The chairman of NATO’s Military Committee would like to see the NATO-Russia Council reinvigorated to address issues pending between the two entities, say officials.
Gen. Petr Pavel of the Czech army said Russia must show through actions, not just words, that it is ready for such a development. The general spoke to the Defense Writers Group this morning at George Washington University, according to a press release.
Pavel said he believes there is a chance for improved relations between the alliance and Russia. “I am always a cautious optimist,” he told the writers.
“I believe that there is a chance to have better relations between NATO and Russia, but what we need is more willingness on the Russian side that would assure the alliance that Russia has serious interest in making this relationship better.”
Russia must take steps, in other words, to prove it is serious, and the general said he will not ignore past bad behavior.
“It is difficult to sit at the table knowing there are occupied territories in Georgia, that there is direct Russian support to separatists in [Ukraine’s Dombass region], that there is the Crimea that was occupied illegally,” he said.
“There are a number of not only concrete measures, but also narratives that are creating tensions. We need to have more common will to engage in a constructive dialogue.”
The best place to start would be in Ukraine, Pavel said. “Until there is a solution in Ukraine, there will not be an improvement in relations,” he added. One step in the right direction would be for Russia to allow United Nations or Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe missions into the contested region.
“That would be a clear sign of a constructive approach,” the general said. “At that point, we can start thinking about other steps to improve coordination and dialogue.”