3.  NATO and Russia: What kind of partnership in what kind of international environment?


The previous chapter has offered some theoretical considerations pertaining to the nature of the relationship between NATO and Russia by putting forward the notion of a combined realist-constructivist approach. Concepts of power and norms intertwine to explain the complex interaction between the two players, while at the same time putting this relationship within a wider framework of “rules” in IR. This chapter’s aim is to break down the term “relationship” that constitutes the object of analysis of this dissertation into its component parts. The phrase “NATO-Russia relations” in fact contains a myriad of interactions on different levels: summits, strategy papers, treaties, as well as committee meetings, bargaining processes and – on both sides – consensus building. Some events stand out, such as the implementation of the Permanent Joint Council (PJC) in 1997 or the creation of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) in 2002. Other events have been more subtle, but nonetheless important. This chapter is structured in the following way: firstly, an overview will be provided of events that have marked NATO-Russia relations since 1997. These events will be put within the context of their implications, and sometimes, of misconceptions about them. Secondly, specific policy outcomes that have arisen from NATO-Russia cooperation will be discussed, as well as their meaning for geopolitical developments. Thirdly, I will return to the theoretical considerations presented in chapter 2 to assess their validity.

How does NATO itself view Russia? The chapter on NATO-Russia cooperation in NATO’s 2001 handbook starts out by stating that “Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has attached particular importance to the development of constructive and cooperative relations with Russia. Over the past ten years, NATO and Russia have succeeded in achieving substantial progress in developing a genuine partnership and overcoming the vestiges of earlier confrontation and competition in order to strengthen mutual trust and cooperation.”183 Future prospects are also mentioned: “[NATO and Russia] also face numerous common security challenges in other areas.184 Working together to address these challenges is in the interest of both sides and contributes to the further strengthening of the basis of mutual trust which is essential in the Euro-Atlantic area.”185 Key notions in this text are security challenges, mutual trust, genuine partnership and “overcoming earlier confrontation”. In the words of the current Secretary General of NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, “The strategic environment in the Euro-Atlantic area has changed dramatically over the past several years and the NATO-Russia relationship has changed with it. We have left old Cold War threat perceptions behind us”.186 According to de Hoop Scheffer, the nuclear threat of the Cold War has been replaced by so-called “new threats” that affect the entire international community:


…terrorism, which can strike anywhere at any time … the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and materials … the multitude of challenges posed by failed states and regional conflicts, violence inspired by ethnic and religious hatred, trafficking in arms, in human being, in narcotics. These are the challenges of the twenty-first century, and no single state or military Alliance, no matter how powerful, can face them alone.187 

This, according to de Hoop Scheffer, is the context within which present-day NATO-Russia relations should be seen:

This was the spirit in which our head of state and government took the courageous step three years ago to create the NATO-Russia Council. Their goal was a bold one: to achieve a qualitatively new relationship between NATO and the Russian Federation, aimed at ‘achieving a lasting and inclusive peace in the Euro-Atlantic area on the principles of democracy and cooperative security’.188 


This assessment had been reciprocated by the Russian side, with a statement from President Vladimir Putin, who claimed that “‘in just a very short time, we have taken a gigantic step’ away from past confrontations and stereotypes … NATO-Russia relations have ‘become a real factor in ensuring international stability’.”189

De Hoop Scheffer’s statement is an accurate summary of what is generally referred to as the essence of present NATO-Russia relations: a catalogue of joint interests now characterizes the interaction between the two former adversaries, rather than a state of bipolar antagonism. Institutionalized NATO-Russia relations of course preceded the NRC. The implementation of the PJC took place in 1997 in the spirit that produced much of the same rhetoric again 5 years later over the NRC Treaty. The Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation sounds very similar to the NRC Treaty in its basic message of enmity turning into friendship; a transformation that positively affects the shape of the Euro-Atlantic landscape:

NATO and Russia do not consider each other as adversaries. They share the goal of overcoming the vestiges of earlier confrontation and competition and of strengthening mutual trust and cooperation. The present Act reaffirms the determination of NATO and Russia to give concrete substance to their shared commitment to build a stable, peaceful and undivided Europe, whole and free, to the benefit of all its peoples.190 


The rapprochement of NATO and Russia might at first sight seem logical and self-explanatory: since the Cold War is over, there is no reason for the two actors to oppose each other. Therefore it is only logical that they overcome “earlier confrontation and competition” in order to cooperate for a greater goal – namely, the future security of Europe.

However, this assessment needs to be analyzed with care. By no means a foregone conclusion, NATO-Russia interaction is the result of developments that have occurred since the collapse of the Soviet bloc as well as events that arguably even predate 1989. Both NATO and Russia have approached their relations – or rather, East-West relations before the end of the Cold War – in a holistic manner; i.e., taking into account not only defense and military issues but also political issues that need to be considered within a wider context than “just” the next looming crisis. Actions by one actor inevitably triggered a reaction from the other due to the structural realities of the Cold War. For example, it has been argued that the 1955 creation of the Warsaw Pact was a direct result of the successful creation of NATO. Vojtech Mastny refers to the Warsaw Pact as “NATO’s mirror image”; created as an offer to negotiate away in return for the dissolution of NATO should a convenient situation arise.191 Mastny claims that such a situation never arose and that the Warsaw Pact remained “[h]aunted by the images of its Western counterpart”192, which eventually led to its demise. Instead of emerging as an alliance in its own right, the Warsaw Pact, in its efforts to remodel itself along NATO’s lines, was plagued by structural and political impediments that precipitated its final disintegration in 1991. These obstacles resulted largely from the fact that the Warsaw Pact, unlike NATO, was an involuntary organization created under the hegemonic leadership of Moscow.193

It is therefore obvious that the actions of one actor have always influenced the actions of the other. Another important issue to keep in mind is the fact that during the Cold War, NATO’s actions were largely determined by US policy. NATO remains a US idea194, albeit never as rigidly under US control as the Warsaw Pact was under Soviet control. This seems logical, as international relations generally were largely determined by the state of affairs between the two main powers during the Cold War. One very important doctrine that NATO endorsed in the 1960s was also the result of political developments between the US and the USSR. The Harmel Report, submitted to the US by Belgian foreign minister Pierre Harmel in 1967 and subsequently endorsed by NATO as official doctrine, remains an important document even today. The Harmel Report can be seen as the first doctrinal effort to put the strictly military confrontation between East and West into a political context arguing that the dead-end hostility should be overcome. With the Harmel Report, NATO for the first time endorsed a document that laid out a specific strategy vis-à-vis the countries of the Eastern bloc. This remains important for NATO – and Russia – today because elements of the Harmel Report continue to play a role in NATO’s strategy towards partner countries. The Harmel Report should also be seen in connection with Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty which states that “the Parties may, by unanimous agreement, invite any other European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty”.195 Article 10 thus stipulates what is generally referred to as NATO’s “open door policy”, a concept that remains valid today.


While Article 10 makes a general statement about future member states, the Harmel Report was much more specific with regard to NATO’s policies and attitudes towards the Eastern bloc. The Harmel Report states that while NATO should uphold a strong defence policy, it should also pursue dialogue and constructive cooperation with the Eastern bloc. Interestingly, the language used in the Harmel Report is reminiscent of language found in current documents, such as the Founding Act or the NRC. There is a particular focus on the ever-changing character of the Alliance:

The exercise [the study commissioned by Harmel which led to the Harmel Report] has shown that the Alliance is a dynamic and vigorous organization which is constantly adapting itself to changing conditions. It also has shown that its future tasks can be handled within the terms of the Treaty by building on the methods and procedures which have proved their value over many years.196 

Concerning what specific policy NATO should pursue, the Harmel Report suggests that


[t]he Atlantic Alliance has two main functions … the Allies will maintain as necessary a suitable military capability to assure the balance of forces, thereby creating a climate of stability, security and confidence. In this climate the Alliance can carry out its second function, to pursue the search for progress towards a more stable relationship in which the underlying political issues can be solved. Military security and a policy of détente are not contradictory but complementary.197 

The context within which the Harmel Report was commissioned, namely the initial years of détente between the Soviet Union and the United States, challenged NATO to come up with a doctrine that kept up with changes in international relations. In other words, some saw NATO’s status as a useful alliance under threat.

It was imperative for NATO to adjust to such important shifts in East-West relations, if not materially then at least intellectually. As early as the 1960s there was already debate concerning the “future” and usefulness of NATO in a world that was no longer functioning according to the rules that made NATO possible in the first place. In light of the Harmel Report and the circumstances that made this report necessary, the current debate about NATO’s future seems somewhat more relative. Indeed, the Harmel Report is the first document that proves that NATO’s post-Cold War soul-searching does have a precedent. With regard to specific actions, NATO was actively involved in the preparation of the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE)198, which, turned out to be a crucial tool in overcoming the confrontation between East and West.


All of this is important because of two observations. Firstly, the above demonstrates that NATO was looking for a concept regarding political action towards Central and Eastern Europe as early as the mid-1960s. Post-Cold War efforts directed towards Central and Eastern Europe should also be seen in this light to some extent. Secondly, debate about NATO as an organization in transition had already occurred as far back as the 1960s. It was probably this willingness to adapt to circumstances, among other things, that made it possible for NATO – and the Western Alliance – to gain the advantage over the Soviet Union, politically as well as militarily. Therefore, NATO’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances has continued and continues to play a role in international relations. However, one should not lose sight of the fact that in spite of détente and the important steps that were taken during this period to initiate a rapprochement of East and West, the Cold War was still ongoing. Indeed, after 1979, it intensified again and the threat of MAD became ever more real during the 1980s with the deployment of US Pershing II missiles to Germany in response to the stationing of Soviet SS-20 missiles in the west and the far east of the Soviet Union. Whether or not détente actually contributed to prolonging the Cold War is a matter of opinion. However, the continued existence of NATO was never questioned, even during the most optimistic periods of détente. As important as détente was, especially with regard to later events, it does not compare to the fall of the Berlin Wall in scope and importance, as the end of the Cold War put a whole different perspective on NATO’s existence. In contrast to détente, which literally means the “easing” of tensions, the fall of the Berlin Wall supposedly marked the end of tensions. It is in this light that NATO-Russia relations will be analyzed in the following sections.

3.1.  Structures and treaties

3.1.1.  The early years

In order to assess NATO-Russia relations after 1997, a brief overview of events since the end of the Cold War is necessary. 1997 has been chosen as the starting point because, arguably, the PJC represents the initiation of institutionalized interactions. The Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation was the first treaty of its kind between the two actors. The language used in the Founding Act points towards a new self-understanding of the relationship between the two:

NATO and Russia do not consider each other as adversaries. They share the goal of overcoming the vestiges of earlier confrontation and competition and of strengthening mutual trust and cooperation … This Act defines the goals and mechanism of consultation, cooperation, joint decision-making and joint action that will constitute the core of the mutual relations between NATO and Russia.199 


There was a very concerted effort to portray the Founding Act as a revolutionary, forward-looking document; a formal way of ending the Cold War, so to speak. However, this process of overcoming the legacy of bipolarity has roots that go back to the 1960s, as discussed above, as well as the early 1990s. The Founding Act is a product of the immediate post-Cold War transition period and should be understood as such. As demonstrated earlier, NATO – and the West more generally – did indeed engage in an intellectual effort to provide scenarios that went beyond the mutual annihilation of the two blocs. However, the actual end of the Cold War turned out to be something different entirely. Therefore, the early 1990s can be characterized as a time of transition when neither NATO nor Russia was entirely sure how to react to the new situation. It is by now axiomatic that the end of the Cold War caught International Relations by surprise. From this it follows that policy and decision-making processes that were undertaken during this period were also the product of a certain degree of uncertainty and did not in any way reflect a linear development of clearly charted planning.

At the July 1990 summit in London, the most “[f]ar-reaching declaration [was] issued since NATO was founded”.200 NATO heads of governments extended an offer to establish regular diplomatic liaison with NATO in order to work in a spirit of cooperation to the Soviet Union, and to Central and East European countries. The first step towards a solution to the problem that the end of the bipolar conflict created was the establishment of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) in 1991. The NACC provided NATO and 9 East European countries with a consultative forum as stipulated in the Rome Declaration in November 1991. The first session of the NACC took place on 20 December 1991, coinciding with the disintegration of the Soviet Union.201 In March 1992, all members of the Commonwealth of Independent States became members of the NACC, and Albania joined in June 1992. The NACC was first and foremost an instrument of dialogue and consultation. The ensuing Yugoslav crises, as well as the strengthening of the CSCE in particular, were issues that the NACC sought to address. However, the terms “consultative” and “dialogue” already suggest that actual policy-outcomes were limited. According to one NATO official, the NACC was a first answer to the disintegration of the Eastern bloc. The need for a forum where future options could be discussed was met with the NACC; however, real decision-making was impossible with 38 member states.202 However, in historical perspective, the NACC was indeed unprecedented, continuing and consolidating the spirit of the CSCE in terms of making an effort to overcome the legacy of the Cold War.

1994 saw the implementation of the PfP (Partnership for Peace) program. According to an official NATO publication, “[t]he Partnership for Peace (PFP) is chiefly aimed at defence cooperation and is the operational side of the Partnership framework, designed to reinforce stability and reduce the risk of conflict.”203 The main objective of PfP is interoperability between NATO and partner countries, in other words, to “increase the participants’ ability to act in concert. Through various mechanisms it helps Partner countries prepare to operate jointly with NATO forces”.204 PfP has been joined by 30 countries, by and large countries of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as those of Central Asia and the Caucasus. Russia became part of PfP in the summer of 1994, thereby continuing towards integration into NATO’s structures. Under the PfP Agreement, NATO and partner countries undertake joint activities and regular consultations. Specifically, PfP consists of two policies: firstly, the Individual Partnership Programme (IPP), which covers a wide range of activities, such as crisis management, military cooperation, peacekeeping or civil emergency planning.205 Secondly, the Planning and Review Process (PARP) assesses Partners’ capabilities for multinational training, exercises and operations with Alliance forces. The goal is to further interoperability between forces of NATO and partner countries.206 It is open to individual interpretation whether the PfP program was meant to facilitate the successful integration of Eastern European countries and the Soviet Union into NATO structures or whether PfP constitutes more of an antechamber for countries whose status vis-à-vis future involvement with NATO is still uncertain. According to official NATO sources, PfP claims to do the following: “By assisting participants with reforms, the PfP helps them build a solid democratic environment, maintain political stability and improve security”.207 With regard to Central and Eastern European countries, it can be safely said that PfP did indeed serve its intended purpose. Not only did the prospect of integration into Western institutions strengthen democratic forces in Central and Eastern Europe, thus contributing to a relatively smooth transition period, but the two rounds of enlargement eventually made fully fledged NATO members out of the former PfP partners. However, in Russia’s case, the verdict is a little more mixed. Lacking the perspective of membership – at least, that question was never seriously and consistently discussed – Russia found itself in a position separated from the other post-Soviet countries. According to one NATO official, PfP was seen by NATO as a “safe” way of dealing with the Russian question.208 PfP offered a chance to manage NATO-Russia bilateral relations, in military and defense terms, while at the same time omitting political “interoperability”, to use a preferred NATO term. There is an ongoing dichotomy between, on the one hand, Russia no longer representing a tangible threat, but on the other hand neither wanting nor being able to join Western institutions, and NATO in particular.


This lack of political dialogue – not only specifically with regard to NATO and Russia, but in general – was addressed with the establishment of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) in 1997. Whereas PfP allowed for bilateral relations between NATO and partner countries, the EAPC offered a political platform for discussion and consultation. The EAPC effectively replaced the NACC that had existed since 1991. The EAPC meets once a month at the level of ambassadors and once a year at the level of foreign and defense ministers. The EAPC is meant to complement the activities of PfP and provides a general opportunity for political negotiations on all aspects of NATO-Partner cooperation.209 The Basic Document of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, adopted in Sintra, Portugal on 30 May 1997 states:

The member countries of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council and participating countries of the Partnership for Peace, determined to raise to a qualitatively new level their political and military cooperation, building upon the success of NACC and PfP, have decided to establish a Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. In doing so, they reaffirm their joint commitment to strengthen and extend peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area, on the basis of the shared values and principles which underlie their cooperation, notably those set out in the Framework Document of the Partnership for Peace.210 

To this end, its main objective is that “[t]he Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, as the successor to NACC, will provide the overarching framework for consultations among its members on a broad range of political and security-related issues, as part of a process that will develop through practice.”211


Russia is a full member of the EAPC. The EAPC continues in its original form today and thus also continues to be the largest forum for consultation of its kind within NATO. This also means that the EAPC represents a way for Russia to have its voice heard within NATO’s structures. Crucially, Russia insisted on including “European” in addition to “Atlantic” in the name of the newly created council. This implies that an opening of the “Atlantic” concept was important to those countries not originally belonging to the Alliance. At the same time, it suggests that an eastward shift from Atlantic to European widens the chasm between NATO’s original purpose and its post-Cold War intentions. Whereas Russia could arguably be excluded from an “Atlantic” Alliance, there is no reason why it should not have a future within a European one. The EAPC provided Russia with transparency regarding NATO’s ambitions in Eastern Europe.212 Instead of engaging in talks with Eastern European countries only, the EAPC was seen as a guarantee against decisions being taken without consulting Russia. The difference between the EAPC and its predecessor, the NACC, is that under the statutes of the EAPC, member countries have the right to consult with NATO both individually and in groups. However, this guarantee did not actually live up to its promises, as the EAPC, much like the NACC, never moved past its consultative forum-status towards any actual decision-making, in large part due to the fact that consensus building among 46 members is a difficult undertaking. Rather, the EAPC continued the NACC’s purpose of serving as a formal way for NATO to address the political side of enlargement.

3.1.2. Current partnership programs

The 2002 Prague summit, finally, represented a breakthrough by coming up with a concept for bilateral and comprehensive relationships: the Individual Partnership Action Plans (IPAPs). The summit, while seeking to strengthen and streamline both EAPC and PfP, specifically marks a step forward in terms of bilateral relations between NATO and partner countries. According to NATO, “[t]he Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council is the overarching framework for all aspects of NATO’s cooperation with its partners. Partnership for Peace is the principal mechanism for forging practical security links between the Alliance and its Partners and for enhancing interoperability between Partners and NATO.”213 NATO makes it clear that the “open door policy” that PfP advocates is still considered best practice; the opening paragraph of the “Report on the Comprehensive Review of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and Partnership for Peace” states that EAPC and PfP exist in order to “enhance the security of all, excluding nobody”.214 The spirit of openness and availability to all who are interested had been the official stance of NATO since the early 1990s. The NACC, PfP and EAPC were designed to be as inclusive as possible. The non-official modus operandi, however, encountered problems that were in some part due to exactly this inclusiveness. As mentioned above, taking decisions involving 46 countries turned out to be a hindrance to policy implementation. Having said this, the importance of PfP should not be underestimated. PfP sent an important political message to Central and Eastern European countries: NATO was to open itself up and would not remain the exclusively north American-Western European defense alliance that it was during the Cold War. In practical terms, PfP contributed to the success of military operations in the Balkans, since one of the proclaimed goals of PfP, namely interoperability, contributed to successful cooperation within the multinational Balkan task force. Furthermore, PfP and EAPC continue to “contribute to international stability by providing interested Partners with systematic advice on, and assistance in, the defence and security-related aspects of their domestic reform processes; where possible support larger policy and institutional reforms”215. Additionally, PfP and EAPC “contribute to international security by preparing interested Partners for, and engaging in, NATO-led operations and activities, including those related to the response of terrorism.”216 Therefore, EAPC and PfP did effectively contribute to political signals against the division of the European continent in terms of cooperation and integration.

However, the creation of IPAPs represented a quantitative step forward in NATO-partner country cooperation. As opposed to EAPC and the NACC, IPAPs are bilateral agreements. With IPAPs,


[a]llies encourage Partners to seek closer relations with NATO individually and agree on Individual Partnership Action Plans which will prioritise, harmonise and organise all aspects of NATO-Partner relationship in the EAPC and PfP frameworks, in accordance with NATO’s objectives and each interested Partner’s particular circumstances and interests. Through such plans, developed on a two-year basis, NATO will provide its focused, country-specific assistance and advice on reform objectives that interested Partners might wish to pursue in consultation with the Alliance. Intensified political dialogue on relevant issues may constitute an integral part of the IPAP process.217 

IPAPs thus constitute a comprehensive framework within which specific objectives are defined, such as defense reform, institution-building and so on.218 Georgia was the first country to agree an IPAP with NATO on 29 October 2004. Azerbaijan followed on 27 May 2005, and Armenia on 16 December 2005.219 Finally, in 2006, IPAPs were extended to Kazakhstan (31 January) and Moldova (19 May). Breaking with the tradition of roundtable open discussions, IPAPs are very individualized agreements between NATO and a partner country. This also resulted in Russia finding itself outside of a decision-making process that largely concerned countries considered to be of geopolitical interest to Russia. The issue of Russia signing an IPAP with NATO has not been raised, indicating that interaction under the auspices of the NRC is considered adequate, and even privileged.

Finally, the most encompassing framework that exists between NATO and partner countries is the Membership Action Plan (MAP). MAPs are agreed upon bilaterally, like IPAPs. Unlike IPAPs, however, MAPs, as the name suggests, are seen as a framework for cooperation that is extended to countries that have the prospect of membership in the not too distant future. NATO insists that


[t]he programme offers aspirants a list of activities from which they may select those they consider of most value to help them in their preparations. Active participation in PfP and EAPC mechanisms remains essential for aspiring countries who wish to further deepen their political and military involvement in the work of the Alliance. Any decision to invite an aspirant to begin accession talks with the Alliance will be made on a case-by-case basis…”.220

MAPs are divided into 5 areas of cooperation: political and economic issues, defense/military issues, resource issues, security issues and legal issues. At present, Albania, Macedonia and Croatia have MAPs with NATO, and Ukraine and Georgia are the strongest contenders for future MAPs.

3.2. Russia in NATO’s structures

As I have outlined above, a plethora of partnership programs exist between NATO and interested partner countries, in accordance with the Harmel Report, and NATO’s post-Cold War open-door policy. Even though the spirit of the open-door policy that NATO itself refers to in most official documents can be traced back to the 1960s, actual implementation of political dialogue with Central/Eastern Europe has developed in a fairly ad-hoc manner. This is not to say that NATO did not have a consistent plan regarding the “legacy” of the Soviet Union. In fact, NATO’s forward-planning did include plans relating to the Soviet Union as well as the countries of the Warsaw Pact that went beyond MAD fairly early on. Even so, the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union were tumultuous and events developed with great speed. Firstly, the end of the Cold War came as a surprise to NATO as much as it did to the rest of the world. Secondly, the pull away from the Soviet Union and towards the West that ensued in much of Central and Eastern Europe confronted NATO with the difficulty of dealing with countries that could not be integrated into Western structures fast enough. Therefore, balancing between the wishes of Eastern and Central European countries on the one hand, and on Russia’s on the other, turned out to be a challenge. Even though Russia itself oriented its policies towards Western structures in the early Yeltsin years, there was a pronounced difference in terms of NATO approaching Russia. In spite of the open-door policy and Russian ambitions to align itself with the West, Russia could not be accommodated by NATO in the same way that other countries were.


Therefore, NATO’s immediate post-Cold War structural changes were characterized by both speediness and a certain amount of ambiguity. The “Russian question” was postponed until a clearer picture about the future of the European continent emerged. Incidentally, this exhibits some parallels with policy-making undertaken by the European Union in the same time period. This is by no means unusual, as procedures within international organizations are largely characterized by relatively long processes, and not so much by spontaneous behavior. Therefore, the creation of the NACC demonstrates initiative taken on NATO’s side. However, where actions specifically pertaining to Russia are concerned, the results remain mixed. As I have established in the previous sections, although a member of the NACC and its successor, the EAPC, Russia was never mentioned in any debates pertaining to future aspirant countries and IPAPs or MAPs. This implicitly translates into Russia not joining NATO in the near or mid-term future. This also means that NATO-Russia relations should be analyzed within a framework that is separate from the general NATO-Central and Eastern Europe picture.

Theoretically speaking, the realist-constructivist debate presented in chapter 2 is no longer as relevant to NATO’s interaction with those East and Central European countries that joined NATO either in 1999 or 2003. For Russia, however, this debate continues to be of importance. Therefore, a closer consideration of the institutional setup that exists between NATO and Russia should reveal some of the particularities of NATO-Russia relations.

3.2.1.  The Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation/the Permanent Joint Council (1997)

Whereas the wider framework for cooperation between NATO and the former Warsaw Pact countries started almost immediately after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, NATO-Russia relations, both formally and structurally, began in 1997 with the creation of the Permanent Joint Council (PJC). The PJC was created with the implementation of the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation on 27 May 1997 in Paris. The Founding Act constituted a new form of privileged partnership between NATO and another country. Until then, there had been no other country that was offered the chance of a unique partnership. All the other frameworks, such as NACC, PfP and EAPC were equally applicable to all countries that expressed interest in a partnership with NATO. As mentioned previously, Moscow took part in all universal partnership programs available to it. However, with the creation of the PJC, NATO extended certain unique privileges to Russia. The document of the Founding Act employs language that is reminiscent of other post-Cold War NATO treaties with new partner countries. The focus once again is on partnership and overcoming old animosities for the benefit of the European continent at large. For the first time, it is written on paper that as far as Russia and NATO are concerned, the Cold War is over:


NATO and Russia do not consider each other as adversaries. They share the goal of overcoming the vestiges of earlier confrontation and competition and of strengthening mutual trust and cooperation. The present Act reaffirms the determination of NATO and Russia to give concrete substance to their shared commitment to build a stable, peaceful and undivided Europe, whole and free, to the benefit of all its peoples.221

Cooperation between NATO and Russia actually precedes the Founding Act: Russian forces joined the Implementation Force (IFOR) which started its mission in Bosnia on 20 December 1995. Based on UN Security Council resolution 1031, IFOR, a NATO-led multinational task force was entrusted with enforcing the military aspects of General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP) that was negotiated in Ohio and signed in Paris in 1995.222 After the successful 1996 elections, IFOR had completed its mission and was replaced by Operation Joint Guard/Operation Joint Forge (SFOR), which was mandated by the UN with UN Security Council Resolution 1088. SFOR was to establish a lasting atmosphere of peace in which civilian organizations could contribute to a stable environment. Also, SFOR was to deter any further possible hostilities. Several non-NATO nations such as Argentina, Bulgaria and Morocco participated in SFOR. Russia joined IFOR in January 1996 and was part of SFOR until June 2003 when Moscow took the decision to withdraw Russian soldiers from the Balkans.

This joint operation thus represents the first successful participation of Russian forces in a multinational NATO task force. Still active when the Founding Act was established, it was largely this spirit of cooperation embodied by the IFOR mission that was invoked in Paris. This spirit of cooperation is referred to in the Founding Act: “This Act defines the goals and mechanism of consultation, cooperation, joint decision-making and joint action that will constitute the core of the mutual relations between NATO and Russia.”223 To this effect, both parties made concessions. For example, NATO granted that Russia was “continuing the building of a democratic society and the realisation of its political and economic transformation.”224 Also, both the UN and the OSCE are referred to as guarantors for international cooperation and security, not least as the continued existence of the OSCE was of special concern to Russia. The OSCE was and continues to be seen as the international organization with the greatest potential for representing Russia’s interests and for acting as a counterweight to the European Union. Even so, Russia had already demonstrated its willingness to work within NATO’s military structures in SFOR. Russia and NATO committed themselves to principles of


a strong, stable and enduring and equal partnership; … [acknowledged] the vital role of democracy, political pluralism … and respect for human rights; … [to refrain] from the threat or use of force against each other; … respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all states … and support, on a case-by-case basis, of peacekeeping operations…”.225

The Founding Act establishes the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council in order to “develop common approaches to European security and to political problems.”226 The declared motives behind setting up the PJC are to foster unity of purpose and habits of consultation and cooperation, as well as increasing levels of trust between NATO and Russia. Though Russia remains a member of both EAPC and PfP, the PJC is supposed to be the principal venue of consultation for NATO and Russia when peace and stability are at stake. This is can be seen as further proof for the uniqueness of the relationship between NATO and Russia. However, it is explicitly stated that consultations taking place in the PJC will not address internal matters of Russia, NATO member states, or NATO itself. The document of the Founding Act strikes a careful balance between stressing the “special” relationship that is characterized by equal partnership and interests on the one hand, while on the other being very explicit about the fact that neither party is to interfere in the internal affairs of the other. It is very specifically stipulated that the “[p]rovisions of the Act do not provide NATO or Russia, in any way, with a right of veto over the actions of the other nor do they infringe upon or restrict the rights of NATO or Russia to independent decision-making and action. They cannot be used as a means to disadvantage the interests of other states.”227 This statement can be seen as insurance against any misconceptions that domestic audiences might have; indeed, it is mentioned so frequently as to hint at the possibility that NATO-Russia relations are not quite uncomplicated and free from contention.

The Permanent Joint Council was to meet at various levels, depending on the subject for discussion and the wishes expressed by NATO or the Russian Federation. The Founding Act establishes that the PJC meets twice yearly at the level of foreign ministers and at the level of defense ministers and on a monthly basis at the level of ambassadors/permanent representatives to the North Atlantic Council.228 Where appropriate, the PJC also was to meet at the level of heads of state and government, and committees or working groups for individual areas of cooperation could be established. Military representatives were to meet monthly and chiefs of staff at least twice a year. This civilian-military dual structure mirrors NATO’s internal structure that is divided into a military and a civilian staff. The PJC was to be chaired by a so-called “Troika”: the Secretary General of NATO, a representative of one of the NATO member states on a rotational basis, and a representative of Russia. The agenda for regular session was to be established jointly. Finally, Russia was to send a representative at ambassador level to NATO, but NATO was not committed to sending a representative to Moscow.


The Founding Act turns out to be a path-leading document for identifying areas for cooperation and consultation. The areas that the Founding Act identifies are those areas that will continue to come up in future documents and plans related to NATO-Russia cooperation. The areas range from rather general to Cold War “leftovers” to more ambitious undertakings. The overarching theme is that of NATO and Russia working together in order to enhance security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. All other points are specific undertakings in order to achieve this goal. Specific examples for future NATO-Russia cooperation include: engagement in conflict prevention that includes preventative diplomacy; joint operations, including peacekeeping operations; the exchange of information and consultation on strategy and defence policy; the prevention of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons proliferation, the conducting of joint initiatives and exercises in civil emergency preparedness and disaster relief; improving public understanding of the changed nature of the relationship between NATO and Russia by establishing a NATO documentation and information office in Moscow.229 Article III of the Founding Act (“Areas for Consultation and Cooperation”) also explicitly stipulates that Russia continues to participate in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the Partnership for Peace. This can be understood as an acknowledgement of concerns third countries might have: even though the Founding Act constitutes a special relationship that privileges Russia over other countries, it should be clear to the Russians and third countries that Russia still adheres to the “conventional” rules and structures in place since the early 1990s. Anything else would have run the risk – justified or unjustified – of fuelling fears from Eastern and Central European countries that Russia’s interests and concerns would be of greater importance than their own. Of course, perceptions do matter a great deal with regard to NATO and Russia. Arguably, a viable option open to Central and East European countries, namely accession to NATO, was never seriously extended to Russia. Events that led to the creation of the Permanent Joint Council need to be seen within this context. The first round of NATO enlargement took place in 1999, and negotiations over individual membership programs were already being discussed in 1997. Therefore, perceptions about who received “preferential treatment” from NATO might differ depending on who is asked. One could argue that the Founding Act was a quid-pro-quo gesture in order to “compensate” Russia for the first round of enlargement that made Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic NATO’s first Central European members; a claim which coincides with realist IR theory in terms of bargaining and tit-for-tat interaction.230

Returning to the text of the Founding Act, Article 4 is especially interesting. According to an official at the German Foreign Ministry231, Article 4 was of particular interest and concern to the Russians. Article 4 states that “the member states of NATO reiterate that they have no intention, no plan and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members, nor any need to change any aspect of NATO’s nuclear posture or nuclear policy – and do not foresee any future need to do so”.232 Furthermore, NATO assured Russia that it has no intention of establishing new nuclear weapon storage sites or adapt old nuclear storage facilities on the territory of new member states. In addition, nearly two pages are dedicated to the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. Once again, the document refers to the importance of the OSCE as a guarantor of peace in Europe. The CFE Treaty was signed during the CSCE summit in Paris on 19 November 1990 by 22 members of NATO and the former Warsaw Pact. Its goal is to establish parity in major conventional forces and armaments between East and West from “the Atlantic to the Urals”.233 While problems with the implementation of the CFE Treaty largely emanated from the Russian side, particularly in the mid- to late-1990s, the treaty itself was seen as insurance against the presence of (obsolete) arms in Europe. To this effect, the Founding Act states that

The member states of NATO and Russia proceed on the basis that adaptation of the CFE Treaty should help to ensure equal security for all states parties irrespective of their membership of a politico-military alliance, both to preserve and strengthen stability and continue to prevent any destabilizing increase of forces in various regions of Europe and in Europe as a whole.234 


This is an indicator that such “outdated” topics as arms control were still very much an issue when the Founding Act was drafted. This, in turn, means that even though cooperation and partnership were envisaged, careful manoeuvring with regard to issues that prompted uneasiness was still required.

The Founding Act provided Russia with a permanent body for consultation with NATO. The presence of a Russian ambassador to NATO, as well as that of committee members and staff can be seen as a step forward in NATO-Russia relations. In accordance with constructivist theory, which claims that the exchange of ideas leads to shared norms and values, this spatial rapprochement between NATO and Russian officials could be expected to be regarded as a success. In fact, responses to the Founding Act were more ambivalent. Some observers credited the Founding Act and the Permanent Joint Council with the accomplishment of a historic mission that that would be a solid foundation for future generations to build upon. In June 1998, a conference organized by the Institute of Information on the Social Sciences at the Russian Academy of Sciences (INION RAN) and the NATO Office of Information and Press was held in Moscow to commemorate the first anniversary of the NATO-Russia Founding Act. The conference was part of the 1998 working plan of the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council. Participants included officials from NATO HQ, the Russian government (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense), academics and foreign experts. During the conference, the future of European security and NATO and Russia’s role in it were discussed. Some saw the role of the Permanent Joint Council in a very positive light, such as Daniil Proektor, senior analyst at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences. He claims that the Founding Act is not only a diplomatic document, but also the symbol of an epoch, arguing that though it is as yet too early to assess the exact impact of the Founding Act, it should nonetheless be seen as an element of political culture aiming at working towards a better future.235 Ulrich Brandenburg’s conclusion on the functioning of the Permanent Joint Council is that “…we have begun a useful and promising exercise … Our main message to the Russian side at this point is: ‘The doors are wide open; you have a very important voice at the NATO table. But on the long run, your influence will depend on the degree to which you are willing to get involved with the Alliance’.”236 While generally viewing the Permanent Joint Council in a positive light, Brandenburg hints at criticism often levelled at the Council in particular, as well as at NATO-Russia cooperation more generally.

The underlying criticism that Brandenburg alludes to is more fully explored by Evgeniy Kogan, professor at the National Defense College in Stockholm:


It seems that, despite the signing of the NATO – Russia Founding Act over a year ago, issues which divided NATO and Russia in the past are still on the agenda … the fear of NATO expanding up to Russia’s border has been neither forgotten nor lightly dismissed. The Founding Act was supposed to facilitate unresolved issues as well as to promote new joint projects for cooperation. The reality, however, has proved to be different.237 

The difference between rhetoric, ambition, and reality is a recurring observation made by many analysts. This difference also lies at the heart of this dissertation’s purpose, which seeks to establish patterns of interaction and consequently needs to distinguish between the above-mentioned rhetoric, ambition and reality. The reasons for this discrepancy are plentiful. Kogan posits that one reason for the suboptimal functioning of the PJC is connected to Russia’s loss of superpower status and the perceived humiliations that Russia had been subjugated to ever since the end of the Cold War. Kogan’s argument is keeping in line with my first hypothesis, but where I argue that both sides find themselves confronted with the problem of shaking off the past, he argues that it is mainly Russia’s attitude that stands in the way of better cooperation. He states that

[t]oday it is an established fact that Russia and NATO no longer regard each other as adversaries. The major question, however, is still are they equal partners and not simply partners…? Undoubtedly, this question, in particular, will preoccupy the Russian side in the long term. At issue is not just phraseology but status, respect and strength.238 


The words that Kogan chose to describe what the “issue” is are very pertinent and of some importance. Status, respect and strength were – and continue to be – a leitmotif. The importance of those words and their meaning for Russian behavior can not be underestimated. Even though, as Kogan observes, cooperation now stands in lieu of confrontation as the sine qua non of interstate relations in Europe, and with them, NATO-Russia relations, status, strength and respect continue to shape behavioral patterns. Kogan goes so far as to say that “inward-looking Russia, which has to concentrate its efforts on the home front, is less preoccupied with NATO issues than with being anti-NATO, in order to pacify its domestic politicians and keep alive its vision of grandeur.”239 Therefore, “…it is important for NATO to stand firm, as well as to project the image of being united and not easily intimidated.”240 “Intimidated” certainly is not a word that one would associate with partnership and cooperation. Kogan concludes that “despite the signing of the NATO – Russia Founding Act over a year ago, issues which divided NATO and Russia in the past are still on the agenda…”241 However, he does not exclude the possibility that more fruitful cooperation might occur in the future, since both Russia and NATO are too important for the general security structure of the European continent.

Other analysts have praised existing structures that have encouraged the continuous decline of “old” security issues, such as the accrual of weapons and defense industries. Gebhardt Weiss, an official at the German Foreign Ministry, notes the efforts undertaken by NATO and Russia to reduce weapon stockpiles, claiming that there has been a change in the mindset of both former Eastern bloc and Western countries with regard to what constitutes a threat.242 NATO in particular, he contends, has made a consistent effort to reduce conventional arms. However, efforts to limit conventional weapons mainly occur within the context of the CFE Treaty, and only to a lesser extent in a purely bilateral NATO-Russia setting. Weiss advocates the replacement “of the old system with its broad strategic balance of forces … with a new one based on a higher level of conventional stability backed by firm arms control achievements, which within this framework will allow countries only predictable and appropriately limited crisis response capabilities.”243 Overall, Weiss gives a positive verdict on the developments in security policy that have taken place since the end of the Cold War. Generally speaking, opinions on the success of the PJC, and NATO-Russia relations at the time of the PJC are varied. The overwhelming majority of appraisals are usually restricted to the existence of the PJC in a historical context; i.e., the mere fact that Russia and NATO are no longer set on destroying each other. Other positive evaluations praise out-of-PJC structures, as I have shown. The vast majority of analysts consider that the existence of the PJC is indeed essential, but that there is still a lot of room for improvement. In fact, one could read an implicit call for restructuring in many articles that outwardly praise the PJC. Today, with the benefit of hindsight, the number of voices openly suggesting that the PJC did not live up to its expectations have increased. On the other hand, it has been suggested that the PJC was a product of its time and therefore overly ambitious expectations were bound to be disappointed.

According to one NATO official, there were two phases of NATO-Russia interaction in the mid-1990s244, consisting of two different ideational approaches to what that interaction should look like. The official turning point in NATO-Russia relations in the mid- to late-1990s is generally perceived to be the war in Kosovo.245 However, this dissertation claims that, contrary to the usual assumption that the Kosovo crisis disrupted a hitherto productive and successful relationship, NATO-Russia relations during the 1990s were never as unproblematic and productive as the language in the Founding Act suggests. The two different phases mentioned above support this claim. The first phase consisted in an effort to identify issues that needed to be addressed with regard to the legacy of the past; the establishment of a working environment of trust and transparency, as well as becoming accustomed to sitting at the same conference table in a setting where meetings were held for the sake of holding meetings.246 The work of the PJC fell mostly within the first category. According to one NATO official, the PJC mainly served to take a “rudimentary steps forward”, focusing largely on topics such as military doctrines and infrastructures. One notable exception concerned a more future-oriented issue, namely peace-keeping missions. In fact, by the time the Founding Act was signed, Russian troops were already stationed in the Balkans working alongside NATO troops. However, as the same NATO official pointed out, the debate on future joint peace-keeping missions took place on an ad-hoc basis, and not within the framework of the PJC.247


The second phase of NATO-Russia relations in the 1990s was characterized by philosophical and holistic considerations: a debate ensued about the future of the partnership and whether or not Russia should be seen as a long-term partner, complete with an assessment of what potential shared interests there were between NATO and Russia, and what responses to these threats could be feasible. The question about where the emphasis for future cooperation should lie was implicit in these debates.248 However, this second phase was never fully and successfully explored. As mentioned before, the only practical application of NATO-Russia relations, namely the joint peace-keeping efforts in the Balkans, was decided upon on an ad-hoc basis, thus foregoing the opportunity to institutionalize joint partnership ventures. This, in turn, meant that “Phase I” activities, such as trust-building measures and the effort to overcome the legacy of the Cold War, took center stage in the discussion over the strategic relationship between NATO and Russia and its future. As mentioned before, some analysts have put forward the notion that “Phase I” activities in themselves constitute a positive development in NATO-Russia relations. While this is certainly not wrong, it does not satisfy the expectations raised by the language of the Founding Act, or the language used more generally in relation to developments connected to the collapse of the bipolar world order. Therefore, the crisis over Kosovo that prompted the Russians to discontinue all PJC activities was not the trigger for the catastrophic rupture in relations between NATO and Russia as is generally believed. One NATO official hypothesized that Kosovo did not destroy anything that was of real value.249 In fact, only 20 months had passed between the implementation of the Permanent Joint Council and the escalation of conflict in Kosovo. Consequently, the suspension of the PJC resulted largely in a bureaucratic crisis, rather than a full-blown political crisis, according to the same NATO official.250 Moreover, the NATO official in question claims that neither side had been investing a lot of political effort or will into the PJC and that therefore the disbanding of the PJC did not signify a major sacrifice. Instead, he suggests that another event that took place in the late 90s energized the relationship between NATO and Russia: the resignation of Boris Yeltsin and the presidency of Vladimir Putin.251

In summary, the Founding Act and the Permanent Joint Council did not match the rhetoric surrounding their implementation. Even though the establishment of the PJC represented a move away from the Cold War status quo, it did not materially produce “added value” to the relationship between NATO and Russia – with the possible exception of creating a framework within which representatives could meet and familiarize themselves with each other. Some analysts have suggested that the PJC’s potential was not fully used, which is correct to a certain extent. However, considering the circumstances under which it was created – only 6 years after the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the history it was faced with, it was not a complete failure either. The ambitious phrasing often used in treaties does not necessarily result in the revolutionizing of existing structures. I would argue that it is wrong to suggest that the PJC did not live up to its expectations, since structural constraints stymied the two actors’ attempt at building a partnership. This was exacerbated by the relatively short amount of time that had passed since the end of the Cold War. In order to assess whether it was simply premature to proclaim successful NATO-Russia cooperation, or whether the problems encountered in the PJC were indeed more far-reaching, it is necessary to analyze the second treaty that has shaped NATO-Russia relations in the past 15 years: the NATO-Russia Council.

3.2.2. The NATO-Russia Council (2002)

After the suspension of the Permanent Joint Council in the spring of 1999, NATO-Russia relations did not encounter any significant changes. Even though NATO and Russia no longer had the opportunity to meet within an institutionalized setting and were thus also deprived of the opportunity to develop patterns of interaction, the material outcome of the partnership between the two actors did not change fundamentally. With the exception of some very tense moments during the Kosovo crisis, NATO and Russia did not experience complete fallout. The most difficult situation, involving the deployment of Russian soldiers at Pristina airport on 12 June 1999 in Kosovo without NATO’s approval or knowledge, was diffused fairly quickly. Russian troops stayed on in Kosovo and worked alongside KFOR troops until June 2003, when the Russian government decided to end Russian participation in KFOR. Therefore, the new “ice age” that some feared would emerge after the conflict in Kosovo erupted did not materialize. On the other hand, the disbanding of the PJC did represent a setback for the effort to create solid institutions around the rather fickle relationship between NATO and Russia. Interestingly enough, the issue that was dealt with in an ad-hoc manner, joint peacekeeping operations, turned out to be the only joint venture that endured. Analysts differ in their assessments of the motivation behind Russia’s continued participation in KFOR. While some see KFOR in a very positive light and credit the PJC with laying a foundation of trust between NATO and Russia that enabled KFOR, others suggest that Russia sent troops to Kosovo to retain a certain degree of influence over events. In other words, in spite of the PJC, Russia mistrusted NATO enough to send its own troops. I would argue that the second line of argument is more accurate than the first one, and that therefore the PJC did not fulfil the goals it set for itself in terms of trust-building measures. On the other hand, it is also legitimate to argue that the continued joint peace-keeping mission that NATO and Russia engaged in until 2003, almost in spite of itself, resulted in a new opportunity for improved relations. As NATO and Russia continued to clash, they also saw that avoiding each other or openly confronting each other was no longer an option. This issue has already been introduced in the theory chapter: NATO and Russia interact because they must – they have no choice. In the case of KFOR, the continued proximity of both actors forced them to reconsider the status of their relationship. The PJC being a thing of the past, the focus now lay on reinventing the relationship rather than analyzing what went wrong during the first try, i.e., the PJC.


That effort was consciously made after emotions over Kosovo had subsided. The outcome of these efforts was the establishment of the NATO-Russia Council at NATO’s Rome summit on 28 May 2002.252 The language of the Statement on the NATO-Russia Council is reminiscent of that of the Founding Act, while at the same time going several important steps further. The tone is almost jubilant, and optimism sounds in every sentence:

Today we have launched a new era in NATO-Russia cooperation. We, the Heads of government of the member states of [NATO] and the Russian Federation, have today signed a Declaration, “NATO–Russia relations: A New Quality”, establishing a new body, the NATO-Russia Council, which we are committed to making an effective forum for consensus-building, consultations, joint decisions, and joint actions. We enter this new level of cooperation with a great sense of responsibility and equally great resolve to forge a safer and more prosperous future for all our nations.253 

The key word in this section is of course “new”. It seems as though both sides are relieved to leave the past behind them and see an opportunity to engage in a new and improved partnership. An effort was made to identify specific issues that created problems and misunderstandings in previous settings, such as the PJC. For instance, the first page of the Statement on the NRC proclaims that “In the NATO-Russia Council, NATO member states and Russia will work as equal partners in areas of common interest”.254 The second crucial word in this statement is “equal”. This is a quantum leap from the Founding Act. Whereas in 1997 it was revolutionary to proclaim that NATO and Russia were no longer enemies, in 2002 a further step forward needed to be taken towards establishing equality between the two partners. As mentioned before in section 3.2.1: in relation to the PJC, the perceived inequality between NATO and Russia that was felt acutely in Russia lay at the heart of many conflicts and confrontations that hindered the work of the PJC. Even though most Western analysts tended to dismiss this perception of inequality by the Russians as something that they would need to address by giving up their superpower ambitions once and for all, it nevertheless needs to be taken into account as it has important explanatory power with regard to Russian behavior.


The solution to the inequality issue is included in the Statement of the NATO-Russia Council. A structural weakness of the PJC as far as the Russians were concerned was the format of meetings. The Troika format – Secretary General, Russia and one representative of one of the NATO member states on a rotation basis – of the PJC left the Russians with the impression that they were facing NATO “1 against 19”, and that NATO’s stance was already established before Russia had even had the opportunity to express its point of view.255 This format was changed in favour for “joint action at 20” in the NRC; all nations sat at the negotiating table and not just an envoy who spoke on behalf of all. In the Declaration by heads of state and government of NATO Member States and the Russian Federation, it is established that

Building on the Founding Act and taking into account the initiative taken by our Foreign Ministers…, to bring together NATO member states and Russia to identify and pursue opportunities for joint action at twenty, we hereby establish the NATO-Russia Council. In the framework of the NATO-Russia Council, NATO member states and Russia will work as equal partners in areas of common interest, The NATO-Russia Council will provide a mechanism for consultation, consensus-building, cooperation, joint decision, and joint action for the member states of NATO and Russia on a wider spectrum of security issues in the Euro-Atlantic region.256

The structure of the NRC has similarities to that of the PJC, with the major exception of “the NRC at 20” instead of “19+1”, or, as in the Russian perception, “19 against 1”. The NRC is chaired by the Secretary General of NATO and meets at the level of foreign ministers and defense ministers twice a year, as well as at the level of heads of states and government as deemed appropriate. Ambassadors meet at least once a month, with a possibility of extraordinary meetings if deemed necessary by any member of the NRC or the NATO Secretary General. Permanent and ad-hoc working groups as well as preparatory committees are working to support meetings of the NRC, with Russian representation in each group.257 Mirroring the civilian structures, chiefs of staff meet twice a year and military representatives meet once a month. Extraordinary meetings can be scheduled as appropriate.258 With these structures, the NRC effectively replaces the PJC.


NATO’s official stance on the NRC had been very positive from the outset. Open hostilities are not and never have been in either NATO’s or Russia’s interest, and the disbanding of the PJC, although not as catastrophic as it seemed, did constitute a symbolic and psychological setback. Therefore, resuming relations in an institutionalized setting was important for both sides. NATO’s official line was that

The NATO-Russia Council (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 ... The spirit of meetings has dramatically changed under the NRC, in which Russia and NATO member states meet as equals ‘at 27’ – instead of in the bilateral “NATO+1” format under the PJC ... Since its establishment, the NRC has evolved into a productive mechanism for consultation, consensus-building, cooperation, joint decision and joint action. It has created several working groups and committees to develop cooperation on terrorism, proliferation, peacekeeping, theatre missile defence, airspace management, civil emergencies, defence reform, logistics, and scientific cooperation and on challenges of modern society.259 

Two years later, the tone was no less optimistic: after the ministerial meeting of the NRC on 4 December 2003, then-NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson, just a few days before he handed over the post of Secretary General to Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, said in a meeting with the press that “[o]nce more the new spirit of NATO-Russia cooperation was crystal clear. This is one of the biggest changes NATO has brought about over the past four years of my term. As I prepare to step down, it is one of my biggest sources of satisfaction.” 260 Furthermore, the emphasis lay on the general success and importance of continuing NATO-Russia relations: “Welcoming significant progress in all areas of practical cooperation, NRC Foreign Ministers expressed their commitment to an intensified and growing partnership between NATO member states and Russia.”261 These statements are reminiscent of statements made in the context of the PJC; however, the actual steps taken to strengthen that partnership differed somewhat from those of the Founding Act.


The Declaration on the NRC offers a greater amount of detail with regard to specific areas of cooperation between NATO and Russia than the Founding Act did. Whereas the Founding Act included a long list of general and abstract areas of cooperation such as the exchange of information and increasing transparency, the topics identified in the Declaration on the NRC are limited to actual policy matters. Arguably, the crisis over Kosovo contributed to both actors being able to identify these issues. The Statement on the NRC proclaims that

Building on the Founding Act and its wide range of cooperation, the NATO-Russia Council will intensity efforts in the struggle against terrorism, crisis management, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, arms control and confidence-building measures, theatre missile defence, search and rescue at sea, military-to-military cooperation and defence reform, and civil emergencies, as well as in other areas … We have agreed to an ambitious work programme that will guide our cooperation in the coming months. We will pursue specific projects in areas important to Euro-Atlantic security…262 

The most prominent and specific issue identified in the Declaration on the NRC is inevitably the joint struggle against terrorism. The events of 9/11 and the ensuing war on terror opened up a whole new range of opportunities for cooperation between Russia and Western institutions in general.263 Vladimir Putin’s immediate reaction in favor of supporting the US in the air strike against Afghanistan enabled a new positioning of Russia with regard to the West in general, and especially NATO.


Other areas for cooperation, such as conflict prevention, crisis management, arms control and non-proliferation, and especially civil emergency, had already been introduced in the Founding Act. The actual policy outcomes addressing these areas for cooperation were not overwhelmingly plentiful, as previously noted. The most successful area of cooperation, arms control, took place under the auspices of the OSCE. However, one area of cooperation introduced in the NRC was to gain prominence over the course of the years. Search and rescue at sea turned out to become one of the “flagships” of visible cooperation between NATO and Russia. In the Declaration on the NRC, NATO and Russia agreed to “monitor the implementation of the NATO-Russia Framework Document on Submarine Crew Rescue and continue to promote cooperation, transparency and confidence between NATO and Russia in the area of search and rescue at sea”.264 Traditionally a subject of secrecy and delicacy, it was far from obvious that submarines and their control systems would become the object of cooperation between NATO and Russia. The catastrophic events surrounding the sinking of the Russian submarine Kursk on 12 August 2000 certainly contributed to raising the profile of search and rescue at sea. Putin’s handling of the crisis was widely criticized and prompted Western observers to decry the Cold War-way of dealing with the accident. Russia had refused help offered by Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States in favor of handling the crisis independently. However, due to lack of proper equipment, the rescue efforts failed and all 118 crew members of the Kursk died. The slow and sometimes incorrect information policy that the Kremlin chose gave rise to criticism both from within Russia and from abroad. Norwegian divers ultimately discovered the bodies of the crew members when they got to the wreckage of the Kursk over a week later.

In December 2001, NATO defense and foreign ministers met with Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. General NATO-Russia relations were discussed, as well as the peace-keeping mission in the Balkans. These were the first ministerial meetings after the initial meetings that had taken place following the disbanding of the Permanent Joint Council in the spring of 1999. On 5 December, defense ministers discussed defense reform and restructuring of the armed forces, and, crucially, defense ministers agreed to a working program that specifically advocated search and rescue at sea. Search and rescue at sea has thus become a topic that is well integrated into NATO-Russia cooperative structures. This became especially obvious in August 2005, when a situation similar to the Kursk incident arose with the sinking of a Russian submarine off the coast of Kamchatka. This time, Russia proactively requested NATO’s help in the form of remote-controlled vehicles that were needed for rescuing the crew members. Rescue efforts were successful this time and Russia did not feel that that it was a loss of face to request help from NATO. This was also partly due to NATO’s structural efforts to deal with submarine safety. Operation Sorbet Royal 2005 was a major NATO live submarine escape and rescue exercise, involving ships, aircraft and submarines.265 It was held in the Mediterranean off the coast of Taranto, Italy from 17 – 30 June 2005 and included about 2,000 participants from 14 partner nations, including the 3 partner countries Russia, Ukraine and Israel.266 The exercise was designed to test international submarine escape and rescue personnel, equipment and procedures in order to be able to cope with the most extreme submarine rescue missions. For three weeks, submarines with a full crew onboard from Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey were ‘sunk’ to the bottom. Rescue vehicles and systems from Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, together with specialist divers, medical teams and support and salvage ships from Canada, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, worked together to solve complex rescue and medical problems.267 Having participated in this exercise, Russia felt comfortable asking for help when it was needed. The fact that ACT Norfolk268 provided this kind of assistance not on an ad-hoc but a regular basis made it easier for Russia to accept it as such.269

Today, institutionalized NATO-Russia relations are still under the auspices of the NRC. The Rome Declaration of 28 May 2002 serves as the blueprint for NATO-Russia relations. Regular meetings are held, NATO has a presence in Moscow in the form of a Military Liaison Office and an Information Office, and Russia has sent an ambassador to NATO. The INION RAN in Moscow serves as the main source of information concerning NATO in general and NATO-Russia cooperation in particular, and NATO’s office of Information and Press publishes a plethora of material concerning steps taken by NATO and Russia towards an ever-closer partnership. All relevant NATO websites offer a Russian version, and handbooks discussing the evolution of the partnerships are widely available both in Russia and in the NATO member states. The status quo of NATO-Russia relations is officially hailed by NATO as being innovative and productive relations, driven by the “new spirit” that was born out of the establishment of the NATO-Russia Council. However, voices from the Russian side have consistently been less exuberant. Even though the official position does not differ much from NATO’s, Russia has often voiced concerns about its position vis-à-vis NATO in general. Generally, statements by the Russian side sound somewhat more restrained than NATO’s statements. Still, compared to the thinly-veiled hostility that could sometimes be discerned at the time of PJC meetings when the Russians met NATO in what it perceived to be a “20 against 1” forum270, statements emanating from Russia since the implementation of the NRC have been more positive.


Overall, the NRC is considered a much better institutional tool than the PJC was. Both Russia and NATO’s official stances on the NRC are positive, claiming a productive and innovative modus operandi within NRC structures. Similarly, analysts largely view the NRC in a positive light. However, there are important distinctions made between the NRC in general and the specific work it is able to do. Metaphysically speaking, the NRC is a crucial tool for channelling NATO-Russia relations. Therefore, analysts like Dmitri Trenin label the NRC an “adequate instrument”, a platform whose rewards are felt both by Russia and by NATO.271 According to Trenin, the NRC is working “pretty well” and currently there is no alternative platform for NATO-Russia interaction. Trenin includes an important caveat in this positive assessment, though, maintaining that NATO has been trivialized in the last few years. This important point will be discussed in more detail in the following paragraphs, suffice it to say here that this assessment supports my hypothesis about the structural confines within which NATO and Russia find themselves. One could argue that NATO and Russia hit a glass ceiling in their efforts to cooperate; the discontinuation of the PJC made this especially obvious. Even though the topics that cause contention between the two actors change, they do not completely disappear. One might argue that this is indeed the case in any relationship in international relations. However, the question that arises with regard to NATO and Russia is whether it is possible for them to reach a point when their partnership either disappears, or becomes trivial, as Trenin has suggested.

Others see the NRC as a necessary step on the way towards Russian integration into NATO’s structures. Tatiana Parkhalina, deputy director of INION RAN, describes the NRC is as an adequate platform for the “present situation”.272 Parkhalina advocates not only a NATO-Russia partnership; she argues that Russia has to “join” the West, as anything else would be a catastrophe for Russia. According to Parkhalina, the work of the NRC is far from perfect and results are not always satisfactory. Nevertheless, she sees the NRC as one step within a process that will ultimately lead to Russia being a full member of the various “Western clubs”273. Another interpretation of the role of the NRC is that it gives Russia a platform that it doesn’t enjoy to the same extent in any other international organization, with the possible exception of the G8. Fyodor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of Russia in International Affairs, contends that the NRC is a very useful tool for advancing Russia’s interest within NATO.274 He alludes to the general Russian preference for a “special” platform in international organizations that provides Russia with the chance to discuss matters that affect its national interests. For example, this platform is conspicuously absent in EU-Russia relations, which is an ongoing subject of criticism by the Russians. Therefore, the NRC should have relatively good standing with Russia. However, Lukyanov also picks up on the skepticism that was already voiced by Parkhalina and Trenin, namely the trivialization of issues discussed by NATO and Russia.275 According to Lukyanov, the question arises whether cooperation between NATO and Russia is viewed so positively because there is nothing to discuss.276 This assessment of the current state of not only the NRC but NATO-Russia relations in general constitutes a vital foundation for this dissertation, and will be discussed in more detail in the next section of this chapter.

3.2.3. Interim conclusions

In light of the ambiguous, but overall positive responses that the NRC has evoked from many sides, it is important to realize that throughout the process of redefining NATO-Russia relations, there have always been analysts that have viewed the holistic process of NATO-Russia integration rather negatively. Dmitri Rogozin, former chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian State Duma, has argued that the actual outcomes of efforts to strengthen NATO-Russia relations have been flawed from the instigation of the PJC. Even though he underlines that generally speaking, it is very much in Russia’s (and NATO’s) interest to advance their cooperation, he is critical of what has been achieved. Sharply criticizing NATO’s intentions to expand eastwards, he argues that the NRC was designed as an instrument for keeping Russia quiet with regard to enlargement.277 This, according to Rogozin, put NATO and Russia on a flawed path of interaction that would ultimately prevent real cooperation:


What is more likely to cause serious damage to the prospects of forming a workable mechanism for cooperation between Russia and NATO-Alliance than enlargement before such a mechanism is created, or a rushed plan to institute it that gives birth to immature and ineffective structures? ... We have already had a negative experience with rushed decisions in this area. In 1997 everyone was in a hurry to conclude the Founding Act and to set up the Permanent Joint Council (PJC) to dampen the negative effect of the first wave of NATO enlargement. As a result, we created a very imperfect structure without adding much mutual trust ... Rushing will result in poorly functioning cooperation structures that will undermine rather than strengthen mutual trust; NATO-Russia relations are too important for this...278 

This was not a minority viewpoint in Russian politics in the early 2000s. Rather, it is a representative statement that is important for understanding the development of NATO-Russia relations in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The main hypothesis of this thesis, which claims that NATO and Russia are caught in structural confines that make it difficult for them to engage in cooperation free of competition, is reflected in Rogozin’s statement, even though the context of enlargement is no longer topical today.

The underlying issue is that of cooperation between partners whose capabilities are unevenly distributed. After Rogozin’s concerns went unheeded and the second round of enlargement had taken place, the emphasis on improved cooperation between NATO and Russia once again became paramount in official discourse, especially with the implementation of the NRC in 2002. The pendulum seemed to have moved once more towards the “cooperation” end of the spectrum of NATO-Russia relations, leaving behind the PJC years of stagnation and the Kosovo- and enlargement years of conflict. How much this assessment reflects reality, and how likely it is that the pendulum will swing back towards confrontation is once again open for discussion. Suffice to say at this point that the NRC is the foundation of NATO-Russia relations, and, for better or for worse, will continue to be in the near future. Viewing the implementation of the NRC through a realist lens, one would contend that this was NATO’s way of compensating Russia for the second round of eastward enlargement. The admission of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia to NATO on 29 March 2004 brought NATO up to Russia’s borders. Russia also perceived heightened anti-Russian feeling emanating from the new NATO member states. Justified or not, this perceived threat to Russia’s interests further tipped the scale in NATO’s favor as far as Russia was concerned.279 The Baltic states’ admittance into NATO was Russia’s greatest grievance, both on a psychological and geostrategic level due to the exclave of Kaliningrad, which is now fully surrounded by NATO territory. For all the above-mentioned reasons, the establishment of the NRC could be considered as a classic example of bargaining between two powers where one has a comparative advantage over the other.


On the other hand, an argument can also be made using a constructivist worldview. As mentioned above, the most prominent issue for the NRC was and continues to be the war against terror. With his unambivalent and speedy endorsement of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, President Vladimir Putin laid the foundation on which the majority of NATO – Russia cooperation has subsequently been built. The opening sentence of the Declaration on the NRC is a testament to the newly-found consensus between NATO and Russia:

At the start of the 21st century we live in a new, closely interrelated world, in which unprecedented new threats and challenges demand increasingly united responses. Consequently, we, the member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Russian Federation are today opening a new page in our relations, aimed at enhancing our ability to work together in areas of common interest and to stand together against common threats and risks to our security.280 

The “new quality” in NATO-Russia relations largely referred to the common ground both actors had found in the fight against terrorism. Therefore, those who see a convergence of norms and interests between NATO and Russia would point towards an ever-increasing willingness of both actors to work together and overcome old animosities.


Arguably, both enlargement and 9/11 could be regarded as two sides of the same coin. The above-mentioned “pendulum” dynamic that often characterizes NATO-Russia relations explains the near fall-out over Kosovo, the heated debates over enlargement and also the “new quality” in cooperation that the aftermath of 9/11 offered. Therefore, in spite of the PJC and the role it had played in advancing cooperation between NATO and Russia, NATO enlargement continued to be a sensitive topic for Russia. Karl-Heinz Kamp comments that

The general tone of Russia’s declarations concerning NATO has differed greatly over time. While on occasions the Russian government has said that as a ‘relic of the Cold War’, NATO, like the Warsaw Pact, should be dissolved, on other occasions the Kremlin’s position on NATO has been much more relaxed. With regard to enlargement, however, Moscow’s rejection has been remarkably consistent (with only very few exceptions) since 1994. Russia has been deeply concerned that the dominant (indeed, to a great extent, the only) security organization in Europe should be an alliance of which Russia is not a member ... The prospect that more and more NATO members from the former Warsaw Pact will have a deep, historically derived anti-Russian prejudices is worrisome.281 

With the benefit of hindsight it has become clear that NATO enlargement, worrisome as it might have been and continues to be for Russia, did not in fact provoke a new fall-out between NATO and Russia. Even though anti-Russian prejudices continue to be a matter of concern for Moscow, the NRC continues with its working agenda. It is open to interpretation whether Russia accepted enlargement because it had no way of stopping it – realism in its most basic form – or whether it seized the opportunity for creating a new, united Europe by giving its consent for enlargement – a constructivists’ argument. The consensus among analysts is that the former is the case. This has several implications for NATO-Russia interaction. Firstly, it supports the hypothesis that norm convergence has not yet reached a stage where Russia is included – or wants to be included – in Western discourse about what is “good and desirable” for Europe, to use Martha Finnemore’s words.282 Secondly, this also implies that it is feasible for new issues of contention to emerge over time. These could be disputes involving disagreements over geopolitical matters, or over specific topics, such as how to fight the war on terror. Third, this means that the “pendulum” of NATO-Russia relations, though stabilizing on the cooperation side, it will not necessarily stay there. Fourth, the label “cooperation” per se is open to interpretation with regard to outcome intensity. The above-mentioned glass ceiling that NATO and Russia risk of hitting when they discuss matters outside the smallest common denominator is arguably still very much in place. Keeping these four factors in mind, I will now discuss some of the areas of cooperation have already been introduced in this chapter in greater detail.

3.3. Issues of NATO-Russia interaction

3.3.1.  The Balkans


As mentioned earlier, certain misconceptions exist about the history of cooperation between NATO and Russia in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Kosovo, generally considered to be the low point in NATO-Russia relations after the end of the Cold War, resulted in the temporary disbanding of the PJC, but not in Russian troops pulling out of the Balkans. According to one NATO official, interaction between Russian and NATO officials was not very different in the spring of 1999 and in the spring of 2000.283 In other words, the Kosovo crisis exposed the underlying points of contention between NATO and Russia that existed in spite of the PJC. This is revealing, as meeting minutes of the PJC suggest that efforts were made by both sides to increase cooperation. From the onset of the PJC, possibilities for joint peacekeeping activities were discussed; for example, 4 months after the implementation of the PJC, at the ambassadorial meeting on 24 October 1997, NATO and Russia exchanged views on the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, including NATO-Russia cooperation in SFOR. A political-military working group of peacekeeping experts was set up.284 At the ambassadorial meeting on 12 December, NATO and Russia again discussed the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Furthermore, they agreed that NATO member states and Russia would continue to work together with the other OSCE states to enhance the CFE Treaty’s viability and effectiveness.285 This pattern was repeated at every meeting of the PJC, whether at ambassadorial or at ministerial level. Cooperation in SFOR constituted the main topic for discussion, and other topics were added on an ad-hoc basis. The minutes for every meeting held between late 1997 until early 1999 begin by stating that NATO and Russia discussed the situation in the Balkans. An issue of “lesser importance” was then discussed, interestingly generally yielding more specific outcomes than the general discussions about the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. For example, on 21 January 1998, the ambassadors agreed to building upon a joint NATO-Russia workshop on the retraining of retired military officers held in early December 1997. The ambassadors discussed whether further activities within this area should be pursued as was stipulated in the PJC Work Programme for 1998.286 Other examples of “non-Balkan” topics included the continued dialogue on disarmament and nuclear weapon control (29 April 1998), the opening of the NATO Documentation Centre for European Security Issues in February 1998 in Moscow (28 May 1998 at the military representatives’ meeting in Luxemburg), and negotiations on the establishment of reciprocal Military Liaison Missions as mentioned in the Founding Act (28 May 1998). Also, a memorandum of understanding on scientific cooperation between NATO and Russia was signed at the 28 May military representatives meeting.287

The minutes of the PJC meetings at their different levels reveal that a dialogue between NATO and Russia was in place that sought to identify areas of common interest. The overarching topic was the situation in the Balkans. However, at the same time, this was also the topic on which the least specific statements are available. This suggests that the situation in the Balkans was a delicate topic for NATO and Russia, even though both actors had troops stationed in Bosnia-Herzegovina and were thus linked to each other beyond the institutionalized framework that the PJC offered. Of course, one could also argue that the joint peacekeeping efforts of NATO and Russia were so effective that little discussion on the matter was necessary. After all, Russian forces had been deployed in order to support NATO in Bosnia on 13 January 1996 and had been stationed there ever since. The relatively low profile of discussions held over the peacekeeping efforts in the Balkans suggests that – either due to the sensitivity of the topic or to the success of IFOR/SFOR – neither side saw the need for extended discussions, and therefore concentrated on other matters on the PJC working agenda, such as setting up various information centers in Moscow and Brussels. The continued focus on interoperability that is a recurring theme in NATO-Russia relations also suggests that cooperation in IFOR/SFOR was a separate rather than a joint venture in terms of military action. This is hardly surprising, considering the fact that NATO and Russia’s military assets were designed to fight each other, not to cooperate. However, one NATO official’s assessment of the overall situation in IFOR was that it was a positive experience that laid the foundation for future cooperation.288 According to him, cooperation between NATO and Russian forces is a long process, and cannot by any means be considered a fait accompli as yet.289

Therefore, the joint peacekeeping mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina – although revolutionary at the time, as NATO and Russian forces were working together less than 5 years after the disintegration of the Soviet Union – could be described as benevolent coexistence, rather than large-scale cooperation. IFOR turned into SFOR in December 1996, with no material changes to Russia’s participation in the mission. The minutes of the ambassadorial meeting of 29 April 1998 reveal that it focused on the continuation of NATO-Russia cooperation in SFOR, implying that SFOR was actually considered to be one of the cornerstones of NATO-Russia interaction. Events that took place starting in the summer of 1998 put a preliminary end to this first phase of benevolent side-by-side existence between NATO and Russia. Events in Kosovo first came up in PJC meeting at the level of Defense Ministers on 12 June 1998. During this meeting, defense ministers from the NATO member states and Russia discussed the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina – which was by then standard procedure – including SFOR operations, and, for the first time, the international community’s response to the unfolding crisis in Kosovo. At this point, the ministers specifically made it a point to agree to continue NATO-Russia cooperation in SFOR, while at the same time condemning Belgrade’s “massive and disproportionate” use of force as well as violent attacks by Kosovar Albanian extremists.290 The ministers reaffirmed the determination to contribute to international efforts to resolve the crisis and to promote stability in the area.291 This statement is fully in line with statements previously made at a PJC meeting concerning the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. However, the standard phrases of joint responsibility and opportunity of NATO and Russia with regard to the Balkans were to be discontinued some months later.


Throughout the second half of 1998, events in Kosovo were discussed at every PJC meeting, both at the ambassadorial and the ministerial level. They emerged as one of the issues that took center stage in the PJC, which can be considered as a logical consequence of the handling of the crisis in Bosnia-Herzegovina. During the summer of 1998, discussions about the situation in Kosovo were very cooperative and moderate in tone. In fact, these discussions were reminiscent of the agreement which NATO and Russia had come to with regard to the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which, as mentioned before, could not truly be classified as cooperation, but more as benevolent side-by-side existence. On 18 June 1998 at an extraordinary ambassadorial meeting, NATO and Russia exchanged views on the situation in Kosovo and on the international community’s response to the crisis following the meeting of the President of the Russian Federation and the President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in Moscow in early June.292 The focus on the effort of the international community in general suggests that in the early months of the crisis, both NATO and Russia sought to assume their responsibilities within the international community, i.e., both actively pursued an internationally sanctioned, institutionalized solution to the crisis. However, initial concerns about the way the crisis was handled were voiced as early as July 1998, when the topic for discussion at the ambassadorial PJC meeting was the progress on information policy toward Russia, and the way ahead in this area.293 This suggests that Russia did indeed feel the need for a better information policy, not only with regard to Kosovo, but more generally as well – an issue that was characteristic for NATO-Russia relations before the crisis in Kosovo. This also links to the above-mentioned problem that Russia had with the 19 plus 1 format of the PJC: there was an acute feeling of being left out of the decision-making process on the Russian side. Most analysts would claim that it is only logical that Russia does not have a say in NATO’s internal matters. Nevertheless, this perceived lack of information is crucial for understanding some of the Russian reactions that emerged in the mid- to late-1990s, especially with regard to the unfolding crisis in Kosovo.

Interestingly, the eventual disbanding of the PJC was not so much the result of a slow deterioration of relations – instead, it happened rather abruptly. On 17 February 1999 ambassadors discussed the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo and expressed full support for the ongoing peace talks at Rambouillet. On 17 March, the ambassadors received a briefing on the meeting of the chiefs of staff that was held in March 1999 and continued consultations on the crisis in Kosovo.294 The meeting on 17 March was the last time NATO and Russian officials met under the auspices of the PJC before it was temporarily suspended. The next ambassadorial meeting, scheduled for 15 April 1999, did not take place as Russia suspended its cooperation with NATO following the North Atlantic Council’s decision of 23 March to authorize NATO air strikes against strategic targets in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in light of the repressions against the Kosovar Albanians.295 The rather abrupt end to the PJC suggests that the actual decision to confront NATO was taken on another level, namely by the Kremlin itself; otherwise, there would have been indications of a fallout earlier on in 1999. However, as mentioned above, up until the last meeting of the PJC, the language used and the issues discussed remained consistent. Arguably, the PJC failed its first real test: the ability of both actors to resolve differences at the conference table.

NATO bombing was suspended on 10 June 1999, following the UN Security Council’s passing of resolution 1244. The first meeting after the intervention in Kosovo had ended, and after Russia had suspended relations with NATO, took place on 23 July 1999 at the ambassadorial level. The spokesman from the Russian Foreign Ministry made it very clear that this meeting did not constitute a formal resumption of NATO-Russia relations; instead, contacts with NATO from now on were restricted to one area only: interaction within the KFOR framework. In July, Russia sent 3,615 peacekeeping troops to Kosovo. The parameters for Russian participation in KFOR were laid out in the Helsinki Agreement (Agreed Points of Russian Participation in KFOR) of 12 June 1999. Crucially, this document was a bilateral agreement between the United States and Russia, not between NATO and Russia. The Helsinki Agreement, signed by the Russian and the US ministers of defense stipulates the conditions for Russian troops deployed to Kosovo, with the technical details of deployment agreed on comprising a 9-page document. One or two Russian battalions were to participate in KFOR operating in the US sector, with a Russian officer serving as representative to the Sector Commander for Russian Forces.296 Furthermore, it was agreed that Russian participation in KFOR should be proportional to the total KFOR forces. Russia should send no more than 2850 troops plus up to 750 troops for airfield and logistics, as well as 16 liaison officers. In the end, 3,615 Russian troops (1 brigade) were sent to Kosovo; one less than the 3,616 that Russia was entitled to in the Helsinki Agreement.297


After the meeting of 23 July, NATO and Russia again continued to meet on a monthly PJC-basis, just as they had before the crisis in Kosovo. The 15 September ambassadorial meeting saw discussions about the situation in Kosovo and NATO-Russia cooperation in KFOR. Furthermore, issues such as the demilitarization of the Kosovo Liberation Army were discussed.298 Even though the Russian side had made it clear that the only reason for Russia to resume meetings with NATO was KFOR, the minutes show that after a couple of months, many of the former PJC topics were once again being discussed. In fact, a return to the “old” topics and discourses can be observed, especially after NATO Secretary General Robertson met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, and Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev on 16 February 2000, and a decision was taken to once again step up efforts to discuss issues of interest to both NATO and Russia beyond Kosovo within the formal structures of the PJC. This decision was confirmed by military staff and ambassadorial staff in June and July of 2000. As of September 2000, topics such as infrastructure development programs were once again on the agenda299, and the meetings were also again taking place within the PJC framework. In December 2000, the “excellent cooperation” between military forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, as well as the continuing progress on cooperation between NATO and Russian personnel in SHAPE300, was once more mentioned.

From that moment on, the issues that were discussed at PJC meetings concentrated once more to what had been stipulated in the Founding Act: defense issues, proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, current threats and risks, and military defense cooperation. These are issues that are still matters for discussion and cooperation today. With regard to Kosovo, the general assessment is that the overall outcome of NATO-Russia cooperation was relatively positive301, in spite of some differences that recur both in relation to KFOR and within the discussions of the PJC.302 One NATO official also made the point that Russian troops were not simply tolerated in KFOR, but that they were actually needed by NATO, which is constantly struggling to operate with understaffed brigades – only 25 or so in Kosovo – and that the addition of Russian troops to KFOR was therefore welcomed.303 This does not reflect the often-held belief that Russian troops were merely tolerated in order to placate the Kremlin, which was seeking to maintain its influence in the Balkans. This argument is sometimes used to explain why Russia participated in a NATO-led operation in the first place. Thinking in geopolitical terms and protecting one’s “sphere of interest” is certainly not alien to Russian foreign policy; however, explaining Russian participation in KFOR only on this basis would not be entirely accurate. Russia pulled its troops out of the Balkans in June 2003. The official reason for ending Russian involvement was that security and stability was now ensured, and therefore, there was no further need for the stationing of troops. Additionally, internal military restructuring was cited as a reason for leaving. Unofficial sources also contend that troops – and especially airborne troops – that were until this time stationed in the Balkans were actually needed for operations in Chechnya.

In summary, the majority of comments regarding cooperation between NATO and Russia in the Balkans have been positive. Of course, there are those who generally condemn NATO intervention in Kosovo. Timothy Garten Ash, for instance, takes issue with the concept of humanitarian intervention, asking:


And the consequences [of the intervention in Kosovo]? It really is too soon to tell. Kosovo today is liberated – and an almighty mess. Western leaders failed to prepare for peace, as they had failed to prepare for war. Crucially, the UN administration in Kosovo was not provided with the police, judges and jailers to establish the first prerequisite of any functioning state or protectorate: an effective monopoly of legitimate violence.304 

He concludes that “[t]he Western liberal societies that care most about stopping gross violations of human rights in other countries also have the most difficulty in willing the means best suited to achieve that end. This is our post-Kosovo dilemma.”305 Other analysts have criticized Russia’s handling of the situation, such as Regina Heller, who claims that Russian policies towards Kosovo reflect internal disputes and external weaknesses.306 Concerning the specific interaction between NATO and Russia, however, cautious praise seems to be the consensus concerning the Balkans. However, as pointed out before, it remains questionable whether IFOR/SFOR307 and KFOR could really be defined as joint peacekeeping activities. Rather, some experts maintain that joint involvement in the Balkans mostly served to assess strengths and weaknesses for possible future joint operations. The Russian brigade that was stationed in Kosovo served in the US sector, but was not subordinate to US command. The main interfaces consisted in Russian troops working together with US troops and vice-versa. These joint activities serve as a basis for analysis for future actions, and are documented in NATO’s Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Center (JALLC)308 in Lisbon.309 However, the fact remains that KFOR was the last time that NATO and Russian troops were jointly involved in peacekeeping activities. This suggests that reservations about joint activities that keep resurfacing especially on the Russian side are still present and continue to shape NATO-Russia interaction. In order to assess this, the next section will take a closer look at the other event that most prominently shaped NATO-Russia relations: 9/11.

3.3.2. 9/11 and its aftermath

As mentioned in section 2, the NATO-Russia Council was to a large extent made possible by the events of September 11, 2001. Conversely, one can also argue that the NRC paved the way for the second round of enlargement that took place on 24 March 2004. Russia was and continues to be much more at ease with the new formula “NATO at 20”. It is safe to say that the Russians would not have agreed to interact with the new enlarged NATO with 26 members within the old PJC structures (26 versus 1). However, the negotiations surrounding the second round of NATO enlargement – which were no less delicate than the first one, especially with regard to the Baltic states and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad – certainly occurred in a smoother institutional setting than the negotiations surrounding the first round of enlargement. As discussed in section 2, general assessments of the success of the NRC are very positive. This is not surprising, at least not on NATO’s side; NATO has consistently demonstrated a disposition for positive statements as far as NATO-Russia cooperation is concerned, whereas Russia’s praise has always been somewhat more subdued. In the case of the NRC, however, Russian opinion is decidedly more positive than it has been at any previous point.


One NATO official claims that in fact, the biggest turning point in NATO-Russia relations was not Kosovo, but 9/11.310 By the early 2000s, there had been few new developments in the interaction between NATO and Russia: KFOR was still underway, and Russia was still a part of it, and the PJC continued to meet for monthly meetings. Even though the hostility that had existed during NATO’s bombardment of Serbia and in the immediate aftermath had subsided, there was a certain degree of stagnation in NATO-Russia interaction. One might argue that the absence of hostility between NATO and Russia could already be seen as positive interaction, but it is hard to argue that actual cooperation in the spirit of the PJC was taking place. This changed with the events of September 11, 2001. In being the first head of state to express his condolences to President Bush after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, Vladimir Putin unequivocally positioned himself in line with the US, and thus NATO. At the most basic level, whereas Kosovo represented the low point in NATO-Russia relations (conflict), 9/11 presented the unique chance for unprecedented cooperation. According to one NATO official, the timing was particularly favorable, as intra-NATO discussions about “who is Putin” had finally subsided and Western leaders had a very positive impression overall of the Russian president – especially after the rather erratic and unpredictable leadership of Boris Yeltsin that had put many in the West on their guard.311 9/11 presented a window of opportunity for Putin to align himself with the West, and to be accepted by the West as – at the time – the most prominent ally in the war on terror. It is important to bear in mind the domestic background against which Putin decided to join the war on terror: Putin’s own so-called war on Islamic terror312, in the form of the second war in Chechnya. Dmitri Trenin argues that “Putin saw himself and his policies vindicated by what happened in New York and Washington on that fateful day. While it appeared to most outsiders that Putin was the first to join Bush in his fight on terror, for the Kremlin leader it was the reverse: America was joining, belatedly, with Russia in the fight against a common enemy.”313 According to Trenin, Putin saw the attacks of 9/11 as a continuation of the international war on Islamic terrorism that Russia had already been fighting for some time: “Since in his view [Putin’s] the threat from Islamist radicalism was not limited to Russia in Chechnya, Putin was initially expecting support for Russia from Europe and America, threatened by a similar enemy.”314 Since the West had consistently criticized Russia’s military intervention in Chechnya and condemned human rights abuses, Putin finally saw his chance to “join” the West over beating terrorism; or rather, as Trenin puts it, have the West join Russia in this mission.

However, the war in Chechnya was only one of the factors that influenced Russian foreign policy at the beginning of the 21st century. By the end of his first year as President of the Russian Federation, Putin had relinquished any aspirations his predecessor might have had about actually “joining” the West and its institutions. Therefore, Putin’s alignment is both logical and somewhat unexpected when one takes into the account the context within which his offer to the “West” was made. One year before 9/11, Russia published a Foreign Policy Concept, which was a document meant to outline Russia’s priorities and act as an indication for possible Russian foreign policy actions in the future. Similarly, there was a Russian Military Doctrine published in 2000 and a National Security Concept, also published in 2000. These concepts were published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the President of the Russian Federation, as deemed necessary – in other words, there is no regularity to them. Moreover, these concepts establish only rough guidelines; they do not actually constitute policy. Even so, they are very insightful with regard to the “state of mind” in Russia, where Russia sees priorities and where it is felt that those priorities threatened. All three concepts are published both in Russian and English and are widely available. The underlying position that the Foreign Policy Concept starts from is that the Russian Federation needs to re-evaluate the overall international situation at the beginning of the 21st century, as well as Russia’s place within it.315 The concept stipulates that “[c]ertain plans related to establishing new, equitable and mutually advantageous partnerships relations of Russia with the rest of the world … have not been justified.”316 This translates into disappointment over the relationships that Moscow has sought to deepen with the West, sometimes at a great cost to Russia as far as the Kremlin is concerned. Instead of seeking further integration with the West, Russia should once again focus on its own position – geographically, politically, and strategically – and work towards strengthening that position.

Therefore, the Foreign Policy Concept stipulates that Russia should


…ensure reliable security of the country, to preserve and strengthen its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to achieve firm and prestigious positions in the world community, most fully consistent with the interests of the Russian Federation as a great power, as one of the most influential centers of the modern world, and which are necessary for the growth of its political, intellectual and spiritual potential.317 

The usage of concepts such as great power and firm and prestigious positions in the world community suggest that Russia was disengaging from plans that saw it as part of European security and political structures. Even though the “honeymoon period” of the mid-1990s, during which Yeltsin and Moscow-based Westerners had advocated that Russia should become an integral part of Western structures, was already decidedly over, the Foreign Policy Concept of 2000 unequivocally calls for Russia to re-orient itself and once more apply a more inward-looking approach. Moreover, Russia sees an acute danger in the ever-increasing power of the United States as the world’s only remaining superpower: “There is a growing trend towards the establishment of a unipolar structure of the world with the economic and power domination of the United States … The strategy of unilateral actions can destabilize the international situation, provoke tensions and the arms race, aggravate interstate contradictions, national and religious strife.”318 Therefore, “Russia shall seek to achieve a multi-polar system of international relations that really reflects the diversity of the modern world with its great variety of interests.”319

Clearly, Russia here takes issue with the NATO bombings of Kosovo, which were carried out largely at the behest of the US administration. Interestingly, the Kosovo intervention had a negative effect on Russian perceptions of Western politics that included intervention – even though Russia had consented to the intervention and in 2000 was still actively participating in KFOR alongside NATO. First of all, this suggests that the perception of the Kremlin and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs may differ somewhat from that of Russian envoys to NATO. Second, it suggests that Russian participation in KFOR was also, though not exclusively, motivated by the wish to serve as a counterweight to Western – US – hegemony, as has already been mentioned in the previous section. Following these lines of concern, the Foreign Policy Concept of 2000 also warns that “[i]ntegration processes, in particular, in the Euro-Atlantic region, are quite often pursued on a selective and limited basis. Attempts to belittle the role of a sovereign state as the fundamental element of international relations generate a threat of arbitrary interference in internal affairs.”320 It is of course important to keep in mind that the Foreign Policy Concept is mainly aimed at domestic audiences and therefore differs in tone from official statements on foreign policy or actual foreign policy. Nevertheless, the underlying grievances that the Foreign Policy Concept 2000 expresses are quite obvious.


This renewed inward-looking turn that the Foreign Policy Concept advocates has given rise to speculation as to whether Russia and the West had come to an impasse. In her article “Russia: Still Open to the West?”, Alla Kassianova analyzes the contents of the different concepts that were published throughout the 1990s and in 2000: the Foreign Policy Concept of 1993, the National Security Concept of 1997, and both the Foreign Policy Concept and the National Security Concept of 2000.321 Kassianova traces Russia’s changing attitudes towards the West as well as its national self-understanding and concludes that, especially between 1997 and 2000, a certain disappointment concerning the interaction between Russia and the West has led to an increasingly Russia-centric approach to foreign policy.322 She thus comes to the somewhat negative conclusion regarding the question in the title of her article. Specifically with regard to Russian attitudes towards NATO, Kassianova observes that

[t]he [Russian] perception of NATO – which is the centrepiece of the Russia – Western contradiction – has resulted in inclusion/exclusion logic between 1993 and 2000. The 1993 state discourse with regard to NATO (which embodied in this case ‘Western values’) was characterized by terms like ‘cooperation’, ‘teamwork’, ‘upgrading contacts’, and ‘exchange’. Next to the EU, the WEU, the OSCE and even the CIS, NATO was considered a tool for security management in Europe. The 1997 text is characterized by a different tone. NATO is now associated with terms like “division” and “unilaterism”. These associations peak in the 2000 documents in the complaint that “western institutions and forums with limited membership options” had been created. The official discourse shows that worries exist about the lack of capability of multilateral mechanisms in terms of guarding the peace. Worries also exist with regard to NATO’s new strategy that propagates the enforcement of military actions in areas outside of the Alliance’s borders and without a UN mandate. There is an attempt to balance the open antagonism towards NATO enlargement by stating that Russia is open to a constructive cooperation … that is based on due recognition of all parties’ interests.323 

In her final conclusion, Kassianova mentions the dichotomy that exists between Russia’s wish on the one hand to be a member of the international system, while on the other referring to the difficulties that Russia encounters in that process. It is against this background that Russia’s Foreign Policy Concept of 2000 keeps on referring to the “difficult international environment”. At the same time, no suggestions are made to end Russian cooperation with international Western actors, as this could only have adverse consequences for internal Russian politics.324


Keeping this domestic background in mind, the “new quality” in NATO-Russia relations that emerged after 9/11 is all the more important. It also reveals that the aftermath of Kosovo had a greater impact on Russian security concerns than NATO-Russia cooperation in KFOR might have suggested. Moreover, the relative weakness of Russia compared to Western resources continued to be of concern: “The threats to these tendencies [international terrorism, transnational organized crime, illegal trafficking in drugs and weapons] are aggravated by the limited resource support for the foreign policy of the Russian Federation, making it difficult to uphold it foreign economic interests and narrowing down the framework of its informational and cultural influence abroad.”325 For all these reasons, the offer of unconditional support for the US after 9/11 is all the more poignant. In fact, tolerating the stationment of Western troops on former USSR soil326 was a step towards building a more sustainable and active relationship, according to one NATO official.327 Therefore, 2001 was the most important year for NATO and Russia, rather than 1999.328 The result of 2001 was the NRC, which represented a shift in agenda to “new” areas of cooperation, referring to all areas where the fight against terrorism took center stage. The fight against terrorism can therefore be considered NATO’s and Russia’s leitmotif out of which the NRC was born. Sympathy for the victims of the 9/11 attacks was genuine and unambiguous: at the ambassadorial meeting of the PJC on 13 September 2001, anger and indignation was expressed at the crimes committed against the people of the United States. NATO and Russia were united in their resolve to not let this inhuman act go unpunished. Finally, NATO and Russia called upon the entire international community to unite in the struggle against terrorism.329 Six days later, at the ambassadorial meeting on 19 September, events in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia were discussed, marking a return to the regular agenda. However, the first hint of the change in NATO-Russia relations was made when the ambassadors announced that they expected consultations at an appropriate level in order to pursue intensified NATO-Russia cooperation in combating international terrorism.330 From this point on, the war on terror became a firmly established topic of discussion at every meeting of the PJC. At the same time, throughout the remainder of 2001 and early 2002, this consensus was to give new impetus to the institutionalized relations between NATO and Russia. This was formally announced at the ambassadorial meeting on 6 May 2002, when preparations for the PJC meeting of the foreign ministers on 14 May and subsequent meeting of heads of state and government on 28 May were the main topics for discussion.331 The Rome Declaration officially implemented the NATO-Russia Council, an event that, according to Tony Blair, “marks the end of the Cold War”.332

The working program of the NRC looks surprisingly similar to that of the PJC, except for the thematic addition of the war on terror. In a way, discussing the situation in the Balkans was replaced by discussing the war on terror while other topics remained the same. At the first meeting of the NRC on 13 May 2003, ambassadors discussed terrorist threat assessments, as well as future joint peacekeeping operations. Additionally, ambassadors discussed non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, international crisis reaction, rescue operations at sea, defense reform and military cooperation, and the situation in Afghanistan.333 Those were the core topics that – as agreed upon at the Rome Summit – constituted the cornerstone of NATO-Russia discussions in the NRC. Variations and specifications on these themes of course existed: for instance, foreign ministers discussed the implementation of the NATO-Russia Nuclear Experts Consultations Work Plan with a focus on activities related to nuclear safety and security at the 4 June 2003 meeting. Also, the focus on so-called “new threats” constitutes a new theme to the agenda of topics for discussion. These new threats include areas that were not previously included in threat assessments dating back to the Cold War confrontation between two nuclear superpowers. Environmental protection, re-use of former military lands and improving water quality adjacent to military sites were some of the new security concerns that were discussed at the NRC foreign ministers meeting.

In summary, NRC meetings in 2003 and 2004 often revolved around topics that had previously been discussed. Though the joint fight against terrorism was considered “primus inter pares” as far as importance of issues was concerned, “old” topics such as non-proliferation, interoperability and even, from time to time, the Balkans, were still on the agenda: the ambassadorial meeting of 23 July was almost entirely dedicated to developments in Bosnia-Herzegovina.334 Throughout 2003, the situation in Afghanistan was regularly on the NRC agenda, for example at the meetings of foreign ministers on 4 and 5 December 2003. On 2 April, foreign ministers met for the first time in an enlarged format of 27. However, this in itself was not a matter for discussion; rather, the Madrid train bombings and the CFE Treaty were discussed.335 Under the auspices of the NRC, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, Secretary of State of the Security Council Igor Ivanov and members of the Duma on 7 and 8 April 2004 in Moscow. Key issues were NATO-Russia relations in general, cooperation in the fight against terrorism and curbing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.336 On 7 September 2004 the NRC met at ambassadorial level in order to condemn the terrorist attacks in Beslan. The meetings in April and September 2004 once more stressed the post-2001 common denominator between NATO and Russia: the fight against terrorism.

3.4. Outcomes of the NRC: recent fields of cooperation


As one NATO official has pointed out, the implementation of the NRC, though a big step forward, did not wipe out all mistrust between NATO and Russia.337 It did, however, mark a greater turning point in relations between the two actors than any other event of the 1990s. The fight against terrorism has been at the top of the NATO-Russia agenda ever since the Rome summit; it constitutes the leitmotif and sets the broad themes, as well as commanding the bulk of time and political capital that both actors invest in their cooperation.338 The same official also observed, however, that political dialogues is still difficult, and even conspicuously absent, as was the case during 2002 when the “new quality” in NATO-Russia relations had yet to be absorbed by both sides.339 The main difficulty, according to the same NATO official, is making Russia feel that it is “a part” of NATO culture, and therefore, a foundation for practical cooperation had to be established.340 However, for this very same reason, raising confrontational issues was difficult and more often than not avoided. Only in 2005 did this change and discussion was opened up to include topics that were previously considered too difficult341 – certainly also a result of the Istanbul summit and the Action Plan on Terrorism. The framework for practical cooperation discussed above is characterized by a couple of especially prominent features, namely, interoperability, theatre missile defense, air transport and defense342, and most particularly, joint operations at sea in Operation Active Endeavour.

3.4.1.  Operation Active Endeavour

Operation Active Endeavour (OAE) is a direct result of NATO’s resolve to fight terrorism. In the wake of the attacks of 9/11, OAE was one of eight measures with which NATO supported the United States following the invocation of Article V on 12 September 2001. The deployment, which was formally named Operation Active Endeavour on 26 October 2001, is directed by Vice Admiral Robert Cesaretti from Allied Naval Forces Southern Europe (NAVSOUTH) in Naples.343 NATO ships patrol the Mediterranean, monitor shipping and provide escorts to non-military vessels to help detect, deter and protect against terrorist activity.344 The extension of the mission to include non-military ships – implemented in March 2003 – is designed to help prevent terrorist attacks like those that happened off the coast of Yemen on the USS Cole in October 2000 and on the French oil tanker Limburg two years later.345 Since 2003, NATO forces have monitored more than 75,000 vessels; some 100 suspect ships have been boarded, and over 480 ships have taken advantage of NATO escorts.346 Initially created in order to monitor activity in the Straits of Gibraltar, which is widely recognized as a potential site of terrorist attacks, OAE was extended to the whole Mediterranean on 16 March 2004. Moreover, Mediterranean Dialogue countries347 and EAPC/PfP partners were asked to actively support OAE. The 2004 Istanbul summit further enhanced OAE’s role in the fight against terrorism, including through the support of partner countries such as Russia. OAE currently includes missions “aimed at preventing and countering terrorism coming from or conducted at sea and all illegality possibly connected with terrorism, such as human trafficking and smuggling of arms and radioactive substances, OAE eventually became more intelligence-based by sharing intelligence and information gathered at sea with allies, to enhance their security”.348 In addition to enhancing security in the Mediterranean, OAE has also resulted in NATO having “accrued … unparalleled expertise in this field. This expertise is relevant to wider international efforts to combat terrorism and, in particular, the proliferation and smuggling of weapons of mass destruction.”349 OAE is a de facto NATO Response Force (NRF) operation. NRFs are highly specialized forces that can be deployed at great speed as soon as they are needed. According to NATO, “[t]he force gives NATO the means to respond swiftly to various types of crises anywhere in the world. It is also a driving engine of NATO’s military transformation.”350 The force currently numbers about 17,000 troops, and it is set to reach full operational capability in October 2006 with some 25,000 troops. NRF will be able to start to deployment with five days’ notice and sustain itself for operations lasting 30 days or longer if resupplied.351 NRF was established after US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld put forward a proposal for NATO forces to become more flexible in order to better be prepared for non-Cold War interventions. NRF was formally launched at the Prague summit in 2002.

Ever since Russia signalled that cooperation in OAE might materialize, OAE has been considered the flagship of NATO-Russia cooperation.352 However, Russia’s participation in an operation that was initiated after NATO invoked Article V for the first time in its existence was not necessarily foreseeable. This, according to the same NATO official, was only possible because OAE figures prominently in the fight against terrorism. Since the fight against terrorism also constitutes the basis for the vast majority of NATO-Russia activities, both actual and planned, since, as previously noted, participation in OAE is politically acceptable to Russia. Interestingly, Russian participation in OAE has consistently been considered the flagship of NATO-Russia relations, even before anything material had actually happened. Of course, military cooperation takes a great deal of planning and is not achieved overnight, and a joint Russian – NATO exercise involving NATO and Russian ships did take place in November - December 2004. Also, Operation Sorbet Royal353, which took place in 2005, though not specifically part of OAE, nevertheless highlights that search and rescue at sea, and cooperation at sea in general, continues to be the main area of interaction between NATO and Russia. Throughout the second part of 2004 and all of 2005, a large proportion of efforts undertaken to strengthen NATO-Russia relations focused on Russian participation in OAE. The phase of “active participation” was initiated on 17 February 2006, when NATO and Russia completed the first part of training activities preparing the Russian navy to take part in OAE.354 For the first time, there were secure communication transmissions between NATO and Russian warships. Also for the first time, a team of NATO trainers was deployed aboard a Russian warship.355 The training was held on board Russian cruiser Moskva, and personnel from the cruisers Putlivyi and Smetlivyi were selected to attend. The joint training consisted of classroom sessions and manoeuvres at sea, conducted by the Moskva and 2 NATO OAE ships.356 The NATO-Russian crew members practised the boarding and inspection of a suspect vessel and transferring its cargo. The training was hailed as very successful, and NATO commander Sjoerd Both voiced optimism regarding the possibility of full Russian participation in OAE by late summer or autumn 2006.357 Further training is planned for the coming months.


Overall, the statements made with regard to Russian participation in OAE have been positive. As with many other initiatives undertaken by Russia and NATO, an evaluation of OAE depends from what point of view one approaches the initiative. Those who see an extraordinary development in Russia joining a NATO operation that was initiated out of the invocation of Article V would contend that OAE is indeed a success. If OAE is seen as one step on the way to an institutionalized relationship between NATO and Russia that is at the same time underlined by practical outcomes, then OAE gives hope. Others are somewhat more guarded in their praise: one NATO official points out that OAE takes place on a strictly military level and that whatever actions are taken in OAE are not reflected in the political dialogue.358 He points out that all visible outcomes of the “special partnerships” that NATO has with third countries are managed by the International Military Staff, not the International Staff. The same NATO official also pointed out that Russia was very strongly opposed to a similar operation to OAE that would take place in the Black Sea.359 Rather, Russia continues to support the Black Sea Naval Cooperation Task Group (Blackseafor), consisting of Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, and Bulgaria.360

On the other hand, another NATO official makes the point that OAE should be seen as a particularly successful enterprise because it combines two areas of special interest to NATO and Russia: interoperability and the fight against terrorism.361 I would claim that in summary, the evolvement of OAE and Russian participation in it unfolded in a fairly typical way; while there is no question that Russian participation in OAE constitutes a step forward and therefore a represents a success, OAE also exposed the constraints within which both actors are operating. It took Russia three years to identify OAE as a possible operation for cooperation, and a further two years passed before steps were taken to make this cooperation possible. Therefore the final verdict on OAE and Russian participation in it is still open. The Russian nod to OAE can be seen as exemplifying the structural constraints that are in place for NATO and Russia: the fight against terrorism continues to be the roadmap used for any joint manoeuvres, as well as the most viable raison d’être for NATO-Russia relations.

3.4.2. NATO-Russia Action Plan on Terrorism

As mentioned earlier, the terrorist attacks on Washington and New York and the ensuing invocation of Article V for the first time in NATO’s history initiated a “new era”, not only in NATO-Russia relations, but for NATO’s mission in general. Ironically, Article V was not invoked in a situation for which NATO was originally created, i.e. a nuclear stand-off between the two superpowers of the Cold War. Rather, the entire spectrum of “new threats” of the 21st century prompted NATO’s invocation of Article V. Though there is a certain degree of irony to this scenario, it is precisely for this reason that Russia saw a window of opportunity for cooperation beyond monthly meetings of the PJC and peacekeeping missions in the Balkans, which, as I claim, were characterized more by a more or less benign side-by-side functioning than by actual cooperation. A NATO that had to adjust to a changed international environment was more acceptable to Russia than a NATO that was engaging in business as usual. It is important to keep in mind, however, is that the invigoration of NATO-Russia relations after 9/11 was largely made possible by Russian rapprochement with the US. Ten years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russian foreign policy was still to a great extent influenced by a great-power approach. The symmetry of Cold War with the USSR and US as equal poles, although no longer present, continued to shape Russia’s interaction with the West. Russia’s unequivocal solidarity with the US after 9/11 paved the way for improved NATO-Russia interaction.


The NATO-Russia Action Plan on Terrorism, signed on 9 December 2004 at the summit of heads of state and government on 8-9 December at NATO headquarters in Brussels, is one manifestation of NATO and Russia’s resolve to work together in the fight against terrorism. The document closely resembles the Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism that was adopted by the member states of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) at the Prague summit of 21-22 November 2002.362 The spirit of cooperation and the fight against a common enemy serve as the basis for both documents. The “strategic objectives” of the NATO-Russia Action Plan against Terrorism states that “[t]he NATO-Russia Council categorically rejects terrorism in all its manifestations … We stand united in support of UN Security Council Resolutions … and will spare no efforts in the NRC and other appropriate for a to protect our citizens…”.363 The Action Plan’s aim is to “enhance capabilities, to act, individually and jointly, in three critical areas: preventing terrorism; combating terrorist activities; and managing the consequences of terrorist acts.”364 To this effect, NATO and Russia commit themselves to developing better mechanisms for intelligence sharing; to continuing efforts to prevent and respond to threats posed by terrorism and by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; to addressing threats posed by terrorists that are of a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear nature; and to address threats to passenger and freight transport.365 Other areas of cooperation that are specifically mentioned are the continuation of efforts under the Cooperative Airspace Initiative (CAI); the destruction of excess munitions and the controlling of transfers of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS); the organization of a first-response conference with a special emphasis on Turkey, Russia, Spain and the US; and a concerted effort to control and stabilize the situation in Afghanistan with a particular emphasis on countering the narcotics industry.366

In order to put these plans into action, NATO and Russia refer to cooperation within the framework of Operation Active Endeavour and increased efforts to improve the armed forces’ capabilities to work together, particularly through Russia’s accession to the Partnership for Peace Status of Forces Agreement (PfP SOFA). The SOFA Agreement367, which Russia joined on 22 April 2005, provides a legal framework that regulates peacekeeping missions and anti-terrorist measures. Furthermore, areas such as civil emergency planning, interoperability of civil and military response teams, and scientific cooperation are stressed as being vital in the fight against terrorism.368 Finally, NATO and Russia have put their own efforts in the fight against terrorism within a broader international framework:

NRC cooperation in the struggle against terrorism shall seek to complement and enhance other efforts underway in the UN and elsewhere in the international community, with a view to providing added value and avoiding duplication of efforts. The activities listed in the NRC Action Plan on Terrorism will complement other initiatives in combating terrorism that the member states of the NRC are or may be pursuing with third state in other fora. The member states of the NRC shall contribute actively to the implementation of the Partnership Action Plan on Terrorism (PAP-T), and brief the EAPC periodically on the implementation of the NRC Action Plan on Terrorism. Where appropriate, the NRC may consider opening up its own initiatives for participation by the broader EAPC community.369


The NATO-Russia Action Plan on Terrorism is indicative of priorities that both parties have set for themselves since the beginning of the 21st century. While the fight against terrorism on the one hand serves as a tie that binds NATO and Russia together, it may conversely also run the risk of being the smallest common denominator. As mentioned above, the NATO-Russia Action Plan on Terrorism strongly resembles in content and intention NATO’s Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism, which was agreed upon by the EAPC two years earlier. How Russia – also a member of the EAPC – fits into the overall structure that surrounds the fight against terrorism is therefore an interesting question. Here, too, different ways of interpreting the current situation lead to different assessments. The claim that “any news is good news” as far as interaction between NATO and Russia is concerned certainly holds some validity. Areas like confidence-building and interoperability benefit especially from guarded but steady rapprochement. However, both confidence-building and interoperability should be seen as steps on the way to a more effective cooperation. If interaction remains confined to these measures, then they eventually lose their original meaning. Other analysts would contend that 15 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia and NATO have spent enough time on confidence-building and should therefore be able to engage in ever-closer cooperation through actual joint operations. Operation Active Endeavour is one such operation, but the hype that surrounded it suggests that OAE might be the only joint operation that NATO and Russia will engage in for the time being. Both OAE and the NATO-Russia Action Plan on Terrorism are indicative of what I refer to as structural confines within which NATO and Russia operate: cooperation exists until a point is reached where either one side or the other – mostly Russia – finds it difficult to invest into further exchange. Unforeseen events, both in a negative – the Kosovo crisis – and in a positive sense – 9/11 – continue to shape NATO-Russia interaction much more than any efforts aimed at institutionalizing the relationship. There are a several other activities outside of OAE and the NATO-Russia Action Plan on Terrorism that support this claim, most of which have already been mentioned at various points in this chapter.

3.4.3. Other initiatives

“Hot topics” outside of the NATO-Russia Action Plan on Terrorism and OAE are a mixture of old and new. They range from air transport to missile defense, including both theatre missile defense and the protection of troops in combat.370 Furthermore, NATO and Russia participate in an information exchange through the Cooperative Airspace Initiative – joint releasing of aerial view photographs – in order to prevent terrorist attacks. The single most important topic, however, remains interoperability between NATO and Russian troops. Interoperability issues range from highly specialized military-to-military interaction to rather simple everyday problems. For example, the language barriers that exist between NATO troops and Russian troops constitute a real challenge to any joint activities. Therefore, language training is offered to higher NATO and Russian personnel in order to overcome basic language issues. The NATO School at Oberammergau, Germany, plays an important role in providing education to NATO- and non-NATO nations. The official NATO school mission is to provide a “key training facility on the operational level. Since 1953, the NATO School trains and educates members of the Alliance as well as from Partner nations.”371 Courses such as “Multinational Crisis Management” aim at providing “a forum for staff officers from NATO, PfP partners and Mediterranean Dialogue Countries in which to introduce and extend their understanding of NATO decision making and staffing process applicable to Crisis Management.”372 According to one NATO official, institutionalizing educational efforts both ways is a declared goal for the coming year. This means that NATO procedures would become an integral part of military education in Russia. Even though this is a long-term process, initial steps towards realizing this project are undertaken at present.373 Along similar lines, a NATO-sponsored program exists that focuses on retraining demobilized Russian military personnel and making their transition to the civilian sector easier.374

Furthermore, codes of procedure and conduct have to be assimilated and standardized for joint missions to be possible. In practice this largely means that Russia follows NATO procedures.375 Other issues pertaining to interoperability include taking stock of ammunition, weapons and heavy machinery; the sharing of logistics and intelligence and joint training of troops.376 Furthermore, an issue that NATO has consistently pushed with regard to countries in transition towards democracy is military reform. Reform efforts include areas such as civilian control over the military, disposal of old military equipment, and environmental issues pertaining to the military. Finally, observer status has been granted to both NATO and Russia in order for them to familiarize themselves with working processes of the other side.377 In total, close to 70 such measures were taken in 2005, with a further 50 scheduled to take place in 2006.378 One of the most valuable outcomes of all these procedures continues to be the “lessons learned”; i.e. the reports on joint activities that include assessments of positive and negative features of those activities. These reports are used to plan future joint activities.


In 2005, one prestigious project had to be put on hold: in a further effort to develop interoperable troops, NATO was to pursue a program of cooperation with the Russian 15th Motorised Rifle Brigade in Samara in order to enhance interoperability and ultimately enable efficient anti-terror coalitions.379 A NATO fact-finding delegation visited the 15th brigade from 17 to 21 March 2005. The NATO delegates inspected brigade weaponry, technology and communication equipment, observed troop drills, and also attended a brigade seminar. However, since the March 2005 visit of NATO personnel, the Samara project has officially been put on hold until 2008 – and unofficially it is not clear whether it will be resumed. One NATO official’s explanation for this delay was low political commitment; as the Samara project would not have a high profile that could immediately be hailed as a great success.380 Additionally, as with many other projects, funding is an issue, both on NATO and on Russia’s side.381 Therefore, the Samara project, unlike Operation Active Endeavour, has not reached active status as yet and it remains to be seen whether capabilities and political commitment will be mobilized in order to reactivate the project.

3.5. Chapter summary and conclusion

In his speech on 24 June 2005 in Moscow, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer summarizes the accomplishments of the NRC:

[The goal of the NRC] was a bold one: to achieve a qualitatively new relationship between NATO and the Russian Federation, aimed at ‘achieving a lasting and inclusive peace in the Euro-Atlantic area on the principles of democracy and cooperative security’ … For the past three years, the NATO – Russia Council has made significant progress toward making this vision a reality. We have intensified our cooperation in preventing, combating and managing the consequences of terrorism, as evidenced by the far-reaching NATO – Russia Action Plan on Terrorism approved by our Foreign Ministers last December. Russia has offered practical support to NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, and more recently, a contribution to our anti-terrorist naval patrols in the Mediterranean Sea. Cooperation among our military forces progresses very well … Efforts to enhance the levels of interoperability among our soldiers … have made steady progress, making us more able with each passing day to translate words into concrete joint actions.382 


De Hoop Scheffer also praises the political importance of the NRC, in addition to the achievements that have been made in technical cooperation: “… consultations on the Balkans have resulted in a joint initiative to promote improved border controls in the region … discussions of Afghanistan have led us to explore a new NRC initiative to combat illegal trafficking in narcotics …”.383

De Hoop Scheffer’s assessment is exemplary for most official analyses pertaining to NATO-Russia relations, especially since the implementation of the NRC. Praise is often lavishly bestowed on achievements of NATO-Russia cooperation; sometimes even before anything substantial has actually happened. Again, this phenomenon certainly has to be seen within the historical context. However, disappointment often follows overwhelming praise. This becomes evident in the second part of the Secretary General’s speech: he warns against setbacks, or rather against the NATO-Russia partnership not being used to its full potential because of old stereotypes that get in the way of building an ever-closer cooperation. In de Hoop Scheffer’s words:

[t]he bold forward-looking agenda that I have just described, as important as it is, is only part of the NATO – Russia relationship. Just as important as looking toward the challenges of the future is a frank treatment of the legacy of an often difficult past. If we are to build a true partnership, it must be based on trust. Trust between genuine partners, working to develop common solutions to shared challenges. Trust in a shared vision of a common future. NATO and Russia have made considerable progress toward building a genuine, sustainable partnership over the past four years. Yet public perception in Russia, including in much of the political elite, do not seem to reflect this reality. Too many still seem to cling to the past … During a telephone poll taken … 71% of listeners agreed with the statement ‘NATO is an aggressive military bloc’. Well, not the NATO that I am in charge of.384


De Hoop Scheffer here touches upon a key issue that constitutes this dissertation’s research interest. The NATO Secretary General himself concedes that there are two sides to NATO-Russia cooperation. One “public” side that prompts the above-mentioned praise when new measures of cooperation are introduced, for example the Action Plan against Terrorism or Operation Active Endeavour, and then a less agreeable side that appears every so often when points of contention emerge that prevent the two actors from finding a mutually satisfactory solution. More often than not, this is a result not so much of open conflict but rather of residual misunderstandings and tensions between NATO and Russia. In accordance with my first hypothesis, NATO and Russia have not fully managed to distance themselves from systemic constraints. Rather, these constraints continue to influence the development of their relationship. De Hoop Scheffer offers his views on why that is the case: Russian perceptions of NATO, and the persisting perception of NATO as an anti-Russian alliance. While Russian domestic politics certainly are an explanatory variable with regard to how Russia approaches NATO, it is not the only one.

Throughout this chapter I have attempted to demonstrate why and under what circumstances NATO-Russia relations developed in a positive or in a negative way. Firstly, NATO-Russia relations are not a one-way street: actions and perceptions of the other side’s actions and intentions matter on both sides. Secondly, those perceptions and actions are still very much connected to the structures that were in place when NATO was created. Thirdly, and returning to the conclusions that were reached in chapter 2, theoretically speaking, neither a realist nor a constructivist approach can offer a watertight explanation for why NATO-Russia relations have developed the way that they have. Structural realism introduced by Kenneth Waltz only shifts the focus away from human nature to the structures that humans and their states interact in. The argument put forward in chapter 2, however, is that a neorealist approach does not adequately reflect NATO – Russia interaction for the simple reason that the two actors first of all do interact, and second, they are not engaged in a constant struggle to subjugate each other. On the other hand, an explanation that would privilege norm convergence over other forms of interaction also does not capture the relationship between NATO and Russia, as explained in chapter 2. I will now further elaborate on the NATO-Russia partnership using a specific case study: NATO-Russia interaction over Central Asia, as well providing an explanatory analysis of how this interaction may reflect on the overall relationship.

Fußnoten und Endnoten

183  Cooperation between NATO and Russia, NATO Handbook, Brussels: NATO Office of Information and Press, 2001, p. 80.

184  “Other areas” refers to areas outside of cooperation in KFOR and SFOR.

185  NATO Handbook, 2001, p. 86.

186  Speech by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in Moscow on 24 June, 2005, Brussels: NATO public data service [natopress@listserv.cc.kuleuven.ac.be], on behalf of NATO Integrated Data Service [natodoc@hq.nato.int].

187  Ibid.

188  Ibid.

189  Ibid, quoted by Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

190  Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation, Paris, 27th May 1997, NATO Basic Texts, www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/fndact-a.htm [last accessed 13 January, 2006].

191  Mastny, Vojtech: “Learning from the enemy. NATO as model for the Warsaw Pact”, in: Spillmann, Kurt and Wenger, Andreas (eds.) “Züricher Beiträge zur Sicherheitspolitik und Konfliktforschung”, #58, Forschungsstelle für Sicherheitspolitik und Konfliktforschung, 2001, p. 5.

192  Ibid.

193  Ibid.

194  The complex issue of US power within NATO and the shifts that have occurred since the end of the Cold War will be discussed later on in this chapter.


“Other areas” refers to areas outside of cooperation in KFOR and SFOR.

The North Atlantic Treaty, NATO Handbook, 2001, p. 529.

196  The future tasks of the Alliance (Harmel Report), Report of the Council, December 14, 1967, http://www.nato.int/docu/comm/49-95/c671213b.htm [last accessed on 14 January 2006].

197  Ibid.

198  The CSCE continued to function throughout the Cold War, mainly as a series of meetings and conferences. At the Paris Summit in 1991 the OSCE became a permanent organization complete with institutional structures and operational capabilities. From the Paris Summit onwards, the CSCE was entrusted with monitoring and supervising the transformational processes that had arisen from the end of the Cold War. At the 1994 Lisbon summit, it was recognized that the CSCE was no longer a conference and the organization was renamed the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). One of the most important agreement reached under the auspices of the OSCE has been the ratification and the adoption of the CFE (Conventional Forces Europe) Treaty in 1991 and in 1999, respectively. The CFE Treaty regulated the reduction of conventional armed forces in Europe. In: http://www.osce.org/publications/sg/2004/11/13554_53_en.pdf [last accessed on 16 January 2006].

199  Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation, Paris, 27th May 1997, NATO Basic Texts, www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/fndact-a.htm [last accessed 13 January, 2006].

200  NATO Handbook, 2001, p. 38.

201  NATO Handbook, The North Atlantic Cooperation Council, http://www.nato.int/docu/handbook/2001/
hb020201.htm, [last accessed on 21 April 2006].

202  Interview with NATO Official #4, 27 September 2005, NATO HQ, Brussels.

203  The Partnership for Peace, http://www.nato.int/issues/pfp/index.html, [last accessed on 21 April 2006].

204  Ibid.

205  Ibid.

206  Ibid.

207  Ibid.

208  Interview with NATO Official #4, 27 September 2005, NATO HQ, Brussels.

209  The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, http://www.nato.int/issues/eapc/index.html [last accessed on 19 January 2006].

210  Basic Document of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, http://www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/b970530a.htm. [last accessed on 23 January 2006].

211  Ibid.

212  The term “transparency” was used in an interview with NATO Official #4, 27 September 2005, NATO HQ, Brussels.

213  Report on the Comprehensive Review of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and Partnership for Peace, http://www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/b021121a.htm [last accessed on 21 April 2006].

214  Ibid.

215  Ibid.

216  Ibid.

217  Ibid.

218  Interview with NATO Official #5, 27 September 2005, NATO HQ, Brussels.

219  Individual Partnership Action Plans, http://www.nato.int/issues/ipap/index.html [last accessed on 24 January 2006].

220  Membership Action Plan, http://www.nato.int/docu/pr/1999/p99-066e.htm [last accessed on 24 January 2006].

221  Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation, Paris, 27th May 1997, NATO Basic Texts, www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/fndact-a.htm [last accessed 13 January, 2006].

222  History of the NATO-led Stabilisation Force (SFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, http://www.nato.int/sfor/docu/d981116a.htm [last accessed on 26 January 2006].

223  Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation, Paris, 27th May 1997, NATO Basic Texts, www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/fndact-a.htm [last accessed 13 January, 2006].

224  Ibid.

225  Ibid.

226  Ibid.

227  Ibid.

228  The North Atlantic Council is the senior political body of NATO. It has effective decision-making powers and is made up of permanent representatives of all member countries who meet once a week. The council also meets at the level of foreign ministers, defense ministers and heads of government, as required. Decision-making at all levels is of equal importance. The NAC issues declarations and explains the Alliance’s decisions to the general public. It derives its authority directly from the North Atlantic Treaty. See http://www.nato.int/docu/handbook/2001/hb070101.htm [last accessed on 27 January 2006].

229  Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation, Paris, 27th May 1997. NATO Basic Texts, www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/fndact-a.htm [last accessed 13 January, 2006].

230  See chapter 2.

231  Interview with German Foreign Ministry Official #2, 7 February 2005, German Foreign Ministry, Berlin.

232  Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation, Paris, 27th May 1997. NATO Basic Texts, www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/fndact-a.htm [last accessed 13 January, 2006].


US Department of State, Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty,

http://www.state.gov/t/ac/rls/fs/11243.htm [last accessed on 30 January, 2006].

234  Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation, Paris, 27th May 1997, NATO Basic Text, www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/fndact-a.htm [last accessed 13 January, 2006].

235  Proektor, Daniil: “The Founding Act: symbol of an epoch?”, in: “The first anniversary of the NATO-Russia Founding Act: appraisal and outlook”, Documents from the international conference 19-20 June 1998, Moscow: INION RAN, 1998, p.48 [own translation].

236  Brandenburg, Ulrich: “An overview of the mechanism of the Founding Act”, in: “The first anniversary of the NATO-Russia Founding Act: appraisal and outlook”, Documents from the international conference 19-20 June 1998, Moscow: INION RAN, 1998, p.85. Brandenburg served as Head of the Partnership and Cooperation Section in the Political Affairs Division at NATO HQ.

237  Kogan, Evgeniy: “NATO – Russia relations: ups and downs along the road”, in: “The first anniversary of the NATO-Russia Founding Act: appraisal and outlook”, Documents from the international conference 19-20 June 1998, Moscow: INION RAN, 1998, p. 102.

238  Ibid.

239  Ibid, p. 103.

240  Ibid.

241  Ibid.

242  Weiss, Gebhardt: “Venturing more controversial stability in Europe”, in: “The first anniversary of the NATO-Russia Founding Act: appraisal and outlook”, Documents from the international conference 19-20 June 1998, Moscow: INION RAN, 1998, p. 159.

243  Ibid, p.166.

244  Interview with NATO Official #3, 16 September 2005, NATO HQ, Brussels.

245  A brief summary of events that led to the Kosovo crisis will be provided in section 3 of this chapter.

246  Interview with NATO Official #3, 16 September 2005, NATO HQ, Brussels.

247  Ibid. Though peace-keeping missions are mentioned and referred to “as shared commitments to principles” in the opening paragraph of the Founding Act, the Act also notes that cooperation in peace-keeping missions will take place on a “case-by-case basis” (see www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/fndact-a.htm [last accessed on 13 January 2006]).

248  Interview with NATO Official #3, 16 September 2005, NATO HQ, Brussels.

249  Ibid.

250  Ibid.

251  Ibid. More about Russian domestic politics in section 3 of this chapter.

252  The initiative to create a new instrument for channelling NATO-Russia relations was originally taken by the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

253  NATO-Russia Council: NRC Statement, http://www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/b020528e.htm, [last accessed on 7 February 2006].

254  Ibid.

255  Interview with German Foreign Ministry Official #3, 8 February 2005, German Foreign Ministry, Berlin.

256  NATO-Russia Council: NRC Statement, http://www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/b020528e.htm, [last accessed on 7 February 2006].

257  Ibid.

258  Ibid.

259  NATO-Russia Council: NRC Statement, http://www.nato.int/issues/nrc/index.html, [last accessed on 7 February 2006].

260  NATO Update, http://www.nato.int/docu/update/2003/12-december/e1204c.htm, [last accessed on 13 February 2006].

261  Ibid.

262  Ibid.

263  The impact of 9/11 on Russian foreign policy will be discussed in more detail in chapter 4.

264  NATO-Russia Council: NRC Statement, http://www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/b020528e.htm, [last accessed on 7 February 2006].

265  Exercise Sorbet Royal (SR 05), http://www.nato.int/ims/news/2005/n050622a.htm, [last accessed on 10 February 2006].

266  Ibid.

267  Ibid.

268  ACT is NATO’s “Allied Command Transformation” in Norfolk, VA, previously SACLANT (Supreme Allied Command Atlantic). It is in charge of transforming the alliance so that it might react more effectively to current threats.

269  Interview with NATO Official #2, 13 September 2005, NATO HQ, Brussels.

270  With the second round of enlargement, this formula would have been 27 against 1.

271  Interview with Dr. Dmitri Trenin, Deputy Director and Senior Analyst, Carnegie Moscow Center, 24 March 2005, Moscow.

272  Interview with Dr. Tatiana Parkhalina, Deputy Director, INION RAN, 10 March 2005, Moscow.

273  Parkhalina’s point of view is not representative of Russian public opinion generally.

274  Interview with Fyodor Lukyanov, Editor-in-chief, Russia in International Affairs, 5 March 2005, Moscow.

275  Ibid.

276  Ibid.

277  Rogozin, Dmitri: “Russia and NATO at 20: should the new arrangement be rushed?”, speech given at the 19th international workshop on global security: “Global security: defining and responding to the new threats”, Berlin, 3-6 May 2002, http://www.csdr.org/berlin02/rogozin.htm, [last accessed on 13 February 2006].

278  Ibid.

279  Russia’s criticism of the PJC was exacerbated by the perceived Russophobia emanating from the 3 former Warsaw Pact countries - Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. The 20 plus 1 formula of the PJC was, among other factors, also unacceptable to Russia because Russia believed that NATO’s position was also influenced by the new member states’ anti-Russianism.

280  NATO-Russia Council: NRC Statement, http://www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/b020528e.htm, [last accessed on 7 February 2006].

281  Kamp, Karl-Heinz: “The dynamics of NATO enlargement”, in: Lieven, Anatol and Trenin, Dmitri (eds.): “Ambivalent neighbors – the EU, NATO and the price of membership”, Washington DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2003, pp. 185-204, p. 196.

282  Finnemore, Martha: “National interests in international society”, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996, p. 135.

283  Interview with NATO Official # 3, 16 September 2005, NATO HQ, Brussels.

284  NATO Parliamentary Assembly Archives, Special Publications: NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council: Meetings of the PJC, www.nato-pa.int/archivedpub/special/pjc.asp,[last accessed on 17 February 2006].

285  Ibid.

286  Ibid.

287  Ibid.

288  Interviews with Official #1, NATO Military Liaison Mission, 17 and 21 March 2005, Moscow.

289  Ibid.

290  NATO Parliamentary Assembly Archives, Special Publications: NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council: Meetings of the PJC, www.nato-pa.int/archivedpub/special/pjc.asp, [last accessed on 17 February 2006].

291  Ibid.

292  Ibid.

293  Ibid.

294  Ibid.

295  Ibid.

296  Agreed Points of Russian Participation in KFOR: The Helsinki Agreement, signed on 18 June 1999, http://www.nato.int/kfor/kfor/documents/pdf/helsinki.pdf, [last accessed on 20 February 2006].

297  Some observers claim that Russia was disappointed to not get its own sector in Kosovo. Russia sent 200 troops into the province in the famous “dash for Pristina airport” on 12 June, two days after the end of the bombings, and ahead of NATO peacekeepers. The stand-off between NATO and Russian forces lasted until early July, when Russian troops allowed their NATO counterparts into the airport.

298  NATO Parliamentary Assembly Archives, Special Publications: NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council: Meetings of the PJC, www.nato-pa.int/archivedpub/special/pjc.asp, [last accessed on 17 February 2006].

299  Ibid.

300  Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe near Mons, Belgium; seat of SACEUR (Supreme Allied Commander Europe), now ACO (Allied Command Operations).

301  Interview with NATO Official #3, 16 September 2005, NATO HQ, Brussels.

302  Ibid.

303  Interviews with Official #1, NATO Military Liaison Mission, 17. and 21 March 2005, Moscow.

304  Garton Ash, Timothy, “Kosovo: was it worth it?”, in: The New York Review of Books, #47, 14.-21. September 2000, pp 50-60, p. 60.

305  Ibid.

306  Heller, Regina: “Kontroversen – Kapriolen – Kompromisse. Russlands Rolle im Kosovo” , in: Das Parlament, #32-33, 6.-13. August, 1999, p. 9.

307  NATO’s SFOR operation ended in December 2004, when the EU took control of peacekeeping activities in Bosnia-Herzegovina with Operation Althea.

308  Located in Lisbon, Portugal.

309  Interview with NATO Official # 2, 13 September 2005, NATO HQ, Brussels.

310  Interview with NATO Official # 3, 13 September 2005, NATO HQ, Brussels.

311  Ibid.

312  The reasons behind the Chechen wars were of course not only confined to fighting Islamic terrorism, however, fighting terrorism became the most prominent justification for Russian involvement in the region.

313  Trenin, Dmitri: “Russia’s foreign and security policy under Putin”, in: Mangott, Gerhard, Trenin, Dmitri, Senn, Martin and Timmermann, Heinz (eds.): “Russlands Rückkehr. Außenpolitik unter Vladimir Putin”, Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2005, pp. 123-148, p. 130.

314  Ibid, p.129.

315  The Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation, approved by the President of the Russian Federation on 28 June 2000, http://www.bits.de/EURA/russia052800.pdf, [last accessed on 23 February 2006].

316  Ibid.

317  Ibid.

318  Ibid.

319  Ibid.

320  Ibid.

321  Kassianova, Alla: “Ist Russland noch westorientiert? Die Entwicklung der Staatsidentität in den Diskursen über die Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik”, in: Osteuropa: Zeitschrift für Gegenwartsfragen des Ostens, 2001, pp.1199-1218.

322  Ibid.

323  Ibid, own translation.

324  Ibid.

325  The Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation, approved by the President of the Russian Federation on 28 June 2000, http://www.bits.de/EURA/russia052800.pdf, [last accessed on 23 February 2006].

326  It is worth noticing that a legitimate claim can be made that it is not up to Russia to decide whether or not independent and sovereign states like Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan should welcome US and NATO troops on their territory. See chapter 4 for more details on this issue.

327  Interview with NATO Official # 3, 13 September 2005, NATO HQ, Brussels.

328  Ibid.

329  NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Chronology of Events: NATO-Russia PJC (through 2002), http://www.nato-pa.int/Default.asp?SHORTCUT=232, [last accessed on 28 February 2006].

330  Ibid.

331  Ibid.

332  Ibid.

333  NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Chronology of Events: NATO-Russia (2003), http://www.nato-pa.int/Default.asp?SHORTCUT=372, [last accessed on 28 February 2006].

334  Ibid.

335  Ibid.

336  Ibid.

337  Interview with NATO Official #3, 16 September 2005, NATO HQ, Brussels.

338  Ibid.

339  Ibid.

340  Ibid.

341  Ibid.

342  One specific initiative in this area is CAI, the Cooperative Air Initiative. CAI is an initiative that promotes intelligence sharing through joint taking and viewing of aerial view photographs.

343  Operation Active Endeavour, http://www.nato.int/issues/active_endeavour/evolution.htm, [last accessed on 1 March 2006].

344  Operation Active Endeavour, http://www.nato.int/issues/active_endeavour/index.html, [last accessed on 1 March 2006].

345  Operation Active Endeavour, http://www.nato.int/issues/active_endeavour/in_practice.html, [last accessed on 1 March 2006].

346  Ibid.

347  Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan. Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.

348  OAE, Allied Joined Force Command Naples, http://www.afsouth.nato.int/JFCN_Operations/Active
Endeavour/Endeavour.htm, [last accessed on 1 March 2006].

349  Operation Active Endeavour, http://www.nato.int/issues/active_endeavour/in_practice.html, [last accessed on 1 March 2006].

350  The NATO Response Force, http://www.nato.int/issues/nrf/index.html, [last accessed on 2 March 2006].

351  Ibid.

352  Interview with NATO Official #2, 13 September 2005, NATO HQ, Brussels.

353  See p. 31.

354  NATO Update: NATO and Russia tackle terror at sea, 17 February 2006, www.nato.int/docu/update/2006/02-february/e0217b.htm, [last accessed on 2 March 2006].

355  Ibid.

356  Ibid.

357  Ibid.

358  Interview with NATO Official #2, 13 September 2005, NATO HQ, Brussels.

359  Ibid.

360  The agreement on Blackseafor was signed on 2 April 2001 in Istanbul, and thus predates the attacks of 9/11.

361  Interview with NATO Official #3, 16 September 2005, NATO HQ, Brussels.

362  Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism, www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/b021122e.htm, [last accessed on 3 March 2006].

363  NATO-Russia Action Plan on Terrorism, www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/b041209a-e.htm, [last accessed on 3 March 2006].

364  Ibid.

365  Ibid.

366  Ibid.

367  Agreement among the states parties to NATO and the other states participating in PfP regarding the status of their forces (SOFA), http://www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/b950619a.htm, [last accessed on 3 March 2006].

368  NATO-Russia Action Plan on Terrorism, www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/b041209a-e.htm, [last accessed on 3 March 2006].

369  Ibid.

370  Interview with NATO Official #2, 13 September 2005, NATO HQ, Brussels.

371  About NATO School, http://www.natoschool-shape.de/internet_ns/ns_body.htm, [last accessed on 8 March 2006].

372  NATO School Academic Course Guide, http://www.natoschool-shape.de/internet_courses/
courses_guide.htm, [last accessed on 8 March 2006].

373  Interviews with NATO Official #1, NATO Military Liaison Mission, 17 and 21 March 2005, Moscow.

374  Speech by the NATO Secretary General, http://www.nato.int/docu/speech/2005/s050624a.htm, [last accessed on 8 March 2006].

375  Interview with NATO Official #2, 13 September 2005, NATO HQ, Brussels.

376  Ibid.

377  Ibid.

378  Ibid.

379  Speech by the NATO Secretary General, http://www.nato.int/docu/speech/2005/s050624a.htm, [last accessed on 8 March 2006].

380  Interview with NATO Official #2, 13 September 2005, NATO HQ, Brussels.

381  Ibid.

382  Speech by the NATO Secretary General, http://www.nato.int/docu/speech/2005/s050624a.htm, [last accessed on 8 March 2006].

383  Ibid.

384  Ibid.

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