It has happened at last, the much anticipated meeting between the NATO alliance and Russia following the NATO summit in Warsaw.
The last time the two sides met was back in April. Since then, a lot has happened. There have been a number of military incidents in the Baltic, Mediterranean, and Black seas. The U.S. and its NATO allies have been largely involved in a series of military exercises, including one in Ukraine, which Russia did not appreciate.
At the same time, NATO has been building up its defensive systems in Europe, specifically commissioning the development of two missile systems in Poland and Romania. All these actions and developments have met disapproval from Moscow.
Today, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed that the alliance has, once again, sat down with Russia.
“It was a useful meeting with frank and open discussions,” Stoltenberg remarked, adding that during the NATO-Russia Council, Russia was briefed on the important decisions made in Warsaw to enhance the security of the alliance. In turn, Russia also briefed NATO on its own activities.
At the same time, Russia put forward a proposal involving air safety over the Baltic Sea. To this, Stoltenberg said, “Allies will study this proposal carefully.”
It is believed that Russia is pushing for an original proposal from the Finnish President that would see all aircraft in the area utilizing transponders so that it can be readily identified.
At the same time, Stoltenberg remarked that Russia “signaled” it would want to work on risk reduction measures. One of the issues put forward is the call for greater transparency when it comes to Russian military activities.
The secretary general noted that military exercises were once used as a “disguise for aggressive actions” during the annexation of Crimea and this is something NATO would want to avoid from happening again.
According to the Pentagon, NATO has approved the deployment of a forward presence along Russia’s borders during the Warsaw summit. Because of this, four multinational battalions from the U.S., U.K., Germany and Canada will be deploying their troops to the region. In response to this, Russian news agency TASS reports that Russia’s Permanent Representative to NATO Alexander Grushko considers this plan to be confrontational.
“The danger consists in the fact that today NATO is building its policy of confrontation on a mythical threat from Russia and military preparations near our borders,” Grushko said.