Joint efforts by Russia and the EU or Russia and NATO to mediate specific conflicts in the region could help build up mutual trust, which is the cornerstone of any partnership.

Valdai Club’s expert Dmitri Trenin answers on most daring question:

“Do you see Russia as a full member of the North Atlantic alliance in the medium term?”


No, I don’t. And there are two important reasons why I don’t. First, I do not expect Russia to join NATO, and second, I do not support this idea because Russia’s accession to the alliance would fuel tensions. These tensions won’t go away. They will come out at some other level.

NATO has an unofficial leader; for Russia to join NATO would mean to lose its strategic independence, which is highly important for our country. Since this is unacceptable, the inevitable haggling with the United States would continue, and this wouldn’t do anyone any good. Essentially Russia’s membership in NATO would turn the alliance into another OSCE with the same format of peaceful coexistence.

China would also be a problem, because Russia’s membership in NATO would seem to the Chinese like encirclement. This would inevitably cause tension in Russia-China relations, the last thing Russia needs, considering that the alliance would not be willing or able to protect the Russian-Chinese border. By joining NATO, Russia would be on a potential collision course with China, something Russia wouldn’t want to risk.

To summarize, Russia:
a) must maintain its strategic independence in any and all partnerships, be it with NATO or other partners;
b) must not turn NATO into another OSCE; and
c) shouldn’t provoke China.


Full version of his interview was published on valdaiclub.com