NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Wednesday that a NATO-Russia meeting during the NATO summit in Chicago was unlikely due to the busy political schedule in Russia.
Vladimir Putin is scheduled to be inaugurated as Russian president shortly before the NATO summit on May 20-21.
“I have discussed this personally with President-elect Putin and we have agreed that the timing is difficult for a NATO-Russia Summit in Chicago because Russia has a very busy domestic political calendar,” Rasmussen said after a meeting with Montenegro's Prime Minister Igor Luksic.
“However, we have also agreed that we will meet bilaterally as soon as possible after Prime Minister Putin's inauguration as new president of Russia,” the NATO chief said.
Rasmussen confirmed that a NATO-Russia meeting at the level of foreign ministers would be held in April, as scheduled.
“And this will continue until Chicago and it will continue after Chicago because our relationship with Russia isn't just about one day or one meeting, it's about the long term,” he said.
Despite the fact that relations between NATO and Moscow have grown sour lately over the European missile shield plans, the sides have cooperated closely in the war in Afghanistan and in a number of anti-drug and anti-piracy missions.
Moscow is preparing to allow NATO to use an airport in Ulyanovsk, the birthplace of Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, to transit soldiers and military cargo to and from Afghanistan ahead of the alliance’s pullout from the war-torn Central Asian state.