MOSCOW, April 4 (RIA Novosti), Daria Chernyshova – Russia is a great power, but it has often been treated disgracefully and marginalized by NATO, believes Claude Moniquet, President of the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center.
“NATO-Russia relations have seen a long-standing misunderstanding,” Moniquet said at a press conference on Russia-NATO relations at RIA Novosti on Thursday. “We have to remember … when the USSR collapsed and when the Berlin Wall fell, Gorbachev was promised that NATO would not expand to the east, that it didn’t plan on expansion to Soviet borders and then to the Russian borders,” Moniquet said.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization celebrates its 65th anniversary today. The organization was founded in 1949 in response to a perceived threat posed by the Soviet Union.
Despite the fact that the Cold War ended decades ago, the alliance is still alive and is pursuing a strategy of eastward expansion, in violation of the promises the alliance made to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Since 1949, when NATO was founded, membership has increased from 12 to 28 countries through six rounds of enlargement.
“It is clear that any nation on the European side of the Atlantic that wishes to become part of any Western-backed alliance must first become a member of NATO,” political analyst Peter Eyre told RIA Novosti.
Several major international players have been excluded from the alliance, including Russia and China. “There is no possibility that the West will enter into any such agreement or alliance with Russia, China or any of the BRIC countries, as they themselves wish to find their own partners and markets,” Eyre said.
However, the West’s security is global security, Claude Moniquet said. “[Security] is based on the US-Europe alliance, but this balance includes Russia and other large partners like China,” he added.
Relations between Russia and NATO have been a rollercoaster, and Russia “feels betrayed by NATO, it is disappointed,” Moniquet said.
Foreign chiefs of NATO’s 28 member states decided to freeze practical civilian and military cooperation with Moscow earlier this week, but vowed to keep intact the NATO-Russia Council and maintain diplomatic contacts at the ambassadorial level and above. According to the decision, cooperation on Afghanistan would also remain unaffected.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said NATO’s decision resembled Cold War-style sword swinging.
“Following the Russia-Georgia war in 2008, the NATO-Russia Council was suspended until the Obama Administration’s reset with Russia wiped the slate clean,” said David Merkel, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council and former US deputy assistant secretary of state. “I would expect rhetoric and promises but no real action, as the alliance lacks the leadership the United States has provided in the past,” Merkel told RIA Novosti.
The NATO-Russia Council was frozen in 2008 in the wake of a brief war between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia. Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian region, Abkhazia, shortly after the war, prompting furious criticism from the West.