North Korean crisis
The nuclear problem in the Korean peninsula continues to be an aggravating challenge for both Russia and the NATO countries, Russia's envoy to NATO Alexander Grushko told Sputnik on December 13.
"We strongly condemn Pyongyang's nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches, which violate the UN Security Council resolutions, and we proceed from the fact that the problem can only be resolved through political and diplomatic means. Our position is consistent with positions of most NATO countries. We continue to urge NATO countries to refrain from provocative actions and bellicose rhetoric so that we may create more favorable conditions for political and diplomatic efforts," he said.
Aditionally, Grushko noted that the United States plays a special role in this issue.
"It's hard to say how Washington's views on ways to resolve this issue will develop. However, the signals from the alliance [suggesting] a peaceful settlement show that NATO favors political and diplomatic methods to crisis resolution," the envoy added.
"Russia and China presented a joint roadmap for the settlement. During the first stage, Pyongyang will refrain from new tests, and the US and South Korea will stop or at least reduce the scale of joint military exercises near the borders of the DPRK," he added.
Nevertheless, sanctions have not proved their efficiency, and it is necessary to move along the path of active diplomatic work and creatively seek effective political solutions, Grushko stressed. Tensions on the Korean peninsula escalated drastically this year as North Korea continued to make significant progress in its nuclear arms program. Pyongyang tested its most advanced international ballistic missile in November, which it said is capable of hitting any part of the mainland United States.
War in Afghanistan
Grushko advised NATO to revise the decision on Afghanistan not cooperating with Moscow while addressing the problem, he told Sputnik radio on the same day.
"We were exchanging information on the terrorist threat in Afghanistan, on various [terrorist] factions. If NATO favors the Afghani internal situation's stabilization and the peace process' establishment, it has to reconsider the decisions which have been adopted earlier.
NATO suspended cooperation with Russia in response to Moscow's alleged interference in the Ukrainian conflict, which broke out in 2014. The alliance says political and military channels of Russia-NATO communication "remain open."