NATO, Russia to hold talks after troop decision flares tensions

NATO ambassadors were set to hold a new round of talks with their Russian counterpart Wednesday, as tensions continue to smoulder between the two powers in Eastern Europe.

NATO ambassadors are expected to inform Russia's NATO representative, Alexander Grushko, of the leaders' decisions to deploy four battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland next year.

Approval for the deployment was given at the summit in Warsaw last week.

Relations between NATO and Moscow reached their worst point since the Cold War following Russia's annexation of the Crimea peninsula and its support for separatists in the east of Ukraine.

Both sides have been flexing their military muscles since, accusing each other of sabre-rattling and provocations.

The talks will also focus on the Ukraine crisis and the security situation in Afghanistan, as well as transparency and risk reduction in military activities, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Sunday accused NATO of "demonization" and "concentrating its efforts on containing a non-existent threat from the east." The country has also stepped up the military presence on its western flank.

Despite the tensions, NATO has been keen to forge a dialogue with Russia to prevent tensions from boiling over into military incidents, such as the downing of a Russian jet by NATO member Turkey at the Syrian border last year.

NATO ambassadors last met their Russian colleague in April, after a hiatus of almost two years. Stoltenberg said at the time that "profound" disagreements remained.

Last update: Wed, 13/07/2016 - 11:18

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