It is not ruled out that Russia may join NATO in the future, and the Americans will not mind such a turn of events. US NATO Ambassador Ivo Daalder said that every country, particularly every European country, had a right to become a NATO member. Russia, being a European state, has a right to join the alliance too.
The official added that NATO did not have the issue on the agenda because the Russian administration had not expressed such a wish.
Daalder's remarks were made on the threshold of the Russia-NATO Council on the level of foreign ministers. The US official stressed out that the council would not discuss the issue of Russia's possible NATO membership, but added that the cooperation between the Russian Federation and the North Atlantic Alliance had been developing successfully.
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We would not say that the remarks from the US NATO Ambassador produced a sensation. Other US and European officials previously said that they would like to see Russia as a NATO member. The alliance has been moving close to Russian borders for many years already, after the collapse of the USSR. These days, NATO's defense machine has stopped some 200 kilometers far from St. Petersburg - in Estonia, and 500 km far from Moscow - in Latvia.
By and large, the question of Russia's NATO membership was discussed during the Cold War era. When NATO appeared in 1949, Stalin's administration set out a wish to join the military and political organization. Nikita Khrushchev attempted to do the same five years later, although to no avail. The USSR did not fit the criteria of the alliance, it was said.
Boris Yeltsin raised the same subject on December 20, 1991. He asked NATO members to consider Russia's membership as a long-term political goal. Nine years later, Vladimir Putin did not exclude Russia's incorporation into the alliance, although only if the West perceived Russia as an equal partner.
Years were passing by, NATO was growing. Former socialist European countries, the Baltic states became its members. The leaders of NATO countries repeatedly stated that Georgia and Ukraine could also obtain membership. However, the question of Russia's membership was never given a serious consideration. Is it time to solve the problem now?
Pravda.Ru addressed Russia's permanent delegation at NATO for comments.
"It's not the first time when the subject of Russia's NATO membership is discussed. Today, it is practically unreal simply because of the fact that all decisions at the alliance are based on the consensus between all of its members.
"The USA can not decide everything for them, including the countries of the former Warsaw Pact, which escaped from the USSR to NATO. These countries would do their best not to let Russia in. In addition, there is no need for Russia to be a NATO member really. Russia is a self-sufficient country. We already cooperate with the alliance, where needed.
"As for the membership per se as, it's not a solution to every problem. This can be seen on the example of Greece and Turkey, because the relations between these two countries have not been regulated even within the framework of NATO. There is another example - Afghanistan, which shows that there is no unity in the administration of the bloc.
"When the Americans speak about such a perspective, they are not certain whether it could be possible at all. It is not ruled out that they release such statements to simply show that there are no hostilities between our countries. Thus, Russia's membership at NATO is not an issue at all for both sides," a diplomatic source at the Russian Delegation at the alliance said.
Dmitry Danilov, the chairman of the department for the European security of the Institute for Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Pravda.Ru that Russia indeed could formally become a member of the alliance.
"However, the preparation process is a very lengthy one. It stipulates numerous procedures on our part to correspond to the requirements of the alliance, including the reform of the armed forces according to NATO standards.
"If Russia agreed to do that, we would have to trade off our sovereignty. Russia would become dependent on other countries politically. Russia as a country with its own independent politics can not do such a thing. By the way, the United States strongly believes that America creates alliances, it does not join them.
"A lot will depend on the new concept of NATO, which is going to be approved on November 20 in Lisbon. The new concept stipulates constructive and pragmatic cooperation with Russia, although it is a vague notion. For example, Russia is currently in a state of "forced cooperation" with NATO on Afghanistan. The new concept, most likely, will only reflect the willingness to develop relations without any practical forms," the expert said.