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    Soldiers park their amphibious vehicles on a ship as they participate in a massive amphibious landing during NATO sea exercises BALTOPS 2015 that are to reassure the Baltic Sea region allies in the face of a resurgent Russia, in Ustka, Poland, Wednesday, June 17, 2015

    While Italy Urges 'to Build Bridges,' Poland Wants More NATO in E Europe

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    Russia-NATO Relations Reach a New Low (121)
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    Not every member of the North Atlantic Alliance wants the bloc to be tough on Russia. NATO should start "building bridges" on its eastern flank and work together with Moscow to tackle global terrorism, Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti urged ahead of NATO's landmark summit in Warsaw that will approve several anti-Russian measures.

    "We agree with what [Frank-Walter] Steinmeier said," she told one of Italy's leading newspapers Corriere della Sera. Last month, the German Foreign Affairs Minister warned NATO against "loud saber-rattling and warmongering" that would only put extra strain on relations with Russia.

    Pinotti pledged to "maintain a dialogue [with Russia], that we will necessarily intensify." She also said that Italy will fulfill all its responsibilities as a NATO member, but added that it "is a mistake" to think that the bloc's eastern border is "only a source of risks and threats." It is "actually a frontier where bridges should be built" at a time when the world has to deal with the challenges posed by international terrorism.

    "It would be foolish to revive the war of the past, considering that we face the risk of terrorist attacks at home and in the whole world," she added, referring the Cold War era confrontation between the West and the Soviet bloc. 

    Soldiers walk after demonstration of their skills during a military police exercise before the NATO summit in July in Warsaw at the PGE National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland May 24, 2016
    © REUTERS / Kacper Pempel
    Soldiers walk after demonstration of their skills during a military police exercise before the NATO summit in July in Warsaw at the PGE National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland May 24, 2016

    Pinotti's remarks come ahead of NATO's major summit that will be held in the Polish capital of Warsaw on July 8-9.

    The bloc will formally approve a set of measures aimed at enhancing its military presence in Eastern and Central Europe, as well as the Baltic region. Russia has long stated that these steps pose a threat to its own security and regional stability. In addition, Moscow views NATO's increased saber-rattling and belligerent rhetoric as provocative. 

    One of NATO's new measures aimed at countering Russia includes deploying four multinational framework battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. They will be established and led by Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the US.

    Polish troops land with parachutes at the military compound near Torun, central Poland, on June 7, 2016, as part of the NATO Anaconda-16 military exercise
    © AFP 2019 / JANEK SKARZYNSKI
    Polish troops land with parachutes at the military compound near Torun, central Poland, on June 7, 2016, as part of the NATO Anaconda-16 military exercise

    The command center for the four battle groups will be located in Elblag, a Polish city situated 100 kilometers (approximately 62 miles) from Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea, according to Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz, who outlined the plan on Tuesday.

    Poland has long advocated for NATO's greater military presence in the region to protect post-Soviet states from what has been often referred to as Russian "aggression," despite Moscow repeatedly saying that it poses no threat to its neighbors and beyond. 

    Macierewicz, a hardliner with regard to Poland's stance on Russia, has promised that Warsaw will make every effort to enhance NATO's military presence in the region if the bloc's latest measures do not lead to "a change in Russia's behavior."

    "Should that change occur, NATO would certainly not need to develop further forces here. But if it's necessary, we will push for it," he said, without elaborating what this shift might be.

    Topic:
    Russia-NATO Relations Reach a New Low (121)

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    battalion, NATO buildup, saber-rattling, standoff, military buildup, terrorism, security, NATO Warsaw Summit 2016, NATO, Baltic Region, Italy, Europe, Poland, Russia, Eastern Europe
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