Russia on Tuesday pledged to adopt a new, beefed up military doctrine over NATO's plans to establish a rapid-response force in the wake of the rebellion in Ukraine's east, according to a top Russian official.
The Russian reaction came a day after NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the alliance will respond to the Ukraine crisis by creating a "spearhead" rapid-reaction force, potentially including several thousand troops, that could be sent to a hot spot in as little as two days.
"The fact that the military infrastructure of the NATO member states is getting closer to our borders, including via enlargement, will preserve its place as one of the external threats for the Russian Federation," Mikhail Popov, the deputy secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, said in an interview with Russian RIA Novosti news agency.
Popov’s comment raised tensions ahead of NATO's two-day summit in Wales that begins Thursday and will see Ukraine's beleaguered leader Petro Poroshenko personally lobby U.S. President Barack Obama for military assistance.
Rasmussen said NATO’s rapid-response force will "ensure that we have the right forces and the right equipment in the right place, at the right time.”
"That also means a more visible NATO presence in the east for as long as required."
NATO's newer members, such as Poland, and the Baltic states once ruled from Moscow, have been badly unnerved by the Ukraine crisis, fearing Russia could turn its sights on them.
In response, NATO has rotated small numbers of troops and aircraft through the region to reassure its allies, and Washington has been at pains to stress that the alliance will honor its commitment to help any ally coming under attack.
The new measures, Rasmussen said, were being taken "not because NATO wants to attack anyone but because the dangers and the threats are more present and more visible ... we will do what it takes to defend our allies."
This increased commitment in the east will involve the rotation of troops through member states at upgraded military facilities, with equipment pre-positioned to speed up the response time, Rasmussen said.
Since the troops would not be permanently based there, it would not breach the terms of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, which fixed Europe's post-Cold War borders, he said.
Rasmussen repeated that NATO remained committed to the Founding Act provisions, which laid down the need for peaceful change in international borders, while Russia was "in blatant breach."
But Russia’s Popov said Tuesday the new Western defense plan was "evidence of the desire of U.S. and NATO leaders to continue their policy of aggravating tensions with Russia."
The NATO summit Thursday and Friday is expected to be dominated by the Ukraine crisis, which Rasmussen and many others see as the most severe threat to Euro-Atlantic security in a generation.
Obama is also expected to bring up the Islamic State insurgency that has surged across Syria and Iraq, which he has called on U.S. allies to help address.
Al Jazeera and wire services