MOSCOW, March 31. /TASS/. Russia is not refusing to work in the Russia-NATO Council and offers to restart military contacts, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a special session of the Middle East conference at the Valdai international discussion club on Wednesday.
"Our colleague Mr. [NATO Secretary General Jens] Stoltenberg states that Russia is refusing to work in the Russia-NATO Council. But we are not refusing to work, simply we do not want to sit there and hear about Ukraine," Russia’s top diplomat said.
"NATO has no relation to Ukraine and they always insist when they suggest holding the Russia-NATO Council that Ukraine should be the first issue. We sat and listened on a pair of occasions and we know all about that. That is why, we suggested restoring contacts between the militaries in order to save this comprehensive agreement on security that was concluded in Helsinki. They are refusing to do that," Lavrov pointed out.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is now confronted with military and political problems, the Russian foreign minister noted.
"And they [the problems] are now very acute in Europe, considering NATO’s expansion, considering the military infrastructure’s such consistent move to the Russian borders, considering the deployment of permanent military presence in the Baltic region and Norway under the guise of rotation, considering all this, our proposal is that the OSCE should finally realize its responsibility for the military and political situation in Europe to stimulate agreements between Russia and NATO," he added.
However, NATO member states "are flatly refusing even to discuss military confidence measures we have proposed, including the proposal to agree on the pull-out of drills from the contact line to an agreed distance, to agree on the maximum approach distance for aircraft and ships, they are simply refusing to discuss that," Russia’s top diplomat said.
As the NATO secretary general claimed at a press conference earlier, the North Atlantic alliance regrets that not a single meeting of the Russia-NATO Council has been held since the summer of 2019 because Moscow allegedly has not responded with its consent to the invitation to convene the Russia-NATO Council.