US ambassador to NATO: Russia, not US troops in Baltics are destabilizing security

DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

NATO’s additional security measures are there to reassure allies concerned about Russia’s actions, the diplomat said, and there are no grounds to consider them provocative.

The ambassador drew attention to the fact that as few as 120 troops from Texas are deployed in each of the Baltic states and Poland. “When you look at scale and scope of these assurance measures, it’s really quite a stretch to consider that they are provocative,” Lute told journalists in Brussels.

In his words, the security situation is being undermined by Russia’s actions during its annexation of Crimea and its support to separatists in eastern Ukraine as well as the recent rise in military flights along NATO borders without pre-agreed plans and transponders switched off, posing threat to civilian aviation.

The US ambassador’s comments come in response to a recent statement of Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov, saying that Russia is concerned over NATO operations in northern Europe and will do the utmost for its security.

“What are NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe Philip Breedlove and his associates doing? They are trying to destabilize the world’s most stable region, Northern Europe: there are incessant military exercises and deployment of planes capable of carrying nuclear weapons to the Baltic countries. This is an extremely negative reality,” Meshkov said in an interview with Interfax.

He added that “the Russian administration has been taking every measure to reliably protect the security of Russia and its citizens and will continue doing so no matter in what direction and in which region of our country this may be happening.”

NATO foreign ministers are holding a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday and will discuss additional security measures that might be taken in Eastern Europe next year.

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