MOSCOW, July 22 (RIA Novosti) — Moscow will respond adequately and equitably if NATO continues its military presence expansion closer to the Russian borders, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.
"Russia will respond adequately and equitably to the expansion of NATO military infrastructure closer to the Russian borders and the ongoing buildup of NATO forces," Putin said at a meeting of the Russian Security Council.
He also said that Moscow clearly sees that NATO is demonstratively strengthening its presence in Eastern Europe.
Following Crimea’s reunification with Russia in March, the alliance has been systematically stepping up its presence near the Russian border, citing the need to protect its members from potential Russian aggression. Moscow has repeatedly expressed concerns over Western pressure on Russia.
Moscow sees such developments as provocative steps that confirm NATO’s aggressive stance towards Russia.
Earlier in July, Russia’s Security Council said that chaos in Ukraine may lead to further NATO eastward expansion.
In mid-June, Russian Ambassador to NATO Alexander Grushko said the group’s continuing expansion policy, which ignores equal and indivisible security, will inevitably lead to the emergence of new divisional lines in Europe. He suggested that the alliance “is trying to use the crisis in Ukraine to its utmost in order to prove its relevance in the current security environment.”
Due to the ongoing political crisis in Ukraine, NATO introduced several measures, explained by the need to ensure the security of its allies. Baltic Air Policing missions have been intensified and additional NATO ships have been sent to the Baltic and the Mediterranean seas. NATO also declared an increase in permanent troop deployment, expansion of training programs, strengthening of early warning systems and improving the capacity of response forces.