By a Newsnet reporter
The recent troubles in Ukraine and Crimea should not be a bar against Russian membership of NATO a Labour peer has said.
Controversial former NATO head Lord George Robertson has called for the country headed by Vladimir Putin to be admitted into the organisation saying it would reinforce the ‘liberal values’ of NATO.
Robertson, who recently claimed a Yes vote in the independence referendum would destabilise the west and have “cataclysmic” consequences made the comments in an interview to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
Lord Robertson said that he wished for a “bigger” organisation that was just as effective, while involving countries that at the moment do not want to be part of the transatlantic organisation.
The former NATO Secretary General said: “There’s no security in Europe, unless there’s an eventual perspective of an organisation that says: We stand for values, stand for liberal values, and that has to include Russia.
“Whether under the present or a future leadership, because the previous leadership, when Mr Putin was first president, believed in exactly that objective. And that’s what we’ve got to aim for.”
Robertson’s call for Russia to be invited to join the alliance, which he says has to grow bigger, is at odds with statements made by the Labour peer on the issue of Scottish independence.
In an article published in December 2013 for the anti-independence campaign Better Together, Robertson attacked the SNP plan for NATO membership.
He wrote: “I have expressed my doubts about whether Scotland could eject nuclear weapons one day and expect to be welcomed into a nuclear alliance the next.”
It followed similar comments in June that same year when the former Labour MP said: “Nothing is automatic in Nato. Existing members would be very worried about the idea that Trident would be expelled from Scotland with no visibility about where it would be relocated.
He added: “Nato would be very worried about accepting Scotland on the terms the SNP have laid down.”
Lord Robertson found himself at the centre of a row just over one week ago when, speaking at the Brookings Institute in America, the Labour peer told an audience that Scottish independence would lead to a breakdown of western civilisation.
The United Kingdom’s enemies would “cheer loudest” and “the forces of darkness would simply love it”, claimed Robertson before adding that “the dictators, the persecutors, the oppressors, the annexers, the aggressors and the adventurers around the planet” would see such a move as a victory.
His calls for Russia to be invited to join NATO whilst appearing to suggest his own country should be blocked will puzzle some observers given Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine and Scotland’s strategic location with regards the North Atlantic.
Yesterday it emerged that the US had threatened Russia with economic sanctions if it did not curb the actions of those who it claimed “were engaged in destabilising activities in eastern Ukraine.”
The call comes just as the US, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union finally reached an agreement on a number of immediate moves to stop Ukraine from tipping into immediate war.
NATO has announced increased activity along the Russian border to reassure Eastern European states and put pressure on Moscow.