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

September 24, 2009

From NRC Handelsblad: Nato sees Eastern Europe as “a desert”, a high-ranking Polish official said last week . . .

Countries like Poland and the Czech Republic are disappointed at what it means to belong to Nato, they say. After they joined the alliance, no scenarios were prepared in the event they were attacked, which had been done for the other member states, because it was feared this could give Russia the wrong impression. And it was, one diplomat says, much more a “talking club” than expected, No Action, Talk Only . . .

Take for example the major exercise ‘zapad,’ the Russian attack on Estonian computer systems in 2007, or the energy crisis at the beginning of this year when Russia shut off the gas supply to the EU after a row with Ukraine over gas transport.

And the most important evidence: the conflict between Georgian and Russian troops during the summer last year. "Apart from the question of who started it," says [analyst for the Centre for Eastern Geopolitics, Arunas] Molis, "that conflict should have made Nato and the European Union think seriously about the situation. It shows that Russia still regards the use of brute force as a part of its foreign policy . . .”

A day after the US announced the decision on the missile shield, [Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh] Rasmussen gave a talk – which had been planned for some time – on the relationship with Russia titled ‘A New Beginning’.

This prompted long meetings at the headquarters in Brussels. Countries like Poland, the Czech Republic, the Baltic states and Great Britain did not feel it was necessary for Rasmussen to strengthen the ties with Russia so openly. There was opposition to the fact that he reportedly wanted to propose that Nato sit down with Russia to chart international threats - which Rasmussen nonetheless did. "It is a dividing line that runs through everything at Nato," says one diplomat. "You have a mistrust of the Russians versus a pragmatic attitude towards a large country that simply has to be dealt with." (graphic: Voice of Russia)