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NATO chief 'surprised' by Russian threat assessment
MUNICH, Germany, Feb 6 (AFP) Feb 06, 2010
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed surprise Saturday that Russia still considers the military alliance a major security threat just as their ties are improving.

"I was surprised to read that Russia considers NATO a main threat in its new doctrine. This does not reflect the real world," he said, according to his spokesman James Appathurai.

"NATO is not an enemy of Russia. We want a strategic partnership with Russia because we share common threats," he said, a day after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a new military strategy document, naming NATO as a threat.

The document, published on the Kremlin web site, listed first among "chief outside military threats" the fact that NATO is attempting to "globalise its functions in contravention of international law."

It also cited attempts to bring "military infrastructure of NATO members closer to Russian borders, including by expanding the bloc."

Russia has bristled at moves by former Soviet republics such as Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO and relations between NATO and Moscow plunged to a post-Cold War low after the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia.

Other threats are named as creation and deployment of missile-defence systems and "high-precision conventional weapon systems".

Russia fiercely opposes US and NATO missile defence plans, which would include facilities deployed in central Europe.

Relations between NATO and Russia were frozen over the Georgia war and have only just begun to thaw, amid efforts to focus on common concerns like the conflict in Afghanistan and the fight against "terrorism".

Rasmussen was taking part Saturday in a major international security conference in Munich, southern Germany.

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