NATO has become the key subject of discussions in the US-Russian relations on the threshold of the meeting between Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama, which is slated to take place in London on April 1. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reminded of Moscow’s concerned about the plans to expand the alliance.
“The most important thing here is to take account of a certain situation. If it goes about the would-be NATO membership of a country, the population of which stands strongly against the initiative, such an approach perhaps would not correspond to democratic norms,” the minister said as he most likely spoke of Ukraine. “The same goes for the situations when a country roughly violates international laws especially the laws about the respect of the rights of national minorities,” he added. The remark was made about the intention of Georgia to become a NATO member.
“I do not think that such an artificial solution of the questions of NATO’s expansion to the east would strengthen the European security. If NATO says that it wants to become a modern-day security structure, which would respond to global challenges, then there are many other ways to cooperate under existent formats,” he said.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry also set out its concerned about NATO’s military activities in the Arctic region.
“It may undermine the present cooperation between the coastal states,” an official spokesman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry said commenting the beginning of NATO’s Cold Response-2009 drills in the north of Norway. “The Arctic region is not a field for confrontations. It is a territory for international cooperation,” the official said.
Barack Obama confirmed his intention to “reset” the relations with Russia during his recent meeting with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. However, Obama added that the USA should not do it to the detriment of the Atlantic solidarity. The United States will send a clear signal to the whole of Europe saying that all countries that wish to become NATO members will be able to join the alliance.
Alexander Sharavin, the director of the Institute for Political and Military Analysis said that Russia should not consider Obama’s Atlantism as an obstacle to reset the US-Russian relations. “There are voluntary membership principles at NATO, and the USA can not decline them. There will be no real decisions made to grant the membership to Ukraine and Georgia. Quite on the contrary, they will not let it happen,” the expert said. Resetting the relations with Russia is a lot more important for the USA nowadays than expanding NATO with the help of Ukraine and Georgia.
Noteworthy, NATO Secretary General’s remarks about Russia were rather friendly. He particularly stated that NATO needed Russia and Russia needed NATO. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also said that NATO wanted to have Russia as a good partner.