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Russian - NATO Council to have its first ambassadorial meeting in 2016 in Brussels

March 30, 5:12 UTC+3 BRUSSELS

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov told TASS earlier that the Russian side plans to raise the issue of the alliance’s military presence near Russia’s borders

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BRUSSELS, March 30. /TASS/. This year’s first ambassadorial meeting of the Russia-NATO Council will be held in Brussels on Thursday, a day before a meeting of the NATO foreign ministers.

The agenda of the Russia-NATO Council meeting remains basically the same, with the sides planning to discuss the security situation in Afghanistan, the crisis in Ukraine and issues of reducing military risks in Europe.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov told TASS earlier that the Russian side plans to raise the issue of the alliance’s military presence near Russia’s borders. "For our part, we will discuss NATO’s military buildup along our borders," Meshkov said.

According to Russia’s Permanent Representative to NATO Alexander Grushko, the Russia-NATO Council is gradually resuming its routine operation. "Flexible format of the meeting will make it possible for the Russia-NATO Council to look at issues of regional security and certain aspects of military activities of mutual interest," he said.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow is not going to indulge in any games of making a battlefield of the Russia-NATO Council. "However, if our counterparts in the alliance tell us every time, ‘Yes, we will gather in the NATO-Russia Council, but we will only discuss Ukraine,’ that will be a continuation of this paranoid aggressive policy. NATO has nothing to do with efforts on the Ukrainian settlement," Lavrov said. "If the essence of these ideas is using the NATO-Russia Council for another confrontation, we do not want to indulge in such games," the Russian minister emphasized.

The Russia-NATO Council met three times in 2016. However before 2014 and the Ukrainian crisis that practically paralyzed the work of this structure, the Russian-NATO Council met at the ambassadorial level several times a month. After Crimea’s reunification with Russia in the spring of 2014, NATO froze all practical cooperation with Russia but decided to continue to use the Russia-NATO Council as a channel for political dialogue.

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