Russia to cut military ties with NATO

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image none"><span>none</span></div><span class="caption-text">A Russian soldier guards armored vehicles allegedly captured from the Georgian military, in Tskhinvali, South Ossetia, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2008. The conflict erupted after Georgia launched a massive barrage Aug. 7 to try to take control of South Ossetia. The Russian army quickly overwhelmed its neighbor&#39;s forces and drove deep into Georgia, raising fears that of a long-term Russian occupation. &#40;AP Photo&#47;Dmitry Lovetsky&#41;</span></div>
August 20, 2008 5:57:18 PM PDT
Russia has informed Norway that it plans to suspend all military ties with NATO, Norway's Defense Ministry said Wednesday.The report comes a day after NATO foreign ministers said they would make further ties with Russia dependent on Moscow making good on a pledge to pull its troops back to pre-conflict positions in Georgia. However, they stopped short of calling an immediate halt to all cooperation.

The Nordic country's embassy in Moscow received a telephone call from "a well-placed official in the Russian Ministry of Defense," who said Moscow plans "to freeze all military cooperation with NATO and allied countries," Espen Barth Eide, state secretary with the Norwegian ministry said.

Eide told The Associated Press that the Russian official notified Norway it will receive a written note about this soon. He said Norwegian diplomats in Moscow would meet Russian officials on Thursday morning to clarify the implications of the freeze.

"It is our understanding that other NATO countries will receive similar notes," Eide said. The ministry said the Russian official is known to the embassy, but Norway declined to provide a name or any further identifying information.

A Kremlin official declined to comment on the report. But the Interfax news agency, citing what it called a military-diplomatic source in Moscow whom it did not identify, reported that Russia is reviewing its 2008 military cooperation plans with NATO.

Officials at NATO headquarters in Brussels said Moscow had not informed the alliance it was taking such a step.

Washington described the reported move as unfortunate.

"If this indeed is the case, it would be unfortunate. We need to work with Russia on a range of security issues, but we are obviously very concerned about Russian behavior in Georgia," U.S.

State Department spokesman Robert Wood said.

The ITAR-Tass and RIA-Novosti news agencies, citing an unidentified member of the Russian mission to NATO in Brussels, reported that Russia's NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin has been called back to Moscow for consultations on relations and between Russia and NATO, including military cooperation.

RIA-Novosti said Rogozin would return to Moscow late this week.

Eide said he hoped NATO and Moscow would get back on track with dialogue and cooperation but said that Russia would first have to comply with a cease-fire in Georgia.

"I regret the situation has come to this," he said.

The hostilities between Russia and Georgia began earlier this month when Georgia cracked down on South Ossetia. The region is internationally recognized as being within Georgian borders but leans toward Moscow and regards itself as independent. Russia answered by sending its troops and tanks across the Georgian border.


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