Has a country ever left NATO?


Ivan Rodionov

To person

Born in 1965; Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the TV news channel "Westi24", 5-ya Ulitsa Yamskogo Polya 19-21, Moscow 125040 / Russia.
Email: [email protected]

After the war in the Caucasus, relations have hit rock bottom. Which challenges does the alliance want to address: the supply of resources? of energy security? Russia cannot be indifferent to this.


The Caucasus crisis last year was the litmus test. Among other things, she shed light on the limits of influence on Russia and demonstrated Russia's willingness to alienate the transatlantic alliance. By the time the five-day war began, a lot had already built up between Russia and NATO that put a lot of strain on relations: NATO's eastward expansion, the Balkan wars, the independence of Kosovo and, most recently, NATO's accession to Ukraine and Georgia. But the two - like an aging couple that has largely drifted apart - had kept good expressions until then. But now the dams seemed broken: Excluding Russia from the G8, exmatriculating Russian students from Western universities, blocking bank accounts of Russian owners, terminating cooperation agreements, canceling the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi and boycotting the Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow - these were just a few of the retaliatory proposals by the West.

The alliance put official contacts with Moscow on hold. In the following phase, which can be described as a "perceived cold war" between NATO and Russia, there was no lack of dramatic "stop Russia now" rhetoric. The tone was sharp, but the substance was dull. Moscow risks that bilateral relations will deteriorate significantly and permanently, said US President George W. Bush, the Russian approach is "unacceptable in the 21st century".

It would be an exaggeration to say that Moscow was particularly impressed by this. Trade sanctions were not to be expected seriously, let alone a military reaction. The leisurely withdrawal of troops despite international pressure and the subsequent recognition of the two breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia showed how confident the Kremlin was of its cause. The "new Russian self-confidence" or "new imperial behavior", which is heavily discussed in the media and fed with "petrodollars", is only part of the answer to the question of why the Russians apparently cared so little about what NATO thinks of their approach. The other is that relations with the Alliance had already reached a point where - from Moscow's point of view - it was no longer a shame.

As little as Moscow was impressed by threats from Brussels and Washington, the almost unreserved partisanship of the Alliance for Georgia was just as painful. The fact that it was Tbilisi that started the war with the artillery fire and the subsequent land offensive against the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali could not possibly have escaped the world's largest military alliance with its global surveillance and reconnaissance network. The Russian ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, even blamed the alliance for the war: "If in the final declaration of the NATO summit in Bucharest in April 2008 the sentence Georgia and Ukraine will become members of NATO would not have been if it had not been for this expressed support , had given this previous remission of sins, we would have been spared the calamity that happened in August last year, because Saakashvili has rated this sentence as an unconditional promise of solidarity and support, a blank check. "[1]

This remark has a very polemical character. The logic in the connection between the August war and the April final declaration is understandable. Mikhail Saakashvili wants to make Georgia a NATO member, not at some point, but during his term in office until 2013. The prerequisite for this is the settlement of the territorial issue, i.e. the restoration of control over the republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which are de facto independent of Tbilisi. The negotiation path is lengthy and the chances of success are not great. The Bucharest Declaration, although not binding for Georgia, is open to interpretation. Saakashvili is also likely to have freely interpreted statements by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from her one-on-one discussions. That might well suggest a quick solution along the Croatian model (in August 2005 Croatian troops captured the breakaway province of Srpska Krajina, the subsequent expulsion of around 200,000 Serbs was accepted by the EU and NATO).

Russia sees the joint military maneuver planned for May / June 2009 between Georgia and NATO as an indication that the alliance is not concerned with an impartial clarification of the causes and circumstances of the Caucasus war, but with uncritical solidarity with an extremely anti-Russian and quas-democratic one Regime. When opposition stations were closed in Tbilisi and protest demonstrations were suppressed, when Prime Minister Zurab Schwania and the disgraced banker Badri Patarkazishvili died puzzling deaths and ex-Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili accused the head of state of political murder (and then sought asylum abroad) Far more indulgence towards these democratic flaws than towards democratic deficits in Russia. Does the stability of Georgia's foreign policy course count more than the canon of democracy?

The example of Ukraine is symptomatic of the inconsistency and bias of the alliance in its Ostpolitik. The presidency of Viktor Yushchenko, marked by faux pas, the mud battle with Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and the ongoing power struggle against parliament (Rada), knew many domestic political variables and two foreign policy constants: the aversion to Russia and the desire to join NATO (contrary to the majority opinion) . Is this the reason why Western politics relies on a head of state with an approval rate just above the statistical error rate and with an original Soviet leadership style as a guarantor and epitome of democratic reforms? Kiev accepts growing nationalism, which NATO apparently sees as a lesser evil compared to a possible rapprochement with Russia. To put it bluntly, one could conclude that demonstrated hostility towards Russia is sufficient for the alliance to qualify as "Western-oriented" and "democratic". In a modification of a notoriously tried and tested statement: hostile to Russia is a "flawless democrat".

Moscow is trying to compensate for the coldness in relation to "young, courageous democracies" (as the USA uses it) with residual heat in its relations with "old Europeans", traditionally known as "understanders of Russia". The Kremlin prefers to speak directly to Berlin, Paris or Rome than to take the unpleasant route via Brussels, where there is a risk of cross-shots from former comrades-in-arms in the class struggle on every corner. If, however, "old Europeans" appear within the framework of NATO, Russia is confronted with the alliance attitude.