MOSCOW, April 15 /TASS/. Russia has noticed a sharp increase in the number of NATO flights near Russian borders, Alexander Grushko, Russia’s Permanent Representative to NATO, said in an interview with the Rossiya 24 TV news channel on Wednesday.
"Today, we can see a sharp increase in the NATO activity. NATO should not be surprised that we are escorting and intercepting these planes to find out the purpose of their presence near the country’s borders," Grushko said.
He described the current situation as a "product of NATO policy."
"The first signs of increased military activity appeared as early as in 2004 after the Baltic States joined NATO and the alliance decided to introduce air patrols of those countries’ airspaces," Russia’s Permanent Representative said.
The problem is not at all new in Grushko’s view. "Escorted military aviation flights are nothing new. They did not start yesterday. The international community managed to work out a package of documents allowing neutralizing, more or less, the negative consequences of such rapprochements. Before, all these issues used to be solved via bilateral channels," Grushko added.
According to Grushko, attempts to accuse personnel of Russia’s mission at NATO of spying have purely ideological motives, and there are no real grounds for that.
He said the alliance made no public statements about the reasons for reducing missions of its partner countries. All explanations were provided via mass media with references to unnamed sources, he noted. "They said it was necessary to organize relations with partner countries more efficiently, since there had become too many of them," Grushko reminded. "All this sounds unconvincing."
"The only convincing reason the could be provided to public opinion and that could be understood by public opinion is spy mania, that Brussels teems with spies. That’s why such statements are a purely ideological injection geared to prove the decisions taken by NATO are right," Grushko said.
The US has announced plans to reject the deployment of the fourth stage of the missile defense system in Europe and to refocus towards protection against potential North Korea missile attacks. Infographics by TASS
The diplomat pointed out that no one is planning to abandon plans of deploying a US anti-missile defense system in Europe now that the "Iranian threat" has been removed.
Initially, the argument was that the missile defense system was designed to protect Europe and the United States from the "Iranian threat" and that the project will be adapted to the presence of real threats," Grushko said.
"Now, all that has been forgotten. Moreover, NATO’s official representatives keep saying that the project is not directed against any particular country because there are 19 states around the globe that already possess developed missile technologies. Therefore, NATO should be able to protect itself," the Russian diplomat stressed.
"It is new evidence that the plan used to have an absolutely different purpose - to gain strategic advantage by breaking strategic stability and obtaining an opportunity to intercept Russian strategic means," Grushko said.
"That is exactly why we demanded building our possible cooperation in this sphere on absolutely clear legal guarantees that the common system which would be created would not have a capability to undermine strategic stability," Grushko stressed.