The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Russia Council met for the first time on Wednesdays in Brussels. After the meeting was broken off in June 2014 after the Crimea crisis, both will now meet in order to discuss Ukraine, Afghanistan and how to avoid military accidents that might lead to war.
This meeting is trying to ease military tensions over the violence that’s being held in eastern Ukraine, although former Norwegian Prime Minister, and NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg admitted there was no major breakthrough. Stoltenberg said it was important that both sides keep communicating, in both military and political terms, saying that this is necessary for risk reduction. NATO also said they are not afraid of dialogue.
“We all agree that it is in all our interest to keep channels for political dialogue open. It is both necessary and useful, especially in times of tensions as we experience now,” the NATO chief said. “However, this does not mean that we are back to business as usual.”
The two sides agreed to keep communicating following the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, although the meeting did not do much to improve relations. Both NATO and Russia could become embroiled in more violence since Russia started an air bombing campaign in Syria, particularly after alliance member Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet on its border in November. Also, Russia blames NATO for increasing the risk of conflict by building up its troops in eastern European countries, many of which have been creating more Western support.
Tension still present between Russia and the U.S.
The tension also spread out in the past week after Russian warplanes passed near a U.S. guided missile destroyer in the Baltic Sea, and two days later, and U.S. air force plane was intercepted by a Russian fighter.
Russian officials accused the U.S. of intimidation by sailing close to its borders and said Moscow would respond with measures that they consider necessary, to any future incidents.
Also, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was NATO who had frozen the relations, adding that, in the meeting, Russia cannot act as if it was a normal situation. NATO accuses Moscow for backing the fighting in Ukraine, where more than 9,000 people have been killed in separatist fighting. Nonetheless, according to this organization, the meeting is a sign of willingness to improve relations.