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1 Aug, 2016 12:21

Russia ready for constructive partnership with NATO, invites military experts for talks - MoD

Russia ready for constructive partnership with NATO, invites military experts for talks - MoD

Russia has proposed to NATO a "positive program" for developing relations, aimed at decreasing tensions between Moscow and the US-led military bloc, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said.

“NATO’s military experts have been invited to Moscow in September for consultations concerning military and political situation in Europe,” Antonov said in a statement to the media.

Russia is ready for a constructive dialogue with NATO despite differences in approach to the reasons and consequences of the decisions made at the bloc’s summit in Warsaw in July, Antonov stressed.

During the gathering in the Polish capital, NATO member states labeled Moscow “a source of instability” and ordered an increased military presence near Russian borders.

The decisions made at the summit have been thoroughly analyzed by Russian experts, Antonov said.

One of the issues to be discussed in September is military flights over the Baltic Sea.

According to Antonov, Russia is “considering the option of performing military flights over the Baltic only with ID transponders on,” but only if NATO does the same.

NATO’s military attaches have been informed of Moscow's offer to review the earlier existing military programs in the format of Russia-NATO Council, Antonov said.

He noted that the renewal of the Cooperative Airspace initiative between NATO and Russia would be especially useful in the current situation.

Antonov said NATO states' military attaches will also be invited as observers to Russian Army’s Kavkaz-2016 drills, which are planned for September.

“Russia’s Defense Ministry proposed to start exchanging assessments at a military level regarding the terrorist threat, primarily to counter the spread of IS [Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL] and other terrorist organizations,” he said.

“Russia is also ready for cooperation to avoid incidents at sea and in the air, based on bilateral agreements and consultations with the defense ministries of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Sweden and Finland to address mutual concerns over military activities in the border areas,” Antonov said.

One of the key results of the NATO Summit in Warsaw was the long-debated deployment of four additional NATO battalions to the Baltic States. The bloc said that the deployment is necessary to prevent a possible attack from Russia and reassure Eastern European nations that other members are committed to defending them.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also announced the bloc’s ballistic missile defense system in Europe is now operational.

Russia believes that NATO’s new troop deployments as well as an increased number of military trainings near Russian territory, the creation of anti-ballistic missile sites in Europe and other moves are a threat to Russia’s national security.

Relations between Moscow and NATO soured sharply after Russia's reunion with Crimea and the beginning of the military conflict in Ukraine in 2014.