North Atlantic Alliance inflating "threat from the East" - Russian envoy to NATO Grushko
MOSCOW. Nov 8 (Interfax) - The North Atlantic Alliance is taking an endless series of measures to the sole end of mastering the theater of operations in the Baltic region and Central and Southeastern Europe, as well as creating a force-projection potential, Russian Permanent Representative to NATO Alexander Grushko said in an interview with the Izvestia newspaper published on Wednesday.
"We have been witnessing attempts to inflate 'the threat coming from the East' by means of propaganda in order to convince the public that a rise in defense spending is unavoidable. This is another source of tensions and conflict potential in international relations," Grushko said.
"The United States is unwaveringly implementing its program, which aims to enhance the confidence of its allies. An armored brigade and an army aviation brigade have been deployed to Europe in the course of rotation, and weapons for another army brigade have been stored at depots. The deployment of Marines to Norway has been announced. Plans to build the missile defense network's European segment in Romania and Poland are being implemented. 'Joint nuclear missions' are being practiced together with non-nuclear powers in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," Grushko said.
"We are bearing witness to the process of strengthening the eastern 'flank', which generates more myths of Russia's 'hostility'. [...] They are still trying to keep alive the propaganda bubble created around the Zapad 2017 drill before it even began. Judging by the rhetoric of certain Western capitals, some dream of climbing into the trenches of Cold War and enjoying all the perks of being there," he said.
As for potential cooperation between Russia and NATO in Afghanistan, Grushko told the newspaper, "the Afghan settlement is a subject concerning the security interests of Russia and NATO. The situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate, which is actually being admitted by members of the alliance, who are working to reinforce NATO's training mission, Resolute Support. Paradoxically, they claim that Afghanistan must not be allowed to turn into a safe haven for terrorist organizations, including ISIL (banned in Russia) and the terrorist threat must not spread outside this country, which is a real threat, but NATO has stopped any kind of practical cooperation with us. [...] There are no signs today that NATO will be ready to restore the activity of the NATO-Russia Council's working group on Afghanistan or unfreeze joint projects, which are important for the security of citizens of Russia and alliance member countries," Grushko said.
"The United States, as the alliances' chief stakeholder, calls the shots in the determination of priorities and spheres of NATO activity. It is too early to judge the course of the new administration, yet there has been no drastic change in the U.S. attitude towards the role of the alliance, perhaps, excluding stricter demand that the Europeans beef up their defense budgets," he told the newspaper.