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BRUSSELS, January 22. /ITAR-TASS/. A high-ranking NATO military official said on Wednesday that the Western military alliance looks for a constructive partnership with Russia this year.
Addressing the 170th NATO Chiefs of Defense two-day meeting, which opened in Brussels on Wednesday, Chairman of the Military Committee General Knud Bartels said the Chief of the Russian General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov, will attend the meeting later in the day within the format of Russia-NATO Council.
“In this meeting we will continue our constructive dialogue on Partnership activities that promote trust and mutual understanding,” the alliance’s official website quoted Bartels as saying to senior military officials of 28 NATO member states.
“We will therefore seek agreement on a Work Plan for cooperation in 2014 and consider some practical examples of cooperation between NATO and Russia through the Cooperative Airspace Initiative and the implementation of the Afghanistan Helicopter Trust Fund,” Bartels added.
Practical examples of cooperation
The Cooperative Airspace Initiative (CAI) was launched in 2002 as a result of the first Russia-NATO Council meeting in Italy’s Rome that year. The aim of the initiative was to establish cooperation on airspace surveillance and air traffic coordination against terrorist attacks using civilian aircraft. It was put into operation in December of 2011 after successful testing and live exercise codenamed ‘Vigilant Skies 2011’ earlier that year.
The Afghanistan Helicopter Trust Fund, is the project aimed to assist the Afghan Air Force in developing the capabilities needed to independently run and maintain the fleet of its helicopters, including provision of spare parts and technical training.
Dispute over missile defense
Although Russia and NATO cooperate in many areas, both sides have been in a long dispute over US missile shield plans in Europe, which the United States said was aimed to defend its allies from possible missile threats emerging from Iran and North Korea.
Russia viewed the deployment of the missile shield near its borders as a threat to its national security and in 2011 then-President Dmitry Medvedev announced a set of measures to counter the US-proposed missile defense system in Europe. The measures particularly included the construction of new air-defense radar systems and deployment of Iskander missiles in Russia’s Kaliningrad Region, which borders on Europe.