NATO chief seeks NATO-Russia Council meeting in January

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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (pictured December 10, 2021) has on several occasions offered to resume dialogue with Moscow through the NATO-Russia Council (AFP/JOHN THYS)
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  • Jens Stoltenberg
    Jens Stoltenberg
    Secretary-General of NATO

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has sought a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council next month and contacted Moscow to secure its attendance, an alliance spokesman said Sunday.

Stoltenberg has on several occasions in recent months offered to resume dialogue with Moscow through this body, set up in 2002 but currently inactive because of the conflict in Ukraine.

But the Russian authorities have not responded favourably.

"We are in touch with Russia" about the January 12 meeting, said the NATO spokesman, who asked not be identified.

NATO has consistently denounced Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and has called on Moscow to respect its neighbour's territorial sovereignty.

The West has long accused the Kremlin of providing direct military support to pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine, who seized two regions shortly after Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014.

Russia denies the claims and Putin has suggested that the conflict, which has claimed over 13,000 lives, is genocidal.

The Kremlin has grown increasingly insistent that the West and NATO are encroaching dangerously close to Russia's borders.

Earlier this month, Moscow presented the West with sweeping security demands, saying NATO must not admit new members and seeking to bar the United States from establishing new bases in former Soviet republics.

The January 12 meeting is the first proposed by Stoltenberg since Moscow made its demands.

A two-day meeting of the military chiefs of NATO's 30 member states is scheduled to start the same day in Brussels.

On Thursday, Stoltenberg reaffirmed his support for Ukraine against the military build-up across the border in Russia and the Kremlin's increasingly aggressive rhetoric.

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