‘It can’t go unanswered’: Russia will respond to NATO buildup near its borders, senior diplomat says
The increase in the NATO military presence in the vicinity of Russia’s borders will not go unanswered, Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksey Meshkov has said at an international conference in Moscow.
“The Russian side has repeatedly stated that the buildup of the NATO military presence near Russian borders violates the spirit of the basic Russia-NATO pact and cannot be left unanswered by our country,” the diplomat said on Monday at the conference organized by the Russian-Italian Chamber of Commerce.
“We are bound to secure the safety of our state,” Meshkov added.
The comments came soon after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke at Warsaw University, where he said that the bloc planned to station even more military forces in Europe.
“Our military planners have put forward proposals for several battalions in different countries in the region. … This enhanced forward presence, combined with the ability to deploy NATO forces quickly, will send a clear message. An attack on Poland — or any other ally — will trigger a response from the entire alliance,” the NATO chief said.
In March this year, Russia’s envoy to NATO, Aleksandr Grushko, promised a “totally asymmetrical” response if the alliance stands by a plan to deploy new armored units to Eastern Europe. “We are not passive observers, we consistently take all the military measures we consider necessary in order to counterbalance this reinforced presence that is not justified by anything,” the diplomat said. “Certainly, we’ll respond totally asymmetrically,” he added.
In early May, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced plans to deploy two new divisions in the west of the country and one in the south to counterbalance NATO's increased military presence near Russian borders.
“The Defense Ministry is taking a number of measures to respond to the NATO military buildup at the Russian border,” Shoigu told reporters. “Before the year's end, two new divisions will be formed in the Western Military District and one in the Southern Military District.”