The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is trying to avoid detailed discussion of the Russian initiative on enhancing aviation safety in the Baltic region, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov told TASS on Friday.
According to him, at this past July’s session of the Russia-NATO Council (RNC), Russia’s representatives handed NATO a written list of concrete steps for bolstering confidence. “Two months later we heard some comments from NATO, but only on selected aspects,” the Russian diplomat stressed. “Their explanations actually meant that our initiatives had been rejected.”
“The response to our initiative on enhancing military aviation safety in the Baltic region was very indicative,” Meshkov noted. “We invited NATO’s technical experts along with Sweden and Finland’s representatives to Russia for an in-depth and direct dialogue on all aspects of the use of transponders (devices for the automatic identification of aircrafts) in this region,” the diplomat said. “But instead of accepting the invitation they are trying to make us shoulder the “burden of proving” the necessity of transponder use for the prevention of aviation incidents.”
“Wasn’t it NATO’s representatives who have been reiterating the threat posed by the Russian aircraft flying with their transponders off, calling it the most pressing problem in the security sphere?” Meshkov said.
“It looks like an attempt to avoid a detailed discussion on our initiative – no more, no less,” Meshkov added.
“NATO’s further attempts to play a lopsided game won’t help us reach any agreement on enhancing confidence,” the deputy foreign minister concluded.
In the beginning of July, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin at a joint press conference with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto said that Moscow backed Finland’s proposal on the prohibition of aircraft flying over the Baltic region with their transponders off. Later, Russia’s Ministry of Defense invited military experts from Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Finland to Moscow to hold consultations in September on Europe’s military and political situation.