At Nato headquarters in Brussels, foreign ministers marked the 10th anniversary of the Nato-Russia Council. As with all birthday parties everyone tried to remain upbeat. High on the agenda were words of gentle encouragement to Moscow.
“We look to Russia to continue to put pressure on the Syrian regime to comply with the ceasefire,” said the British Foreign Minister William Hague.
Nato’s planned 2014 military withdrawal from Afghanistan, along with missile defence remain two areas of contention.
For the moment both sides are focused on developing further a transit point on Russian soil as NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen explained: “We expect to expand soon the transit option offered by Russia for the NATO led mission in Afghanistan.”
It is highly symbolic and contentious. Russian communists staged a demonstration on Thursday against the plan seen by some as allowing the former cold war adversaries to move their weapons through Russia.
“There is effectively a functioning transit through Russian territory of different goods for international forces,” stressed Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister.
It was stressed the air base at Ulyanovsk, Lenin’s birthplace will not be used for armaments while the move is seen as an example of how the two parties can strengthen cooperation.