Russia sees NATO as partner despite differences - envoy  

13:33 | 08/ 05/ 2009


MOSCOW, May 8 (RIA Novosti) - Russia regards NATO as a partner despite
a series of disputes recently, the country's envoy to the military
bloc said on Friday.
"We do not think NATO has been lost to us as a partner," Ambassador
Dmitry Rogozin said via a video link from Brussels, adding that Russia
and NATO countries had to address common threats, and disregarding
cooperation would be unwise.
Relations only recently recovering from Russia's war with Georgia last
summer were hit again last week with the expulsion of two Russian NATO
diplomats from Brussels. Russia responded by evicting two NATO
officials from Moscow, and the foreign minister withdrew from a
NATO-Russia Council session due later this month.
Moscow has also blasted the current NATO-led exercise in ex-Soviet
Georgia as a show of support for the Caucasus state. President Dmitry
Medvedev called the drills "an open provocation" in the light of the
five-day war last August when Russia repelled Tbilisi's offensive on
South Ossetia.
Rogozin said Russia had not suspended consultations with the alliance,
and diplomats were continuing preparations for a Russia-NATO Council
session that could be held later this month at the level of envoys. He
said the date was under discussion.
The statement echoes Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's remarks in
Washington on Thursday that he hoped cooperation within the council
would resume soon.
Rogozin said the alliance should have delayed the drill in
Georgia. "If the plans are not subject to changes no matter what has
happened in Georgia - a war, a typhoon, or a meteorite falling - it
reveals the lack of flexibility and political thinking among those who
make the decisions at NATO," he said.
NATO said earlier the May 6-June 1 Cooperative Longbow/Cooperative
Lancer 2009 exercise had been planned before the Georgia war and was
not aimed against Russia. It does not involve any light or heavy
weaponry.
Over 1,300 troops from 19 NATO members were originally scheduled to
participate, but Kazakhstan, Latvia, Estonia, Moldova, Serbia and
Armenia have withdrawn.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress