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Moscow cautious about NATO’s growing presence in Baltic

October 19, 13:16 UTC+3

According to Lavrov, NATO leaders have never made a secret of the alliance's military build up strategy

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© AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis

ARKHANGELSK, October 19. /TASS/. Moscow considers NATO’s moves to build up its presence in the Baltic region to be part of its deliberate policy aimed at containing Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following ministerial meeting of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) on Thursday.

"Of course, we are concerned about the military-political situation in the Baltic region and NATO’s efforts to build up its presence," he said. "We see these processes as part of the deliberate strategic policy aimed at containing Russia."

According to Lavrov, NATO’s leaders, primarily the United States, have never made a secret of this strategy.

"It is being implemented consistently, including by stepping up efforts to create a global missile defense system, which has nothing to do with either Iran or North Korea, but is related to containing Russia and China," Lavrov stressed.

Russia's proposals

NATO keeps quiet about its attitude to Russia’s proposals for building confidence in the Baltic Sea region, Lavrov reiterated.

Moscow, he said, voiced those proposals in the Russia-NATO Council a while ago.

"There was a package of security measures that might enhance the level of confidence in the Baltic Sea region," Lavrov said. "There’s been no reply from NATO to this day."

"Before saying something about what some describe as Russia’s policy of building tensions let’s take a look at the statistics," he said. "Since the beginning of this year NATO’s aircraft and naval ships violated Sweden’s borders nine times, while there was just one incident involving Russia when, if the claims are to be believed, two our planes strayed into Sweden’s airspace for just one minute."

Transponders

Lavrov pointed to the absence of NATO’s reaction to the idea military aircraft should use transponders while flying over the Baltic Sea.

"Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto at last year’s meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin proposed an agreement by which all military aircraft would fly over the Baltic Sea with their transponders turned on," Lavrov recalled. "We responded to that proposal in full seriousness and submitted a corresponding proposal to the Russia-NATO Council."

"Finland is not a member of that Council, so we agreed to use the ICAO Baltic Sea Project Team for formulating procedures that might suit everybody," Lavrov said.

"Last time the BSPT met in session in May 2017. Everybody agreed that Russian military aircraft were carrying out flights (except for special ones) in accordance with flight plans forwarded to all ICAO BSPT members in advance and with transponders turned on. "In the meantime, NATO partners’ planes fly mostly with their transponders turned off."

Moscow, Lavrov said, is prepared for a continued dialogue on all these issues.

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