BRUSSELS, February 15. /TASS/. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg plans to discuss the further activities of the NATO-Russia Council at a Munich meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as he himself said at a press conference on Thursday, following a NATO defense ministers meeting.
"I look forward to meeting Minister Lavrov in Munich. That’s part of our political dialogue with Russia," Stoltenberg said.
"We will discuss many different issues but I expect to also address how we can make sure that the NATO-Russia Council can continue to be a platform for dialogue between NATO and Russia," he noted, adding that "dialogue is always important, but dialogue is particularly important when tensions are high and relations are difficult as they are now."
"And I also welcome the fact that after two years with no meetings in the NATO-Russia Council from 2014 to 2016, we have been able to convene six meetings of NATO-Russia Council," the NATO secretary general said.
Earlier on Thursday, a NATO source said that the Alliance was ready to continue the activities of the Russia-NATO Council despite the fact that there is no Russia’s permanent representative in Brussels (on January 22, Russia’s President appointed the country’s Permanent Representative to NATO Alexander Grushko to be deputy foreign minister).
"We are committed to the idea of holding a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council," the NATO source said. "Russia will have to make a decision concerning the level of its participation. We had been discussing the upcoming meeting before Ambassador Grushko left. When Russia is ready and we are ready, we will hold this meeting. We are open to continue the work," the source pointed out.
"We are ready to talk with Russia at any level, including the charge d'affaires level," the source added.
Ambassadorial meetings of the Russia-NATO Council used to be held several times a month but after the Ukrainian crisis erupted, which led to the freezing of relations between Russia and NATO, their number reduced to three to four a year. Only three issues have been discussed at the Council’s recent meetings - the situation in Afghanistan, the transparency of military activities in Europe and the civil war in Ukraine.