WASHINGTON — NATO will hold an ambassador-level meeting with Russian officials following the conclusion of the Warsaw Summit, the alliance announced Thursday.
The meeting will be held July 13 at NATO's Brussels headquarters, according to Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary-general.
"The NATO-Russia Council has an important role to play as a forum for dialogue and information exchange, to reduce tensions and to increase predictability. Our practical cooperation with Russia remains suspended, but we are keeping channels for political dialogue open," Stoltenberg said.
"Our discussions will focus on the crisis in and around Ukraine and the need to fully implement the Minsk Agreements," he added. "We will also look at military activities, with a particular focus on transparency and risk reduction, as well as the security situation in Afghanistan."
The meeting will occur under the aegis of the NATO-Russia Council, an entity formed in 2002 to foster communication between the former Cold War enemies. The council last met in April of this year, after an almost two-year gap – the result of NATO cutting of contacts with Moscow following the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory.
NATO leadership is currently en route to Poland to kick off the alliance's biennial meeting, this year held in Warsaw. It is expected the meeting will heavily focus on how to forestall Russian aggression, including the formal announcement of four battalions of NATO forces along the alliance's Eastern flank.
There has also been open speculation from NATO members that Russian president Vladimir Putin may make some sort of aggressive move, whether in Europe or Syria, ahead of the summit in an attempt to destabilize the discussions. That the NATO-Russia Council is meeting again may be a sign that won't happen.
In recent months, both former NATO commander Gen. (Ret.) Philip Breedlove and former defense secretary Chuck Hagel have called greater communication between NATO and Russia a necessity to avoid an escalation of hostilities.