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FM Lavrov says 'Russia-NATO relations are not frozen'

Russia does not consider relations with NATO 'frozen,' the Russian foreign minister said.
UNITED NATIONS, September 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russia does not consider relations with NATO 'frozen,' the Russian foreign minister said.

Relations between NATO and Russia have sunk to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War due to the recent conflict between Moscow and Tbilisi over Georgia's breakaway republic of South Ossetia.

"Our relations are not frozen although our NATO partners are attempting to suspend all contacts in the framework of the Russia-NATO Council," Sergei Lavrov told reporters in New York late Friday.

On August 26, two weeks after the end of a five-day military operation to 'force Georgia to peace', Russia recognized the republic as an independent state, along with Abkhazia, another Georgian breakaway region.

NATO subsequently urged Russia to reverse its decision and respect Georgia's territorial integrity. At a NATO ministerial meeting in August the 26 member countries condemned Russia's actions in South Ossetia and decided to suspend joint RNC activities.

Moscow in turn blamed Western powers for encouraging Tbilisi's aggression and suspended all peacekeeping operations with NATO for at least six months. It has also frozen its participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program.

At the same time, Moscow has not suspended cooperation with NATO on conventional weapons control and airspace regulation. Russia also continues to support NATO operations in Afghanistan due to concerns over the worsening military and political situation in the country, with its ongoing rise in extremism and drug production.

"Afghanistan is the sphere where our interests coincide and where we must continue to cooperate closely," the Russian minister said, adding that Russia will respect agreements with Germany and France to allow the transit of logistic supplies for their contingents in Afghanistan.

"However, any attempts to play geopolitical games as a form of punishment for certain incidents that Russia has no control of will not help our cooperation on the entire range of our relations," Lavrov said.

The foreign minister also said Russia is planning to hold soon consultations with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the European Union on its proposal to adopt a new European security treaty.

"We are preparing these consultations with our colleagues from the CSTO and at the same time are planning to hold similar talks with our partners from the EU and NATO," Lavrov said.

The idea of holding an all-European summit and drawing up a new legally binding European security treaty was put forward by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in June.

Medvedev said at the time that all European states should be party to such a treaty "not as states associated into blocs and alliances, but as sovereign entities."

He said any new security arrangements should be based on "pure" national interests, not skewed by ideological motives, while "organizations operating in the Euro-Atlantic region" should also have the opportunity to join.

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