Nikolai Makarov (RIA Novosti / Michail Klimentyev)
Although disagreements remain between Russia and NATO over the US missile defense project which Russia has called a threat to its national security, the two sides will continue working together in 2012.
Russian Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov praised Russia-NATO achievements in 2011, which he said provided the basis for further cooperation in 2012.
“On the whole, we have a positive impression from Russia-NATO military cooperation in 2011,” Makarov told reporters following a meeting with NATO colleagues at the Russia-NATO Council in Brussels on Thursday. “Thus, a plan of military cooperation (between Russia and NATO) for 2012 has been approved.”
Russia’s top military official picked out some of last year’s high points in Russia’s partnership with NATO.
“Vigilant Skies and Bold Monarch were the most significant joint exercises in 2011,” Makarov noted. “We also had useful contacts in military medicine, logistics, disarming of handmade bombs and personnel training.”
Russia’s highest-ranking military official also mentioned the “joint combating of pirates off the Horn of Africa,” which he said is now entering “a new phase.”
Finally, Makarov discussed the situation in Afghanistan, where Russia and NATO are “intensifying their interaction” in the fight against dire local threats including, but not limited to, terrorism and drug trafficking.
The Chief of General Staff stressed that what happens in Afghanistan, where Allied forces have been fighting a 10-year uphill war against Taliban forces, has a “direct influence on security along the Russian border and worries our allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).”
Given the urgency of the situation, Russia will continue to “render assistance to the peacekeepers in Afghanistan, primarily with the transit of cargo,” he said.