A week before the Brussels summit, NATO chief Stoltenberg is increasing the pressure on Russia. Moscow should reappear at the negotiating table after 19 months of radio silence.
In view of the ongoing tensions with Russia, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called on Moscow to hold a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council. “We invited the Russian government to a new meeting over a year ago, but there was no positive answer,” Stoltenberg told the “Welt”. The NATO-Russia Council has not met for 19 months. “The ball is now on Russia’s side.”
“We have a lot to discuss that is in the common interest of NATO and Russia,” emphasized the NATO chief. “I would like to invite Russia again to take part in a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council as soon as possible,” added Stoltenberg. “Relations between NATO and Russia have now reached a low point that we haven’t seen since the end of the Cold War. Dialogue is the best way to address tensions.” The NATO-Russia Council is the appropriate format for this, said Stoltenberg.
As concrete topics for possible discussions, he named the mutual exchange about military maneuvers “to prevent misunderstandings and possible escalation”. Another topic is “sufficient transparency” about the military activities of the other side in order to avoid unintentional accidents.
Stoltenberg meets US President Biden
The NATO-Russia Council has existed in its previous form since 2002. It serves as a permanent forum for consultation and is intended to enable improved cooperation between the Defense Alliance and Russia. Moscow has long been vehemently resisting NATO’s demand to speak about Ukraine in the body. Relations between Russia and Western states have been extremely tense since the annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014. Participants in the NATO-Russia Council can be the foreign and defense ministers, but also the ambassadors of the 30 member countries and Russia.
Stoltenberg meets with US President Joe Biden in the White House this Monday. Among other things, the meeting will be about the summit of the North Atlantic Alliance in Brussels in a week, which Biden will be attending during his first trip abroad as US President.
In recent years, NATO has relied on a mixture of increased deterrence and dialogue in order to induce Russia to change course politically. So far, however, this has not brought any tangible results.