NATO-Russia: trust or bust?

Officially, NATO and Russia don't see each other as enemies. In practice, they actually collaborate in several areas. So why the bad mood music between the two?
This photostory has a few familiar - but also a few surprising - pictures outlining NATO and Russia's recent relationship. It aims to highlight some of the areas which have been challenging, including Ukraine and Syria. But it also illustrates some areas where, quietly and progressively, NATO and Russia are still working together in some key areas.
Missile defence is not going to go away. But neither are the Russian objections to the NATO missile defence system. What are the obstacles - and how can they best be addressed?
Russia's interest in what happens in Afghanistan and Central Asia is well known. What isn't is how they see their involvement in the region after 2014, after the ISAF operation in Afghanistan ends. NATO Review asks what the Russian approach will be and what issues are of most interest to them.
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Trust is a fundamental of everyday life. Without it, many elements of society would simply collapse.

Look in your wallet. What do you see? Some paper notes, some bits of plastic and maybe some coins. All of them are objectively worthless. What gives them value is the trust that props them up. You pay money into your bank, which you trust will be reflected in what happens when you next use your credit card.

And so it brings us to the question of why this every day trust which works on a small scale cannot be transferred to larger relationships - such as the one between NATO and Russia.

Trust is a fundamental of everyday life. Without it, many elements of society would simply collapse.

Look in your wallet. What do you see? Some paper notes, some bits of plastic and maybe some coins. All of them are objectively worthless. What gives them value is the trust that props them up. You pay money into your bank, which you trust will be reflected in what happens when you next use your credit card.

Sometimes the trust relationship is even spelt out. For example, sterling notes in the United Kingdom have a picture of the British queen with the sentence saying 'I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of X pounds'.

Even gold, that precious metal which - for reasons I still don't quite understand - has been the currency of choice for centuries is worthless in isolation (although can be useful in applications like mobile phones). Yet the world is happy to use it still, every day, as a symbol of trust.

Indeed, many marriages - and the trust that underpin them - are sealed with a gold ring. In Dutch, to get married is 'trouwen'; the word for trust is 'vertrouwen'.

So, in short, key aspects of our every day life run more smoothly because we all buy in to the trust behind symbols or actions. If we didn't, we'd never visit a bank, hospital or airport (to name a few) ever again.

As any engineer will tell you, what functions on a small scale will function on a large scale. And so it brings us to the question of why this every day trust which works on a small scale individually cannot be transferred to larger relationships - such as the one between NATO and Russia.

In this edition, the word distrust comes up a lot. So we try to find out why the trust has eroded. We look at what this means in the near term in areas such as Central Asia and in the longer term in areas such as the NATO missile defence system.

We also look at what could help tackle this distrust - from both the NATO and the Russian perspective.

It's never easy to overcome distrust. But as several people highlight in this edition, this is a relationship which needs to improve - and soon.

Paul King