08:47 GMT +319 January 2020
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    NATO will maintain political contact with Russia despite the suspension of practical cooperation, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday, following talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Brussels.

    BRUSSELS (Sputnik) — NATO suspended all practical cooperation with Moscow in April 2014, following Crimea's reunification with Russia.

    The NATO chief recalled that he had met Lavrov on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, adding that "there are regular contacts on both a diplomatic and political level between NATO and Russia."

    Stoltenberg stressed that military lines of communication were also discussed during the meeting with Lavrov earlier in the day. He highlighted the importance of these lines, as they could contribute to more predictability and help prevent misunderstandings.

    Russia-NATO relations deteriorated significantly due to the Ukrainian conflict, as the alliance has accused Russia of meddling in Ukraine's internal affairs. Moscow has firmly denied the allegations and has repeatedly expressed concern over the bloc's increased military presence in Eastern Europe and near Russia's western border.

    "We have suspended all practical cooperation with Russia as a response to their behavior in Crimea and Ukraine. But we are keeping the lines of political contact open and we will continue to do so," Stoltenberg told reporters.


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