NATO: Expansion or Aggression?
I would not [underestimate] the dislike of NATO enlargement" in Russia, says Dr. Sergei Rogov, director of Moscow's prestigious Institute of USA and Canada Studies, a combination think tank and advisory body for the political leadership of the Russian Federation, with an independence made possible by being a component of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Russia today, explains Rogov, is undergoing massive economic, social, cultural, and structural crises. These primarily are internal problems, and they have plagued the country since the breakup of the Soviet Union in December 1991. But opposition to NATO expansion now dominates Russian foreign relations.' Russia's concerns are not only defense related; they go to the core of Russian self-identity and Russian relations with the West. Should Russia become more like the West or remain separate? What influence should Russia have on the future of Europe? These are some of the questions that are troubling his country's leadership, according to Rogov. "Russia played a crucial role in ending the Cold War," he explains, "[but] it did not mean to defeat itself.