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NATO Tries To Reassure Russia Over Plans To Defend Baltics

Russian President Medvedev (right) during the NATO summit in Lisbon in November
Russian President Medvedev (right) during the NATO summit in Lisbon in November
NATO has reiterated that the alliance and Russia pose no threat to each other.

U.S. diplomatic messages recently released by WikiLeaks show that NATO decided to expand its plans to defend the Baltic states and Poland following the 2008 brief war between Russia and Georgia.

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu did not confirm the plans reported by Britain's "Guardian" newspaper, which involved grouping Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland in a new regional defense scheme code-named "Eagle Guardian." But she said NATO "has always had and will continue to have appropriate plans to protect all allies."

NATO chiefs are reported to have endorsed the plan this year. The cables say the military plans should be not be discussed publicly as they might lead to an "unnecessary increase" in NATO-Russia tensions.

In comments to Interfax news agency on December 7, the deputy chairman of the Russian parliament's foreign affairs committee, Leonid Slutsky, called for Russia's envoy to NATO to demand an official explanation of the leaked plan.

The U.S. messages say leaders in the Baltic states and Poland became increasingly concerned about a potential security threat from Russia following the Georgia conflict. In the Poland case, the cables say the United States offered to deploy special naval forces to Baltic ports in Poland and to put F-16 fighter aircraft into Poland.

The details are from some of the thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables that have been obtained by WikiLeaks and are now being made public.

compiled from agency reports