Sputnik News — Feb 16, 2017
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — NATO defense ministers decided earlier on Thursday to increase the Alliance’s presence in the Black Sea region. According to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the alliance’s naval groups will increase the number of military exercises and will boost intelligence gathering in the region among other tasks.
“All these decisions will be subject of thorough analysis… And, undoubtedly, we will take all necessary measures to properly safeguard Russia’s national interests in this region,” Grushko told Russian reporters commenting on the results of the NATO’s summit in Brussels.
Moscow cannot view NATO as a potential partner while the Alliance sticks to its Warsaw summit decision not to cooperate with Russia, he said.
“While NATO maintains its stance not to cooperate with Russia, adopted at the summit in Warsaw, we cannot view the Alliance as a potential partner,” Grushko told Russian reporters commenting on the results of the NATO’s summit in Brussels.
Grushko added that Moscow may eventually lose interest in a dialogue with NATO “if it does not promote the restoration of bilateral cooperation.”
Recently, the Sea Shield 2017 maritime drills with the participation of seven NATO member states and Ukraine were held in the Black Sea. The drills took place on the territory of 80,000 square kilometers (49,700 square miles). Approximately 2,800 personnel from Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, the United States, Canada, Spain and Ukraine, 16 warships and 10 warplanes will participate in the 10-day exercises.
NATO has been increasing its military presence in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea since the outbreak of the conflict in southeastern Ukraine in April 2014, in response to what it considers to be Russia’s aggressive foreign policy. Moscow has repeatedly dismissed the Ukraine-related accusations leveled at it, warning that increased NATO activities near the country’s borders could undermine regional and global stability.