Press Releases

Russia becomes limited partner in NATO in historic accord

By Ron Fournier, The Associated Press
Wednesday May 29, 2002

ROME — NATO declared Russia a limited partner in the Western alliance Tuesday, embracing its former Cold War enemy as an ally in the battle against modern-day threats like terrorism. 

“Two former foes are now joined as partners, overcoming 50 years of division and a decade of uncertainty,” President Bush said as leaders of NATO’s 19 member-nations gathered with Russia to form the NATO-Russia Council. 

The arrangement gives Russia a voice — but not a veto — on a range of issues, including counterterrorism, the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, missile defense, arms control, peacekeeping, civil defense and search-and-rescue at sea. 

“We have come a long way from confrontation to dialogue, and from confrontation to cooperation,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said. He called the agreement “only a beginning” and looked ahead to a greater role for Russia in NATO. 

The leaders sealed the agreement at the seaside Pratica di Mare air base. Italy deployed 15,000 security forces and mounted robust air and sea defenses to protect the 20 world leaders. Two Italian Tornado fighter jets escorted a Sudan Airways passenger jet out of Italian airspace after it failed to establish radio contact with air traffic controllers, an Italian military official said. 

NATO was founded in 1949 to contain communism and the Soviet Union. With the collapse of the Soviet empire, NATO has been reaching out to Russia.