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Dialogue with Russia in 2018 likely: NATO chief

Lewis Sanders IV
December 29, 2017

Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance supports improvements to "political dialogue" and "military lines of communication." NATO-Russia relations reached a post-Cold War low after Moscow's illegal annexation of Crimea.

Jens Stoltenberg
Image: Getty Images/AFP/J. Thys

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday told Germany's DPA news agency that he expects increased dialogue between Russia and the transatlantic alliance in 2018.

Relations between NATO and Russia deteriorated in the wake of Moscow's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

Read more: Is NATO doing enough to pressure Russia over Ukraine?

Towards normalization?

Not Cold War 2.0

In the interview, Stoltenberg told DPA news agency:

  • "We are moving forward both on the political dialogue and the military lines of communication, and the whole alliance is behind that."
  • "We need to address the fact that we see a more assertive Russia to the east. At the same time NATO's message is that we don't want a new Cold War. We don't want a new arms race and we want political dialogue with Russia."

However, amid a push from Germany to foster communication with Russia, the US' top diplomat Tillerson told NATO ministers in December: "I think there is broad consensus among all the NATO members that there is no normalization of dialogue with Russia today."

Read more: Russia is hacking and harassing NATO soldiers, says report

Does NATO view Russia as a threat: This is a tricky question: While the military alliance does not believe a traditional offensive is imminent, it sees Russia's annexation of Ukraine and military build up on its eastern flank as aggressive posturing and a possible threat to neighboring member states, such as Estonia and Lithuania.

What happens next: With 2018 around the corner, both sides are likely to continue using various channels of communication for practical military coordination and political dialogue, mostly to avoid an escalation of tensions.

Jens Stoltenberg on Conflict Zone