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Russian Defense Minister Criticizes NATO Expansion

Ivanov with Vladimir Putin Moscow, 7 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- One week after NATO expanded to the former Soviet Union, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said partnership with the West is not possible because it fails to compromise with Moscow on security issues.

Ivanov made his remarks today as he wrapped up a trip to Washington to return to Moscow for talks with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Sheffer, who is expected to arrive later today.

Ivanov, quoted by the Interfax Military News Agency, said Russia would like to enjoy partnership with the West. But he said Moscow is too often asked to ignore developments unfavorable to its interests.

He cited what he called NATO's "hurried" expansion to the Baltic states, which border Russia but have not signed a new version of the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, which would limit the number of troops and weapons in various areas. Russia is also concerned about NATO plans to station fighter jets in Lithuania for reconnaissance along the Russian border.

Because of such moves, Ivanov said Russia's future political and military decisions with regard to the West will be based on the principles of self-defense.