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NATO-Russia relations proceed with caution

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NATO-Russia relations proceed with caution

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Discussing relations with the former Cold War bear has NATO treading carefully.

In Kosovo last year, American and Russian soldiers held joint anti-terrorist exercises. But further Western interest in the territory’s independence offended Serbia ally Russia. At US missile shield plans on EU soil, Moscow baulked. Alliance overtures with former Soviet sphere states raised hackles in the Kremlin… President Obama in Strasbourg ruled out doing business the old way: “I think it is important for NATO allies to engage Russia, and to recognise that they have legitimate interests. In some case we have common interests, but we also have some core disagreements.” There has been progress on cutting nuclear arsenals, for instance. Washington is looking to Russia to head off potential for a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Yet dialogue on sustained stability across the breadth of Europe is yet to be joined. Analyst Greg Austin, with the EastWest Institute, sketches Moscow’s ‘red lines’: “Russia has said that it will oppose Ukrainian membership of NATO with all means at its disposal, this is a very serious issue for Russia. What is on the agenda here is how to accommodate the security interests of all those countries — Russia, Ukraine and NATO members — in some new arrangement which provides both for the physical security and the economic prosperity.” Georgia is a major east-west sour note, after Tbilisi’s moves on South Ossetia last August. Russian President Medvedev has said he would talk to any elected successor to Georgian President Saakashvili, but will not deal with him.