Talking the Talk

NATO-Russia Council members agreed to keep talking during their first meeting in almost two years, but they agreed on little else. “NATO and Russia have profound and persistent disagreements,” the alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said afterward. “Today’s meeting did not change that.” Stoltenberg said the crisis in Ukraine, military transparency and risk reduction, and the security situation in Afghanistan, were discussed during the meeting, which went longer than planned. “I think we had a very frank, serious, and actually good meeting,” Stoltenberg told reporters during a briefing after the meeting, “not because we agreed, but because we were able to exchange views, to listen to each other, and thereby being able to contribute to a better ability to talk to each other, which I think is of particular importance when times are difficult, as they are now.” Stoltenberg said there was a useful discussion on the need for transparency, predictability, and open military-to-military communication. Last week’s incidents involving Russian aircraft in the Baltic, he said, highlighted the importance of keeping channels open. Stoltenberg said “profound disagreements related to the crisis in Ukraine,” remained, but all 29 council nations agreed on the “importance of full and rapid implementation of the Minsk Agreements,” including its ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons, and international monitoring provisions. (See also: The NATO Trip-Wire.)