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BRUSSELS, March 31. /TASS/. NATO is playing cunning when it says that its plans to build up its military presence in Eastern Europe are a response to Russia’s actions, Russian Permanent Representative to NATO Alexander Grushko said on Friday commenting on the results of the NATO ministerial meeting.
"NATO is seeking to reduce what is doing on its eastern flank to only four notorious battalions (of up to 5,000 servicemen in the Baltic countries and Poland - TASS). They allege that it is their response to the ongoing reform of our armed forces, including the establishment of three divisions (in the country’s western region)," he said.
"But this is a deceitful logic, which doesn’t reflect the real state of things and is designed to mislead public opinion and prove the proportionality and adequacy of NATO’s buildup," he stressed.
Grushko emphasized that, in actual fact, NATO has an advantage over Russia in all major weapons systems. "I will not elaborate on the military budget. Today it is half of the global one. The total budget of the European NATO member-countries and Canada is $250 bln. If (military) expenditures reach 2% of the GDP (as NATO demands), their growth at the expense of European countries only will be about $100 bln. That’s actually two Russia’s military budgets, and no less than 20% should be earmarked for purchasing weapons," he said.
"We assess the situation on the western flank taking into account all NATO’s activities. These are not only four battalions. It is also the deployment of an additional US armored brigade to "to calm the allies", the deployment of an Air Force brigade, storing weapons for another reinforced brigade at the warehouses in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The process of forming the multinational brigade in Romania continues, just as Navy buildup in the Baltic and Black Seas, air patrol missions and an array of measures to improve military infrastructure. In fact, the issue at hand is massive development of the theater of military operations," the Russian envoy noted.
"If we follow NATO’s logic, it turns out that the alliance’s member-countries, our neighbors, have no military capabilities at all despite the fact that Poland is one of the leading NATO member-countries in Europe and has up to 1,000 tanks in its arsenal at present. Missile defense system facilities are part of this formula. In Romania, it has already been transferred to NATO’s operations command, while in Poland it is to be commissioned in 2018," Grushko said.
"Naturally, we take all this into account, and steps taken by us fully guarantee Russia’s defense capacity and security," he stressed.
"By the way, when discussing the issue of the three divisions, with all the exaggerated importance attached by NATO to our step to restructure the conventional armed forces in the European part of our country, the personnel strength of these three divisions is about 27,000, which is less than the strength of the NATO Response Force, which consists of 40,000 personnel," the diplomat concluded.