Alleged Russia threat pretext for NATO expansion: Moscow official
Iran Press TV
Wed Jun 29, 2016 3:46PM
A senior Russian official says the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is inching towards his country's borders using "unsubstantiated" claims about Moscow's threat.
Alexei Pushkov, the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, made the remarks at a press conference in the capital, Moscow, on Wednesday.
"We cannot understand why efforts are being taken to create NATO's military presence near Russian borders. There are no facts proving the Russian aggression - either in Estonia, or in Lithuania, or in Latvia, or in Poland. These are totally unsubstantiated things," Pushkov said.
Based on different opinion polls in several countries, "no one believes that some kind of a threat is coming from Russia," he added.
The US government and its allies pursue an "anti-Russian policy," but Europe should understand that Moscow is "an absolutely artificial target created by the circles interested in maintaining an atmosphere of conflict with Russia," Pushkov further said.
NATO is expected to send units to Romania as part of plans to expand its presence in Eastern Europe. The Western military alliance will also send four battalions to Poland as well as the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia, which are likely to number 2,500-3,000 troops combined with a small force designed to act as a tripwire.
The deployment is slated to be formally authorized during a summit in the Polish capital city of Warsaw next month.
Russia taking 'measures' in face of NATO build-up
In another development on Wednesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (pictured below) told a Defense Ministry meeting that his country is taking "measures" of strategic deterrence in a bid to neutralize potential NATO threats.
"Such actions of our Western counterparts lead to undermining the strategic stability in Europe and force us to take response measures, first, in the Western strategic area," Shoigu said.
He further denounced the increase of the US and NATO military activities near the Russian frontiers as a destabilizing factor.
The alliance has deployed up to 30 warplanes, some 1,200 pieces of military equipment and more than 1,000 troops on a rotation basis to Eastern Europe, the Russian official added.
NATO has stepped up its military build-up near Russia's borders since it suspended all ties with Moscow in April 2014 after the Black Sea Crimean Peninsula re-integrated into the Russian Federation following a referendum.
Moscow has repeatedly repudiated NATO's expansion near its borders, saying such a move poses a threat to both regional and international peace.
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