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Expert: Russia and NATO should mend cooperation

April 20, 2015, 16:38 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, April 20. /TASS/. For the sake of preventing threats to peace Russia and Western countries should mend cooperation between their military agencies, the director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ International Security Center, Alexey Arbatov, told TASS in an interview, as he looked back on the 4th International Security Conference Moscow hosted on April 16-17. "Despite the US pressures on NATO countries Russia has many partners and allies interested in military cooperation," he said.

"The conference, devoted to global security, challenges and prospects, gathered delegates from 80 countries, including NATO’s member-states. Washington not only boycotted that major international event, but also put pressures on the North Atlantic countries in attempts to persuade their military specialists not to go to Moscow. However, most NATO and European Union countries, except for the United States itself, and also Canada, Britain and the Netherlands, sent officials from their defence and foreign ministries to the conference. Representatives from more than 70 countries and international organizations were discussing global security matters at the security conference," Arbatov said.

"The leaders of major countries not involved in the US sphere of influence, such as China, India, Brazil, South Africa, and the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s member-states are aware the modern world is very different from that of the Cold War era. There are far more challenges and threats, and only joint action will be able to prevent them," Arbatov said.

"In fact, the United States is NATO’s leading member-state, so the channels of military cooperation between the United States and the alliance’s other countries, on the one hand, and Russia, on the other, are totally frozen. The Russia-NATO Council has not been formally abolished, but it does not work. As a result, the alliance’s activity on Russia’s borders has been growing without any plausible explanations. Moscow has been taking counter-measures. Mutual suspicions are soaring. This is extremely dangerous. Any incident, like the interception of a US spy plane by a Russian jet fighter over the Baltic on April 7, may not only result in a misunderstanding, but entail a tragic mistake, a clash between two nuclear powers with unpredictable consequences," Arbatov said.

"For the purpose of preventing the risk of military games developing into something worse the Soviet Union and the United States back in 1972 signed an inter-government agreement On the Prevention of Incidents on and over the High Sea, which set a code of conduct both parties should abide by in case of direct contact. However that agreement applied mostly to ships, while these days military planes get involved ever more often. To ward off threats to international security it will be essential to restore the operation of consultative groups of Russia and NATO in the spirit of the 1972 convention for exchanging information about flights by military planes and voyages by naval ships," Arbatov believes.

"None of the military analysts I chanced to meet at the Moscow conference looked indifferent to the situation in Ukraine. Everybody was for easing tensions in the southeast of the country, which had begun to snowball of late again. Hostilities have resumed, the parties to the conflict keep accusing each other of violating the Minsk Accords’ requirement for the pullback of heavy weapons from the disengagement line. There is the unanimity a war in the very centre of Europe would benefit no one and that it will take pooling efforts by all members of the international community to prevent it from happening," Arbatov said.

Against the backdrop of the crisis in Ukraine and the explosive situation in the Middle East in view of the Yemen crisis and the continuing expansion of the Islamic State military cooperation by countries around the world, including Russia and NATO members will begin to be restored on the pragmatic basis. The need for interaction stems from the common threats to international security, such as the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation, terrorism, local crises, and the disastrous effects of the Arab Spring chain of government coups. No single state will be able to cope with these challenges on its own, so military cooperation between a great variety of countries and Russia just has no alternative."

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