NATO to seek ways to engage with Russia

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

Brussels, (Asian independent)┬áDespite Russia’s decision to suspend its mission to the NATO and to close the alliance’s offices in its capital city, the Organization’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that it will continue seeking ways to engage with Moscow.

Addressing a press conference ahead of a two-day meeting of NATO Defence Ministers, Stoltenberg said NATO regretted Russia’s decision “which does not promote dialogue and mutual understanding”, reports Xinhua news agency.

He added that NATO’s policy remained consistent, and it remained “open to dialogue, including through the NATO Russia Council”.

Earlier this month, NATO expelled eight Russian diplomats over allegations that they were conducting activities that were not in line with their accreditation.

Stoltenberg said the alliance regretted the fact that “the relationship between NATO and Russia is now at the lowest point since the end of the Cold War”.

“For us, that’s actually not an argument against dialogue, that’s an argument in favour of dialogue, because it is exactly when times are difficult, we have challenges and problems as we have now, that we need to sit down and talk.

“We will continue to work for dialogue because we believe that Russia, our biggest neighbour being there close to NATO; there’s no way that we cannot talk to them and therefore we continue to strive for a better relationship with Russia knowing that this is difficult,” he said.

On Monday, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow announced it had decided to suspend the operation of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO in retaliation for the alliance’s “unfriendly actions”.

The announcement said that Russia was also suspending the activities of the NATO Military Liaison Mission in Moscow and terminating the work of the NATO Information Office in the capital.

NATO announced the expulsion of eight members of the Russian mission in Brussels on October 6, calling them “undeclared Russian intelligence officers”.

Additionally, the number of Russian staff at the mission was reduced by half from 20 to 10.

Before that, the size of the Russian mission in Brussels was reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018.