Russia's Permanent Representative to NATO, Alexander Grushko, has said he is puzzled by NATO's attempts to accuse Russia of taking steps to disrupt the existing arms control arrangements in Europe, as well as confidence building measures and security.
During an interview with Interfax, Grushko was asked to comment on remarks made by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that in 2016 the alliance intends to secure changes to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) Vienna document, which regulates notification and observation of military exercises, including its part dealing with unannounced inspections of surprise exercises.
"It is difficult to assess what has only been announced so far, but has not been put into practice. However, the form of submitting these materials raises doubts over the seriousness of these intentions," the high-ranking Russian diplomat said.
"The regime of the CFE Treaty [Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe] - a 'cornerstone of European security', according to the preamble of the treaty - has been ruined by the NATO countries themselves by refusing to ratify the Agreement on Adaptation of the CFE Treaty under false excuses," Grushko said.
One should not turn a blind eye to the facts of NATO countries discrediting the confidence building and security instruments, either, he added.
"For instance, the results of inspections that did not record any concentrations of Russian armed forces at the acute stage of the crisis in Ukraine have in no way influenced the essence of political statements, including those made by the military leadership of NATO," Grushko said.
"And how many such claims about thousands of [Russian] troops deployed along the border have we heard? It is impossible to count them. For this reason, obviously, it will be impossible to avoid discussing the role and the place of these instruments in today's security situation," Grushko said.
He also called into question the 'added value' of the announced ideas.
"It is difficult to imagine how one can check surprise inspections. And what is the point of doing it in conditions when these very inspections of forces' combat readiness are conducted in a transparent manner and are covered by the media, while detailed information about the composition of forces taking part in them, the means being used and the districts where these exercises are taking place is transferred to military attaches in Moscow? Previously, we also informed the NATO headquarters of this," the Russian diplomat said.
"If one takes a thorough look at all this, Russia has been offered to assume additional unilateral obligations, which is happening as the policy to 'contain' our country is being pursued, which undermines the very foundation for any meaningful dialogue on the prospects of formulating a legally binding agreement to replace the CFE Treaty. There have been many signals about the alliance's ongoing work on the appropriate proposals, but no specific ideas have been voiced," Grushko said.
However, the Russian side will be ready to consider any "concrete suggestions on how to prevent unintentional incidents of a military nature," he added.
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