Report: Russia seeks to limit new NATO members

AP News
Posted: Oct 27, 2010 6:29 AM
Report: Russia seeks to limit new NATO members

Russia is demanding that a new cooperation agreement with NATO limit the number of troops that can be based in new member states in Central Europe, a leading Russian newspaper reported Wednesday.

Russia and the alliance appear to be courting more constructive ties after years of acrimony over U.S. missiles in Europe, the possible expansion of NATO toward Russian borders, and the 2008 Russia-Georgia war.

President Dmitry Medvedev is set to attend an annual NATO summit in Portugal next month, when a new cooperation deal could be struck.

But Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov handed a draft agreement to NATO demanding a ban on "significant military forces" in states that joined since the Soviet breakup in 1991, according to a report in Kommsersant. That happened in December last year, the paper said. It cited an unidentified NATO official as saying the language could be too vague.

Any move to limit troops in countries that originally joined NATO to throw off Moscow's domination, including the Czech Republic and Poland, looks likely to be met with resistance.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen is set to visit Russia before the Nov. 19 summit in Lisbon.

Russia's Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the Kommsersant article, and NATO officials were not immediately available in Belgium.

At a tri-nation summit in France last week, President Nicolas Sarkozy held discussions with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on NATO's proposal for a Europe-wide anti-missile defense.

Fogh Rasmussen hopes the system can be a key part of the alliance's new strategy and be adopted at the Lisbon summit. Medvedev said the issue worries him.

Fogh Rasmussen said he wants Russia, which strongly opposed past efforts for a U.S.-led missile shield, to be a partner in this project. NATO also is seeking Russian help in providing helicopters and training pilots and police for the war in Afghanistan.