Europe

Russia assails NATO's move to deploy troops near its border

  • Members of the U.S. Army take part in a military exercise 'Iron Wolf 2016' at the Training Range in Pabrade some 60km.(38 miles) north of the capital Vilnius,, Lithuania, Thursday, June 16, 2016. Iron Wolf 2016, the part of the annual multinational Exercise Saber Strike held in Lithuania, is running in June in Rukla and Pabrade, two training areas of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. In total, over 5 thousand soldiers from 7 NATO allies are training at the same time in Lithuania this year. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

    Members of the U.S. Army take part in a military exercise 'Iron Wolf 2016' at the Training Range in Pabrade some 60km.(38 miles) north of the capital Vilnius,, Lithuania, Thursday, June 16, 2016. Iron Wolf 2016, the part of the annual multinational Exercise Saber Strike held in Lithuania, is running in June in Rukla and Pabrade, two training areas of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. In total, over 5 thousand soldiers from 7 NATO allies are training at the same time in Lithuania this year. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)  (The Associated Press)

  • Soldiers from NATO countries attend an military exercise 'Iron Wolf 2016' at the Training Range in Pabrade some 60km.(38 miles) north of the capital Vilnius, Lithuania, Thursday, June 16, 2016. Iron Wolf 2016, the part of the annual multinational Exercise Saber Strike held in Lithuania, is running in June in Rukla and Pabrade, two training areas of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. In total, over 5 thousand soldiers from 7 NATO allies are training at the same time in Lithuania this year. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

    Soldiers from NATO countries attend an military exercise 'Iron Wolf 2016' at the Training Range in Pabrade some 60km.(38 miles) north of the capital Vilnius, Lithuania, Thursday, June 16, 2016. Iron Wolf 2016, the part of the annual multinational Exercise Saber Strike held in Lithuania, is running in June in Rukla and Pabrade, two training areas of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. In total, over 5 thousand soldiers from 7 NATO allies are training at the same time in Lithuania this year. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)  (The Associated Press)

  • A member of the Lithuania's Army takes part in a military exercise 'Iron Wolf 2016' at the Training Range in Pabrade some 60km.(38 miles) north of the capital Vilnius,, Lithuania, Thursday, June 16, 2016. Iron Wolf 2016, the part of the annual multinational Exercise Saber Strike held in Lithuania, is running in June in Rukla and Pabrade, two training areas of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. In total, over 5 thousand soldiers from 7 NATO allies are training at the same time in Lithuania this year. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

    A member of the Lithuania's Army takes part in a military exercise 'Iron Wolf 2016' at the Training Range in Pabrade some 60km.(38 miles) north of the capital Vilnius,, Lithuania, Thursday, June 16, 2016. Iron Wolf 2016, the part of the annual multinational Exercise Saber Strike held in Lithuania, is running in June in Rukla and Pabrade, two training areas of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. In total, over 5 thousand soldiers from 7 NATO allies are training at the same time in Lithuania this year. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)  (The Associated Press)

Russia's ambassador to NATO has denounced the alliance's move to deploy additional forces near the Russian borders as a blow to European security.

Alexander Grushko's comments Thursday followed a meeting of NATO defense ministers, who agreed to deploy four multinational battalions on a rotational basis to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. They also discussed establishing a Romanian-led multinational "framework brigade" of ground troops to help defend the Black Sea area.

Grushko said that NATO's decision "directly infringes on our legitimate security interests" and "won't be left unanswered."

He also criticized NATO's pledge to offer non-lethal assistance to Ukraine, saying it could encourage its reluctance to abide by the Minsk peace agreement. The deal has helped reduce hostilities in eastern Ukraine, but fighting has continued and a political settlement has stalled.