Permanent NATO bases are an issue of particular concern, the analyst added, because it is a major policy change for the alliance. The bloc has previously built up its military capabilities close to Russia's borders through rotational deployment.
"Moscow has a problem with just the idea of rotating forces. But, as I said, those aren't permanent and can be more easily drawn back than a proposed third permanent deployment. This is a major issue and it could undermine the NATO–Russia Founding Act," Gardner warned.
The NATO–Russia Founding Act of 1997 is the document "in which the US had promised not to permanently deploy either troops or nuclear weapons in the new NATO countries," Professor of International and Comparative Politics at the American University in Paris explained.
Moreover, US and NATO officials, including the bloc's new Supreme Allied Commander, US Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, have often referred to Moscow as a threat.
On Thursday, Deputy US State Secretary Antony J. Blinken called on all NATO members to strengthen their "overall deterrence and defense posture" to counter "emerging challenges in the east and south," referring to Russia. "It means ensuring rotational land, sea, and air presence along NATO's eastern edge," he added.
Russian officials have always refuted these unfounded accusations, saying that Moscow is not a threat to any country and urging NATO to focus on areas of shared strategic interests. "What we need is more of that – discussing military transparency, Afghanistan, Crimea, and ultimately Syria, as well," Gardner agreed.