NATO General Secretary Calls for ‘Political Dialogue’ in Response to Russia’s Simulated Attack on US Ship
A NATO official’s answer to Russia’s recent harassment of U.S. ships and aircraft is more “political dialogue,” according to statements just one day before NATO and Russia are set to meet for the first time in two years.
Representatives from NATO and Russia will meet in Brussels tomorrow for the first NATO-Russia Council since relations were cut in response to Russia’s provocations in Ukraine and Crimea. NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday the council plans to discuss “the crisis in and around Ukraine, military activity, transparency, risk reductions and Afghanistan.”
“I would like to underline that the fact that we are now convening a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) does not mean that we are back to business as normal,” said Stoltenberg. He noted that despite the cessation, high-level communications with Russia had not ceased and that maintaining dialogue is an important step toward ensuring the security of the alliance.
“When the tensions are high, I think the need for … for political dialogue, for predictability, for transparency is even more important,” said Stoltenberg.
Stoltenberg also addressed the recent Russian provocations in the Baltic sea. He said the Russian buzzing of the USS Donald Cook last Monday was “unprofessional and unsafe,” and underlined the need to maintain lines of communication with Russia.
The NRC was established in 2002 as a forum for NATO members and Russia to cooperate, communicate and engage in “joint decision and joint action.” It replaced the Permanent Joint Council which was set up in 1997, however, the substantive changes made are largely symbolic.
Continuing his back-and-forth rhetoric, Stoltenberg addressed the strengthening of collective defense and the recent bolstering of NATO’s eastern flank as a “proportionate” response to Russian aggression. On the other hand, he was quick to note that NATO does not want to see a renewed arms race with Russia.
Russian Maj. General Igor Konashenkov disregarded critics of Russia’s maneuver last week, saying the Russian aircraft “fully observed all safety measures.”
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