US Assistant Secretary of State Gordon says there is a place for Russia in NATO.

Speaking before the House of Representatives, US Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon announced all of a sudden that Russia could join NATO. According to Gordon, official Washington was prepared to consider the matter on three conditions:

– that Russia met all necessary criteria of membership;

– that Russia contributed to the global collective security; and

– that other NATO members backed the idea.

Reports in the American media meanwhile indicate that Washington would dearly like to persuade Russia to stop treating NATO as a menace.

Considering that Gordon’s words were not exactly an official invitation to Moscow, they are nevertheless a signal that official Washington suggests rapprochement.

“No use waiting for an official reaction from Moscow,” said Major General Pavel Zolotarev, Assistant Director of the Institute of the USA and Canada (Russian Academy of Sciences). “The Americans are putting out feelers, nothing more. And not for the first time either. In 1949, when NATO was being formed, the Americans made an analogous unofficial offer to the USSR. It was the Europeans who stopped them then. Matter of fact, lots of demands were put forth, and the Soviet Union met them. It even withdrew troops from Austria. Anyway, Moscow got nothing in return for all the trouble it had gone to – which seems to be a tradition. The Cold War began then, and rapprochement became history… The next exchange of signals occurred in the 1990s. Yeltsin mentioned once that Russia regarded membership in NATO as a possibility. The United States failed to respond, and our ambassador in Brussels had to explain that Yeltsin had misspoken. After that, Putin and Medvedev each in his own time allowed for this option too. Even NATO Secretary Generals mentioned this possibility, informally. What I’m leading to is that the issue has never been formally raised.”

“To the best of my knowledge, NATO never invites any country to join it. Membership in it has to be requested. Had it been an official offer to Russia, it would have been different of course. Russia should have swallowed its pride in this case and accepted,” said Alexander Konovalov of the Institute of Strategic Estimates. “Sure, everything has its drawbacks, but we do have a good deal of common interests these days. The list of global risks in the Russian Foreign Policy Concept (2008) is practically a carbon copy of the list made by NATO. And since we face so many common challenges, we should be at least partners, if not allies.”