Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu delivers a speech as he attends the 5th Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS) on April 27, 2016. ©Reuters
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says Russia
is set to deploy three new military divisions to its borders to counter the eastward expansion of the NATO
military alliance, local media report.
“The Ministry of Defense has adopted a series of measures to counter the growing capacity of NATO forces in close proximity to the Russian borders,” Shoigu was quoted by Interfax news
agency as saying on Wednesday.
The divisions will be formed by the end of this year and will be sent to the country’s western and southern borders, he added.
Last week Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that NATO was moving closer to Russian borders and said Russia would take necessary measures to protect its security.
“NATO military infrastructure is inching closer and closer to Russia’s borders. But when Russia takes action to ensure its security, we are told that Russia is engaging in dangerous maneuvers near NATO borders,” he said.
The top Russian diplomat rejected NATO claims that Moscow is conducting “dangerous activities” near the borders of its member states, saying this is an “unscrupulous attempt to distort the reality.”
Russia and NATO have been locked in a deepening dispute. NATO has stepped up its military build-up near Russia’s borders since it suspended all ties with Moscow in April 2014 after the Crimean Peninsula re-integrated into the Russian Federation following a referendum.
Moscow has on many occasions slammed NATO’s expansion near its borders, saying such a move poses a threat to both regional and international peace.
Tensions surged earlier this month after the US guided-missile destroyer USS Cook sailed close to a Russian naval base in the Baltic Sea, an action which resulted in the scrambling of Russian jets that buzzed the ship.
American officials denounced the move and said the Russian bombers were flying so close that they caused “wakes in the water.”
Lavrov, however, described the actions of the Russian warplanes as completely legitimate, emphasizing that they decided to take a look at the vessel “from a safe distance.”