The appointment of an experienced, professional diplomat as Russia’s new Envoy to NATO is widely seen as a sign that the relationship between the Alliance and its old foe Russia is entering a new stage of maturity. Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko, 56, will be appointed as the new Russian ambassador to NATO, Kommersant daily reported on Friday quoting sources in NATO headquarters and the Russian mission in Brussels.
“Russia has finally decided on the candidate and Grushko is coming,” it quoted an informed NATO official as saying. Grushko who is currently in charge of pan-European and Euro-Atlantic issues will replace Dmitry Rogozin who was appointed Russian deputy prime minister. “Grushko is a professional and has been dealing with NATO for long. There is nothing to be explained to him,” the NATO official said.
Kommersant said sources in the Russian foreign ministry confirmed Grushko’s appointment however Kremlin officials said a corresponding presidential decree has not been signed yet. The daily said other candidates for the post included first deputy Federation Council speaker Alexander Torshin, upper house international affairs committee chairman Mikhail Margelov and defense committee chairman Viktor Ozerov, as well as outgoing Moscow regional Governor and General Boris Gromov.
Kommersant said the first event for Grushko will be a ministerial meeting of the Russia-NATO Council on April 19. “Grushko will have to deal with Russia-NATO talks on missile defense which are in a deadlock,” it said.
Grushko has been working in the foreign ministry since 1977. In 1995-1996 he headed an office of the security and disarmament department and then chaired the Russian delegation on security and arms control in Vienna. In 2001 he was appointed deputy director and then director of the department of pan-European cooperation and in 2005 was promoted to deputy foreign minister.
Grushko’s appointment is likely to be welcomed in western capitals as a positive sign from the Russian leadership in the run up to some tough negotiations ahead on European security issues. NATO and Russia have failed to move forward with ideas on a new European Security architecture and there was fear that Russia might appoint some firebrand nationalist politician to represent it in NATO. Gushko’s appointment is a sign that Russia is ready for serious business.
source: LINKS analysis with Kommersant and Itar-Tass
Photo: Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko (archive photo courtesy of Itar-Tass)