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NATO says its military buildup in East Europe in line with commitments to Russia

June 07, 2017, 7:45 UTC+3 BRUSSELS

Russia's top diplomats earlier said NATO military buildup violates the fundamental 1997 NATO-Russia deal

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BRUSSELS, June 7. /TASS/. The deployment of four multinational NATO battlegroups in Eastern Europe does not violate the alliance’s commitments to Russia, a NATO official told TASS on Wednesday commenting on a statement by the Russian foreign minister.

Speaking to students in Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the alliance’s leadership makes decisions that "grossly violate provisions" of the 1997 Russia-NATO Founding Act" "The scale of military activity has grown sharply, military presence and infrastructure is built up in regions bordering on Russia, including along the border with the Kaliningrad region," he said.

Commenting on Lavrov’s statement, a NATO official said ""NATO is a defensive alliance and we do not seek confrontation with Russia."

"Our aim is to protect our Allies, prevent conflict and preserve peace. NATO’s enhanced forward presence in the Eastern part of the Alliance does not violate the Founding Act," the official went on. "It is part of our response to Russia’s use of military force against its neighbors and its military build-up in the Baltic region and beyond."

The official added that the deployment of four multinational NATO battlegroups "cannot compare to the divisions deployed by Russia."

"NATO’s approach to Russia combines strong defence with dialogue," he said. "We believe that when tensions run high, it is even more important to keep channels of communication open. That is why we have held four meetings of the NATO-Russia Council since April 2016, and are ready to continue our dialogue."

May 2017 marked 20 years since the signing of the Founding Act and 15 years since the passing of the Rome Declaration on a new quality of relations between Russia and NATO.

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