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Russia Warns NATO Over Afghan Cooperation

Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin
BRUSSELS (Reuters) -- Russia's envoy to NATO has expressed frustration at the military alliance's unwillingness to discuss Moscow's proposals for European security and said it could affect prospects for increased cooperation on Afghanistan.

Ambassador Dmitry Rogozin today accused some NATO countries of blocking Moscow's calls for a Russian security plan to be discussed in the NATO-Russia Council (NRC), a body in which the two sides discuss cooperation.

Speaking hours before an address in which U.S. President Barack Obama was expected to announce plans to send more troops to Afghanistan, he said this would not affect cooperation that has already been established with NATO over Afghanistan.

But he told a news briefing: "We cannot be flexible on expanding our cooperation on Afghanistan when certain countries in NATO cannot demonstrate even the most basic partner-like relations."

"We are going to make a link between new requests from NATO with the need to demonstrate on their side true partnership...I believe I will have full support from Moscow on that," he said.

Rogozin made his comments after he met NATO ambassadors to prepare for a meeting on December 4 between alliance foreign ministers and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

NATO states have said they are willing to discuss the Russian proposals, but that the correct forum to do so is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Rogozin said it was still desirable for the December 4 meeting to go ahead and that there were other issues to be discussed.

"We should not overdramatize the situation," NATO spokeswoman Carmen Romero said, adding that a compromise could be reached.

Russia's security proposal, published on November 29, would restrict its ability to use military force unilaterally if the United States and its European allies agreed to do the same.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said the European security treaty is needed to replace Cold War-era institutions ill-suited to defusing tensions in a multipolar world.

His proposals have received a skeptical reception in Western states, which say it should not undermine NATO or the OSCE.

NATO-Russia ties have warmed since a freeze after Moscow's brief war with Georgia in 2008, and Russia has agreed to allow transit of NATO supplies to Afghanistan.

It has held out the prospect of expanding this agreement as well as offering to train Afghan forces and to refurbish former Soviet-bloc helicopters that could be deployed to Afghanistan.