NEW YORK, February 15. /TASS/. Russia will take into account NATO’s increasing military presence in the Baltic states, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic alliance Alexander Grushko said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
"In 2004 on the territory of new NATO members there were not any military assets. At that time, talking about the Baltic area, it was one of the most quiet-in military terms-regions of Europe…Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, de facto, had no military forces and NATO had no assets on the territory of these countries…that allowed us to lower the military presence," Grushko said.
"In 2004, NATO decided to introduce an air policing mission and it was the first step toward a major change in security. Now we have continuous exercises, rotation of US forces, deployments of heavy weaponry to storage sites… United States will also deploy a new brigade on a permanently rotating or persistently rotating basis in this part of Europe," he said.
"Plus new sets of armaments for rapidly deploying two or three brigades. This is, of course, a major change in the security pattern and deployment pattern of NATO. This is something that will be very seriously looked at in the process of our military planning," Grushko said.
"Russia is not moving. This is NATO that is moving its territory, as a result of enlargement, closer to Russia. And now it is using this territory to project military power in the direction of Russia," he said.
"We are prepared to continue our cooperation in different situations…NATO should stop perceiving Russia as an aggressive state and stop military preparations with this misperception," Grushko said.