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    A Syrian national flag flutters as the ruins of the historic city of Palmyra are seen in the background, in Homs Governorate, Syria April 1, 2016.

    US State Senator Wants to Visit Russia to Discuss Syria, NATO With Officials

    © REUTERS / Omar Sanadiki
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    US State Senator from Virginia Richard Black said on Monday he would like to discuss with Russian officials the Syrian crisis and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Black told Sputnik that he wants to go to Russia to discuss the Syrian crisis and NATO.

    "I would love to visit Russia and we actually had some plans about a year ago. I would love to have an invitation to come to Russia, and if I came to Russia I would want it to be a situation where I met with political officials and something to make it worthwhile," Black said. "I would be most happy to come to Russia because I honestly see Russia as a natural ally of the United States of America."

    When asked what issues he would address with the Russian officials, Black explained, "Syria is an issue of great interest to me. The situation on the Russian border, I would be very interested in speaking about NATO."

    Talking about NATO, the senator stressed that moving the alliance to the east towards the Russian border, it creates a "very dangerous situation. "

    "When the cold war ended with the collapse of the Berlin… an agreement was arranged upon that if the Soviet Union did not interfere with the reunification of Germany, then NATO would not move one inch further to the east," he noted. "However without scarcely any delay we started marching NATO further and further to the east."

    "The beauty of the collapse of the Berlin wall was that suddenly there was this tremendous buffer between NATO and the Russian border. It was a safety provision because now there was time if there was some incident there was time for the leaders to get on the phone and talk to one another," he added. "As we move closer and closer and we have closed that gap we’re now back in the situation where we have nuclear armed countries nose to nose at the border."

    NATO has been building up its military presence in Eastern Europe, citing Russia's alleged meddling in the Ukrainian crisis in 2014 and the referendum in Crimea. Following the July 2016 summit, the alliance announced deployment of four multinational battalions to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland.

    Russia has repeatedly refuted the claims of being involved in the Ukrainian crisis, stating that NATO’s military build-up near the Russian borders is provocative and could lead to regional and global destabilization.


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    Richard Black, United States, Syria, Russia
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