The ambassadors from NATO and Russia are expected to meet after nearly two years of suspension of high-level cooperation caused by Russia's annexation of Crimea. Meeting in Brussels, the ambassadors are expected to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and the security situation in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg emphasized that "no return to business as usual until Russia again respects international law." (Deutsche Welle 4/8/2016)

The high-level meeting gives the opportunity to decrease tension between NATO and Russia and even perhaps prevent past military tragedies, such as the Russian fighter downing near the border of Syria and Turkey, due to miscommunication in conflict zones.

While Russia's annexation of Crimea brings question on Russia's violation of international law, NATO has failed to protest Russia in a substantive manner. While economic sanctions and cutting off high-level ties might have weakened certain sectors of Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been seemingly acting with full autonomy in foreign policy.

The meeting of NATO and Russian ambassadors comes right before the European Union's failure to pass a trade and cooperation agreement with Ukraine due to Dutch voters rejecting the referendum. (The New York Times 4/6/2016) The rejection of the referendum potentially signals a weak public support for policy makers to push back Russia.

Instead of pushing back Russia, NATO's realistic option is to focus on stability in the Ukraine-Russian region instead of competing Russia for securing political and economic influence in Ukraine. The longer the Ukraine conflict drags on, more civilians become inevitably the casualty of war. Furthermore, once Russia sees Europe's cessation of planting western influence in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin might consider standing down his anti-NATO forces along the Russian border.


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