Nato forges historic deal with Moscow

Alliance to expand eastward in partnership pact with its old foe

Nato and Russia reached agreement yesterday on a pact which aims to establish a close partnership between the former Cold War enemies while permitting the Western alliance to expand into eastern Europe.

Russia's Foreign Minister, Yevgeny Primakov, and Nato's Secretary-General, Javier Solana, clinched the deal in Moscow after months of negotiations often characterised by Russian criticism of Nato's enlargement plans.

The pact, whose precise terms were not made public, is expected to be formally signed at a ceremony in Paris on 27 May. "It is a big victory for reason, it is a big victory for the world community, and it is a big victory for Russia and all governments in the world that are interested in peace and co-operation," Mr Primakov said.

It remained unclear whether Russia had achieved one of its main objectives - a firm guarantee from Nato that it will not place nuclear weapons, foreign troops and significant amounts of military infrastructure in new member states. Nato has been reluctant to put such commitments in writing, but on the nuclear question it points out that it has no intention of making new deployments of the kind feared by Russia.

Mr Solana, who described the negotiations as "very tough", said the agreement would strengthen European stability and open a new age in Western-Russian relations. The French government, which has been keen to promote a Nato- Russian relationship, described the pact as "an essential event in the definition of the new architecture of European security".

The agreement does not mean that Russia has dropped its objections to Nato's expansion, or its belief that the Western alliance should transform itself by developing its political identity and placing more emphasis on peacekeeping. "So far, there has been no serious progress in this direction," said Russia's Defence Minister, Igor Rodionov, underlining the widespread view in Moscow that Nato still represents a potential threat to Russian security.

However, President Boris Yeltsin made clear at his summit with President Bill Clinton in Helsinki in March that Russia, lacking the means to prevent Nato's expansion, would, for now, settle for a pact that defined a special relationship with the alliance. The pact is expected to guarantee Russia a significant voice in Nato's deliberations, without allowing it to block particular decisions.

Once approved by Nato's 16 governments, and by Mr Yeltsin, the pact will clear the way for several ex-Communist countries in central and eastern Europe to be invited to join the alliance at its Madrid summit in July. The leading candidates are the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, but some states also favour the early inclusion of Romania and Slovenia.

Nato insists that its doors will remain open to new members after the initial wave of enlargement, due to be completed by 1999. However, some defence experts think that Russia will draw a line in the sand if Nato tries to absorb other countries, notably the Baltic states.

In remarks likely to increase the Kremlin's hostility to Baltic entry into Nato, Estonia's President, Lennart Meri, said in Budapest yesterday that his country wanted to join others in presenting "an uncompromising challenge to the empire of evil, or, more accurately, to the shadow of its former self". The term "evil empire", made famous by President Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s, has been little used recently.

Sport
Premier League Live
footballLIVE Follow all the Premier League action as it happens
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + echSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
News
James Argent from Towie is missing, police say
peopleTV star had been reported missing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Commercial Property Solicitor - Bristol

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...

DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, Linux, Shell, Bash)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone