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NATO must explain military buildup in Europe: Lavrov

357026_Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called on NATO to explain its recently announced plans to bolster military presence in Eastern Europe.

Lavrov told a press conference on Thursday that his country is waiting for an explanation from NATO about its plans to intensify activities in East European countries.

“We have posed these questions to the North Atlantic Alliance. We are expecting not just any answer but an answer fully respectful of the rules we have coordinated,” Lavrov said after negotiations with his Kazakh counterpart Yerlan Idrisov.

The Russian Minister noted that Russia-NATO relations are based on certain rules under which no country has a right to deploy additional troops in East European states.

Responding to criticism over the presence of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine, Lavrov said Russia had the right to move its forces within its territory, adding that the forces will get back to their bases after completing their military drills.

Lavrov’s remarks came after NATO foreign ministers held a meeting in Brussels earlier this week to discuss steps to reinforce military presence in member states in Eastern Europe following Crimea’s reunion with Russia.

The steps include measures such as sending NATO soldiers and equipment to allies and holding more exercises in the region.

Tensions between Western powers and Moscow heightened after Ukraine’s Crimea declared independence from Ukraine and formally applied to become part of the Russian Federation following a referendum on March 16, in which 96.8 percent of the participants voted for rejoining Russia.

Crimea’s referendum sparked angry reactions from the United States and the European Union, both imposing sanctions against a number of Russian officials and authorities in Crimea.

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