Russia has informed Norway of its intention to completely cut back its military cooperation with NATO. The statement was made the next day after the emergency meeting of NATO ministers on the situation in Georgia and South Ossetia. The ministers agreed not to end their ties with Russia, although the future cooperation would depend on Russia’s pullout from Georgia. NATO members did not decline their cooperation with Russia despite USA’s appeals.
A top official spokesperson for Russia’s Defense Ministry called the Embassy of Norway in Moscow and said that Moscow was planning to freeze all military cooperation with NATO and its allies, Espen Barth Eide, state secretary with the Norwegian ministry said.
Eide told The AP that Russia would soon send a written note of its decision to Norway soon. Norwegian diplomats were going to meet their Russian counterparts Thursday to clear out the situation.
"It is our understanding that other NATO countries will receive similar notes," Eide said. The ministry said the Russian official is known to the embassy, but Norway declined to provide a name or any further identifying information.
Neither Kremlin officials, nor Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, made any comments on the report.
US officials described Russia’s decision as unfortunate.
"If this indeed is the case, it would be unfortunate. We need to work with Russia on a range of security issues, but we are obviously very concerned about Russian behavior in Georgia," U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said.
Under a 2002 agreement that set up the NATO-Russia Council, the former Cold War foes began several cooperation projects. They include occasional participation of Russian warships in NATO counterterrorism patrols in the Mediterranean Sea, sharing expertise to combat heroin trafficking out of Afghanistan and developing battlefield anti-missile technology.
Last week, Russia's ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin warned the Western alliance against cutting off cooperation, saying it would hurt both sides, the AP reports.
The military cooperation between Russia and NATO ended de-facto upon the initiative of the latter. A Russia-NATO naval exercise FRUKUS became the first on the list. The event was supposed to take place in the Pacific Ocean with the participation of the USA, Britain, France and Russia.
Afterwards, the USA barred Russia from a joint anti-terrorist operation Active Endeavor. Russia’s sea patrol ship Ladny had to return back to its base in Sevastopol.
The USA decided to cancel US-Russian anti-terrorist exercise slated to take place on August 28-30.
Moscow responded similarly. On Tuesday Moscow pulled out of Open Spirit 2008 annual exercise.