Support for ISAF and the Afghan Armed Forces
In spring 2008, Russia offered to support the NATO-led, UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan by facilitating the land transit of non-military equipment for ISAF contributors across Russian territory. Similar arrangements have been concluded with the other transit states, opening up this important supply route for ISAF in 2010. At the Lisbon Summit, NRC leaders agreed amendments to the arrangements agreed in 2008 to allow land transit both to and from Afghanistan of non-lethal cargo. An agreement allowing for multi-modal reverse transit, using a mix of rail and air transit, for ISAF equipment through Russian territory was signed in July 2012.
NRC leaders agreed at Lisbon to establish an NRC Helicopter Maintenance Trust Fund to help the Afghan Armed Forces to operate and maintain their helicopter fleet. The project was officially launched in March 2011, aimed at providing a much-needed maintenance and repair capacity, including spare parts and technical training. Germany is acting as the lead nation for the project and the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA) serving as executing agent. During the first phase of the project, financial and in-kind contributions to the project by ten donor nations – Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Russia, Turkey and the United States – amounted to approximately $23 million. Tailored training for Afghan Air Force helicopter maintenance staff started in April 2012 at the OAO Novosibirsk Aircraft Repair Plant in Russia, which is serving as the main training centre for Afghan maintenance personnel under the project. Thirty maintenance staff had successfully completed initial training by April 2013. Selected personnel have also participated in a train-the-trainer course provided by the Croatian Air Force. The launch of the second phase of the project is expected to be agreed by NRC foreign ministers in April 2013.
Counter-narcotics training of Afghan and Central Asian personnel
The NRC pilot project for counter-narcotics training of Afghan and Central Asian personnel was launched by NRC foreign ministers in December 2005 to help address the threats posed by the trafficking in Afghan narcotics. It seeks to build local capacity and to promote regional networking and cooperation by sharing the combined expertise of NRC member states with mid-level officers from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Pakistan became the seventh participating country in 2010.
The project is being implemented in cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Along with the project’s seven beneficiary countries, this is a joint endeavour of many NRC nations – Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States – as well as two non-NRC contributors (Finland, since 2007, and Ukraine, since 2012).
Fixed training takes place in one of four institutes either in Turkey, Russia or the United States and mobile courses are being conducted in each of the seven participating countries. At the Lisbon Summit, NRC leaders agreed to expand the scope of the project to provide further direct assistance to institutional capacity building in the future. By end 2012, over 2500 officers had been trained under the project.
An NRC Action Plan on Terrorism was launched by NRC foreign ministers in December 2004 to improve overall coordination and provide strategic direction for cooperation in this area. NRC leaders underlined the continued importance of cooperation in the fight against terrorism at Lisbon in November 2010 and an updated Action Plan on Terrorism was approved by NRC foreign ministers at their meeting in April 2011 in Berlin. A first civilian-military counter-terrorism table top exercise was conducted in the framework of the NRC at NATO Headquarters in March 2012.
Regular exchanges of information and in-depth consultations take place within the NRC on various aspects of combating terrorism. Under the Cooperative Airspace Initiative (see below), an information exchange system has been developed to provide air-traffic transparency and early notification of suspicious air activities to help prevent terrorist attacks such as the 9/11 attacks on the United States. In the scientific and technical field, work is ongoing on the STANDEX project, which aims to develop technology that will enable the stand-off detection of explosive devices in mass transport environments. Trials are due to take place in 2013. Countering improvised explosive devices is another important focus of ongoing work.
Over the years, several Russian ships have been deployed in support of Operation Active Endeavour, NATO’s maritime operation against terrorism in the Mediterranean.
Cooperative Airspace Initiative
The Cooperative Airspace Initiative (CAI) – aimed at preventing terrorists from using aircraft to launch attacks similar to those of 9/11 – is now operational. The CAI information exchange provides air traffic transparency and early notification of suspicious air activities. This facilitates transparency, predictability and interoperability in airspace management.
Based on a feasibility study completed in 2005, detailed system requirements and a project plan were agreed for the system to enable the reciprocal exchange of air traffic data between centres in NATO countries and in Russia. Implementation started in 2006 and the system reached its operational capability in December 2011.
The operational readiness of the CAI system was demonstrated during the first live-flying, real-time counter-terrorism exercise, “Vigilant Skies 2011”, which took place in June 2011. A simulated computer-based exercise to test and consolidate processes, procedures and capabilities took place in November 2012. Another live exercise is due to take place in September 2013.
A total of around €10 million have been invested in the CAI project. Nations that have contributed financially include Canada, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Russia, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. The system is open for participation by other nations. So far, Finland and Ukraine have indicated an interest in joining the initiative.
The NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A) has led the implementation of the NATO part of the CAI system, and the software was procured from EUROCONTROL. Implementation of the Russian part of the system was led by the State Air Traffic Management Corporation, under the guidance of the Federal Air Navigation Authority. The Russian segment of the system was developed and supplied by the “Almaz-Antey” Concern.
The CAI system consists of two coordination centres, in Moscow and in Warsaw, and local coordination sites in Russia (Murmansk, Kaliningrad, Rostov-on-Don) and in NATO member countries (Bodø, Norway; Warsaw, Poland; and Ankara, Turkey).
Theatre missile defence/ ballistic missile defence
Cooperation in the area of theatre missile defence (TMD) has been underway for a number of years to address the unprecedented danger posed to deployed forces by the increasing availability of ever more accurate ballistic missiles. A study was launched in 2003 to assess the possible levels of interoperability among the theatre missile defence systems of NATO Allies and Russia.
Three command post exercises have been held – the first in the United States in March 2004, the second in the Netherlands in March 2005, and the third in Russia in October 2006. Computer-assisted exercises have taken place in Germany in January 2008 and March 2012. Together with the interoperability study, these exercises are intended to provide the basis for future improvements to interoperability and to develop mechanisms and procedures for joint operations in the area of theatre missile defence.
In December 2009, an NRC Missile Defence Working Group was established. It was tasked to build on the lessons learned from the previous TMD cooperation and to exchange views on possible mutually beneficial cooperation on ballistic missile defence, based on a joint assessment of missile threats.
At the Lisbon Summit, NRC leaders approved the joint ballistic missile threat assessment and agreed to discuss pursuing missile defence cooperation. They decided to resume TMD cooperation, which had been suspended in August 2008, and to develop a joint analysis of the future framework for missile defence cooperation.
While differences remain on the subject of ballistic missile defence, discussions continue. At Chicago, NATO leaders stressed that NATO’s planned missile defence capability is not directed against Russia, nor will it undermine Russia’s strategic deterrent. It is intended to defend against potential threats from beyond the Euro-Atlantic area. While regretting recurrent Russian statements and measures directed against NATO’s missile defence system, the Allies welcome Russia’s willingness to continue dialogue on finding a way to develop future cooperation on missile defence.
NATO is determined to work through the NRC to see how independent NATO and Russian missile defence systems could work together to enhance European security. The Allies look forward to the establishment of the proposed NATO-Russia Missile Data Fusion Centre and the joint Planning Operations Centre. They also propose to develop a new transparency regime based on a regular exchange of information about the current respective missile defence capabilities of NATO and Russia.
Non-proliferation and arms control
Dialogue on a growing range of issues related to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) has developed under the NRC. Concrete recommendations have been made to strengthen existing non-proliferation arrangements. A number of in-depth discussions and expert seminars have been held to explore opportunities for practical cooperation in the protection against nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Since under the NRC, work has been underway to assess global trends in WMD proliferation and their means of delivery, and to review areas in which NRC nations could work together politically to promote effective multilateral arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.
The NRC has also provided a forum for frank discussions on issues related to conventional arms control, such as the CFE Treaty, the Open Skies Treaty and confidence-and-security-building measures. A key priority for all NRC nations is to work towards the ratification of the Adapted Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe. The Allies have expressed concern over Russia’s unilateral “suspension” of its participation in the treaty in December 2007. While differences remain on this issue, the Allies remain committed to ratifying the Adapted Treaty. Discussions are ongoing with Russia, both in the framework of the NRC and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe on how to make this possible.
At the Lisbon Summit, NRC leaders emphasised their strong support for the revitalisation and modernisation of the conventional arms control regime in Europe and their readiness to continue dialogue on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation issues of interest to the NRC. A Joint NRC Statement was agreed for the 7th Review Conference of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in December 2011.
Nuclear weapons issues
In the nuclear field, experts have developed a glossary of terms and definitions and organised exchanges on nuclear doctrines and strategy.
Experts and representatives from Russia and NATO member countries have also observed four nuclear-weapon-accident-response field exercises in Russia in 2004, the United Kingdom in 2005, the United States in 2006, and France in 2007. As a follow-on to these four exercises, in June 2011 Russia and NATO member countries also participated in a table top exercise dealing with emergency response to a nuclear weapon incident. Inviting experts to attend such exercises increases transparency, develops common understanding of nuclear-weapon-accident-response procedures, and builds full confidence that the nuclear weapon states of NATO (France, the United Kingdom and United States) and Russia are fully capable to respond effectively to any emergency involving nuclear weapons. Expert seminars have also been held to discuss nuclear doctrine and strategy (2005, 2009 and 2011), lessons learned from nuclear weapons incidents and accidents (2007) and potential responses to the detection of improvised nuclear or radiological devices (2010).
Since the NRC was established, military liaison arrangements have been enhanced, at the Allied Commands for Operations and for Transformation, as well as in Moscow. A key objective of military-to-military cooperation is to build trust, confidence and transparency, and to improve the ability of NATO and Russian forces to work together in preparation for possible future joint military operations.
Military-to-military cooperation has resumed, following a temporary suspension in the wake of the August 2008 Georgia crisis. It currently focuses on six areas of cooperation – logistics, combating terrorism, search-and-rescue at sea, countering piracy, theatre missile defence/missile defence and military academic exchanges – and related military activities.
A “Political-Military Guidance Towards Enhanced Interoperability Between Forces of Russia and NATO Nations” was approved by NRC defence ministers in June 2005.
Another key document is the Partnership for Peace Status of Forces Agreement (signed by Russia in 2004 and ratified by the Russian parliament in May 2007), aimed at facilitating military-to-military and other practical cooperation, in particular the deployment of forces participating in joint operations and exercises.
Countering piracy is one of the key areas of common interest and concern identified in the Joint Review of 21st Century Common Security Challenges approved at Lisbon in November 2010. Cooperation at the tactical level has been developing between Allied ships and Russian vessels since late 2008.
NATO and Russia have agreed to explore ways to strengthen cooperation to counter piracy. Building on ongoing military tactical cooperation off the Horn of Africa, they are seeking to strengthen information exchange and coordination and considering possible mutual support, such as refuelling and medical assistance, for ships involved in counter-piracy operations.
Submarine-crew search and rescue
Work in the area of submarine-crew search and rescue at sea intensified following the signing of a framework agreement on cooperation in this area in February 2003.
A Russian navy submarine was fully integrated into a NATO-led exercise for the first time during search-and-rescue exercise “Bold Monarch 2011” off the coast of southern Spain, from 30 May to 10 June 2011. The Alrosa submarine was supported by three other Russian ships – a submarine-rescue vessel, a salvage vessel and a heavy-lifting vessel.
Prior to this, Russia took part in NATO’s exercise “Sorbet Royal”, in June 2005. The experience and networks developed during the exercise contributed to the success of an actual rescue operation in August 2005 off the coast of Russian Kamchatka peninsula. Russia also participated in exercise “Bold Monarch 2008”.
NATO and Russia have a long history of cooperation in crisis management. In fact, between 1996 and 2003, Russia was the largest non-NATO troop contributor to NATO-led peacekeeping operations. Close cooperation in the Balkans has been critical in improving relations and building trust between the Russian and Allied militaries.
Since 2002, the NRC has taken steps to prepare for possible future cooperation in this area, notably through the approval in September 2002 of “Political Aspects for a Generic Concept for Joint NATO-Russia Peacekeeping Operations”. This paper explores common approaches, establishes a framework for consultation, planning and decision-making during an emerging crisis, and defines issues related to joint training and exercises. These were tested in a procedural exercise, conducted in three phases between May 2003 and September 2004.
Defence transparency, strategy and reform
With a view to building mutual confidence and transparency, dialogue is ongoing on doctrinal issues, strategy and policy, including their relation to defence reform, nuclear weapons issues, force development and posture.
Past initiatives launched in the area of defence reform have focused on the evolution of the military, management of human and financial resources, reform of defence industries, managing the consequences of defence reform, and defence-related aspects of combating terrorism. NATO and Russian linguists have also produced a terminological glossary to support practical cooperation and contribute to understanding within the NRC, which was completed in 2011.
From 2002 to 2008, a NATO-Russia Resettlement Centre helped facilitate the integration of former Russian military personnel into civilian life by providing information regarding job-search and resettlement, professional courses for trainees, job-placement services, and English-language and management courses for small and medium-sized enterprises. Set up in Moscow in July 2002, its operations were gradually expanded into the regions. Over the project’s lifetime, around 2820 former military personnel from the Russian armed forces were retrained and over 80 per cent found civilian employment as a result of the retraining or the help of the Centre’s job placement unit.
Defence industrial cooperation
A broad-based “Study on NATO-Russia Defence Industrial and Research and Technological Cooperation”, launched in January 2005 and completed in 2007, concluded that there is potential in combining scientific and technological capabilities to address global threats.
Logistics form the backbone of any military operation and in today's security environment, the need for more mobile forces and multinational operations calls for improved coordination and the pooling of resources, wherever possible. Various initiatives are pursuing logistic cooperation on both the civilian and the military side.
Meetings and seminars have focused on establishing a sound foundation of mutual understanding in the field of logistics by promoting information sharing in areas such as logistic policies, doctrine, structures and lessons learned. Opportunities for practical cooperation are being explored in areas such as air transport, air-to-air refuelling, medical services, and water purification. Cooperation is being extended to explore potential capabilities and enhance interoperability to support future operations, particularly in Afghanistan.
NATO and Russia have been cooperating since 1996 to develop a capacity for joint action in response to civil emergencies, such as earthquakes and floods, and to coordinate detection and prevention of disasters before they occur. Moreover, it was a Russian proposal that led to the establishment in 1998 of the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre, which coordinates responses to disasters among all countries of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (the 28 NATO members and 22 Partner countries).
Under the NRC, a key focus of cooperation in this area has been to develop capabilities to manage the consequences of terrorist attacks. Two disaster-response exercises held in Russia (Bogorodsk, 2002, and Kaliningrad, 2004) and another in Italy, in 2006, have resulted in concrete recommendations for consequence management. Another table top consequence-management exercise was hosted by Norway in 2010. Current work is focused on risk reduction, capacity building and cooperation in the area of civil preparedness and consequence management related to high visibility events.
New threats and challenges
Scientific and technological cooperation between NATO and Russia dates back to 1998. Over the years, NATO’s science programmes, which foster collaboration and research between scientists in NATO and Partner countries, have awarded more grants to scientists from Russia than any other country.
Under the NRC Science for Peace and Security Committee, promising work is taking place on confronting new threats and challenges through scientific and environmental cooperation. Key areas include explosives detection (such as the STANDEX project mentioned above), protection from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents, cyber security, psychosocial consequences of terrorism, transport security, defence-related environmental issues, environmental security and eco-terrorism, and the forecast and prevention of catastrophes.
Raising public awareness of the NRC
An NRC web site (http://www.nato-russia-council.info/) was launched in June 2007 to increase public awareness of NRC activities. All NRC nations have stated their commitment to explaining the merits of NATO-Russia cooperation to the public.