NATO's chief says he wants to use a special council which includes Russia as a "tool for political engagement" amid heightened tensions on a variety of fronts.

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg noted Wednesday that the alliance suspended practical cooperation with Moscow through the NATO-Russia Council following Russia's annexation of Crimea. He said he would "explore" with ambassadors from NATO states how the council might be used to revive communication.

Speaking to reporters in Cyprus, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow is willing to resume its participation in the council and would "listen what our NATO counterparts have to say."

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier favors reviving the council. He credited Russia's "constructive role" in trying to end the Syria conflict.