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NATO, US military buildup in Black, Baltic Sea is dangerous, Russian senator warns

The senator emphasized that Moscow needs to agree with NATO on the rules of behavior in these regions

MINSK, October 8. /TASS/. NATO and US growing presence in the Black and Baltic Sea is dangerous and it is necessary to work out rules of behavior in these regions, Chairman of the Russian Federation Council's temporary Commission on Information Policy and Communications Alexei Pushkov said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Minsk Dialogue forum "European security: Stepping back from the brink," Pushkov said: "We see that today the plans on increasing NATO presence in the Black Sea are being drawn up, and active maneuvers are carried out not far away from Kaliningrad. There have been incidents when Russian military jets flew rather close from NATO warships. This is a rather dangerous situation."

The senator emphasized that Moscow needs to agree with NATO on the rules of behavior in these regions. "If we were able to agree with the Americans in Syria, then I don’t see any reasons preventing us from coming to terms with the US on the Baltic region and the Black Sea."

According to Pushkov, earlier this increased activity of the North Atlantic Alliance had not been seen in the Black and Baltic Seas. In the past, Russia and NATO used to have understanding about careful behavior in these waters, then the situation changed after the Ukrainian crisis, he stressed.

Pushkov recalled that Russia and the US agreed on preventing air incidents in Syria. "Given that both Russian and US aircraft are there, we made a decision to prevent this incident. Unfortunately, we don’t have these agreements with the North Atlantic Alliance on the Baltic and the Black Sea."

The extent of US and NATO warships’ presence in the Black Sea is unclear, Pushkov noted. He recalled that the notorious Kerch incident in November 2018, which was considered as a reason for NATO’s military buildup in the Black Sea, was later recognized, including by Kiev, as a provocation by former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko ahead of elections.

"They violated the border of Russia and Russian territorial waters, and now this issue is closed and Ukrainian sailors have returned to Ukraine," Pushkov said. According to him, although "some signs of a thaw are seen in relations between Moscow and Kiev, there is no progress on the Black Sea waters.".