Nato plays cagey with the Bear: The West

'EVERYBODY is conscious,' said the senior British official at Nato headquarters, 'that the Russian position has hardened a good deal over the past few weeks.'

Moscow wanted a free hand in military activities within the boundaries of the former Soviet Union, he said. It had pressed Nato not to admit new countries. And there were lingering doubts that, though the deterioration in attitude might just be connected with the elections, 'it may be more lasting'. Could the bear be making a comeback?

Yet, downstairs, Nato foreign ministers were drawing up plans that could admit Russian officials to the inner sanctums of the alliance: Nato headquarters in Brussels and the military nerve centre at Mons.

The reasons for these shifts and the implications for Western security are going to take up a lot of time between now and the January meeting of Nato leaders in Brussels.

The end of the Cold War left a security vacuum in Central and Eastern Europe, and the West is trying to work out ways to fill it. But the role of Russia remains highly uncertain. The central plank of post- war US foreign policy - the containment of the Soviet Union - was swept away with the end of the Cold War.

At meetings of Nato foreign ministers in Brussels and of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe in Rome last week, the policy that will replace it started to come into focus. The West is following a two-track policy. On the one track, it is reassuring Moscow that its concerns are understood and taken into account. Russia is special: that message came from Warren Christopher, among others, as the US Secretary of State outlined his views on the new Washington- Moscow axis.

'We will always have a special relationship with them, as long as their nuclear capability is as it is, and as long as the United States and Russia are in the arms-control business together,' he said.

Indeed, once the other republics are nuclear-free, Russia will be the sole nuclear power in the former Soviet Union. Mr Christopher leaned heavily last week on Ukraine, Russia's nuclear neighbour, to persuade it to disarm.

The West is also trying to persuade Russia that the alliance is no longer the enemy. A senior Nato source said last week that there was concern over a 'perceptual gap' between Moscow and Brussels. 'We have to overcome those forces . . . which cling to the old thinking and maintain, or even try to revive, the image of Nato as the enemy,' Nato Secretary- General Manfred Worner told last week's meeting.

The January summit is also likely to give Russia increased links to the alliance. 'There would be a special kind of agreement,' said the official, 'a special degree of consultation.' The slow-down in letting in new members is partly aimed at propitiating Russian concerns.

But, on the other track, the West is trying to limit Russian influence and devise rules to keep it in its place. On peace- keeping, the West and the Central and Eastern Europeans are worried, and want to create criteria for judging Moscow's actions. The senior British official conceded that 'there are certain areas of the world where the Russians have a particular interest'. But 'there isn't a blank cheque for Russia on peace-keeping. They'd like us to do that, but we won't'.

Policy is still hampered by uncertainty, say diplomats and ministers. Official visitors and speeches from Moscow contain conflicting signals. Despite repeated promises, nobody has arrived to brief Nato on Russia's new military doctrine.

The big question remains what sort of security structure can or should be built in Eastern Europe. For the countries in the region, the expansion of Nato eastwards is the answer, but that is not yet on offer.

If it were, the Eastern Europeans would want the right to full consultations, leading if necessary to action in the event of a threat from the east. 'We don't want consultations for consultations' sake,' said a Polish diplomat. The eastern countries also want a pathway to membership laid out through Partnerships for Peace, the initiative to build stronger political and military East-West links.

There is a whiff of history about all this. In the immediate post-war years, as the US tried to work out how to handle the Russians, George Kennan, director of the US policy planning staff, wrote an influential article, 'The Sources of Soviet Conduct'. Because of traditional Russian insecurity, the Soviet Union could be expected to push beyond its borders, he argued, and it must be resisted. His views helped create the doctrine of containment, and Nato. Forty years later, many of his concerns seem just as valid.

(Photograph omitted)

News
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'
scienceBut will it be reinstated?
News
Jennifer Lawrence at the Vanity Fair Academy Awards party in February 2014
people12 undisclosed female victims are seeking $100m in damages
Voices
4 May 2013: The sun rises over Tower Bridge in London. Temperatures across the UK could be higher than several European holiday destinations by Monday, including parts of Italy and France (Andy Hepburn/PA)
voices
News
people Biographer says cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a secret troubled life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
voicesI like surprises - that's why I'm bringing them back to politics, writes Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Adam Levine plays a butcher who obsessively stalks a woman in Maroon 5's 'Animals' music video
music'Animals' video 'promotes sexual violence against women'
News
Bear and hare woodland scene from John Lewis Christmas advert
newsRetailer breaks with tradition, selling real festive fir trees online for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Anthony Horowitz will write the next 007 novel
booksAnthony Horowitz to write new instalment in spy series for 2015
News
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
people
Sport
Kicking on: Nathaniel Clyne is relishing the challenge of the Premier League after moving from Crystal Palace
footballSurprises include a first ever call-up for one Southampton star
News
news
Voices
Anthony stopped due to the lack of step free access at Mansion House
voices
Travel
Blue Ghost Fireflies in Brevard, North Carolina. Blue Ghost fireflies are unique because they stay lit and only hover about a foot off the ground.
Photo Location: Brevard, North Carolina
travelGallery: The winner of National Geographic's photo contest receives $10,000
News
The moon observed in visible light, topography and the GRAIL gravity gradients
science

...and it wasn't caused by an asteroid crash, as first thought

News
Researchers say a diet of fatty foods could impede smell abilities
scienceMeasuring the sense may predict a person's lifespan
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

HR Advisor - East Anglia - Field-based

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: To be considered for this position you will n...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: We have opportunities for Cov...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required to tea...

Digital Fundraising Analyst/Web Analyst - West Sussex - Permanent - £30k DOE

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?