NATO, Russian officials to hold first meeting since 2014 on 'annexation of Crimea' on April 20

GERMAN PRESS AGENCY - DPA
BRUSSELS
Published 12.04.2016 17:54

NATO ambassadors will meet their Russian counterpart on April 20, the military alliance said Tuesday, almost two years after such high-level talks were put on ice over Russia's annexation of Crimea.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had announced on Friday that the meeting would take place in the coming weeks, while warning that there would be "no return to business as usual until Russia again respects international law."

NATO suspended all practical cooperation with Moscow after the annexation of Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula.

Ambassadors and ministers from the two sides have not met in the NATO-Russia Council since June 2014, although there have been some other political and military contacts.

The meeting next week will focus in part on the crisis in and around Ukraine, including the need to fully implement the Minsk peace deal for eastern Ukraine, the alliance said Tuesday.

Other issues will relate to NATO and Russian military activities - with a view to increasing transparency and reducing the risk of possible incidents - and the security situation in Afghanistan.

A push for resuming high-level contacts with Moscow gained momentum last year after the downing of a Russian jet by NATO member Turkey. Many NATO countries were keen to avoid such incidents in the future.

But member states in eastern Europe, which are geographically closest to Russia and have felt threatened by its actions in Ukraine, have been wary of a return to business as usual with Moscow.

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