Vladimir Putin Says Russia Is Not Seeking NATO Membership

As NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said, the Russian president assured him that Russia would not take advantage of the situation to "get into NATO by the backdoor". What is more, Robertson noted after his meeting in the Kremlin with Putin, the Russian head of state "excluded" for Russia the possibility of "joining NATO by the front door either". Besides, according to Robertson, the Russian head of state assured him that Russia is not going "to undermine NATO's work" and does not want "to impose a veto on NATO's work". The NATO secretary-general said that "progress should be cautious but chances need not be missed". He was commenting on the possibility of Russia's full-scale membership of the North Atlantic alliance, noting that this fact "would mark a historical change in relations". Russia's Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, in his turn, said that Russia is not raising the issue of joining NATO. Ivanov emphasised that "it is not a matter of Russia's full-format entry into NATO". Replying to journalists' questions, the minister pointed out that today the question is one of "improving the quality" of Russian-NATO partnership relations. It was this, Ivanov noted, that was discussed during two days of negotiations with George Robertson, the secretary-general of the North Atlantic alliance, in Moscow. According to him, their aim was to analyse "areas of interest for cooperation" between NATO and Russia, and to try to find forms of such cooperation as meet modern realities. After noting that today NATO states and Russia "are facing new threats and challenges", Ivanov expressed a common view that "only joint efforts can bring serious successes in countering" these phenomena. Moreover, he emphasised that neither NATO nor Russia seeks any benefits from this partnership. According to him, it is only in a partner-like relationship that one can gain desired results - the strengthening of international stability. "Our goal is to translate the awareness of this historical truth into practical steps," Ivanov said.

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