In December 1994, NATO members will begin the process of debating possible criteria for new members from Central Europe. Alliance relations with Russia will be a central factor determining the outcome of the debate.
NATO's Partnership for Peace program seeks to encourage eligible states, above all the states of the former Warsaw Pact and the former Soviet Union, to build democracy and undertake greater responsibilities in international security. The program could open the door to, but does not promise, NATO membership. U.S. and NATO relations with Russia are likely to be the determining factor in deciding whether states move from Partnership to NATO membership.