When opening a meeting with Nato Secretary-General George Robertson on Thursday, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov announced that Moscow was proposing that Russia-Nato bilateral cooperation be expanded to encompass all the alliance's member-nations. Ivanov said that as "very many new, serious threats" had appeared, a "new level of co-operation between all countries" was necessary to deal with them. Russia, according to him, was "ready for such co-operation, but on an equal and mutually beneficial basis." "De facto, such co-operation ... is being conducted with many Nato member-nations, and we are ready to expand it, above all on issues [such as] the fight against terrorism, the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the drug-trade and also the counter-action of other threats," said the Russian minister. Ivanov stressed that he would discuss all these issues with George Robertson.
As November 4 approaches (on this day, Russia and Belarus are to sign union programs), disputes between supporters and opponents of the integration become increasingly heated