Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 202

The Russian Foreign Ministry has confirmed that the outspoken, anti-Western Dmitry Rogozin is about to be appointed to an important diplomatic position, and “This may be the post of permanent representative to NATO” (RIA-Novosti, Reuters, October 24). The current Russian representative at NATO headquarters, General Konstantin Totsky, is reported to be awaiting his replacement. On Monday, President Vladimir Putin signed an ukaz to decorate Totsky (Itar-Tass, October 29). In the Russian bureaucratic system, such a sudden decoration of a high-ranking official is often a clear sign of an imminent resignation.

In December 2003, Rogozin was elected to the State Duma as leader of the nationalist Rodina party, which at that time had Kremlin support. Later Rogozin fell out with the Kremlin and was ousted as party leader by the Rodina parliamentary faction. Since then has been a speaker at rallies of extreme-nationalist groups. In May Rogozin co-founded the nationalist Great Russia party, but the Russian authorities have refused to register it. Great Russia, therefore, is not running in the coming December 2 Duma elections nor is Rogozin, who will soon lose his seat.

Rogozin is a firebrand nationalist, who has on many occasions publicly attacked NATO for being an aggressive, U.S.-dominated organization. Observers in Moscow have suggested that the possible appointment of Rogozin to head Russia’s mission at NATO headquarters is a signal that the Kremlin is not interested in improving ties with the Alliance and is “teasing” the West (Moscow Times, October 25).

After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Russia embraced the West in general and United States in particular in the “war on terror.” Speaking in Houston, Texas, Putin announced, “Russia will have as close a relationship with NATO as the alliance is ready to have with us.” He then added, “It is also in our best interest to integrate Russia into the contemporary international community in every sense of the word in defense and security” (Itar-Tass, November 14, 2001). In Washington and in London officials suddenly understood that the Joint Permanent Russia-NATO Council created in 1997, known as “19+1,” was not working. NATO states first established a consolidated position on all issues and then collided with Russia, which was not allowed to take part in preliminary consultations.

In November 2001 then British Prime Minister Tony Blair sent all NATO member states a letter spelling out a proposal to create a new Russia-NATO Council that would meet at least every two weeks. Russia would be invited to take part in NATO consensus-building discussions before a final decision is made. At the time leaders hoped that this would make Russia a NATO member state in all but name and give it an effective veto on some issues. Moscow actively supported former Soviet republics that were providing NATO countries with bases and military transit rights to attack and defeat the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Russia was itself supplying substantial amounts of weapons to U.S.-supported anti-Taliban forces. Russia’s full accession to NATO seemed to be a possibility in the not-too-distant future.

However, the new Russia-NATO Council turned out to be the same talking shop as the previous “19+1” format. A good opportunity to integrate Russia and the West was squandered. Speaking to Iranian journalists recently in Tehran, Putin announced, “We extremely oppose NATO expansion to the East.” He stated that NATO has not changed, that its existence does not make sense, and that “We are especially disturbed by the military infrastructure approaching our borders” (, October 18). The commander of Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces, General Nikolai Solovtsov, has once again publicly stated that Russia may easily leave the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and begin the deployment of ballistic missiles with a range of 500–5,000 kilometers (at present banned by INF) “to counter the deployment of U.S. missile defense in Europe” (Interfax, October 26).

It would seem fully in line with such statements, to appoint a firebrand nationalist to represent Russia at NATO. But in fact Rogozin is a rather amicable person—not a fanatic, but an opportunist, who will hardly use an official diplomatic appointment to make trouble in Brussels. The post of permanent representative at NATO is an honorary position. Totsky was previously chief of Russia’s Border Guards. After the Border Guards were incorporated into the FSB security service in 2003 Totsky was sent to NATO as a comfortable stopover before retirement.

Last week at a meeting of NATO defense ministers in the Netherlands Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov stated that U.S.-Russian relations are in bad shape because of U.S. plans to deploy missile defense components in Europe, but Russia is ready to work on the possible development of a shorter-range joint theater MD with NATO to defend Europe. Serdyukov announced that Russia is ready to join NATO theater missile-defense exercises in November in Germany (RIA-Novosti, October 25). Moscow prefers to make inroads into the Western alliance by promoting bilateral relations with European states. But NATO headquarters could also be used for the same ends.

To get this honorary diplomatic appointment Rogozin has obviously put in considerable effort to make amends with the Kremlin, to be allowed back in from the cold. He will hardly do anything drastic to undermine his position. As a diplomat, Rogozin will be following the Kremlin line without deviations and Putin, although angry with NATO, is not quite ready to permanently disrupt relations.