The North Atlantic Treaty Organization will open an expert and training center for intelligence and counter-terrorism activities in Krakow, Poland by the end of 2015, Russian state-run Sputnik news agency reported Sunday in reference to the Welt am Sonntag of Germany.
According to the report, from 40 to 70 soldiers will be stationed in the center, including those sent by the German Defense Ministry.
NATO earlier opened its command centers — the integration units designed to facilitate the deployment of alliance’s forces in Eastern Europe and coordinate training and set up a link between NATO and the armed forces of the six countries — in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.
The command centers are intended partly as a warning to Russia and a reassurance to NATO allies who have become increasingly tense following Moscow’s actions in Ukraine and elsewhere.
The outposts are in a sense a compromise between NATO’s eastern countries, some of whom want full-scale NATO bases on their territory, and other members wary of building expensive new installations that could provoke Moscow.
Russia’s permanent representative to NATO Alexander Grushko had stated that the opening of NATO centers in six Eastern European countries will fuel an artificial atmosphere of confrontation with Russia.
NATO-Russia relations deteriorated sharply in 2014, following Crimea’s reunification with Russia and the beginning of an internal conflict in eastern Ukraine. The alliance accused Russia of meddling in the Ukrainian conflict and started reinforcing its presence in Eastern Europe, in response to what it considers Moscow’s aggressive foreign policy.
Russia has repeatedly dismissed Ukraine-related accusations and stated that NATO’s increased activities near the country’s borders undermine regional and global stability.