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Russia says expects answers on NATO troops in eastern Europe

Source: Reuters - Thu, 3 Apr 2014 08:03 GMT
Author: Reuters
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MOSCOW, April 3 (Reuters) - Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday Russia wanted answers from NATO regarding its activities in eastern Europe after the Western military alliance promised to beef up defences for its eastern members.

Russia's move to annex Ukraine's Crimea region has deepened the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War and sparked fears among its eastern European neighbours.

"We have addressed questions to the North Atlantic military alliance. We are not only expecting answers, but answers that will be based fully on respect for the rules we agreed on," Lavrov told reporters at a briefing with his Kazakh counterpart.

NATO foreign ministers at a meeting this week ordered military commanders to draw up plans for reinforcing NATO's defences, possibly including measures such as sending NATO soldiers and equipment to allies in eastern Europe, holding more exercises, ensuring NATO's rapid-reaction force could deploy more quickly, and reviewing NATO's military plans.

Military planners will come back with detailed proposals within weeks, a NATO official said.

Responding to criticism over the presence of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine, Lavrov said Russia had the right to move forces on its territory and said they would return to their permanent bases after completing military exercises.

"It is necessary to de-escalate rhetoric which overshoots the mark and crosses into the unreasonable," he said. (Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel and Thomas Grove, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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