Russia lambasted NATO’s ‘confrontational’ plans for military buildup near Russia

July 14, 2016 8:00 am

Russian Ambassador to
Alexander Grushko gives a press conference after talks with NATO, in
Brussels, Belgium, July 13, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

has lambasted NATO for
expanding its presence in the Baltic states near Russia, saying the
US-led alliance is fomenting a Cold-War atmosphere.

NATO
held a summit in the Polish capital, Warsaw, last week, when member
states approved plans to deploy additional forces — four battalions
totaling up to 4,000 troops — to northeastern on a rotating basis
to support Eastern European member states against perceived threats
from Russia.
Speaking after talks with NATO in the Belgian capital
of Brussels on Wednesday, Alexander Grushko, Russia’s permanent
representative to NATO, called such measures “confrontational.”

“We
believe these measures are superfluous, counterproductive… they are
confrontational, essentially weakening pan-European and regional
security while bringing us back to the safety models of the Cold War
era,” Russia’s NATO envoy said.

He said the measures force Moscow “to adapt our military strategy to a new security situation.”
‘A meeting of bodies, not minds’
NATO
and Russia had held their first meeting since bilateral relations
soured over the crisis in Ukraine in April. That meeting reportedly
ended in deep disagreements on the Ukrainian crisis and the accession of
new states to NATO.
In June 2014, NATO suspended its military
cooperation with Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine, where the government
and its Western allies accuse Moscow of backing pro-Russia forces in
the east of the country. The Kremlin strongly denies the allegation.

NATO
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gives a press conference after talks
with Russia at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, July 13, 2016. (Photo
by AFP)In March that year, the then-Ukrainian
peninsula of Crimea joined the Russian Federation following a referendum
in March 2014, further angering the West.
Meanwhile, NATO
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said following the meeting with
Russia that the alliance’s military build-up in its so-called eastern
flank was a “direct” response to “Russian actions in Ukraine.”
He
added that NATO “briefed” Moscow on the issue during the Wednesday
meeting and that the alliance would invite “international inspectors,
including from Russia” to observe its military drills in the region.
“We
had an open and frank atmosphere in the meeting but we didn’t agree.
Allies and Russia have profound and persistent disagreements on Ukraine.
There was not a meeting of minds today,” he added.

Participants
of a NATO summit pose for a family photo at the Presidential Palace
during the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland, July 8, 2016. (Photo by AFP)Stoltenberg
had said after the NATO summit in Poland, where plans for the
deployment of the new forces were approved, that, “These battalions will
be robust and they will be multinational. They make clear that an
attack on one ally will be considered an attack on the whole alliance.”
‘Springboard for pressure on Russia’
NATO
accuses Russia of massive militarization at the bloc’s eastern borders,
saying the move is disturbing its allies in those regions, while Moscow
says NATO is brandishing the so-called Russian threat to expand
eastward and include countries in the Balkan region. Russia says the
move directly harms Russia’s strategic interests in the Balkans.

In
his Wednesday remarks, Grushko, the Russian envoy to NATO, said, “The
danger lies in the fact that today’s confrontational policy, which is
built on the basis of the mythical threat from Russia, takes the form of
military planning and military preparations at our borders.”

“In
fact,” he said, “the East European members of the alliance, who
declared themselves the frontline, become a springboard for military
deployments and the provision of military and political pressure on
Russia.”
NATO recently launched its biggest-ever joint maneuvers
in Poland, to the west of Russia, a move that was immediately condemned
by Russian authorities.

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