Robert Burns of AP has asked me an interesting question whether a statement by NATO DSG Alexander Vershbow ""Clearly the Russians have declared NATO as an adversary, so we have to begin to view Russia no longer as a partner but as more of an adversary than a partner" is significant.
Now that he has published the article, I think I am allowed to post my answer to him in full:
Even if such a high-ranking official, as DSG Vershbow, is saying something, that doesn’t mean his words will necessarily be translated into official NATO policy.
The NATO summit later this year will show whether the alliance adopts any official document that would designate Russia as adversary either ad verbatim or in more diplomatically couched language. I am sure many NATO officials who represent US, UK and E. European members feel that way, but NATO operates by consensus and I doubt Germany would approve designation of Russia as adversary. For one, 300,000 jobs in Germany depend on Russia. France has taken a total of $1.6 billion in Russian cash to build two helicopter carriers for Russia. Does anyone think France would support designating Russia into adversary, given that such status would require France to cancel the almost completed deal (the 2 ships to be handed over to Russia within a year) and return the money and pay penalties? Also, if Russia were to have been designated as adversary at the upcoming NATO summit in Cardiff, Wales, in September 2014 (which I am sure will discuss the Ukraine crisis and reflect on it in the final communique), consequences for the alliance won’t be limited to closing of NATO information office in Europe. Russia and its allies would put an end to Afghanistan transit via their territories. Russia can also do a lot of other things to retaliate (see my list here http://saradzhyan.livejournal.com/31575.html)
So unless Russia moves to absorb more of Ukraine, I would not expect designation of Russia as adversary in official NATO documents.
I’d also note that while some Russian military leaders do refer to NATO as potential adversary, none of Russian strategic documents do that:
- 2009 National Security Concept Through Year 2020: “A determining aspect of relations with NATO remains the fact that plans to extend the alliance's military infrastructure to Russia's borders, and attempts to endow NATO with global functions that go counter to norms of international law, are unacceptable to Russia.”
- 2010 Defense Doctrine: “The main external military dangers are: a) the desire to endow the force potential of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with global functions carried out in violation of the norms of international law and to move the military infrastructure of NATO member countries closer to the borders of the Russian Federation, including by expanding the bloc.”
- 2013 Foreign Policy Concept: “Russia maintains a negative attitude towards NATO’s expansion and to the approaching of NATO military infrastructure to Russia’s borders in general as to actions that violate the principle of equal security and lead to the emergence of new dividing lines in Europe.