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Putin Warns Of Strengthening NATO Forces

President Vladimir Putin heads a meeting of the Russian Security Council in Moscow's Kremlin on July 22.
President Vladimir Putin heads a meeting of the Russian Security Council in Moscow's Kremlin on July 22.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned of NATO forces strengthening positions closer to Russia's border.

Speaking at a July 22 session of the Russian Security Council in Moscow, Putin said Russia needs to react "appropriately and proportionately" to NATO's moves but he added he currently sees no direct threat to Russia's sovereignty or territorial integrity.

But the Russian president used the example of the NATO missile-defense system being deployed in Europe, saying the defensive system "is nothing of the kind but an offensive" system.

Putin recommended boosting Russia's defense potential, "including in Crimea and Sevastopol, where we have to build a military structure practically from scratch."

Russia annexed Crimea earlier this year after occupying it with the help of unmarked troops.

The Russian president also obliquely criticized the NATO alliance saying, "A country, which is part of an alliance, gives away a share of its sovereignty by joining [an alliance] and it does not always reflect the national interests of a given country."

He also called for taking steps to decrease the dependency of Russia's national economy and financial system on "unfavorable external factors."

Putin called on Western governments with favorable relations with the Ukrainian government to use their influence to convince Kyiv to halt its military operation in eastern Ukraine, which the Ukrainian government describes as an "antiterrorist operation."

He said Russia would use its influence with separatists in eastern Ukraine to allow a full investigation of the July 17 downing of a Malaysian airliner.

He also urged the Russian Security Council to "finally call on the Kyiv authorities to observe elementary norms of decency and to cease fire at least for a short period of an investigation" into the downing of the Malaysian airliner.

Putin also spoke about what he derisively labels "color revolutions," saying Russian citizens would never accept political activities that aimed to oust the government and were sponsored and directed from outside the country.

But he also urged Russia's civil society to be observant in preventing violations of human rights and freedoms and manifestations of extremism and radicalism.

Putin did not elaborate on that point.

Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax
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