Despite defense buildup, NATO also seeks to soothe Russia

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NATO's chief says that, despite the reinforcement of its defenses against Russia, the alliance also wants to keep all possible contacts with Moscow open to avoid any unwarranted escalation of tension.

Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary-general, confirmed that alliance defense ministers gathered for a two-day meeting starting Tuesday will back the deployment plan to send four multinational battalions to the Baltic states and Poland and also reinforce its posture around the Black Sea in southeastern Europe.

Stoltenberg said that "at the same time we convey a very strong message that we don't seek a confrontation with Russia. We don't want the new Cold War."

He said it "is important that we continue to keep channels for political dialogue open but also military contacts."