07:14 GMT25 February 2020
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    The increasing number of NATO troops near the Russian borders as well as lack of constructive dialogue between Russia and the alliance urge Moscow to take retaliatory steps, Russia's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Lithuania Alexander Udaltsov told Sputnik on Friday.

    VILNIUS (Sputnik) – NATO has been significantly increasing its presence in Eastern Europe after the eruption of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014 using alleged Russian interference in the Ukrainian internal affairs as a pretext, a claim Russia has repeatedly denied.

    Moscow has repeatedly voiced its protests against the NATO military buildup saying that will undermine regional stability and result in a new arms race.

    "The alliance is known to have deployed hundreds of military bases along the rather big perimeter around Russia. The real increase of the number of NATO troops in countries neighboring Russia through permanent rotation of contingents as well as lack of the constructive dialogue with us urge Russia to take serious retaliatory steps," Udaltsov said.

    Russia can cooperate closer with Lithuania to curb terrorist threats and strengthen border security, he said.

    "Russia, by the way, can cooperate closer with Lithuania in terms of curtailing terrorism threats, promoting safety of the borders. We have such proposals, so it is possible to go ahead with their realization," Udaltsov said.

    The ambassador also regretted Lithuanian policy toward Russia, with Vilnius planning to build a fence on the border with the Russian Kaliningrad Region for "geopolitical" reasons.

    During the last NATO summit in July, NATO resolved to strengthen its military presence in Eastern Europe on a rotational basis with four battalions in Poland and in the Baltic nations. During the 2014 summit, NATO established a 5,000-strong Very High Readiness Joint Task Force in response to the alleged Russian threat.


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