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Russian top brass downbeat on relations with NATO

Moscow, 30 November: First Deputy Chief of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff Yuriy Baluyevskiy has expressed opposition to Russia's accession to NATO.

"As a military [person], I see without a doubt that there is no need for Russia to join NATO military structures. Russia is a self-sufficient country and it is capable of independently settling issues of its military and national security," Baluyevskiy said today.

Baluyevskiy supported the idea of establishing a new level of relations between Moscow and NATO.

"All previous Russia-NATO relations were a waste of time. Sometimes decisions that were made jointly were not implemented," he said.

On 10 December, NATO representatives proposed consultations on tactical missile defence.

"My position is that consultations should be conducted. Concrete decisions must be reached on their outcome," he said.

NATO has expressed a readiness to expand contacts with Russia. "We have felt activity aimed at broadening contacts, both bilateral with all the member-countries of the alliance and with NATO as a whole," he said.

A plan for contacts in 2002 will be expanded in light of proposals from NATO representatives.

"We are prepared to develop cooperation with NATO on the condition of protection of our national security interests," he said.

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