NATO accuses Russia of military activities at bloc's borders
Iran Press TV
Thu Jun 16, 2016 10:39AM
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has defended the military alliance's planned deployments in Poland and three Baltic states, saying they are aimed at deterring Russia.
NATO intends to deploy four "robust" battalions in Poland as well as the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia as tensions are rising with Russia.
On Thursday, Stoltenberg accused Russia of seeking to create a "zone of influence" at NATO's borders. He said NATO had detected "aggressive" maneuvers by Russia, urging action to confront it.
"We are observing massive militarization at NATO borders - in the Arctic, in the Baltic, from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea," Stoltenberg said in an interview with the German daily Bild.
"We are registering aggressive, unannounced, large-scale maneuvers on the Russian side. Therefore, we must act," Stoltenberg added.
NATO recently launched its biggest-ever joint maneuvers in Poland to the west of Russia, a move that was immediately condemned by Russian authorities.
Moreover, the alliance recently began operating a missile system in eastern Europe, further angering Moscow.
Chairman of the defense committee of Russia's State Duma, Vladimir Komoyedov, said on Tuesday that his country would initiate countermeasures against NATO's deployment of four battalions close to Russian borders.
The Kremlin also accused NATO of seeking to "intentionally create panic" about Russian military drills in order to justify its deployments.
"Not a single action within the military training of the Russian army, including an expected operability test, violates international agreements and treaties," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
"The real aim of allegations about the Russian military threat is to intentionally create panic and maintain the image of a treacherous enemy, fighting which can provide colossal military budgets," he added.
NATO has stepped up its military buildup near Russia's borders since it suspended all ties with Moscow in April 2014 after Crimea re-integrated into the Russian Federation following a referendum.
Senior officials in Moscow have repeatedly accused NATO of seeking confrontation, describing its military buildup as a security threat to Europe.
Russia has also accused NATO of following an expansionist policy to include countries in the Western Balkan region, saying the move directly harms Russia's strategic interests in the area.
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