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MoD floated ‘farcical’ plan for Russia to join NATO, documents reveal

MoD floated ‘farcical’ plan for Russia to join NATO, documents reveal
2 min read

A plan by the Ministry of Defence for Russia to join NATO was dismissed as “farcical” by ministers, according to newly-unsealed official minutes.

The memo from January 1995 - released among a tranche of declassified documents at the National Archives at Kew - said officials suggested making the Boris Yeltsin-led country an “associate member” of the organisation.

But at a meeting of then-Prime Minister John Major’s senior ministers at Chequers it was dismissed.

The documents show Mr Major’s Defence Secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, presented a 10-page submission on how to deal with Russia, which was in a state of flux after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

He wrote: “A possible solution would be to create a new category of associate member of Nato.

“Such a status could not involve article V guarantees [which declares an attack on one state is an attack on all members], membership of the IMS [Nato’s International Military Staff ] or Russian vetoes and would not therefore change the essence of Nato.

“It would, however, give Russia a formal status within Nato, allow it to attend, as of right, ministerial and other meetings and encourage a gradual convergence and harmonisation of policy, doctrine and practice.”

The minutes of the meeting at the PM’s official country residence record Mr Rifkind telling colleagues the country’s current policy on Russia was not “sufficiently imaginative”.

He told colleagues: “We should make Russia a more normal member of the western family.

“We needed to help Yeltsin make Russia a more normal European country.”

But the then-Chancellor Ken Clarke was described as "cautious about (Nato) expansion”, and the minutes added: "At the extreme, some were even contemplating including Russia in Nato.

"That was farcical and should not be on our agenda.”

Mr Major was said to have made a literary reference, saying: "We did not pursue our self-interest with the ruthless determination of the US and France.

"We had tended to play Sancho Panza to the US Don Quixote."

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