“We in uniform, we define the threat based on two major elements. One is the capability, the other is the intent … When it comes to intent, it’s not so clear because we cannot clearly say that Russia has aggressive intents against NATO,” Pavel said Monday as quoted by the Politico news outlet.
Pavel expressed confidence that Moscow was enhancing both conventional and nuclear capabilities.
“There are elements that have to worry us and we have to stay ready. So we take this even potential threat very seriously. We do everything possible to be ready both in terms of capabilities and readiness, to face any potential threat that would mirror the situation we know from Crimea, from eastern Ukraine, not to be repeated against any NATO ally,” Pavel said.
The NATO-Russia relations have been complicated over the past years, as NATO has set a sustainable course for the alliance’s expansion by engaging Eastern European states since 2014, justifying the expansion as a response to Russia’s alleged meddling in the Ukrainian conflict. Moscow has repeatedly refuted these allegations.
On December 22, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the NATO grouping near the Russian borders has grown threefold in the past 10 years and eightfold along the country's western borders.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, during his one-on-one interview with renowned US filmmaker Oliver Stone, aired on June 14 by the US TV channel Showtime, said he was convinced that everyone will realize Russia poses no threat to its neighbors and stressed that Moscow would take all necessary steps to respond to the Alliance's activities in order to maintain the strategic balance.