BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO envoys will hold a formal meeting with Russia on Monday after Moscow agreed to discuss the conflict in eastern Ukraine and as the alliance seeks to avoid any escalation of the East-West standoff.
The NATO-Russia Council, the forum bringing together Russia's top diplomat to the U.S.-led alliance and NATO ambassadors, will meet for only the third time this year.
NATO has suspended all practical cooperation with Russia since Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea but says talking to the Kremlin is crucial to avoid misunderstandings that could lead to broader conflict.
"I have invited the members of the NATO-Russia Council to a meeting on Monday," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters, saying Ukraine was on the agenda.
"When tensions run high, as today, it is even more important to have direct dialogue with Russia," Stoltenberg said as he arrived for a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels.
(Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)