MOSCOW, November 7 (RIA Novosti) — NATO may carry out large-scale maneuvers in Eastern Europe and the Baltics and is working on creating a new rapid response force, the commander of the Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum said Friday.
"We have so far carried out large-scale maneuvers of 25,000-40,000 forces only in Western NATO countries. I can well imagine that we can carry out [maneuvers] also in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States in the future," Gen. Hans-Lothar Domrose was quoted as saying by Die Welt.
The German general also noted that NATO is currently working on creating a "rapid response force of 5,000 to 7,000 troops, which would be ready to reach the operational area in two to five days."
"These highly mobile troops, however, must have a huge air fleet so they can be on site quickly," Domrose said, noting that provision of transport is one of the "greatest challenges NATO countries are facing today."
Relations between Russia and NATO have been strained since the alliance accused Russia of meddling in Ukraine's internal conflict, a claim Moscow has denied. After Crimea's reunification with Russia, NATO boosted its military presence in Poland and in the former Soviet Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
Moscow has repeatedly expressed concern over NATO's increased military presence in Russia's neighboring states. In late September, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said NATO expansion in Eastern Europe was a "mistake" and a "provocation" that undermines European security.