For NATO-Russia Relations, No More Business as Usual

For NATO-Russia Relations, No More Business as Usual

In a speech last Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer announced that the alliance's relationship with Russia will no longer be "business as usual," while stressing the need for a multidimensional approach towards relations with Moscow. With relations between NATO and Russia greatly strained, Scheffer argued against framing the issue as a choice between Russia and Georgia, declaring that, "No, we will not choose." If acted upon, Scheffer's call to action could mark the beginning of a new approach towards Russia.

The multidimensional approach, according to Scheffer, includes "a broad cooperative framework embracing virtually all the countries on our continent, a specific policy for those countries interested in joining NATO, and a determined attempt to draw Russia closer to the alliance."

Russia's incursion into Georgia highlighted the growing rift between Moscow and NATO, and put NATO's continued discussions with Georgia even more in the spotlight. Altering those discussions to appease Russian interests would have been of great concern, not only to the alliance, but also to potential NATO members Georgia and Ukraine. But while Scheffer noted that Russia's use of force was of concern to NATO members, he insisted that it would not be the "red line" on enlargement. The announcement that discussions will continue with Georgia is therefore critical, not only for NATO-Russia relations, but also for the future of the alliance, signaling that NATO will not take a submissive approach to enlargement.

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