Updated: 22-Apr-2002 NATO Review

No. 1 - Feb 1993

p. 3-6


Andrei Kozyrev,
Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation

There is something symbolic in the fact that, for the first time, a Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation has been given the opportunity to contribute to a prestigious NATO publication. In this, the signs of change are clearly visible.

Russia, as well as the whole world, has embarked upon the post-Communist epoch, and at such lightning speed in historical terms that apparently few people have had time to realize the depth and meaning of the new Russian challenge.

Our present policy embodies the genuine national and state interests of a great power which recognizes and is implementing its responsibilities as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

Our principal task is to create favourable conditions for the transformation of Russia. Our main guidelines in achieving this aim are to: join the club of recognized democratic states with market economies, on a basis of equality; give effect to the concept of a successor state, enabling Russia as a whole painlessly to take the place of the former USSR in the United Nations and its specialized institutions, and in the whole system of international relations (Russia maintains diplomatic relations with 160 states and is a party to 16,000 international treaties and agreements); create a distinctive zone around Russia of good neighbourly relations and cooperation.

The renewal of Russia and its transition to a civilized condition is no easy task. We are devoting much time and effort to building new relationships with the former Union Republics, which are now sovereign states. Russia's leaders are patiently following the path of negotiation and our aim is to understand and take account of the interests of each of the parties. It should not be forgotten that the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) brings together peoples who have been linked to Russia for centuries. It is also obvious that the entire geographic area of the former USSR is a sphere of vital interest to us.

The situation of the Russian-speaking population in states of the former USSR presents a considerable and complex problem for the Russian Federation's foreign policy and diplomacy. We are counting on support from the NATO member nations to help ensure protection for the rights, life and dignity of the Russian minorities. It is now more widely understood that this is not only a major humanitarian problem - the global task of guaranteeing respect for human rights - but it also affects stability in an enormous region. A recent example of this was the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on the human rights situation in Latvia and Estonia.

In relations with the nations of Eastern Europe, it is vital for us to achieve a fundamentally new level of political and economic links, making use of previously acquired positive experiences in practical aspects of collaboration. The future of Eastern Europe lies in its transformation - not into some kind of buffer zone, but into a bridge linking the East and West of the continent.

A strategy for partnership

Russia is, of course, interested in the further development of cooperation with the West. Over the past year, we have managed to consolidate new partnerships by means of treaties with many major states. The task is now to transform these political and legal agreements into practical arrangements. The essential question is one of a new partnership strategy. In its political energy, financial, organizational and material provisions, this strategy should be translated into action no less farsighted than the Marshall Plan and the West's strategy of deterrence. The nations of the West found the strength and resolve in the difficult post-war years to deal with the challenge of Communism; the same effort is required today to meet the problems of post-Communist Europe, in order not to miss the opportunities which are now available and to win the democratic peace, just as the Cold War was won.

The new strategy must be a joint one, and it will require efforts by both sides. The West has to make the transition from offering political solidarity, humanitarian aid and uncoordinated credits, however vital these may be, to providing stable financial, technical and organizational support for the economic reforms in Russia, including the encouragement of investment for our process of conversion. However difficult it may be, Western firms will also have to allow Russia its place in world markets for high technologies, aerospace equipment and even military equipment, that is, in those areas where Russian enterprises can manufacture world-class products.

Russia, for its part, will improve conditions for foreign businessmen and will also cooperate in ensuring the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. We are trying to make sure that weapons exported by us do not upset existing balances anywhere in the world and are only acquired by stable partners.

There are many difficulties, and not only objective ones, in establishing partnerships between Russia and the West. For example, I am worried by how quickly 'a school of thought' has sprung up in the West which maintains that it is better to have dealings with a weakened Russia, left alone with its troubles. How Russia and its problems can be isolated is not explained. However, this 'selling short' of a power which is historically destined to be great is not only unrealistic but dangerous, because it kindles nationalism and confrontational attitudes both in Russia and throughout the world. It is, therefore, particularly important not to apply the previous stereotype - the necessity of holding an ideological Soviet power in check - to the new Russia.

All those who look to the future, and think not only of our future but also of their own, will stand to gain. That future lies in an alliance between a strong new Russia and other democratic states. That is why we see the NATO nations as our natural friends, and in future as allies. We remember the statement by NATO leaders during the attempted putsch in Moscow in August 1991, when they spoke in support of observance of our constitution and condemned the use of the army against the people.

If, however, we began to be seen in Western capitals as something 'unnecessary' or 'dangerous', this would only encourage our 'national patriots' to increase their attacks on current Russian policy and would sustain their chauvinist desires to close off Russia in pseudo-superpower isolation. Unfortunately, we are speaking not of hypothetical but of absolutely real attitudes which still live on in some political and social circles in Russian society, in the state apparatus and among the Deputies in parliament.

Shock diplomacy

My first speech at the CSCE Council in Stockholm last December, which was called 'shock diplomacy', was designed merely to demonstrate to the world community the dangers which lie in wait for it if the Russian reformers were defeated and representatives of the national-patriotic tendency came to power. This course of events, which would certainly not be in our common interests, must not be allowed to come about, and the strategy of partnership must serve to guarantee this.

Democratic Russia is interested in peaceful, evolutionary development, stability throughout Europe, and movement towards dialogue and cooperation. We see in this one of the key conditions for the transformation which we have begun. In its turn, building a new Europe is unthinkable without successful reforms in Russia. In fact, Europe needs a stable, economically healthy and politically self-confident Russian Federation no less than Russia needs a strong and united Europe.

During the Cold War period there was a joke making the rounds in diplomatic circles: the task of the Atlantic Alliance was 'to keep the Americans in NATO, the Russians out, and the Germans down'. If we take the US to be the symbol of Western values, the USSR to be the symbol of totalitarianism and military expansionism and Germany to be the symbol of the risk of a resurgence of Nazism and revanchism, the old 'NATO formula' can be seen in a new light, refracted by the prism of contemporary European and world realities. Today, it is the common task of the US, Russia and Germany and all nations in NATO and the CIS, to keep democratic values in, military threats out, and aggressive nationalism under joint control 'from Vancouver to Vladivostok'. The rapprochement of Russia and the NATO member states on the basis of common values is a historic chance for Europe and for the world as a whole, which must not be missed.

This also applies to our neighbours, the former republics of the USSR. At the end of 1991, the NATO nations took a major step to meet our proposals and set up the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC). Its members include the nations of NATO and the former Warsaw Treaty Organization, including all the states in the CIS.

The NACC's aim is to promote dialogue and, even more importantly, to free Europe of the legacy of the Cold War and eradicate any sense of enmity and distrust at a time when there are still massive accumulations of arms and equipment on the continent.

The latest NACC meeting at Foreign Minister level since its creation a year earlier, was held in Brussels on 18 December 1992, where the Work Plan for the current year was discussed.(1) About half of all the proposals for the 1993 Work Plan were submitted by Russia.

Of course, partnership does not exclude stiff competition - but in the field of economics rather than in the military-political sphere. Here, we should recall the 'trade wars' which break out from time to time between Western Europe and the United States. Does this imply that NATO is a pseudo-alliance? Of course not. It is a real alliance of civilized states, but their interests are also real, and this is what enables them to seek and to find mutually acceptable solutions.

A common space

In our concept of alliance with the West, there is no room for political confrontation, because there is no longer an enemy. Such an alliance is the most favourable forum imaginable under present conditions for the defence of Russian interests. Clearly, no one would have begun to discuss our economic problems under conditions of political confrontation.

At the same time, we are opposed to closed groupings, to doctrines such as Pax Americana, Pax Germanica or Pax Eurasiatica. A present-day balance of forces and equilibrium in the interests of states can be achieved only in a 'common space' where everyone is interdependent and helps one another; if there are disputes, these will be settled within a legal framework.

With the disappearance of the threat of military conflict between East and West, there is now an opportunity for us to join forces in areas useful to mankind.

The signing of the Russo-American START II Treaty was an impressive prologue to the new year of 1993; this will become the essential core of global security. I have no doubt that it will enter the history of diplomacy as an example of partners using their resources in striving to shake off the legacy of enmity and confrontation, for their mutual advantage.

Russia sees cooperation with NATO as an effective mechanism for overcoming the division of Europe and for mutual adaptation across the continent. It creates the prerequisites for regulating cooperation in a sphere which, in general, has not been mastered in Europe - the military sphere - and above all, the task of helping people in uniform to find their place in civilian society, as the military is converted from an instrument of confrontation into a factor of stability.

Ways must be found for states' military activities to be conducted openly and mutually monitored, to develop cooperation by the military in working out the parameters of defence and in planning the training of the armed forces. We are already making progress towards this goal. For example, our senior officers, together with representatives from other countries in Europe, discuss the problems of military development in the NATO military academies in Rome and Oberammergau (Germany), thus enabling them to study the military doctrines of the North Atlantic Alliance on the spot, so to speak.

Plans have been made to organize similar courses in Moscow, based on the Russian Federation Armed Forces General Staff Academy. Next spring, representatives of the 52 CSCE participating states will be invited to Russia for training. The topic will be Russian military doctrine and everything connected with it.

Areas for cooperation

The most important areas for cooperation are monitoring the non-proliferation of destabilizing technologies, armaments reduction and disarmament, regulating the arms trade, and assisting the conversion of defence industries.

The strategic task of our partnership is to eliminate the violent regional conflicts now breaking out and causing suffering in various parts of the continent. It is essential to achieve greater practical efficiency in the use of force to put out 'bush fires'. Russia has undertaken peacemaking operations in a whole range of regions - Moldova, Georgia, Tadjikistan - providing forces and resources in accordance with agreements with the appropriate countries. We recognize our responsibility for stability in that part of the world, but also raise the question of sharing the burden with our Western partners by way of CSCE mechanisms. After all, Russian servicemen are on duty as part of the United Nations forces in the former Yugoslavia.

We welcome the transformation of NATO on the basis of the London Declaration (2) which includes reorganizing the work of the North Atlantic Alliance and the development of new guidelines for it. In this context, we look with interest to NATO's experience in organizing humanitarian assistance, in the observance of human rights, in the operation of a system of political consultation on a wide range of problems, in coordinating the efforts of the Allies in environmental problems, in search of alternative sources of energy, in mutual aid systems for emergencies, and so on. This is a wide field for cooperation by all those participating in the common European dialogue.

The recent CSCE Summit in Helsinki (July 1992) and Stockholm Ministerial (December 1992) and the specific decisions taken there, mark the beginning of a transition in the European process to a new phase of development. In the near future, the CSCE will have to transform itself from a forum for political dialogue into an organization guaranteeing security, stability and the development of cooperation in the European space. The CSCE is being vested with additional powers, mechanisms and potential to take measures of a practical nature. Implementation of the principles and planned programmes of the CSCE is perhaps the most important area of cooperation between the new Russia and the states united in the Atlantic Alliance.

Footnotes :

(1) See 18 Dec.1992 communiqué.

(2) See "The transformed Alliance", Henning Wegener, NATO REVIEW, No.4, August 1990, pp.1-9 and London Declaration op.cit. pp 32-33.

© Copyright by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation 1993.