Moscow: Russia says NATO’s military build-up in the Baltic states is “absolutely unjustified”, while Poland claims President Vladimir Putin’s nation is a bigger threat than Islamic State.
Moscow’s ambassador to Brussels suggested relations between Russia and the alliance were “very bad” in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
NATO suspended practical co-operation with Moscow after the military move in March 2014.
And next week will see the first formal talks between alliance and Russia ambassadors in almost two years, in what is being seen as a thaw in ties.
Moscow is accused of backing pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine against the pro-Western government in Kiev.
Eastern members of the alliance including former Soviet-ruled Baltic states and Poland lobbied the organisation to increase its presence in the region.
In response to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, NATO’s 28 members agreed to dispatch troops, plus extra ships and planes to reassure them they do stand alone.
Russia has stepped up air patrols, leading to a big rise in NATO interceptions as both sides test out the other.
Russian ambassador Alexander Grushko said: “NATO has been deploying additional forces, increasing its military activity on a rotational basis, adding equipment, creating permanent storage sites for military weaponry and equipment.”
He accused NATO of using the Ukraine crisis as a pretext for the “absolutely unjustified” build-up and plans to protest at the rare talks in Brussels on 20 April.
Meanwhile, Poland’s foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski has claimed Russia posed an “existential threat” and is more dangerous than the Islamic State jihadist group.
He said: “By all evidence, Russia’s activity is a sort of existential threat because this activity can destroy countries.”
He described IS as a very serious threat but added that “it is not an existential threat for Europe”.