Russia should forge alliances of its own, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said at a meeting with Moscow students this week. According to Mr. Rogozin, Russia would reap more benefits from creating flexible unions to tackle immediate issues – not from entering NATO.
“Should Russia join NATO? No, it shouldn’t, because world powers create alliances, not join them,” he said. One can hardly argue that NATO, being de jure a block of independent states, de facto rests on the shoulders of the US, whose military capacity by far exceeds that of other NATO states viewed together. More than just its nuclear potential, the American general purpose forces allow for its continuing presence in the world’s key regions. A former Russian representative at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Dmitry Rogozin was put in charge of the Russian defense industry.
In most cases, the NATO military machine swings into action whenever the US wants it to. But recently this machine has begun to act up. It’s getting harder and harder to bring the overblown alliance to the common denominator amid escalating internal conflicts. New NATO members with Soviet and Warsaw Pact background were taken under the wing of the US and see NATO’s role, first and foremost, in protecting them from Russia’s ‘imperial ambitions’. Older members of the Alliance, notably the ‘grandees’ of continental Europe – Germany, Italy, France – aren’t inclined to share in Eastern Europe’s ‘political Russophobia’. For them, NATO is just a tool for maintaining security in vitally important regions.
Russia’s membership in NATO is obviously a political utopia, mostly because of the existing rift between Moscow and Washington in their uptake on European and global security. But the NATO and Russia still manage to find points of contact and cooperation, despite their heated debates over the missile defense shield, controversy over the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, etc.
Russia and NATO are learning not to get in each other’s way. And not without success. If Russia joined NATO, this could bring about two possible outcomes. Under the first scenario, Russia would abandon its foreign and defense policies; under the second one –Europe would split into several fractions, effectively dissolving the North Atlantic alliance.
Today, Russia has all the opportunities for an active foreign policy. Its extensive financial resources allow it to increase its military might and back up its allies, who would in their turn guarantee their support in critically important border regions. It’s not that much of a problem to create temporal alliances to settle momentary issues. The real challenge is playing on contradictions and pinpointing key interests of negotiating partners. Russian history since the time of the Golden Horde proves that its diplomats have mastered this skill like no one else.