Russia and NATO abandon their previous relations
The first meeting of the NATO-Russia Council since 2014 was held in Brussels today. The situation in Ukraine, security issues and the situation in Afghanistan topped the agenda. In addition, the Council touched upon the recent incidents in the Baltic Sea, when a Russian jet made a low-altitude overflight of the USS Donald Cook.
Following the meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO and Russia have profound differences and today's meeting did not change that. He also noted that, despite the fact that there will be no return to the old relations with Moscow, Russia and NATO agreed to keep political channels open.
"The Political dialogue between the nations that share the same Euro-Atlantic space is both necessary and useful, especially in times of tensions as we experience now. However, this does not mean that we are back to business as usual," Stoltenberg said.
The Secretary General pointed out that the parties have "profound differences" and "very different views" on certain events. Thus, Moscow and NATO disagree on the situation in Ukraine and disagree on who bears responsibility for the ongoing crisis. The Secretary General said that Moscow is mistaken when tries to interpret the events as a civil war.
The representative of the German Foreign Ministry, Martin Schaefer, noted that the government and the German Foreign Ministry positively evaluated the very fact of such a meeting taking place. "If you’re asking me about concrete expectations, then Berlin is not expecting that after just one round of negotiations with Russia…all the issues will be swept aside, taken off the agenda or resolved,” he said.
According to Schaefer, the NATO-Russia Council cannot push Ukraine to fulfill its commitment to resolve the situation in Donbass, as it has no specific leverages to move forward the Minsk process, it all depends on Kiev and Moscow.
Yesterday the Foreign Minister of Russia Sergei Lavrov said that there will be no 'business as usual' at the meeting in Brussels.
A member of the European Research Centre of the International Relations Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Olenchenko, speaking with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, said that it is too early to talk about any benefits from the restoration of political contacts between Russia and NATO, since right now it looks like "an update of the image of normal relations". "We had good relations, we had an ongoing dialogue and adhere to the signed documents. Implementation of these documents is on hold today, and, thus, there is no dialogue," the politician said.
According to the expert, one of the important factors that contribute to the Alliance's interest in the restoration of contacts with Moscow is that they realize that "the policy of pressuring us proved futile and of no advantage to them.” "It is clear that we will not kneel before them. And now we are getting to the point when NATO may lose face," he added.
At the same time, the political analyst noted that, speaking of NATO, we should understand that it is not a homogenous structure. "There are many different points of view, but there are also people who are interested in a resumption of the dialogue. Let us not forget that the German Foreign Minister Steinmeier has been calling for a resumption of the dialogue for two years in a row," Vladimir Olenchenko concluded.
A military observer of the TASS news agency, retired Colonel Viktor Litovkin, in turn, believes that Russia cannot benefit from cooperating with NATO because of the diametrically opposite goals, as well as due to the structural characteristics of the Alliance.
"Our main task is to ensure that NATO moved away from our borders and stopped threatening our security. NATO has exactly the opposite goal, and, therefore, it's unlikely that we will be able to come to a comprehensive agreement. Moreover, we must understand that NATO is not an alliance of free and independent states and not a defensive alliance; it is an alliance of the US vassals. Therefore, it is necessary to talk with Washington, not NATO. Only then we will be able to achieve any results," he said.
At the same time, the expert pointed out, at present there are several factors that force NATO to cooperate with Russia. "First, after our operation in Syria, NATO could see that Russia is a powerful military power and it is necessary to cooperate with us. Second, NATO tries to present itself as being a peacekeeper, so they initiated a dialogue with Russia in the framework of the Russia-NATO Council," Litovkin noted.
"Of course, we cannot agree on anything with NATO, because our goals and objectives are diametrically opposite," the military analyst concluded.