Russia in upgraded war of words with NATO

MOSCOW, Nov. 17 -- Russia slammed NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday over his recent anti-Moscow remarks, accusing the bloc chief of lauding "idle inventions".

"Instead of doing some concrete work in looking for a settlement of the Ukrainian internal conflict, Stoltenberg has joined in the efforts of propagating idle inventions ... about supposed movements of Russian armaments across the Ukrainian border," Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

The remarks made by Stoltenberg, who took the current position in October, were primarily based on principles and instructions that reflected the consolidated opinion of all 28 member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Zhkharova said.

"They bring grist to the mill of Kiev's party of war and are fraught with destructive effects on the fragile process of peaceful settlement of the Ukrainian internal crisis," she added.

Stoltenberg told an Italian newspaper Friday that the alliance had extensive evidence of the movement of Russian military equipment near Ukraine. He also said the maneuvers Russian military aircraft have been conducting in Europe have posed threats to civilian airlines.

The politician admitted the NATO's increasing military presence in Eastern Europe, but attributed the move to the need to prevent developments in Ukraine from growing into a new Cold War.

Meanwhile, Moscow insisted that the NATO prefers to fanning up anti-Russian sentiments as justification of its plans to strengthen its defense potential and build up its military presence near Russian borders.

"This creates serious security risks in the Euro-Atlantic region," Zakharova said.

Russia and the NATO have severely strained their ties following the Ukraine crisis. Since April, the NATO ended all practical cooperation with Russia, only maintaining contacts at ambassadorial and higher levels.

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