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Russia warns NATO ahead of summit

By Vladimir Radyuhin

MOSCOW, JUNE 27. Ahead of a NATO summit in Turkey this week Russia warned the alliance to respect its security interests.

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Sunday expressed concern over NATO's stepped up activity in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

"Russia as the leading nation in Eurasia is by no means indifferent as to what direction the alliance's efforts are taking in regions that have strategic importance for our interests," an official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"It is important that any actions in these regions are transparent and predictable."

In a public display of Moscow's displeasure with NATO policies the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, turned down an invitation to attend the NATO summit in Istanbul on June 28-29.

Russia will be represented by the Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, at a session of the NATO-Russia Council to be held on the sidelines of the Istanbul summit.

Moscow made it clear it was also unhappy with NATO's refusal to ratify the 1999-adapted Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) until Russia withdraws its military forces from Georgia and Moldova.

As the Russian Parliament last week launched CFE ratification procedures, Russia's Defence Minister, Sergei Ivanov, reiterated the Kremlin's view that the Russian military presence in the two former Soviet republics had no relation to the CFE pact.

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