18:29 GMT18 January 2021
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    The Foreign Ministerial Meeting of NATO, which is due to kick off in Antalya, Turkey on Wednesday, will focus on the alliance's collective defense and relations with Russia and Ukraine.

    ANTALYA (Sputnik) — The ministers are expected to hold on May 13-14 two meetings of the North Atlantic Council, NATO's key political body, and a separate meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission (NUC).

    In a preview to the event, published on the alliance's website, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the bloc is currently "implementing the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War."

    Stoltenberg noted that the meeting is taking place as NATO troops are holding drills to make sure that the alliance's collective security is "strong and ready."

    The discussion of relations with Russia will come on the heels of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's and US Secretary of State John Kerry's separate visits to Russia over the past weeks. Following the talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kerry, Putin's spokesman said the top US diplomat's visit was "the first sign of understanding that the two great powers must return to normal cooperation."

    Following Crimea's reunification with Russia last March and the escalation of the armed conflict in southeastern Ukraine, NATO ceased virtually all cooperation with Russia, accusing Moscow of fueling the fighting in Ukraine.

    The alliance has sharply increased its military activities near the Russian border, including a number of large-scale drills in the Baltic states.

    Russia has repeatedly denied allegations of involvement in Ukraine's internal affairs and expressed concern over NATO's increased presence in Eastern Europe.

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    Tags:
    NATO, collective defense, Jens Stoltenberg, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia
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