Russian President Vladimir Putin has slammed the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) over what he termed as the military alliance’s constant attempts to drag Moscow into a military confrontation.
Addressing senior members of the Russian intelligence agency FSB in Moscow on Thursday, Putin stated that the global security situation “has not improved” over the past years “but on the contrary, many existing threats have only become more serious.”
The Russian leader added that NATO with its “newly-declared official mission to deter Russia” is one such threat.
Putin was making reference to a NATO summit last July in the Polish capital city of Warsaw, where members of the alliance described Russia as their key security threat.
“This is the goal behind the expansion of this military bloc. It happened before, but now they have found a new justification which they believe to be serious,” he said.
“In fact, they are constantly provoking us, trying to drag us into a confrontation,” the Russian president said, adding that NATO members “are continuing their efforts to interfere in our domestic affairs with the goal of destabilizing social and political order in Russia proper.”
Putin stated that foreign intelligence agencies are engaged in intensive operations inside Russia, saying, “In the past year 53 foreign intelligence operatives and 386 agents of foreign intelligence services have been busted.”
The Russian president also expressed regret that fighting common enemies such as terrorist groups has been primarily affected in the wake of the strained relations between Moscow and the Western military alliance.
“It's in everyone's interest to resume dialogue between the intelligence agencies of the United States and other members of NATO,” Putin said.
NATO and Moscow have been at loggerheads over Russia’s alleged role in the ongoing Ukraine conflict that has taken thousands of lives.
The military alliance severed its ties with Moscow in 2014, after the Ukraine-controlled Baltic peninsula of Crimea rejoined Russia in a historic referendum.
Since then, NATO has been deploying weapons and equipment close to Russia’s borders.
In early January, the US military began the deployment of hundreds of combat vehicles such as tanks and artillery guns along with 3,500 troops to Germany.