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Russia may try to seize NATO territory, warns general21 февраля 2015, 13:23

Photo courtesy of natochess.com Photo courtesy of natochess.com

 Russia could try to seize territory from NATO states off the back of fighting in Ukraine, the military alliance's deputy commander in Europe said Friday, AFP reports.

General Adrian Bradshaw, NATO's Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, spoke as Germany and France pushed for the crumbling ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels are pitched against Ukrainian forces, to be "fully respected".

In a speech at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think-tank in London, Bradshaw said Russian forces were being deployed in eastern Ukraine, despite Moscow's denials, and outlined the dangers for NATO of the current situation.

“Russia might believe the large-scale conventional forces that she has shown she can generate at very short notice... could in future be used not only for intimidation and coercion but potentially to seize NATO territory," Bradshaw said.

"The threat from Russia, together with the risk it brings of a miscalculation resulting into a slide into strategic conflict, however unlikely we see that as being right now, represents an obvious existential threat to our whole being."

Earlier this month, former NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that Russia was highly likely to intervene in the Baltic states to test NATO's commitment to collective defence.

And British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon reportedly told journalists this week that there was a "real and present danger" to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, all Baltic states which are NATO members.

NATO is setting up six command centres in eastern Europe and creating a spearhead force of 5,000 troops which could deploy at short notice to counter Russia's "aggressive actions".

It is also boosting its wider response force -- which would take weeks or months to deploy -- from 13,000 to 30,000 troops.

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