BRUSSELS, December 4. /TASS/. This year’s last meeting at the level of foreign ministers of 29 NATO countries will be held in Brussels on Tuesday. The main issues on the agenda include the situation around the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) (U.S. has repeatedly accused Russia of violating it), the alliance’s cooperation with Ukraine and Georgia in the context of the incident between the warships of Ukraine and Russia in the Kerch Strait.
An expanded meeting of the North Atlantic Council will be held involving the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine and Georgia. At that meeting the situation in the Black Sea region will be considered separately, but there will not be formal meetings of the NATO Cooperation Commissions with these countries. This format was chosen in connection with Hungary’s remaining veto on holding ministerial meetings of the Ukraine-NATO Commission in connection with Kiev’s oppression of Hungarian minorities.
NATO Foreign Ministers intend to consider the situation around the INF strictly in line with the U.S. accusations against Russia. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made it clear at a press conference ahead of the meeting.
On October 20, Trump said that Washington would withdraw from the INF Treaty because Russia had allegedly violated it.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called this decision “a dangerous step.” Washington’s decision was also criticized in Berlin and Beijing. London supported the U.S. decision, while NATO blamed Trump’s decision on Russia.
The INF Treaty was concluded on December 8, 1987, and took effect on June 1, 1988. It applies to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). In recent years, Washington has repeatedly accused Russia of violating the treaty. Moscow strongly dismissed the accusations and voiced its own claims concerning Washington’s non-compliance.
Between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov
According to TASS, the ministers will issue a statement on the incident in the Kerch Strait, the main points of which will almost literally repeat the reaction of the NATO Secretary General to this event. The ministers will urge restraint, demand that the ships and their crews that violated the Russian border immediately return to Ukraine, as well as ensure freedom of navigation in the Sea of Azov.
On November 25, three Ukrainian navy ships illegally crossed Russia’s border and tried to carry out some illegal actions in Russian territorial waters later in the day. They ignored legitimate demands to stop issued by vessels belonging to the FSB Border Service and the Black Sea Fleet and continued maneuvering dangerously. In order to stop the Ukrainian ships, weapons had to be used. The three vessels were detained in Russian territorial waters. Three Ukrainian military servicemen suffered light wounds and were provided with medical assistance. A criminal investigation has been opened into the border incident.
Moscow branded Kiev’s stunt in the Kerch Strait as a dangerous provocation, while the European Union and NATO called for a de-escalation of tensions.
On November 29, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko urged NATO to increase its military presence in the Black Sea after the Kerch Strait incident. In response to this, Kremlin said that the goal of such a statement is to provoke further tensions.
Georgia and Ukraine
It is not expected that the discussion of cooperation with Ukraine and Georgia will lead to any sensations or result in signing of new documents.
NATO will assist Georgia in developing its coast guard and naval forces in the Black Sea, the Alliance Secretary General said. He once again promised support for the reform process in Georgia and said that NATO’s doors remain open to Georgia.
As for Ukraine, he promised continuation of all-round intensive cooperation, noting that NATO provided assistance to the military academy in Odessa.
In April 2008, at a summit in Bucharest, the alliance’s leaders announced a political declaration of intent to “eventually admit” Ukraine and Georgia into the alliance.
Afghanistan and other topics
Other topics on the meeting’s agenda include the NATO mission in Afghanistan, cooperation with Libya, as well as the need to gradually increase the defense spending of the countries of the alliance (up to 2% of GDP).
Article Sourced via TASS