VLADIVOSTOK, October 6 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will not be able to prevent a build-up of NATO forces along its borders, but should be ready for that, Russia's former Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin said on Vladimir Pozner's TV program Monday.
"As a result of the recent steps, most likely, we are losing our influence in Ukraine, gaining certain influence in the Crimean Peninsula and southeastern Ukraine, and NATO is making its [military] presence around Russia considerably stronger. A policy of better positioning and protecting interests can be pursued, but each step should be well thought through. It does not mean that we will prevent NATO's build-up along the Russian borders, but we should be ready for that," Kudrin said.
Recently-appointed NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview to Polish broadcaster TVP Info Sunday that NATO has a strong army and may deploy it wherever it wants.
Relations between Russia and NATO have deteriorated amid the crisis in Ukraine. The alliance has repeatedly accused Russia of meddling in Ukraine's internal affairs, sending troops to the country, and has gone as far as to claim that Moscow planned to invade Ukraine. However, none of these statements have been supported with any evidence.
Following Crimea's reunification with Russia in March 2014, NATO has boosted its military presence close to Russia's border, specifically in Poland and the former Soviet Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.