The Russia-NATO Council session has yielded a few surprises, including the two sides’ positions and the side discussions. The extraordinary Russia-NATO session occurred on the alliance’s initiative. It was motivated by NATO countries experiencing problems in receiving information from Russia on threats to security in Europe. NATO was equally concerned by the unexpected retaliatory Russian actions to strengthen their Western frontiers and the recent incidents in the international air space and waters.
This was the first Russia-NATO Council session in nearly two years. The most recent one was held on June 2, 2014, during which the parties confirmed their divergence on the Ukraine crisis, and Russia noted NATO’s unprecedented activity near its borders.
SouthFront sources report that NATO representatives wanted to use the renewed Russia-NATO Council meetings to exert pressure on Russia’s foreign policy decisionmakers. But they encountered Russia’s fundamentally different approach to the dealings with NATO, deviating from the “cooperative” approach that existed earlier.
“Russia demonstrated cool reserve during discussions,” one source told SouthFront. “As a result, NATO’s style in the course of the meeting has changed from didactic to pleading.”
With that in mind, the first official comments on the session’s outcome are extremely interesting. “We have held a serious and sincere discussion. NATO allies and Russia have very different views, but we listened to what each of us wanted to say,” Stoltenberg told journalists after the meeting. Russia’s Permament Representative to NATO in Brussels Aleksandr Grushko announced that “Russia and NATO do not have a positive agenda, another Council meeting can occur only if the parties are genuinely interested.” Grushko added that a Russia-NATO dialogue is impossible until the alliance reduces its military activities near Russia’s borders. According to Grushko, Russia is not inconvenienced by the absence of cooperation with NATO.
Therefore the Russian diplomat said that the parties, or at least one party, did not demonstrate genuine interest during the meeting. The uninterested party is Russia, given the continued aggressive NATO rhetoric and behavior.
NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg expects another Council meeting to take place, but no date has been fixed.
Russia is demonstrating its lack of interest in pointless contacts with NATO. This fact is causing considerable worry on the part of Western and Southern European NATO members. Since it is their security situation which is rapidly worsening due to the growing terrorist threat, not Russia’s, it is the European NATO members who are interested in establishing a partnership with Russia.