MOSCOW, May 24. /TASS/. Russia’s decision to deploy three divisions along its western borders is only one of the measures to respond to NATO’s eastward expansion, Russia’s Permanent Representative at NATO Alexander Grushko said on Tuesday.
"The Russian president has repeatedly said that Russia is not interested in confrontation that we will not let anyone drag us into an arms race," the Russian diplomat noted. "As of today, our armed forces, our military technical potential make it possible for us to choose various military technical ways to ensure security and not fall into an arms race spiral."
"Our interests will be reliably protected. The deployment of three divisions is only one of the measures that should be considered in this context," the envoy said during a Moscow-Brussels video link-up.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced plans to deploy three new divisions along the western border back in January 2016. It became known later that a new motor-rifle unit will be deployed near Rostov-on-Don, and two more - in the Smolensk and Voronezh regions. Each of them will have about 10,000 servicemen.
The official said Montenegro’s accession to NATO shows that the alliance’s policy is aimed at creating division lines rather than at ensuring security.
"It is evident that NATO’s enlargement has not improved but has worsened Russia’s relations with the countries that have joined the alliance," Grushko said, adding that statements are already made that Montenegro’s military should take part in efforts on protecting the Baltic states from "an aggressive Russia."
"This is a theater of political absurd," the diplomat stressed. "Amid this the policy of NATO’s enlargement is becoming clear to everyone: it does not meet real security needs but only creates division lines."
"Speaking about the results of a NATO ministerial meeting on May 19-20, nothing unexpected happened in general," he said. "The foreign ministers gave instructions to the defense ministers to work out additional measures on strengthening the Eastern flank. It has already been announced that Great Britain and Germany will take part in these efforts," Grushko added.
Most citizens of Montenegro oppose the country’s accession to the alliance, he reminded. "This is absolutely evident as Montenegro as part of Yugoslavia was bombed (by the bloc)." However, the demands on holding a referendum have been ignored, he said.
"Of course, the subject matter of these decisions is yet to be analyzed," the diplomat went on. "It is obvious that NATO continues along a path towards military buildup in the regions that directly affect Russia’s vital interests. This is a new step towards the worsening of security in Europe and deterioration of regional security," he said.
On May 19, the foreign ministers of 28 NATO member countries signed the Accession Protocol with Montenegro, after which it got an observer status. When the document is ratified, Montenegro will automatically become NATO’s 29th member state.
Grushko pointed out that there have been no consultations over calling a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council.
"No consultations have been held for the time being. Nor any preparations are being made for such a meeting," Grushko said in reply to a question from TASS. "There’ve been no preliminary consultations or requests from NATO, either."
"We’ve taken note of what NATO’s secretary-general and French and German foreign ministers said about the alliance’s broad consent regarding the feasibility of holding a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council ahead of the NATO summit in Warsaw," he added.