"I don't think Russia is a threat to NATO at all, and that's what needs to be recognized," Sommers said.
"Vladimir Putin has been very, very careful to assure the West that this is not a reprise of Soviet expansionism that we see on the part of Russia’s military buildup, which from its perspective is to protect its interest, and to protect itself against what it sees as a reprise of the always contingent nature of history," he added.
According to him, the possible deployment of about 5,000 NATO troops in Eastern Europe does not represent a threat to Russia.
"The number [of troops] is not enough to pose any threat to Russia, but instead it’s kind of a reprise of the mutual assured destruction policies of the Cold War," Sommers said.
He also praised efforts by Putin and his US counterpart Barack Obama to contain "hotheads and fanatics", who are seeking to increase tensions. According to Sommers, both Russia and the United States are "far too powerful", which is why they should find ways to develop bilateral cooperation.
"I don’t think either side is determined to have a conflict with each other in terms of their leadership; that said, on both sides there are very influential parties which would like to see increased tensions, and that is what has to be avoided," he concluded.
Sommers' interview came a day after President Putin announced that over 40 intercontinental ballistic missiles will be delivered to Russia’s strategic forces in 2015. He added that specific attention would be paid to the implementation of a large-scale military rearmament program and the modernization of the defense industry.
On Tuesday, Russia's Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, for his part, accused NATO of "pushing [Moscow] towards an arms race."