NATO is engaging in aggressive military buildups in Eastern Europe close to Russia’s borders that indicate preparations for a potential major conflict in the region, all the while waging a “demonizing” campaign of Russia’s own military excercises, the Russian permanent representative to NATO said.
“It is clear for us that such activities not only ensure a reinforced military presence of the allies in the immediate vicinity of Russia’s borders but in fact represent an intensive mastering of a potential theater of military operations, accompanied by the development of necessary infrastructure, the representative, Aleksandr Grushko told reporters on Thursday.
Grushko noted that over 40,000 troops will be engaged in various NATO exercises in Eastern Europe between the months of June and November.
NATO is currently engaged in exercises in Lithuania, for which it deployed the Patriot long-range missile system. Some analysts have called the move a major “unfriendly gesture” toward Russia. Although it is the first time the missile system has been deployed in the region, it is just one more development in what has been a three year-long escalation between the alliance and Russia.
“NATO is conducting large-scale full-fledged preparations for military aggression,” Konstantin Sivkov, director of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems said
“They want to play the card of the mythical Russian intention to attack the Baltic nations,” Boris Rozhin, an analyst at the Center for Military and Political journalism said in an interview with Radio Sputnik.
NATO has been rapidly escalating its presence in the region for the past several years, justifying it as necessary for security purposes following Russia’s involvement in the Ukrainian conflict.
Russian representatives have made it clear that the NATO forces surrounding their borders “undermines stability in the region.” Grushko ensured that “Russia won’t stay inactive” and will “undertake necessary steps” to defend their interests.
Russia for its part is preparing to engage in joint exercises with Belarus, which they say have been fully transparent. The exercises, called Zapad-2017 have been widely reported in major western media as major aggression. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said he has “every reason to believe that there may be substantially more troops participating than the official reported numbers,” even though the Russian representative has said that the excercise is within treaty limits.
A Cold-War era treaty called the Vienna document limits military exercises to 13,000 troops, and should be well publicized and open to observers.
Russian representatives held a meeting with NATO on Thursday to discuss the drills, its purposes and goals, and what types of hardware would be used.
Slamming what he called “speculation,” Grushko called on NATO to stop “demonizing” Russian activities.
“We pointed out that while a lot of insinuations, completely unjustified from our point of view, are being spread around the Zapad-2017 drills, NATO’s funneling of arms and materiel into its eastern flank is going unnoticed,” he said.