Emergency minister meets deputy secretary general 


Russia’s Minister for Civil Defence, Emergency Situations and Disaster Relief, Vladimir Puchkov, met with NATO Deputy Secretary General Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, on May 31st. They discussed preventing and responding to emergency situations; a longstanding and important area of NATO-Russia cooperation.

A Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation on Civil Emergency Planning and Disaster Preparedness was signed between Russia’s EMERCOM and NATO in 1996. The memorandum paved the way for cooperation in the NRC on civil emergencies, including three large scale consequence management exercises since 2002, in Noginsk and Kaliningrad in Russia and in Rome, Italy. The exercises were all designed to test the NRC’s cooperative response to natural and manmade disasters.

At their meeting, Minister Puchkov and Deputy Secretary General Vershbow focused on how to build on this successful track record of cooperation going forward. Cooperative responses are increasingly important due to the rising frequency and intensity of natural and manmade disasters. The 2010 NRC Joint Review of 21st Century Common Security Challenges acknowledged the huge challenge all NRC nations share in dealing with the consequences of disasters, to their populations and environment.

Minister Puchkov and Ambassador Vershbow discussed key areas on which the NRC could cooperate, such as risk assessment for potential disasters as well as capacity building to militate against the consequences of disasters. Cooperation on High Visibility Events was sited as another key strand of work undertaken by the NRC Ad Hoc Working Group on the Terrorist Threat to the Euro-Atlantic area and the NRC Civil Emergencies working group.

Minister Puchkov indicated several areas of cooperation to prioritise, that could be considered, including joint exercises on emergency response, developing the capacity for air-medical evacuation, and setting up a global network of crisis centres to facilitate improved cooperation during emergencies. Minister Puchkov spoke in detail about the extensive work Russia had undertaken to ensure its preparedness for civil emergencies and disaster response, and his desire to work together, coordinate efforts and provide mutual support in these areas.

The meeting ended with the signing of a joint record of the meeting, which encapsulates all the ideas Minister Puchkov and Ambassador Vershbow discussed on taking forward civil emergency cooperation in the NATO-Russia Council.



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