MOSCOW, November 24. /TASS/. Europe pushes aside the principle of indivisible security and NATO’s expansion cannot but prompt Russia’s retaliatory measures, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.
"Europe does not wish to heed our concerns and Europe pushes aside the invariable principle of indivisible security, which means that they talk about their security to the detriment of ours," the Russian presidential spokesman said, commenting on a statement by Chief of NATO’s Joint Support and Enabling Command (JSEC) Lieutenant-General Alexander Sollfrank on the need of creating "a military Schengen," a free military passage area similar to the political Schengen zone.
"In this case, I want to stress again that it is NATO that is constantly moving its infrastructure close to our border. We are not moving towards NATO’s infrastructure. It is NATO that is moving towards us. This cannot but cause our concern and this cannot but prompt countermeasures to ensure our security," the Kremlin press secretary stressed.
Responding to a specifying question about whether the Kremlin viewed such pronouncements as a risk of an armed conflict between Russia and Europe or as the alliance’s further confrontation with Russia, Peskov answered: "It is sooner the latter."
"The alliance has always considered our country as a notional enemy. Now it considers our country as an obvious enemy. This is nothing else but an instigation of tension in Europe, which has its implications," the Kremlin spokesman said.
NATO Logistics Chief Sollfrank said earlier that he would like to see a "military Schengen", an area of the free passage of military cargo across Europe similar to the political Schengen zone that allows free movement in most of the EU.
"We are running out of time. What we don't get done in peacetime won't be ready in case of a crisis or a war," the news agency Reuters quoted Sollfrank as saying.
"We need to be ahead of the curve. We have to prepare the theater well before Article 5 [of NATO’s founding Washington Treaty on collective defense] has been invoked", he said.
Six years of efforts
The European Union and NATO engaged in creating "a military Schengen" in the fall of 2017. The initiative was originally put forward by several politicians from the Baltic states and actively supported by then-EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini. The effort of creating this system became a major task of the EU’s PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation) program established that year to deepen defense cooperation. As its key element, the program stipulated projects for expanding and bolstering the European transport infrastructure, including roads, railways, bridges, tunnels, ports and airports to use as many transport links as possible for carrying heavy and large-size military hardware.
Simultaneously, European countries began discussing measures to harmonize their strongly differing regulations on the carriage of military and other dangerous cargoes, specifically, explosives along their transport routes. All these measures were set to lead to creating "a military Schengen," a system that would ideally allow military convoys to move across the whole of Europe based on a single permit, stopping only for refueling and a rest.
The initiative was actively supported by NATO and interaction between the military alliance and the EU has intensified considerably since the PESCO program began to be implemented.
Progress in subsequent years has been minimal and even NATO’s Joint Support and Enabling Command (JSEC) established on September 8, 2021 and now headed by Sollfrank has failed to resolve the problem quickly.