AFTER MONTHS OF uncertainly, Russian defence minister General Pavel Grachev announced on May 24 at a briefing for NATO defence ministers on Russian military doctrine that his country would join the Partnership for Peace (PFP) military co-operation programme. PFP is a new alliance set up by NATO to involve former Warsaw Pact countries in joint military exercises, joint planning and consultation on key security issues.
To date, 18 countries have signed the agreement, including Russia’s neighbouring independent republics, and Russia was expected to formally join the partnership within about two months. The minister’s announcement stated that Russia would not, as previously thought, demand any pre-conditions before joining but hinted that his country would wish to have preferential treatment because of its size and strategic importance. However, the next day, the minister presented a document describing Russia’s parameters for agreement — in other words, its pre-conditions for joining.
NATO defence ministers reacted cautiously to the suggestions, emphasising that any closer co-operation would have to be subject to a separate deal and not part of the PFP proposals, although it could only happen if Russia first signed the PFP agreement.