Russia ‘to alter military strategy towards Nato’

File photo: Armed Russian soldier stands near Russian army vehicles outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava, 1 March 2014
File photo: Armed Russian soldier stands near Russian army vehicles outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava, 1 March 2014

Russia is to alter its military strategy as a result of the Ukraine crisis and Nato’s presence in eastern Europe, a top Russian official says

(SOURCE)  Mikhail Popov, a Kremlin adviser, said that deteriorating relations with the US and Nato would be reflected in the updated strategy.

Nato said on Monday it would boost its presence in eastern Europe to protect its members.

Ukrainian troops are battling pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine.

About 2,600 people have died since fighting began in April.

Ukraine’s defence minister on Monday accused Russia of launching a “great war” that could claim tens of thousands of lives – claims dismissed by Russia, which denies actively supporting the rebels.

‘Aggravating tensions’

Mr Popov, deputy secretary of Russia’s National Security Council, told Russia’s RIA news agency that “the military infrastructure of Nato member states” was “getting closer to [Russian] borders, including via enlargement”.

Nato’s actions were one of the key “external threats” to Russia, he said.

“Nato’s planned action… is evidence of the desire of US and Nato leaders to continue their policy of aggravating tensions with Russia”, Mr Popov said.

There were no details on how the doctrine might change.

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Analysis – Jonathan Marcus, diplomatic correspondent

Russian military vehicles drive along the road outside Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, Rostov region, Russia, 16 August 2014

Russian military vehicles drive along the road outside Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, Rostov region, Russia, 16 August 2014. Russia has indicated it will respond to Nato’s increasing presence in eastern Europe.

Almost on the eve of Nato’s summit gathering in Wales, the Russian government has signaled that it will respond to Nato’s plans to make preparations to deploy crisis response forces to Eastern Europe, closer to Russia’s borders.

Nato insists that while there will be pre-positioned supplies and more exercises in Poland for example, these will not be permanent new bases. But that is not going to cut much ice in Moscow.

The comments by the top Kremlin security adviser Mikhail Popov has signaled that these new Nato deployments, along with missile defence plans and the Ukraine crisis, will play into a review of Russia’s own defence planning.

Moscow is getting its retaliation in first with the stage set for worsening tensions between Russia and the Nato alliance.

There are growing questions now as to just how far the Kremlin is prepared to go in seeking to influence the Ukraine fighting on the ground.

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Nato announced its plans on Monday for a rapid response force of several thousand troops to protect eastern European members against possible Russian aggression.

The force, to be made up of troops provided by member states on a rotating basis, would be able to be deployed within 48 hours, Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.

Military equipment and supplies would be pre-positioned in member states in the east so the force could “travel light, but strike hard if needed”, he added.

Mr Rasmussen insisted that the plans would not breach the 1997 Nato-Russia Founding Act, which forbids the presence of permanent bases in eastern and central Europe.

The new measures are set to be approved at a Nato summit in Wales this week.

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