Russian ship barred from NATO anti-terror patrol

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO has barred a Russian ship from joining its multinational anti-terrorism patrol in the Mediterranean in apparent retaliation for Moscow’s military action against Georgia, a NATO diplomat said on Wednesday.

The Black Sea patrol ship Ladny had been due to take part in NATO’s Operation Active Endeavour in August and September involving anti-terrorism exercises and practicing search and rescue operations at sea, Russia’s navy command said last month.

It had already arrived off the coast of Turkey to take part in the operation.

But the diplomat said that following the fighting in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, Washington had withheld its agreement for the Russian ship to join the mission, launched after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

NATO diplomats said the U.S. administration had also blocked so far a Russian request for an emergency meeting of the NATO-Russia Council to discuss the crisis in the Caucasus.

Russian ambassador Dmitry Rogozin submitted the request on Monday and NATO officials had originally said the meeting could take place on Tuesday, but it was put off and NATO said more time was needed for preparation.

Instead, Washington has called a special meeting of NATO foreign ministers next Tuesday to discuss the Georgia crisis without Russia.

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