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Rasmussen Urges Russia to Be Open With NATO About Baltic Drills

Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Russia should share more information with NATO about military exercises the country conducts in the Baltic region, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.

“We don’t have detailed information about upcoming Russian military exercises,” Rasmussen told reporters today in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, when asked about the West 2013 exercise that Russia and Belarus plan in September. “It’s of utmost importance to demonstrate openness and full transparency when it comes to military exercises.”

NATO’s three Baltic members, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, have expressed concern about increasing numbers of Russian troops and weapons stationed near their borders. The 28-nation alliance is committed to Lithuania “24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” Rasmussen said, adding that its aircraft are policing the airspace of the three countries.

NATO will practice its own plans for the collective defense of the Baltics and Poland in a military exercise this year, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite told reporters at the same press conference. The military alliance renewed its Baltic strategy at a summit last year in Chicago, deciding among other things to make an air policing mission in the region permanent, she said.

“We do not consider Russia a threat to NATO, and NATO definitely does not constitute a threat to Russia,” Rasmussen said. “But we have all plans in place to protect and defend NATO allies.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Bryan Bradley in Vilnius at bbradley13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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