Letter: What about Russia's fears?

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The Independent Online
Neal Ascherson laments the disappearance of the Helsinki spirit ("Russia often warns about its hardliners back home. It is moral blackmail", 23 March). Why not apply the Polish saying he quotes in defence of Warsaw's right to be heard - "nothing about us without us" - to Russia?

While one is tempted to agree that it is no longer acceptable for US and Russian presidents to "haggle over how many foreign troops could be stationed in Poland or whether tactical nuclear weapons could be deployed in Hungary", is it acceptable for Nato to push east regardless of Moscow's security concerns? Is it fair that while the West hangs on to every word from Warsaw, Budapest and Riga, Moscow is left to like Nato expansion or lump it, never mind that lumping it might lead to less security on our continent for everyone.

Any decision taken at Nato's Madrid summit in July that leads to Nato moving nearer Russia's border - breaking assurances given to Gorbachev - could be the catalyst for new East-West tensions and mutual distrust. Moreover, British voters should be aware of the pounds 2bn that Nato enlargement could cost. A Nato-Russia Charter could be a cheaper and much more secure option.

Better to have a Russia with its democratic leaders strengthened, onside and secure in the European tent, than outside with the likes of Zyuganov, Lebed and Zhirinovsky building on their electorates' feelings of alienation.

Paul Colston

Russian Information Agency

London SW7