NATO to seek new meeting with Russia "shortly after" Warsaw summit

NATO would like to hold a new round of talks with Russia in the wake of its summit in Warsaw this week, which is expected to ratchet up tensions with Moscow.

NATO ambassadors last met their Russian counterpart in April, after a hiatus of almost two years. The Western military alliance had been keen to hold another meeting before its summit on Friday and Saturday, but Russia turned down the offer.

"The NATO-Russia Council has an important role to play as a forum for dialogue and information exchange, to reduce tensions and increase predictability," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told journalists in Brussels on Monday.

"That is why we are talking with Russia to hold another meeting of the council shortly after the Warsaw summit," he added.

Stoltenberg said a "good dialogue" is under way with Moscow about the modalities, agenda and timing of the meeting.

Relations between NATO and Moscow have reached their worst point since the Cold War over Russia's actions in Ukraine. Both sides have been flexing their military muscles in Eastern Europe, accusing each other of sabre-rattling and provocations.

At the Warsaw summit, NATO leaders are expected to clear the way for four battalions of some 1,000 troops each to be deployed to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

Moscow is also likely to be irritated by progress made on NATO's missile defence system in Europe.

NATO would like the Warsaw summit to mark the next step in the development of the system, by declaring its initial operating capability, Stoltenberg said.

Moscow believes that the system, which has been years in the making, could be used to shoot down Russian missiles. NATO argues this is technically impossible. The United States, which has taken the lead in the project, says the system is actually meant to counter Iran.

"This is not directed against Russia," Stoltenberg said.

Last update: Mon, 04/07/2016 - 17:09

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