“Relations with Russia
For more than two decades, NATO has strived to build a partnership with Russia, developing dialogue and practical cooperation in areas of common interest. Cooperation has been suspended in response to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, which the Allies condemn in the strongest terms. Political and military channels of communication remain open. NATO remains concerned by Russia’s continued destabilising pattern of military activities and aggressive rhetoric, which goes well beyond Ukraine.
- Relations started after the end of the Cold War, when Russia joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (1991) and the Partnership for Peace programme (1994).
- The 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act provided the formal basis for relations.
- Dialogue and cooperation were strengthened in 2002 with the establishment of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) to serve as a forum for consultation on current security issues and to direct practical cooperation in a wide range of areas.
- Russia’s disproportionate military action in Georgia in August 2008 led to the suspension of formal meetings of the NRC and cooperation in some areas, until spring 2009. The Allies continue to call on Russia to reverse its recognition of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.
- All practical civilian and military cooperation under the NRC with Russia was suspended in April 2014 in response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
- At the Wales Summit in September 2014, NATO leaders condemned Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine and demanded that Russia comply with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities; end its illegal and illegitimate occupation and ‘annexation’ of Crimea; refrain from aggressive actions against Ukraine; withdraw its troops; halt the flow of weapons, equipment, people and money across the border to the separatists; and stop fomenting tension along and across the Ukrainian border.
- NATO is also concerned about Russia’s increasing military activities along NATO’s borders, which continues to make the Euro-Atlantic security environment less stable and predictable.
- The NRC has met on 20 April 2016 and 13 July 2016 to discuss the crisis in and around Ukraine; issues related to military activities, transparency and risk reduction, and to assess the security situation in Afghanistan.
- NATO and Russia have profound and persistent disagreements; however, the Alliance does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia.
More background information
NATO followed developments in Ukraine closely from the beginning of the crisis, which has had serious implications for NATO-Russia relations.
After Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea in March 2014, the Alliance took immediate steps in terms of its relations with Russia. It suspended the planning for its first NATO-Russia joint mission and put the entire range of NATO-Russia cooperation under review. In April 2014, NATO foreign ministers decided to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation with Russia but to maintain political contacts at the level of ambassadors and above, to allow NATO and Russia to exchange views, first and foremost on this crisis (since the crisis began, the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) has convened three times and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) twice). In June 2014, Allied ministers agreed to maintain the suspension of cooperation with Russia and this continues to today. .
NATO has identified ways to transfer those cooperative projects that impact on third parties, in particular the NRC Counter-Narcotics Training Project, to other non-NRC mechanisms or structures.
At the NATO Summit in Wales in September 2014, NATO leaders condemned in the strongest terms Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine and demanded that Russia stop and withdraw its forces from Ukraine and along the country’s border. NATO leaders also demanded that Russia comply with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities; end its illegitimate occupation of Crimea; refrain from aggressive actions against Ukraine; halt the flow of weapons, equipment, people and money across the border to the separatists; and stop fomenting tension along and across the Ukrainian border. They reaffirmed that NATO does not and will not recognise Russia’s illegal and illegitimate ‘annexation’ of Crimea.
At the Wales Summit in 2014, the Allies also noted that violence and insecurity in the region led to the tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines passenger flight MH17 on 17 July 2014. They said that those directly and indirectly responsible for the downing of MH17 should be held accountable and brought to justice as soon as possible.
Allies strongly support the settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine by diplomatic and peaceful means and welcome the ongoing diplomatic efforts in this regard. All signatories of the Minsk Agreements must comply with their commitments and ensure their full implementation. Russia has a significant responsibility in this regard.
For more than two decades, NATO has strived to build a partnership with Russia, including through the mechanism of the NRC, based upon the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act and the 2002 Rome Declaration. Russia has breached its commitments, as well as violated international law, breaking the trust at the core of its cooperation with NATO. The decisions NATO leaders took at Wales demonstrate their respect for the rules-based European security architecture.
The Allies continue to believe that a partnership between NATO and Russia, based on respect for international law, would be of strategic value. They continue to aspire to a cooperative, constructive relationship with Russia – including reciprocal confidence-building and transparency measures and increased mutual understanding of NATO’s and Russia’s non-strategic nuclear force postures in Europe – based on common security concerns and interests, in a Europe where each country freely chooses its future. They regret that the conditions for that relationship do not currently exist.
The Alliance does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia, but it will not compromise on the principles on which the Alliance and security in Europe and North America rest.
At the 2014 Summit in Wales, the Alliance said that the nature of the Alliance’s relations with Russia and its aspiration for partnership will be contingent on seeing a clear, constructive change in Russia’s actions which demonstrates compliance with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities.
NATO’s concerns go well beyond Russia’s activities in Ukraine. Notably, Russia’s military activities particularly along NATO’s borders have increased. Russia’s behaviour continues to make the Euro-Atlantic security environment less stable and predictable, in particular its practice of calling snap exercises, deploying near NATO borders, conducting advanced training and exercises and violating Allied airspace.
Russia’s military intervention and considerable military presence in Syria have posed further risks for the Alliance. On 5 October 2015, in response to Russia’s military intervention in Syria, the Allies called on Russia to immediately cease their attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians, to focus its efforts on fighting so-called Islamic State, and to promote a solution to the conflict through a political transition.
Allies stand united in condemning Russian violations and incursions in Turkish airspace in October and November 2015, expressing full solidarity with Turkey and support for its territorial integrity, and calling for calm and de-escalation.
The NRC met on 20 April 2016, almost two years after its last meeting in June 2014. Three important topics were discussed: 1) the crisis in and around Ukraine, including the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements; 2) issues related to military activities, transparency and risk reduction; 3) assessment of the security situation in Afghanistan, including the regional terrorist threat.
NATO and Russia have profound and persistent disagreements. NATO’s decision to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation with Russia remains in place. Political and military channels of communication, however, remain open. Dialogue is necessary among nations that share a common Euro-Atlantic space, including to reduce the risk of military incidents.
Support for ISAF and the Afghan Armed Forces
In spring 2008, Russia offered to support the NATO-led, UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan by facilitating the land transit of non-military equipment for ISAF contributors across Russian territory. Similar arrangements have been concluded with the other transit states, opening up this important supply route for ISAF. These arrangements were later amended to allow for land transit both to and from Afghanistan of non-lethal cargo (2010) and for multi-modal reverse transit, using a mix of rail and air transit (2012). These arrangements have expired with the end of the ISAF mission.
An NRC Helicopter Maintenance Trust Fund to help the Afghan Armed Forces to operate and maintain their helicopter fleet was officially launched in March 2011. It helped provide a much-needed maintenance and repair capacity, including spare parts and technical training. During the first phase of the project, financial and in-kind contributions to the project by ten NRC donor nations amounted to approximately US$23 million. Tailored training for Afghan Air Force helicopter maintenance staff started in April 2012 at the OAO Novosibirsk Aircraft Repair Plant in Russia, which served as the main training centre for Afghan maintenance personnel under the project. Some 40 Afghan helicopter maintenance staff had been trained under the project by the end of 2013.
The scope of the project was expanded with the launch of the second phase in April 2013: maintenance training, which had previously focused on the Mi-17s (medium-sized transport helicopters that can also act as gunships), was offered for Mi-35s (large helicopter gunship and attack helicopters with troop transport capability); critical spare parts were provided for the repair of seven Mi-35 helicopters that were non-operational; and new support was directed at developing the AAF’s medical evacuation capacity.
Counter-narcotics training of Afghan and Central Asian personnel
The NRC Counter-Narcotics Training Project was launched in December 2005 to help address the threats posed by trafficking in Afghan narcotics. It sought to build local capacity and to promote regional networking and cooperation by sharing the combined expertise of NRC member states with mid-level officers from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Pakistan became the seventh participating country in 2010.
The project was implemented in cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Along with the project’s seven beneficiary countries, this was a joint endeavour of 20 NRC countries as well as two non-NRC contributors (Finland, since 2007, and Ukraine, since 2012). The NRC countries participating in the project convened with representatives of Afghanistan, the Central Asian nations and Pakistan for High Level Steering Sessions, which ensured that the project continued to meet the countries’ counter-narcotics training needs.
Fixed training took place in one of four institutes either in Turkey, Russia or the United States and mobile courses were conducted in each of the seven participating countries. In 2013, the project also began work to encourage cross-border counter-narcotics training. This included supporting the UNODC’s work in establishing border liaison officers at existing border checkpoints between northern Tajikistan and southern Kyrgyzstan, and offering joint counter-narcotics training to Afghan and Pakistani officers. By July 2014, over 3,500 officers had been trained under the project.
After NATO-Russia cooperation was suspended in April 2014, NATO has begun to organise training again under a new NATO-UNODC Counter Narcotics Training Project for Central Asia, Afghan and Pakistani counter-narcotics officers.
An NRC Action Plan on Terrorism was launched in December 2004 to improve overall coordination and provide strategic direction for cooperation in this area. NRC leaders underlined the continued importance of cooperation in the fight against terrorism at Lisbon in November 2010 and an updated Action Plan on Terrorism was approved in April 2011. A first NRC civil-military counter-terrorism tabletop exercise was conducted at NATO Headquarters in March 2012.
Regular exchanges of information and in-depth consultations took place within the NRC on various aspects of combating terrorism. Under the Cooperative Airspace Initiative (see also below), an information exchange system was developed to provide air traffic transparency and early notification of suspicious air activities to help prevent terrorist attacks such as the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
In the scientific and technical field, NATO and Russia worked together on the STANDEX project, a flagship initiative which aimed to develop technology that would enable the stand-off detection of explosive devices in mass transport environments. Successful live trials of the technology took place in real time in an underground station in a major European city in June 2013, marking the completion of the development and test phase of STANDEX – the result of four years of joint work between experts from Russia and NATO countries.
Countering improvised explosive devices was another important focus of cooperation in the fight against terrorism. Events facilitating the sharing of experiences in hosting and securing high-visibility events have also been held.
Over the years, several Russian ships were deployed in support of Operation Active Endeavour, NATO’s maritime operation against terrorism in the Mediterranean.
Cooperative Airspace Initiative
The Cooperative Airspace Initiative (CAI) was aimed at preventing terrorists from using aircraft to launch attacks similar to those of 9/11. The CAI enabled the reciprocal exchange of air traffic data and the early notification of suspicious air activities. This facilitated air traffic transparency, predictability and interoperability in airspace management.
A total of around €10 million was invested in the CAI project by 13 NRC nations. Based on a feasibility study completed in 2005, implementation started in 2006 and the system reached its operational capability in December 2011.The operational readiness of the CAI system was demonstrated during live flying, real-time counter-terrorism exercises in June 2011 and September 2013. A simulated computer-based exercise to test and consolidate processes, procedures and capabilities took place in November 2012.
The CAI system consisted of two coordination centres, in Moscow and in Warsaw, and local coordination sites in Russia (Murmansk, Kaliningrad, Rostov-on-Don) and in NATO member countries (Bodø, Norway; Warsaw, Poland; and Ankara, Turkey).
The NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCIA), formerly known as the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A), led the implementation of the NATO part of the CAI system and the software was procured from EUROCONTROL. Implementation of the Russian part of the system was led by the State Air Traffic Management Corporation, under the guidance of the Federal Air Navigation Authority. The Russian segment of the system was developed and supplied by the “Almaz-Antey” Concern.
Theatre missile defence/ ballistic missile defence
Cooperation in the area of theatre missile defence (TMD) was underway for a number of years to address the unprecedented danger posed to deployed forces by the increasing availability of ever more accurate ballistic missiles. A study was launched in 2003 to assess the possible levels of interoperability among the theatre missile defence systems of NATO Allies and Russia.
Between 2004 and 2006, three command post exercises were held in the United States, the Netherlands and in Russia. Computer-assisted exercises took place in Germany in 2008 and 2012. Together with the interoperability study, these exercises were intended to provide the basis for future improvements to interoperability and to develop mechanisms and procedures for joint operations in the area of theatre missile defence.
In December 2009, an NRC Missile Defence Working Group was established to build on the lessons learned from previous TMD cooperation and to exchange views on possible mutually beneficial cooperation on ballistic missile defence, based on a joint assessment of missile threats.
At the 2010 Lisbon Summit, NRC leaders approved the joint ballistic missile threat assessment and agreed to discuss pursuing missile defence cooperation. They decided to resume TMD cooperation, which had been suspended in August 2008, and to develop a joint analysis of the future framework for missile defence cooperation.
At the 2012 Chicago Summit, Allied leaders stressed that NATO’s planned missile defence capability is not directed against Russia, nor will it undermine Russia’s strategic deterrent. It is intended to defend against potential threats from beyond the Euro-Atlantic area. These points were reaffirmed at the 2014 Wales Summit.
Non-proliferation and arms control
The NRC developed dialogue on a growing range of issues related to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This resulted in concrete recommendations to strengthen existing non-proliferation arrangements and expert discussions on possible practical cooperation in the protection against nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Work was underway to assess global trends in WMD proliferation and their means of delivery, and to review areas in which NRC nations could work together politically to promote effective multilateral arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation efforts. In December 2011, for example, a Joint NRC Statement was agreed for the 7th Review Conference of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.
Over the years, the NRC also provided a forum for frank discussions on issues related to conventional arms control, such as the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), the Open Skies Treaty and confidence- and security-building measures. A key priority for all NRC nations was to work towards the ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty. The Allies expressed concern over Russia’s unilateral “suspension” of its participation in the treaty in December 2007. At the Lisbon Summit, NRC leaders emphasised their strong support for the revitalisation and modernisation of the conventional arms control regime in Europe and their readiness to continue dialogue on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation issues of interest to the NRC. So Allies are concerned by Russia’s subsequent decision in March 2015 to suspend participation in the joint consultative group that meets in Vienna regularly to discuss the implementation of the CFE Treaty.
Another critical issue has arisen concerning the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. In July 2014, the United States briefed the North Atlantic Council on its determination that Russia is in violation of its obligations under the Treaty not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 500 to 5,500 kilometres, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles. The Treaty, which entered into force in 1988, was concluded to reduce threats to security and stability in Europe, in particular the threat of short-warning attack on targets of strategic importance. It has a special place in history, as it required the verifiable elimination of an entire class of missiles possessed by the United States and the former Soviet Union.
The INF Treaty remains a key element of Euro-Atlantic security — one that benefits the security of all parties and must be preserved. At the Wales Summit in 2014, Allied leaders underlined that Russia should work constructively to resolve this critical treaty issue and preserve the viability of the INF Treaty by returning to full compliance in a verifiable manner.
Nuclear weapons issues
In the nuclear field several seminars were held over the years to discuss nuclear doctrine and strategy, lessons learned from nuclear weapons incidents and accidents, and potential responses to the detection of improvised nuclear or radiological devices.
Between 2004 and 2007, experts and representatives from NRC countries also observed four nuclear weapon accident response field exercises, which took place in Russia and each of the nuclear weapon states of NATO (France, the United Kingdom and the United States). As a follow-on to these exercises, in June 2011, NRC countries participated in a tabletop exercise dealing with emergency response to a nuclear weapon incident. Such activities increased transparency, developed common understanding of nuclear weapon accident response procedures, and built confidence that the nuclear weapon states were fully capable of responding effectively to any emergency involving nuclear weapons.
Since the NRC was established, military liaison arrangements have been enhanced, at the Allied Commands for Operations and for Transformation, as well as in Moscow. A key objective of military-to-military cooperation was to build trust, confidence and transparency, and to improve the ability of NATO and Russian forces to work together in preparation for possible future joint military operations. Areas of cooperation included logistics, combating terrorism, search and rescue at sea, countering piracy, theatre missile defence/missile defence and military academic exchanges – and related military activities.
Countering piracy was one of the key areas of common interest and concern identified in the Joint Review of 21st Century Common Security Challenges approved at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010. Cooperation at the tactical level developed from late 2008 between Russian vessels and Allied ships deployed as part of Operation Ocean Shield, NATO’s counter-piracy operation off the Horn of Africa. At the operational level, regular meetings between staffs sought to enhance NATO-Russia maritime cooperation. Russian ships also used the training facilities of the NATO Maritime Interdiction Training Centre in Crete, Greece, to prepare for counter-piracy missions.
Submarine crew search and rescue
Work in the area of submarine crew search and rescue at sea grew steadily following the signing of a framework agreement on cooperation in this area in February 2003. Russia participated in three NATO-led search-and-rescue exercises between 2005 and 2011. In December 2013, a sea survival course for aircrews took place in Germany.
Defence transparency, strategy and reform
Aimed at building mutual confidence and transparency, dialogue took place under the NRC on doctrinal issues, strategy and policy, including their relation to defence reform, nuclear weapons issues, force development and posture.
Past initiatives launched in the area of defence reform focused on the evolution of the military, management of human and financial resources, reform of defence industries, managing the consequences of defence reform, and defence-related aspects of combating terrorism.
From 2002 to 2008, a NATO-Russia Resettlement Centre helped facilitate the integration of former Russian military personnel into civilian life by providing information regarding job search and resettlement, professional courses for trainees, job placement services, and English-language and management courses for small and medium-sized enterprises. Initially set up in Moscow, its operations were gradually expanded into the regions. Over the project’s lifetime, around 2,820 former military personnel from the Russian armed forces were retrained and over 80 per cent found civilian employment as a result of the retraining or job placement assistance.
Defence industrial cooperation
A broad-based “Study on NATO-Russia Defence Industrial and Research and Technological Cooperation”, launched in January 2005 and completed in 2007, concluded that there was potential in combining scientific and technological capabilities to address global threats.
Opportunities for logistics cooperation were pursued on both the civilian and military side, including areas such as air transport, air-to-air refuelling, medical services and water purification. Meetings and seminars focused on establishing a sound foundation of mutual understanding in the field of logistics by promoting information sharing in areas such as logistic policies, doctrine, structures and lessons learned.
NATO and Russia cooperated between 1996 and 2014 to develop a capacity for joint action in response to civil emergencies, such as earthquakes and floods, and to coordinate detection and prevention of disasters before they occur. Moreover, a Russian proposal led to the establishment in 1998 of the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre, which coordinates responses to disasters among all countries of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (the 28 NATO members and 22 partner countries).
Under the NRC, an important focus of cooperation was to develop capabilities to manage the consequences of terrorist attacks. Two disaster response exercises in Russia (2002, 2004) and another in Italy (2006) resulted in concrete recommendations for consequence management. A tabletop consequence-management exercise was hosted by Norway in 2010. More recent work focused on risk reduction, capacity-building and cooperation in the area of civil preparedness and consequence management related to high-visibility events.
Russia was actively engaged with the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme from 1992. The programme enables close collaboration on issues of common interest to enhance the security of NATO and partner countries. By facilitating international efforts, in particular with a regional focus, it seeks to address emerging security challenges, support NATO-led operations and advance early warning and forecast for the prevention of disasters and crises.
Scientists and experts from Russia sought to address a wide range of security issues, notably in the fields of defence against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents, mine detection and counter-terrorism (including explosives detection such as the STANDEX project mentioned above). Two important projects focused on addressing environmental and security hazards in the Baltic regions – the first aimed to develop solutions for effective oil spill management; the second sought to establish a continuous risk monitoring assessment network to observe munitions dump sites in the Baltic Sea.
Terminology and language training
To facilitate better understanding of terms and concepts used by NATO and Russia, glossaries were developed on the entire spectrum of NATO-Russia cooperation. Following the publication in 2011 of an NRC Consolidated Glossary of Cooperation covering some 7,000 terms, additional glossaries were developed on missile defence, nuclear doctrine and strategies, helicopter maintenance, counter-piracy, ammunition demilitarization and counter-narcotics.
Language cooperation was expanded in 2011 with the launch of a project to harmonise language training for military and selected civilian experts at the Russian Ministry of Defence.
Raising public awareness of the NRC
An NRC web site (http://www.nato-russia-council.info/) was launched in June 2007 to increase public awareness of NRC activities. It was suspended in April 2014.
The 28 Allies and Russia are equal partners in the NRC, which was established in 2002. Until the suspension of activities in April 2014, the NRC provided a framework for consultation on current security issues and practical cooperation in a wide range of areas of common interest. Its agenda built on the basis for bilateral cooperation that was set out in the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, which provided the formal basis for relations.
Cooperation between Russia and NATO member states was directed by the NRC and developed through various subordinate working groups and committees, as agreed in annual work programmes.
The driving force behind the NRC’s cooperation was the realisation that NATO and Russia shared strategic priorities and faced common challenges. At the Lisbon Summit, the 29 NRC leaders pledged to “work towards achieving a true strategic and modernised partnership based on the principles of reciprocal confidence, transparency, and predictability, with the aim of contributing to the creation of a common space of peace, security and stability.” They endorsed a Joint Review of 21st Century Common Security Challenges, which included Afghanistan, terrorism, piracy, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, as well as natural and man-made disasters.
To facilitate regular contacts and cooperation, Russia established a diplomatic mission to NATO in 1998. NATO opened an Information Office in Moscow in 2001 and a Military Liaison Mission in 2002.
1991: Russia joins the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (later renamed the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council), created as a forum for consultation with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe following the end of the Cold War. The Soviet Union actually dissolves at the same time as the inaugural meeting of this body takes place.
1994: Russia joins the Partnership for Peace (PfP).
1996: Russian soldiers deploy as part of the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
27 May 1997: At a summit in Paris, Russian and Allied leaders sign the NATO-Russia Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security and establish the Permanent Joint Council (PJC)
1999: Russia suspends participation in the PJC for a few months because of NATO’s Kosovo air campaign.
June 1999: Russian peacekeepers deploy as part of the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo.
May 2000: Broader cooperation in the PJC resumes, following a meeting of NATO and Russian foreign ministers in Florence.
2001: The NATO Information Office opens in Moscow.
September 2001: President Putin is the first world leader to call the US President after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which underscore the need for concerted international action to address terrorism and other new security threats. Russia opens its airspace to the international coalition’s campaign in Afghanistan and shares relevant intelligence.
March 2001: A joint NATO-Russia Resettlement Centre is officially opened to help discharged Russian military personnel return to civilian life.
May 2002: NATO opens a Military Liaison Mission in Moscow.
28 May 2002: At a summit in Rome, Russian and Allied leaders sign a declaration on “NATO-Russia Relations: A New Quality” and establish the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) to replace the PJC.
September 2002: Russia hosts a multinational disaster response exercise in Noginsk.
February 2003: NATO and Russia sign an agreement on submarine crew rescue.
April 2003: Russia announces that it will withdraw its troops from the NATO-led peacekeeping forces in the Balkans.
January 2004: NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer tries out a new hotline to the Russian defence minister.
March 2004: The first NRC theatre missile defence command post exercise takes place in Colorado Springs, United States.
June 2004: Russia hosts a multinational disaster response exercise in Kaliningrad.
28 June 2004: At an NRC meeting of foreign ministers in Istanbul, Russia offers to contribute a ship to NATO’s maritime counter-terrorist operation in the Mediterranean, Operation Active Endeavour.
December 2004: In the wake of several terrorist attacks in Russia, NRC foreign ministers approve a comprehensive NRC Action Plan on Terrorism.
December 2004: NRC foreign ministers issue a common statement concerning the conduct of the Ukrainian presidential elections.
March 2005: The second NRC theatre missile defence command post exercise takes place in the Netherlands.
April 2005: Russia signs the PfP Status of Forces Agreement (later ratified by the Russian parliament in May 2007).
June 2005: NRC defence ministers endorse a “Political-Military Guidance” aimed at developing, over time, interoperability between Russian and Allied forces at the strategic, operational and tactical command levels.
June 2005: Russia takes part in a major NATO search-and-rescue at sea exercise, Sorbet Royal.
December 2005: The NRC launches a pilot project on counter-narcotics training for Afghan and Central Asian personnel.
April 2006: NRC foreign ministers meeting in Sofia agree a set of priorities and recommendations to guide the NRC’s future work.
October 2006: The third NRC theatre missile defence command post exercise takes place in Moscow.
October 2006: An NRC civil emergency exercise takes place in Montelibretti, Italy.
September 2006: The first Russian frigate deploys to the Mediterranean to support Operation Active Endeavour.
September 2007: A second Russian frigate deploys in active support of Operation Active Endeavour.
January 2008: A computer-assisted exercise takes place in Germany under the NRC theatre missile defence project.
March 2008: In support of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operation in Afghanistan, Russia offers transit to ISAF contributors.
May 2008: Russia takes part in a major NATO search-and-rescue at sea exercise, Bold Monarch.
August 2008: Following Russia’s disproportionate military action in Georgia, formal meetings of the NRC and cooperation in some areas are suspended. Cooperation continues in key areas of common interest, such as counter-narcotics and the fight against terrorism.
December 2008: NATO foreign ministers agree to pursue a phased and measured approach to re-engagement with Russia.
March 2009: NATO foreign ministers decide to resume formal meetings and practical cooperation under the NRC.
December 2009: At the first formal NRC ministerial since the Georgia crisis, foreign ministers take steps to reinvigorate NRC cooperation and agree to launch a Joint Review of 21st Century Common Security Challenges.
June 2010: The NRC meets for the first time in a political advisory format in Rome for a two-day informal, off-the-record exchange of views on how to make the NRC a more substance-based forum.
September 2010: NRC foreign ministers meet in New York to chart the way forward in relations and cooperation.
November 2010: NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visits Russia for meetings with President Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to prepare for the upcoming NRC summit meeting in Lisbon.
20 November 2010: At the Lisbon Summit, NRC leaders pledge to “work towards achieving a true strategic and modernised partnership”. They endorse a Joint Review of 21st Century Common Security Challenges and agree to resume cooperation in the area of theatre missile defence as well as to develop a comprehensive joint analysis of the future framework for broader missile defence cooperation. They also agree on a number of initiatives to assist in the stabilisation of Afghanistan and the wider region.
April 2011: NRC foreign ministers meet in Berlin to discuss the situation in Libya and Afghanistan, as well as ongoing work on outlining the future framework for missile defence cooperation between Russia and NATO. They launch the NRC Helicopter Maintenance Trust Fund to support the Afghan security forces’ helicopter fleet and approve an updated NRC Action Plan on Terrorism.
June 2011: For the first time in three years, the NRC defence ministers meet in Brussels to discuss a broad range of defence issues.
June 2011: A Russian submarine takes active part in NATO exercise ”Bold Monarch 2011”.
June 2011: A joint exercise, Vigilant Skies 2011, demonstrates the operational readiness of the NRC Cooperative Airspace Initiative.
June 2011: NATO and Russia participate in a tabletop exercise dealing with a nuclear weapon incident scenario.
July 2011: The NRC meets in Sochi, Russia, and also meets Russian President Medvedev. NRC Ambassadors restate their commitment to pursuing cooperation on missile defence as well as cooperation in other security areas of common interest.
December 2011: NRC foreign ministers meet in Brussels to discuss international security issues and NRC practical cooperation, including on Afghanistan, counter-piracy and counter-terrorism. They approve the NRC Work Programme 2012 and announce that the Cooperative Airspace Initiative is ready to initiate operations.
March 2012: The fifth theatre missile defence computer-assisted exercise is conducted in Germany.
April 2012: A first civilian-military NRC counter-terrorism tabletop exercise is organised at NATO Headquarters.
April 2012: The first training course for Afghan Air Force helicopter maintenance staff gets underway in Novosibirsk under the NRC Helicopter Maintenance Trust Fund project.
April 2012: NRC foreign ministers meet in Brussels to discuss NRC practical cooperation.
21 May 2012: Russia sends a special representative to participate in a meeting on Afghanistan, involving nations contributing to ISAF, at NATO’s Chicago Summit.
November 2012: A simulated computer-based exercise tests the information exchange system of the NRC’s Cooperative Airspace Initiative.
December 2012: NRC foreign ministers agree to increase cooperation in key areas under the NRC Work Programme for 2013.
February 2013: NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen meets Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at NATO Headquarters to discuss implementation of the NRC Work Programme, as well as ways to advance the NATO-Russia dialogue on missile defence.
April 2013: NRC foreign ministers agree to launch the second phase of the NRC Trust Fund project for the maintenance of helicopters in Afghanistan and discuss plans for cooperation in other areas in 2013. They also exchange views on progress in the NATO-led Afghan mission and on other regional and global security issues, including Syria, North Korea and missile defence.
June 2013: Technology for the remote, real-time detection of explosives is successfully tested live in an underground station in a major European city, marking the completion of the development and test phase of the Stand-off Detection of Explosives (STANDEX) project.
September 2013: Under the Cooperative Airspace Initiative, a live counter-terrorism exercise takes place in the skies over Poland, Russia and Turkey involving fighter aircraft, military personnel and command centres from the Arctic to the Black Sea.
October 2013: NRC defence ministers exchange views on pressing events on the international agenda, including Syria, and transparency on military exercises. They also discuss ways to widen practical cooperation including plans to work together to dispose of excess ammunition in Russia, possibly through a new NRC Trust Fund project.
2 March 2014: NATO condemns Russia’s military escalation in Crimea and expresses its grave concern regarding the authorisation by the Russian parliament for the use of Russian armed forces on the territory of Ukraine.
16 March 2014: NATO member states declare that they do not recognise the results of the so-called referendum held in Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea, which is both illegal and illegitimate, violating the Ukrainian Constitution and international law.
1 April 2014: NATO foreign ministers urge Russia to take immediate steps to return to compliance with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities, and to engage immediately in a genuine dialogue towards a political and diplomatic solution that respects international law and Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders. They decide to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between NATO and Russia.
24 June 2014: NATO foreign ministers agree to maintain the suspension of practical civilian and military cooperation with Russia. Any decision to resume cooperation will be conditions-based.
5 September 2014: At the Wales Summit, NATO leaders demand that Russia stop and withdraw its forces from Ukraine and along the country’s border. They express their deepest concern that the violence and insecurity in the region caused by Russia and the Russian-backed separatists are resulting in a deteriorating humanitarian situation and material destruction in eastern Ukraine. The Allies approve the NATO Readiness Action Plan – a comprehensive package of necessary measures to respond to the changes in the security environment on NATO’s borders and further afield.
16 September 2014: The NATO Secretary General states that NATO does not recognise the reported elections held on 14 September in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine, calling on Russia to reverse its illegal and illegitimate “annexation” of Crimea.
31 October 2014: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg states that the planned ‘elections’ organised by self-appointed and armed rebel groups in parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions, due to take place on 2 November, undermine efforts towards a resolution of the conflict, violating Ukrainian laws and running directly counter to the Minsk agreements co-signed among others by the two self-proclaimed ‘republics’ and by Russia.
24 November 2014: The NATO Secretary General states that NATO fully supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders and that the Allies do not recognise the so-called treaty on alliance and strategic partnership signed between the Georgian region of Abkhazia and Russia.
18 March 2015: The NATO Secretary General states that NATO does not recognise the so-called treaty on alliance and integration signed between the Georgian region of South Ossetia and Russia on 18 March.
13 May 2015: NATO foreign ministers meet in Antalya, Turkey, to review the security challenges to the East and the South; the NATO Secretary General calls for the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements in Ukraine, calling on Russia to stop supporting the separatists and to withdraw all its forces from eastern Ukraine.
25 June 2015: NATO defence ministers emphasise that Russia is challenging Euro-Atlantic security through military action, coercion and intimidation of its neighbours. They express continued concern about Russia’s aggressive actions, while reaffirming strong commitment to an independent, peaceful and prosperous Ukraine and firm support to its territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.
19 August 2015: NATO Allies express serious concern about the recent sharp escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine, stressing the need for all parties to de-escalate tensions and exercise restraint. Allies underline that the focus must be on pursuing a solution through diplomatic means, the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements being the path to peace. They emphasise that Russia has a special responsibility to find a political solution, calling any attempt by the Russian-backed separatists to take over more of Ukraine’s territory as unacceptable to the international community.
5 October 2015: The North Atlantic Council meets to hold consultations on the potential implications of the dangerous military actions of Russia in and around Syria. In a statement, Allies express their deep concern with regard to the Russian military build-up in Syria, calling on Russia to immediately cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians, to focus its efforts on fighting so-called Islamic State, and to promote a solution to the conflict through political transition. Allies strongly protest Russian violations of Turkish sovereign airspace on 3 October and 4 October and note the extreme danger of such irresponsible behaviour, calling on the Russia to cease and desist, and to immediately explain these violations.
24 November 2015: At an extraordinary North Atlantic Council meeting, NATO Ally Turkey informs Allies about the downing of a Russian Air Force plane violating Turkish airspace. The Secretary General expresses concerns about the implications of the military actions of Russia close to NATO’s borders and reiterates full solidarity with Turkey and support to its territorial integrity, calling for calm and de-escalation.
2 December 2015: After NATO foreign ministers meet, the Secretary General notes that challenges posed by Russia’s actions in the Euro-Atlantic area will be with us for a long time, adding that Allies expressed regret at the decline in military transparency in Europe over the last decade, and noting that the Allies’ priority now is to work to restore predictability in our relations. The Secretary General underlines that it is important to step up work on transparency and risk reduction, including through intensive efforts to reach agreement on a substantive update of the OSCE Vienna Document.
30 January 2016: The NATO Secretary General calls on Russia to act responsibly and fully respect NATO airspace after a Russian combat aircraft violated Turkish airspace on 29 January 2016, despite repeated warnings by the Turkish authorities. The Secretary General urges Russia to take all necessary measures to ensure that such violations do not happen again.
20 April 2016: Following the meeting of the NRC, the Secretary General emphasises the necessity and usefulness of political dialogue among nations that share the same Euro-Atlantic area, especially in times of tensions. However, he makes clear this does not constitute a return to business as usual. NRC Ambassadors discuss the crisis in and around Ukraine; issues related to military activities, transparency and risk reduction; and an assessment of the security situation in Afghanistan, including regional terrorist threats.
9 July 2016: At the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Allied leaders reiterate their concerns about Russia’s destabilising actions and policies, including its ongoing illegal actions in Ukraine and illegitimate annexation of Crimea; provocative military activities near NATO’s borders stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea; its irresponsible and aggressive nuclear rhetoric, military posture and underlying posture; as well as the risks posed by its military intervention and support for the regime in Syria. They explain how NATO has responded to this changed security environment by enhancing its deterrence and defence posture, while underlining that they remain open to political dialogue with Russia, especially with a view to avoiding misunderstanding, miscalculation and unintended escalation, and to increase transparency and predictability.
13 July 2016: The NATO-Russia Council meets to discuss the crisis in and around Ukraine and the need to fully implement the Minsk agreements; transparency and risk reduction measures; and the situation in Afghanistan. Allied ambassadors also brief their Russian counterpart on decisions taken at the NATO Summit in Warsaw a few days earlier.”