Russia may review its relationship with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as a result of the alliance’s reaction to the Georgia crisis, saying it’s ready for the 26-member military bloc to break off ties completely.
Russia is considering proposals “to alter the volume, quality and timetable of this cooperation,” the country’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, said today in the Black Sea resort of Sochi after meeting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
The relationship has “sharply deteriorated, and we are not to blame for that,” Medvedev said. NATO leaders met in Brussels on Aug. 19 and agreed to downgrade ties with Russia to protest its military action in Georgia.
Russia has agreed to cooperate with NATO in helping move non-military supplies to Afghanistan. The alliance hasn’t yet started to send supplies through a Russian transit corridor, because it has yet to sign deals for moving the cargo with the governments of the Central Asian states lying between Russia and Afghanistan.
“NATO member states are more interested in this cooperation than the Russian state,” Medvedev said, referring to Afghanistan. He added that Russia is ready for any further decision from NATO, up to and including “breaking off the entire relationship. If they break off this cooperation, it will mean nothing bad for us,” Medvedev said.
Since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO has expanded by taking in eastern European countries formerly in the Soviet sphere of influence. There have been two waves of NATO enlargement in 1999 and 2004. Croatia and Albania were invited to join this year.
Russia is unhappy that two more former Soviet republics, Georgia and Ukraine, are seeking to join NATO. Three countries that were constituent republics of the Soviet Union, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, are already alliance members.
“When we are being surrounded from all sides by bases, more states are being drawn into the North Atlantic bloc and we are being told `it’s alright, don’t worry,’ we obviously do not like it,” Medvedev said.
August 25, 2008