Sunday, 6 April 2008

US-Russia Strategic Framework

The full text of the Strategic Framework is too long to post here, but can be accessed at the International Herald Tribune website.

Strategic Framework on Non-Proliferation

Beyond the arms control section of the Framework, the two leaders agreed a section on their non-proliferation agenda. While this is largely an inventory of existing actions such as UN Security Council negotiations on Iran, UNSCR 1540, and other items, there are one or two worth highlighting.

In particular, the two countries commitment to selling nuclear power technology around the world, especially MOX plutonium fuel under the GNEP, runs directly counter to non-proliferation objectives - especially the aim of preventing nuclear terrorism. Dramatically extending sources of enriched uranium and plutonium (however down-blended) around the globe will only make it easier for terrorists to obtain such material. The power stations will also produce waste that could be used for dirty bombs.

The decalaration reads:

Preventing the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction

We recognize the profound importance of preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. We must prevent such weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists and those who support them. To this end, our two countries will provide global leadership on a wide range of cooperative efforts that will advance our common nonproliferation goals. These will include new approaches focused on environmentally-friendly technologies that will support economic growth, promote the expansion of nuclear energy, and create a viable alternative to the spread of sensitive nuclear fuel cycle technologies.

NPT: We confirm our continuing support for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and are committed to its strengthening. We will cooperate in preparing and ensuring a successful outcome of the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

Declaration on Nuclear Energy and Nonproliferation: On July 3, 2007 we issued a declaration on joint actions to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime and to promote the expansion of nuclear energy worldwide. We are working together and with other nations to develop mutually beneficial approaches for economical and reliable access to nuclear energy designed to permit states to gain the benefits of nuclear energy and to create a viable alternative to their acquisition of sensitive fuel cycle technologies.

As nations with secure, advanced nuclear capabilities, we will provide assistance to countries considering nuclear energy in the development of the necessary infrastructure (including nuclear reactors), consider ways for facilitating financing, and will ensure, inter alia, provision of fresh fuel and spent fuel management.

International Uranium Enrichment Center: The Russian Federation has announced, and the U.S. has expressed support for, an initiative to create a global nuclear energy infrastructure that would provide for effective access to the benefits of nuclear energy. As the first step, Russia and Kazakhstan have established on the territory of Russia the International Uranium Enrichment Center.

Global Nuclear Energy Partnership: We are working with a wide range of other states to develop the next generation of civil nuclear capability that will be safe and secure, improve the environment, and reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation. GNEP is aimed at accelerating the development and deployment of advanced fuel cycle technologies including recycling that do not involve separating plutonium. Such advanced technologies, when available, would substantially reduce nuclear waste, simplify its disposition, and draw down existing inventories of civilian spent fuel in a safe, secure and proliferation resistant manner.

INPRO: The Russian Federation and the U.S. support the IAEA Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO) that has brought together both the states with developed nuclear technology and states running small-scale nuclear programs or just developing plans for peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Reliable Access to Nuclear Fuel: Recognizing the need for an assured fuel supply, both the U.S. and Russia have committed to creating reliable access to nuclear fuel.

Reserve of low enriched uranium: The Russian Federation is working on the establishment of a stockpile of low enriched uranium to be available to the IAEA for ensuring reliable nuclear fuel supply.

Blending Down Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU): The U.S. is downblending 17.4 MT of excess HEU from its defense programs and is pledging $50 million to support establishment of an IAEA international fuel bank to ensure reliable supplies of nuclear fuel.

Iran: We remain committed to political and diplomatic efforts to find a negotiated solution guaranteeing that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes. We reiterate the necessity for Iran to comply with the requirements of the IAEA Board of Governors and United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1737, 1747, and 1803, including full and verifiable suspension of enrichment-related and reprocessing activities. We affirm our commitment on the way forward as expressed in the March 3, 2008 statement by the P5+1 Foreign Ministers. Russia's agreement to deliver nuclear fuel and take back spent fuel from Iran's nuclear reactor at Bushehr is a welcome step that provides Iran a civil nuclear power capability without the need for the indigenous enrichment of uranium or reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.

North Korea: We reaffirm our full support for the Six-Party Talks and will continue our cooperation in accordance with the agreements reached at the Six-Party Talks and the provisions of UNSC Resolution 1718 on the nuclear weapons and nuclear programs of North Korea in order to achieve the ultimate goals of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Agreement for Cooperation in Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy: We will sign in the near future and work to bring into force the bilateral agreement between the Russian Federation and the United States that was initialed on June 29, 2007. This agreement will create the necessary legal basis for our cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy and will permit the expansion of such cooperation. It will allow U.S. and Russian companies to partner in joint ventures, and transfer nuclear materials, reactors and major reactor components between our two countries. It is critical to facilitating U.S.-Russian further cooperation under bilateral programs and initiatives in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy, including the Declaration on Nuclear Energy and Nonproliferation of July 3, 2007, and the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership.

Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism: The Global Initiative we launched in July 2006 has grown to include 67 participating countries plus the European Union and the IAEA as observers. Participating states are cooperating in strengthening their individual and collective capabilities to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear materials, to deny them safe haven and financial and other support, to share information on terrorist activities, to cooperate on law enforcement matters, and to deal with the consequences of an attack. We will continue to expand and strengthen this initiative and fully implement the agreed program of work.

Nuclear Security: We will complete our agreed-to nuclear security upgrades under the Bratislava Nuclear Security Initiative by the end of 2008. We look forward to these upgraded systems continuing to reliably serve their purpose for the years to come. The Senior Interagency Group will report back annually on implementation of the agreed actions under the Bratislava Initiative on emergency response, best practices, security culture, research reactors, and nuclear security upgrades. We will work together to share our nuclear security best practices with other nations, including through international fora.

Proliferation Security Initiative: We reaffirm our commitment to the Proliferation Security Initiative, which constitutes an important means to deter and prevent trafficking in WMD, their delivery means and related materials. We will work cooperatively to prevent and disrupt proliferation finance, in furtherance of the objectives of UNSCR 1540.

Sochi Declaration on Arms Control and Disarmament

President's Putin and Bush have agreed a Strategic Framework declaration. There is substantial content on arms control between the two countries.

There is no commitment to continuing the Moscow Treaty past 2012, but there is a commitment to continuing to negotiate a legal framework to continue the START I Treaty after its 2009 expiration. This is problematic as the Russian Duma and the US Senate will have to ratify any deal, and time is running very short, but since the Bush administration has been adamantly hostile to arms control this volte-face is to be welcomed.

There is also a commitment to examining existing short and intermediate range ballistic missiles and how to reduce threats from them, as well as from cruise missiles. This is positive, but falls far short of constructive Russian ideas like the globalisation of INF.

In short, this Framework is a shopping list of things that could be done, rather than a set of commitments to actually act. But it's not a bad shopping list. The text that deals with arms control reads:

Promoting Security

We acknowledge that today's security environment is fundamentally different than during the Cold War. We must move beyond past strategic principles, which focused on the prospect of mutual annihilation, and focus on the very real dangers that confront both our nations. These include especially the threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. Reflecting the changed nature of our strategic relationship, we will take steps together to counter these new and emerging challenges.


We have reiterated our intention to carry out strategic offensive reductions to the lowest possible level consistent with our national security requirements and alliance commitments.

Substantial reductions of strategic offensive forces have been carried out under the START Treaty, which served as a key instrument in this context. The Moscow Treaty was an additional important step and remains in effect. We will continue development of a legally binding post-START arrangement.

We are fully committed to the goals of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and consider the arrangement we are pursuing to be a further step in implementing our commitments under Article VI of the Treaty.

Missile Defense:

We discussed the issue of missile defense. Both sides expressed their interest in creating a system for responding to potential missile threats in which Russia and the United States and Europe will participate as equal partners.

The Russian side has made clear that it does not agree with the decision to establish sites in Poland and the Czech Republic and reiterated its proposed alternative. Yet, it appreciates the measures that the U.S. has proposed and declared that if agreed and implemented such measures will be important and useful in assuaging Russian concerns.

We agreed to intensify our dialogue after Sochi on issues concerning MD cooperation both bilaterally and multilaterally.

INF Treaty: Taking note of our Joint Statement on the INF Treaty at the sixty-second session of the UN General Assembly, we will engage in a high-level dialogue to analyze current and future intermediate-range and shorter-range ballistic and cruise missile threats and inventory options for dealing with them.

CFE and Other Items: [] We will work together to address serious differences in areas where our policies do not coincide, including NATO expansion; development of a package solution that helps restore the viability of the CFE regime and prompt ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty by all the States Parties; and certain military activities in space.

Putin Optimistic

Speaking at a post-Summit press conference today, President Putin said of the US attitude on missile defences that"

"Our partners not only understand our concerns but are also striving to lift them. I have a cautious optimism about agreement," Putin said. "The devil is as usual in detail. It is important that our experts agreed what confidence-building measures there will be and how they will be carried out in reality."

Putin on Relations with NATO

President Putin said this on Friday about relations between NATO and Russia:

“The effectiveness of our cooperation will depend on the extent to which NATO respects the interests of the Russian Federation and the Alliance’s willingness to compromise on issues shaping the strategic environment in Europe and the world.”

With the caveat that it would be helpful for Russia to stop threatening to target Europe with nuclear weapons if the President wants this kind of cooperation, this sounds like a good formula. Let us hope, when we see the full Sochi declaration, that both sides have been able to apply this flexibility.

US-Russia Declaration on Missile Defence

Reuters has the first quote available from the US-Russia Summit in Sochi:

"We discussed the issue of missile defense. Both sides expressed their interest in creating a system for responding to potential missile threats in which Russia, and the United States and Europe will participate as equal partners."

"The Russian side has made clear that it does not agree with the decision to establish sites in Poland and the Czech Republic and reiterated its proposed alternative."

"Yet it (Russia) appreciates the measures that the United States has proposed and declared that if agreed and implemented such measures will be important and useful in assuaging Russian concerns."

"We agreed to intensify our dialogue after Sochi on issues concerning missile defense cooperation both bilaterally and multilaterally," the declaration stated.

Missile Defence Deal?

The bush administration had hoped that they were close to a deal with Russia on missile defences. The so-called "2+2" talks, with US and Russian defence and foreign ministers negotiating a text had been pushing forward.

The US had let it be known that the package included confidence building measures such as reciprocal monitoring visits at each other's missile defence sites; linking US and Russian systems; not switching the US system in Europe on until iran tested a strategic missile, and some other matters.

The Russians had expressed interest, while questioning why the US would compare their tactical missile defence sites to the global US system. Now, however, the deal appears pretty far away. White House briefer Dana Perrino said yesterday that:

We're going to have to do more work after Sochi. No one has said that everything would be finalized and everyone would be satisfied with all the preparations, because we haven't even started to work on the technical aspects of the system. We're still on the early part of these discussions; they've just actually recently started in diplomatic time frame.

This doesn't actually contradict things that the administration was saying only a few days ago, but the tone is much more downbeat. Does this mean there are real problems, or that they are managing expectations to allow for a "successful" Summit, at least in the spin stakes. After all, they managed to take a NATO communique that said NATO would make a decision about missile defence after 2009 and persuade the press that it said NATO has already endorsed missile defences.

The Sochi Agenda

The Christian Science Monitor says that:

Amid the fabled sea-and-mountain scenery of Sochi, the two outgoing presidents will share a few hours of candid conversation likely to touch on the cold-war-era START arms control treaty, set to expire next year, and possibly Kosovo and Iran – in addition to missile defense.

But any experts say the accord they plan to sign would be rather thin without substantive progress on at least one major issue.

"The strategic framework is a strange document that sounds impressive, conveys the idea of dynamic forward movement in the relationship, but is legally nonbinding," says Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs, a leading foreign-policy journal. "The problem that faces them is to produce some real achievements."

What does all this mean?

Well, will the verification provisions of the START I agreement be renewed? The US intelligence community certainly hope so, although the more ideological members of the President's administration oppose this. Will the Moscow Treaty limits be extended beyond 2012? Weak as they are, that would be a good thing. Will there be progress on the CFE Treaty? Maybe. NATO has showed some give, and it is absolutely in Russia's interest to reduce conventional force levels across the NATO area.

There are a raft of issues that could benefit from some real diplomacy between these two leaders and their successors. After 7 1/2 years of dismissing arms control as worthless, perhaps the Bush administration can undo some of the damage they have done to global security by providing a basis for future nuclear arms reductions before the President retires to Crawford.

What's on in Sochi - 2

Jeff Lindemyer at the Nukes of Hazard blog has a good take on the upcoming Sochi meeting. It's worth reading in full, but here's a taster:

George W. Bush and Russian President Valdimir Putin are scheduled to meet this Sunday in the Russian city of Sochi to discuss missile defense and a multi-point strategic framework document to guide U.S.-Russian relations in the near and medium term. Sunday’s meeting comes on the heels of this week’s NATO summit in Bucharest, and will be the last scheduled meeting between Bush and Putin as heads of state.

Reports have been circulating during the past few weeks that recent talks between U.S. and Russian officials, including a visit to Moscow by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates last month, have closed the gap between the two countries on missile defense.

What's On in Sochi?

Dana Perrino, the White House spokesperson says:

So there are several meetings tomorrow -- well, I shouldn't say "several," two meetings in the morning and then a press avail, and then the working lunch. This is an opportunity for both Presidents to have a broad range of discussion on many of the issues they've been both working on over the past eight years. And as you recall, President Bush said that when he talked to President Putin and suggested this idea in a letter, of working together to put down in words the range of issues that they work on together, so that the next Presidents -- the Russian one will obviously take office before ours does in January 2009 -- that they would have a nice, smooth transition and be able to continue the cooperation on the major areas, of which -- let me just remind you of the four broad areas: security cooperation, non-proliferation, counterterrorism, and economic issues.

I anticipate that the leaders tomorrow will continue to have discussions on all of those areas, while they also deepen and broaden the relationship, before handing it off to the next Presidents.

So, what will com of all this, and will the much vaunted Strategic Framework amount to anything?

Friday, 4 April 2008

NATO Summit on Nuclear Weapons

The Communiqué paragraphs concerning nuclear weapons, arms control and disarmament are interesting and out of the ordinary for NATO.

We reaffirm that arms control, disarmament and non proliferation will continue to make an important contribution to peace, security, and stability and, in this regard, to preventing the spread and use of Weapons of Mass Destruction and their means of delivery. We took note of the report prepared for us on raising NATO’s profile in this field. As part of a broader response to security issues, NATO should continue contributing to international efforts in the area of arms control, disarmament and non proliferation, and we task the Council in Permanent Session to keep these issues under active review.

The Alliance has reduced both its conventional forces significantly from Cold War levels and has reduced nuclear weapons assigned to NATO by over 90%. Allies have also reduced their nuclear arsenals. France has reduced the types of its nuclear systems to two, the number of its nuclear delivery vehicles by over half, and has announced it will reduce the number of its nuclear warheads to fewer than 300, with no other weapons beside those in its operational stockpile. The United Kingdom has reduced to one nuclear system, and has reduced the explosive power of its nuclear stockpile by 75%, and its number of operationally available nuclear warheads to fewer than 160. The United States has reduced its nuclear weapon stockpile to less than 25% of its size at the height of the Cold War, and decreased tactical nuclear weapons assigned to NATO by nearly 90%.

This statement is notable as it does not reiterate the Alliance’s usual position that nuclear weapons are an essential element of Alliance security and an indispensable part of the trans-Atlantic link. Germany and Norway have been pressing the Alliance for a comprehensive review of arms control policy, and it appears that this continues. It is notable while the Alliance reports its and its members achievements in reducing their nuclear forces since the end of the Cold War, there is no statement of future action. NATO has, in the past, actively used arms control and nuclear reductions to enhance its security and that of the whole of Europe. In this context, it is disappointing not to see active support for vital non-proliferation and disarmament measures like the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Fissile Material Cut-Off treaty. It is to be hoped that with the departure of President Bush, US and NATO policy can become more forward leaning in this area.

Australia Satisfied With NATO Summit

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was in Bucharest this week as Australia has forces committed to ISAF in Afghanistan. The Australian reports that he was generally satisfied with is part in proceedings, but notes that serious problems remain in NATO's counter-insurgency effort.

KEVIN Rudd has left Bucharest satisfied with the NATO summit and taking a share of the credit for the organisation's new strategic vision for Afghanistan.

NATO's new strategy promises that member countries will provide commanders with the tools needed for success by "filling remaining shortfalls including forces, training teams, and enablers". NATO leaders' Bucharest declaration pledges: "We will provide maximum possible flexibility of use of our forces by the ISAF commander."

But for most of the 40 countries, including non-NATO states, that have deployed troops to Afghanistan, "flexibility" does not extend to combat operations.

Putin on Iran

A source in the Russian delegation said today that Putin told NATO that "No one can seriously think that Iran would dare attack the United States. Instead of pushing Iran into a corner, it would be far more sensible to think together how to help Iran become more predictable and transparent.

Now wouldn't that be a sensible way to deal with the threat of proliferation by Iran. Talk to them, rather than scaring them into a dash for the bomb. But President Bush would rather flex his muscles.

NATO-Russia Issues Postponed to Sochi

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told the post-NATO-Russia Council press conference that "The discussion was frank and open, there was no hiding of views but the spirit was positive."

It was always likely once the Bush-Putin Summit had been agreed to that the NATO event would lose some of its sting. However, it didn't pass off entirely without incident. According to Russian website Kommersant, Mr Putin told NATO that the appearance of a military bloc close to Russia's borders was a direct threat to Russian security.

At the same time there was some political progress. While NATO had hoped for land and air transit of troops and supplies on their way to Afghanistan, the Russian leader granted access through his country only by land and only for equipment and supplies. Still, that was something NATO leaders welcomed.

Putin also reportedly expressed a willingness to negotiate with NATO on a return to full operation of the Adapted CFE Treaty, suspended by Russia late last year.

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.

The American Right Hits Out

The Wall Street Journal, a house organ for the neo-cons, doesn't like what it saw in Bucharest yesterday. Matthew Kaminski's article accuses Germany of being "the new France", and for an American right winger there is no worse insult (American nationalists of Mr Kaminski's stripe appear to have forgotten the US owes its existence to France and Lafayette). He begins:

European security is supposed to be last century's problem. Tell that to Ukraine and Georgia, which had their bids to join the West effectively vetoed by Russia at yesterday's unusually dramatic summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In the halls of Ceausescu's Palace of the People, American idealism squared off against a belligerent Kremlin and its chief European proxy, Germany. The U.S. lost this battle. The clear victor in Bucharest was Russia's Vladimir Putin, who wasn't even in town.

While Summit results were mixed for the Bush administration, it is stretching credulity to suggest that everything went Russia's way. But if you work for a newspaper that persists in regarding the invasion and occupation of Iraq as a triumph, then reality must be a little skewed in other areas too.

A Russian View on the NATO Summit

Kommersant carries a long and useful analysis of Summit events:

The NATO summit in Bucharest closed its official part yesterday. In one day, “the summit of hopes”, as it was called before, turned into a summit of frustrated hopes. Georgia and Ukraine failed to obtain the Membership Action Plan; neither was Macedonia accepted into the alliance. Some experts regard these decisions of NATO as the Kremlin diplomacy’s triumph. However, Russia has rather lost at the summit in Bucharest: the decision to deploy missile defense system in Europe, adopted by the alliance, bears graver consequences for Moscow than Tbilisi’s and Kiev’s temporary defeat. Kommersant’s special correspondent Olga Allenova reports from Bucharest.

Russian Nuclear Weapons for Belarus?

Lithuanian paper Respublika is summarised in English by Ria Novosti on the possibility of a nuclear defence link between Russia and Belarus.

The media are quoting Belarusian political analysts as saying that Washington is violating the 2004 Budapest memo under which signatories may not impose sanctions against Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan; this violation could provoke Minsk into a renouncement of nuclear neutrality. "Experts are emphasizing that this does not mean that Belarus will go nuclear. But Minsk will receive a legal opportunity to host Russian nuclear weapons on its territory. Now, if the United States toughens its economic sanctions, Belarus will be able not only to use this 'nuclear right,' but also to demand that Russia should extend such a guarantee to all members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization." (Respublika, March 29).

In truth, NATO would be hard put to object to such a development without the strong taint of hypocrisy. The United States maintains around 350 nuclear weapons in Europe. A good proportion of those are allocated for the use of nominally non-nuclear NATO states in time of war. Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Turkey all train their air forces for nuclear missions under NATO's nuclear sharing programme. The US stores B61 bombs at these nations air bases andcould hand the weapons over if NATO was attacked.

This Cold War arrangement has been severely criticised at Non-Proliferation Treaty meetings as fundamentally against the treaty obligations of these countries. This is not the first time that Belarus has been suspected of wanting to enter into a similar arrangement with Russia. NATO needs to end nuclear sharing immediately, and look for ways to eliminate the US arsenal in Europe. Then, and only then, could they address this subject from the high ground.

Press Summary from Former Soviet States

Ria Novosti carries summaries of news stories from a wide range of states of the Former Soviet Union. here is a flavour, they are all extremely concerned (indeed almost exclusively concerned) with Russia's influence in their region and NATO-Russia relations.


Commentators believe that participants in the Bucharest summit may concentrate on the Russian President. "For the first time, Putin promised to grace the summit with his presence... Everyone is waiting to see what he will do. He may wreck the summit." (Neatkariga Rita Avize, March 27).

The national press is indignant at Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for reprimanding the Latvian government for allowing a march by former legionnaires of the Latvian Waffen SS battalion. "The Russian foreign minister hurled one more slanderous accusation against the Latvian Republic... Lavrov should not blame the mirror for showing a crooked face. The U.S.S.R. was number one aggressor in Finland, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania...


Many authors are emphasizing that Moscow has lost its dominant role amongst the post-Soviet republics. "Ukraine's NATO entry may be either delayed or precipitated, but Russia will not be able to influence it. Russia has no opportunities for blackmail - the gas wars of the last three years have shown that Russia depends on Ukraine for gas as much as Ukraine depends on Russia... Russia lost all levers of influence over Ukraine when it ceased to be not only a Soviet-style global power but even a regional leader. It has lost its key role in the post-Soviet space." (Delo, March 31).


The press is writing that President Bush accepted Putin's invitation to make a lightning visit to Sochi after the Bucharest NATO summit because both leaders want to create a favorable background for bilateral relations before they are replaced by their successors. "They will hardly resolve all their differences at once, and for this reason their main task is to alleviate the worst of these...


The media claim that Russia should understand that it needs a strong Armenia and not worsen the dependent position of its strategic ally. In connection with this, certain hopes are set on the new Russian president. "By gradually depriving Yerevan of its independence, Moscow is loosing a strong partner on the international scene. Russia should not try to turn Armenia into an obedient and dependent country, but rather help it become a regional power that will help defend Russia's interests...


The press notes that Russia has managed to split NATO into two camps - the United States and "the new Europe" support inviting Tbilisi and Kiev to join NATO, while Western Europe opposes it because it is afraid of Russia's negative reaction. "The bid by Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO is a headache... If rapprochement with Ukraine and Georgia is postponed, there will be no improvement in the situation, while Russia's reaction will not become less hostile in the future." (Zerkalo, Apil 1).


The media warn that the Kremlin's flirtation with nationalist groups can lead to Russia's break-up. "Regrettably, there are a number of state figures in Russia who support the ethnic supremacy of the Russian people in the hierarchy of the peoples of Russia. The authorities themselves set up the moderate nationalist party Rodina, which quickly became not so moderate.

Russia Quietly Pleased at Georgia, Ukraine Decision

Russian website Kommersant carries an interview with Russian Ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, who is quietly pleased that Georgia and the Ukraine were not accorded MAPs for NATO membership yesterday.

Are you pleased that NATO did not decide to present Georgia and Ukraine with membership action plans?

Its was a predictable decision. We understand that there was a tense discussion in NATO. Formulae were mouthed to the end so as not to offend anybody. The decision stems from an analysis of the situation in Georgia and Ukraine. NATO, of course, would like to make a bold political decision on membership action plans, but n o one wants to make another's headaches one's own.

Macedonian Rebuff Raises Tensions

Reuters carries an interesting story about the potential negative effects of the Greek veto of NATO membership for Macedonia.

"This (NATO decision) will have negative consequences. The Macedonian government will face pressure from inside and outside," Albanian political analyst Mentor Nazarko said of Nato's decision. Nazarko said NATO's decision would make Macedonia "vulnerable" to regional powers such as Greece and Serbia who he said wanted Macedonia weakened.


Political analysts said NATO's decision could play into the hands of Macedonian nationalists, enabling them to say compromises with the Albanian minority had served no purpose. The analysts said the decision could also strengthen nationalists in Serbia, which holds a parliamentary election next month, and anti-Western parties in Serbia who like to play up their friendly ties with Greece. "They will start banging the drum to exploit this ahead of the May election, saying Greece can help Serbia over (breakaway Albanian-majority) Kosovo," the analyst said.

No-one is suggesting that the almost war of 2001 will start over, but inter-community tensions in Macedonia seem certain to rise.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

The Economist on NATO Summit

The Economist has an interesting article on the NATO Summit. It begins:

THE NATO summit in Bucharest was meant to be a celebration of France's full return to the fold and a show of long-term commitment to stabilising Afghanistan. Instead it turned into a particularly rancorous dispute about matters closer to home: how far and how fast NATO should continue to expand, and how it should deal with a more aggressive Russia.

The article is the usual well informed fare from the Economist, with some interesting anecdotes from the Summit. Well worth the read.

Murdoch Papers Criticize UK Contribution to Summit

So what does Gordon Brown think about NATO enlargement? The Times had plenty to say about that today:

In this debate, one voice has been notably, embarrassingly, absent. Gordon Brown, attempting to sit on the fence, has missed a huge opportunity. He could have taken a lead in explaining to Moscow the need for a Europe-wide alliance. He could have shamed Germany into a more robust defence of freedom in the East. And he could have urged sharper diplomacy on Mr Bush. Britain must remain at the heart of Nato in its new role. Instead, it has slunk to the sidelines, letting other determine strategy and policy. Mr Brown has put himself and his country at the heart of this Nato summit's historic non-decision.

There has, in fact, been very little from the Prime Minister or the UK in the media this week. Why is the British Government so silent in an Alliance it claims to value so much?

The Prime Minister's most recent briefing on NATO simply says:

The PMS gave an update on who the Prime Minister would be having meetings with at the NATO Summit. There would be a bilateral with the Romanian President and he was then meeting with the Danish Prime Minister. Danish and UK troops were in the same area of operation in Afghanistan, so they would be discussing related issues.

There would be a working dinner this evening, preceded by a gathering of Heads of State for various bilateral discussions.

Where is the big policy speech? Where is the vision for the future of NATO? Where is the explanation for the British people of what a 21st Century NATO is for? The Prime Minister must be worried that Rupert Murdoch thinks he has let the side down.

When Will France Decide?

France 24 has an interesting report on the possibility of French re-entry into NATO's integrated military command.

France could return to NATO’s integrated military command next year, said French President Nicolas Sarkozy during the alliance’s summit in Bucharest.

"Let Europe's defense pole advance and we will continue to advance toward NATO. I repeat, these are two things that go together, not one or the other, so let's wait for the summit" in 2009, he said.

According to a speech handed out by his office, Sarkozy had been ready to tell NATO leaders here that France would decide when to reintegrate after its presidency of the European Union ends on December 31.

"After the French presidency, the time will have come to conclude this process, and to take the necessary decisions for France to take its full place in the structures of NATO," the prepared speech said.

Sarkozy dropped the sentence when he delivered his remarks, but later told reporters that he stood by the text of the speech.

So why did he drop the text? And what really are the chances of significant developments of the ESDP and EU military capabilities in the next 12 months? Is this French reintegration going to go the way of President Chirac's initiative in the 1990s?

ISAF Strategy Published

NATO leaders have published a strategy for the NATO-led ISAF - the International Security Assistance Force. The short declaration says that:

Our vision of success is clear: extremism and terrorism will no longer pose a threat to stability; Afghan National Security Forces will be in the lead and self-sufficient; and the Afghan Government will be able to extend the reach of good governance, reconstruction, and development throughout the country to the benefit of all its citizens. This declaration is supported by a medium-term, internal political-military plan - consistent with the Afghanistan Compact and the Afghan National Development Strategy - which will be updated regularly and against which we will measure progress.

The political-military plan remains classified, and is reported to set out conditions the Afghan government must fulfill and the time-frame within which they must do so, in order to continue to receive Alliance assistance.

The document notes that:

Success requires a comprehensive approach across security, governance and development efforts and between all local and international partners in support of the Afghan Government.
It goes on to list a series of measures that NATO, the UN and other institutions will undertake to assist the Afghan government. Reuters is reporting that NATO has committed itself to ".. provide the training teams and help provide the equipment needed to meet the goal of an effective 80,000-strong Afghan army by 2010."

Disagreement remain. The Australian government, for example, wanted a firm commitment to a drug eradication programme with funds to support farmers growing alternative crops - that was not approved.

Missile Defence Decision in 2009 (or later)

Despite claims by the Bush administration that NATO endorsed its plan to deploy elements of strategic missile defence in Europe, NATO will actually not offer such an endorsement before 2009. An official report from the Summit organizers on the Romanian Summit website says:

The North-Atlantic Alliance leaders underlined on Thursday in Bucharest that the security of the state members must be an indivisible one and acknowledged the "significant" contribution this can have to the anti-missile shield USA intends to install in Central Europe. The Secretary General of the Alliance, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, mentioned in a press conference that the allied leaders decided for NATO to develop "options for a defense architecture" that should cover the states which are not in the protection range of the USA project. These options are to be discussed in 2009, explained Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. The attendants of the Bucharest Summit confirmed the role played by NATO in protecting the energetic infrastructure and the key informatic structures against cybernetic attacks, added the Secretary General of the Alliance.

This falls short of actual endorsement by the Alliance of the system, and represents "the best we could get and short of what we wanted", according to Czech government sources speaking a few weeks ago when the formula was put to Foreign ministers. It is supportive enough, in all likelihood, for the Czech parliament to ratify the missile radar site deal that will be signed in early May.

Many countries have taken note of the US Congress' failure to fund the deployment this year, and their policy that the system must work under operationally realistic testing before it would be funded. With that language, and the impending end of the Bush administration, many Europeans are content to wait and see what happens next year before actually committing themselves.

Macedonia Must Wait

It is confirmed. Macedonia has failed to overcome the Greek veto, and must content itself with the prospect of future membership.

As NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said: "We... agreed that a formal invitiation to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will be extended as soon as a mutually acceptable solution to (the) name issue has been reached. He added that "We expect the negotiations to be resumed without delay and concluded as soon as possible."

Croatia meanwhile has welcomed its invitation to join the Atlantic Alliance, and has said that it is now aiming for membership of the EU.

Canada Relieved on Afghanistan Reinforcements

The Canadian Globe and Mail reports the addition of French troops for the NATO misison in Afghanistan, and the welcome it has received from the Canadian government:

"The French have confirmed they are sending an additional battalion to Afghanistan," Sandra Buckler, director of communications for the Prime Minister, told reporters after a working dinner of NATO leaders on the eve of the summit. A battalion is usually about 700 to 800 soldiers but can be 1,000 or more. "Subsequently, the Americans have confirmed that, as a result, they will commit additional resources in the south, including Kandahar province," she said, adding official confirmation of this will take place today. In mid-March, Parliament approved an extension of Canada's military mission on the condition that NATO allies supply 1,000 more troops and help Canada obtain helicopters and aerial drones. When asked whether the French-American moves fulfill Canada's conditions, Ms. Buckler replied, "It's good news for Canada and good news for NATO."

Candian Prime Minister Steven Harper has been concerned to get reinforcements to assist Canada in Kandahar. His minority government is not stable, and the Afghanistan mission has proved increasingly unpopular in Canada, not least because of perceptions that many Allies are not doing their part to help. The French decision may well take the sting out of Afghanistan as an election issue when the government falls.

Bush: NATO is a Global Alliance

President Bush yesterday reaffirmed his vision of NATO as an Alliance spreading democracy and security across the world, saying:

As NATO allies fight terror and promote progress in Iraq and Afghanistan, our Alliance is taking on other important missions across the world. In the Mediterranean, NATO forces are patrolling the high seas to combat terrorism as part of Operation Active Endeavor. In Kosovo, NATO forces are providing security and helping a new democracy take root in the Balkans. In Darfur, NATO has airlifted African Union peacekeepers and provided them with training to protect the people of that troubled region. The Alliance stands ready to provide further assistance to the AU-African Union force. Each of these missions underscores the changing nature of the NATO Alliance. See, NATO is no longer a static alliance focused on defending Europe from a Soviet tank invasion. It is now an expeditionary alliance that is sending its forces across the world to help secure a future of freedom and peace for millions.

While this vision for NATO has the support of some in the Alliance, and the president speaks as though it is a consensus position, it remains deeply controversial. President Bush has already been rebuffed by NATO on MAPs for Georgia and Ukraine - he doesn't have the political capital left in his lame duck year to push the Alliance into global adventuring.

NATO in the Balkans

A Senior US Offical briefed last night on the background to the Summit. He mentioned a somewhat overlooked aspect of the enlargement process. Once countries have joined the Partnership for Peace, they then move to an Intensified Dialogue with NATO, before the Membership Action Plan that takes them towards NATO membership. As the official said, two countries will likely be moved to the Intensified Dialogue stage at this Summit:

Montenegro has asked for an Intensified Dialogue, as well as Bosnia-Herzegovina. This is, of course, the second step, from Partnership for Peace to Intensified Dialogue. And it was, I think, widely supported that they should be accepted. There's clearly broad support for that, and I'd expect you'd see that decision tomorrow -- and also that the door should remain open to Serbia. And it should be clear to Serbia that they have been in Partnership for Peace and that NATO extends them an Intensified Dialogue as soon as they step forward and say they want it. Countries were very strong on the need to keep open for Serbia the prospect of becoming a part of European and transatlantic institutions.

Sarkozy on France in NATO

President Sarkozy's staff have circulated a speech he will give in Bucharest. According to reports this confirms that France will send a battalion of troops to the East of Afghanistan, around 800 men.

It is also reported that Sarkozy will say that France will decide on reentry into NATO's military structures by the end of this year, towards the end of the French Presidency of the EU. Strengthening the EU's military bodies in the European Security and Defence Policy is a key aim for France during its Presidency. Sarkozy and other French leaders have also stated that a strengthened European defence component inside NATO is a pre-requisite for French particpation in the Alliance's military structures.

Other unconfirmed sources suggest that while France will take its full place in the Defence Planning Committee, it will hold back from participation in the Nuclear Planning Group - preferring to retain full independence in the field of nuclear weapons. It was, of course, American refusal to confirm procedures for the launch of nuclear weapons from French soil that led to General de Gaulle withdrawing from NATO in 1966.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

No MAPs This Week

James Appathurai, the NATO Spokesman, has told journalists at the NATO Summit that the sense of the Heads of State and Government during their dinner discussions is that Georgia and the Ukraine will not be offered Membership Action Plans (MAPs) this week. He underlined that their day will come, but that it will not be Wednesday in Bucharest.

Appathurai also told reporters that France will send an additional 700 or 800 troops to Afghanistan.

Also following the NATO leaders dinner, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos told reporters that Greece would not give on an invitation to Macedonia, and that Croatia and Albania would be the first NATO entrants in this new round of enlargement.

Briefing by NATO Spokesman

Extracts and Notes from a Media Briefing by James Appathurai
Afternoon, Wednesday 2 April

NATO Spokesman James Appathurai gave a briefing today, and I have taken a few notes from it. Most interestingly, he does not deny that MAPs for Georgia and the Ukraine may be delayed until 2010.


Dinner discussions will be informal and enlargement is at the top of the agenda. NATO operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo will also be discussed.

He ‘hopes’ that ministers can bless progress on missile defence and on the groundwork for a new strategic comment on Thursday morning.

The Thursday afternoon meeting on Afghanistan will be with NATO, all 40 ISAF countries, UN Secretary general Ban Ki Moon, European Commission President Barroso, High Representative Javier Solana. They will agree a comprehensive strategy for NATO in two documents, one public and one classified.

There will also be discussion of troop reinforcements, especially since the Canadians have been insistent that they need 1,000 extra troops in Kandahar to assist them.

On Friday, there will be a Commission meeting with the Ukraine, by which time the NATO position on the Ukraine MAP invitation will be clear.

Then the NATO-Russia Council will meet. There will be discussion of disagreements, such as enlargement and missile defence. There will also be discussion of a Russian proposal to offer a transit corridor to NATO for logistics to Afghanistan.

Q & A

On Georgia and the Ukraine MAP issue, Appathurai said that there are many public statements and “there are a range of views on this issue.” There will be an interesting discussion. “When the allies take a position it will be a unified position.” He did not deny that the MAPs may be put off until 2010.

NATO will continue to pursue the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and the Mediterranean Dialogue. These are not big political issues in Bucharest, but they matter to the Alliance.

The full audio version of the press briefing can be accessed at the NATO Summit Website.

NATO and Energy Security

Radio Free Europe has published two pieces on the advisability or otherwise of NATO treating energy supplies from Russia as a common defence issue. Here two American analysts, one from the right-wing American Enterprise Institute and the other from the centrist CSIS debate the issue:

In favour: Ida Garibaldi

With Russia aggressively seeking a monopoly on the distribution of natural gas to Europe, the time is ripe for Washington to push NATO into a greater role in European energy security.

Over the last two years, the Kremlin has shown that it values the political influence associated with the ownership of natural resources and their distribution in Europe as much as the economic gains that come with it. Indeed, Russia's recent use of energy to bully Ukraine and Belarus and the consequent disruptions to distribution in Europe indicate that European energy security represents a serious strategic challenge for the trans-Atlantic alliance.

Against: Andrew C. Kuchins

Ever since the Gazprom-Ukrainian gas dispute of January 2006, some have called for engaging NATO in a new mission to promote European energy security.

Even Richard Lugar (Republican, Indiana), one of the Senate's most thoughtful and experienced voices on foreign policy, in 2006 called for NATO to engage Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty in the event of the "manipulation" of the energy supply and its use as a "weapon."

Such policy prescriptions are based on faulty analyses of the problem. Furthermore, it would prove impossible to reach agreement upon, let alone implement, a solution and the process would distract NATO from far more pressing issues.

NATO leaders are due to debate this issue as part of their discussions on NATO transformation on Wednesday morning.

Germany: Avoid Antagonizing Russia

As the NATO Summit in Bucharest got underway today, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned Allies to avoid unnecessarily "antagonizing" Russia. He said this in the context of rejecting the possibility of offering MAPs to the Ukraine and Georgia.

Deutsche Welle also reports that Germany and France will put forward a proposal for a jointly hosted 60th anniversary NATO Summit. "With this gesture, Sarkozy and Merkel want to underline the German-Franco friendship, European reconciliation" and the importance of the transatlantic alliance, German government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm," wrote the Deutsche Welle reporter.

Briefing from Belgium

RTL Info has a report on the briefing from the spokesman for Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme. RTL Info quotes the spokesman as saying that Leterme's first Summit as Prime Minister would see him engage primarily on three issues.

Afghanistan - the Prime Minister will underline Belgian support for ISAF, in which they have around 400 troops. Belgium has recently announced that it will send an additional 4 F-16 aircraft at the start of September.

Missile Defence - Leterme wants to know more about costs, command structure and the position of Russia before committing Belgium's support for the project. That said, Belgium is supportive of current NATO missile defence efforts.

Georgia and Ukraine - the Prime Minister has reservations about offering MAPs to these two partner states, given the instability in Georgia and the lack of clarity in Ukraine on NATO membership.

French Views on NATO's Summit

L'Express Magazine has published its thoughts on the first day of the NATO Summit, before it even opens. It notes that opinion on whether to offer Georgia and the Ukraine MAPs has broken down along the same lines as NATO's split over the Iraq War. France and Germany have led opposition. The US and its eastern European partners urging the Alliance forward.

It also expresses surprise that President Sarkozy, who promised a hard line against Russia during hos election campaign, has been quick to say that NATO must not offend Moscow on this matter.

(The text is of course in French)

Der Spiegel Summit Background

Der Spiegel has an excellent background report on the Bucharest Summit from yesterday.

It details some of the Summit outcomes, such as the plan to give metrics for progress in Afghanistan to allow a draw down of Allied forces there.

It also notes that next year's Summit for NATO's 60th anniversary will be held in Strasbourg and Kehl, neighbours across the Rhine. This is symbolic of the post-World War II reconciliation between France and Germany - and indeed in Europe as a whole. The Bush administration preferred Berlin, more symbolic of NATO's Cold War victory, as they see it.

Worth the read.

Congresswoman Tauscher on Missile Defence

Speaking Tuesday at the German Marshall Fund's Bucharest Conference, Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher (Chair, House Subcommittee Strategic Resources) laid out the House Democrats vision for missile defence policy in Europe. She made clear that, as the person mainly responsible for controlling the purse strings, she and the Democrats had forced policy change on the administration. She spoke in support of missile defences covering NATO, but insisted that even US strategic defences in Europe would have to be under the command of NATO and the Supreme Allied Commander (SACEUR) - something the Bush administration has consistently refused to countenance. She also talked of the need for comprehensive testing of missile defences. Her answer to a question was:

TAUSCHER: Well, that's a long series of questions. Let me just state where the Congress is. I cannot speak for a future administration, although I'm looking forward to hopefully having a
Democratic president in 2009.

But for the last year and this year, as the Democrats have been in the majority in the House and the Senate, we have changed missile defense policy. We've demanded more accountability from the Missile Defense Agency, more testing.

And the relationship and the negotiations between the United States, bilateral negotiations between Poland the Czech Republic were of concern to the Congress. And what we want is an indivisible, comprehensive missile defense system that meets our Article V considerations against current threats.

And current threats are short- and medium-range missiles coming out of the Middle East, and Iran, specifically. And the southern tier of our NATO allies right now are unprotected against a current threat.

The long-range system that the Bush administration proposed, the 10 interceptors in Poland and the radar in the Czech Republic, are against an emerging Iranian threat against the United States. That is a long-range system.

What we have, what I have proposed -- and I've worked with Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Secretary Gates and Secretary Rice -- is to have a NATO-ized system, to have a comprehensive, layered system with command and control in SHAPE under the SACEUR that would be a comprehensive system, one that would have a short- and medium-range component developed by NATO that the United States would include our long-range system, and so you would have a completely tiered, layered defense against all emerging and current threats, indivisibly for all of NATO countries.

And that is what I hope will come out partly of the NATO summit. My concern is that -- is this intelligence gap that I alluded to in my remarks, that there doesn't seem to be the kind of sense of urgency that I think that our European allies, NATO allies need to have about the
current threat and what we need to do to have a procurement decision to move forward on this short- and medium-range system that would be -- it's called the ALTBMD system.

It's already on the drawing board in NATO. But I think we need to move it past the conceptual and into a design and procurement phase. Then we could, as I said, bolt together the long-range American system and then we would have this comprehensive, layered system.

The full text of Mrs Tauscher's interventions at the meeting can be found at the Bucharest Conference website.

NATO SecGen Speaks

The German Marshall Fund has organized a pre-Summit conference in Bucharest, and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer addressed it earlier today. He ran through the agenda of the Summit, highlighting those pieces he felt most important.

On Afghanistan

Tomorrow, for the first time ever, the leaders of the 39 nations in the NATO-led force in Afghanistan will meet with President Karzai, the Secretary General of the United Nations and top officials from the European Union and other major international organisations. This meeting will not just emphasise the need for a Comprehensive Approach by the entire International Community – it will also show that this Comprehensive Approach is finally moving from theory to practice. But this meeting will do even more. It will set out the path to a new phase in our Afghanistan engagement – what used to be a predominantly military effort will begin to shift towards a more balanced approach, with a stronger emphasis on civilian efforts and on Afghan ownership.

On Enlargement (he was positive about the Balkans, less so about Ukraine and Georgia)

I expect that tomorrow Allies will open NATO’s door to new members from the Western Balkans. I am hopeful that this will be a significant enlargement – significant enough to give the Balkans region the boost of stability and confidence that it needs. I also expect this Summit to reach out to new Partners, such as Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina, who have made it clear that they, too, do not want to be left behind. NATO will also do its part to engage Serbia, and make it not only a partner in theory, but in practice as well.

Ukraine and Georgia have both expressed their aspiration to be part of Euro-Atlantic integration, and part of NATO. Whatever decision we take tomorrow on their request to be granted the Membership Action Plan, our message will be positive and unambiguous. Yes, both countries have their place in Euro-Atlantic integration. Our door is open and, provided they meet our standards, one day they will pass through it. If they so wish.

Answering questions during the day at a youth conference, de Hoop Scheffer said of the Macedonia issue that "The time is running out, but in my extensive career I learned that in politics, 72 hours can be quite a long time. Therefore, we mustn't allow ourselves to despair, although the situation is very difficult. We still have to try and find a solution. It is always there, so it's just a matter of time when it will be reached." He reiterated that the possibility for compromise will remain open until the Summit closes on Friday afternoon.

De Hoop Scheffer also talked about a range of other issues, including possible progress on NATO-Russia relations and NATO transformation.

He also said that an initiative he proposed a couple of weeks ago, for a new Atlantic Charter would likely move forward and be launched at the 2009 Summit. This would be in the form of "an Atlantic Declaration ... such a document must contain in providing the beginning of the conceptual clarity we need on the challenges that are confronting NATO today and tomorrow."

The original Atlantic Charter, launched in 1941 in some of the darkest days of World War II, was the vision statement that underpinned the Allied war effort against the Nazis. It led to the founding the UN, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and NATO, and was the basis for the entire post-war internationalist settlement. To revisit such a document to provide a 21st century vision for international peace and security would be a major achievement. By downgrading the name ot a declaration, it would appear that NATO nations are already ducking the challenge. The question is, will they duck the strategic concept review challenge too?

The full text of the Secretary General's speech can be found here.

Enlargement Problems

Euractiv has posted a summary of problems facing NATO over the enlargement of the Alliance. It includes some good quotes from a variety of sources. They make the point that this has divided the EU as well as NATO, largely along the lines described by Donald Rumsfeld when he referred to 'old' and 'new ' Europe.

The difficulties over Ukraine and Georgia, in particular, highlight the need for the US to do more than simply declare its intent before NATO takes big decisions. There has always been a need for careful diplomacy to move along an Alliance that acts by consensus. In this case, the necessary groundwork has not been done, and as Jan Marinus Wiersma is quoted by Euractiv as saying, the US has been too hasty in promising MAPs to the Ukraine and Georgia.

What Future for NATO? - 2

Julianne Smith of CSIS in Washington DC, a former colleague of mine at BASIC, has written a piece on the future of NATO seen through the lens of Afghanistan. This in conjunction with Michael Williams of RUSI. I find some of their conclusions compelling:

The Alliance has attempted to rewrite its mission over the last nearly two decades. The 1991 and 1999 Strategic Concepts attempted to get the Alliance in shape to respond to the new international environment. But these changes were not substantive enough and are now outdated. At its heart, the Alliance is still very much a Cold War organization. This is problematic, as the last ten years have illustrated that the primary security concerns that face the transatlantic area are far removed from the challenges of the Cold War. Yet the Alliance has not changed. ... NATO will undoubtedly attempt to redefine its involvement in Afghanistan at the Bucharest summit. One should expect a communiqué that indirectly outlines a new approach to avoid failing in Afghanistan, while providing the Alliance with a way out. But this will not fix the inherent problems within the Alliance; it will only paper over the cracks. In the coming year the allies need to have an open and honest discussion about NATO, its missions and mandate, to pave the way forward towards real change at the 60th anniversary summit.

This is exactly the message that Acronym included in its submission to the House of Commons Defence Committee for its report on the future of NATO. It is an accurate summary of the issues that NATO leaders will struggle with at this Summit.

What Future for NATO?

Daniel Korski of the European Council on Foreign Relations has a thoughtful piece on the future for NATO published on the Guardian's Comment is Free site.

He favours the global security provider model, but has some interesting thoughts about the EU and NATO, as well as the African Union and NATO could work together.

However, Korski ignores, as do so many commentators, the vital question of how NATO is supposed to evolve into a benign security provider for all while it retains a large arsenal of nuclear weapons, as well as the option to use them first against even non-nuclear states.

This conundrum is the kind of difficult work that must be done in a strategic concept review if NATO is to evolve for the 21st century.

Rough Ride for Sarkozy on Afghanistan

Since the election last year of President Sarkozy, France has been moving towards to reintegration of its armed forces into NATO's unified command. General de Gaulle took France out of the command in 1966.

Yesterday, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon announced in the National Assembly that a step towards closer cooperation with NATOl would be taken with the sending of 'several hundred' French troops to fight alongside Canadian forces in southern Afghanistan. Canada had hoped that France would send 1,000 troops, most likely an elite force of paratroopers, as reinforcements.

However, even the smaller step now proposed has produced controversy. The Times reports on Socialist opposition to the move - they described Afghanistan as the 'new Vietnam' - and the resignation of a Deputy from President Sarkozy's party. For those that read French, the magazine Le Point also reports on the issue today.

This row is emblematic of the problems NATO is having in Afghanistan, and of the broader disagreements on NATO's role in the 21st Century.

Macedonian Name Dispute Heats Up

The BBC has a story about a Greek flag defaced with a swastika that has appeared in the Macedonian capital, Skopje. As Acronym has reported the Greeks are threatening to block Macedonia's entry into NATO because they object to the name of the Republic. Macedonia is also the name of a Greek province, and the Greeks claim lineage back to Alexander the Great - who was Macedonian - through that province. They also claim that the use of the name "Republic of Macedonia" implies a territorial claim against Greek territory, despite an explicit renunciation of any such claim by Macedonia. The UN has been trying to broker a compromise, so far without success. The poster in Skopje will do nothing to cool tempers.

UK Positions in Bucharest

With some big issues dominating thoughts in Bucharest, PM Gordon brown is concentrating on the minutiae. The PA reports that his big initiative is for a Helicopter Trust Fund, to allow NATO's richer nations to fund others in the provision of helicopters to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. The PM is also calling for more troops to be sent to top up the 47,000 strong ISAF, especially in southern Afghanistan where the fighting is going on.

Macolm Rifkind has written in the Telegraph to oppose offering an MAP or membership of NATO to Georgia and the Ukraine. He says that:

So far as Nato is concerned, consideration should be given to the creation of a new status of associate member, which would give Ukraine and Georgia many of the benefits of membership, including the right for their forces to train with Nato members and to serve alongside Nato states in international operations. What it would not do would be to apply Article 5 of the treaty.

That is, there would be no automatic defence guarantee to these countries. No statement that an attack on them is an attack on all NATO members.

David Cameron meanwhile has suggested the creation of a common fund to pay for future operations. You can read his speech here. He also spoke in favour of a revision of the NATO Strategic Concpet as part of modernising the Alliance. And, of course, he took the obvious position for a Tory that defence cooperation should always be through NATO and not through the EU.

Summit Background

The Christian Science Monitor has a good piece on the background to the Summit here.

A key point in the article concerns a failure of bush adminsitration diplomacy:

Bush will hand off to his successor some unfinished business that will dog NATO, experts say: redefining the alliance's strategic purpose to fit the post-9/11 21st century, and developing a common approach toward Russia.

This is a vital point, and with the Alliance split between those who want to retain territorial defence in the Euro-Atlantic area as its defining feature, and those who want NATO to become a 'global security provider, these arguments will dog the next US President into the 2009 Summit and beyond.

Many analysts and observers, and some NATO nations, agree with the NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer that the time has come for NATO to adopt a new Strategic Concept - its guiding policy document - to replace the one agreed in 1999. However, such a fundamental debate will expose the differences in the Alliance. It will require a firm, sure and subtle diplomatic touch to overcome those differences and reunite the Alliance. In his first term President Bush simply wasn't interested in NATO, preferring to work with so-called 'coalitions of the willing'.

In his second term, the diplomacy necessary to lead NATO forward has been beyond him.

NATO Enlargement

There are a lot of press reports today that President Bush continues to push for Georgia and the Ukraine to be given Membership Action Plans (MAPs), the last step before actual NATO membership. (See, for example, the Associated Press and the Chicago Tribune). Indeed, yesterday at his press availability with President Yuschenko of the Ukraine, President Bush did say:

Ukraine now seeks to deepens its cooperation with the NATO alliance through a Membership Action Plan. Your nation has made a bold decision, and the United States strongly supports your request. In Bucharest this week I will continue to make America's position clear: We support MAP for Ukraine and Georgia. Helping Ukraine move toward NATO membership is in the interest of every member in the Alliance and will help advance security and freedom in this region and around the world.

However, the key words are the ones that I have emphasized. The US does still support a MAP for the two former Soviet countries. But, with strong opposition from Germany and other western European states, President Bush knows he cannot persuade NATO to move forward on this in Bucharest. Chancellor Merkel of Germany has got him off the hook, and it is safe to stick to a firm US position in the knowledge that Russia will not be offended by an actual offer to Kyiv and Tbilisi.

So, President Bush pleased the Ukrainians by announcing his continued support for their accession to NATO, but without actually promising a thing. This pleases the Russians and sets the scene for a smooth NATO-Russia Council meeting this Friday, and a potentially successful US-Russia Summit in Sochi on Sunday.


NATO, courtesy of the Danish government, is launching an online TV channel today. You can watch exciting events at the NATO Summit live here.

NATO Summit Starts Today

NATO Heads of State and Government gather today in Bucharest, Romania for a Summit meeting (Despite the BBC Radio 4 'Today' programme announcing this moirning that the Summit is happening in the Ukraine, not even a NATO member).

Once rare, these NATO Summits have become almost annual events. The last happened in Riga, Latvia in November 2006. The next will take place in 2009, to celebrate the Atlantic Alliance's 60th birthday.

This blog will be used for regular updates during the next three days, and until Sunday to cover the bilateral Summit between Presidents Bush and Putin.

Reports detailing the road to the NATO Summit, and a preview of likely events at the Summit, can be found at There will also be some longer Summit reports posted there during the Summit, and a full report of the events of this week after both Summits have finished.

Main discussions in Bucharest will centre around NATO enlargement, the NATO mission in Afghanistan, US plans to deploy missile defences in Europe, relations with Russia, and Alliance transformation.