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NATO to deploy troops in Eastern Europe despite 1997 agreement with Russia

The 1997 NATO-Russia founding act will not preclude the Alliance from expanding its military presence in the East of Europe.

Financial Times reports the respective statement of Rob Bauer, the Chair of the NATO Military Committee.

"The Nato-Russia act is still there. But nothing that we have to do is going to be hampered by its content... For now, the general opinion on the political level is that we do not kill [the agreement], but nothing in it will stop us doing what we have to do", — said the military commander.

Mr. Bauer also indicated that he had been attempting to reach Valery Gerasimov, the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, in the recent months, all to no avail.

The Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation was signed in 1997. In particular, it stipulates that Russia and NATO shall stop treating each other as adversaries and restrain from deploying significant military forces at each other’s borders.

The parties also undertook to reinforce the role of OSCE in general European security, respect the territorial integrity of states and the Helsinki Final Act, and recognize the right of European countries to select the ways to ensure their security.

Context. In December 2021, Putin stated that the Russian Federation will demand legal security guarantees from the West. On December 17, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia published draft security guarantee agreements with the USA and NATO. In January, several rounds of negotiations between Russia and the USA, NATO and OSCE took place. The parties exchanged written responses to the respective propositions, but a stop was put to the negotiations in February. Per Putin, the USA and NATO responses did not account for Russia’s principal concerns.

In March 2022, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Andrzej Duda, the President of Poland, said that the NATO-Russia act no longer existed. He pointed out that the military alliance "must also stop mentioning the 1997 act, its provisions and any obligations arising from it". Per the President, "there were no commitments anymore". He believes that the military block’s troops' presence in Eastern Europe must be permanent, not temporary or rotational.

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