Ex-Nato head says Putin wanted to join alliance early on in his rule

1 year ago 105

Vladimir Putin wanted Russia to articulation Nato but did not privation his state to person to spell done the accustomed exertion process and basal successful enactment “with a batch of countries that don’t matter”, according to a erstwhile caput wide of the transatlantic alliance.

George Robertson, a erstwhile Labour defence caput who led Nato betwixt 1999 and 2004, said Putin made it wide astatine their archetypal gathering that helium wanted Russia to beryllium portion of occidental Europe. “They wanted to beryllium portion of that secure, unchangeable prosperous westbound that Russia was retired of astatine the time,” helium said.

The Labour adjacent recalled an aboriginal gathering with Putin, who became Russian president successful 2000. “Putin said: ‘When are you going to invitation america to articulation Nato?’ And [Robertson] said: ‘Well, we don’t invitation radical to articulation Nato, they use to articulation Nato.’ And helium said: ‘Well, we’re not lasting successful enactment with a batch of countries that don’t matter.’”

The relationship chimes with what Putin told the precocious David Frost successful a BBC interrogation soon earlier helium was archetypal inaugurated arsenic Russian president much than 21 years ago. Putin told Frost helium would not regularisation retired joining Nato “if and erstwhile Russia’s views are taken into relationship arsenic those of an adjacent partner”.

He told Frost it was hard for him to visualise Nato arsenic an enemy. “Russia is portion of the European culture. And I cannot ideate my ain state successful isolation from Europe and what we often telephone the civilised world.”

Lord Robertson’s comments connected the One Decision podcast, which is presented by Michelle Kosinski, a erstwhile CNN journalist, and Sir Richard Dearlove, a erstwhile caput of M16, underscore however Putin’s worldview has evolved during his 21 years of unbroken regularisation of Russia.

After the Orange Revolution thoroughfare protests successful Ukraine successful 2004, Putin became progressively suspicious of the west, which helium blamed for backing pro-democracy NGOs. He was further angered by Nato’s continuing enlargement into cardinal and eastbound Europe: Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania chose to articulation the confederation successful 2004; Croatia and Albania followed successful 2009. Georgia and Ukraine were promised rank successful 2008 but person remained outside.

Robertson besides recalled however helium became the archetypal and lone Nato caput wide to invoke Nato’s corporate defence clause, known arsenic nonfiction five, successful the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

Invoking nonfiction 5 was “a gamble” and it was acold from a foregone decision that Nato members would scope for it aft a violent attack, helium said, noting it was “designed for an onslaught by the Soviet Union crossed the Fulda Gap successful Germany”.

Some Nato allies were uneasy astir invoking the corporate defence clause to enactment the US, fearing it would springiness George W Bush’s medication a licence to invade Iraq. Robertson recalled 1 curate asking him: “‘Does this mean we’re giving them a blank cheque to invade Iraq?’ We said: ‘No, it’s not.’”

The Scottish erstwhile curate besides revealed however the historical determination to invoke nonfiction 5 astir went awry. The time aft the 11 September attacks, Robertson was owed to be a regular gathering of EU overseas ministers. Anxious not to upstage the EU by calling for nonfiction five, helium asked a mates of affable overseas ministers – Jack Straw of the UK and Louis Michel of Belgium – to inquire a question that gave him an opening to sermon it. But neither curate asked the question. “So I left, and afterwards determination was a spot of atrocious humor and they said I should person announced it. But I said: ‘Well, I was going to denote it, but cipher asked the question.’”

After the 9/11 attacks, galore Nato allies joined the US successful invading Afghanistan, with Nato taking implicit the ngo bid successful 2003.

Robertson said helium urged the precocious US defence caput Donald Rumsfeld to support US forces successful Afghanistan alongside Nato allies aft the Taliban’s subject defeat. He warned Rumsfeld helium would denounce immoderate US withdrawal arsenic unacceptable. “So helium [Rumsfeld] got a spot upset astatine that point, and I said: ‘No, … you’re not going to accidental we did the cooking, you tin cleanable up the dishes.’ I said: ‘That’s not it. We went successful together, and we’re staying successful together.’”

He was captious of the US’s chaotic withdrawal 2 months ago, but contended that the 20-year agelong ngo of occidental subject forces made a difference, contempt the instrumentality of the Taliban. “We’ve near a bequest determination that these theological hoodlums are not going to beryllium easy unravelling. And I deliberation that Afghanistan successful the aboriginal volition beryllium a precise antithetic place.”