MOSCOW, 5 March. /TASS/. NATO is using the current situation in Ukraine to move closer to Russian borders, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov told a news conference at TASS on Thursday.
"We have noticed that NATO countries have used this as a pretext to throw off all diplomatic words and advance closer to Russia’s borders," he said.
Antonov said NATO’s decisions to create bases in the Baltic countries are evidence the North Atlantic alliance sees Russia as its enemy.
"The latest decisions to create six military staffs, say, in the territories of the Baltic countries are unmistakable evidence of one thing: all previous promises have been forsaken. NATO makes no secret of the fact Russia begins to be seen as an enemy," Antonov said.
The alliance has found a way of reincarnating itself, he remarked.
"At a certain point everybody was curious who would take the position of NATO’s enemy when the Soviet Union broke up. Now there is an excellent chance to appoint Russia for this role," Antonov said.
"I was to the Munich conference and, of course, I felt very sad about the anti-Russian tonality of statements by NATO countries, in particular, those close to Russia’s borders," he said.
According to the deputy minister, he has asked to check how many NATO manoeuvres are conducted at the Russian borders, how many flights the alliance states’ warplanes perform along the Russian border. "I can say that NATO’s operations by far surpass the activity of the Russian armed forces," said Antonov.
Nevertheless, he said, the activities of the North-Atlantic Alliance are not posing a serious threat to Russia’s security.
"We do not see any serious threat to Russia’s security from NATO’s activities. Russia’s Armed Forces are providing a proportionate response," Antonov told a press conference hosted by TASS.
The Russian Defense Ministry is ready for "any development of the situation, it is constantly being analyzed," Antonov stressed, adding that everything will be fine.
Anatoly Antonov has explained his name features on the list of Russian officials to whom Western sanctions apply because "somebody in Brussels" dislikes his statements regarding Russia’s foreign policy.
"I believe that somebody in Brussels does not like what I have been saying about Russia’s foreign policy. Of course, from the professional standpoint that means I have driven the message home. It also means there are no other means of making me stay quiet," Antonov told a conference at TASS.
He warned it would be silly to expect that sanctions would force some to stop doing their job right and to "repent" and "present apologies."
"Of course, it will happen the other way round. We have a very good tradition in Russia. Big troubles always unite us, however hard life may turn," Antonov said.