Straight from Russian President Vladimir Putin's mouth: "I would like to say — there's no need to be afraid of Russia."
Putin's comments to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera follow months of fighting in Ukraine between Kiev's forces and Russian-backed separatists that have reminded many of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union seemed perpetually on the verge of invading Western Europe and the forces of NATO were the only thing standing in the way.
But Putin insists: "The world has changed so much that people in their right mind cannot imagine such a large military conflict today."
"We have other things to do, I can assure you," he said in a translation by Agence France-Presse. "Only a sick person — and even then only in his sleep — can imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO."
"Early this month, [NATO] pledged to counter 'hybrid warfare' from Russia — which included a mixture of conventional military tactics, subversive campaigns and cyber-warfare that Russia was using in Ukraine.
"Three Baltic countries are preparing to ask for a permanent presence of [NATO] troops on their soil to act as a deterrent to the Russian military."