NATO says Russia not discussing military activity

12th December 2014, Comments 0 comments

NATO said Friday that Russia showed no interest in talking about its increased military activity, adding there had been no contact between their armed forces since May amid the Ukraine crisis.

The US-led alliance has reported an upsurge in Russian military flights, especially near its Baltic state members, but also further afield around Norway, Britain and far south into the Atlantic.

"It takes two to have a dialogue and until now, Russia has not demonstrated any interest in genuine dialogue," NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu told AFP.

"Nor has it returned to compliance with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities. So I would refer you to the Russian authorities for any further questions."

She recalled that NATO foreign ministers had agreed at a meeting in Brussels earlier this month that regular communications between NATO and the Russian military were needed "to avoid any incidents", and for NATO to "keep channels of military communications open."

In response to Russia's intervention in Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea in March, NATO suspended all cooperation with Moscow but said diplomatic channels would remain open.

Another NATO spokesman, Dan Termansen, separately confirmed the long gap in talks with the Russian military.

"There has been no conversation between the NATO military authorities and the Russian Chief of Defence Staff since May, but the lines of communications are open," Termansen said.

NATO's comments came a day after Poland's defence minister said he was concerned by the "unprecedented" increase in Russia's military activity over the Baltic Sea.

Estonia's defence minister also said on Friday that a Russian plane had violated its airspace over the weekend.

Alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg has said there have been around 400 intercepts of Russian military flights near its member countries this year, 50 percent more than last year.

The alliance has repeatedly complained that Russian aircraft do not communicate their positions or provide flight plans, putting other air traffic at risk.

Early last year, NATO and Russia's top brass launched a 'hot-line' aimed at enhancing cooperation and said generals would stay in touch on a regular basis.

Russian intervention in Ukraine has sparked the worst crisis with the West since the end of the Cold War, and fears in eastern Europe about the Kremlin's territorial ambitions.

In response, NATO has boosted its military readiness, seeking especially to reassure its eastern allies that it will stand by them in face of a more assertive Russia.

Russia in turn has increased its military activity, launching high-profile aircraft sorties to test NATO's defences and deploying naval units far from home seas.


© 2014 AFP

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