2 June, 16:48

Russia to take necessary measures if NATO military potential comes closer to its borders - envoy

Russia to take necessary measures if NATO military potential comes closer to its borders - envoy

NATO was and is a leading military organization in the European-Atlantic region - that is why, while developing cooperation with it in spheres of common interest, Russia paid special attention to ensuring appropriate defense levels amid any scenarios, Russia's Permanent Representative to NATO Alexander Grushko told Interfax.

"It is known that in military affairs potentials, not intentions - which, as the latest events have shown, can change - and are taken into account. That is why if we see that new NATO arrangements regarding Russia are implemented in relevant actions of military construction and are manifested in shifting NATO's military potential towards the 'eastern wing,' we will take measures necessary so that Russia's security is not affected by this," Grushko said in an interview ahead of a meeting of NATO defense ministers on June 3-4 and due to NATO-Russia Council meeting, first one since March 5.

"Having suspended cooperation with Russia, NATO inflicted damage firstly to international efforts to neutralize security risks and threats common for everyone, and thus, to its own security," Grushko said.

Russia's possible withdrawal from the Founding Act on its relations with NATO is just one of the options Moscow is considering as a reaction to NATO's planned permanent deployment of large military forces in Central and Eastern Europe, Russia's permanent envoy to NATO said on Monday.

"We'll just see and study what the ministers decide," Alexander Grushko told Interfax in reference to a planned meeting in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday of NATO defense ministers.

"But if it is additional deployment of substantial NATO combat forces in Central and Eastern Europe that is on the agenda - we can hear appeals to that effect, - such deployments, even if they are based on rotation, will hardly be qualifiable as a direct departure from commitments under fundamental Russia-NATO documents, including the Founding Act," Grushko said.

He said rotation is not the key criterion in the assessment of a combat potential. It is the permanent presence or absence of armed forces in a region that matters, he argued.

"Such actions would raise tensions in the Euro-Atlantic region and undermine the current security system in it. All this can throw Europe back to the times of the Cold War and trigger an arms race. NATO should realize that, if it embarks on that path, it can hardly expect Russia to reciprocate with 'restraint' in deployments of forces, as the Founding Act stipulates. But that is not our choice," the diplomat said.

Far-reaching geopolitical goals can be seen behind the entire set of NATO's emphatic propaganda rhetoric about the Russian threat, Russia's NATO Ambassador Alexander Grushko said.

"No one is going to intrude into the Alliance's territory. Article V of the Washington Treaty, so much talked about, was applied just once, after September 11 2001. NATO itself, as many acknowledge in the West, is going through a crisis," the highly-placed Russian diplomat said in an interview with Interfax on Brussels.

"So, an absolutely farfetched pretext was found - the Ukrainian crisis, provoked by the West, in order to inflate the myth about a threat allegedly coming from the East, and, riding this wave, to revive and cement the Alliance, to get military spending increased, and fresh arms purchases made," Grushko said.

He said the Alliance can only boast of such 'achievements' as Yugoslavia destroyed by air strikes and divided, Iraq plunging into inner feuds and Libya falling apart, he said.

"Ahead is the pullout from Afghanistan. But generally speaking, none of the tasks set has been fulfilled in the long run," Grushko said.

"I don't think, however, that all members of the Alliance, for all of its belligerent rhetoric, are willing to become trapped in schemes dating back to the era of confrontation. If this happens security risks will only grow. Then again, they will hardly want to lose the 'dividends of peace'. Defense will draw funding far exceeding the current 1%-2% of GDP," the Russian diplomat said.

This threat rhetoric is being manipulated today in order to justify the expansion of military presence in countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and in the Baltic and Black seas, and intensified drills near the Russian borders, he said.

"Nor can we disregard the calls to adjust the Alliance's nuclear strategy and to speed up the creation of missile defense, which points to its true objectives. All of these measures are inadequate and excessive, and weaken security and unpredictability in the Euroatlantic region," Grushko said.

Practical cooperation in the framework of NATO-Russia Council joint projects has been suspended temporarily but Russia implements its international obligations on Afghanistan, Grushko said.

"We continue to assist participants of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in transiting cargo in accordance with our obligations under the UN Security Council resolutions 1386 and bilateral agreements," Grushko said.

According to the Russian diplomat, "NATO states know that a possible continuation of cooperation on Afghanistan requires a reliable legal basis in a form of a UN Security Council resolution."

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