In a recent interview with Russian media in India, the Dalai Lama voiced a radical proposal to reduce tensions between NATO and Russia.
“I have mentioned before an idea that may be an empty dream, but if NATO were to shift its headquarters to Moscow it might allay whatever misapprehensions Russians may feel,” the Dalai Lama said in an interview with the Kommersant newspaper.
The Dalai Lama’s comments come as NATO is bolstering deployments to the Baltic States and Poland ahead of Russian military exercises in Belarus in September.
Aware that his controversial suggestion might not be well received in Washington, the Dalai Lama said: “I'm afraid now that after such a suggestion, I won’t be allowed to go to America!”
The Buddhist spiritual leader is a contentious figure in Russia. He last visited in 2004, and authorities in Moscow have repeatedly denied him permission to return ever since. China has publicly thanked the Kremlin on each occasion it bars the Dalai Lama.
In an outspoken interview in 2014, the Dalai Lama criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for being self-centered. "His attitude is: I, I, I. This is the root of the problem,” he told a German newspaper.
This time, he told Kommersant he saw positive changes. “I look at Russia and I see protests against corruption and so on. In Stalinist times that was impossible,” he said. “Perhaps not as quickly as we would want, but change is happening.”
“I believe in a big future for Russia,” he added. “Russia could become a real bridge between East and West.”
The Dalai Lama was in New Delhi for the first ever conference of Russian and Buddhist scholars.