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MOSCOW, July 5. /TASS/. NATO’s actions have provoked risks and challenges to Russia’s security interests and frustrated confidence, Anton Mazur, the leader of the Russian delegation to the Vienna talks on military security and arms control, said on Tuesday.
"Despite our warnings of counter-productivity and risks of NATO’s eastwards expansion, the borders of the biggest military bloc have nearly reached Russian borders," the Russian Foreign Ministry quoted him as saying at the annual security review conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). "Works have started in the territory of new members to develop military infrastructure. New formats of military activities have been launched on the ground, in the air and at sea, including a mission on air patrolling and multinational exercises."
The Russian representative also drew attention to the fact that the creation of NATO missile defense facilities on the basis of the European segment of the US global missile shield "has embarked on a practical track." "Non-nuclear countries, including those of Eastern Europe, take part in NATO’s nuclear drills," Mazur said. "The alliance is using confrontational schemes in the Baltic and Black Seas as well."
"Thus, NATO’s steps provoked risks and challenges to Russia’s security interests even before the current crisis in Russia-NATO relations," he stressed. "It has seriously undermined trust."
NATO member countries do not want to discuss with Russia the topic of control over conventional weapons in Europe, he went on.
"Member countries of the Alliance want neither to limit their ‘freedom’ nor discuss the topic of control over conventional weapons in Europe," Mazur said.
"Taking into account close connection between regime of control over conventional weapons in Europe and pan-European regime of trust measures, it is just impossible to seriously work on deep modernization of the military agreement from 2011 in such conditions," the diplomat noted.
He added that NATO should stop its activities near Russian borders in order to launch talks on establishing measures of strengthening trust and security. "Sometimes we hear that additional measures of strengthening trust and security are allegedly needed to prevent accidental clashes between the forces of Russia and NATO member countries. However, there is a much simpler way to reach this goal - it is enough just to move forces and equipment of the Alliance away from our borders," Mazur said.
"We consider it necessary to note that in order to create conditions for discussions on measures of strengthening trust and security, the Alliance should stop building up activities on the eastern flank, and later wrap them up completely," he concluded.
The diplomat said the NATO leadership initiated the suspension of dialogue with Russia.
According to the Russian diplomat, confrontational decisions taken by NATO against the background of the Ukrainian crisis aggravation have further exacerbated the situation.
"The Alliance has made a rapid turn in its policy and military planning to the complex ‘deterrence’ schemes, and in fact - to the plans of intimidation of our country", he said.
According to Mazur, "military exercises in Central and Eastern Europe, just along our borders have not only become more frequent and large-scale (for example, almost 50,000 troops of NATO countries have simultaneously conducted drills there this month), not only command centers and arms and military equipment depots have been created there, but also the deployment of foreign troops has started actually on a permanent basis (the periodic "rotations" make no difference)."
"Moreover, these activities continue to grow in scale (as we understand, this is what will be discussed at the NATO summit in Warsaw) and so they call into question the viability of the agreements enshrined in the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997", the Russian delegation head said.
"We are told that these measures are ‘purely defensive’ in nature", Mazur said.
He added that Russia remembers that the "defensive" NATO bloc and its individual members have often used military force under false pretexts to the detriment of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of various states in Europe (Yugoslavia) and outside it (Iraq, Libya, Syria and others).
"Instead of reducing tensions and strengthening the professional military dialogue, the leadership of the Alliance, on the contrary, has initiated its disruption," the diplomat said. "They even went so far as to impose illegitimate personal sanctions on the Russian Defense Ministry senior officers." "Even during the Cold War times such steps were never taken", he said.
Mazur went on to say that NATO’s actions are incompatible with trust-building initiatives.
"We have repeatedly stressed that the alliance’s current policy, and now its military practices, are incompatible with initiatives of measures to build up trust and security," he said.
"In current conditions, we think it inappropriate to complain about alleged ‘insufficiency’ of the existing measures," he said, adding that Russia is "the most inspected state of the OSCE."
Thus, in his words, more than 30 flights under the Open Skies Treaty are performed annually over Russia. More to it, the Russian side receives all inspections and visits envisaged by the Vienna document of 2011.
"Notably, the instruments of the measures of trust and security have been dramatically discredited by the alliance," Mazur stressed.
"As is known, the Western countries used these measures in areas adjacent to Ukraine (an inspection under the Vienna document of 2011, observation flights under the Open Skies Treaty), but failed to spot any unusual military activities or destabilizing concentration of forces (we demonstrated it on concrete examples of observation flights under the Open Skies Treaty and no one could provide any argument of the contrary with photos). However, the ‘vision’ (and to be more precise, entrenched phobias) of Western politicians seems to be of bigger importance that the reality which runs counter to it. Hence, NATO continued its loud political statements."
Moscow registers "ever increasing violations of liabilities in the area of measures of trust and security by the alliance’s members."
As examples, the head of the Russian delegation cited Turkey’s refusal to receive an inspection flight under the Open Skies Treaty over its southeastern territories and the United States’ and Canada’s hampering flights of a Russian Open Skies plane equipped with digital surveillance instruments.
"Some of the alliance’s ‘associates’ are demonstrating rather negligent approaches to their liabilities. Thus, Georgia used trumped up pretexts that have nothing to do with the Open Skies Treaty to close observation flights involving Russia," the Russian diplomat said. "For two years, Ukraine has been conducting military activities in its territory which involve up to 90,000 servicemen and big numbers of weapons but has issued no notifications required by the Vienna document, neither has it invited observers to this region."
"So, as a matter of fact, it means that NATO countries and their closest partners have dramatically devaluated the significance of instruments of measures of trust and security," Mazur underscored.
According to mazur, NATO’s switch to the policies and military planning based on confrontational schemes has deteriorated security in Europe.
"Along with the curtailment of NATO’s dialog with Russia, an unprecedented campaign was unleashed on discrediting the day-to-day activity of the Russian Armed Forces," he said.
"Openly fabricated stories are replicated about the search for non-existing submarines or the alleged danger of Russian aircraft’s flights for civil aviation in Europe," he added.
According to the head of the Russian delegation, the root cause of the security deterioration in Europe "stems not from a deficit of instruments for measures to strengthen confidence and security in Europe but from NATO’s switch to the policy and military planning based on confrontational schemes" when the presence of foreign troops on Russian frontiers "was announced as the sole guarantee for security," he said.