Sergei Lavrov: photo - Wikipedia/cc/Kremlin.ru
"We have addressed questions to the North Atlantic military alliance. We are not only expecting answers, but answers that will be based fully on respect for the rules we agreed on," Lavrov told reporters at a briefing with his Kazakh counterpart on Thursday morning.
NATO foreign ministers called for military commanders to draw up plans for reinforcing defences in the region on Monday, possibly including measures such as sending NATO soldiers and equipment to allies in eastern Europe.
Poland's foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski said he would be happy with "two heavy brigades", or the equivalent of 10,000 troops stationed on Polish soil.
German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said however that "I think [Sikorski] knows that [such a large build up of NATO forces] would be in contradiction to agreements between NATO and Russia".
The Dutch foreign minister also ruled out such a large troop presence so close to Russia's borders.
"The danger of an invasion of eastern and southern Ukraine is real," Poland's prime minister Donald Tusk has told the German Die Zeit magazine, warning that Russia should not be able to split the alliance within NATO or the European Union, "which it has been trying to do for years".
NATO's top commander in Europe, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, told the Reuters agency that he would present plans to "reassure" allies in eastern Europe and would offer a range of options, after warning that "Russia could invade Ukraine in three to five days" with a build up of troops numbering an estimated 40,000.
"We will work on air, land and sea 'reassurances' and we will look to position those 'reassurances' across the breadth of our exposure: north, centre, and south," the general said.
The United States deployed a warship to the Black Sea last month for exercises with allies and also increased the number of its aircraft in regular NATO air patrols over the Baltics and beefed up a previously planned training exercise with Poland's airforce at the Lask base.
The general said that he was still looking at the best way forward for the "situation on the ground" and would not commit himself on how many troops would be moved into the region.
Responding to criticism over the presence of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that Russia had the right to move forces on its territory and said they would return to their permanent bases after completing military exercises.
"It is necessary to de-escalate rhetoric which overshoots the mark and crosses into the unreasonable," he said. (pg)