Some of NATO's military plans arouse concerns in Moscow, Alexander Yakovenko, official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, has said.
Speaking to RIA Novosti ahead of a Russia-NATO Council session in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, Yakovenko noted that Moscow was particularly concerned over the transatlantic alliance's intention to expand further east and its refusal, under various pretexts, to ratify the adapted version of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE). He also said that the Russia-NATO Council provided the sides with a mechanism to discuss their concerns in a frank and open way.
"This does produce effect. Thus, we hail the declared willingness of the alliance to [demonstrate] transparency in areas [related to] the upgrading of military infrastructure in the territory of [the three] Baltic states [that used to be part of the Former Soviet Union]," the Russian diplomat pointed out. In keeping with the 1999 Vienna accord, Russia has already begun inspections at local NATO sites earmarked to upgrading, he said, adding that "inspections will be carried on with, so as to preclude unexpected NATO buildup by Russian borders."
According to the Foreign Ministry spokesman, cooperation between Russia and NATO is now developing in a favorable political climate, but that climate may be undermined "as a result of abrupt, rash decisions" on the part of NATO, like the invitation of some former Soviet republics to join in. "We remain convinced that NATO's geographical expansion has no substantiated justification," remarked Yakovenko.
Russia will be working to incrementally build up political dialogue and practical cooperation with NATO on a strategic partnership scheme, provided that the member states are mindful of its legitimate security interests, the Foreign Ministry spokesman pointed out.
Yakovenko said he was pleased to note that during their informal discussions, officials of some of the NATO member states had spoken out in favor of "closer strategic partnership with Russia," particularly along the lines of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's initiative to consolidate the alliance's political component.
On the other hand, the Russian diplomat expressed concern over the attempts of other NATO members to give an anti-Russian dimension to political crises in some of the former Soviet republics and to call into question Russia's peacekeeping role in Eurasia.