MOSCOW, August 07, /ITAR-TASS/. Possible suspension of cooperation will affect NATO more than Russia, State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Alexei Pushkov said on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, at a meeting with Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada (parliament) Speaker Aleksandr Turchinov, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance was suspending cooperation with Russia.
“We suspend our practical cooperation with Russia in all areas,” he declared.
“Basically, Rasmussen didn’t say anything new but outlined a certain direction in which NATO is moving,” Pushkov said.
He believes that Rasmussen was referring to the NATO summit’s decision made in April, when it announced that the alliance would stop cooperation with Russia in a number of areas.
“NATO suspended cooperation with Russia until autumn and no other fundamental decisions have been adopted since then,” Pushkov said.
In his opinion, Rasmussen “is not quite authorised to make decisions on the suspension of cooperation with Russia” “Only the NATO summit is empowered to do that,” he said, adding that the next summit would take place in Great Britain in September.
At the same time, Pushkov stressed that Rasmussen was most likely “speaking on behalf of the leading NATO members, primarily the United States, Great Britain and countries that are gravitating towards them. He is most likely expressing some long-awaited decision which has not been adopted yet. This is some sort of NATO’s declaration of its intention to stop cooperation with Russia,” he said.
“The Founding Act of 1997 between Russia and NATO is still in effect and I have not heard NATO disavowing it. And until then any of Rasmussen’s statements will be no more than statements rather than an adopted political decision,” Pushkov said.
He believes that Russia has nothing to lose if cooperation with NATO stops. “Mr. Rasmussen will not frighten Russia by stopping cooperation because we have never had any practical benefits from this cooperation save for the purely symbolic Russia-NATO Council,” the deputy said.
“In the Council we exchanged opinions and NATO officials always stood their ground and the most they could do was politely hearing us out,” he added.
Speaking of full termination of cooperation with Russia, Pushkov said NATO would be affected by this more than Russia as this would call into question NATO’s use of the transit point in Ulyanovsk for the redeployment of its troops from Afghanistan.
“NATO is very much interested in the future transit of the American troops, weapons and military hardware from Afghanistan through Russia,” Pushkov said.
He recalled that the international coalition troops are to leave Afghanistan after December 2014 and two years ago Russia provided its transshipment point in Ulyanovsk for this purpose.
“I think this may not work now that Mr. Rasmussen says that cooperation has been stopped,” Pushkov said. “We are not going to lose anything from that, but NATO will as they will have to redeploy a large amount of combat hardware, valuable equipment and troops via other countries. If they do this by land, I am sure the Taliban will be only too happy to lie in wait for them on the mountain passes and in the valleys,” he said.