July 20, 2016

Preliminary Results of the Russia-NATO Council

After the EU and NATO Summits in late June — early July, 2016, which made key decisions on the extension of sanctions against Russia, and strengthening NATO's military presence in the Central European and Baltic countries, the main factor to influence the situation around Ukraine, as well as the interests and security of our country is the prospects for the Moscow-West confrontation going onto a qualitatively new level.

Evidence of the reality of these prospects was the results of the Russia-NATO Council's meeting on 13 July, 2016, during which were discussed: the situation around Ukraine and in other zones of conflict; the results of the Warsaw Summit of the Alliance, as well as the topic of military activity in Europe and reducing security risks. Discussion of these questions showed the presence of deep disagreement between Russia and NATO on almost all issues.

Thus, on July 13, 2016, Brussels hosted the second in the past two years meeting of the Russia-NATO Council, which was made possible due to the NATO and the Russian Federation's readiness to resume dialogue in order to achieve strategic objectives. NATO's delegation informed Russia about the decisions made at the Warsaw Summit July 8-9, 2016 — to enhance the security of the member states.

At the same time, the attention of the participants of the meeting was first of all focused on discussing possible actions to stabilize the situation and cessation of hostilities in Ukraine. Disagreements between the parties regarding the true causes of the conflict in our country did not allow the parties to achieve convergence of positions and to create conditions for the implementation of the Minsk Agreements and for restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Seeking to retain influence over the countries of the former socialist camp, the Russian side attempted to use the Russia-NATO Council to impose on NATO its vision of strategic dialogue, which was interrupted due to the Russia's military aggression against Ukraine. At the same time, the meeting was used by Russia to try and persuade the Alliance to abandon activities in Eastern Europe.

In fact, at that meeting, the Russian delegation voiced the main demands of Russia to NATO, which are as follows: to halt the deployment of NATO military forces near the Russian border with further returning them to their places of permanent deployment (in the first place, MD systems), and to stop NATO's political and military assistance to Ukraine. Besides, the Russian side declared the inadmissibility of the presence of NATO forces in the Black Sea. According to the Permanent Representative of Russia to NATO O. Grushko, the Russian delegation at the meeting warned the Alliance about possible negative consequences of such activities.

With the aim of forcing NATO to accept Russia's conditions of development of relations, the Russian Federation, simultaneously with the preparation of the meeting, began demonstrating its military power and the ability to threaten the Alliance's forces in the European theater of operations. For example, July 12, 2016 six Tu-22M3 of the Russian Federation's VKS attacked targets of the “Islamic State” terrorist organization in Syria. Despite the officially voiced minor results of using bombers (they destroyed a camp of militants, three warehouses with weapons, three tanks, four armored vehicles), this fact, along with information about Moscow's intentions to deploy this year a Missile-Carrying Marine Aviation Regiment of long-range bombers Tu-22M3 at the airfield of Gvardeyskoye in the occupied Crimea (near Simferopol), in the opinion of the Russian side should help to deter NATO.

To put pressure on the North Atlantic Alliance, on 13-14 July, 2016 information events were also held to confirm Moscow's intention to develop its military capabilities. In particular, the Russian media have published information on plans to create (before 2020) an experimental sample of a new hypersonic strategic bomber for VKS of the Russian Federation, and on the beginning of work on creation of a new ballistic missile nuclear for a promising submarine of the fifth generation (project “Hasky”).

Despite the lack of practical results at the meeting of the Russia-NATO Council, the parties confirmed the importance of being responsible in ensuring predictability in relations between the parties. Taking this into consideration, the NATO delegation agreed to study Russia's proposals to ensure air safety in the Baltic Sea. In accordance with the statement of NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, the Alliance and Russia intend to continue to hold meetings of the Council, the format of which will be discussed separately.