NATO and Russia: uneasy partners

NATO and Russia don't see each other as enemies. They collaborate in several areas. So why the bad mood music between the two?

Full video transcript

NATO and Russia: uneasy partners?

In 1997, NATO and Russia

signed a founding act,

which clearly stated that neither side

saw the other as an adversary.

So why the friction between

the two over fifteen years later?

From the perspective of people

who currently hold power in Moscow,

they are convinced

that the greatest threat to them

is the spread

of Western norms and values

and a liberal democratic system

into what they see

as their own domain,

which they still define

as the former Soviet-Union.

Russian government people

and military establishment

are deeply convicted

that in the late eighties

and the beginning of the nineties,

they were solemn guarantees

made by the US

and the major NATO countries,

not to expand NATO further east.

Russians feel

that NATO is cheating on them.

But what is the crux of the problem

for NATO-Russia relations?

And what can recent events

in the Ukraine tell us about them?

What bothers

them really is NATO enlargement.

And a large part

of what bothers them about that,

is that if you have NATO,

more NATO in countries like Ukraine,

you have with it

more of a NATO model

about how your defences

and security are organised,

how the state works with this,

and they don’t want that.

That’s what they are really afraid of.

As long as we stay in our own space,

I don't think they really

see us posing a threat to them.

But Russia is

not rejecting collaboration.

Since 2002 there’s been

the NATO-Russia Council,

which specifically deals

in collaboration on threats,

which both sides face.

We have to think about

how to protect ourselves

against new threats and challenges.

And this is exactly one of the key

parts of our security agenda.

I can tell you that I think

that the security agenda,

which is under consideration

of the Council,

has two elements: first of all,

this is our screening ability

to look at security challenges

on emerging threats.

And to try to understand what could

be done jointly in dealing with that.

Russia is a multinational state,

which is threatened by extremism,

it’s threatened

by the growing sophistication

of globally organised

terrorist movements,

and the work that NATO and Russia

can do here is obviously important.

And the list of areas where

cooperation exists is already long.

Just recently NATO and Russia

unveiled the STANDEX project,

which aims

to prevent terrorist opportunities

to use explosives against commuters

in mass transit systems.

They are also cooperating quite well

with both the Ocean Shield Operation

conducted by NATO,

but also the Atalanta Operation

by the European Union.

On Afghanistan, we have

a solid cooperation in many areas

and in terms of transit

Russia is playing a crucial role

for the international community,

for the ISAF countries,

but we do also

a lot of things in training,

both anti-drug officers

for Afghanistan,

Pakistan, Central Asia,

and we are also working

on very specific projects

designed to improve

security on transport

and in other areas where we are very

vulnerable to individual terrorists

and the STANDEX project is very

promising and we are working on it.

So, to make a long story short:

looking at this list

of common threats and challenges

our cooperation

is developing quite well.

And apart from results these projects

are important in fostering trust.

The STANDEX issue,

the Cooperative Airspace Initiative,

they work quite well

because in these issues there are

two elements, which are important.

First is that there is a balance

of benefits on both sides.

Secondly, they are

not kind of politicized issues.

These are more technical issues,

which are very helpful in concrete

ways to address real challenges.

Trust between the two sides

remains the key issue

and it could be argued

that a lack of it at present

is what appears to be holding back

the relationship from achieving more.

Of all of NATO’s partner relations,

none holds greater potential

than that between NATO and Russia.

But today that potential

is not being fully met.

The basic problem behind,

I think, is very simple,

which is the lack of trust,

being the lack of trust

on both sides.

NATO and Russia: uneasy partners?

In 1997, NATO and Russia

signed a founding act,

which clearly stated that neither side

saw the other as an adversary.

So why the friction between

the two over fifteen years later?

From the perspective of people

who currently hold power in Moscow,

they are convinced

that the greatest threat to them

is the spread

of Western norms and values

and a liberal democratic system

into what they see

as their own domain,

which they still define

as the former Soviet-Union.

Russian government people

and military establishment

are deeply convicted

that in the late eighties

and the beginning of the nineties,

they were solemn guarantees

made by the US

and the major NATO countries,

not to expand NATO further east.

Russians feel

that NATO is cheating on them.

But what is the crux of the problem

for NATO-Russia relations?

And what can recent events

in the Ukraine tell us about them?

What bothers

them really is NATO enlargement.

And a large part

of what bothers them about that,

is that if you have NATO,

more NATO in countries like Ukraine,

you have with it

more of a NATO model

about how your defences

and security are organised,

how the state works with this,

and they don’t want that.

That’s what they are really afraid of.

As long as we stay in our own space,

I don't think they really

see us posing a threat to them.

But Russia is

not rejecting collaboration.

Since 2002 there’s been

the NATO-Russia Council,

which specifically deals

in collaboration on threats,

which both sides face.

We have to think about

how to protect ourselves

against new threats and challenges.

And this is exactly one of the key

parts of our security agenda.

I can tell you that I think

that the security agenda,

which is under consideration

of the Council,

has two elements: first of all,

this is our screening ability

to look at security challenges

on emerging threats.

And to try to understand what could

be done jointly in dealing with that.

Russia is a multinational state,

which is threatened by extremism,

it’s threatened

by the growing sophistication

of globally organised

terrorist movements,

and the work that NATO and Russia

can do here is obviously important.

And the list of areas where

cooperation exists is already long.

Just recently NATO and Russia

unveiled the STANDEX project,

which aims

to prevent terrorist opportunities

to use explosives against commuters

in mass transit systems.

They are also cooperating quite well

with both the Ocean Shield Operation

conducted by NATO,

but also the Atalanta Operation

by the European Union.

On Afghanistan, we have

a solid cooperation in many areas

and in terms of transit

Russia is playing a crucial role

for the international community,

for the ISAF countries,

but we do also

a lot of things in training,

both anti-drug officers

for Afghanistan,

Pakistan, Central Asia,

and we are also working

on very specific projects

designed to improve

security on transport

and in other areas where we are very

vulnerable to individual terrorists

and the STANDEX project is very

promising and we are working on it.

So, to make a long story short:

looking at this list

of common threats and challenges

our cooperation

is developing quite well.

And apart from results these projects

are important in fostering trust.

The STANDEX issue,

the Cooperative Airspace Initiative,

they work quite well

because in these issues there are

two elements, which are important.

First is that there is a balance

of benefits on both sides.

Secondly, they are

not kind of politicized issues.

These are more technical issues,

which are very helpful in concrete

ways to address real challenges.

Trust between the two sides

remains the key issue

and it could be argued

that a lack of it at present

is what appears to be holding back

the relationship from achieving more.

Of all of NATO’s partner relations,

none holds greater potential

than that between NATO and Russia.

But today that potential

is not being fully met.

The basic problem behind,

I think, is very simple,

which is the lack of trust,

being the lack of trust

on both sides.

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