HEAD OF RODINA FACTION VIEWS NATO EXPANSION AS THREAT FOR RUSSIA

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MOSCOW, March 29, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent). - Deployment of NATO forces or weapons in the Baltic states after their admission to the alliance will change the military balance, believes Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Rodina faction in the Russian State Duma.

"This contradicts the logic of All-European cooperation and rapprochement between Russia and the European Union," he told journalists on Monday.

In his opinion, it also contradicts the EU's course for forming a cooperation zone in the Kaliningrad region, Russia's enclave in the Baltic. "It may so happen that we will have our own security island within the NATO, the Kaliningrad region, and we will have to reinforce it militarily," Rogozin emphasized.

Moreover, he believes that the expansion of the alliance will lead to "a sharp increase in dynamics of NATO's intelligence work".

The Russian deputy described NATO's patrolling of the Baltic airspace launched on Monday as a real possibility of violating Russia's airspace and, consequently, sovereignty. "In such cases Russia will act in a generally accepted way, that is, destroy or detain the violator by forcing it to land," he maintains.

This means that Russia's anti-air defense zone should be "deployed to full capacity". "The progress of talks with NATO depends to a large degree on how tough the system is reacting to the attempts of violating Russia's integrity," Rogozin explained.

On the whole, "Russia should act in line with its national interests" in connection with NATO's expansion, he believes.

At the same time, Russia and the alliance should concentrate their efforts not at fight against each other, but at counteracting international terrorism, the MP underlined. "Maybe they should have expanded not NATO, but the potential of anti-terrorist mechanisms and organizations", he added.

On March 29, 2004, representatives of seven states, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Estonia, will receive ratification instruments for admission to NATO. On April 2nd, the alliance is expected to increase the number of its members from 19 to 26.

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