Wither the Medvedev Initiative on European Security? Transatlantic Current #3 by Isabelle Francois
Transatlantic Current 3
"Wither the Medvedev Initiative on European Security?"
By Isabelle Francois
From a Euro-Atlantic perspective, relations with Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union have proven challenging. On numerous occasions, the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have reached out to the Russian Federation in an attempt to build a cooperative security framework. While inroads have been made over the years, the overall relationship has been hit or miss, leading to regular resets of bilateral U.S.-Russia relations and periodic efforts by NATO to reengineer its relationship with Russia. In 2011, in the wake of an upswing following the U.S.-Russia reset policy launched by the Barack Obama administration and the positive spin on NATO-Russia relations in the aftermath of the 2010 Lisbon Summit, experts and decisionmakers already wonder whether the reset will continue to move forward or whether relations with Russia will again run aground on longstanding differences. For most of the successful results in the past two decades, there have been downturns. In reality, the Euro-Atlantic community and Russia have collectively failed to create a European security framework addressing shared challenges through common responses for the post–Cold War era. Some ambitious attempts have raised hopes, but none has led to building the community of trust needed to lay the past to rest once and for all.
This paper revisits Dmitry Medvedev’s initiative on European security, one of the few comprehensive approaches to reshap?ng the framework to address the new security environment, and offers new ideas in an attempt to develop a genuine strategic partnership between NATO and Russia beyond the positive rhetoric of the 2010 NATO-Russia Council (NRC) Lisbon summit. As the Alliance prepares for its May 2012 summit in Chicago, NATO and Russia have yet to develop a mutually agreeable framework for European security that reflects the interests of all NRC members. Whatever may be the specific areas of progress in NATO-Russia practical cooperation, the overall relationship remains fragile without a broad strategic dialogue. This paper acknowledges the limits and the main reasons behind the lukewarm reaction among Allies to the Medvedev initiative. At the same time, it points to the current challenges in facing European security without an adequate framework, as the Euro-Atlantic community addresses the stalemate to revive the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty following Russia’s unilateral suspension of its CFE commitments.
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