Launching what could be a new era of relations, NATO has reached out to Russia the day after a US missile shield plan was scrapped.
A new strategic partnership has been proposed by the head of the military alliance, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
In his first major foreign policy speech as NATO Secretary-General, he urged Moscow to work with the 28-nation North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on missile defence.
“NATO-Russia cooperation is not a matter of choice. It is a matter of necessity,” Rasmussen said in a speech in Brussels. “Both NATO and Russia have a wealth of experience in missile defence. We should now work to combine this experience to our mutual benefit.”
Early Russian reaction has been positive, its military experts envisaging possible cooperation of this type with the West.
Moscow had already praised President Obama’s decision to drop the missile shield proposals which it had always opposed.
Despite denials of the need for a return gesture from the Kremlin, there is speculation it is now expected to take a tougher line over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.