NATO And Russian Military Chiefs Speak By Phone; Seek To Avoid Misunderstandings, Miscalculation
May 21, 2014 • 10:33AM

Gen. Knud Bartels, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee and Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the Russian General Staff and First Deputy Minister of Defense, spoke by telephone on May 19, during which they stressed the need to inform each other on a regular basis so as to avoid misunderstandings between NATO and Russia, according to a NATO press release. The two had "an open exchange of views on the state of Russia-NATO relations and the current situation around Ukraine and Central Eastern Europe." Both agreed to continue regular phone contact as they have been doing since 2013.

The NATO release reports that while NATO Foreign Ministers decided to suspend all practical cooperation with Russia, civilian and military, over Ukraine, the ministers also decided that dialogue at the highest political-military level can continue as appropriate.

Reuters reports that that Gerasimov told Bartels that NATO's increased military activity near the Russian border is not helping European security, according to Moscow's Defense Ministry May 19. "Army General Valery Gerasimov expressed concern over the substantial increase of NATO military activity near the Russian border, which does not contribute to security in Europe," the statement said.

Gen. Knud Bartels, from Denmark, in his position as Chairman of the Military Committee, is senior to even the Supreme Commander, and in a real sense more important than his fellow Dane, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who functions as a sort of diplomatic representative, while the Chairman of the Military Committee presides over a committee of direct government representatives.

The last time such telephone consultation took place was on Feb. 14, 2013 shortly after the NATO Chiefs of Defense Meeting in January 2013, in the context of the NATO-Russian Council, decided to implement a common secure line of communications between their offices.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Rasmussen revealed yesterday that NATO has proposed that the Russia-NATO Council hold a meeting on May 27, after the May 25 Ukrainian elections. He said Russia has yet to reply. Russia's RIA-Novosti said it was Russia that had proposed a meeting, for which NATO proposed the May 27 date. Russia had not yet answered on the date.

NATO's Military Council is to meet this week in Brussels with participation of US Gen. Dempsey and his counterparts, Armed Forces Press Service (US) reported Tuesday.