Russia's ambassador to NATO decried the alliance's plans to increase military spending, saying the U.S. defense industry will be the prime beneficiary as European nations purchase more arms.
"If the Europeans accept the U.S. demand and increase their budgets to 2 percent [of gross domestic product], it will mean that their aggregate spending will reach some 370 billion euros (about $407 billion). This is a huge sum," Russian Permanent Representative to NATO Aleksandr Grushko told Rossia-1 television on May 26.
"They will be obliged to spend 20 percent of the sum on weapons purchase -- it is about 70 billion euros ($77 billion) a year. Obviously, most of the sum will go to buy American weapons. The U.S. defense sector will be rubbing hands in glee," he said.
Grushko also complained about a 40 percent increase in U.S. spending on NATO military operations to $4.8 billion proposed in U.S. President Donald Trump's budget.
"This means the United States may deploy additional forces in Europe, say, for instance, another brigade, which the Pentagon has been talking about," Grushko told Rossia 24 television.
In urging NATO allies to increase defense spending, Trump and other U.S. officials have stressed the need to combat terrorism, a goal Russia says it shares.
“If NATO countries made their full and complete contributions, then NATO would be even stronger than it is today, especially from the threat of terrorism," Trump told fellow leaders at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on May 25.
Grushko’s comments came as the Russian Foreign Ministry declared that "Russian-NATO relations are experiencing their most profound crisis since the end of the Cold War."
In a statement on the 20th anniversary of the Founding Act agreement between NATO and Russia, the ministry said recent measures taken to reinforce NATO's eastern flank by increasing troop rotations into Baltic and Eastern European states will backfire.
"The direct consequence is the increase in the potential for conflict in the Euro-Atlantic region," it said.
The increased NATO presence near Russia's borders "goes against the true interests of NATO states," will "change the balance of power in Europe, and lead to a new dangerous round of the arms race," it said.
"The increasing negative tendencies are not Russia's choice," the ministry said, but rather what he claimed was the result of NATO's goal of achieving "military-political domination in European and global affairs."
NATO’s steps to strengthen defenses in the East are aimed at bolstering security and reassuring allies concerned about Russian intentions following Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine.
With reporting by AFP, dpa, TASS, and Interfax