MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The United States and NATO have been building up their combined military presence in Europe, particularly in Eastern European countries bordering Russia since 2014 in response to Crimea's reunification with Russia and Moscow's alleged interference in the internal conflict in Ukraine.
"Both in the United States, and some forces in Europe, think that Ukraine should be turned into a strategic counterbalance to Russia. And they used the Ukrainian crisis to build up NATO’s anti-Russia potential," Pushkov said in an interview with the Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper.
According to Pushkov, NATO’s entire strategy is based on the myth of a "Russian threat."
"The real, not imaginary threat, to it [Europe] comes from the Middle East, from Daesh. And people in the EU are starting to understand that," the Russian official stressed.
For the first time, US President Barack Obama used the comparison of Russia with Islamic State (Daesh) terrorists in the September 2014 speech at the UN General Assembly.
The Russian Foreign Ministry called Obama's speech "a set of cliches and propaganda slogans."
Islamic State, a radical group banned in a range of countries, including Russia, has ceased vast areas in Iraq and Syria and has claimed responsibility for several major terrorist acts, including the November 13 attacks in Paris.
Russia has been launching airstrikes against Daesh targets in Syria at the request of Syrian President Bashar Assad since late September. Russia has also called for the creation of a broad anti-ISIL coalition.