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People's Daily Online

Russia expresses concern over NATO eastward expansion

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 09:52, May 21, 2016

SOCHI, Russia, May 20 -- Russia on Friday expressed concern again over the eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), one day after the military alliance and Montenegro signed an accession protocol.

"This process doesn't strengthen European security from our point of view, but just the opposite. It extremely raises the degree of tensions on the continent," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

He stressed that Russia is always open to dialogue, which is the only efficient method of solving problems between the two parties.

"The dialogue must be more or less trust-based and constructive, so to speak, and based on the respect for mutual interests. Otherwise it is unlikely to be productive," Peskov was quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency as saying.

The spokesman welcomed an initiative from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who said earlier Friday that NATO would seek another NATO-Russia Council (NRC) meeting at the level of ambassadors prior to the NATO summit scheduled for July 8-9 in Warsaw, Poland.

The previous NRC meeting held in April in Brussels, Belgium showed profound disagreements between Russia and NATO, as cooperation within the council was suspended in April 2014 following the soured bilateral ties over the Ukraine crisis.

In a separate development, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Stoltenberg should have consulted Moscow before announcing the Russia-NATO Council meeting plans.

"The NATO-Russia Council works by consensus. If they want to discuss it with us, let them do it instead of grabbing a microphone," Lavrov said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on May 13 accused NATO of its military deployment in East Europe, adding that Russia would take responsive measures to any national security threat.

The foreign ministers of NATO member states and Montenegro signed an accession protocol on Thursday, allowing the Balkan country to participate as an observer in NATO meetings.

The protocol has to be ratified by the parliaments of all NATO 28 member states before Montenegro becomes the 29th member of the military bloc.

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