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World News

Russia finds NATO global reach plan "disturbing"

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is concerned that a new strategy blueprint under development by NATO would allow the alliance to use force worldwide, Russia’s foreign minister was reported as saying on Thursday.

NATO, however, says the alliance’s doctrine has never precluded the use of force worldwide.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking to a meeting of non-governmental organizations, said that this would violate decades-old United Nations guidelines, the Interfax news agency said.

“This does not quite fit in with the U.N. Charter, and that naturally cannot fail to disturb us,” Lavrov was quoted as saying.

He did not elaborate, but Russia stresses that the United Nations is the keystone of global security and has criticized the U.S. and NATO for fighting wars far from their borders.

In Brussels, NATO spokesman James Appathurai NATO activities and plans do not violate the U.N. Charter.

“The 28 NATO allies are firmly committed members of the United Nations and are fully committed to the principles of charters of the U.N., and that will not change,” he said.

He that while the new strategic concept -- due to be approved at an alliance summit in November -- had not yet been drafted, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen had repeatedly stated that defending NATO territory sometimes meant taking action far from its borders.

He cited Afghanistan as an example, adding that NATO was operating there under U.N. Security Council resolution.

“It’s far away from home, but it is in no way incongruous with the role of the U.N.,” Appathurai said.

Russia has increased cooperation with NATO on Afghanistan, but relations remain tense 18 months after Russia’s brief war with pro-Western Georgia.

NATO is viewed with great suspicion in Russia, where officials say expansion eastwards shows the alliance forged during the Cold War is being used by the United States and key European powers to counter Russian influence.

Russia has fiercely resisted proposals to bring ex-Soviet countries Georgia and Ukraine into the NATO military alliance.

Reporting by Steve Gutterman in Moscow and David Brunnstrom in Brussels; editing by Michael Roddy

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