Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 25

Over the weekend Russia once again found itself isolated as discussion of planned NATO enlargement dominated the annual Wehrkunde meeting of defense experts in Munich. A blistering written report submitted by Russian first deputy defense minister Andrei Kokoshin was the cause of much discord. The report accused the West of perpetrating an "historical injustice" by forcing Russia "further and further east." The document also characterized NATO expansion as a "violation of the obvious obligations of the West [to Russia] after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union’s consent to German unification." All of this, it suggested, could lead Russians to view Western policy as "unjust" and even "insidious." While Kokoshin’s oral presentation to the assembly was milder, it drew rebukes and accusations that Russia was "saber-rattling" and attempting to block the efforts of central and eastern European states "to reunite themselves" with the rest of Europe. (10)

But several participants of the meeting spoke of a need to accommodate Moscow. German chancellor Helmut Kohl, while asserting that Moscow had no right to a veto power over NATO actions, nevertheless warned that the West needed to act prudently and to take into account not only Russia’s, but also Ukraine’s, legitimate security interests. (11) U.S. defense secretary William Perry spoke in similar terms, insisting that NATO expansion is inevitable, but urging Russia at the same time to build a special relationship with NATO through the Partnership for Peace program. Perry pointed to Russian participation in the NATO-led implementation force operating in Bosnia as a model for other cooperative ventures between the alliance and Russia. (12)

Poland Says NATO Membership no Threat to Russia.