BRUSSELS, February 16. /TASS/. Russia believes dialogue with NATO is useful but will lose any interest in it if it yields no results, Russia’s Permanent Representative to NATO Alexander Grushko said on Thursday.
"In general, NATO believes that it is necessary to maintain dialogue. I think it stems from the fact that they have realized the danger of having no communications channels with us," he said after a meeting of NATO’s defense ministers. "It is fraught with risks when two biggest factors determining the security situation in Europe have no contacts. After a two-year break in the work of the Russia-NATO Council that was initiated by the alliance, the practice of Russian-NATO Council meetings has resumed and last year we had three such meetings in the second half of the year."
"We have not yet begun to prepare a Russia-NATO Council meeting. I think it will be held in a foreseeable perspective," the Russian diplomat said. "It is obvious for us that dialogue is really useful. But if it yields no points of contact, no impetus for the resumption of cooperation, interest to such dialogue might vanish in the long run."
"Now, dialogue is yielding certain results. Thus, we have managed to reach progress on certain problems at the confluence of commercial and military flights. You know that Russia supported the initiative of Finnish President [Sauli] Niinisto that all flights by warplanes be performed with transponders on. I don’t rule out that there will be other areas where we can make progress in reducing the risks of unintentional dangerous military incidents," Grushko said, adding that other possible points of contact may include cooperation on normalization of the situation in Syria.
According to the Russian NATO ambassador, Russia has been standing for resumption of military contacts whereas NATO has been dodging it. "It is not quite clear why as representatives of the alliance speak about the necessity of addressing matters of preventing such incidents. But it is impossible to do without regular contacts between the military," he stressed, adding that Russia’s defense ministry officials a number of initiatives on the resumption of regular contacts between Russia and NATO.
The best guarantee of NATO countries’ security is healthy relations with Russia, Grushko reiterated.
NATO buildup and Russia's response
Russia is reinforcing its force in the south and in Crimea in response to NATO’s increased presence in that region, Russia’s permanent representative to NATO explained:
"We have already taken additional response steps to reinforce our groups in the south. We are rearming our group in Crimea. Naturally, we will take all necessary measures to duly ensure Russia’s interests in this region."
NATO’s expanded presence in the Black Sea is seen as another step towards whipping up tensions in this region that is vitally important for Russia:
"The decision to increase NATO’s naval presence in the Black Sea is, in any case, yet another step towards escalating tensions in the regions of vital importance for Russia".