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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Anti-NATO Deputies Consolidate

Some State Duma deputies are forming an anti-NATO group within the parliament to unite what they say is growing cross-party opposition to the Western alliance's eastward expansion plans.

Sergei Baburin, a leader of the Power to the People faction, said he was not yet sure what actions the group might take.

But its formation is an indication of growing anti-NATO sentiment in the Duma, parliament's lower house, where even usually pro-Western legislators say they are uneasy about NATO's plans.

At a news conference Friday, Baburin claimed to have 150 initial members from among 450 Duma deputies. The liberal Yabloko Party was the only faction not represented.

NATO "is making a bound toward the borders of the Russian Federation," Baburin said. "We cannot be indifferent to this."

In a July summit in Madrid, NATO is expected to decide which former Warsaw Pact members to invite to join the alliance. Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are seen as the likely choices.

Negative sentiment surrounding the NATO plans could spell trouble for a number of international agreements due for ratification in the Duma, including the START II nuclear treaty to further reduce the numbers of nuclear weapons.

Baburin said he favors a new, tougher military doctrine to ensure that "anyone who violates [Russia's security] will be repulsed with all types of weapons, right up to the use of nuclear arms."

Sergei Ivanenko, deputy head of Yabloko, dismissed the group as an effort by its organizers to exploit anti-NATO sentiment for political ends.

"We look on this situation as a bureaucratic exercise by an organization, which does not know what to do with itself," Ivanenko said.