Russia: NATO measures on eastern flank not justified

  • 2016-07-15
  • AFP-AP-BNS/TBT Staff/Brussels

The measures taken by NATO to increase troop presence on its eastern border are inexcusable, Alexander Grushko, Russia's ambassador to NATO, said after Wednesday’s meeting of the NATO-Russia Council.

"The measures on the eastern flank are not justified. They are excessive and counter-productive," Grushko stated.

He voiced a belief that NATO is "taking us back to a Cold War atmosphere," explaining that the "model of confrontation that (NATO) is imposing on us does not interest us."

The ambassador told the press that NATO's plans are not justifiable as "Russia is not a threat to the alliance." He blamed the US-led organisation for escalating tensions in a previously-peaceful region of Europe, noting: "Of course, we'll take all necessary measures to protect our security."

Briefing reporters after the meeting, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO ambassadors informed their Russian counterpart, Alexander Grushko, of decisions made at NATO's Summit in Warsaw, which took place on July 8 and 9.

Concerning Ukraine, "there was not a meeting of the minds today," Stoltenberg stated.

On the other hand, the secretary-general noted that the Russian delegation suggested ways to reduce risks in Baltic airspace regarding the use of warplanes' transponders. He said that the "Allies will study this proposal carefully," but want more information.

Adding to Finnish President Sauli Niinisto’s original proposal, which Russian President Vladimir Putin embraced, Grushko said he told NATO ambassadors "that our aircraft are ready to fly with their transponders switched on along certain routes. Of course, we count on NATO countries being ready to do the same."

"We stated that our aviation is ready to fly with turned-on transponders on a definite itinerary. We expect NATO countries to be ready for that. As well as other countries which carry out military activity in this region," he told the press. "This being not a simple problem both technically and from the viewpoint of interaction between civil and military air traffic control authorities, we proposed conducting relevant consultations between the military.”

The two-and-a-half hour meeting at NATO's Brussels headquarters followed last week's assembly of alliance heads of state and government in the Polish capital. Among other things, US President Barack Obama and the other NATO leaders authorised reinforcements for Allies closest to Russia; four new multinational battalions will be sent to Poland and the Baltic countries.