BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO envoys will hold a further formal meeting with Russia on July 13, days after the alliance's summit in Warsaw, in a sign Washington and Moscow want to defuse tensions in Europe.
The forum bringing together Russia and its former Cold War adversary NATO last met in April after an almost two-year hiatus as relations sank to their lowest level in decades over Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.
The NATO-Russia Council will meet again at ambassadorial level in Brussels next week following the NATO summit in Warsaw in which Western leaders will cement a new deterrent against what they say is Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Russia's envoy to NATO said Moscow would focus on the decisions taken in Warsaw, reiterating its view that the alliance's military build-up is risking peace in central Europe.
"The main focus will be on military security in the wake of decisions to be taken at the NATO summit in Warsaw," said Russian ambassador Alexander Grushko. "We hope for a frank and serious dialogue on the issues related to the increased NATO activities near Russian borders and their impact on the security and stability in Europe and its regions," Grushko said.
The West and Russia remain at odds over Ukraine and whether NATO has the right to expand eastwards, but the Russia-NATO Council session hints at a willingness to patch up diplomatic ties and avoid any accidental clashes in the region.
"Our discussions will focus on the crisis in and around Ukraine and the need to fully implement the Minsk Agreements," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement.
He was referring to the peace deal signed in Belarus last year that aims to end the conflict involving pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
"We will also look at military activities, with a particular focus on transparency and risk reduction, as well as the security situation in Afghanistan," the statement said.
Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Toby Chopra