‘From predictable position of force?’ NATO’s chief tells Russia’s FM there’s ‘room for dialogue’

The NATO chief says the alliance is ready to reestablish political dialogue with Moscow from a “predictable position,” which the Russian FM, during their meeting in Germany, quickly deciphered as a “position of force” for those unfamiliar with diplomatic parlance.

“I’m glad that NATO is still interested in talking to us... and look forward to discussing some practical things,” the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the start of the meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

In a brief courtesy exchange that followed, NATO’s chief noted that the alliance “strongly favors” a dialogue with Russia, to which Lavrov replied slightly laughing: “I know, I know, from the position of force.”

“From a predictable and a… predictable position,” a seemingly confused Stoltenberg insisted, also with a smile, before the meeting between the Russian and the NATO delegations got under way behind closed doors.

Following the talks, Stoltenberg was quick to point out to reporters that the decision to unilaterally suspend cooperation with Russia in April 2014 “still stands.”

“But we have underlined that the suspension of practical cooperation does not mean that we suspend political dialogue,” Stoltenberg noted, according to TASS, adding that “it’s useful to have dialogue also on issues where we have different views, like for instance Ukraine.”

The head of NATO said they discussed a wide range of issues, including Libya and Syria.

“So there is room for dialogue and for engagement with Russia even though we continue to suspend our practical cooperation,” he said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said after the meeting that the parties had discussed the “current state and prospects of relations between Russia and NATO,” touching on a number of issues on the “international and European agenda.” 

Relations between Russia and NATO ceased after Crimea voted to join Russia following a government coup in Ukraine in 2014.

Moscow has long been accusing NATO of threatening its borders with crawling expansion and a significant air and military buildup. NATO religiously says its a proportional counter measure to so-called ‘Russian aggression.’