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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Needs an Alliance of Its Own

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Seven nations will be officially invited to join NATO on Thursday, expanding the world's most powerful military alliance, which was originally set up to counter the Soviet threat, to stretch hundreds of kilometers along Russia's borders.

All but one of the prospective members (Slovenia) used to be Soviet turf. Three are former members of the now defunct Warsaw Pact, while another three used to be republics within the Soviet Union. "As a matter of fact, the Warsaw Pact is becoming part of NATO," U.S. President George W. Bush noted before departing for Prague.

Of all former Warsaw Pact members, only Russia will remain outside NATO. Yet Moscow's reaction to the latest expansion has been low-key, especially when compared to the critical salvos fired during the previous wave of eastern expansion.

The reason for such a phlegmatic reaction to the fact that NATO will now stand only 100 kilometers from St. Petersburg is clear. Never before have relations between post-Communist Russia and the West been better. But these relations are mostly based on the personal chemistry between President Vladimir Putin and his friends George and Tony. All three are popularly elected leaders and one can only hope that relations will remain as cozy and productive when their terms in office end.

But rather than rely on the personal friendship of leaders who come and go, the United States and its allies should work to anchor Russia to the West on a sustainable institutionalized basis.

One way to institutionalize this relationship would be to empower the Group of Eight, since it seems unlikely that Russia will either ask for an invitation to join NATO or be offered one. Russia has an equal voice in the G-8 and would welcome a transformation of this largely rhetorical club into a powerful alliance with rapid-reaction capabilities to battle terrorism, contain proliferation and mediate conflicts, such as the one between nuclear-capable India and Pakistan, before they evolve into a war.

The establishment of a security alliance on the basis of the G-8 was first proposed in the wake of 9/11 by a trio of foreign policy experts: Graham Allison, director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University; Sergei Karaganov, chairman of the presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, in Moscow; and Karl Kaiser, director of the German Council on Foreign Relations, in Berlin.

They also suggested that such an alliance could be used to bring China, whose economic ascent has sent nervous jitters across the world, into the fold. Perhaps it's time to give this idea some serious thought.