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    RUSSIA * NATO * EXPANSION * FOREIGN MINISTRY

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    MOSCOW, April 4, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - NATO's expansion does not pose a threat for Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry's official spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said in the Vremena program of the Russian First TV Channel to be shown late on Sunday.

    "NATO's expansion in the present format does not pose a threat for Russia," he said.

    At the same time, the alliance is "a military machine, which concentrates serious military forces," he pointed out. This factor should be taken into account when building our relations in the security sphere, the diplomat believes.

    "NATO has not fully transformed as we would like it to, in order to counteract new threats and challenges," Mr. Yakovenko said.

    During the session of the Russia-NATO Council on April 2, Russia registered its biggest concerns, he recalled.

    Russia has received assurances that the new NATO member states will join the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty and even before the treaty comes into force will be guided by its clauses, Mr. Yakovenko said.

    "We have tried to register the security aspects that are important for us and we have received the answers we wanted," he said, when commenting on the Council's session.

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