By Michael Bohm
Once again, we have learned that NATO is the greatest external security danger to Russia. But this time it’s not coming from the country’s arch-conservative journalists or analysts carping at the alliance’s evil intentions on government-controlled television but from the holy of holies in terms of Russia’s national security documents — the new military doctrine that President Dmitry Medvedev signed on Feb. 5 — conveniently timed to steal the show during the Munich security conference the same day. Unfortunately, the doctrine marks a new, aggravated phase in Russia’s NATO-phobia.
In Article 8 of the doctrine, NATO got the No. 1 spot among Russia’s 11 most important external military dangers. Global terrorism is way down the list at No. 10.
Medvedev noted rather disingenuously in an interview published Thursday that NATO is not a “threat.” What he was referring to was that the doctrine had two separate categories: Russia’s greatest “threats” and its “dangers.” NATO was No. 1 in the danger category only.
Whether it is called a threat or a danger, it is bad for U.S.-Russian relations any way you look at it. Things were looking so good after U.S. President Barack Obama took office a year ago. First, he supported the campaign to shelve NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia, the two sorest spots in NATO-Russian relations. What’s more, Viktor Yanukovych’s presidential victory now means that NATO membership for Ukraine is a nonissue.