Rafael Estrella, Chairman of NATO's Parliamentary Assembly, does not think the organization will undergo changes whatsoever. He said that at a news conference he held jointly with Lyubov Sliska, first vice-speaker of the Russian State Duma, or parliament's lower house. I do not think a recent initiative of British Premier Tony Blair to change the nature of Russia-NATO relations should be linked to the problem of Russia's membership in the Alliance, said Estrella. Which format - partnership or membership - Russia will choose in cooperation with NATO is purely its own prerogative, he said. The British premier's initiative implies that NATO and Russia should set up a new structure through which they will be taking joint decisions and will bear responsibility for the fulfilment of these decisions, according to Estrella. Lyubov Sliska, on her part, spoke out in favour of developing contacts between the alliance of 19 countries and Russia in the format of "20", that is on equal conditions, sharing responsibility and being equally represented.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the termination of diplomatic relations with NATO at a time when US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ended a meeting in Georgia with his counterpart