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Friday 17th
posted by James Tweedie in World

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin hit back at Nato’s sabre-rattling yesterday and accused the alliance of “constantly trying to drag us into a confrontation.”

Addressing senior officers of the FSB intelligence service in Brussels Mr Putin said the threat from Nato had only increased in recent years.

He attacked Nato’s “newly declared official mission to deter Russia,” saying: “They are constantly provoking us, trying to drag us into a confrontation.”

Nato members “are continuing their efforts to interfere in our domestic affairs with the goal of destabilising social and political order in Russia,” he said, claiming hundreds of foreign spies had been caught in the past year.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu took umbrage at US Defence Secretary James Mattis’s comments on Wednesday that Nato must negotiate with Russia “from a position of strength,” calling such pretensions “futile.”

Yesterday Mr Mattis said his government would seek a “partnership” between Nato and Russia, “but Russia is going to have to prove itself first.”

He also repeated claims Moscow had “either interfered or they have attempted to interfere in a number of elections in the democracies.”

But at the G20 foreign ministers’ summit in the German city of Bonn, Moscow’s Sergey Lavrov and Washington’s Rex Tillerson had a more “productive” meeting.

Mr Lavrov said Afghanistan and Ukraine were discussed along with “the outright battle against terrorism and the political settlement in Syria.”

Mr Tillerson said Washington would work with Moscow where possible, but added: “We expect Russia to honour its commitments to the Minsk agreements and work to de-escalate the violence in the Ukraine.”

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