“The moment has come when the losing side of the cold war demands respect”

In mid-December, Russia had sent a letter calling for, among other things, an end to NATO’s expansion and also a withdrawal of troops from countries that were not part of the alliance until 1997. At the end of last week, the written answers came and turned out as expected: Neither NATO nor the U.S. can give Russia the security guarantees it wants.

Meanwhile, Putin gave further emphasis to Russian demands in a phone call with French President Macron. Both countries also agreed to continue the Minsk II talks in the Normandy format. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov called for similar guarantees from the OSCE as well. In view of the high concentration of Russian troops on the borders with Ukraine , including in Belarus and on the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014 , individual NATO member countries increased their troops in Eastern Europe, and U.S. President Biden also announced an increase in the U.S. military contingent.

At the same time, Ukrainian President Selensky warned against scaremongering, stressing that the threat of war is no greater than before. Nikolay Patrushev , head of the Russian Security Council, also told the agency Interfax According to him: "We don’t want war, we don’t need it at all"."

And now? Dimitri Trenin, director of the Moscow Carnegie Center , in an interview with Kommersant – which he gave even before the U.S. and NATO responded – two possible scenarios: one more rational and one based on escalation.



Yelena Chernenko: Are we on the verge of an armed conflict??

Dimitri Trenin: If we are talking about a short-term perspective, next month, then I don’t think we can. As for the long-term perspective, I would have questions for both sides.

The question to the West would be: Will the leadership in Kiev, – be it individual departments or even actors outside its control and working with shadowy figures – launch a provocation to draw Russia into a war? The answer to this question is rather no. Such a scenario would not be of much use to the leaders in Kiev. Because such a provocation can only end with a defeat of the Ukrainian armed forces.

Everything will depend on how the commander-in-chief – the President of the Russian Federation – assesses what is happening before our eyes

The extent of the defeat could vary for Ukraine. But no matter how high the price of this victory would be for Russia, it could not make up for the colossal blow that a defeat of Ukraine would deal to the reputation of the Biden administration – especially within the U.S. Losing a prominent regional ally for the second time after Afghanistan would be extremely dangerous for them, especially domestically. In addition, there is the whole NATO context and the American reputation in the world. Because countries like China or Iran are also following the situation very closely.

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In other words, you think the Georgian scenario is unlikely to happen?

Yes, I have the impression that the Americans have enough control over the Ukrainian government and the actors there.

And what question do you have for Russia?

I think everything will depend on how the Commander-in-Chief – the President of the Russian Federation – assesses what is happening there before our eyes. And there are indeed many questions here, because we cannot know what exactly Vladimir Putin has in mind. What is his plan? What is his strategy? What options does he see? It is very difficult to judge from the outside.

How could the situation develop?

I guess the first option would be quite logical: you explain that we never really came to terms with all this (the non-expansion of NATO and so on – note. Kommersant) have been calculating – we’re not stupid, we understand completely, but we had to finally break the deadlock, stir up all this Western political-diplomatic-military coterie, especially in Washington, and wanted to demonstrate the seriousness of our intentions – and, yes, we achieved something. First of all, they did not reject our proposals outright, but responded to them, they even agreed to answer our proposals in writing, and this means de facto that they take our concerns and demands seriously.

Second, they have agreed to talk about issues important to us that they used to ignore. For example, there are supposed to be negotiations on a moratorium on the deployment of short- and medium-range missiles. Before, they didn’t want to know about it at all, now they want to negotiate about it on their own initiative. Also, they are now ready to talk about limiting maneuvers near our territory, all these naval and air exercises, including simulating nuclear missile launches. We have offered them mutual restraint in this area several times before, but only now are they listening to us. There is also a reaction to other Russian initiatives.

The West is willing to talk to Russia about security in Europe for the first time since the negotiations on German reunification

The Russian demands were put forward so decisively in order to persuade the Western powers, first and foremost the U.S., to make security guarantees acceptable to us.

It was important for us not only to relax the situation on our western borders, but also to get the West to finally talk to us about issues of European security.

This has already happened through the fact that a dialogue has been initiated. For the first time since the negotiations on German reunification, the West is ready to talk to Russia about security in Europe. Between 1999 and 2021, this security depended on the good or bad will of the U.S., with NATO as its main instrument. Now the U.S. and NATO are negotiating European security – just as they did in the days of Yalta and Helsinki – with Russia, and as a result that security now stands on two pillars instead of one.

Is it reasonable to assume that in this scenario the West, and the U.S. in particular, would be willing to exert significant pressure on Ukraine to comply with the Minsk Agreement?

I very much hope so, but I would not assume so. The Minsk agreements are a diplomatic victory for Russia, building on the military victory that the rebels and their supporting forces won over the Ukrainian army in February 2015. I’m not sure the U.S. understands that the key to easing the situation around Ukraine is to fulfill the Minsk agreement, but that’s exactly how it is.

The smoldering conflict in the Donbass is the best formal pretext to keep pressure on Moscow

In principle, the agreements can still be implemented. It would still be possible to reintegrate the Donbass into Ukraine under the conditions formulated therein, according to which the rights of the inhabitants of these regions would be guaranteed and the territorial integrity of Ukraine would be preserved in borders recognized by Russia. But so far I see no willingness on Washington’s part to make Kiev comply with the Minsk agreement.

The simmering conflict in the Donbass is the best formal pretext to keep pressure on Moscow. In recent years, policy in Washington has been aimed at increasing pressure on Russia – and Ukraine is just one of its levers. If I understand the strategy of the West correctly, then this pressure will reach its peak when the process of transfer of power begins in Russia. In a confrontation with China, the Americans need a more compliant Russia. But this is a long-term, not a short-term goal.

Okay, that’s the first option – mix it up and take what you can get.

Yes, here one can recall that politics is the art of the possible, and put forward many other arguments in favor of this variant.

The second variant means that in fact everything is very serious and we are already at a point where a new Russian policy is gradually displacing the old one. In my book New Balance of Power I wrote that Russian foreign policy – both under Yeltsin and Putin, including the Medvedev period – stands on the shoulders of Gorbachev’s policy. One way or another, it is about continuing integration into the Western world, finding its own place in it, finding a balance of interests in relations with the U.S. and other countries of the West, focusing on cooperation.

What if the break with the West becomes a reality?? What if Russia ends up moving to implement a completely different foreign and domestic policy project?

But what if that course is now radically revised? And this concerns not only foreign policy, but the direction in which Russia is moving as a whole. What if we leave behind the period in which the most important goal was integration into a united world, albeit on its own terms? What if the break with the West becomes a reality, which President Putin spoke of when responding to the prospect of American "sanctions from hell"? What if Russia ends up implementing a completely different foreign and domestic (including economic, social and ideological) project??

Perhaps we are already in the process of building a separate "Russian project" that no longer aims to fit into a world in which the West plays, if not the dominant, then still the leading role?

In the event of a break with the West, Russia could enter into much closer relations with major non-European countries, form alliances with countries such as China , but also with Iran and U.S. adversaries in the Western Hemisphere – Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua. In that case, Moscow could start doing what it likes to be accused of in the West.

You are talking about the establishment of zones of influence?

From this, and from the right to use force to remove disagreeable regimes. For example, the USA overthrew a dictator in Iraq. They didn’t find weapons of mass destruction there, but by and large the West feels they did some good anyway because the dictator is gone.

And now I notice that the Russian diplomats, first of all the foreign minister , more and more often use the term "regime" when talking about the Ukrainian government. A regime is something illegitimate. At least from the moral-ethical point of view. And if the government is illegitimate, why not help the healthy forces to overthrow it??

Russia could recognize Donetsk and Luhansk and include them as one or two states in the union state of Russia and Belarus

I have a feeling that Russia is looking for a new anchor point for the post-Soviet space. Here, different variants are conceivable, for example, an expanded notion of the union state by including new territories. Let’s assume that the Russian government concludes that the Minsk Agreement cannot be realized, then they could recognize the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk and include them as one or two states in the union state of Russia and Belarus. Hypothetically, they could also include Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the union.

This refers to the case when Russia breaks with what it does not like and starts to act according to the principle: "If it cannot be done by good, it will be done by force"."The USA will not be able to do much, they will not enter into a direct conflict with Russia.

You have described two very different scenarios. If you draw an analogy to chess, the first variant is a sophisticated game with moves thought out in advance and risks calculated in advance. While in the second variant, one of the players simply throws the board and the pieces off the table.

But which scenario will be implemented now?

I do not know. Only one can answer this question in our country.
But both scenarios have their price and are associated with known risks. In the first case, there is a loss of reputation – both on the international level and within the country. If Russia refrains from its demands, which it has formulated as an "absolute imperative", it can be accused of bluffing. Great powers do not bluff. If Russia bluffs, it loses status in the world. But even if a part of the population takes it negatively, it is not particularly bad. Within the country the state power is strong enough. It would be rather Russia’s international reputation that would suffer, it would be taken less seriously in the future. But it can be survived.

Both scenarios have their price and are associated with known risks

The second scenario, which relies on military strength, entails a serious rupture of relations, including within the country. It wipes out the hopes of a small but influential part of the Russian elite, which is still waiting for relations with the West to finally normalize. In its radical version – as described by some Western analysis centers – this scenario would also become a test of endurance for broader segments of Russia’s population. We are talking about the scenario of "occupation of Ukraine".

You mean, if it doesn’t stop at recognition of the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics?

Yes, if the Russian government concludes that the only guarantee that Ukraine will not join NATO and that no U.S. missiles will be stationed on its territory is the direct control of Ukraine by Russia or the installation of a government in Kiev that is loyal to Moscow. Either way, this scenario would look very different from Crimea , where not a single shot was fired and no one was injured.

Do you think that this scenario is even somewhat probable?

Rather not. It would bring a lot of negative consequences, considerable human and financial losses.

So it is the worst case scenario?

It depends. It would be good for some, bad for others. In my view, it poses a colossal risk to Russia itself.

Judging from your book, you do not see NATO’s eastward expansion as such a great threat to Russia. Do I understand you correctly?

For the military balance and the "balance of terror", the expansion of NATO, among others, to Ukraine is not a threat. If the U.S. deploys its missiles near Kharkov, it will not gain a significant military-strategic advantage over the Russian Federation.

But what about the shortened flight time, with the famous "five to seven minutes to Moscow"??

This is not contradictory. Because what would happen in this situation? Russia would deploy hypersonic missiles on its submarines, Zirkon, for example, and use them to cruise along the U.S. coast, thus ensuring the same flight time to the main American targets. The balance of terror would be maintained, only on a higher, more dangerous level.

In fact, I do not consider NATO expansion to be such a serious threat in terms of military security

Even a U.S. unit in Poland or a NATO battalion in the Baltic States cannot seriously threaten Russia’s security. The only thing that could cause Russia problems would be American missile defense systems in Romania and Poland. Everything else is not really threatening.
In that sense, I really don’t think NATO enlargement, in terms of military security, is that serious a threat.

But there is another aspect: a country that becomes a member of NATO undergoes a profound reprogramming that affects all spheres of life. A political and ideological transformation is taking place. As long as Ukraine is not in NATO, there is still a possibility that the country as a whole or in part decides that things like Slavicism, Russki Mir and so on are important after all, and relations with Russia can normalize, rapprochement is possible. At least from Moscow’s point of view, that possibility remains.
But if the country joins NATO, then the ship has sailed. So in this sense there is a threat, but it is not a military threat, it is a geopolitical and geocultural threat.

By the way, the commander-in-chief and the military-political leadership of our country, if official communications are to be believed, have quite different ideas about this, which must be taken into account without fail.

Russia has threatened the West with a "military response" in the event of a refusal to meet its demands. Apart from what you have already mentioned, what can be meant by this??

If the procedure of recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics develops as it did in Abkhazia, then Russian troops could be stationed there, military bases. But I believe the bulk of the bellicose response will be the deployment of weapons systems in places where there are none so far.

For example?

For a long time it has been assumed that if Russia were unhappy militarily in Europe, it could position additional Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad. Kaliningrad oblast was seen as a front line deployment area from which Russia could threaten any adversary. But Kaliningrad is physically separated from the rest of Russian territory, so to deliver something there and to maintain the connection is quite difficult, especially in times of hostility with the West. It is possible, but it is not easy.

But there are also global scenarios – for example, closer cooperation with China

It is much easier to station something in friendly Belarus, on the territory of an ally, where so far there are no Russian bases and missiles, certainly no nuclear missiles. Even more so, where the Belarusian president ..

… which offers on its own?

Yes, he has a fine political sense and is ready to offer this possibility to the Russian Federation at an unspoken but guessable price. This is an option.

But there are also global scenarios – for example, closer cooperation with China, coordination between Moscow and Beijing in the military sphere, more active military-technical cooperation between the two countries. With regard to military issues, a rapprochement with Iran is also possible. On the occasion of the crisis surrounding Ukraine, the Russian president also spoke on the phone with the heads of state of Venezuela and Cuba.

That means Russia could get in the way of the U.S. in a potential conflict with China.

Yes, of course, that is also conceivable. Basically, that would be the normal course of action. Countries that are hostile to each other, such as Russia and the U.S. at the moment, are putting pressure on each other. That’s the way it is. Not with conviction or argument, but with force, though not necessarily military force. The Americans, apart from their military potential, have great financial-economic power and are using this leverage more and more against Russia. Russia, on the other hand, is strong primarily in geopolitical, energy, military, and warfighting terms.

There are speculations that Russia could deploy missiles in Venezuela and Cuba.

When Moscow starts to press the U.S. from Latin America, the U.S. reacts in Europe, where there are quite a few countries that would readily agree to the deployment of short- and medium-range missiles on their territories. What would it bring to Russia?

What has happened that you and I are suddenly talking about such stirring scenarios?? What is wrong with the world all of a sudden?

The world is moving along highly dangerous paths, but to where? I cannot say that. History shows us very clearly: after a difficult struggle – whether after a "hot" or a "cold" war – a losing side is left behind, wounded in its pride and unwilling to give up its sovereignty.

I believe this moment has come when the losing side of the Cold War demands respect

If this losing side is not integrated into a new security system on terms that also satisfy it, it will reinvigorate itself in 20 to 30 years and demand respect for its national interests.

And this moment has come now?

Yes, I think it has come. It took 30 years. The victors of the Cold War first thought that Russia had lost its former relevance and lost interest. Nobody really wanted to deal with the difficult task of its integration into the Western world.
Moreover, such an integration would have required the agreement of the Western countries, especially the USA, to a significant limitation of their own influence, to grant Russia a decisive voting right. The USA was not ready for this. They don’t even share their supremacy and decisive voting power with their closest allies. Washington must always have the last word.
On the terms of unequal partnership proposed by the West, Russia itself did not want to be integrated into the transatlantic zone. But at that time no one was bothered anyway – the Russian economy was weak, demographic trends were declining, the political system was unstable, and a few more collapses were thought possible. Therefore, there had to be ..

… do not make a big fuss?

Exactly. The attitude towards Russia has changed after Crimea and especially since the beginning of the Syria mission. You remember, before that, U.S. President Barack Obama had called Russia a "regional power". But then everyone has seen that Russia has recovered not only as a subject in international relations, but can also act far beyond its own state borders.

I think we are heading for a serious crisis in relations

But Moscow’s actions immediately ran counter to the interests of the West; Russia was perceived as an adversary that had to be punished and put in its place with pressure, especially sanctions. Concessions to Russia have been interpreted as appeasement of an aggressor. The West, sensing its own weakness, was on the whole much less willing to compromise and sit down at the table and negotiate on equal terms with other, shall we say, competing or even hostile regimes. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West has not negotiated with anyone on an equal footing – not even with China.

One can also understand the West, it is going through a rather difficult period of development, and it is indeed about the decline of Western dominance and, in the long run, its leadership role in the world. This is difficult for the West. I believe we are heading for a serious crisis in relations. Some clarity can probably be achieved after a serious show of force in different regions and in different functional areas. None of this can be solved at the negotiating table, but there it is possible to document and shape the result achieved. This is how a new world order will emerge.

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NATO’s relations with Russia have not been under a good star from the very beginning. NATO’s first secretary general, Hastings Ismay, summed up the transatlantic military alliance’s mission in the 1950s: "to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down". After the collapse of the communist systems in Eastern Europe, it initially seemed that NATO had lost its raison d’être. However, it soon became apparent that after 1989, Poland and the Baltic countries in particular were pushing under NATO’s protective umbrella. At times, there was even talk of Russian membership in NATO. The early 1990s were marked by difficult discussions within NATO, which had to take into account accession aspirations of Eastern European countries on the one hand and Russian sensitivities on the other hand. In the end, the line of the American President Bill Clinton prevailed, who advocated an eastward expansion of NATO.

Today, relations between NATO and Russia are very tense. At the June 2021 NATO summit, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the relationship is "at its lowest point since the Cold War". In October 2021, the military alliance revoked the accreditation of eight Russian diplomats for allegedly working covertly for intelligence services. In response, Russia even completely suspended the work of its representation to NATO at the beginning of November.

Increasingly, both sides perceive each other as a threat. Like a refrain, the complaint about NATO’s eastward expansion runs through the speeches of leading Russian politicians. The Kremlin had already called NATO’s eastward expansion "unacceptable" in its 2009 national security strategy and reiterated this formulation in 2015.

Part of the dossier

The question of NATO’s eastward expansion first arose in the context of German unity. On 26. January 1990, in a secret meeting in the Kremlin, the decision was made to make reunification possible. Initially, the West assumed that neither the new German states nor other Eastern European countries would be part of NATO.

"Not one inch eastward" – the question of NATO’s eastward enlargement

At a press conference on 2. February 1990, German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and his U.S. counterpart, James Baker, reaffirmed this intention. However, just one week later, James Baker revised his position and asked Gorbachev whether he could imagine an all-Germany within NATO if NATO would move "not one inch eastward" beyond it. This is where the first misunderstanding arose: Baker’s statement was perceived by the American side as a negotiating position and by the Russian side as an assurance. 1

This gnosis is linked from

Researchers agree that there were never any written commitments to the Soviet leadership during the German unification negotiations that NATO would not expand further eastward. Helmut Kohl had to mediate between the American insistence on NATO and the Soviet vision of a European peace order. The Chancellor also knew full well that German reunification would not generate enthusiasm in either France or Britain. The U.S. government also feared that Bonn might strike a separate deal with Moscow, bringing its own NATO membership into the negotiating mix. Therefore, James Baker reiterated during a conversation on 18. In Moscow on May 1, 1990, the U.S. demanded all-German membership in NATO. Gorbachev ironically replied that in such a case the Soviet Union would also apply for NATO membership. In the final 2+4 treaty on German unity, the free military choice of alliance of the united Germany is securitized. In the end, the Kremlin’s agreement was simply bought: Bonn and Moscow agreed on a German payment of 15 billion deutschmarks for the withdrawal of the Red Army shortly before the signing of the 2+4 Treaty . 2 Robert Gates, then Deputy National Security Advisor, later blatantly summed up the method as "to bribe the Soviets out.". 3

Yeltsin: Russian NATO accession as a goal

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Gorbachev’s rival Boris Yeltsin also tried to actively shape the NATO dossier. Shortly before the official end of the Soviet Union , on 20. December 1991, he raised high expectations when he elevated Russian NATO accession to a "long-term political goal". This vision lasted for an astonishingly long time: as late as 2000, Putin is said to have asked President Clinton what he thought about this plan. The Clinton administration would have supported Russia’s admission to NATO on the condition that it become a free-market democracy.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many Eastern European states pushed for membership in the Western defense alliance. Significantly, Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel delivered a speech at NATO headquarters in Brussels in March 1991. He pointed out that he had grown up with the official message that NATO represented a "bastion of imperialism" and the "incarnation of the devil". Today he knows that NATO democratically defends freedom and the values of Western civilization. 4

"Partnership for Peace"

However, NATO disagreed. Intense discussions were held in Washington in the summer of 1993. The Pentagon was against NATO expansion to the East, the White House was for it. The result was a compromise in which the Eastern European countries were offered a "Partnership for Peace". On 22. October 1993, U.S. Secretary of State Christopher Warren elicited an enthusiastic response from Yeltsin when he introduced the Partnership for Peace program. However, Yeltsin had understood the NATO proposal to mean that "Partnership for Peace" was not a preparation but a substitute for NATO’s eastward enlargement. 5 President Clinton specified as early as January 1994 that the accession of the Eastern European NATO candidates was only a "question of when and how.". The war in Yugoslavia played a decisive role in Washington, London and Paris, clearly demonstrating to everyone the need for a strong military alliance in Europe. Moscow’s sensitivities were known, but they were prepared to accept a cooling of relations. Clinton described Russia as an "unbelievable mess": the Kremlin had just endured a deep constitutional crisis, a separatist war was looming in Chechnya, and the economy was in free fall .

Rivalries between the Western allies

Rivalries between the Western allies also played a role in the question of NATO’s eastward expansion: Great Britain looked skeptically on closer security cooperation between France and Germany, France kept a cautious distance from NATO in the first place, and Germany did not want to anger its eastern neighbors. On both sides of the Atlantic, there was agreement that a wavering Russia had to be stabilized "at low cost. 6

The Kremlin’s security policy ideas went in a different direction. As early as October 1993, Russian President Yeltsin voiced his displeasure and pointed out to President Clinton in a letter that the "spirit" of the 2+4 Treaty, which explicitly forbade the stationing of foreign NATO troops in the new German states, at the same time ruled out NATO enlargement to the east.

NATO-Russia Founding Act

In January 1994, Yeltsin proposed to his counterpart Clinton "a kind of cartel between the United States, Europe and Russia" that would guarantee world security. He envisaged an upgrading of the CSCE as a possible strategy. The Kremlin even felt ahead to whether a security system in which the U.S. was "not necessarily" represented would be conceivable to the Europeans. Russia announced that it would reduce its forces in this case. In the end, the decision was made in a short window of time: NATO’s eastward expansion was not made public before the Russian presidential election in July 1996 so as not to jeopardize Yeltsin’s confirmation in office. Conversely, Clinton wanted to support his own re-election in November 1996 with exactly this point. To appease Russia, NATO issued a statement in December 1996 that the alliance had "no intention, no plan, and no reason" to deploy nuclear weapons in the new member countries. In 1997, NATO and Russia signed a Founding Act to strengthen mutual trust and confidence. 7 The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, who coordinated closely with NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, was in charge of the project. However, the European allies fell behind in the process. Solana tried to defuse the situation by passing off the American proposal for the wording of the Founding Act as his own. However, a British representative maliciously noted that Solana would at least have to adjust the spelling if he wanted to hide his transatlantic ghostwriters. 8

In 1999, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary joined the military alliance; in 2004, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia; and in 2009, Albania and Croatia. In the recent past, Montenegro (2017) and Northern Macedonia (2020) were admitted to NATO. Georgia and Ukraine were promised accession at the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, but without any timetable. However, due to the wars in Georgia (2008) and Ukraine (2014), NATO membership for these two countries has become a distant prospect.

The NATO-Russia Council

As announced in the NATO-Russia Founding Act, a NATO-Russia Council was established in 2002, but it has led to little substantive achievement. On the contrary, at the 2007 Munich Security Conference, President Putin expressed in harsh terms his disappointment at the alleged failure to comply with Western security guarantees. In this regard, he referred to a vote by NATO Secretary General Manfred Worner on 17. May 1990 had confirmed that no NATO troops would be deployed east of Germany’s borders. 9

In 2016, following the annexation of Crimea and Russia’s covert war of aggression in eastern Ukraine, NATO addressed the security concerns of Poland and the Baltic countries by deploying about 1,000 troops from each of these four countries on a rotational basis as part of the Enhanced Forward Presence. This should ensure that the provisions of the NATO-Russia Founding Act are not violated. The agreement reaffirmed that there should be no permanent stationing of foreign NATO troops in Eastern European member states.

A direct military confrontation between Russia and NATO remains highly unlikely, even after the severance of official relations in November 2021. Nevertheless, Russia has been pursuing a policy of pinpricks for some time, with targeted airspace and territorial sea violations in NATO countries. While there are signs of a cautious rapprochement, with Secretary General Stoltenberg saying after the closure of the Russian mission in Brussels that the military alliance remains open to exchanges. However, progress is difficult as long as the U.S., as NATO’s leading power, is at the top of Russia’s official list of "unfriendly" states. 10

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