“We have to admit that at this stage, Russia-NATO relations are in the deepest crisis since the end of the Cold War,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement dedicated to the 20th anniversary of establishing cooperation with the alliance.
On May 27, 1997, Russia and NATO signed the ‘Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security,’ aimed at establishing “lasting and inclusive peace in the Euro-Atlantic area” and bringing an end to earlier confrontation. The ministry said that NATO “unilaterally froze” cooperation projects and chose “NATO-centered security architecture.” This is evidenced by the military and political deterrence of Russia, and could lead to the worsening of tensions in the Euro-Atlantic region, it added.
Strengthening NATO’s “eastern flank” through the military buildup near Russian borders and a constant military presence waters down the main bilateral agreements, the statement says. The ministry added that such actions are “dangerous and contradictory to the interests of NATO member states.”
“We see this as the desire of the alliance to legitimize its military preparations near Russian borders, which together with the military activity of particular countries of the block are changing the balance of power in Europe and lead to a dangerous arms race,” the Foreign Ministry said.
While NATO tries to prove its importance by exaggerating “the threat from the East,” many states lack the will to combat common security threats as European and international security depends on Russia-NATO relations, the statement adds.
The ministry stressed that “the growing negative tendencies are not Russia’s choice,” but are rather the direct result of a longstanding and destructive NATO policy, aimed at the bloc’s “political and military domination in European and international issues.”
Relations were also touched upon by world leaders during the latest meeting of NATO members in the Belgian capital, Brussels. During his speech at the summit, US President Donald Trump said that the alliance must focus on “threats from Russia, and on NATO’s eastern and southern borders” among other issues.
However, during the informal talks the so-called “Russian threat” caused some disagreement. EU Council President Donald Tusk said that he was not absolutely sure that he and Trump shared a common position and opinion about Russia.
Back in April, the US leader said “it would be wonderful if we could get along” with Russia. Earlier in May, Russian diplomats met Trump in Washington and discussed mutual cooperation issues, including the resolution of the Syrian crisis.
Russia-NATO relations have soured since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine in 2014, with the alliance suspending all practical cooperation, including meetings of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC).
Egypt strikes ‘terrorist camps’ in Libya in response to attack on Coptic Christians (VIDEOS)
Egypt’s president also vowed to continue striking bases used to train militants and who carry out terrorist attacks in his country, regardless of the camps’ location.
He also reiterated that the countries financing, training and arming terrorists should not get away unpunished.
“We will not hesitate to protect our people from the evil,” he said in a televised speech on Friday.
“Egypt will not hesitate in striking any camps that harbor or train terrorist elements whether inside Egypt or outside Egypt,” the al-Ahram news agency quoted Sisi as saying.
Egypt carried out six air strikes in Derna in eastern Libya, state television reported adding that it is where the militants who carried out the deadly attack on the Coptic Christians were trained.
Following the Libyan incursion, Egyptian armed forces released a short video which was aired on state television following the president’s speech. The voiceover in the army video said its air force carried out strikes on targets in Libya “after confirming their involvement in planning and committing the terrorist attack in Minya governorate on Friday.”
Egypt’s military said that the air strikes are ongoing, local media reports.
Footage of the airstrikes was released online, allegedly showing the Egyptian jets attacking targets around the Libyan coastal city of Derna. A few strikes were recorded with plumes of smoke rising up in the sky. A crater left by one of the missile strikes is also shown in the video.
Egyptian security forces have destroyed some 300 vehicles over the past two months which attempted to cross the border from Libya in order to bring in “evil,” according to Sisi, who emphasized the huge efforts his country has undertaken to battle terrorism.
The Egyptian president also directly addressed Donald Trump to take the lead in fighting terrorism.
“I direct my appeal to President Trump: I trust you, your word and your ability to make fighting global terror your primary task,” he said.
On Friday President Trump condemned the attacks on Egypt’s Coptic Christians, denouncing the “thuggish ideology” and “evil organizations of terror.”
“We are probably going to see more action particularly following the meeting that just took place in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, in which Donald Trump himself called for greater response to terrorism… and president el-Sisi gave Trump those kind of assurances,” former Pentagon official Michael Maloof told RT.
Speculating that Egypt “probably received intelligence from the United States that helped pinpoint the locations,” Maloof said Egypt will continue its attacks against terrorist groups, adding, “it’s not the first time they struck in Libya.”
The Egyptian air campaign in Libya should focus not only on militants, but also on those entities which support terrorists, Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wire told RT.
“Identifying the states and the entities within these states who are arming and financing and providing all types of diplomatic and political cover for these organizations to continue to operate in this fashion” must be one of Egypt’s priorities when in its battle against extremists, Azikiwe said.
“We do know that Libya has become a base for instability throughout North Africa and even beyond to West Africa and of course into Europe as Well,” he added.
At least 28 Coptic Christians were killed and 23 others injured earlier Friday, when gunmen, disguised as army soldiers, opened fire on a bus heading to the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, located 135km (85 miles) south of Cairo, in the Minya governorate.
No militant group has yet claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on the bus.