In Brussels in the headquarters of the NATO on Thursday, March 30, was held the first this year meeting of the Council Russia-NATO. It lasted longer than planned because of what the press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg started an hour late.
Before the meeting, Stoltenberg described the upcoming talks with Russian colleagues as “an important step towards greater predictability and transparency, which are now particularly necessary in the context of increased military activity along the borders”. Until 2014, meeting at the level of permanent representatives in NATO were held monthly. However, after the annexation of Crimea to Russia practical cooperation has been frozen. However, it was agreed to maintain political dialogue with Russia, reminded at a press conference on Thursday Secretary General Stoltenberg. The work of the Council Russia-NATO resumed in April 2016, last year it took three appointments. To resume meetings at the level of foreign Ministers is not planned, said Stoltenberg.
Following the meeting, Stoltenberg announced that they were constructive. The focus, he said, was given to the situation in the East of Ukraine, in particular to ensure respect for the ceasefire and the Minsk agreements. Also discussed the deteriorating security situation and rising terrorist threats in Afghanistan.
On Ukraine, NATO and Russia continue to maintain clear differences, said Stoltenberg. NATO countries at the meeting expressed concern about Russia’s recognition of the “identity cards issued by the separatists, the introduction of the ruble and also the takeover of companies”. On the decision of the Russian authorities on provisional recognition in Russia of the documents issued to citizens of Ukraine and persons without citizenship on the territory of certain districts in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions became known on February 18. This rule will be in effect until the resolution of the conflict in the regions of Ukraine. From March 1 to the enterprises of the Ukrainian jurisdiction in the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk national republics was introduced external control.
NATO has also noted an increase in cases of violations of the ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine. They “reached record levels, continuing intense military action and had not been a withdrawal of heavy weapons,” he was construal Stoltenberg. NATO’s Secretary General calls on all parties to adhere to and implement the Minsk agreement.
“All NATO members repeat and reiterate their full support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We do not recognize and will not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia”, — said Stoltenberg.
Also at the meeting discussed the increase in military activity, risk reduction and prevention of military incidents between Russia and NATO. In conversation, they also discussed the deployment by Russia of three new divisions in the West of the country, as well as the deployment of NATO members four battalions in the Baltic States and Poland. The decision to strengthen the Alliance’s Eastern flank was taken by NATO on 9 July last year at the Alliance’s summit in Warsaw. By June 2017 it is planned to place four multinational battalions in the Baltic States and Poland.
Stoltenberg also commented on the February decision of the NATO defence Ministers on strengthening the presence of the Alliance in the Black sea. “NATO does not want confrontation and the cold war with Russia and a new arms race in the black sea region, therefore, our actions are purely defensive in nature”, — said the NATO Secretary General.