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Russia must comply

In a month the summit of the leaders of the states-NATO members will be held in Istanbul.
Russia is not eager to attend the summit.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said many times that participation of Russian president Vladimir Putin in the summit,  could contribute much to the cooperation between NATO and Russia. Moscow seems to have a different opinion as NATO was not interested in Russia’s attitude to NATO expanding Eastward. What is Russian President supposed to do at the summit? To listen to criticism and lectures by NATO leaders?

Russia will be criticized at the summit, and the recent article in the Wall Street journal proves this. The publication calls NATO to be tough to Russia.

According to the Wall Street journal, Russia causes dissent within the alliance members, “The culture of compromise and consensus with the opponents of Western values seems to penetrate to the alliance through its long-standing members. No other explanation can be given to the offer by some West European countries to send special invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin to make the summit successful”.

The newspaper follows with the list of the agreements which Moscow failed to comply after the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) was signed in Istanbul in 1999:

1) To name the exact date (3 years from now can be sufficient) for closing down Russian military bases in Batumi and Ahalakalaki in Georgia;

2) To close down Gudauta military base as Russia should have closed it in 2001 (since that time Russia has been offered to give up the base to the UN observing mission in Abkhazia region of Georgia);

3) To withdraw Russian troops from Trans-Dnestria area of Moldova – Russia was supposed to complete this procedure by 2002;

4) To destroy the weapons (not required to be limited by the Treaty on Conventional Weapons), located in Abkhazia, Trans-Dnestria and Karabaka regions.

At the same time, the US newspaper does not accept Russia’s criticism that the Baltic states which recently joined NATO, are not the subject of the Treaty on Conventional Weapons at all. This means that the alliance can locate unlimited amount of weapons in these countries bordering Russia.

In addition, Moscow has been accused of not being able to  settle the conflicts on the post-Soviet territory. Only NATO can do this, claims the Wall Street Journal, Europeans in the first place as “the US forces and resources are scattered all over the world”.  

However, the European countries state that they are not ready for this because they have no sufficient number of troops being ready for peace-keeping operations. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal writes that the peace-keeping operations in these regions should not place emphasis on using military force. On the contrary, these operations should be on limited scale and make the civil aspect of maintaining peace their priority”. Does this mean that Russia is not interested in maintaining peace?

The newspaper criticizes Europe for being too gentle to Russia. ‘There are calls to Georgia and Moldova to agree with Russia’s having its military base Gudauta and peace-keeping forces in Trans-Dnestria. (The newspaper mean France, Germany and Italy who do not deny the need of discussing the problems of the Treaty on Conventional Weapons).

By the way, Gudauta military base was closed down in 2001. Currently Georgia and Russia are conducting negotiations on the bases in Batumi and Ahalkalaki.

In fact, the Wall Street Journal article reflects the contradiction within NATO. A part of European countries is ready to have compromises with Russia while the USA insists on tougher policy. It was US Secretary of State Colin Powell who repeatedly requested Russia to withdraw its bases from Georgia and Trans-Dnestria. Washington will hardly drop this requests, but will not be such a hardliner as “the respectable American newspaper”.