Russia beefs up military presence in southwestern regions

May 21, 2016 6:30 am

A Russian Yars RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missile system rolls at Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow on May 9, 2016. (AFP)

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says his country has boosted its military presence in the country’s southwest with “precision long-range weapons” to fend off developing threats.
The military might has been beefed up in the region in response to “attempts by some nations to expand their military presence near our borders,” Shoigu was quoted by the Associated Press  as saying on Friday. He made the remarks in an apparent reference to the US and its NATO allies.
He further said that the Southern Military District has also been strengthened by air defense and the Russian navy potential in southwest has been strengthened by one-third.
NATO leaders are scheduled to officially approve deploying more troops into east European member states as part of a “deter and dialog” strategy at a Warsaw summit in July. They announced that the agenda of the summit is establishing closer cooperation between NATO member states and the European Union.

A US serviceman drives a M1A2 Abrams tank during the Noble Partner 2016 joint military exercise at the Vaziani training area outside Tbilisi, Georgia, on May 18, 2016. (AFP)

On May 13, Russian President Vladimir Putin strongly criticized the deployment of the US missile system near his country, and vowed to neutralize any threats against . Putin’s remarks came a day after the US activated a land-based missile system in Romania, despite ’s previous warnings against a growing US-led arms deployment near its borders.
Moscow has repeatedly warned that the move could complicate security in the West Balkan region.
Ties between NATO and Russia have been tense for the last two years over a crisis in Ukraine, where the government and its Western allies keep accusing Moscow of having a hand in the militancy in the east. The Kremlin strongly rejects the claims. Russia has also criticized NATO’s expansion policy to include countries in the Western Balkan region, saying the move directly harms Russia’s strategic interests in the area.
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