MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The alliance has so far tripled the size of its response force, creating new high readiness units and intending to ramp up presence along its eastern flank, the secretary general added, stressing that NATO will nevertheless pursue more constructive relations with Russia and keep communication channels open.
"I strongly believe that also Moscow, they understand that in the long run they will gain more from cooperating with NATO and the European Union and the West than confronting us. And I think it's ob vious that what we do is a response on the Russian behavior in Ukraine. Before that happened, we didn't have any kind of the same force presence in the eastern part of the alliance as we are planning to have now," Stoltenberg said at the close of a NATO foreign ministers' meeting.
Since 2014, NATO has been building up its military presence in Europe, particularly in eastern European countries bordering Russia, including Estonia, using Moscow's alleged interference in Ukraine as a pretext for the move.
Russia has repeatedly expressed concerns over NATO's military buildup along its western borders, warning that the alliance's expansion undermines regional and global security.