Russia ‘to use meeting with NATO to oppose increased deployments in Baltic’

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg

The NATO-Russia Council stopped meeting after the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general, said the meeting would discuss Ukraine, Afghanistan and recent incidents over the Baltic Sea.

Lithuanian politicians and analysts are sceptical about the meeting, however.

“There are a lot of doubts about this meeting, because Russia continues to use any diplomatic means at its disposal to destabilize and sabotage rational decisions rather than to advance effective collaboration,” political scientist Tomas Janeliūnas of Vilnius University told BNS.

Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius has also expressed his reservations about the meeting.

Meanwhile Russian representatives have been criticizing NATO’s moves to increase its presence in Eastern Europe.

Russian representative to NATO Alexander Grushko said last week that Moscow would raise the issue of “unjustifiable” concentration of NATO forces in the Baltic States during the meeting.

Janeliūnas believes that this will be the main goal of the Russian delegation during the talks. Russians will also use the issue to distract attention from issues like aggression in Ukraine.

“One must realize that NATO deployments are a response to what Russia does,” Janeliūnas said.

Minister Linkevičius said he hoped the talks would be constructive, since Russia has an important role to play in resolving a number of global conflicts.

“I wish very much I am wrong, but I’m afraid this meeting will not be used to reconcile positions or even to analyse the situation constructively – rather, it will be used for propaganda purposes,” the Lithuanian foreign minister said this week.

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