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NATO expansion east was in focus of Russia-NATO Council meeting — diplomat

April 21, 2016, 20:51 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The US has announced that it is increasing fourfold expenses on maintenance of forces in Europe

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Military drills in Romania (archive)

Military drills in Romania (archive)

© Andreea Alexandru/Mediafax via AP

MOSCOW, April 21. /TASS/. NATO’s building up military presence in Eastern Europe was one of the focal points at a session of the Russia-NATO Council, Russia’s NATO Ambassador Alexander Grushko told Rossiya 24 television on Thursday.

"I will say without going deep into details that of course it was one of the main issues, as the military theme is the closest to the competences of the Russia-NATO Council and the aims it was set up for," he said, noting that the discussion had been very substantial.

According to Grushko, the Alliance’s countries put an accent on demand for instrument of control over arms in conditions of increased military activity, urging Russia to join a dialog on modernization of these instruments, as well as spoke about the Treaty on Open Skies.

"We said absolutely clearly that NATO is trying to ‘put the cart before the horse’. The prime cause of the worsening of the military situation is not in the lack of instruments of arms control - there is a lot of them and Russia in this sense is an intensive user of these instruments," Grushko said.

"The problem is that from the mid-2000s, NATO started getting closer to our borders in military and military-infrastructural terms, exploring territories of new members, and after the Ukrainian crisis, or taking advantage of the Ukrainian crisis to be more exact, it moved to the policy of deterrence, which is expressed in concrete military construction measures," he went on.

Grushko listed among them rotation of troops, setting up of headquarters and their strengthening, creation of permanent depots of American hardware on the border with Russia, deployment of an additional continent in Europe.

"The US has announced that it is increasing fourfold expenses on maintenance of American forces in Europe," he said, noting that the level of USA presence would be brought to that of division. "All this is accompanied by repeated exercises training defense against aggression of the so-called foreign enemy. The military presence is being built up in the Black and Baltic seas," Grushko went on.

The first in the past two years session of the Council was held in Brussels on April 20.

"NATO and Russia have profound and persistent disagreements. Today’s meeting did not change that," North Atlantic Alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said after Russia-NATO Council session.

"But we will keep channels of communication open. Especially when tensions are high, political dialogue is necessary to discuss our differences and to reduce the risk of military incidents," Stoltenberg concluded.

Grushko, for his part, said "Russia is not against a new meeting of the Russia-NATO Council, but only when it has a real agenda".

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