NATO and Russia resume ambassador-level meetings after gap of nearly a year

Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at a meeting of the NATO Russia Council (NRC), December 8, 2011

From Adrian Croft, Reuters:  Envoys from the 28 alliance members held their first meeting with Alexander Grushko, a former deputy foreign minister who President Vladimir Putin appointed last month as Russia’s ambassador to NATO.

Russia had left the post vacant since Grushko’s predecessor, Dmitry Rogozin, was promoted to deputy prime minister at the end of 2011.

NATO ambassadors attempted to calm Russian fears over Ankara’s request for the alliance to station Patriot surfa ce-to-air missiles in Turkey to guard against any spillover from the Syrian civil war.

"Some of the countries that have shown their intention to deploy Patriots reassured Russia that this is defensive only and that it is aimed at the de-escalation of the crisis," a NATO diplomat said. . . .

The diplomat said Grushko "repeated the Russian position", which is that Moscow is concerned about the possible deployment of the missiles, fearing it will add to tensions in the border region. . . .

Although Russian officials have denied leaving the ambassador’s post vacant for so long as a protest against NATO policies in such areas as missile defence and Libya, the resumption of high-level contacts could point to an attempt by Moscow and NATO to forge a more constructive relationship.  (photo: NATO)

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