The Group of Experts assisting with the drafting of NATO's new Strategic Concept traveled to Moscow last week, in an effort to reassure Russia about NATO and its activities. The Feb 9-11 visit followed the release of Russia's new military doctrine, adopted on Feb. 5, which characterizes the alliance's activities as threatening to Russia. Led by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the group, consisting of a dozen members, consulted with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, National Security Secretary Nikolay Patrushev, and members of the Russian parliament, and held additional meetings with other Russian security experts.
Albright also delivered a speech on the "new NATO" at the prestigious Moscow State Institute of International Relations. In the ensuing discussion, a frustrated Albright remarked, "I don't know how many times we have to repeat that, but [NATO] is not a threat to Russia. It is not against Russia."
Their Russian interlocutors thanked Albright and her colleagues for hearing Russian views on the drafting of the new Strategic Concept. Yet, Albright's speech, like those in previous weeks by current U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Lavrov himself at the Feb. 6 session of the Munich Security conference, highlights the deep chasm that divides NATO and Russia on core European security issues.