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Russia Reiterates Warning To NATO

Moscow, 25 March 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov today reiterated a warning to NATO that if it continues to build up its forces near Russian territory, Russia could increase its security measures, including nuclear defenses.

Ivanov said that NATO is following an aggressive strategy and treating Russia as a threat rather than a partner.

The Russian minister said if NATO continues to operate in such a manner, Moscow will "adequately re-evaluate" its military planning in order to make military counterbalances.

Russia and NATO have recently begun arguing over the alliance's plans to station warplanes in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania following their entry to the bloc on 2 April.

But Ivanov said yesterday that there was no problem with NATO stationing four jet fighters on the territory of the Baltic states.

Ivanov said it was the sovereign right of any state to place foreign military planes on its territory and to set up its own air defenses.

NATO announced today that its warplanes will start to patrol Baltic air space on 29 March.