“During the meeting it was reconfirmed we disagree, both when it comes to the facts, the narratives and the responsibilities for the crisis in and around Ukraine,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said after several hours of talks at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Joinfo.ua reports with reference to the Stars and Stripes.
At the top of the agenda was the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, where a Russian intervention in 2014 served as the trigger for the alliance’s ongoing military buildup in eastern Europe.
Stoltenberg put the blame for the hostilities squarely on Russia, saying Moscow continued to back separatists with weaponry and military guidance. During the meeting, Moscow countered that Ukraine was in the midst of a civil war, defecting criticism.
“Many allies also conveyed a very strong message that we disagree when Russia tried to portray this as a civil war,” Stoltenberg said.
Other issues discussed included the war in Afghanistan, regional terrorism concerns and the need for more transparency between Russian and NATO militaries conducting exercises around Europe, Stoltenberg said.
The meeting also comes on the heels of a series of confrontations between Russian and U.S. military personnel operating in the Baltics. Over the span of several days last week, Russian fighter jets buzzed a U.S. warship operating in the region and barrel rolled over the top of an air force surveillance plane, prompting formal complaint from U.S. officials.
Russia has denied any wrongdoing, but the events underscore how tensions have escalated between Russia and the West.
“NATO and Russia have profound and persistent disagreements. Today’s meeting did not change that,” Stoltenberg said.