary to make any concessions in terms of our sovereignty and we are capable of solving all the threats in an independent way. What we are ready for is to create some temporary coalitions, but at the moment we are not happy about many things happening in NATO," Mr Rogozin said, adding that this was a reason why membership was out of the question at this point.

"Great powers don't join coalitions, they create coalitions. Russia considers itself a great power," the Russian ambassador stressed.

He said Russia wanted to be NATO's "partner," provided the alliance took into account Moscow's "interest" - a catchphrase alluding to NATO enlargement to its neighbouring Ukraine and Georgia, which it fiercely opposes.

Mr Rogozin strongly criticised NATO's solidarity with Georgia during and after Russia's invasion of its territory following Tbilisi's attack on South Ossetia.

"We are extremely frustrated and astonished by NATO's actions in August-September last year, when our soldiers were killed and instead of support, we only saw the hypocrisy of their policy. NATO turned out to be the only organisation that sided fully with the aggressor," he said.

"For the moment, we don't see any real change in the organisation, we only see the organisation getting ready for the wars of past Europe," Mr Rogozin concluded.

NATO's new concept to involve Russia

NATO leaders on Saturday are set to give a green light to the drafting of a new security concept, as the alliance celebrates 60 years of existence. Its current strategic concept dates back to 1999 and does not include new threats such as terrorism, cyberattacks or energy security.

NATO's relationship with Russia, now resumed after the Georgian war, is set to be developed in concrete areas of co-operation, a senior US official told journalists in Brussels on Monday, ahead of the NATO summit.

The new administration in Washington has pledged to "hit the reset button" with Russia, as it needs to cooperate with Moscow in order to achieve progress in difficult dossiers such as Afghanistan and Iran.

Mr Rogozin said the NATO-Russia council (NRC) was so far "a body where scholastic discussions were held."

The same view was shared on Monday by the US official. "The problem with the NRC so far was that it didn't focus on content. There was a lot of structure, but no content. We want now to structure cooperation more practically, in areas where you can achieve results, instead of insisting on things that won't happen," the US official said.

The Russian envoy said that in order for the NRC to work properly, NATO had to "take part in the discussion not from a bloc approach, but in our national capacities, not in the form of 26+1 but in the form of 27 members of the NATO-Russia council."

Magazine

Six priorities for human rights

Belgian socialist MEP Marie Arena is chairing the European Parliament's sub-committee on human rights. Her biggest challenge? Finding ways to reach objectives that cover an enormous spectrum of issues - from climate to child protection.

Opinion

European shipping's dirty secret

As the EU launches its flagship Green Deal, the Greens call for shipping emissions to be included in carbon targets. Ships carrying goods to and from the UK emitted more CO2 than all the cars in Britain's 15-largest cities.

Hungary quizzed over EU rules amid twitter row

Hungary attempted to defend its rules on academia, the judiciary, and the media questions by EU countries, while government spokesman breached EU rules by live-tweeting from the closed doors hearing.

Spanish King meets party leaders to break deadlock

The Spanish King Felipe VI started 48-hours of meetings with the political leaders on Tuesday to determine whether the socialist caretaker prime minister Pedro Sánchez stands a chance of becoming the new head of government.

News in Brief

  1. Czechs protest against PM Babis over EU subsidy 'fraud'
  2. EU disbursed €2.7bn for Turkey refugees
  3. UK ports set to host EU border checks for Northern Ireland
  4. EU puts tech giants in crosshairs
  5. Faroe Islands under pressure to chose Huawei
  6. Hungary asked to apologise after council leak
  7. MEPs: Finnish budget proposal 'impossible to implement'
  8. EP committee supports 'Future of EU Conference'

Exclusive

Zahradil 'conflict of interest' over EU-Vietnam trade deal

Right-wing Czech MEP Jan Zahradil is leading European Parliament negotiations on a trade deal with Vietnam. As rapporteur, he is supposed to be neutral but has neglected to declare his involvement in a group with ties to the Communist party.

Investigation

Data watchdog raps EU asylum body for snooping

The European Asylum Support Office combed through social media to monitor refugee routes to Europe for three years. The agency sent weekly reports on its findings to member states, the EU Commission and institutions such as UNHCR and Interpol.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us