MOSCOW, August 31 (RIA Novosti) – NATO plans to set up five additional military bases in Eastern Europe, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported.
Four thousand military will be deployed at the bases as part of rapid response units, the paper reported Saturday.
According to the paper, the move is aimed to ensure protection of the alliance’s member states from the supposed threat posed by Russia, as NATO considers Russian policy on Ukraine a violation of its sovereignty.
Earlier this week, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated that the alliance will for the first time deploy forces at its new Eastern European bases.
Russia said the expansion of NATO’s military presence in the region would threaten Euro-Atlantic stability and promised to respond to the alliance’s actions in order to defend its national security.
Following Crimea’s reunification with Russia in March 2014, NATO has been boosting its military presence close to Russia’s border. In particular, the block dispatched a number of warships to the Black Sea and reinforced air patrolling missions in the airspace of the Baltic nations. Additionally, in April Washington sent four airborne units to Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to support its NATO allies amid the fighting in eastern Ukraine.
The group of NATO ships in the Black Sea reached a record number of nine vessels in July, the most significant presence in recent decades. The group included the USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) cruiser, France’s Surcouf frigate, Greece’s Macitis corvette and Italy’s Elettra intelligence vessel, among others. Additionally, in July Bulgaria held the Breeze 2014 naval drills, involving the ships of the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2.
Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over the increasing NATO military presence.