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Invite Russia into NATO?

by Fran Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:28:04 AM EST

Der Spiegel has published this debate, written by:

Volker Rühe was Germany's defense minister from 1992 to 1998, retired General Klaus Naumann was inspector general of the German Armed Forces and chairman of the NATO Military Committee, retired Ambassador Frank Elbe was director of the Planning Committee at the German Foreign Ministry and ambassador to India, Japan, Poland and Switzerland, and retired Vice Admiral Ulrich Weisser was director of the Planning Committee at the German Defense Ministry.

Debate: It's Time to Invite Russia to Join NATO - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Trans-Atlantic security needs have changed fundamentally in the last two decades. The East-West confrontation has ended, and Moscow now shares many interests with NATO. It is time for the alliance to open its doors to Russia say German defense experts Volker Rühe, Klaus Naumann, Frank Elbe and Ulrich Weisser.

Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt has noted with concern that many of today's politicians have too little knowledge of history. He could well have added that those same politicians are also frighteningly deficient when it comes to understanding strategic and security issues. In Germany, there is no significant discussion about the future of NATO, its self-image, its strategic concept for the future and the question of how Russia can be included. Berlin is not showing any opinion leadership, nor is it spurring international debate. This has been a disappointment for other members of the alliance, who are asking themselves whether the Germans are afraid of the debate or are simply no longer capable of contributing to it in a forward-looking way.

Europe's security, though, remains a constant task, and new challenges require different responses than in the past. The Euro-Atlantic region needs peace and stability at home, but it also needs protection against external threats. Ultimately, the emergence of a multi-polar world requires finding a way to offset the political, economic and strategic dynamics of the large Asian powers.


and

For this reason, in its internal debate with Eastern European skeptics, NATO must make it clear what the alliance stands to gain if Russia is gradually brought on board as a full member. It will be in the interest of both sides to define concrete interim steps. This could include the NATO countries and Russia issuing a joint declaration, at the beginning of the accession process, to use none of their weapons against each other, and that their nuclear weapons serve only one purpose: to prevent the use of nuclear weapons. On this basis, all Russian tactical nuclear weapons could be withdrawn to central storage facilities, where they would be subject to international monitoring at all times, in return for the withdrawal of American nuclear weapons from Europe. And a joint missile defense system could be installed to protect the territory of NATO countries and Russia.

There is more, best to read the whole article, it should offer enough stuff for an interessting discussion.

NATO has been a topic that has been discussed repeatedly here on ET - so, what do you think of this idea, to invite Russia into NATO?

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As it stands, NATO is a relic of the Cold War and a vehicle for US domination of Europe.  Inviting Russia in would solve both problems and give NATO a new raison d'etre to protect Europe from external domination and internal division and strife.  It could promote Nuclear disarmament, energy security, and greater economic and political cooperation which might ultimately also result in Russia joining the EU.  

I do worry about the history of Authoritarianism in Russia and the lack of a long term and in depth democratic tradition - but are these not precisely the sort of problems that the EU has successfully resolved elsewhere.

There is much talk amongst neo-libs and foreign policy "realists" and others about currency Union not being possible without greater fiscal integration.  Perhaps an analogous issue might be that there can be no political Union without a common security organisation and no Europe can be secure without including Russia in the process.  So perhaps NATO should slowly evolve into being the security arm of the EU - subject to political governance from Brussels rather than Washington.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 07:01:15 AM EST
Frank Schnittger:
I do worry about the history of Authoritarianism in Russia and the lack of a long term and in depth democratic tradition

But wouldn't help integrating Russia into NATO to influence Russia more easily, and help them to become more democratic and less authoritarian?

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 08:15:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In many ways Russia is closer to Europe culturally than the States.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 09:07:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, no, that's unpossible.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 09:09:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Couple this with this month's article in Foreign Policy magazine entitled Let Europe Be Europe: Why the United States must withdraw from NATO (commented here) and NATO goes from being about keeping the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down to being about keeping the Americans out, the Russians in, and the Germans happy.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 09:17:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know Russia or many Russians, but I always got the sense that they looked to Europe as a positive exemplar whereas the US seems to regard Europe as a backward step and instead looks towards Latin America and Asia for its future alliances.

Why has Russia joining the EU (unlike Turkey) never been on the agenda?  Does the opposition come from Russia or from within the EU?  Is the notion of a former superpower becoming "subservient" to Brussels anathema to them?  

Its economy is comparable in size to the other larger EU members.  Its population equivalent to c. Germany and Italy - 140M compared to 500M for the current EU as a whole.  So its not as if it would dwarf the EU in anything but geographical area and access to carbon resources.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 10:08:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The conditions for EU entry - were such a thing to be considered by both the EU and Russia - will not be met by Russia for a long time, unless some special dispensations are allowed.

But I can see new trade agreements and new research cooperation in the near future. Russia's high education levels are important to remember, though there is a language barrier.

One thing that has intrigued me is the cultural value of Russian 'improvisation' born of make do and mend in the Soviet era. St. Petersburg BTW is a great city and highly recommended for a non-tourist visit ( though there is also plenty to gawk at)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 10:20:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See this thread on Ukrainian and Russian EU accession. Especially important is the opinion poll data reported by Sargon:
The very first bar plot is [Russians'] yes answers over time, which started from 59% in Mar 01, peaked at 73% in June 03, and fell down to 30% in Sep 08. The number opposed didn't move so dramatically, from 19 to 10 to 27% today.
Unfortunately we have a generation of EU leaders who just can't shake their cold-war reflexes. As a result, we have been playing a sort of cold-war-lite, to our cost.

At the same time, the EU has been playing carrot and stick with Ukraine, but giving the cold shoulder to them at key points (just like we do to Turkey). And then, when the political pendulum in Ukraine swings and pro-Russia Yanukovich wins the Presidential election and starts making noises about joining a free trade area with Russia, the EU gets all worried that "we're losing Ukraine". Gah.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 10:43:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is the notion of a former superpower becoming "subservient" to Brussels anathema to them?

Yes.

I mean, that's just my guess.  But I really can't see that happening.  And what would be in it for Russia, exactly?  I think Russia occupies a truly unique space, geographically, culturally, historically that is yes, largely "European," but not limited to that.  And it is precisely that uniqueness that gives them leverage.  I think they want to be free to make decisions about their relationship with Iran and China and others in their backyard without having to defer to what is best for Europe.  And at this juncture, there are so many nationalist and Eurasianist movements going on in Russia that I think any move to join the EU would be met with public backlash.

That said, the idea of a pan-European security organization which would include Russia is quite popular there, and probably more necessary in the long term than NATO expansion.


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 11:32:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't see it happening either. In my limited experience Russian culture still has some of that traditional superpower insanity - albeit in a more romantic and less manic form than US culture has.

So, no absorption. But I can imagine closer ties, cooperation, and perhaps an alliance of relative equals.

For the EU, closer ties should be a no-brainer. Even Sarkozy realises this.

The nationalism angle is interesting because it means the US, China and Russia are all in danger of fragmentation, in their own different ways. And parts of the EU - including the UK - aren't necessarily guaranteed to stay put either over the next couple of decades.

If the nationalisms don't become too militantly fascist, it would be interesting to watch the development of an extended cooperative soft-EU that could might parts of Russia, the Middle East, and even some countries in Asia, and would have trade agreements with the saner remnants of the US.

While this looks like another superpower stand-off for now, I think it's more likely in the medium term that the days of imperial superpowers are over.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 11:30:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sven Triloqvist: In many ways Russia is closer to Europe culturally than the States.

I was startled to discover that apparently Russia is much closer to Europe's position on capital punishment than is the United States.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 10:29:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Russians also still believe that both science and the arts (HiCult variety) are sexy ;-)

A lot of Russian TV is Berlusconski-style, but the movie industry is quite healthy. There is also a strong tradition of political music, and there are some very good bands, especially around St P.

I don't understand Russian, but my Russian friends assure me that the comedy is sharp.

Apart from the language, Russian culture is something many Europeans would recognize - all you have to do is to understand that it is played in a minor key. Ordinary Russians are very easy to get on with, and they are proud of their hospitality. The nouveau riche (the ones who come to flaunt their wealth in Finland) are less likable.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 11:09:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd be surprised if, even were they invited, they would agree to join.  While the existence of NATO is not in their best interests, I don't think being a NATO member would be either.  

However, Medvedev has outlined a plan for a new European Security Treaty, which would include Russia, but not America, and it seems to be getting some decent reception.

As for NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, Russian Ambassador to NATO, has contented on his comic horror Twitter feed, "I'll give a million dollars to the person who will prove that NATO is not pursuing military planning against Russia."  

I just don't see this happening.  Furthermore, I'm not sure it should.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 11:12:09 AM EST
Whatever happened to keep your friends close and your enemies closer?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 11:13:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why would it be in Russia's interests to belong to a club where American ultimately calls the shots?


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 11:17:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, clearly the proposal we're discussing is a poison pill for Russia. Look at this:
This could include the NATO countries and Russia issuing a joint declaration, at the beginning of the accession process, to use none of their weapons against each other, and that their nuclear weapons serve only one purpose: to prevent the use of nuclear weapons.
So far so good, we won't use our nukes on each other. Then
On this basis, all Russian tactical nuclear weapons could be withdrawn to central storage facilities, where they would be subject to international monitoring at all times, in return for the withdrawal of American nuclear weapons from Europe.
Russia's weapons get mothballed and US ones get simply relocated?
And a joint missile defense system could be installed to protect the territory of NATO countries and Russia.
Why this obsession with a missile defence that doesn't work and with sites owned and operated by the US?

Admittedly this refers only to tactical nukes and not ICBMs, but still, from a Russian perspective it sounds like a poison pill or a Trojan horse.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 11:30:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a blatant Trojan Horse, IMO.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 11:36:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
LA Times: How to twist Russia's arm: Let it join NATO (August 20, 2008)
Andrew Meier is a former Moscow correspondent for Time magazine and the author of the new book, "The Lost Spy: An American in Stalin's Secret Service."

Anti-Russian fervor threatens to hit fever pitch in Washington this week. In the wake of Russia's military incursion into Georgia, Barack Obama is suddenly doing his best to parrot John McCain's Russophobia. Indeed, the cries to shove Moscow back into the cold are coming from both sides of the aisle: Kick Russia out of the G-8, lock it out of the European Union and the World Trade Organization and, by all means, boycott Vladimir Putin's pet project, Sochi 2014 -- the Winter Olympics slated for a Black Sea venue a short drive from the disputed territory of Abkhazia. On Tuesday, NATO said that continuing normal relations with Russia was impossible and moved to all but scrap the NATO-Russia Council.

Let no one be deceived: Putin has drawn a dangerous new line. Russian troops have trespassed into a sovereign nation for the first time since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. But all such retributive Western campaigns are misguided and, like every attempt to twist Russian arms since the end of the U.S.S.R., sure to backfire.

There's really only one lever left: Invite Russia to join NATO.



En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 11:48:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Theoretically, would they be inviting all partner countries to join?

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 11:15:58 AM EST
We can be brief about this: they want Russia to join NATO to face 'security threats' that do not exist for the EU, or are inflated beyond reason.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 04:04:42 PM EST
Russians have a living memory of Afghanistan. I doubt they'd want to join Team NATO, so they'd be asked to go back.

Of course, I think Afghanistan (and the U.S.) would be in a lot better shape today if the Americans didn't get fight their proxy war there with the Soviets for a decade.

I think a better plan for the Europeans would be to jettison NATO and create an EU defence force with Russia part of the EU.

by Magnifico on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:04:46 PM EST
If it would grind this Cold War cadaver of an organisation into a schreeching halt, then it would be a brilliant idea.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Tue Mar 9th, 2010 at 09:20:31 AM EST


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