Relations with Russia are now less predictable than in the Soviet period - NATO Deputy Secretary General

Instead of more predictability and trust in relaions with Russia now there is less, even compared to the Soviet period.

NATO Deputy Secretary General Ambassador Alexander Vershbow said at the 2015 Leangkollen Conference in Oslo, Censor.NET reports citing NATO official website.

"Even before the Ukraine crisis, Russia was backing away from the commitment it made at our Lisbon Summit in 2010 to develop a true strategic partnership with NATO and to cooperate in potentially important areas such as missile defense. Russia became less transparent about its own military activities, especially major exercises. It based these exercises on absurd scenarios of a direct threat, or even an attack from a NATO country. It stopped implementing the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, and other transparency initiatives such as the Open Skies Treaty. It showed no interest in our overtures to re-engage on nuclear and conventional arms control. Instead of more predictability and trust we now have less, even compared to the Soviet period.

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"And just a few weeks ago, Russia issued the latest revision of its Military Doctrine. It explicitly refers to NATO as destabilizing and a "danger" to Russia - without, I might add, giving any convincing rationale as to why or how NATO threatens Russia, or providing any justification for Russia's aggressive behavior.

"Russia is paying the price for its aggression - as it must. The sanctions are biting, capital flight is increasing, and Russians' standard of living is declining. But we cannot expect an immediate turnaround.

"In the longer run, our strategy has to be one of patience and consistency. Russia expects us to give up the sanctions and go back to business as usual, without changing its own conduct. That is basically what we did after the war in Georgia in 2008. But this time around, having chosen our course, we must stick to it.

"In 2015 we can expect more Russian pressure against its neighbors and a continued hostile stance against NATO. As far as NATO is concerned, we have no option but to respond, and to protect ourselves.

"First and foremost, before we can re-engage with Russia, Moscow must de-escalate the situation in Ukraine. It must stop sending weapons and supplies to the rebels in the Donbass, it must pull its own soldiers and advisors out of Eastern Ukraine, and it must work constructively to implement the provisions of the Minsk accords - in full, not selectively. The Russian-backed offensive by the separatists over the weekend makes a diplomatic solution more difficult, but it is still the best way out.

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"But in addition to ensuring our collective defense, we must also look beyond our borders. Another priority at the Wales summit was to increase our support to our eastern neighbors, especially Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, who are the main targets of Russian pressure and interference.

"The more stable they are, the more secure we are. So helping Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova - to strengthen their military forces, reform their institutions and modernize their economies - is not an act of generosity; it is in our fundamental strategic interest.

"NATO is doing its part. To help Ukraine to modernize and reform its armed forces, we have launched five Trust Funds to assist in areas like command and control, logistics, cyber defense and military medicine. We are sending more advisors to Kyiv and will be carrying out exercises with Ukraine's armed forces. And we are helping Moldova and Georgia to strengthen their defense capacity in similar ways and, in Georgia's case, to help it prepare for future membership in the Alliance," Vershbow said.

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Источник: https://censor.net.ua/en/n322750