MOSCOW – The Russian president said the deployment of NATO forces near Russia’s borders is a threat to the country, which has been constantly trying to cooperate with the alliance.
“Before we start our work, I would like to note that on the same day, 3-4 December, in London, the NATO Summit dedicated to the alliance’s 70th anniversary is being held,” Putin said at the meeting on Navy development.
The Russian president recalled that the military alliance was created to oppose the USSR.
“Now, as we know, there is no longer Soviet Union, there is no Warsaw Pact […] but NATO not only exists but is also developing. At the time of its creation the alliance included 12 countries, now has 29, and the total military spending of the alliance represents more than 70% of world spending,” he said.
Putin noted that NATO must overcome its past stereotyped mindset, which is no longer effective for the alliance’s decision-making process:
“We have to assume that NATO’s expansion and development of its military infrastructure near Russia’s borders is currently one of the potential threats to our country’s security,” said the Russian leader.
Putin stressed that the Russian side has repeatedly expressed its readiness to “jointly combat the real threats, including international terrorism, localized armed conflicts and the danger of uncontrolled proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”
“We have repeatedly taken steps toward the alliance, tried to come up with a constructive agenda and several joint events have been held,” he said.
The Russian leader noted that cooperation between Russia and NATO was hampered by the events of 2008 when the conflict in Georgia broke out:
“However, after 2008, our cooperation was practically terminated because the alliance was acting incorrectly towards Russia… without any regard for [our] interests,” Putin said.
The president also said that Russia is following the modernization and technical retrofitting of its Armed Forces.
The Russia-NATO Council was established in 2002 to discuss the expansion of the alliance towards eastern Europe, but its activities were hampered after the outbreak of the Georgian conflict in July 2008 and halted in 2014 due to the Ukrainian issue.
Despite disagreements, the Russia-NATO Council meets periodically to discuss matters of mutual interest. The most recent meeting dealt with the short-range and long-range missile reduction agreement, the INF Treaty, on 5 July 2019 in Brussels.
From December 3 to 4, NATO leaders will be meeting in London. This Tuesday, the leaders will be received at Buckingham Palace by Queen Elisabeth II. On Wednesday, working meetings should discuss topics such as China, cyber security and NATO’s presence in space.