forces have staged massive snap military
drills in districts close to the border with Ukraine
and the Baltic states
, putting ground troopers as well as airmen and marines on full combat readiness for possible future operations.
“In accordance with the decision of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (President Vladimir Putin), a spot check started today,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in comments broadcast on television.
He added that troops in the country’s southern, central and western military districts, as well as the air force, northern fleet and paratroopers were in “full combat” mode as of 0400 GMT.
Russian T-80 tanks perform during exercises in Sertolovo outside Saint Petersburg on May, 14, 2016. ©AFP
The report came only two days after US Vice President Joe Biden vowed Washington’s support for the Baltic nations of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia against what he described as any act of aggression from Russia in Europe
“We mean what we say. We have never reneged on any commitment we have made,” Biden said following a meeting with Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis, Lithuania’s Dalia Grybauskaite and Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia.
Moreover, relations between Russia on one side and NATO and the US on the other have witnessed heightened tensions over a crisis in Ukraine.
While the Kiev government and its Western allies keep accusing Moscow of having a hand in the militancy in eastern Ukraine, 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 Balkans.
On May 30, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced plans to station a rotating force near the border with Russia.
“NATO has decided to increase our forward presence in the eastern part of the alliance and we have decided that this enhanced forward presence is going to be a multinational presence and it’s going to be a rotational presence,” he said.