NATO calls on Russia to tone down rhetoric

Other News Materials 8 February 2008 17:53 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - NATO ministers called on Russia to tone down its rhetoric on Friday, hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the alliance of ignoring his country's security concerns.

NATO ministers called on Russia "to lower the tone of the rhetoric coming out of Moscow. There is no need for it, and we have all the avenues and channels necessary to talk in a productive and friendly way," NATO spokesman James Appathurai said.

"We should take advantage of those and not engage in unnecessarily heated rhetoric," he said.

Some NATO members also urged Moscow to inform them in advance if Russia's armed forces planned to send military aircraft, especially bombers, close to NATO airspace, as has happened several times in recent months, Appathurai said.

Russia's forces "do have the right to do it into international airspace, but allies do want from the Russian Federation pre-warning before they do for obvious reasons of confidence-building," he said.

Russia's Deputy Defence Minister General-Colonel Alexander Kolmakov "took note" of the requests, Appathurai said.

The NATO-Russia talks were held at the end of a two-day NATO ministerial meeting in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.

Kolmakov's superior, Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, had been expected to attend the meeting, but cancelled due to illness.

On Friday morning Putin said that the West had imperial designs on Russia, and was ignoring his country's security concerns and attempting to interfere in forthcoming presidential elections.