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NATO evading dialogue, Russia's top diplomat says

June 28, 2017, 19:56 UTC+3

Sergey Lavrov believes Russian and NATO military should sit down at the negotiations table

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KRASNODAR, June 28. /TASS/. Russian, NATO military experts should sit down at the conference table but Western counterparts are evading proposals in that respect, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.

"We've long made a proposal for the military experts to sit down at the table of negotiations," he said. "The fact NATO counterparts are evading the conversation makes one think they realize perfectly well the true correlation of forces in Europe," he said.

"As for the problem of restraint in the buildup of armament arsenals by Russia and NATO, there’s the statistics and no one has refuted it so far," Lavrov told a news conference, which he addressed together with visiting German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

"We’ve presented this statistical data more than once," he went on. "It shows boldly the North-Atlantic alliance has built up many times over its presence in regions of Europe where, according to our agreements, it should not build up the Armed Forces on a permanent basis."

"NATO claims it’s doing so along the principle of rotation - the kind of rotation that’s permanent and that’s why we don’t see any difference between the permanent and rotational deployment in the current plans of the alliance," Lavrov said.

"The number of wargames close to Russian borders has increased sizably and their legends are mostly indicative of being part and parcel of Russia’s deterrence," he said.

"To make the situation fully clear, we proposed to enable military experts to sit down at the table of negotiations with appropriate maps in the hands and to analyze the character of the forces NATO has on Russia’s borders and Russia has on NATO’s borders," Lavrov said.

"Moscow is prepared for dialogue and for implementing the Finnish President’s initiative on normalizing the situation in the skies over the Baltic Sea," he said. "We made proposals for this a year ago but NATO is in no hurry so far to consider it."

"In relations with NATO, the true picture of what’s happening is heavily distorted because the alliance is avoiding dialogue," Lavrov said.

"NATO officials keep repeating as if it were an incantation that relations with Russia will never get back to where they were previously until Moscow mends its ways," he said. "This is an approached pegged to ideology and it won’t take them far."

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