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Moscow ready to respond to NATO’s initiatives on military incidents’ avoidance deal

July 11, 2016, 20:00 UTC+3

According to the diplomat, the decision of NATO summit in Warsaw to deploy four NATO battalions in the territories of the Baltic States contradicts the Russia-NATO Founding Act

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MOSCOW, July 11. /TASS/. Moscow is ready to respond to NATO’s initiatives concerning a possible agreement on avoidance of military incidents, Russian Permanent Representative to NATO Alexander Grushko said on Monday.

"Indeed, we heard NATO’s calls [on the necessity of consultations on avoidance of military incidents - TASS]," Grushko said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 television channel. "We did not have objections. We even noted that we have bilateral agreements with more than 20 countries of the alliance. We are ready to further work to improve these agreements."

The Russian diplomat drew attention to the fact that at a Russia-US meeting on the 1972 US-Soviet Incidents at Sea Agreement in June, the Russian side put forth a number of specifying initiatives. "These initiatives take into account situation we have encountered in the recent past," he said. "So, the ball is in the US’ court."

"We said that we are ready to respond to initiatives from other NATO countries with which we have no such agreements and look at signing such agreements," Grushko noted. "So far, things are standing still. NATO has given no concrete ideas of who a Russia-NATO agreement might look like."

Nevertheless, Moscow is ready for such dialogue, the Russian diplomat pledged. "One of the elements of the Russian-NATO Council session is whether we can get moving in the implementation of the Finnish president’s plan on the use of transponders while flying over the Baltic Sea," he added.

NATO envoy explains why Moscow will have to respond to NATO actions

The diplomat has stressed that Moscow will have to respond to NATO’s recent and planned actions.

"Now, there is no balance of forces as it used to be before the beginning of all these NATO preparations," he said.

"NATO is to be counterbalanced, certain counterbalancing steps are needed," he said.

"NATO should be aware that the counterbalancing operation will require steps to create the balance we used to have before NATO’s attempts to create a counter potential at the borders that are now already NATO’s borders," the Russian diplomat said, adding that the countries that are to deploy NATO battalions, Poland in particular, have never been part of Russia’s military planning.

According to the diplomat, the decision of NATO summit in Warsaw to deploy four NATO battalions in the territories of the Baltic States contradicts the Russia-NATO Founding Act.

"Indeed, these decisions do not match [the Russia-NATO Founding Act]," Grushko said. "We are dealing with a significant change in the military-political situation. There is no parity of forces which used to exist before all the latest NATO preparations," Grushko stressed.

The Russian diplomat added that Moscow was considering the security situation in Europe as a single whole and took account of the US intentions to increase the number of brigades in Western Europe from two to four. "Four battalions are only part of NATO efforts, which also include a US initiative of building confidence in Europe," Grushko said.

"We have an integrated rather than an isolated approach to this activity: how all NATO steps and measures, including defense planning, affect the pan-European security and our interests from the point of view of maintaining our defense capability at a due level," the Russian diplomat added.

"We are being pushed into certain schemes of the Cold War times but we do not need it," Grushko said. "Whether NATO needs it is a big question. Eventually, Europeans should realize that to have Russia as a potential enemy in the context of maintaining military potentials is a dead end."

EU-NATO cooperation declaration 

Grushko has also dwelled upon the EU-NATO cooperation declaration signed at the recent NATO summit in Warsaw.

"Obviously, the Warsaw declaration was meant as a crutch to prop up the European Union after [British Prime Minister David] Cameron performed a surgery to amputate a part of the European Union," he said in the interview. "Now, the European Union and NATO will pool their efforts to rebuff hybrid threats, to protect the cyberspace. They will be working together in the sphere of strategic communications, this is how counter-propaganda is translated into the language of the West. They will try to revive cooperation in the sphere of defense industry, and so on."

Among other Warsaw summit’s decisions, Grushko drew attention to the new multi-purpose naval operation Sea Guardian in the Mediterranean. "Its mandate is not yet clear, so, I cannot go into detail. It is yet to be discussed with NATO partners. I think they are at the beginning of the road in what concerns this mandate," he noted.

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