Shoigu explains NATO's build-up along Russian borders
NATO's military build-up along Russia's borders is proof of the Western military alliance's anti-Russian stance, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said.
"The situation near our western borders tends to deteriorate. This is linked to the increasing military activity of NATO countries in Eastern Europe. The North Atlantic Alliance is stepping up its presence in the Baltic states. The infrastructure of their sea ports, airfields and other military facilities is being advanced," Shoigu told a meeting of the defense ministry.
Shoigu noted that NATO is completing the creation of four multinational battalions near Russia’s borders. "In the Baltic countries and Poland, the formation of four battalion-size tactical groups is nearing completion, with the total of 5,000 troops with weapons and military equipment," TASS cited the minister as saying.
The US continues deploying the European elements of missile shield, he noted. "By 2018, in addition to the missile shield base in Romania there are plans to launch a similar facility in Poland," Shoigu noted.
"The intensity of the alliance’s operational and combat training is increasing. The alliance’s BALTOPS 2017 and Saber Strike 2017 large-scale exercises are currently underway near the Russian borders. Taking part in them are more than 10,000 military servicemen, more than 70 warships and auxiliary vessels and about 70 aircraft, including B-52 strategic bombers," Shoigu said.
"All these developments demonstrate the Western partners’ blatant reluctance to abandon their anti-Russian policy," he stressed.
NATOF-16 supersonic multirole fighter attempted to get close to Shoigu's plane over neutral Baltic waters today but was chased away by a Russian jet.
The deputy director of the Political and Military Analysis Institute, Alexander Khramchikhin, speaking with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that currently in the Russia-NATO relations there is an escalation only in the plane of political statements. "We have very serious tension with NATO at the level of rhetoric and propaganda. But I see nothing in the real situation that would indicate a serious reason for concern," he assured.
A military observer of the TASS news agency, retired Colonel Viktor Litovkin, recalled that NATO was created as a deterrent against the USSR, hence the stubbornly complex relations of the alliance with modern Russia. "All the words that NATO will fight terrorism are all worthless, because NATO is an aggressive North Atlantic bloc, whose behavior we saw on the example of the bombing of Yugoslavia," he said.
"The incident with the NATO F-16 fighter, which attempted to get close to our Defense Minister's plane shows that NATO is simply bullying us, trying to show who is the master in the Baltic sky. We quickly put it in place. Let the countries conduct exercises, it is their right to conduct exercises on their own land, we also conduct exercises - but we must understand that NATO does not constitute a significant threat to Russia, no matter how the alliance tries to intimidate us," Viktor Litovkin emphasized.