They have passed the stages of: confrontation (April 1949-November 1990, when the Paris Charter for a New Europe was signed); romantic period (November 1990-March 1999 when NATO began bombing of former Yugoslavia); the stage of coolness (March 1999-August 2008 when Georgia has attacked South Ossetia); semi-frozen atmosphere (August 2008-April 2014, when NATO decided to cancel all ties with Russia); and now have entered Colder War or Cold War.2.0 (April 1, 2014-2017?). Where do they stand? NATO and Russia agree that their relations are in a deep abyss caused by a deep-seated antipathy. Do NATO HQ and the Kremlin want to restore their relationship? Yes, they do, well, in verbal words, but not practical actions. “We simply cannot ignore each other. One way or the other, we will have a relationship. The question is what kind”, said Jens Stoltenberg on October 28, 2014 in Brussels.“It is in our interest to engage with Russia. …We need to constantly encourage greater transparency and predictability … to avoid misunderstandings and to prevent avoidable accidents…”, underscored Alexander Vershbow, NATO Deputy Secretary General in Madrid October 28, 2015. “We should in no way accept a new Cold War, this will be a defeat both for you and us,” the former French President Nicola Sarkozy observed on October 29, 2015 in Moscow. “There is need to talk to Russia, especially when you disagree,” he observed. How they would like to restore their ties? Both sides think differently. Each side urges the other to make the first step forward. Moscow says: NATO has to make the first step in the betterment of its ties with Russia because it was the one interrupted all of them. While talking about the restoration of mutual ties, there are voices in NATO to isolate Russia from the world and from Europe. However, it will be counter-productive to isolate Russia. First, because Russia cannot be isolated. Second, such isolation even if it is successful will lead nowhere. The best option is to make a choice towards rapprochement and dialogue. In this context it is worth quoting Abraham Lincoln, the man who said: “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends”. Russia’s new National Security Strategy (NSS) until 2020 to be approved later this year should exclude the country’s isolation from the outside world.The new Strategy urges an active foreign policy, the development of cooperation with other countries, attracting foreign investment and technology, modernization of the economy, and strengthening the national security. Practical suggestions: NATO and Russia should restore their ties in a constructive way and without any delays.
First. A Declaration for the Restoration of Multilateral NATO-Russia Relations has to be signed along the lines of NATO’s Declaration on a Transformed North Atlantic Alliance that was issued at its London Summit of 5-6 July 1990 where NATO heads of states and governments clearly stated: “We are determined to create enduring peace on this continent.” Just to remind everyone, while opening the historic meeting, then-NATO Secretary General Manfred Wörner expressed the significance of the moment: “The Cold War belongs to history. Our Alliance is moving from confrontation to cooperation. He explained that NATO’s impact would be critical in several areas: clearing away the legacy of the Cold War; helping to erect a new European security architecture, and to prevent war. Such a new NATO-Russian Declaration could be elaborated after the inauguration of the next US President in January 2017. But drafting this Declaration has to commence without wait-and-see mode. Before that the USA should pull back its tactical nuclear weapons and missile defense systems from Europe.
Second. Europeans have to convene the Second Conference on Security and Cooperation, probably in Switzerland.
Third. President Putin and the next US President need to arrange a special Arms Control Summit exclusively devoted to downsizing excessive arms and a large-scale military activity. Moscow and Washington still have 15 unresolved arms control issues between them. In the evolving Colder War process to have such phenomenon is very risky. And a final brush: My generation made a very good start in improving NATO-Russia relations in the 1990s, but at the end of the day has lost the strings to maintain the momentum. Now the initiative is in your hands, young ladies and gentlemen. Do a better job than we have done so far, and you will earn our eternal gratitude.