Lord George Robertson discusses NATO-Russia partnership

Russia's partnership with NATO amounts to a new Russian revolution, NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson said December 13. Robertson made this revelation in a speech before the Edinburgh royal society. The NATO Secretary-General is spending a Christmas vacation in his native Scotland.

In his speech, Robertson discussed relations between NATO and Russia, assessing such relations stage by stage throughout the 1990s. Such relations were marked by truly revolutionary changes with the election of Vladimir Putin as Russia's President, Robertson noted.

Until then, the post-Cold War potential wasn't used immediately, Robertson went on to say. Russia sternly opposed the expansion of NATO. Even Boris Yeltsin, who was instrumental in ending the Soviet era, threatened to implement counter-measures, also drawing red lines on the map. This old-fashioned approach was manifested during events in Kosovo.

According to Robertson, the appearance of a more pragmatic Russian leadership, which perceived more partners than enemies in the West, served as the first pre-requisite of new relations between NATO and Russia. The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington destroyed the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon building, also killing thousands of people. Moreover, those outrages triggered off an earthquake in international relations. Global threats now emanate from just about every direction; consequently, traditional spheres of influence have now become something unacceptable. The September 11 events pitted NATO and Russia against international terrorism.

NATO's recent Prague summit is the most vivid manifestation of a revolution in NATO-Russia relations, Robertson stressed. That summit was referred to as a summit envisaging the alliance's expansion only 18 months ago. However, specific attitudes changed after September 11. The alliance scored its biggest victory in the past 50 years, after inviting seven Central European and Eastern European countries to join NATO. The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and Yalta accords were thus declared null and void. Moscow, which reacted rather furiously to NATO's previous expansion round, behaved calmly during the Prague round.

It's impossible to ensure our security against such new threats as terrorism, the proliferation of mass-destruction weapons and regional conflicts without Russia, Robertson believes. In his words, new relations between NATO and Russia constitute a foundation for overcoming Russia's 20-th century political and economic isolation. Russia, which has a population of 150 million, whose territory encompasses 11 time zones, and which borders on the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Far East, is vitally important for NATO security, Robertson said in conclusion.

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