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NATO-Russia Council Met in Businesslike Atmosphere

Dec. 19, 2016 (EIRNS)—The NATO-Russia Council met behind closed doors in Brussels today, for only the third time this year, and while no breakthroughs were made—indeed, none were expected—the meeting appears to have been conducted in a very businesslike atmosphere. Yesterday, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute, while disparaging Russia as "disruptive," openly said on ABC TV, "I don’t believe that anyone in Russia today intends to attack NATO." This itself made headlines in Europe, as in TASS’s "U.S. Envoy Says Russia Has No Plans to Attack NATO."

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reported, in a statement afterwards, that the meeting discussed three topics: Ukraine, Afghanistan, and security in Europe. On Ukraine, Stoltenberg repeated the NATO line that the alliance doesn’t, and will never, recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and that Russia must comply with the Minsk agreements on settling the conflict in the Donbass region. In the context of European security, Stoltenberg reported that, as a result of discussions during the last NATO-Russia Council meeting, progress was made on the subject of air safety over the Baltic Sea and there will be an assessment of whether or not further work needs to be done in that area. Also discussed were the large-scale exercises in 2016, Russia’s Kavkaz 2016 exercise along with NATO’s Trident Juncture exercise.

"Today, Allies raised particular concern over the excessive use of snap exercises. These are destabilizing, and do not improve the overall climate of our relations,"

Stoltenberg said.

"Many around the table called for the members of the NATO-Russia Council to contribute at the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] to updating the Vienna Document on military exercises and activities."

On the Russian side, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov told TASS that Russia was satisfied with the results.

"The meeting was held in a business-life atmosphere," he said.

"The meeting was long and comprehensive," said Alexander Grushko, Russia’s ambassador to NATO, reported Sputnik News. "We discussed the most important factors that influence the military security in Europe." According to Grushko, Russia expressed concern over deterrent policies against Russia conducted by the Alliance, and insisted that the strengthening of trust-building mechanisms between Russia and NATO was impossible while the Alliance implemented confrontational security schemes.

"We stressed that cessation of NATO’s military activity near Russian borders and return of the situation to the status as of 2013 year-end will be the contribution into support of European security,"

Grushko said.

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