SELIGER (Tver Region), August 27 (RIA Novosti) — Russia accepts the fact that its allies' opinions may differ from from Moscow ones, in contrast to NATO which obliges its members to stick to the rules, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.
“For example, NATO always votes as a single bloc everywhere. Who are Russia’s allies? We have many allies. These are the members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, our partners on Eurasian integration projects, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS. And when we’re told that our allies in the CSTO don’t always vote together with Russia in unison, then we don’t make any type of tragedy from that. As opposed to NATO, where any step in a different direction or any demonstration of a difference of opinion is punished," Lavrov said.
Earlier, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated that the alliance will, for the first time, deploy forces at its new Eastern European bases.
Ukraine became the first former-Soviet nation to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace program in 1994. The program had been intensifying its efforts until 2010, when President Viktor Yanukovych removed the issue of joining NATO from the country’s political agenda. The new authorities brought to power after the February 2014 events on Kiev’s Independence Square have increased cooperation with the block, although there has been no explicit claim that Ukraine will join the group.
Following Crimea’s reunification with Russia in March 2014, NATO has been boosting its military presence close to Russia’s border. In particular, the block dispatched a number of warships to the Black Sea and reinforced air patrolling missions in the airspace of the Baltic nations. Additionally, in April Washington sent four airborne units to Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to support its NATO allies amid the fighting in eastern Ukraine.
The group of NATO ships in the Black Sea reached a record number of nine vessels in July, the most significant presence in recent decades. The group included the USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) cruiser, France’s Surcouf frigate, Greece’s Macitis corvette and Italy’s Elettra intelligence vessel, among others. Additionally, in July Bulgaria held the Breeze 2014 naval drills, involving the ships of the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2.
Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over the increasing NATO military presence.