Stoltenberg made the remarks after a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, which had been suspended for almost two years.
“I have just chaired a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council. And we all agree that it is in all our interest to keep political channels for political dialogue open,” said Stoltenberg.
Both sides discussed three topics, including the crisis in and around Ukraine, issues related to military activities, transparency and risk reduction, and an assessment of the security situation in Afghanistan, including regional terrorist threats, according to the NATO chief.
“Political dialogue among nations that share the same Euro-Atlantic area is both necessary and useful, especially in times of tensions as we experience now,” he said.
“However, this does not mean that we are back to business as usual,” he said.
“We had a frank and serious discussion. NATO Allies and Russia hold very different views. But we have listened to what each of us have to say,” said Stoltenberg.
Stoltenberg noted that NATO and Russia have “profound and persistent disagreements” and “Today’s meeting did not change that.”
“NATO Allies remain firm that there can be no return to practical cooperation until Russia returns to the respect of international law. But we will keep channels of communication open,” he said.
“Especially when tensions are high, political dialogue is necessary to discuss our differences and to reduce the risk of military incidents,” he said.
The NATO-Russia Council (NRC), which was established in 2002, was conceived as a mechanism for consultation, consensus-building, cooperation, joint decision and joint action.
Within the NRC, the individual NATO member states and Russia have worked as equal partners on a wide spectrum of security issues of common interest.
According to NATO, all practical civilian and military cooperation under the NRC with Russia was suspended in April 2014 in response to the Ukraine crisis.