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Russian envoy says NATO's expansion to the East endangers European security

According to the Russian diplomat, NATO’s efforts are changing the very essence of military security in regions bordering Russia

MOSCOW, October 31. /TASS/. NATO countries have refused to discuss issues of air security in the Baltic at an expert meeting in Moscow, Russia’s Permanent Representative to NATO Alexander Grushko said on Monday.

"The very fact that NATO countries have turned down our proposal to organize a meeting of military experts in Moscow to discuss all the aspect of air traffic security in that region is illustrative," he said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 television channel.

Thus, Grushko noted that NATO’s reluctance to discuss the problem of transponders and coordination of military and civil air traffic in general reveals the insincerity of NATO’s policy on that matter.

"As soon as we said it, the subject of transponders practically disappeared from the political vocabulary of NATO countries. It ceased to exist and next to no one raised it. I am not sure NATO is sincerely ready to negotiate joining to this regime," the Russian diplomat noted.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto came out with an initiative to oblige warplanes switch on transponders while flying over the Baltic Sea in early July 2015, when the Russian president was paying a visit to Finland. Putin, in turn, said Russia supports this initiative. Later, Russia’s defense ministry invited military experts from Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Finland to gather in Moscow for consultations on the military political situation in Europe.

NATO's expansion to the East 

NATO’s eastwards expansion runs counter to the interests of European security, Russia’s envoy to NATO noted.

"Obviously, the strengthening of the eastern flank is a project which is not in the interests of European security, moreover, it runs counter to them," Grushko said. 

According to the Russian diplomat, NATO’s efforts are changing the very essence of military security in regions bordering Russia. "It is deteriorating regional security and security of the states which take part in such drills and such activities," he added.

Russia-NATO Council

Moscow is engaged in preprations for organizing the next session of the Russia-NATO Council, Russia's Ambassador to NATO:

"We're working at this at present," he said when the anchor of the news show asked him then the next meeting of the parties to the council might take place. 

"We have never withdrawn from anywhere, we have suspended nothing, so, we will continue our course," the diplomat said, adding that Moscow has always been open for dialogue. "If NATO is ready to use other patterns of relations with Russia, the patterns of practical cooperation, we will naturally consider this."

"Our latest initiatives coming from our military demonstrated that we are open for conversation and understand that it is better to discuss many problems than not to do that," Grushko noted. "This is our firm position."