Source Pravda.Ru

Russian Defence Minister: Russia Is Not Planning Military Build-Up in Baltic Region

Despite NATO's planned expansion due to the admission of the Baltic States, Russia does not intend to 'start sabre-rattling and build up a military force in this region'. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov made this announcement today at a press conference devoted to the outcome of his two-day visit to the Kaliningrad Region. 'Russia has two allies: the army and the navy,' said Ivanov, 'and we are going to do everything necessary to improve their war-readiness and to ensure national security'.

Specifically, the minister said that, in accordance with the development programme for the country's armed forces up to 2010, the Baltic Fleet is to be re-equipped. This will include replacing the fleet's outdated ships and submarines.

Nevertheless, Ivanov believes that the entry of the Baltic States into NATO may destabilise the situation in the region because they are not signatories to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. In his opinion, prior to their entry into the North-Atlantic Alliance, it is necessary to 'transparently, clearly and predictably regulate this problem, so that we don't end up with a kind of legal 'black hole' into which NATO can dump anything it likes'.

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