Russia freezes military cooperation, NATO confirms

Other News Materials 21 August 2008 22:01 (UTC +04:00)

Russia has decided to halt joint military exercises and exchanges with NATO in a further souring of relations after the conflict in Georgia, alliance officials said Thursday, dpa reported.

"We have received formal notification via military channels that Russia has decided to halt international military cooperation events until further notice," NATO deputy spokeswoman Carmen Romero told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

The freeze covers military-to-military cooperation in areas such as logistics, search and rescue at sea, training exercises, theatre missile defence, naval exercises and academic exchanges, Romero said.

NATO "takes note" of the decision, but insists that it will not be able to continue business as usual with Russia anyway until Moscow fulfils the terms of its peace deal with Georgia, as alliance foreign ministers agreed at an emergency meeting on Tuesday, she said.

The tit-for-tat refusals to cooperate mark the lowest point in NATO-Russia relations since the foundation of the NATO-Russia Council, a body which was meant to improve dialogue between the Cold War foes, in 2002.

However, both sides have also stressed that they are keen to resume cooperation as soon as the other proves more tractable, in an apparent attempt to limit the diplomatic fallout of the conflict.