SOCHI, August 22. /TASS/. Russia is forced to respond to the expansion of NATO’s infrastructure and the emergence of missile defense systems near its borders, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a news conference following talks with Finland’s visiting President Sauli Niinisto on Wednesday.
In reply to a question from a Finnish journalist Putin said that NATO’s military infrastructures were moving towards Russia’s borders and the amount of the alliance’s military equipment and personnel, as well as the number of military exercises near Russia’s borders were growing.
"Naturally, we have to keep an eye on what is going on there and to strengthen our infrastructures. We must respond to the emergence of components of the US missile defense systems near our borders," Putin said, adding that those missile defense systems could be used for launching intermediate range missiles.
Whatever the case, Putin said, "We welcome the Finnish president’s proposal for easing any tensions in the region. This concerns flights by combat aircraft (activation of their transponders - TASS)." Putin recalled that the International Civil Aviation Organization had formulated certain rules but they do not apply to military aircraft. "The rules have the status of recommendations," he recalled.
"We are prepared to discuss this with our NATO partners, but they refuse. I believe this is not a constructive stance. We hope it will change," Putin said.
Moscow expects that NATO will review its refusal to discuss with Russia measures to ease tensions in the sphere of military aircraft flights, Putin said.
He said Russia welcomes Finnish president’s proposal "to ease any tensions (in the region), this also concerning military aircraft flights". Putin reiterated that the International Civil Aviation Organization "has worked out certain rules, but this does not involve military aircraft, it is non-regulatory".
"We are ready to discuss this with our partners in NATO, but they are refusing. I think this is an unconstructive stance. We hope it will be revised," Putin said.