The US-led military bloc’s posturing has fuelled Russian fears of conflict.
Speaking during a briefing for military attachés and other foreign diplomats, in Moscow, on Monday, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin accused NATO of readying up for an all-out war with Russia.
“The military development of the bloc has been redirected in full to prepare for a large-scale, high-intensity armed conflict with Russia,” Fomin stated.
The preparation comes with the expansion of the bloc’s military capabilities, and is also reflected in NATO’s program documents where Moscow has been unequivocally named “as the main source of threats to coalition security,” Fomin noted. At the same time, older documents, including the 2002 Rome declaration, establishing that Russia and NATO do not regard each other as adversaries, remain in force, he added.
The persistently cold relations between Russia and the US-led alliance have gotten even worse in recent months. In October, Moscow said it would suspend all direct ties with NATO, shutting down its offices in Moscow in response to the expulsion of eight Russian diplomats from its Brussels headquarters. At the time, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the bilateral channels were used by the bloc for “whipping up propaganda and putting pressure on Russia” instead of meaningful dialogue.
Early in December, Russian President Vladimir Putin floated the idea of a comprehensive, legally binding security deal with the West. The suggestion has already materialized into two draft documents, one for the US and a separate one for NATO as a whole. The proposed agreement envisions a halt to NATO’s eastward expansion and contains guarantees on the non-deployment of certain weapons systems in Europe.
The draft deal was designed to serve both Russia and NATO, Fomin stated, expressing hopes the bloc will get ready to constructively discuss the security proposals soon enough.
“We believe that this agreement has been developed in the interests of both Russia and Europe as a whole. We are looking forward to a serious, constructive conversation,” he told the diplomats. “We are waiting for the alliance to provide a substantive reaction to our proposals and are ready to start negotiations at any convenient moment.”
Image credit: President of the Russian Federation website.