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MOSCOW, March 16. /TASS/. Growing number of NATO drills near Russian borders leads to destabilization of the situation in north-eastern Europe, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexey Meshkov said on Monday.
"Russia is deeply concerned about the growing number of NATO drills near our borders. It is especially surprising that this is happening in north-eastern Europe, which is the most stable region not only on our continent, but also maybe in the whole world," Mashkov said.
"Such NATO actions lead to destabilization of the situation and increasing tensions in north-eastern Europe," the deputy foreign minister added.
It was earlier reported that NATO naval drills started in the Black Sea with the participation of seven member-countries of the North Atlantic Alliance. The drills are aimed at practising protection from air raids and from torpedo attacks by submarines.
Six NATO war ships have called at Romania's Black Sea port of Constanta as part of military drills, the press service of the North Atlantic Alliance reported on March 13. The six NATO vessels have been in the Black Sea since March 4 on invitation from Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey for planned maneuvers. The group includes USS Vicksburg, four frigates - Turkey's Turgut Reis, Italy's Aliseo, Canada's Fredericton and Romania's Regina Maria, as well as Germany's Spessart auxiliary ship. US Vice-Admiral Brad Williamson is in charge of the group.
NATO warships are obliged to meet the conditions of the Monroe doctrine not to stay in the Black Sea basin longer than 21 days. The water displacement of NATO warships staying in the Black Sea should not exceed 45,000 tons.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said earlier in March that the North Atlantic Alliance "is implementing the strongest reinforcement of its collective defense since the end of the Cold War." He added that "NATO is establishing six command and control centers in the Baltic States and three other eastern Allies, in order to coordinate training and exercises, and facilitate rapid reinforcements."
NATO naval drills in the Black Sea are not the first demonstration of growing military activity of the North Atlantic Alliance near Russian borders. On March 9, 120 units of military equipment arrived to Latvia from US, including tanks and armored vehicles. Estonia is still waiting for reinforcements from Washington. US servicemen are expected to participate in the Siil-2015 military exercise scheduled for May 4-15 in Estonia. Around 13,000 troops will take part in the drills.