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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rogozin Tipped as New Representative to NATO

State DumaRogozin
Nationalist politician Dmitry Rogozin is being tipped as Russia's new permanent representative to NATO, an appointment that could bode ill for the country's already troubled relations with NATO.

Rogozin refused to say whether he was in line to replace Konstantin Totsky at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Rogozin, speaking on Ekho Moskvy radio late Wednesday, said he would only comment after the Kremlin made an official announcement.

An assistant to Rogozin, Sergei Butin, said by telephone that Rogozin had not been informed about any Kremlin decision.

Two presidential spokesmen and a senior Kremlin aide said they knew nothing about the appointment.

A NATO spokesman, reached at an alliance defense ministers meeting in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, also said he had not heard about the appointment.

But a NATO source said upon condition of anonymity that rumors had been circulating that Totsky was about to be replaced.

Reuters, citing a "reliable source," reported Wednesday night that President Vladimir Putin had signed a decree appointing Rogozin to the position a day earlier.

Gazeta.ru said Putin had a draft decree on his desk but had not signed it yet.

A new envoy to NATO would also have to be confirmed by the Federation Council's International Affairs Committee.

Rogozin, 43, was elected to the State Duma in 2003 as leader of Rodina, a party created just two months before elections to steal votes from the Communists. Party founders have said Rodina is a Kremlin project. Rogozin had a falling out with the Kremlin after attending anti-Kremlin rallies with opposition figures and has accused the Kremlin of forcing him out of Rodina. In May, he co-founded the Great Russia party, which has been denied registration twice, making it unlikely that it would be able to participate in the Dec. 2 Duma elections. The party has called the decision a "direct order from the Kremlin."

Sending Rogozin to NATO would be tantamount to Moscow "teasing" the Western alliance, said Alexei Mukhin, an analyst with the Center for Political Information.

"He wouldn't be an easy negotiator because everyone knows Rogozin's previous statements about the alliance," Mukhin said.

Rogozin has called for Russia to rearm itself to counter a threat from NATO, whose expansion, he has said, has placed a foreign army at Russia's borders. He said in 2004 that NATO was a U.S.-dominated body that carried out "the rather aggressive interests of the United States."

Ivan Safranchuk, the head of the World Security Institute's Moscow office, said Rogozin's appointment would signal that the Kremlin was not interested in improving ties with NATO.

It would mean that relations are guided by the principle "we cannot achieve anything good anyway," he said.

"Russia is not laying great hopes on relations with this organization," he added.

Before being elected to the Duma, Rogozin served as Putin's representative in negotiations with the European Union over the status of the Kaliningrad exclave after EU expansion.