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Stoltenberg on ‘essential’ dialog with Russia

“Dialogue can be difficult, but it is also essential and in times of raised tensions, such as now, it is particularly important to keep channels of communication open. At today’s meeting, we had a frank and useful discussion on three key issues: Ukraine, Afghanistan, and transparency and risk reduction. In the case of Ukraine, NATO Allies and Russia continue to have fundamental disagreements. The Crimean issue and the conflict in Eastern Ukraine remain clear points of contention, and heavy weapons have not been withdrawn from the conflict zone. The Minsk Agreements provide the best chance of a solution to the conflict, but they need to be implemented, and the work of the OSCE monitors need to be allowed to proceed unimpeded.”

“At today’s meeting, we also discussed the security situation in Afghanistan, which remains challenging. A stable Afghanistan is essential to regional security. NATO Allies and Russia share a common interest to support the National Unity government and to work towards a free, safe and democratic Afghanistan.”

“The third and final topic we discussed was transparency and risk reduction. At previous meetings of the NATO-Russia Council we have given reciprocal briefings on exercises and force posture. Such exchanges are important elements of our continuing dialogue. They help to limit the risk of misunderstanding, miscalculation and unintended escalation. This is why it was significant that at today’s meeting, we exchanged advance briefings on upcoming exercises. Russia briefed on the upcoming ZAPAD 2017 exercise, and NATO briefed on Exercise Trident Javelin 2017. I am encouraged by this progress.  It is a dialogue that can continue at future meetings of this Council.”

“At the same time, these voluntary exchanges do not substitute for the mandatory transparency required under the Vienna Document.”

“So, today’s meeting covered a range of different topics. Our discussion was frank and constructive. Allies and Russia may hold different views but we are committed to continuing our dialogue as part of our commitment to preserving peace and security.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg remaks following the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council

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