Stoltenberg stressed that NATO's activities in the east of Europe are a response to Russian behavior. According to the Secretary-General, no one was speaking of such military presence in the eastern block of the Alliance before Russia annexed Crimea and destabilized the situation in Ukraine with military force, Stoltenberg said in an interview to German Süddeutsche Zeitung, posted on June 20, Censor.NET informs.
The leader of the Alliance reminded that the Founding Act between NATO and Russia meant respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states, while Russia violated those of Ukraine and Georgia.
Stoltenberg said NATO had to react to activities of Russia, who has increased its military expenses by three times since 2000, acts aggressively and changes existing European borders with military forces.
He also reminded of Russia's regular military exercises involving more than 100,000 soldiers, and of Russia's aggressive rhetoric aimed at intimidation of its neighbors.
NATO's Secretary-General stated that the Alliance would strive for constructive cooperation with Moscow within the NATO-Russia council. A new meeting on transparency of the cooperation and minimization of the risks is scheduled, he said.
Reminding of Russian jet downed by Turkey and maneuvers of Russian jets over the Baltics, Stoltenberg called them dangerous and said mechanisms for ending such incidents should be elaborated.
He said that NATO does not seek confrontation with Russia and called for the Cold War to remain history.
Earlier, Stoltenberg said that Russia was responsible for escalation of the Donbas situation.