Nato, Russian officials meet for first time in two years

The NATO-Russia Council has convened for the first time since 2014, with recent tensions between Russia and the United States high on the agenda.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Wednesday’s meeting is especially important because of last week’s incidents, when the United States accused Russian warplanes of flying within a few meters of a U.S. Navy war ship in the Baltic Sea.

Stoltenberg said, “We think dialogue is more important when times are difficult and tensions are high.”

Ambassadors from the 28 NATO countries are attending the meeting, along with a Russian delegation.

Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria and the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula are also expected to be on the agenda.

The last NATO-Russia Council meeting was in 2014.

Russian officials have blamed NATO members for the “lack of trust” that resulted in the lapse between meetings.

Relations between Russia and NATO members froze after Russia annexed part of eastern Ukraine and an armed conflict began between Ukrainian loyalists and pro-Russia separatists.