09:53 GMT +3 hours26 August 2016
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West Inflates Russian Threat to Justify Defense Spending: Scholar

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Detractors have inflated the threat Russia represents in order to justify a number of policies such as increasing military budgets and expanding NATO's footprint, Michael Kofman, a scholar with the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute, said.

WASHINGTON, October 24 (RIA Novosti) — Detractors have inflated the threat Russia represents in order to justify a number of policies such as increasing military budgets and expanding NATO's footprint, Michael Kofman, a scholar with the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute, said.

"As a whole, different observers have chosen to dramatically exaggerate the threat Russia poses to Europe as part of a policy argument they wish to make, either in support of Ukraine, more defense spending, a greater NATO presence in the East, etc.," Kofman told RIA Novosti Thursday.

Kofman responded to accusations made by billionaire investor George Soros who claimed in an article on Thursday that Russia threatened the existence of the European Union.

"Russia is not an existential threat for the EU, but the EU and the continued expansion of a European economic/security framework is obviously an existential threat for Vladimir Putin's Russia," Kofman said.

Kofman also took issue with Soros' claim that the Russian policy may provide an alternative for "anti-EU" parties, which had gained many seats in the last European Parliament elections.

"The rise of anti-EU and right wing parties in Europe is a response to a combination of factors, including an unpopular policy of austerity in response to the 2008 financial crisis, the EU's inability to adequately address social issues like immigration and the self-interested politics of member states, for example Britain," Kofman added.

Relations between Russia and the West hit rock bottom following Crimea's reunification with the country in March. Western powers and Ukraine also accused Moscow of helping Ukraine's independence supporters and even of a direct military intervention, claims deemed groundless by Moscow.

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defense spending, threat