NATO urges Russia to engage "in positive dialogue" after Putin win
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged Russia on Monday to cooperate with the military alliance, in the wake of presidential elections that had put on hold contentious talks over a planned European missile defence system, dpa reported.
Official results on Monday showed that Vladimir Putin was set to take back Russia's reins.
He had pledged on the campaign trail that Moscow would "never let others impose their will on us," while the Kremlin declared that nuclear-capable missiles in Russia's westernmost province could be aimed at European cities if NATO's missile defence plans proceeded.
"As a politician, I'm used to hearing many things during election campaigns. What counts is the concrete steps that are taken once the electorate has made its decision," Rasmussen said. "I would expect ... a continued engagement in positive dialogue and cooperation."
"Obviously we do not agree on everything," he added in comments to reporters in Brussels. "But those differences should not overshadow the fact that in many areas we do share security concerns ... This is the reason why we should cooperate also on missile defence."
NATO says the new defence system is designed to protect its members from missile threats from the Middle East. But Moscow wants guarantees that it will not be targeted, since the system could reach part of its territory. It also wants insight into the system.
Rasmussen had originally hoped for a political agreement with Russia in time for the alliance's May summit in Chicago, at which the missile shield is to be declared partially operational. But hope for a deal has faded as both sides dug in.
A NATO-Russia meeting on the sidelines of the summit would only be held if an agreement is struck, Rasmussen said.
"Maybe there won't be a meeting," he added. "But ... Chicago will not be the end of the story."