Thursday

19th Jul 2018

Nato and Russia trade accusations

  • USS Donald Cook: US said it would have been within its rights to shoot down the Russian jets (Photo: navy.mil)

Renewed Nato-Russia talks ended in “profound disagreement” on Wednesday (20 April) over Ukraine and over Russia’s harassment of Nato assets.

“Nato and Russia have profound and persistent disagreements. Today’s meeting did not change that,” the Nato head, Jens Stoltenberg, told press in Brussels after a meeting of the Nato-Russia Council.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

  • Stoltenberg with media in Brussels on Wednesday (Photo: nato.int)

“We disagree on the facts, on the narrative and the responsibilities in and around Ukraine,” he added.

“Russia tries to portray this as a civil war. This is Russia destabilising eastern Ukraine, providing support for the separatists, munitions, funding, equipment and also command and control.”

The council, which brings together Nato states’ ambassadors with Russia’s envoy to the alliance, also discussed military manoeuvres and Afghanistan.

The talks came after unarmed Russian jets, last week, simulated attacks on a US warship, the USS Donald Cook, over a three-day period in international waters in the Baltic Sea.

The incident was one in a series of similar Russian actions over the past 18 months.

The harassment campaign comes amid an increase in snap drills in Russia’s Western Military District - more than 800 in the past year alone.

Stoltenberg urged Russia to be more transparent on its exercises and to stop the Nato flybys to avoid an accidental exchange of fire.

He said that Russia’s actions and its “strong rhetoric” are a “dangerous combination.”

Russian rebuke

Leaving the council meeting, Russia’s envoy to Nato, Alexander Grushko, complained about Nato military instructors in Ukraine.

“If Nato wants to contribute to the resolution [of the crisis] … this military activity must end,” he said.

He said Russia took action against the USS Donald Cook because its position near the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad amounted to “military pressure.”

He said “serious people understand that we will take all the necessary precautions which should compensate for the attempt to use military force.”

Grushko also said that Nato and Russia had a “very good common understanding” on the need to support Afghanistan’s security forces and its economy.

He said they agreed on the “increasing danger of Daesh infiltration,” referring to Islamic State, the Syria-based jihadist group.

Sanctions

The last time the Nato-Russia Council met was in June 2014, shortly after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its intervention in east Ukraine.

Nato curtailed practical cooperation amid broader EU and US sanctions. The EU’s economic sanctions on Russia are to expire in July unless they are renewed by consensus.

Stoltenberg said on Wednesday the Nato-Russia Council meeting “does not mean that we are back to business as usual.”

“There can be no return to practical cooperation until Russia returns to the respect of international law. But we will keep channels of communication open,” he said.

He said the recent flare up in ceasefire violations in east Ukraine were “disturbing.” He also said that it was Russia’s “special responsibility” to prevent escalation.

Nato states will at a summit in Warsaw in July detail plans to deploy a Russia-deterrent force in the Baltic and Black Sea regions.

Time to talk

The Polish defence minister, Antoni Macierewicz, told the Rzeczpospolita daily on Wednesday: “So far, all Russian behaviour attests to systematic preparation for aggressive action.”

“It's time to talk about it openly.”

Speaking at the Globsec conference in Bratislava last weekend, the Czech defence minister and the Romanian foreign minister aired similar concerns.

“We can by no means rule out Russian intervention in some Nato or EU member states by employing some hybrid warfare techniques,” the Czech Republic's Martin Stropnicky said, referring to covert warfare using paramilitary forces and special forces without national insignia.

“Russia possesses the military intelligence and propaganda capabilities to destabilise our allies in the Baltic region,” he said.

Russia's EU neighbours boost arms spending

Fear of Russia saw easterly EU states post some of the sharpest increases in arms spending in the world last year, according to Swedish think tank Sipri.

EU and Japan wave light in Trump's 'darkness'

EU leaders and Japanese prime minister signed a series of agreements, including the EU's biggest trade deal ever, designed as an answer to the disruption of the world order by the US president.

Opinion

EU must create safe, legal pathways to Europe

As the rapporteur for the European Parliament on an EU regulation on resettlement, my colleagues and I have outlined an effective plan based on solidarity and humanitarian principles.

News in Brief

  1. Johnson slams 'dithering' May in resignation speech
  2. EU border guards to be sent to Macedonia
  3. Juncker investment plan exceeds target
  4. EU will reply 'tit for tat' to US trade measures
  5. EU Commission registers Brexit citizenship petition
  6. EU launches pre-accession probe for Albania and Macedonia
  7. Google faces multibillion euro EU fine for Android
  8. EU wants more guarantees from VW on Dieselgate fix

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us