NATO has still not responded to Russia's suggestion to discuss flights of military aircraft over the Baltic Sea with their transponders switched on at a meeting in Moscow sometime in the coming weeks, Russian Foreign Ministry General European Co-operation Department Director Andrei Kelin informed Interfax on Wednesday.
"We proposed in absolutely practical terms that the issue be discussed in Moscow at the end of August or in early September, and we invited NATO military experts to come to the Russian capital with this purpose. There has been no response so far," the director stated. "And I perfectly understand that there is going to be a complex struggle between the so-called frontline states, which are seeking to make sure that our military contacts are not resumed, and much more soberly-thinking people believing that this is simply objective reality.”
Russian military officials who participated in the last meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels on July 13 "made a number of proposals, the essence of which is primarily to resume dialogue through the military channel," Kelin noted.
"NATO officials have been expressing their concerns perhaps over the past several months that our military planes and vessels are engaged in dangerous military activities," he emphasised. "And the same officials have said they are especially concerned about this because our planes do not fly with their transponders switched on.”
"As a matter of fact, they don't have to fly with their transponders switched on unless they fly along international civilian routes, which is where transponders must be switched on," the director said. "Our military have clearly stated now that our planes will fly to Kaliningrad with their transponders switched on. And this is very important, because this nullifies NATO's arguments.”
"No normalisation with NATO is possible without military contacts and dialogue via the military channel, as well as actually without the political component," Kelin noted. "Therefore, NATO's decision to freeze military contacts is senseless, because it invalidates one of the foundations of this dialogue.”
"We expect that NATO will constructively consider our proposals and the NATO-Russia Council's normal work will be continued," he said.