WASHINGTON, September 5, 2014 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Putin deserves credit for revitalizing the NATO alliance, though it appears the alliance has been outmaneuvered by the Russian government, R. Nicholas Burns, former Under Secretary of State and US Ambassador to NATO, said Friday.
“I get the sense... that this alliance has been revitalized. Putin maybe all but deserves some credit for that. Putin’s actions have revitalized NATO, especially the European members,” Burns said during a conference call hosted by the Atlantic Council.
According to Burns, Putin appears to have outmaneuvered the allies, who he says lost the opportunity to increase sanctions on Russia “when all the world was watching,” and answer what he saw as the central question of the summit, the Ukrainian issue.
“I’m sorry to say that I think Putin has outmaneuvered NATO on this question,” the former US envoy to NATO said.
Referring to the disagreement on sanctions, and particularly France’s decision not to suspend the sale of the second Mistral ship, Burns continued, “This does not speak of a strong, united, forceful alliance. It speaks to an alliance that has been intimidated, in a way, by the Russian government.”
“I believe this Ukraine issue will continue to bedevil the alliance,” concluded Burnes, who served in the Clinton administration and was George W. Bush's permanent ambassador to NATO and later his Undersecretary of State.
The summit in Wales concluded Friday afternoon with NATO members making strong statements about plans to improve military readiness, responsiveness, and commitments to Article 5 collective defense principles. There was also a decision for members to extend a 15 million euro fund to Ukraine for economic and military support. Allies were not able to agree on how to approach Russia in the coming period, though it was agreed that further sanctions against Russia would be underway some time in the future.