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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Cautions NATO on Expansion

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- President Vladimir Putin on Monday cautioned the NATO alliance that its expansion plans, expected to be finalized at a NATO summit next week, must not threaten Russian security.

"We hope that no decision taken will undermine stability and security [in Europe] and will not damage or risk the security interests of Russia," Putin told reporters after a one-hour meeting with NATO Secretary General George Robertson at a Brussels hotel.

Russia has long opposed plans to move NATO's eastern borders ever closer to Russia.

Putin said the second expansion of the 19-nation military alliance would take in nations that were once part of the Soviet Union, making clear that Russian generals would watch the new members closely and "take assessment of any new [NATO] military deployments."

Robertson reassured the Russian leader NATO's plans were "nonthreatening to Russia."

Robertson said NATO's relationship with Russia has so far gone "much better" than expected, since Putin and the leaders of the 19 NATO nations signed a partnership agreement in May boosting cooperation in areas such as counterterrorism and efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Putin agreed, saying Russia would not rule out even closer ties with -- or even membership in -- the U.S.-led alliance.