An informal meeting of 26 NATO ambassadors, the NATO general secretary and Russia’s permanent representative to NATO Dmitry Rogozin will be held in Brussels on Monday for the first time since Georgia attacked South Ossetia last August. After that NATO froze all work within the framework of the RUSSIA-NATO Council.

Monday’s meeting will focus on restoration of relations between Russia and NATO. It will also consider the possibility of resuming regular meetings of the Russia-NATO Council.

Dmitry Rogozin told Itar-Tass that Russia was ready to resume relations with its NATO partners. “However, we are not going to pretend that nothing has happened,” he said.

“We have a number of serious questions to the alliance, especially about its extremely one-sided assessment of the Georgian intrusion into South Ossetia. This problem is going to be discussed,” Rogozin emphasized. At the same time, he noted that cooperation was “necessary and beneficial” because Russia and NATO were facing common security challenges.

Earlier, the NATO General Secretary Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said, commenting on the need to restore relations with Russia, that NATO needed Russia and Russia needed NATO. He added that Russia had been and remained NATO’s vital partner.

The NATO general secretary said that NATO worked with Russian partners so as to be able to discuss with them such vital issues as the situation in Afghanistan, anti-terrorism struggle and counteraction to piracy.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer believes that Russia and NATO should conduct a dialogue not only on issues where they have understanding but also on their differences.

The war in Georgia and its breakaway region of South Ossetia that broke out last August caused a rift in Russia''s relatiomns with NATO. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said there were many subjects on which Russia and NATO had serious differences. According to the NATO general secretary, they include anti-missile defence and the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE). He added that partners were necessary for being able to tell the truth to each other.

NATO’s official spokesman James Appathurai earlier told Itar-Tass that the meeting would be held behind the closed doors. The ambassadors will meet informally over a cup of tea, and no meetings with the press were being planned afterwards, he said.

In August 2008, the foreign ministers of NATO countries condemned Russia for its disproportionate use of force against Georgia and suspended the work of the Russia-NATO Council at an emergency meeting in Brussels. The alliance also froze all military partnership programs. That decision was passed under strong pressure from the United States and most East European countries. But relation with Russia were not completely stopped in the subsequent months. Experts continued meeting in Brussels while Russia’s permanent representative to NATO Dmitry Rogozin continued bilateral consultations with his colleagues from the NATO states. Cooperation continued on problems related to Afghanistan and counteraction to piracy.

On December 2, 2008 the foreign ministers of NATO who had gathered for a meeting in Brussels authorized the NATO general secretary to start restoring relations with Russia.