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NATO has rejected a new military doctrine adopted by Russia that lists the Western alliance as its top security threat. A NATO spokesperson said it was Russia that was "undermining European security."
Within hours of Russian President Vladimir Putin approving a new security doctrine, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu flatly denied that the Western military bloc was a threat to any nation.
"Any steps taken by NATO to ensure the security of its members are clearly defensive in nature, proportionate and in compliance with international law," Lungescu said.
"In fact, it is Russia's actions, including currently in Ukraine, which are breaking international law and undermining European security," she added in comments posted on her Twitter account.
She added that NATO would "continue to seek a constructive relationship with Russia, but that is only possible with a Russia that abides by international law and principles - including the right of nations to choose their future freely."
NATO tops Kremlin list of security threats
The new Russian military doctrine, posted on the Kremlin's website on Friday, lists 14 security risks to the country, beginning with NATO's military potential and eastward expansion.
It says Russia could resort to the use of nuclear weapons in retaliation against the use of nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction against it or its allies, or if a conventional attack "threatens the existence of the Russian state."
It also says Russia could use precision weapons "as part of strategic deterrent measures," but it didn't say under what circumstances these may be used.
However, a statement released by the Russian Security Council said that the doctrine remained defensive in nature, despite the changes.
Relations between the Kremlin and the West have experienced a major chill since Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula back in March. Ukraine and the West have also accused Moscow of stoking the fires of conflict in eastern Ukraine by supporting pro-Russia separatists with weapons and troops. Russia has denied this.
The EU and the US have imposed economic sanctions, which analysts say are hurting Russia's economy and contributing to a sharp devaluation of the ruble.
pfd/sb (AP, dpa)