NATO will hold its first formal talks with Russia in nearly two years on April 20 to discuss the Ukraine crisis and other security issues, the U.S.-led military alliance said on April 12.
"The date has been mutually agreed," a NATO spokeswoman told AFP, adding: "It is good to talk but it cannot be a return to business as usual."
The NATO-Russia Council will meet in the next two weeks for the first time since 2014 to duscuss the Ukraine crisis.
"Following consultations with Russia, we have agreed to hold a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council at Ambassadorial level," NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, said in a statement on Friday.
Two Russian warships, the Azov and the Minsk, passed through the Bosphorus accompanied by the Turkish Coast Guard early on Feb. 19 en route to the Black Sea
President Vladimir Putin acknowledged on Jan. 11 in an interview with German daily Bild that Western economic sanctions over the Ukraine crisis are affecting Russia.
"Concerning our possibilities on the international financial markets, the sanctions are severely harming Russia," he said in a long interview, calling the EU sanctions "a theatre of the absurd".
The European Union agreed Dec. 21 to prolong damaging economic sanctions against Russia for its involvement in the Ukraine crisis for another six months amid sharp differences over relations with Moscow, while Russia will introduce a food embargo against Ukraine next month over Kiev's trade deal with the EU.