First after Crimea: what to expect from resume–Russia Council NATO

The NATO flag

Question about maneuvers

NATO and Russia on Wednesday, 20 April, for the first time since the summer of 2014 will hold consultations at the ambassadorial level, on the Moscow talks will be Alexander Grushko. In the agenda of the forthcoming session is the implementation of the Minsk agreements in Ukraine, the military activity of the Alliance, the situation in Afghanistan, fight against terrorism, said Grushko in early April. According to him, Russia “concerned about military planning of the Alliance, built on the postulate of the necessity of containment of Russia, which significantly worsens the situation in the field of security and contrary to the obligations of military restraint enshrined in the Founding act Russia — NATO”.

As reported by two senior official from the Foreign Ministry, the initiative to hold the meeting belongs to NATO. About the need to resume political dialogue in December last year announced the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “Since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, NATO decided to suspend practical cooperation with Russia, but we also agreed to maintain political dialogue with Russia, — he said then. — The Council Russia — NATO is part of the political dialogue that was never interrupted” (quoted by TASS). On the resumption of contacts military-political bloc went rather forced — the destruction of the Turkish air force Russian su-24 in the skies over Syria in November of that year showed that unpredictability in the relations between Moscow and the Alliance has reached its maximum. In early April, the parties finally agreed on the parameters of the meeting.

In a press release of NATO stressed that in the consultations will discuss “the crisis in Ukraine and around it” and the need to fully respect the Minsk agreements. “We will discuss military activity, with particular emphasis on transparency and risk reduction. We also refer to the security situation in Afghanistan, including the regional terrorist threat”, — stated in the message.

The interlocutors of RBC say that initially the Alliance would like to dedicate to meeting a narrow range of issues, mainly related to Ukraine. Russia insisted on discussing the broader set of topics. Moscow wants a serious discussion on Afghanistan, as the country actually “is on the verge of collapse,” said one of the interlocutors RBC. NATO officials agreed to include Afghan themed and not to discuss the question of implementation of provisions of the Minsk peace agreements signed in February 2015, says another source.

Currently positive agenda in relations between Russia and NATO is not, as there is no single project that connected the two of them, discussed only the issues of minimizing the damage, said a source in the Foreign Ministry.

Given the fact that NATO wants to discuss confidence building measures, mutual monitoring and prevention of dangerous military activities, it is possible that the entire meeting will be devoted to discussion of the incident with the American destroyer “Donald cook” in the Baltic sea last week. According to the Pentagon, the Russian frontline su-24 bombers without armament and combat helicopter repeatedly “very close” flew to the American ship. The Russian defense Ministry called this “fly by the Russian planes of the USS” “is quite common for a long history of interaction between Russian and American fleets”. The West used the incident to “continue Russophobic hysteria in Europe”, said the official representative of the military Department major General Igor Konashenkov.

At session of Council Russia — the NATO Alliance will raise the issue of provocative maneuvers of the Russian military confirmed on Tuesday the Secretary General Stoltenberg.

“Long time no see”

In that dialogue freezes, it is not surprising, says RBC Director of the Institute of strategic evaluations and Deputy Chairman of the Association “Russia — USA” Sergey Oznobishchev: freezing contacts the parties Express their attitude to the policies of each other. So the West responded to the annexation of Crimea and Russia’s intervention in the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine, now, the expert thinks, should move to normal operation.

However the breakthrough from the meeting on Wednesday Grushko doesn’t wait: “We look forward to a serious conversation, including on the root causes of the crisis in relations Russia — the NATO, but also the root causes of the crisis that led to the deterioration of regional and European security”. “No return to business as usual with NATO, while the Alliance will review the policy of containment of Russia and will not cease to inflate a myth of military threat from Russia”, — he stressed.

The parties have not talked about the fact that the consultations of the Council Russia — NATO at the level of ambassadors will be held again regularly.

Strategic issues are raised at the meeting on Wednesday — “the ambassadors have not seen, they have to exchange large amount of information,” said Oznobishchev. Russia has a “clear expression” to propose a plan for a new European security architecture, he says, but so far from Moscow or its partners in the West such proposals is not received.

It could be, for example, about recycling founding act Russia — NATO twentieth anniversary which will be celebrated in 2017, says leading researcher of the Institute of international security problems Russian Academy of Sciences Alexei Fenenko. In exchange for Moscow’s consent to the expansion of the Alliance to the East were given assurance that the new member States will not host nuclear weapons and large military contingents.

According to Fenenko, Moscow arranged to guarantee the neutral status of the four countries — Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Finland, but so far no agreement of the West with this.

The founding act will not be revised, I’m sure the Oznobishchev: “Agreed understanding, a supplementary agreement to the act, but no new agreement is a lot of work that goes into that period or after world shocks, but not in a cooling period”.