Nato and Russia

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NATO formally welcomed Russia as a participant – but not as a fullfledged member. The agree-ment signed at an extraordinary meeting of the leaders of NATO’s member nations, marked another major step in its effort to lock in Moscow’s shift toward the West. The accord will for the first time give Moscow a role from the outset in NATO discussions about a fixed variety of topics , including non - pro-liferation, crisis management, missile defence and counterterrorism. But in an indication that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s members are still not fully convinced that Russia has completely renounced aggression and cast its lot with Europe, Moscow will not be a member of the alliance or be bound by its collective defence pact, in which all members pledge to come to each other’s defence if necessary. Nor will Russia have a veto over NATO decisions or a vote in the expansion of its membership, including NATO’s plans to invite in new nations – almost all of them once part of the Soviet bloc. The new council does not replace the North Atlantic Council, the body where NATO usually makes its decisions.
The significance of this meeting is difficult to overestimate. The idea of Russia sitting at NATO councils would have been, simply, unthinkable. Two former foes are now joined as partners, overcoming decades of division and uncertainty. Cooperation with the world’s second largest nuclear power is more likely to be achieved by welcoming Russia west. Some NATO officials have voiced concern that the new council is not substantive enough for Russia. Meeting with reporters this afternoon, US Secretary of State said that while Russia and the United States were reducing their nuclear arsenals drastically, and co - op-erating in NATO, each country was maintaining a hedge. “We’ll always have a hedge against uncertainty in the future, in our military forces in the nuclear weapons that the United States will continue to retain, ”he said.“ It’s a hedge against the future, because

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