NATO Says to Hold Meeting with Russia Soon

NATO Says to Hold Meeting with Russia Soon
Wed Jul 6, 2016 21:45:23

The secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) says the Western military alliance will hold fresh talks with Russia next week.

""We have decided together with Russia to hold a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council at ambassadorial level... on 13 July at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, shortly after the NATO summit in Warsaw" later this week, Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement on Wednesday."

Stoltenberg added that the council, which serves as a mechanism for consultation and cooperation between the two sides, "has an important role to play as a forum for dialogue and information exchange, to reduce tensions and to increase predictability."

He noted that NATO-Russia discussions will focus on “the crisis in and around Ukraine and the need to fully implement the Minsk (ceasefire agreements).”

The NATO member states and Russia met regularly until relations between Moscow and the military alliance plunged into a deep freeze following the start of Ukraine’s crisis in 2014.

In April, NATO and Russia held their first meeting since June 2014, with reports saying that it ended in “profound disagreements” on issues like Ukraine and accession of new states to the military alliance.

Jens Stoltenberg

Leaders of the 28-nation bloc will meet in Warsaw to finalize the biggest military buildup of the alliance since the Cold War. The bloc says the buildup will come in response to what it calls new security challenges driven by Russia's alleged intervention in Ukraine.

Ties between NATO and Russia have been tense for the past two years over the crisis in Ukraine, where the government and its Western allies keep accusing Moscow of having a hand in the militancy in the east while the Kremlin strongly rejects the claims.

In September 2014, the government in Kiev and the pro-Russians signed a ceasefire agreement in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk in a bid to halt the clashes in Ukraine’s eastern regions.

The warring sides also inked another truce deal, dubbed Minsk II, in February 2015 under the supervision of Russia, Germany and France.

Since then, however, both parties have on numerous occasions accused each other of breaking the ceasefire.

The Minsk agreements envisage an immediate and full bilateral ceasefire, the withdrawal of all heavy weapons, prisoner exchange, local elections in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, and constitutional reform in Ukraine.

Russia has also criticized NATO’s expansion policy to include countries in the Balkan region, saying the move directly harms Russia’s strategic interests in the Balkans.

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