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Russia's Envoy to NATO Warns Bloc Against Provoking North Korea

© Sputnik / Alexander Vilf / Go to the mediabankNews conference with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko
News conference with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko - Sputnik International
On December 13 Russia's envoy to NATO in an interview to Sputnik spoke about the issue of the North Korean and Afghanistan crises and the possible ways of how to address them.

North Korean crisis

The nuclear problem in the Korean peninsula continues to be an aggravating challenge for both Russia and the NATO countries, Russia's envoy to NATO Alexander Grushko told Sputnik on December 13.

"We strongly condemn Pyongyang's nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches, which violate the UN Security Council resolutions, and we proceed from the fact that the problem can only be resolved through political and diplomatic means. Our position is consistent with positions of most NATO countries. We continue to urge NATO countries to refrain from provocative actions and bellicose rhetoric so that we may create more favorable conditions for political and diplomatic efforts," he said.

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Despite the fact that the NATO alliance considers itself within the reach of North Korean missiles and the situation might provoke the implementation of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, whiсh invokes the collective defense principle, a military operation is absolutely unacceptable, the Russian diplomat said.

Aditionally, Grushko noted that the United States plays a special role in this issue.

"It's hard to say how Washington's views on ways to resolve this issue will develop. However, the signals from the alliance [suggesting] a peaceful settlement show that NATO favors political and diplomatic methods to crisis resolution," the envoy added.

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Earlier in the day, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States was ready to launch negotiations and elaborate upon a roadmap with North Korea without preconditions. The United States needs Russia’s support to implement UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea, he added.

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"Russia and China presented a joint roadmap for the settlement. During the first stage, Pyongyang will refrain from new tests, and the US and South Korea will stop or at least reduce the scale of joint military exercises near the borders of the DPRK," he added.

Nevertheless, sanctions have not proved their efficiency, and it is necessary to move along the path of active diplomatic work and creatively seek effective political solutions, Grushko stressed. Tensions on the Korean peninsula escalated drastically this year as North Korea continued to make significant progress in its nuclear arms program. Pyongyang tested its most advanced international ballistic missile in November, which it said is capable of hitting any part of the mainland United States.

War in Afghanistan

Grushko advised NATO to revise the decision on Afghanistan not cooperating with Moscow while addressing the problem, he told Sputnik radio on the same day.

"We were exchanging information on the terrorist threat in Afghanistan, on various [terrorist] factions. If NATO favors the Afghani internal situation's stabilization and the peace process' establishment, it has to reconsider the decisions which have been adopted earlier. 

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The envoy provided several examples of past Russia-NATO cooperation, including joint training of "anti-terrorist units" in Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Pakistan. The NATO-Russia cooperation in Afghanistan also included the launch by the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) in 2011 of a Helicopter Maintenance Trust Fund, providing maintenance and repair capacity to the Afghan Air Force (AAF) helicopter fleet.

READ MORE: US, Afghan Forces Launch Offensive to Block Daesh Expansion in Afghanistan

NATO suspended cooperation with Russia in response to Moscow's alleged interference in the Ukrainian conflict, which broke out in 2014. The alliance says political and military channels of Russia-NATO communication "remain open."

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