From the Atlantic Council: The fact is that the window of opportunity for the Alliance and Russia to sort out their differences may be slowly but surely closing. Although further NATO enlargement has been put on a back burner, the pledge made by the Alliance leaders at the Bucharest summit last year states that Ukraine and Georgia should eventually be able to obtain membership. In many ways this constitutes a significant fault line in NATO-Russia relations, which are further exacerbated by the potential renewal of tensions on Georgia’s borders and/or in Ukraine’s Crimea.

Similarly, Moscow remains conspicuously silent about US President Obama’s decision to deploy a more dispersed network of mobile interceptors as a substitute for the scrapped third site of the National Missile Defense in Europe. The Russian leadership is quite likely to oppose Washington’s efforts to continue deploying missile defenses in and beyond Europe, which will further affect and complicate relations between Russia and the West. Furthermore, and perhaps more ominously, as the next presidential election in Russia is slated for 2012, Moscow may be tempted to play a nationalist card and adopt more demanding – or even hostile – policies towards the West in hope of shoring up domestic support. (photo: Atlantic Council)