During the last several weeks a range of interesting events happened in EU-Russia and in NATO-Russia relations. After quite some time full with “new cold war” rhetoric, new partnerships are being negotiated:
– Russia will support the EUFOR Chad mission by deploying 6-8 helicopters. According to some EU officials, these helicopters are quite crucial for the mission…
– At the NATO summit in Bucharest, Russia agreed to give logistical support to the NATO mission in Afghanistan. The plan foresees that Russia will provide a land corridor on its territory for NATO transports. Given the troublesome history between Russia and NATO, this can be seen as a milestone development.
The Kremlin in Moscow
It seems as if a constructive dialogue has started between European diplomats and their Russian counterparts. Of course it is too early to come to a final conclusion but basically two scenarios are possible: (1) in a more positive outlook, this could be the first sign of a new partnership between Europe and Russia; (2) a more negative (‘realist’ if you want) interpretation would also take into account all other problematic areas/ disagreements ranging from CFE , missile defence and energy issues to Kosovo, Ukraine and Georgia. One could even conclude that Russia sees itself in a stronger position which led to the perception that it can deal with the “West” on a more equal basis. In that context, the above mentioned issues are perceived to increase Russia’s relative power position.
Another scenario is relatively simple: It may only be a ” diplomatic present” of the “new” Russian president/government in order to symbolize a kind of new beginning … whatever the direction may be! (the fact that Putin was responsible for these negotiations is not a contradiction: Medvedev and Putin are, at least for the time being, a very efficient team)