Friday, 5 December 2008

A Russian View on NATO Enlargement

I came across this piece today, and found it interesting and worth the read.

MOSCOW, December 2 (RIA Novosti)NATO expansion still relevant, but Georgia, Ukraine have to wait


NATO expansion still relevant, but Georgia, Ukraine have to wait

Even Washington has stopped insisting on the admission of Ukraine and Georgia to NATO's Membership Action Plan (MAP), and the two former Soviet republics' governments have only themselves to blame. They have provided NATO with a perfect formal pretext to refuse them. However, the North Atlantic alliance's expansion is still on the table, according to Fyodor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of the Moscow-based magazine, Russia in Global Affairs.

Ukraine missed its chance of forcing its way into the alliance at the Riga summit 18 months ago, not in Bucharest as one might assume. Moscow was not nearly as determined to prevent its accession to NATO at that point as it is now, and Western Europe had fewer reasons to heed Moscow's opinion anyway, the analyst said.

However, [Ukrainian President] Viktor Yushchenko was at loggerheads with a large part of the country's political elite then, and Western nations could only shrug in dismay at the off-the-wall antics of important politicians in Kiev.Tbilisi tried to play the old "Russian threat" card, and it worked, but for some reason brought the opposite effect, Lukyanov explained. The West believed in the reality of such threat and became genuinely weary of dealing with tarnished Georgian democracy.

The new U.S. government will certainly be as committed to the NATO expansion plan as the outgoing one. The concept of its institutes' further expansion serving peace and stability is too deeply rooted in American political minds.Europe is more cautious, but there is a lot of controversy there on this issue, which is probably part of a larger political issue. France is boosting its leadership in Europe with the help of intricate political moves involving its return to NATO's military organization.

It is likely to engage in certain trade-offs which could change the country's policy.NATO's main dilemma at the moment is not Eastern Europe. Afghanistan is threatening to grow into the world's main armed conflict. Tensions grew in Hindustan after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which is bound to affect the entire region. NATO's future depends on its ability to become an effective instrument in that region much more than on how soon it expands to the post-Soviet countries, Lukyanov concluded.

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