NATO, Germany, Russia, and the Future, Part 4

Part 4 of this essay covers the current relationship between NATO and Russia, with policy input from the German side of affairs. It notes both cooperation and distrust present in the multi-state dialogues going on, and points out high and low-water marks.

The Future of NATO, Germany, and Russia

NATO and Russia have had a long and sordid history together, so it is not surprising that NATO and Russia do not agree on nearly every major policy initiative either side broaches. While bright spots of cooperation exist, the over-reaching sense of relations between Russia and NATO are tense and reactionary. The good news for US interests in the region is that German Chancellor Merkel is a known anglophile, and considering Berlin-Washington relations as “essential”, meaning she favors “the idea of a EU-US Transatlantic Free Trade Area over a free trade zone with Russia. ”

Still though, Germany has many issues to consider when dealing with Russia, energy being at the forefront. On the Russian side of the equation, Alexander Rahr, a CSIS scholar writes that Russia has warned the West that changing the states of areas such as Kosovo would be met with reciprocal moves by the Russian federation in separatist republics not recognized by the West. In addition to sovereignty issues, NATO expansion is always sure to enrage the Russians, and would only serve to “reinforce Russia’s anti-Western sentiments. ”Russia, in the last 10 years, and most notably with its excursion into Georgia and moves towards more aggressive energy and security policies, as well as push for the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) primacy in the Euro zone has demonstrated that it will seek to establish its own dominance instead of linking its integration into Europe to NATO and the EU .

In 1997, a unique turnaround from historic relations took place. NATO and the Russian Federation established a forum for “regular consultation on security issues ”, effectively moving aware from traditional methods of “escalating rhetoric, intimidation, and high-stakes maneuvers for dialogue and cooperation. ” A further bright spot was the more recent policy decision by Russia to allow Germany to use Russian railroads to transport NATO goods, this marked the first time the Russians had allowed a NATO ally or NATO goods to be transported on its railroads. ”

Another bright spot in international cooperation was “the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) [which] was established at the NATO-Russia Summit in Rome on 28 May 2002. It replaced the Permanent Joint Council (PJC), a forum for consultation and cooperation created by the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security, which remains the formal basis for NATO-Russia relations. The (NRC) is a mechanism for consultation, consensus-building, cooperation, joint decision and joint action, in which the individual NATO member states and Russia work as equal partners on a wide spectrum of security issues of common interest.”

NATO presented a timeline for notable moments of cooperation from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the formation of the Russian Federation to 2009. The table highlights military cooperation and diplomatic victories for both sides. While Germany is barely expressly mentioned, German leaders in both NATO and the German government have been heavily involved in the processes of integrating Russia into NATO led or partnered activities. (Table taken from NATO’s website on Russian-NATO cooperation).

– Formal relations between NATO and Russia begin when Russia joins the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (later renamed the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council), which was created as a forum for consultation with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe following the end of the Cold War; the Soviet Union actually dissolved during the inaugural meeting of this body
– Russia joins the Partnership for Peace (PfP).
– Russian soldiers deploy as part of the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
-Memorandum of understanding on civil emergency cooperation is signed.
-At a summit in Paris, Russian and Allied leaders sign the NATO-Russia Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security and establish the Permanent Joint Council (PJC)
– Russia establishes a diplomatic mission to NATO.
– Memorandum of understanding on scientific and technological cooperation is signed.
– Russia suspends participation in the PJC for a few months because of NATO’s Kosovo air campaign.
– Russian peacekeepers deploy as part of the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo.
– Vladimir Putin becomes President of Russia and says he will work to rebuild relations with NATO in a “spirit of pragmatism”.
– Broader cooperation in the PJC resumes, following a meeting of NATO and Russian foreign ministers in Florence.
– The nuclear submarine Kursk sinks, highlighting the need for cooperation between NATO and Russia.
– The NATO Information Office opens in Moscow.
– President Putin is the first world leader to call the US President after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The attacks underscore the need for concerted international action to address terrorism and other new security threats. Russia opens its airspace to the international coalition’s campaign in Afghanistan and shares relevant intelligence.
– First high-level conference on the role of the military in combating terrorism is held in Rome.
– NATO opens a Military Liaison Mission in Moscow.
– At a summit in Rome, Russian and Allied leaders sign a declaration on “NATO-Russia Relations: A New Quality” and establish the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) to replace the PJC.
– A joint NATO-Russia Resettlement Centre opens to help discharged Russian military personnel return to civilian life.
– Russia hosts a multinational disaster-response exercise in Noginsk.
– Second high-level conference on the role of the military in combating terrorism is held in Moscow
– NATO and Russia sign an agreement on submarine-crew rescue.
– An NRC meeting is held in Moscow for the first time.
– Russian troops withdraw from the NATO-led peacekeeping forces in the Balkans.
– The NATO Secretary General tries out a new hotline to the Russian defence minister
– The first NRC theatre missile defence command post exercise takes place in Colorado Springs, United States.
– Agreements establish Russian military liaison offices to NATO’s strategic command headquarters
– Russia hosts a multinational disaster-response exercise in Kaliningrad.
– At an NRC meeting of foreign ministers in Istanbul, Russia offers to contribute a ship to NATO’s maritime counter-terrorist operation in the Mediterranean.
– Observers from NRC countries are invited to observe a Russian nuclear-weapons-accident-response field exercise near Murmansk.
– The first NATO interoperability courses are held in Moscow military academies.
– In the wake of several terrorist attacks in Russia, NRC foreign ministers approve a comprehensive NRC Action Plan on Terrorism.
– NATO and Russia exchange letters, agreeing procedures to prepare the way for Russia’s support for Operation Active Endeavour, NATO’s maritime counter-terrorist operation in the Mediterranean.
– NRC foreign ministers issue a common statement concerning the conduct of the Ukrainian presidential elections.
– The second NRC theatre missile defence command post exercise takes place in the Netherlands.
– Russia signs the PfP Status of Forces Agreement.
– NRC defence ministers endorse a “Political-Military Guidance” aimed at developing, over time, interoperability between Russian and Allied forces at the strategic, operational and tactical command levels.
– Russia takes part in a major NATO search-and-rescue-at sea exercise, Sorbet Royal.
– A UK team helps rescue Russian sailors trapped in a submarine off the Kamchatka shore.
– Observers from NRC countries are invited to observe a UK nuclear-weapons-response field exercise in Edinburgh.
– Russian teachers and instructors from the General Staff Academy give the first interoperability courses at the NATO School in Oberammergau.
– The NRC launches a pilot project on counter-narcotics training for Afghan and Central Asian personnel.
– NRC foreign ministers meeting in Sofia agree a set of priorities and recommendations to guide the NRC’s future work.
– Observers from NRC countries are invited to observe a US nuclear-weapons-response field exercise in Wyoming.
– The third NRC theatre missile defence command post exercise takes place in Moscow.
– An NRC civil emergency exercise takes place in Montelibretti, Italy.
– The first Russian frigate deploys to the Mediterranean to support Operation Active Endeavour.
– Observers from NRC countries are invited to observe a French nuclear-weapons-response field exercise.
– Russian parliament ratifies the PfP Status of Forces Agreement
– 10th anniversary of the Founding Act and 5th anniversary of the NRC
– A second Russian frigate deploys in active support of Operation Active Endeavour.
– A computer-assisted exercise takes place in Germany under the NRC theatre missile defence project.
– Russia offers transit to ISAF contributors in support of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operation in Afghanistan.
– Russia takes part in a major NATO search-and-rescue-at sea exercise, Bold Monarch.
Following Russia’s disproportionate military action in Georgia in early August 2008, formal meetings of the NRC and cooperation in some areas are supended. Cooperation continues in key areas of common interest, such as counter-narcotics and the fight against terrorism..
– NATO foreign ministers, meeting in December, agree to pursue a phased and measured approach to re-engagement with Russia.
– NATO foreign ministers, meeting in March, decide to resume formal meetings and practical cooperation under the NRC.
– In December, at the first formal NRC ministerial since the Georgia crisis, foreign ministers take steps to reinvigorate NRC cooperation and agree to launch a Joint Review of 21st Century Common Security Challenges.

Despite these occasional demonstrations of cooperation, Russia remains largely interested in expanding and consolidating its sphere of influence. Russia also “appears to prefer cultivating cooperation with some handpicked allies over foreign links with the entire [NATO] alliance. ” Of course, one of the most recent gripes of Russia concerns the Patriot Missile Battery, which arrived in Poland in early 2010. “A U.S. Patriot missile battery has arrived in Poland as part of an agreement to upgrade the NATO ally’s air defenses, the U.S. embassy said on Monday, in a deployment likely to irritate neighboring Russia. ”

The interesting aspects of the German-NATO-Russia relationship is that Germany has and will continue to pursue partnership with Russia, and due to the desire for reliable energy, will be reluctant to allow for further NATO enlargement into the post-Soviet sphere . The central European powers, such as Poland, will be eager for Russian containment however. Germany also knows it is reliant on the NATO alliance for reliable defense however, so must balance the needs of the alliance to contain Russian power with its own desire to pursue a stronger relationship with Russia.

The recent German views of Russia tend to suspect Russian proclamations regarding European Security and NATO as ardently more dangerous than American analysts would believe. Most of this perception is due to the German reliance on Russian gas, and a desire not to compromise reliable energy. German politicians also believe that not expanding NATO was part of implicit post-war settlement . “From Moscow’s perspective, relations during the 1990’s and early 2000’s involved a string of humiliating experiences in which NATO … exploited temporary Russian weakness … [such as] the non-ratification of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty. ” Further examples of problems are the George W. Bush administration’s bi-lateral agreement between the US and Georgia. The pact could serve to undermine NATO and increase Russian skepticism.
Moscow, in the face of possible future NATO expansion (aside from the German reluctance to expand), is attempting to shift the security focus of Europe eastward. The CSTO and Medvedev proposal to counter the OSCE both show a Russian interest in undermining the focus and important of NATO in Europe. Moscow is also taking advantage of low “moral status of US leadership ” in Europe and attempting to refocus European security on Moscow’s desires.

One of the interesting aspects of the paper produced by Marcel H Van Herpen is his attention to Medvedev singling out the Kellogg-Brigand Pact as a historical referent in the Medvedev proposal. Van Herpen argues that Medvedev initiates this reference in order to try and lay the legal grounding for an expanded regional or continental sphere of exclusive, sovereign interest, similar to the US interest in Panama. Moscow is counting on the support, explicit or implicit of friendly European powers, Germany included. Germany sees the treaty (and its attendant offers of lucrative trade agreements) as necessary for Russian integration with Europe as well as for the further development of Russia, both of which are German policy goals.

Where NATO is concerned, Germany walks a fine line. Berlin is interested in economic integration with Russia, and with integrating Russia into the European architecture. However, Berlin also knows it is reliant on the West and on NATO for comprehensive defense. Chancellor Merkel is friendlier with Washington than she is with Moscow, which would lend her (and an increasing number of German intellectuals) to the skeptical side when viewing Russian policy, however some important members of the German government are Russophiles, which leads to a lively internal debate about policy options. Overall, Germany is balancing its desires to bring Russia closer into the European fold with its practical needs for security and its historical ties to the West.

Further Reading
Alexander Rahr. Germany and Russia: A Special Relationship. By The Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Washington Quarterly. 30:2 pp 142. Spring 2007. © 2007.

Julianne Smith, Andrew C. Kuchins, Thomas Gomart. The NATO-Russia Relationship: Defining Moment or Déjà vu. CSIS/IFRI November 2008 Pg. 1 Article

Ahto Lobjakas. Russia Opens Afghan Transit Route for NATO’s Germany. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. November 21, 2008.>Article

NATO’s Relations With Russia. North Atlantic Treaty Organization. March 26, 2010. Website

Gareth Jones. Patriot Missile Battery Arrives in Poland. Reuters. May 25, 2010. Article

Christopher S Chivvis, Thomas Rid. The Roots of Germany’s Russia Policy. Survival. April – May 2009 Vol. 51 Num. 2 pg. 109 – 110

Oksana Antoneko, Bastian Giegerich. Rebooting NATO-Russia Relations. Survival April – May 2009 Vol. 51 Num. 2 pg. 14

Marcel H Van Herpen. Medvedev’s Proposal for a Pan-European Security Pact: It’s Six Hidden Objectives and How the West Should Respond. Cicero Foundation. October 2008 Article

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