Moscow must share information with NATO about the upcoming Zapad-2017 and other exercises at the NATO-Russian Council, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council Andrey Kortunov said in an interview with BNS.
"I tend to believe that the top leadership is willing to deescalate the tensions between Russia and the West, but they are skeptical about the intentions of the other side," Kortunov, who will be participating in the Lennart Meri Conference in Tallinn in mid-May, said in reference to the Kremlin.
According to Kortunov, a lot depends on the common ability of Moscow and the West to reenergize the NATO-Russian Council. "Moscow must share information with NATO about Zapad-2017 and other exercises," he said in response to a question on whether Zapad-2017 will be a transparent, defensive exercise or more a demonstration of force meant to frighten NATO's eastern members.
"The current situation presents a challenge not only to Moscow, but to Brussels as well," he continued. "On the one hand, NATO needs more interaction with Russia to reduce the risks of an accidental clash, an inadvertent escalation and so on. On the other, NATO does not want to get back to 'business as usual.'" He added that the proper balance between defense, deterrence and dialogue is difficult to strike.
Kortunov recalled that Russian leadership is not monolithic. "There are various competing institutional interests, personal ambitions and political aspirations at play in Moscow," he told BNS. "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs cannot have the same priorities as the Ministry of Defence."
Lennart Meri Conference
This year's Lennart Meri Conference, entitled "Darkest Just Before Dawn? The War on Trust and How to Win It," will take place from May 12-14. The conference will consider the severe challenges facing the West and seek to identify opportunities which may arise in these bleakest of moments.
Other topics to be discussed include the future of the EU, the impact of populism on democracy, Russia's growing militancy in the information sphere and cyberspace, the conflict in Syria and China's growing influence — topics that demand not only answers but also fundamental readjustment and changes in the current world order.
Editor: Aili Vahtla