Russia Reassures NATO on Security

BRUSSELS -- Russia sought to reassure NATO that its ideas for a new collective-security structure were not aimed at dismantling the alliance or other international bodies.

NATO ambassadors aired concerns about Moscow's intentions at a regular meeting with their Russian counterpart in Brussels and called on him to clarify President Dmitry Medvedev's proposal for a new European Security Treaty.

"Unfortunately, our positions and interpretations of this initiative differs," Dmitry Rogozin, Russian ambassador to NATO, said in an interview Monday after briefing the NATO envoys.

"European and American politicians express their concerns and preoccupations that the Russians are putting forward this initiative to weaken NATO or the OSCE or other mechanisms of security architecture," Rogozin said. "These fears we can only laugh at -- they are not serious."

Speaking in Berlin in June, Medvedev proposed reviewing the whole philosophy of maintaining security in Europe to provide equal security to all states without divisions into blocs.

He discussed the initiative with European leaders and U.S. President George W. Bush at the summit of the Group of Eight rich nations in Japan this month.

Medvedev failed to win immediate endorsements, but Italy has said it will encourage EU partners to discuss the idea for a European security conference.

A senior NATO diplomat said alliance envoys had called on Rogozin to explain how the ideas would be compatible with existing Euro-Atlantic and NATO-Russia structures, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Rogozin said the proposals were still being worked on and that NATO concerns would be taken into account. He said he would provide the ambassadors with details on Sept. 24.

Rogozin said Russia sought a legal basis to prevent war on the European continent, end divisions left over from the Cold War and to defend collective external perimeters against threats such as terrorism and organized crime.

"By opposing each other, we weaken each other because we do not see the threat coming from third parties, which are illegal structures and terrorist structures," he said.

He said the Russian ideas were aimed at "all European leaders and European capitals, not organizations," but stressed again, "It does not intend to undermine the existing structures and institutions of security."

Rogozin said Russia did not like the current situation, in which Europe closed itself off to potential allies while NATO pressed on with expansion into Moscow's old sphere of influence.