For more than two decades, NATO has worked to build a partnership with Russia, developing dialogue and practical cooperation in areas of common interest. Cooperation has been suspended since 2014 in response to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine but political and military channels of communication remain open. Concerns about Russia’s continued destabilising pattern of military activities and aggressive rhetoric go well beyond Ukraine.
- Relations started after the end of the Cold War, when Russia joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (1991). This forum for dialogue was succeeded in 1997 by the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, which brings together all Allies and partner countries in the Euro-Atlantic area.
- Practical cooperation started after Russia joined the Partnership for Peace programme (1994) and deployed peacekeepers in support of NATO-led peace-support operations in the Western Balkans in the late 1990s.
- The 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act provided the formal basis for bilateral relations.
- Dialogue and cooperation were strengthened in 2002 with the establishment of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) to serve as a forum for consultation on current security issues and to direct practical cooperation in a wide range of areas.
- Russia’s disproportionate military action in Georgia in August 2008 led to the suspension of formal meetings of the NRC and cooperation in some areas, until spring 2009. The Allies continue to call on Russia to reverse its recognition of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.
- All practical civilian and military cooperation under the NRC with Russia has been suspended since April 2014, in response to Russia’s military intervention and aggressive actions in Ukraine, and its illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea, which Allies condemn in the strongest terms. But channels of political and military communication remain open to exchange information on issues of concern, reduce misunderstandings and increase predictability.
- Allies’ concerns about Russia’s destabilising actions and policies go beyond Ukraine and include provocative military activities near NATO’s borders stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea; irresponsible and aggressive nuclear rhetoric, military posture and underlying posture; the risks posed by its military intervention and support for the regime in Syria; and the nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom in March 2018, a clear breach of international norms.
- On 1 February 2019, the North Atlantic Council issued a statement supporting the United States decision to suspend its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in response to Russia’s material breach of the Treaty. Russia has continued to deny its INF Treaty violation, refused to provide any credible response, and has taken no demonstrable steps toward returning to full and verifiable compliance.
- NATO has responded to this changed security environment by enhancing its deterrence and defence posture, while remaining open to dialogue. The Alliance does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia.