World News

NATO says forces defensive, don't compare to Russian deployments

FILE PHOTO: NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu briefs the media on the NATO no-fly zone operations in Libya at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels March 28, 2011 while Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard (back), Commander of the NATO military operations in Libya, addresses a video conference from Naples. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO rebutted on Wednesday President Vladimir Putin’s suggestion that the alliance’s forces in eastern Europe posed a threat to Russia, saying they were no match for Moscow deployments.

“NATO’s actions are defensive, proportionate and fully in line with our international commitments,” the alliance’s spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said in an email to Reuters.

“NATO has deployed 4,000 troops to the eastern part of the Alliance – to deter any possible aggression. These troops cannot compare to the divisions deployed by Russia. In contrast, Russia has troops in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova against the wishes of their governments.”

It also contradicted Putin’s claim that the Western military alliance was refusing to discuss rules for military flights with Russia, saying aviation was an issue in various joint military forums.

“As to the point on aviation, we have discussed Baltic air safety in the NATO-Russia Council,” she said.

Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel @AdeCar, Editing by Gabriela Baczynska