Belgium: NATO-Russia Council meeting could be held soon - Stoltenberg

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that a NATO-Russia Council meeting could be held soon at NATO's Annual Report press conference in Brussels, Thursday. "Now we think it is time to have, to look into the possibility of having a meeting. No final decision has been taken but we will discuss that with the Russian delegation at NATO and then make a final decision on when to have such a meeting," he said.
NATO's secretary general also justified the organisation's halt of cuts to defence spending, a decision made at a 2014 summit. He said that this was down to a "challenging security environment" and Russia's defence investments. "We see a more asserted Russia to the East, Russia which has invested heavily in defence over several years, which has also shown the will to use military force to change borders in Europe this is the first time this has happened since the end of the Second World War," Stoltenberg said.
Stoltenberg also emphasised the importance of the full implementation of the Minsk agreements when addressing the topic of finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine. "It was encouraging when we, last fall, saw that a ceasefire was respected, " he said. But he then pointed to the fact that "we have seen more violations again," an issue the NATO official said he spoke about with the OSCE in a meeting on Wednesday. He then highlighted the "importance of allowing the OSCE monitors full access to the area to be able to monitor and to make sure that the ceasefire is fully respected."
Stoltenberg also questioned the validity of reports on the withdrawal of weapons from the front-line, calling, saying the "picture is mixed" on this.
Stoltenberg stated that NATO supports Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova and the organisation is going to "help them in different ways to build a defence capacity modernised institutions and strengthen their reforms."

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