VOA: NATO, Russia schedule first formal talks since 2014
Officials from NATO and Russia are scheduled to hold their first formal meeting in almost two years, covering Ukraine, the security situation in Afghanistan, and military activities, according to Voice of America (VOA).
The meeting scheduled for April 20 at NATO headquarters in Brussels will take place at the ambassadorial level, VOA reported.
NATO suspended all practical cooperation with Russia back in 2014 in response to Moscow's annexation of Crimea.
"This meeting is the continuation of our political dialogue, as agreed by NATO Heads of State and Government. At the same time, there will be no return to business as usual until Russia again respects international law," Jens Stoltenberg, alliance head, said in a statement.
Stoltenberg said the NATO-Russia Council meeting will also focus on "the need to fully implement the Minsk Agreements" — the cease-fire accords regarding Ukraine signed in September 2014 under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The alliance head also said there is a need for transparency to avoid future misunderstandings.
Read alsoUkraine closes fish seaports in annexed CrimeaIn the meantime, Crimea's future remains uncertain, with President Vladimir Putin saying Russia will never give up the Black Sea peninsula and NATO insisting that it will never recognize Russia's annexation.