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Russia's envoy mocks NATO rapid-response force plans

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Russia's envoy to NATO dismissed on Monday the military alliance's plans to create a rapid-response force to be deployed in member states that feel threatened by Moscow.
BRUSSELS, September 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's envoy to NATO dismissed on Monday the military alliance's plans to create a rapid-response force to be deployed in member states that feel threatened by Moscow.

Dmitry Rogozin called the plan a "noisemaker," and said it was nothing but part of the 'arsenal of weapons' used in the current U.S. presidential campaign.

NATO defense ministers considered at an informal meeting in London on September 18-19 the creation of a rapid-response force that could be deployed to threatened member states.

The Russian envoy said the idea was destined to fail as there was no major European country that feels threatened by Russia.

"I am very skeptical about this idea," Rogozin said, going on to say that the idea was "a distraction from the real work of the rapid-response forces."

Though the plan is widely supported by NATO member states, it is still unclear who would staff and equip the force, as well as who would have the authority to deploy it and under which circumstances.

The plan was formulated in the light of the five-day Russia-Georgia war over South Ossetia.

The majority of Western powers sided with Tbilisi over the conflict, criticizing Russia's military response to Georgia's August 8 attack on the breakaway republic as excessive. There was also widespread Western condemnation of Russia's August 26 recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway Georgian republic, as independent states.

More than 10 Russian peacekeepers were killed when Georgia launched its attack on Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, Moscow has said. More than 1,500 civilians also died, according to South Ossetian authorities.

Russia said its subsequent military operation to "force Georgia to accept peace" was aimed at protecting civilians and its peacekeepers in the region, and blamed the United States for encouraging Georgian aggression by backing President Mikheil Saakashvili and supplying arms and military training to the ex-Soviet republic.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin suggested in August that the recent war in Georgia was provoked by the White House in order to benefit "one of" the presidential candidates. Washington has dismissed the allegation.

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