NATO expansion was among principal topics of his address to the conferees. It did not come as even a slight surprise, he remarked.
"The Russian attitude to it is complacent though disapproving as far as NATO northwestward expansion is concerned, with which the [post-Soviet] Baltics-Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia-joined the alliance alongside another four countries-Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania, which April 2 made full-fledged NATO members.
"We [Russians] don't see whatever connection of an emergent new NATO infrastructure with such priorities of Russian-NATO partnership as the anti-terror cause and efforts against mass destruction weapon proliferation," the minister emphasised.
As he was answering reporters' questions, Mr. Ivanov spoke up for adequate retaliation of the terrorist threats. "What I have in mind are instances of disproportionate retaliation-in particular, the use of U2 reconnaissance planes or Awacs and war aircraft to prevent a terror act on which we do not know even just when and where it may come. Such action breeds public apprehensions: when planes are in the air, it means war may break off in a day or two," he explained.