There could be a situation of a Cold War if NATO increased its military buildup in the Black Sea region, Russian ambassador to the 28-nation bloc said Thursday. The comments came after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg vowed to fortify its military presence in the region, where Moscow is accused of growing its assertion.
“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,” Alexander Grushko, the Russian envoy to NATO, said.
“The danger lies in the fact that [NATO] is expected to increase not only the spending but also significantly increase the purchase of arms,” Grushko reportedly said. “If these plans will be implemented, we may find ourselves in the situation of a Cold War, when the military planning, aimed at countering a ‘large enemy’ would generate respective policies.”
The envoy also noted that Russia is likely to lose interest in a dialogue with NATO "if it does not promote the restoration of bilateral cooperation."
NATO sent additional troops to the Baltic states and Poland last month and it is looking to boost its southeastern border around the Black Sea. The bloc also plans to improve intelligence gathering to counter Russia’s alleged growing assertion in the region. However, NATO chief Stoltenberg maintained that the move is not meant to provoke Russia.
"We will have an increased presence in the Black Sea but it will be measured, it will be defensive and it will in no way be provoking any conflict or escalating tensions," Stoltenberg reportedly said.
Tensions between Russia and NATO have flared up since Moscow annexed Crimea in March 2014 and supported separatist rebels within Ukraine. NATO’s military buildup has concentrated on Poland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — all of which have expressed concerns over Russia's growing political and military assertion in the region. However, Moscow has denied the allegations and accused the U.S. of expanding its geopolitical power along Russia's borders.