Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson
#35 - JRL 2008-65 - JRL Home
Russia-NATO deal on Afghanistan, NATO expansion 'impossible', say pundits

Moscow, 30 March: NATO's decision about Georgia and Ukraine's accession to the alliance does not depend on Russia-NATO cooperation on Afghanistan, Russian political analysts believe.

"I believe that such a bargain is impossible in principle. Neither NATO nor Russia would agree to it," political analyst Vyacheslav Nikonov told Interfax.

He pointed out that Russia-NATO cooperation on Afghanistan is under way. "Of course, it could progress more extensively if NATO countries took into account Russia's concern over a large number of international issues that are not confined to Ukraine and Georgia joining NATO," Nikonov added.

Speaking about NATO expansion, he paid attention to the fact that there is a serious controversy over this issue within the alliance itself. "At least six NATO members are opposed to speeding up Georgia and Ukraine's accession. To all appearances, no decision about the membership action plan for these countries will be taken at this summit (the NATO summit that will take place in April in Bucharest)," Nikonov believes.

"The summit will be attended by the Russian president. NATO-Russia relations are in such a state that contacts at the summit level will contribute to their improvement. That is why this issue (Ukraine and Georgia's accession) is at least postponed," he said.

For his part, political analyst Andranik Migranyan also does not see any connection between NATO's attitude to Kiev and Tbilisi's intention to join the alliance and the expectation of increasing cooperation with Russia on Afghanistan.

"I do not believe that it is a question of such an exchange. The fact that President Putin is going to Bucharest and taking part in a summit, and that President Bush is then coming to Sochi - all this proves that NATO is probably not preparing any surprises for Russia like a MAP (Membership Action Plan) for Georgia and Ukraine," Migranyan believes.

"As for Russia's cooperation with NATO in Afghanistan, it is a special subject for discussion. Of course, negotiation is possible here. I believe that Russia's support will also be discussed," he said. (Passage omitted)

One should not overrate the significance of Russia-NATO cooperation in Afghanistan in the context of the general development of cooperation between the two sides, Aleksey Malashenko, member of the Carnegie Moscow Centre's research council, said. "There is such a problem, but it is not the most important one," Malashenko said.

"Cooperation in Afghanistan has certain nuances. There are two different trends there - an American one and a European one. The point is that the Europeans, and especially the French, insist on some concessions from Russia to establish a route (for deploying the NATO contingent in Afghanistan) via Russian territory. The Americans can get by without it because they transport everything via Pakistan. Only the Europeans show their interest in Russia in connection with this," Malashenko said.

That is why Malashenko does not believe that "it is of great importance". "Moreover, Sarkozy (French President Nicolas Sarkozy) is on the whole quite a complicated person: on the one hand, he is pro-American, on the other hand, he preserves some Gallic traditions," Malashenko said.

"As for speeding up Ukraine and Georgia's accession to NATO, Germany, France and the Benelux countries (the economic union of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) are opposing it," he added.