04:49 GMT +323 March 2018
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    German soldiers attend a ceremony to welcome the German battalion being deployed to Lithuania as part of NATO deterrence measures against Russia in Rukla, Lithuania February 7, 2017

    NATO Troops on Russian Borders Foster Mistrust, Arms Race - Senior M5S Member

    © REUTERS/ Ints Kalnins
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    ROME (Sputnik) – Deploying NATO troops close to Russia's western borders further contributes to an arms race, and maintains an atmosphere of mistrust between Moscow and the alliance, Fabio Massimo Castaldo, a senior member of the Italian Five Star Movement (M5S) and vice-president of the European Parliament, told Sputnik.

    "I think that this was the wrong decision, which we repeatedly criticized during our work in parliament, primarily at the national level. Because it helps maintain an atmosphere of mistrust and an arms race that has led us to the present stagnation in diplomatic work," Castaldo said.

    The politician called for the easing of tensions between NATO and Russia.

    READ MORE: Russia Shows No Signs of Aggression in the Baltic — NATO General

    "I think that we should bet on the gradual easing of tension, including with the help of signals that we send as NATO, hoping to restore useful and constructive relations [with Russia]," Castaldo added.

    At the Warsaw summit in 2016, NATO allies reiterated their commitment to end cuts to defense spending and gradually increase it toward the alliance's goal of 2 percent of GDP within a decade. The alliance also agreed to deploy additional forces in the Baltic states and Poland.

    NATO has been boosting its military presence in Europe, especially in eastern Europe, since 2014, using Russia's alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis as a pretext. Moscow has refuted these allegations and warned that such a policy as the alliance's may undermine stability in the region.

    The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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