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March 5, 2009
Clinton, NATO reboot relations with Russia

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called it a “fresh start” with Moscow as NATO leaders agreed to restore normal relations with Russia seven months after its invasion of Georgia.

Vladimir Lensky, the New York bureau chief for Russia’s Channel One television, discusses how NATO’s decision will be received in Russia, the possibility of a deal between President Obama and Russian President Medvedev and how economic conditions are affecting Russia’s foreign policy. 

Con Coughlin of “The Telegraph” argues in his blog that Russia must take further steps to show its willingness to restore relations:

Russia’s decision to renew cooperation with Nato is a welcome development, but Moscow needs to demonstrate it is genuine about having a proper dialogue with its European partners.

Until the collapse of the Russian economy, Moscow had been taking an increasingly belligerent attitude towards its European neighbours, resuming nuclear bomber flights over the North Sea and threatening to site ballistic missiles along the borders of its East European neighbours.

[…]But the collapse of the Russian economy has clearly made the Kremlin think again, and after Nato initially cut all cooperation with Moscow in retaliation for Russia’s military offensive against Georgia last summer, it is good to see the Russians taking the first, faltering steps towards restoring relations with the West.[…]Nato needs Russia to be a key ally at a time when it faces so many other, more alarming, security threats throughout the rest of the world.

A blogger at “Defense of the Republic” argues that NATO’s decision reflects weakness in the face of Russian aggression:

Would you have guessed that NATO would cave and resume relations with Russia? Well, it’s coming, just a few months after the Georgia invasion by Russia, the Europeans are playing nice again. Do you feel comforted by the fact that no one in the world now seems willing to confront aggression?

Katrina Vanden Heuvel of “The Nation” argues that a true “fresh start” will not occur without a fundamental change in American mindset about Russia:

But resetting the relationship with Russia — as both President Obama and Vice President Biden have indicated a desire to do — […]demands an end to the triumphalist thinking that has defined the U.S. mindset and strut since the end of the Cold War. President Obama and some on his team seem to be on the road to understanding how vital this shift is.

[…]There will not be a fundamental change or reset of US-Russian relations — no real partnership — until there is new American thinking about Russia.

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