Nato policy of 'containment' against Russia has worsened relations, increased risk of conflict: Moscow

World leaders at a Nato summit in Brussels on May 25.
World leaders at a Nato summit in Brussels on May 25. PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia on Friday (May 26) accused Nato of increasing the threat of conflict, insisting attempts by the US-led alliance to curb Moscow have left ties at their lowest ebb since the USSR collapsed.

"At present, Nato-Russian relations are at their worst since the end of the Cold War," the foreign ministry in Moscow said in a statement.

The ministry said Nato was pursuing a policy of "containment" towards Russia that has seen it bolster its forces along the country's border in eastern Europe.

"The direct consequence is the increase in the potential for conflict in Euro-Atlantic region," it said.

The broadside from Moscow came a day after Nato leaders met in Brussels.

The threat from Russia has tended to be a major focus of Nato summits since Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and then backed a bloody separatist insurgency.

But the Thursday (May 25) meeting saw the Russia issue relegated as US President Donald Trump blasted allies for not spending enough on defence and steered clear of saying Washington would stick to Nato's Article 5 collective defence guarantee.

The Kremlin has long berated Nato for expanding into what it sees as its traditional sphere of influence along its Western flank.

Nato is deploying four battalions to Poland and the Baltic states to calm nerves that have frayed since the seizure of Crimea in the region formerly under Moscow's control.

Mr Trump has previously called Nato "obsolete" and insisted it should do more to combat terrorism.