NATO Head Says Russian Anti-Terror Cooperation Important

Cooperation between NATO and Russia in fighting terrorism would be important even amid the conflict over Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in the wake of the shootings at a satirical magazine in Paris.

“That’s the reason why we still strive for a more cooperative and constructive relationship with Russia,” Stoltenberg said today in the Bavarian town of Kreuth. “We think it is important that Russia, which is our biggest neighbor in Europe, and NATO are able to work together on important issues like, for instance, fighting terror.” NATO and Russia “have for many years worked together” on the issue, he said.

The killings yesterday at the Charlie Hebdo newsroom in the French capital were an “attack on the free press, on free opinion and on our open societies,” Stoltenberg told reporters before giving a closed-door briefing to members of the Christian Social Union party, which is part of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March and its support for a separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine led the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to reinforce its defenses in eastern Europe, bringing back memories of the Cold War.

While it’s “important to do whatever we can to reach a peaceful and negotiated solution,” the situation in Ukraine remains “serious” because an independent country’s borders are being violated, Stoltenberg said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that lifting sanctions on Russia would require full implementation of a peace plan for Ukraine signed in September in Minsk, Belarus. “The entire Minsk agreement is the instrument with which we can put things into reverse,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin today.

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