Estonian formin: Difficult to see NATO-Russia ties resuming after Munich

Marina Kaljurand.

PHOTO: Mihkel Maripuu

Relations between NATO and Russia being restored at the level of ambassadors is difficult to imagine after the remarks delivered by Russian representatives at the Munich security conference last week, Estonian Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand said on Wednesday.

«After the Munich security conference I cannot see how communication between NATO and Russia at the level of ambassadors could be restored,» Kaljurand told a press conference.

«[Because] the West and Russia have very different positions. Russia said unambiguously that it will not start discussing Ukraine or Crimea with the West. Our position has always been that contacts with the other side are necessary, communication with the other side is necessary. But you always have to know what's on the table and what we wish to achieve. And also the topics that are important to us -- the European Union, the West -- must be on the table, which maybe aren't the most pleasant for the other side,» the Estonian minister said.

«After those speeches in Munich where it was effectively said by the Russian side that we have reached the phase of a Cold War, I simply cannot see how this kind of a dialogue could take place in the framework of the NATO-Russia Council,» Kaljurand said.

NATO made it clear at the end of January that it could resume communication with Russia to improve exchanges of military information and avoid misunderstandings. The plan received a welcome from Russia, whose representatives expressed hope that a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council could take place already in the near future.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg discused bilateral relations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Munich on Friday, but neither the time nor the agenda of the NATO-Russia meeting was announced after that meetings.

The NATO-Russia Council was established in 2002. The alliance decided to suspend its work in 2014 in connection with the Russian aggression against Ukraine.