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Putin Sees No Need for NATO

July 18, 2001

MOSCOW (AP) _ Russia does not view the U.S.-led NATO alliance as an enemy but sees no justification for its existence, President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.

``We do not see it as an enemy,″ Putin told reporters in the Kremlin. ``We do not see a tragedy in its existence, but we also see no need for it.″

NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe creates ``different levels of security on the continent ... which does not correspond to today’s realities and is not caused by any political or military necessity.″

Putin called for the creation of a ``single security and defense space in Europe,″ which he said could be achieved either by disbanding NATO, or by Russia joining it, or by the creation of a new body in which Russia could become an equal partner.

Putin argued that NATO was created as a Cold War alliance aimed against the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact satellites and has outlived its time.

``There is no more Warsaw Pact, no more Soviet Union, but NATO continues to exist and develop,″ he said.

Putin dismissed claims that today’s NATO was a political alliance, saying NATO’s bombing raids on Yugoslavia were the work of a ``military organization, and we’re not happy about it.″

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