NATO - Russia Council at the level of Permanent Representatives will meet at the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels on April 20, according to Russian news agency Interfax. It will be the first meeting since June 2014, when there was a sharp aggravation of the situation in the East of Ukraine.
NATO officials have assured that the Ukrainian issue will be given priority, as well as the deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan and fight against terrorism.
However, neither Russian nor Western politicians believe in a qualitative leap in relations between Russia and NATO as a result of that meeting. A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of Latvia Raimonds Jansons noted that it is not worth waiting for "fundamental changes" in relations, but this meeting is necessary, as it can give impetus to the dialogue.
“Of course, Russian-NATO relations is experiencing a lack of mutual trust and, probably, the triumph of mutual distrust,” the Russian newspaper Kommersant quotes Dmitry Peskov, Russian Presidential Press Secretary, as saying.
In his opinion, the Alliance has demonstrated through its recent actions that its main goal is "a confrontation with Russia," so he expects that "the conversation will not be easy."
According to two Russian diplomatic sources of Kommersant, the representatives of NATO were originally intended to give priority to the implementation of the Minsk agreements on the settlement of the conflict in Donbas. However, Russia, according to the same sources, has proposed two alternative themes: the deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan, where the dialogue between the government and the Taliban movement is not succeeding, as well as cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
NATO has frozen all practical cooperation with Moscow after the Russian annexation of Crimea in April 2014. But it was decided to continue the Council’s activities in Brussels "in order to maintain the political dialogue."