A report calling NATO to increase its presence in the North Atlantic Ocean in response to Russia's growing military strength was slammed by an expert Saturday. Nikolai Topornin, an associate professor of European Law at the Russian Foreign Ministry's Moscow State Institute of International Relations, told Radio Sputnik that the claims were a baseless attempt to spread fear in the region.
Last week, the report published by the London-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think tank urged NATO to reinforce its naval activity in the region over threats from the Russian navy, especially the Northern Fleet. Topornin raised doubts over the report, authored by former NATO commanders James Stavridis and Philip Breedlove.
"All work is paid for, and this report is no exception. How objective it is and the competency of the person who prepared it is another issue. It's one thing if he has tried to give an objective picture, but if he wanted to spread some fear and think up some stories, that's quite another and it seems to me that in this case, it's most likely the second one," Topornin said, according to Sputnik.
"The man has simply set himself the task of telling everyone that Russia was violating some kind of strategic standards, is strengthening its military presence, including naval and may constitute some kind of threat," he added.
Both NATO and Russia have undergone massive military escalations in recent months with each side accusing the other of provocation.
NATO must extend its naval presence in the North Atlantic amid concern that Russia developed "offensive long-range, high-precision capabilities and is building high-end maritime capabilities that could deny NATO members freedom of maneuver at sea," Breedlove said in his recommendation.
"As we look to the future we need to think more broadly and to re-emphasize the maritime domain. NATO must put the North Atlantic Ocean back on its agenda. We must have command of the sea," he wrote.
This is not the first time Breedlove, who retired as the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces in Europe last year, called for NATO to increase its military presence. He had pushed for similar move in Europe and urged the U.S. to supply lethal weapons to Kiev to use in eastern Ukraine.
Last week, a top U.S. military official accused Russia of breaking its commitment to the arms treaty, signed more than a decade ago, by deploying a new land-based, nuclear-capable cruise missile in Europe.