Russia’s envoy warns NATO against military build-up in Eastern EuropeRussia
Steps aimed at bolstering NATO’s eastern flank, approved as part of an action plan at the Wales summit in September, could lead to an increase in military tensions, Russia's Ambassador to NATO Alexander Grushko told Russian journalists in an interview on Wednesday.
In comments to the December 2 meeting of the NATO Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels, Grushko said he believes NATO understands that boosting military activity by showing force “will lead to serious risks of military incidents.”
Grushko recalled the plans announced by NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg to hold around 200 drills only this year and said that each new exercise is announced every second day. NATO also plans to establish a rapid response force of between 5,000 and 7,000 personnel that can be deployed in response to any crises within several days, he said.
“NATO is doing all this under the guise of the so-called ‘Russian threat.’ Our relation to these measures is well-known: this region of the world has seen no serious military and political changes and such steps don’t fit in the logics of building relations in the defense sphere on the new basis,” Grushko said.
The diplomat stressed that over the past years the alliance “has invested gigantic funds in the infrastructure facilities” and this creates new realities near Russia’s borders. “This is an absolutely dead-end track, and we see that NATO is heating up tensions in those regions where there has been no objective need in overarmament. The Baltic region has been always the calmest one,” he said.
Grushko stressed that what NATO is doing today is a “serious change for the worse in the regional and all-European dimension.”
Speaking on NATO’s possible expansion closer to the Russian borders, Grushko said Moscow believes that these plans “have absolutely run out of steam” as a political and military project.
“In current security conditions, other tools are needed that would allow to take into account adequately the interests of everyone and correspond to those principles agreed in the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE),” he said.
Grushko explained that these principles are indivisibility of security and that no one should strengthen their security at the expense of others’ security. “This project (NATO expansion) should be put aside and remain in the past,” he said.
Grushko said the alliance’s open doors policy “will create great problems for security in the Euro-Atlantic region and in fact torpedo the attempts of establishing a more modern system that would answer to new security conditions that took shape following the Cold War.”
NATO is generating behavioral stereotypes and is pushing for adopting military decisions based on the Cold War era principles, he said, adding: “If we look at NATO’s military planning, of course, it buries serious mines for the future.”
“This way could lead to the emergence of a new round of arms race and increasing tensions. It would be very difficult to withdraw from these processes,” the diplomat warned.