Russia Explains NATO Step

Russia said Western "double standards" over the Georgia conflict forced it to freeze military cooperation with NATO but added that it still wants to keep working with NATO to fight terrorism and drug trafficking.

In a statement Tuesday explaining a decision last week to curtail military ties, Russia's mission to NATO said the freeze would halt military exercises, exchanges of military delegations, visits by high-level NATO officials to Moscow and stopovers by NATO warships in Russian ports.

Russia said a joint committee on peacekeeping would be suspended, as well as an agreement that would have allowed NATO troops to cross Russian territory and negotiations on having Russian military cargo planes work with NATO.

"There will be no joint military exercises," Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's envoy to NATO, told a Moscow news conference Tuesday, adding that an upcoming visit to Moscow by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer would also be postponed.

The Russian statement said, however, that it was ready to "continue cooperation in fighting international terrorism, drug trafficking, civil emergency planning and arms control."

NATO last Thursday announced that Russia had decided to halt military cooperation. Western officials played down the significance of the decision, saying allied nations had effectively already decided to cut back cooperation programs in response to Russia's continued military presence in Georgia.

They said the freeze was unlikely to affect NATO's mission in Afghanistan, since the alliance had not yet started to use supply routes through Russia under an April agreement.

Rogozin said cooperation in Afghanistan would continue to include a resupply route over Russian airspace and counternarcotics training for Afghan police officers near Moscow.

"Afghanistan is in the final sum a common problem," Rogozin said.

Russia will hold off on sending a senior military officer to Brussels, where NATO has its headquarters, Rogozin said.

AP, Reuter