NATOSource|Daily News of the World's Most Powerful Alliance

San Francisco State University professor describes geostrategic environment from Moscow's perspective.

From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: "Although Obama's efforts to 'reset' relations with Russia have been encouraging and although Georgia is entering a period of political change, the structural conditions for a great-power confrontation in the Caucasus remain in place. The Crimean War became possible because Russia could not defend the rights of its co-religionists without being perceived as a revisionist power.

Today the European balance of power remains equally fragile. Russia cannot neglect those who turn to it for protection from state violence. Nor can the Kremlin ignore its own interests that have been jeopardized by NATO expansion and efforts to divert flows of Caspian energy away from Russian territory.

In addition, many in the West continue to share the Russophobic attitude of Britain's Lord Palmerston by viewing Russia's weakness as essential for asserting U.S. and European interests in the region. Finally, the Caucasus has become heavily militarized and exposed to the use of force by various state and nonstate actors. To this day, Georgia has refused to sign an agreement on the renunciation of force with South Ossetia and Abkhazia."
In interview on TV channel Rossiya, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev challenges the role of NATO and ignores the OSCE.

From Russia Today: "The previous set of the European Institutions formed in the 1970s had been providing security in Europe. They’d played their role already. Now we have a range of state unions in Europe. We have the North Atlantic Alliance, but we don’t have a universal platform for considering all the issues. The idea of the European Security Treaty was related exactly to that. What’s been happening in the 1990s and in the present decade? Unfortunately the situation is Europe hasn’t become more secure. On the contrary, we are explained that security has been maintained in Europe by the means of expanding one military political bloc."
From Hurriyet Daily News: "Turkey, one of the most significant contributors to NATO’s activities and operations worldwide, has been a member of the alliance
since 1952, but has not undertaken a prominent position within the alliance since 1979. The last time Turkey held high-rank positions was between 1968 and
1971 as acting secretary general, and between 1973 and 1979 as deputy secretary-general in charge of scientific affairs.

The Turkish government openly expressed opposition to Denmark’s former Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen running for the chief NATO post due to a number of reasons, including his failure to handle the 2006 crisis over the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed and Denmark’s refusal to revoke the broadcasting license of Roj TV, which Turkey says is a mouthpiece for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK.

But the crisis was settled, as some reports suggested, after Turkey was convinced it would obtain a senior position within NATO in return for its acceptance of the Danish premier."

Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen, Minister of Defense of Norway, addresses security issues in the Arctic and calls for changes in NATO.

From "This view on possible challenges for NATO – not far away in another continent but on the continent where the it was founded 60 years ago – is being reflected in Norway’s recent efforts to outline the importance of refocusing on defence and security issues on NATO territory and its adjacent neighbourhood. “The Alliance has a mission ‘at home’ as well as ‘away’. For understandable reasons, the ‘away’ mission has dominated the agenda, not least because it has been perceived as more urgent than the long-standing commitment to collective defence. We think the time is ripe to re-address this balance.”
From Kazakhstan Today: "Almaty. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has officially invited Kazakhstan to take part in peace-making operation for restoration of Afghanistan. NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, Robert Simmons, informed, the agency reports citing Independent newspaper. According to R. Simmons, all the documents have been sent to the Kazakhstan party. 'NATO representative emphasized that Kazakhstan army already reached the level of compatibility with the NATO armies and will successfully demonstrate itself in the Afghani mission. However, R. Simmons said that in any case Kazakhstan will make final decision whether to send peacemakers to Afghanistan or not.'"
Medvedev signs new National Security Strategy which identifies NATO and conflicts over energy sources as threats to Russia.

From the Guardian: "The document, which will form Russia's national security strategy until 2020, also warns of the threat posed to Russia by Nato. The paper says Moscow wants a 'fully fledged strategic partnership' with Washington but is opposed to the US's plans to develop a missile defence system in central Europe.

Ruben Sergeyev, a Moscow-based defence analyst, said: 'This new doctrine makes clear that the main threat to Russia is the activities of western countries.'

He went on: 'Russia is seriously concerned about the growing gap between the US and Russia in the military field, and about America's attempts to dwarf Russia's nuclear potential by creating new arms systems, placed close to Russia's borders and in space. It is also worried about the US's high-precision, long-range, non-nuclear weapons.'"

For intriguing background on the development of Russia's new National Security Strategy, see Pavel Felgenhauer's work at the Jamestown Foundation.
Birgitta Ohlsson, foreign policy spokesperson for Sweden's Liberal Party argues for Sweden to join NATO.

From the Local: "The EU is not a military alliance and is therefore not an alternative to NATO. The reintegration of the French military into NATO is a clear sign that even the French have given up on the idea of having a competing organization as a counterbalance to the United States. We have to face up to reality. If we really want Sweden to take joint responsibility for Europe’s security then Sweden needs to play an integral role in the context of European and transatlantic defence. A combination of the EU’s civilian skills and NATO’s military acumen represent the future for European – and, by extension, Swedish -- security.

It's disingenuous to have so few Swedes aware of the fact that their country is in practice already part of NATO. Sweden has a lot more soldiers under NATO Command than under the UN flag, and many Swedes are unaware that we have a NATO ambassador with her own secretariat at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Yet we allow Swedish soldiers’ lives and security to be decided at meetings where we have very little say. If we were members we would be able to take responsibility and exert a far greater influence over these operations. As it stands, we have to rely on others to take responsibility. Really Sweden has already taken the step from neutrality to solidarity vis à vis our security policy. All that remains to seal the deal is NATO membership."
U.S. Senator Jeane Shaheen, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs, draws attention to the need for hard choices within the alliance.

From the Boston Globe: "NATO will simply not be able to meet every challenge that threatens its members. On some issues, NATO will take the lead. But on others, NATO will have to partner with other international institutions, like the United Nations or the European Union. As we rewrite the Strategic Concept to guide the next decade of NATO operations, we must clearly define when NATO should lead, when it should collaborate with other international organizations, and when it should take a back seat."
A small step forward in NATO/Ukraine relations.

From "Within the framework of NATO-Ukraine cooperation the meeting of Joint Working Group on Defence Reform (JWGDR) and planning conference on the program of development of civilian staff employed in the defence sector is being held on 13th-15th May 09, as reported by Poland's Ministry of National Defence.

Directors of defence policy departments of NATO member states, partner countries and institutions, such as: Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of Armed Forces and Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) as well as counselors on defence issues from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence and General Staff participate in the meeting co-chaired by Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning Jiry Sedivy and first dpty of the Secretary of the Ukrainian Council of National Security Stepan Havrysz. The goals of the conference will be the assessment of the Ukraine’s way to the integration with NATO structures and its development in security and defence sectors. The talks will concern, among others, the state of implementation of Ukraine’s Annual National Plan and projects run under the Group auspices. This meeting is of great significance for the future of NATO-Ukraine’s cooperation.
This is the first JWGDR meeting on that level organized by a NATO member. Thus far, the sittings were held in Brussels or in Ukraine."