Russia-NATO Council: 'No point' or silver linings?

Unarmed Russian fighter jets made two extremely close overflights in April of the USS Donald Cook, sailing in the Baltic Sea.

(CNN)As the Russia-NATO Council gets ready to meet Wednesday in Brussels for only the second time in two years, many are pessimistic over the possibility of real progress as tensions between the two entities have been rising in recent days.

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One top Russian official argues that progress is hopeless. Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of Russia's lower house of parliament, said in phone interview with CNN that "the Russia-NATO Council was created for crisis management."
    But "each time there was a crisis the West ceased communication." "At this point," he says, "there is no point."
    Sergey Markov, director of the Institute of Political Studies in Moscow and informal adviser to the Kremlin sees a silver lining.
    At least NATO has stopped its "crazy" policy of cutting off all contact with Moscow, he said. And, he believes the two entities can forge compromise over stopping or lessening the close calls between American and Russian ships and planes.

    Rough times between the two

    Established in 2002, the stated aim of the NATO-Russia Council is "to serve as the principal structure and venue for advancing the relationship between NATO and Russia."
    It has been through some rough times. In 2008, NATO condemned Russia's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states during its conflict with Georgia, and NATO suspended all civilian and military cooperation with Russia in 2014 over the its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.
    That suspension is still in effect, but NATO says it has kept political dialogue and military communication channels open throughout the crisis.
    "There is no dialogue," Nikonov said
    With four new battalions to Poland and the Baltic states and a missile defense shield in Poland and Romania, "it looks like they are preparing for war with Russia," Nikonov said, making reference to NATO.
    The rhetoric between Russia and NATO has been heating up rapidly over the past few days. NATO's communique after last week's summit in Warsaw said Russia had "breached the values, principles and commitments that underpin the NATO-Russia relationship."
    The response from the Russian Foreign Ministry bristled with even greater disdain.
    "Even a preliminary analysis of the results of the meeting shows that NATO continues to exist in a kind of military-political mirror world," read the statement from Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
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    She went on to accuse NATO of focusing on a "nonexistent "threat from the East," a reference to [Russia's role in the] Ukraine crisis, amid the growing terror threats on its south.

    A ray of light

    Markov believes, despite the sharp differences between Russia and NATO over Ukraine and the conflict in Syria, there could be one area where they fashion an accord.
    That is on the series of close calls that have happened in recent months: Russian and U.S. warships coming within a few hundred yards of each other, Russian fighter jets buzzing NATO ships.
    Both sides agree these incidents are dangerous and something needs to be done.
    Russia's Defense Ministry said in late June it is looking at a new rule to make it mandatory for military planes to have their transponders switched on at all times over the Baltic Sea -- a neutral yet crowded airspace where many of these close calls have happened. Russia has said it will raise this issue at the Russia-NATO Council.
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    In Warsaw, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hinted at something similar.
    "We will continue to seek constructive and meaningful dialogue with Russia. To make our intentions clear. To dispel any misunderstandings. And to reduce the risk of military incidents or accidents spiraling out of control."