For Russia, NATO represents a major foreign policy challenge that contin¬ues to create friction within the European security architecture. Although many expected the end of the Cold War to usher in a new era of cooperation, Russia and NATO have continued to harbor mutual suspicions and old biases. This work primarily analyses former Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy against the backdrop of the evolution of Russia’s relations with NATO leading up to the founding of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC). When appro¬priate, NATO’s internal debate will be duly discussed. This work answers the following questions: how did Russia pursue its relations with NATO prior to the NRC’s launch? How, if at all, did Russia’s perception of NATO change during the first two years of Putin’s presidency? What did Russia expect from closer cooperation with NATO? And finally, why did Russia eventually embrace the NRC?