NATO-Russian Relations after the Cold War
The relationship between NATO and Russia has continued to grow closer over the last two decades. As a result, the two are narrowing the gap between them and setting aside their differences to establish a common interest. They have developed an institutional mutual trust within their communities to reflect their unity. NATO and Russia interaction after the Cold War includes their cooperation under such institution as the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) that helped build the mutual relationship between the two communities. This signified the collaboration in terms of the joint decision-making and action of the communities. Europe, Russia and U.S. have developed a new strategy to strengthen the trilateral relationship among the communities. They have adjusted their policy-making procedures, opportunities and actions to build a stronger bond between their communities.
Particularly, the relationship between the NATO military alliance and Russia was established in 1991 after the Cold War. Around 1994, Russia joined the partnership for the peace program. During 1990s, both parties signed several significant agreements on corporations. After the signature of the agreement, the relationship between the two started deteriorating due to some reasons that will be discussed further in the essay as well as the consequences of their weak relationship.
State of the Relationship
The NATO-Russia relationship was institutionalized back in 1997. Undoubtedly, the NATO-Russia association has faced issues since its inception. Some parties have viewed this relationship favorably and cooperated whereas others held different ideologies. The relationship between the two communities has derived on the grounds of common foreign and security policies. Moreover, the two countries had their own ideologies and perceptions in respect to security and policy-making cultures. This remains the biggest underlying factor that has resulted in the dissimilarity in their relationships. For instance, Russia had a different opinion about the security of the European states. Russia held a geopolitical understanding of the national security unlike NATO that viewed security in a wider interpretation. This led to the desire of Russia to be a part of the Euro-Atlantic club.
The relationship between NATO and Russia had facilitated the development of various programs that assisted them to solve different problems and increase their cooperation. The Partnership for Peace (PfP) program was among the first initiatives that helped stimulate the relationship between the two communities. The launch of the Permanent Joint Council (PJC) in 1997 and the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) in 2002 aimed to bring the two parties to cooperation and build their mutual trust in defending a common interest.
The Cooperation of the NATO-Russia Relationship
The two countries have shared some similarities and common interest in addressing various issues and problems. The NATO-Russia Council has provided a framework under which the two allies can work together for the sake of a common interest. NATO started the cooperation with Russia to shape the relationship between the two. In turn, this enabled Russia to focus on the common goals of NATO such as peace-making and ending the use of drugs among others.
The NATO-Russia Cooperation in ISAF
ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) was one of the most successful combined efforts of the NATO and Russia due to the fact that they shared the same enemy and planned to end the conflict. The radical Islamist group based in Afghanistan posed a common threat to both Russia and NATO. Additionally, this inspired the two communities to join and work together toward stabilizing the issue of the use of drugs in Afghanistan. However, under the mandate of the United Nations, NATO took the initiative to assist in providing the security force. Russia allowed the transit of NATO freight from the Russian territory to NATO. The latter was given an access to transport their containers to Afganistan with the assistance of Russian rail, road and air transportation. This constituted the contribution of Russia to support NATO in combating the issues prevalent in Afghanistan. Russians collaborated with NATO to ensure efficient transportation of the freight to ISAF. As a result, it led to the opening of the Russian Southern periphery routes. Collaboration between NATO and Russia introduced a new route apart from the one commonly used in Pakistan. Both parties joined their forces to maintain the security defense in the central region of Asia.
The Cooperative Security (WARSAW)
Russia embraced the cooperative approach to security that the NATO advocated for the establishment of the military peace. This contributed to the formation of the Warsaw Pact among several communist countries. Russians supported the aim of the NATO to provide transformation and security among those countries. The West with the support of NATO secured the accession of Moscow. The countries were to be secured as long as they agreed to be the members of the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances. Russia and NATO agreed to maintain the security of the Warsaw. Moreover, the mobilization of the Eastern Europe to oppose NATO’s effort and support in providing resources increased the interest of Russia to collaborate with NATO. Finally, Russia and NATO found a common ground for collaboration toward opposing the Germans. The Warsaw Pact had more power than NATO deeming it powerless unless NATO would collaborate with Russia. Thus, they could control the German influence and power.
Through the charter of American-Russian Partnership and Friendship (1992), NATO encouraged the creation of a stronger Euro-Atlantic body that aimed at peacekeeping. In fact, through the help of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, the peace between the two communities was maintained. They joined their forces toward the promotion of security among the conflicting countries. Later, NATO advocated for an international security among different nations, which entailed mutual and cooperative security among the nations. Moscow was the major target of both NATO and Russia in terms of maintaining peace between the two parties. Foreign Minister of Russia, Andrei Kozyrev, supported the idea of the international relationship between Russia and NATO countries. He urged Russian government to join the democratic states, which became a new goal of Russia and NATO and thus, they both aligned their policies with the standards to maintain peace and collaboration.
The European Missile Mission
The missile defense experienced in Europe was considered to build a mutual relationship and improve the collaboration between NATO and Russia. The main issue that NATO faced was the effect of Ukraine and Georgia on the security of Europe. In 2008, Russia opposed the idea of NATO’s expansion into the Western Europe. Border expansion was viewed as a breach in the military bloc of Europe, which resulted in Russia’s fury. Both Russia and NATO were in favor of the anti-missile policy as a defense system. Consequently, by 2014 most countries had agreed to adopt the missile defense system introduced by NATO. United States, Russia, Poland and Syria also moved toward the acceptance of the anti-missile defense system that was launched by NATO.
Reasons for Poor Relationship
One of the major reasons for the deterioration of the relationship between Russia and NATO was Russian war with Georgia. This led to North Atlantic Council condemning Russia for invading Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia that were independent states. General Secretary of NATO claimed that Russia’s invasion of Abkhazia and South Ossetia violated numerous UN Security Council resolutions. However, Russia believed that its actions were just in line with the UN Charter, the CSCE Helsinki Final Act of 1975. Due to this difference in opinions, the relationship between the Russia and NATO weakened.
In 2009, NATO expelled two Russian diplomats over accusations of espionage. Dmitry Medvedev, President of Russia, stated that this escalated the tension that already existed because of the military exercise in Georgia proposed by NATO. Expulsion of these two Russian diplomats made the relationship go astray as both parties shared same bad attitudes toward each other, which was against their agreement.
Another factor that led to a weak relationship between NATO and Russia was Russian assurance that NATO had the Cold War mentality even though the war ended twenty years ago. NATO did not appreciate the belief that Russia held about them. As a result, during the Wales Summit the government of NATO communicated a bold message to Russia, which entailed that the alliance did not seek confrontation and posed no threat to Russia. However, they were not ready to compromise the principles of the alliance and security in Europe and North America. The mentality of Russians will eventually lead to a cease of the relationship.
Russia thought that NATO was the geographical project of U.S. This belief was not regarded well by the countries that formed NATO, which believed that the decision of any country to take part in NATO-led operations belongs to that country alone. According to its legal procedures, no member of the alliance can decide on the deployment of any other ally’s forces. Many of these nations believed that Russia was viewing them as junior members in the alliance with NATO and this worsened their exisitng relationship with the country.
Another reason for the deterioration of the relations between NATO and Russia was the fact that there was an imbalance of powers between U.S. and Russia. This was attributed to the overall lack of mutual interest between the two. The issue of missile defense that was considered a common concern turned out to be irreconcilable, which further weakened their relationship.
It is noteworthy to say that NATO is claimed to have built a stable relationship between the member countries and Russia. The nuclear program in Iran was considered a step toward increasing a conflict between Iran and U.S. Missile defense was viewed as a strategy to make the countries vulnerable toward other NATO states rather than protect them from an attack. Hence, given the U.S. strategy of missile defense, Russia feared for countries such as Iraq and Syria making their enemy weak and vulnerable.
Effects of Weak Relationship
Due to the weak connection between NATO and Russia, the latter tried to annex and destabilize Eastern Ukraine. Eventually, this caused the state foreign ministers of NATO to suspend all regular military and civil cooperation with Russia except the activitites of the Council, which was the highest decision-making body of the alliance. Some of the members even proposed that the relationship between NATO and Russia was ceased entirely.
The weak relationship between Russia and NATO have existed in both political and ideological dimensions, especially during Putin’s third term office. This has made Russian president continue claiming the leadership of the post-Soviet region by presenting Moscow as the protective power of the entire Russian-speaking cultural community and questioning the inviolability of state borders.
Weak relationship led to the divergence in opinions held by both parties regarding the missile defense project in Poland and Czech Republic. U.S. President Barack Obama proposed the cancelation of the project in the former two countries through raising awareness of Poland about the danger associated with the missile defense project. In return, Russian government has interpreted this as a threat to its national security.
Distant relations between Russia and NATO led to the establishment of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC). This council allowed both Russia and NATO members to discuss as well as try to solve the questions on the approach to security. The committee sought assistance in reducing the nature of the conflict that existed between these two partners even though it did not fully succeed.
Although improving cooperation between these two parties is laudable, the matters of a dispute remain to date. For example, considering the public fight against terrorism, the West perceives most of the Palestine’s movements as the actions of a terrorist group. Primary prerequisite for the better relations between Russia and the West is their mutual effort to understand and take each other seriously. Furthermore, Russia should realize that the U.S. policy is not necessarily the same as the policy of NATO.
Since the end of the Cold War, the tension between Russia and NATO can be attributed to various factors. Political ideology and military power have been the main issues that the countries continue to overcome to date. Each party has its own opinion when it comes to building of the military forces and providing security protection. They fail to consent on the main course of action that must be taken. Standard security problems and challenges require a mutual effort toward eradication of the problem. Cooperation between Russia and NATO needs to be mutual and comprehensive in order to tackle the issues of insecurity and military defense. This will help ensure that the Euro-Atlantic zone attains the required security protection and system. Lastly, the two allies can put away their differences and join their forces to fight a common enemy as well as they did in ending the issue of drugs in Afghanistan. Therefore, Russia and NATO should revise their differences and work together toward maintaining global peace and democracy.