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MOSCOW, December 28. /TASS/. Russia expects the US to abandon plans on deploying and stationing military equipment on NATO’s eastern flank, Russia’s Foreign Ministry official spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Monday.
Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of US Army Europe, said in mid-December that Washington plans to establish maintenance sites for equipment caches in Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Estonia by late 2016, and in Hungary in 2017.
"If implemented, such measures will be close to violating the key provision of the Russia-NATO Founding Act of 1997 under which the alliance is obliged not to deploy significant combat forces on the territory of the mentioned countries on a permanent basis," Zakharova said.
"The forward basing of equipment is exactly permanent military presence," she said, adding that the fact that the personnel will be formally rotated makes no difference here.
"We would like to hope that the overseas architects of the new Cold War are aware of the risks and negative consequences of the forced militarization of the one of the calmest regions of the world in military terms and will show political will and abandon the schemes and methods of the bloc standoff epoch," she stressed.
The US general’s statements confirm the earlier announced plans of the Pentagon on deploying the military equipment on the eastern flank to hold exercises on the rotation basis, Zakharova said. The Russian side has repeatedly warned against the move.
The diplomat stressed that these plans under far-fetched pretext of protecting the allies from the alleged Russian threat "once again confirm Washington’s intention to escalate tensions and undermine stability on the continent."