Russia and NATO Explore the Limits of the 'Agreeing to Disagree' Posture

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Baev, Pavel K. (2009) Russia and NATO Explore the Limits of the 'Agreeing to Disagree' Posture, Eurasia Daily Monitor. 14 December.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed that Russia has resumed full-scale cooperation with the Alliance, and the Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Ragozin, not known for his diplomatic finesse, boasted that every point he had insisted upon was indeed inserted into the approved documents.

Ragozin's demarche convinced the malcontents that there was no way to avoid at least a pro-forma discussion of President Dmitry Medvedev’s proposal for a new European security pact. Russia’s rapprochement with NATO and START-making with the US are closely linked with Medvedev’s “modernization” course, or perhaps, discourse because in practical terms it is not really going anywhere. Hence the doubts in Brussels and Washington over the sustainability of the “unfrozen” partnership, perhaps accentuated by Lavrov’s point about the need for the Alliance to draw conclusions from the “events” of August 2008 (RIA-Novosti, December 4). Russia’s own reflections on that “small-and-successful” war remain righteous and self-assertive, and that leaves defiant Georgia in a very vulnerable position. When the need to explain away the fiasco of “modernization” becomes really acute in Moscow, the risks of a forceful Western response would hardly be seen as prohibitively high and the benefits of cooperation with NATO are unlikely to tip the balance against another experiment in power projection. Challenging the “aggressive Alliance” always comes so naturally to Vladimir Putin and he will hardly deny himself such joy on the comeback trail to the summit of power –unless the idea of “change” gains momentum beyond his “conservative” estimate.

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