MOSCOW, April 28. /TASS/. Moscow finds it hard to imagine preparations for a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council under current conditions, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said in an exclusive interview with TASS.
Grushko, Russia’s former Permanent Representative to NATO, commented on a recent statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in which he had said that NATO was working towards the next meeting of the Council.
"It is hard to imagine that a normal groundwork may be laid under the conditions that NATO creates for us," Grushko said.
"If NATO is really interested in easing tensions and creating new tools to prevent dangerous military activities and misunderstandings, it first and foremost needs to call for restoring normal military relations that should be maintained on a regular and systematic basis," the senior Russian diplomat stressed.
However, in Grushko’s words, NATO is not ready to do that. "Many in NATO believe that it is impossible to restore normal relations at the moment, while the Russia-NATO Council was set up not only for good but also for bad weather. Still, they say that improving relations would mark the return to ‘business as usual’ with Russia," the deputy foreign minister noted.
On Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that the Alliance was making preparations for a new meeting of the NATO-Russia Council as it sought dialogue amid tense relations.
Grushko left Brussels in early 2018, but a new envoy has not been appointed yet. Diplomatic tensions between Moscow and NATO rose once again in late March, when the Alliance expelled seven diplomats from the Russian mission to NATO and denied accreditations to three others in solidarity with Great Britain in the Skripal case. In addition, the maximum number of Russian diplomats accredited to NATO was reduced from 30 to 20.