Russia published on 29 November its proposal for a new Euro-Atlantic security treaty that would restrict its ability to use military force unilaterally if the United States and its European allies agreed to do the same.
Meeting in October 2008 in the French resort city of Evian, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev voiced similar messages about the need to reconstruct Europe's security architecture (EurActiv 09/10/08).
A month later, Sarkozy suggested that a summit, possibly under the auspices of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and including the US and Russia, be held to "lay down the foundation for what could be the future of European security" (EurActiv 17/11/08).
Medvedev said Russia envisaged a pan-European security treaty that could be joined by all nations and groupings, including NATO, and "a list of rules for the future".
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said the European Security Treaty is needed to replace Cold War-era institutions like NATO that are ill-suited to defusing tensions in a multipolar world, but his proposals have received a muted reception in the West.
Medvedev has invited proposals from Western countries on how to build a new security treaty. The draft, which would "finally do away with the legacy of the Cold War," has been sent to all relevant leaders, the Kremlin said in a statement.
The treaty is essentially "a legal obligation under which no state or international organisation in the Euro-Atlantic area can increase its security at the expense of the security of another state or organisation," the statement said.
It would be open to "all states of the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian space from Vancouver to Vladivostok," as well as members of NATO, the European Union and groupings of former Soviet countries.
The document , published on the Kremlin web site, reaffirms the role of the United Nations Security Council, in which Russia has a veto, as the ultimate arbiter of international conflict.
It would place restrictions on the use of force by signatories and create a new mechanism for conflict resolution. Any security measure taken by a signatory country would have to pay "due regard to the security interests of all other parties".
Start of discussion
Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the journal Russia in Global Affairs, told Reuters: "It is hard to imagine anyone agreeing to it in its current form. The Kremlin more likely sees it as an opening point for a broader discussion."
"Russia is offering the possibility that Moscow would take obligations not to act unilaterally towards the states of the former Soviet Union and is asking the same from the West."
Russia has objected to US plans to place elements of a missile defence shield in countries near its border and is opposed to the presence of NATO bases in former Soviet republics which it considers its sphere of influence.
Lukyanov said Western powers would be particularly wary of Article 7, which says "every party shall be entitled to consider an armed attack against any other party an armed attack against itself".
This could give Russia justification to use force if one of its allies was attacked, and could require other signatories to help Moscow in a future conflict with, for example, Iran or China, he said.
A clause that appears targeted at NATO operations not sanctioned by the UN Security Council would require signatories to make sure that any military alliances they are members of do not violate the principles of the UN charter.
It would also prohibit signatory countries from allowing third parties to use their territory in a way "affecting significantly the security of any other party" to the treaty.
(EurActiv with Reuters.)