MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Since 2014, NATO has been building up its military presence in Europe, particularly in eastern European countries bordering Russia, using Moscow's alleged interference in Ukraine as a pretext for the move.
Moscow has repeatedly dismissed the Ukraine-related accusations leveled at it, warning that increased NATO activities near the country's borders could undermine regional and global stability.
"As for the thesis that significant combat forces will not be deployed on the territory of new [NATO] states — we started drawing the attention of our NATO colleagues to the fact that they are constantly creating bases, including missile defense bases in Poland, the Czech Republic…we asked how this correlates to their obligation not to deploy substantial combat forces. They replied that these are not substantial forces, not permanent, and that they will be rotated," Lavrov told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
Because Russia has a different opinion on the matter, Moscow offered NATO to find an agreement that would provide a detailed definition of substantial combat forces, he said.
"They flatly refused to even discuss this issue, which, of course, leads to very simple and sad thoughts: long before the events in Ukraine, NATO wished to grant itself the opportunity to move close to our borders. No sane serviceman or politician would expect us to applaud this. We are responding absolutely appropriately and proportionately. This is a necessity in order for us to be able to react to any development, considering the fact that a Russophobic minority within NATO — following the alliance's failed attempt to find its meaning within the Afghanistan campaign — wishes to unite [NATO] on a purely anti-Russian basis, presenting Russia as a threat to everyone and everything."