Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told the Minsk-based daily “Sovetskaya Belorussiya” of April 20 that “in the event of a clear violation of the balance of forces near our borders [by NATO], we reserve the lawful right to take all necessary measures to ensure the [soundness] of our national security,” Interfax reported. He argued that the deployment of additional NATO units to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, or Estonia could “conflict with the obligations of NATO countries on restraint with regard to the deployment of conventional armed forces, as laid down in the founding act on mutual relations…between Russia and NATO, signed on May 27, 1997, in Paris.” Ivanov added that Russia will “monitor the situation” but hopes that his country will not need to strengthen its military position in response to any moves by NATO. His remarks coincided with a Moscow visit by U.S. General James Jones, who is NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe. The daily “Kommersant” wrote on April 21 that “the place and the moment for [Ivanov’s] interview were apparently chosen with care. The territory of Belarus is all Russia could use in its “appropriate response.” It is the only region where Moscow could deploy its forces in retaliation for the deployment of new NATO bases in Eastern Europe.”

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