Russian diplomat voices skepticism on NATO outreach | World| Breakings news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 19.05.2010
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Russian diplomat voices skepticism on NATO outreach

Russia's ambassador to NATO has criticized the bloc's latest strategic concept, saying it contains mixed messages on Moscow. The diplomat says the West still can't decide whether Russia is an ally, a friend, or a threat.

The Russian flag, with the NATO symbol superimposed over it

NATO wants closer cooperation with its traditional foe Russia

Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogosin said Wednesday that the western military alliance's latest strategy is "ambiguous" on relations with Russia.

"NATO needs to clearly state in its strategic concept that it no longer considers Russia an enemy and that it will not do anything against our national interest," Rogosin said in an interview with Financial Times Deutschland.

Rogosin described the latest NATO concept, created by a group of experts led by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as an expression of the "divided stance" of the member states towards Russia.

"NATO's a bit like a young man who asks his girlfriend: 'Will you marry me?' but then adds: 'Although I'm not really sure whether I love you or not.'" he said.

Dmitry Rogosin

Rogosin questions NATO's commitment to its Russian relationship

The draft concept, presented in Brussels on Monday, says that while NATO poses no military threat to Russia, and also does not see Russia as a danger, both sides still have their doubts about each other's intentions and political paths.

But the authors later suggest more wide-ranging cooperation with Russia, especially on the US-led missile defense shield concept.

Rearmament and disarmament

Rogosin also dismissed the idea of a joint missile defense shield floated in the draft, saying that it was not concrete enough.

"The US is reluctant to present us with precise suggestions," he said. "So [Russian] participation is not even being discussed yet."

Russia has strongly opposed US proposals for a missile shield in Eastern Europe, purportedly designed to defend against attacks from Asia or the Middle East. President Barack Obama has already scaled back the proposals.

The draft also suggests that the US and Russia should both consider withdrawing their tactical nuclear weapons from European soil, a proposal that Rogosin also rejects.

"First, the US must bring their tactical nuclear weapons home. Only then would we consider reducing our own arsenal."

Rogosin also suggests in the newspaper interview that Russia has already withdrawn all nuclear weapons stationed beyond its borders.

The Russian NATO envoy spent his early career in domestic politics, where he was considered a nationalist politician, having founded and led a string of right-wing, anti-immigration parties.

msh/AFP/dpa
Editor: Ben Knight

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