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Premier Medvedev: Russia’s response to NATO build-up could be both political, military

Russia views with alarm NATO’s expansion toward its western border and it will make not only a political response but a military one as well if need be, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said.

In an interview with the Serbian newspaper Vecernje Novosti, the Russian official said NATO’s maneuver toward Russia’s border is a threat to its “national security,” Tass news agency reported on Saturday.

“We are a large country, we are a nuclear state, and the desire to place NATO bases in our immediate vicinity obviously cannot fill us with positive emotions,” Medvedev said.

“We have always responded and will continue to respond to this, both politically and in a military sense.”

The Russian prime minister further warned NATO to think twice before adding certain countries into the alliance. He said “all attempts to draw into NATO countries that have internal political tensions are very dangerous” and fraught with very “serious consequences.”

He was commenting on NATO’s possible attempts to draw Bosnia and Herzegovina into the Western alliance.

“You are talking about Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska, but we can name other countries as well. What is happening with Georgia? What is happening with Ukraine? These countries find themselves in very uneasy positions.”

NATO’s attempts to attract countries with internal conflicts “firstly contradicts the agreement on establishing the North Atlantic Alliance, and secondly, it can lead to very serious consequences”, the Russian premier said.

Medvedev also lashed out at the United States for what he called a drive to dominate the world, saying Washington’s “aspirations to dominate the whole world” brings “harm” to European countries.

Unlike the United States with its unstoppable desire for hegemony, he said, Russia has always taken a “balanced position” and strives to build “normal relations” with all countries regardless of their membership in military blocs.

Relations between Russia and NATO strained after Crimea joined the Russian Federation following a referendum on March 16, 2014. The military alliance ended cooperation with Russia over the ensuing crisis in Ukraine on April 1, 2014.

The United States and its European allies accuse Moscow of destabilizing Ukraine and have imposed a number of sanctions against Russian and pro-Russia figures. Moscow rejects the accusation.

Under the US leadership, NATO has been increasingly beefing up its presence in Eastern Europe and near Russia’s borders.

Wary of the build-up, Russia has accused Poland of opportunism by seeking a permanent NATO presence on its soil.

Russia has previously warned that any increased military presence in Poland could prompt it to step up its military presence in neighboring Belarus.