Security deal eases Russia's pain over Nato

Expanding alliance: Kremlin offered permanent consultative role to defuse fears over waning influence

Nato is preparing to offer Russia a consultative role on big security and arms-control issues to balance the Atlantic alliance's expansion into Central and Eastern Europe, Western diplomats said yesterday.

The offer, which is designed to ease Russian concerns about Nato's enlargement, may include the creation of permanent consultation mechanisms enabling Nato states and Russia to discuss matters such as peacekeeping, disarmament, international terrorism and the non-proliferation of nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction.

Although the offer goes further to integrate Russia into Nato structures than previous proposals, it is not certain Russia will regard it as going far enough. When the German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, visited Moscow two weeks ago for talks with President Boris Yeltsin, he formed the impression that Russia wanted a legally binding treaty that would commit Nato to consult with Russia on security matters of joint concern. Diplomats said Nato would be certain to reject that demand, if it were taken to mean Russia could, in effect, exercise a veto over the policies of alliance members.

Yesterday, Russia's stance on Nato expansion, which has long been hostile, softened noticeably when the Defence Minister, Igor Rodionov, said Moscow had no plans to create a new military block of its own.

Although Russia remained opposed to expansion, it was, he said, Nato's business: "If Nato wants to expand, let it expand."

The minister's softer tone is a departure from the Cold War sentiments that have periodically emanated from Moscow. Only last month Mr Rodionov characterised Nato as a military threat to Russia, and talked of unspecified retaliation. It also contrasts with the Kremlin's announcement this week that Russia wanted to push forward plans to reunite with neighbouring Belarus, a move seen as an attempt to raise the stakes in the Nato bargaining process.

But Russian rhetoric on Nato, whilst negative, has been erratic, partly because of the absence of the sick Boris Yeltsin, and partly because it has few strong cards to play.

Nato's Secretary-General, Javier Solana, will give Russian leaders details of the alliance's proposals when he holds talks in Moscow next Monday. Speaking in Vienna yesterday, he said Nato wanted "as profound as possible" a relationship with Russia and hoped much of the detail would be agreed before a landmark Nato summit in Madrid next July.

That summit will see Nato issue membership invitations to a small group of former Communist countries, widely expected to be the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, with Slovenia and Romania as the next most likely candidates.

President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland was the guest last night at a dinner given aboard HMS Victory in Portsmouth harbour for the outgoing United States Defense Secretary, William Perry. The dinner was hosted by Mr Perry's British counterpart, Michael Portillo. Mr Kwasniewski was the only representative at the dinner of a country that aspires to join Nato. Diplomatic sources said there was no special reason for Mr Kwasniewski's invitation beyond the fact that he had met Mr Portillo several times.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before