Russia sends security pact draft to leaders abroad

AP News
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Posted: Nov 29, 2009 1:28 PM

Russia stepped up its campaign for a new trans-Atlantic security treaty that would bolster Russia's global influence, saying Sunday that President Dmitry Medvedev had sent a draft proposal to foreign leaders.

The treaty would prohibit signatories from taking action that would "affect significantly" the security of any other party to the pact. That clause could give Moscow a strong say in shaping NATO policy and a lever to limit U.S. support for ex-Soviet republics such as Georgia, whose military was routed in a five-day war with Russia last year.

Medvedev has been trying to sell the idea of an overarching security pact to Europe and the U.S. since he took office in May 2008, but has met a lukewarm reception. Western leaders have politely expressed interest, but asked for more details and warned there is no need to replace existing security arrangements.

Russian officials have said the proposal is not meant to weaken or replace NATO, which was created after World War II to counter the Soviet Union.

But the draft is unlikely to ease Western concerns that the pact could significantly bolster Russia's influence when trust is still frayed by its invasion of Georgia and its recognition of two Moscow-backed separatist regions in Georgia as independent nations.

A Kremlin statement said the goal of the proposal is "to create a single, indivisible space in the sphere of military-political security in the Euro-Atlantic (region), in order to be through with the Cold War for good," the statement said.

A Medvedev mantra has been that no nation or alliance should improve its own security at the expense of others.

Russia has long expressed concern about U.S. military influence near its borders and portrayed NATO's expansion into the area dominated by Moscow during the Cold War as a potential security threat.

The draft is called a European Security Treaty, but Russian officials have made clear it is meant to include the U.S. as well as other former Soviet republics, saying it could cover a region stretching "from Vancouver to Vladivostok."

Carolina Vendil-Pallin, Russia expert at the Swedish Defence Research Agency in Stockholm, said Europe would likely not rush to sign a new agreement with Russia and would not be interested in replacing current treaties with a deal that covers only security.

"I find it very hard to believe that Europe would separate hard security from economic relations and human rights," she told The Associated Press. "Europe is in no hurry with this because Europe isn't dissatisfied with the current architecture."

Analysts have said the West could use the proposal to engage Russia on a broader range of issues.

"I think it should be seen as a step in the process," Vendil-Pallin said. "There are plenty of reasons to negotiate."

It was unclear exactly when the draft was sent to other nations, and there was no immediate response from Western governments.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Downing Street office said it could not immediately comment.

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Associated Press Writers Malin Rising in Stockholm and Jennifer Quinn in London contributed to this report.