Russia responds to NATO buildup near shared border with 30,000 additional troops of its own (3)

Russian soldiers. Photo is illustrative. (AFP/Scanpix)
5/4/2016 7:37 PM
Category: News

Russian Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu announced that two new divisions are being formed in Russia’s Western Military District and one new division is being formed in its Southern Military District. Shoigu confirmed that this was a direct response to the increase of NATO forces within the vicinity of the Russian border.

"The Ministry of Defence has introduced a number of measures in response to the buildup of NATO forces within the vicinity of the Russian border,” Russian news agency TASS reported Shoigu as saying.

The minister added that work was already underway on the construction of necessary new infrastructure. Each new Russian division is to include 10,000 soldiers.

Shoigu had announced last fall that 30 new military units had been formed in Russia’s Western Military District since the beginning of 2015. He also reported in late November that 15 new units had been formed and two additional new units were in the making in the country’s Southern Military District.

Russia’s military reinforcement in its Western Military District was also discussed in the Estonian Defence Forces’ recently released Yearbook 2015 (link in Estonian).

According to Interfax, Shoigu also noted today that more than 1,300 military exercises had been conducted by Russian armed forces over the past winter, adding that this was one third more than during the previous period, and that further exercises continued to be arranged.

Representatives of the Russian Federation have regularly responded to any reinforcements of NATO’s eastern flank with warnings that Moscow was planning to respond militarily.

Official from Foreign Ministry referred explicitly to Baltic States

An high-ranking official from the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation told Interfax that if NATO sent four additional battalions of troops to the Baltic States and Poland, Russia would be forced to implement countermeasures.

“This would be a very dangerous buildup of armed forces fairly close to our borders,” stated Andrei Kelin, a department head at the ministry. “I am afraid this would require certain retaliatory measures, of which the Russian Ministry of Defence is already providing an overview.”

American daily newspaper the Wall Street Journal reported last week that NATO allies are to send four battalions, or approximately 1,000 troops, to the Baltic States and Poland, the final decision on which will be made at NATO's 2016 Warsaw Summit in early July. Similar plans were confirmed yesterday by US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

Editor: Aili Sarapik

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