Re-Booting NATO-Russia Relations

MOSCOW – The crisis in Georgia last August tested Europe’s security system, and the system failed to fulfill its core task of ensuring common security for the continent as a whole. As a result, Europe must re-examine its current security arrangements, analyze what happened, and take this analysis into account in reforming those arrangements.

Even before the Georgia crisis, Russia already saw a need to revisit the mechanisms of European security, including its international and regional institutions and their functions. We suggested a new, legally binding treaty system of mutual security guarantees to ensure equal security throughout Europe.

The European Union believes that the Russian initiative is well grounded and has shown interest in launching such a project. There are leaders in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) who are also willing to take part. NATO, however, has stood aside. I was supposed to put forward Russian proposals on the new security concept to the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) last September. But the Alliance refused to hold the scheduled meeting following the Georgia crisis.

When the NRC was created in 2002, it was devised as a mechanism for dialogue, cooperation, and joint decision-making on issues of mutual interest, including non-proliferation and arms control, the fight against terrorism, civil emergency planning, and military-to-military cooperation. The NRC also was supposed to act as a forum for “holding prompt consultations” in crisis situations and to prevent such crises by “early identification of emerging problems.”