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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Signs Partnership for Peace

BRUSSELS -- Russia and NATO, adversaries for five decades, pledged a new era of military and political cooperation Wednesday, and Moscow signaled that it no longer opposed East European states joining the alliance. Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev signed the alliance's Partnership for Peace scheme on closer military links and sealed an agreement with NATO on broader political ties. The landmark agreement between the former Cold War foes comes after disputes with NATO on issues ranging from Bosnia to arms control and bitter complaints from Moscow that the alliance was ignoring its concerns and big-power status. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev had originally announced that Russia would sign the partnership agreement, devised as a counter to East European membership in NATO, but the government then backed away in the face of domestic opposition from nationalist factions. "We recognize that NATO and Russia share a great responsibility for Europe's future," NATO Deputy Secretary General Sergio Balanzino told a news conference. "Only if we work together and not against each other can we find real and lasting security," he said. Kozyrev said Russia now accepted NATO could take in some of Moscow's former satellites in Eastern Europe as members, although he said this should not be done quickly and that Moscow might also be interested in joining. "We do not preclude the possibility that we or other countries should join NATO but there should be no haste," he told a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher after the meeting in Brussels. Until now, Russia has firmly opposed NATO expansion to take in Moscow's former satellites. Countries such as Poland and Hungary are intent on joining the alliance but concerned that special ties between NATO and Russia could leave them out in the cold. The 16-nation alliance pledged at a January summit that it would accept new members but set no timetable. German Defense Minister Volker R--he welcomed the NATO agreement as a "historic milestone." Russia is the 21st country to sign the Partnership for Peace, offered to all former Soviet republics and Eastern Bloc states. Kozyrev said there would undoubtedly be some problems in future relations with the West but that there were no "insurmountable obstacles." "I am convinced today's event," he said, "is another contribution to strengthening security in Europe and the world." A joint declaration issued after the meeting said both sides "agreed to set in train the development of a far-reaching, cooperative NATO-Russian relationship." This included sharing information on political and security issues in Europe as well as "political consultations, as appropriate, on issues of common concern." The statement also promised the relationship between NATO and Russia would not be kept secret from other countries and was not directed against their interests. NATO made clear there could be no question of giving Russia any veto over alliance decisions or of dividing Europe into spheres of influence, as happened after the 1945 Yalta agreement between the World War II allies. "NATO will retain its sovereign ability and right to take decisions, as will Russia," said Balanzino. Kozyrev agreed. "This is not a 'Yalta Two' but a 'Brussels One,'" he said. Moscow, which postponed signing the Partnership for Peace in April, had pressed for special political ties with NATO.