NATO, Russian ambassadors to hold new round of talks on July 13

NATO ambassadors will hold a new round of talks with their Russian counterpart on July 13, the military alliance announced Wednesday, as it prepares to hold a summit that is expected to ratchet up tensions with Moscow.

"Our practical cooperation with Russia remains suspended, but we are keeping channels for political dialogue open," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement.

The meeting with Russian Ambassador Alexander Grushko, which will be held at NATO headquarters in Brussels, will focus on the Ukraine crisis and the need to fully implement the Minsk peace deal for eastern Ukraine, Stoltenberg said.

Relations between NATO and Moscow have reached their worst point since the Cold War over Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea peninsula and its support for separatists in the east.

Both sides have been flexing their military muscles in Eastern Europe since, accusing each other of sabre-rattling and provocations.

Moscow is likely to be further irritated by a decision expected to be taken by NATO leaders at a summit in Warsaw this week to deploy four battalions of some 1,000 troops each to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

A push for resuming high-level contacts with Moscow gained momentum last year after the downing of a Russian jet by NATO member Turkey. Many NATO countries were keen to avoid such incidents in the future.

The July 13 talks will touch on "military activities, with a particular focus on transparency and risk reduction," Stoltenberg said, as well as the security situation in Afghanistan.

NATO ambassadors last met their Russian counterpart in April, after a hiatus of almost two years. But Stoltenberg said afterwards that "profound" disagreements remained.

Last update: Wed, 06/07/2016 - 19:36

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