Communication lines with NATO remain open: Russia

DM Monitoring

MOSCOW: Channels of telephone communication between Russia and NATO remain open but normal diplomatic relations between the two sides are out of the question, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on Friday.
Relations between Moscow and the U.S.-led Atlantic alliance are at post-Cold War lows following Russia’s decision to send tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 last year in what it calls a “special military operation”.
“Military channels have remained open to date – in particular a telephone communication line between Russia’s Chief of the General Staff and the commander of NATO troops in Europe,” Grushko said in an interview on state TV.
Russia’s ambassador to Belgium, where NATO is headquartered, has also been instructed to communicate with NATO when necessary, Grushko added.
Emergency military hotlines are known to exist between Russia and the United States in order to offer an always-open line of communication, designed to be used to de-escalate potentially hostile situations between the world’s largest nuclear powers. Reuters reported in November that a so-called deconfliction line between Moscow and Washington had – as of that time – been used once since the start of Russia’s military campaign on Feb. 24. Announced in March last year, the Pentagon said the deconfliction line was created to avoid any inadvertent clashes in NATO airspace or on the ground.
Russia has accused NATO of taking a “direct” role in the conflict in Ukraine, by supplying Kyiv with tens of billions of dollars in military hardware. Grushko said on Friday that while military communication exists between Russia and NATO, “normal diplomatic contacts and dialogue are out of the question”.