Friday, 4 April 2008

Russia Unhappy with NATO on Enlargement

The NATO-Russia Council meeting seems to have been, in the diplomatic phrase a "full and frank exchange of views". Russia is undeniably happy that Georgia and the Ukraine were denied MAPs for NATO membership yesterday, but angered by promises that they would become members in due course. This report tells the story well.

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Russia is deeply worried by NATO's pledge to eventually bring Ukraine and Georgia into the alliance, despite its failure to do so immediately, a senior Russian diplomat said Friday. Sergei Ryabkov, chief of the Russian Foreign Ministry's department for European cooperation, spoke just before President Vladimir Putin sat down for a meeting with NATO leaders on the sidelines of a summit in the Romanian capital.

NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer later said the Russian leader's talks with alliance leaders were "frank and open" and ended on a good note, although there were no major breakthroughs. "It would be wrong to describe it as a clash of views," de Hoop Scheffer said. But he conceded: "It is true that NATO enlargement is a contentious issue. The minds do not exactly meet, to put it mildly."

Ryabkov said Russia's ties with NATO had soured over what he described as the reluctance by the West to listen to its concerns."A culture of searching for solutions on the basis of taking mutual interests into account has been lost," he told reporters.

This sets the scene for an interesting Summit in Sochi on Sunday.

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