Western governments urged the North Atlantic Treaty Organization this week to rebuild military contacts with Moscow as fears in Europe mount that exercises by Russia’s armed forces could spark a broader confrontation.
The new initiative by foreign ministers of NATO member countries calls for a crisis-management mechanism between Russia and the West that carries echoes of the Cold War, when Moscow and Washington developed emergency lines of communication to make sure that accidents or misunderstandings didn’t set off a bigger conflict.
The concern in Europe about the need to prevent tensions with Russia from spiraling is the latest sign that the Ukraine conflict has brought the East-West relationship to its worst level in decades.
“Ministers agreed that at this time of tension there is a need for regular communications among NATO and Russian military to avoid any incidents, and that NATO military authorities should keep channels of military communications open and use them when necessary to avoid any possible misunderstandings related to military activities,” said NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu.
NATO foreign ministers, meeting Tuesday evening in Brussels, called on Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to seek more dialogue with Russian military officials, Western officials said.