Russia’s defense minister says the military will form 20 new units in the country’s west this year to counter what he described as a growing threat from NATO
MOSCOW — The Russian military will form 20 new units in the country’s west this year to counter what it claims is a growing threat from NATO.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made the announcement Monday at a meeting with top military officials. He pointed to a growing number of flights by U.S. strategic bombers near Russia’s borders, deployments of NATO warships and increasingly frequent and massive drills by alliance forces.
He charged that such actions “destroy the international security system and force us to take the relevant countermeasures.”
“We will form another 20 units and formations in the Western Military District until the year’s end,” Shoigu said
He added the military units in Western Russia have commissioned about 2,000 new pieces of weaponry this year.
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 following the ouster of the country’s Moscow-friendly president and then threw its weight behind separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. More than 14,000 people have been killed in seven years of fighting in eastern Ukraine.
Russia has recalled some troops from its western part after sweeping maneuvers in April, but Shoigu ordered them to leave their weapons behind for Russia’s Zapad (West) 2021 military exercises in September.
He noted Monday that preparations for the exercises, which will be conducted jointly with Belarus, are now in their final stage and emphasized that the maneuvers have an “exclusively defensive character.”