The Kremlin has hit back at a decision by NATO to station several thousand troops in Baltic countries and Eastern Europe, amid rising tensions between Europe and Russia, as "anti-Russian hysteria."
At a NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland on Friday, the military alliance is expected to formally agree to deploy four battalions with a total of 3,000 to 4,000 troops to the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and Poland on a rotational basis.
The deployment comes amid increasing concerns in those areas (all of which were under Soviet control during the Cold War) that Russia could be prepared to try to increase or regain its sphere of influence.
In a statement on Thursday, NATO also said it would "strengthen political and practical cooperation with Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova" - all former Soviet republics experiencing increasing tensions with Russia due to their political and economic relations with the EU.
In addition, the EU and NATO signed a declaration on Friday aimed at bolstering the region's security ahead of the full NATO summit Friday afternoon.
Left out in the cold from NATO and ostensibly the reason for such a deployment, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reportedly hit back at the alliance, saying its actions were akin to "anti-Russian hysteria."
"If one needs badly to look for an enemy image so that [one can] promote anti-Russian, so to say, hysteria, and then, with this emotional background, to deploy more and more air force units, ground troop units, getting them closer to Russian borders, then one can hardly find any common ground for cooperation," he was quoted by Russia's Itar Tass news agency as saying.