Moscow pledges response to NATO build-up
Russia has warned that Moscow would take necessary measures in response to NATO’s planned build-up near Russian frontiers.
Russian Ambassador to NATO Alexander Grushko gave the warning on Thursday following the meeting of the Western alliance’s defense ministers in the Belgian capital of Brussels.
The Russian diplomat stressed that NATO’s planned enhancement of its military presence in the Baltics and Poland, near Russia, will not go unanswered. He also accused NATO of brandishing the so-called Russian threat to expand eastward.
“This cannot be the case that the Alliance does not understand that these measures will be left without a response from our [Russian] side. The question arises, what will happen next? A new wave of NATO speculations about the Russian threat and approach to the next round of arms race? In our opinion, this is a road to nowhere,” Grushko said.
He said NATO’s activities are clearly aimed at military force projection in the Black Sea and Eastern Europe.
NATO aims to send “battle groups” to the Baltic states and Poland early next year. The groups will consist of 40,000 forces. It will be the biggest military buildup near Russia since the Second World War. More forces would also be deployed if necessary.
Grushko also warned of NATO’s and the United States’ active exploration of the Black Sea waters with multi-functional combat platforms.
He said the planned military build-up near Russia’s borders has no anti-terrorism value and is not bolstering European security, rather creates additional “obvious risks.”
NATO suspended all ties with Moscow in April 2014, after the then-Ukrainian Crimea Peninsula voted in a referendum to join Russian territory.
Shortly afterwards, an armed conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine, areas inhabited by an ethnically-Russian population. The Ukrainian government, which militarized the originally peaceful unrest in the regions — known as the Donbass — has ever since been accusing Russia of having a hand in the conflict there. Moscow denies the claim.
The conflict has so far claimed the lives of more than 9,200 people and left over 21,000 others injured.