President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation and President George Bush, Jr., of the United States are to discuss the future of Russian-US relations and Russia-NATO relations in St. Petersburg today, after NATO's Prague summit winds up.
Talking to RIA Novosti, deputy presidential-administration chief Sergei Prikhodko noted that this will become the second main subject of the forthcoming Russian-US summit after anti-terrorist operations. Both leaders are to meet each other at the Catherine palace of the Tsarskoye Selo (Tsar's Village) museum-preserve.
According to Prikhodko, Russia would like its interaction with NATO (in line with the 20-country format) to be filled with real content. Moreover, Russia would like to find out the US stand on adapting NATO to new challenges.
It was made clear to RIA Novosti in the Kremlin that Moscow intended to thoroughly analyze specific statements and actions during the current NATO summit, also comparing President Bush's statements before and after the Prague summit.
At the same time, the presidential administration's official reminded that, judging by the US leader's previous statements, the Prague summit, which had invited seven countries, including the Baltics, to join NATO, mostly aimed to adapt NATO, rather than expand it.
In other words, the United States sent out a clear message to Russia, noting that NATO mostly aimed to adapt to new challenges and to heed Russian concerns to the greatest possible extent in this context. All this stems from President Bush's statements.
By all looks, Moscow agrees with this action plan, especially if NATO's tactical and strategic plans are subsequently modified, and if the alliance also amends its plans stipulating anti-terrorist cooperation with Russia, emergency-situations and other plans, the Kremlin's spokesman noted.
At the same time, certain aspects are somewhat disturbing, Moscow notes. First of all, experts are pointing to the all-out provincialism of some politicians, who have been overwhelmed with emotions, after their countries were invited to join NATO.
RIA Novosti's diplomatic source noted that Moscow wasn't inclined to attach particular importance to this fact, especially when we are talking about some politicians, such as former Lithuanian Sejmas (Parliament) speaker Vytautas Landsbergis, who apparently believe that they can now deal with Russia from the position of strength.
We have warned our NATO partners that we stand together with them, while looking into the future; and we continue to say this, the source noted. However, if anyone wants to square accounts with Russia for his own past with NATO's help, while lacking specific political resources, then this would be another story.
I don't want to over-estimate President Bush; still I got the impression that most of his statements (before his Prague trip) were devoted to relations with Russia, a Kremlin spokesman pointed out.
The US leader's statements dealt with the fact that President Bush will have to change relations with Russia, rather than European partners and NATO, the expert stressed.
According to the expert, the statement by the President of the United States, which is a leading NATO country, to the effect that the West no longer perceives Russia as a threat, should now be implemented within the framework of tactical military plans.
At the same time, he made it clear that some Russian circles were inclined to think that NATO was a theoretical enemy.
We would perceive NATO in an entirely different manner, if President Bush's statements are translated into life; this would become the required result, the expert stressed. At the same time, he noted that it would be good, if NATO drastically revised its mission, and if Prague sent out such a political message.
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