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Aug 02, 2016

Russia is not a threat to NATO

Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia have good relations with Russia. Calls have been made for a removal of the sanctions imposed by the West over Russia's role in Ukraine

It is "unrealistic" that Russia would attack any NATO member, a view that contrasts with some other NATO member countries in the region who see Moscow as a real threat, Péter Szijjártó, minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has said.

Relations between Russia and the West soured after Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 and backed pro-Russian separatists in the east, reports Reuters.

NATO members including Poland and the Baltic states have voiced concern that they could be targets of hostile acts from Russia, and last month NATO leaders agreed to deploy military forces and to increase air and sea patrols there.

"I don't think it is a realistic assumption today that Russia would attack any NATO member state," Szijjarto said, in an interview with Index.hu.

Szijjarto said each NATO member state had feelings of "different intensity" about a perceived threat from Russia, and that he respected other views.

"This is not how we feel about Russia. I don't think Russia would pose an existential threat to us," he said.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's government has granted a deal to Russia's Rosatom to build new reactors at Hungary's nuclear power plant, and has promoted what it calls a "pragmatic" relationship with Russia.

The Czech Republic and Slovakia also have less fraught relations with Russia. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has called for a removal of the sanctions imposed by the West over Russia's role in Ukraine.

But tensions have flared up intermittently. Bulgaria's defense minister last month accused Russia of growing airspace violations, describing them as "provocations towards Bulgaria and its air forces".

When asked about Turkey, Minister Szijjártó said he did not see any anti-democratic developments in Turkey.

The scale of President Tayyip Erdogan's crackdown on the military, judiciary, civil service and schools since the July 15-16 coup - has a been a source of concern among some Turkey's NATO allies.