Newly appointed NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) Tod Wolters stated during his speech at the 2019 GLOBSEC Bratislava forum that the alliance is closely watching the actions of both Russia and China in Europe, amid tense relations between Moscow and Western countries and Washington's rivalry with Beijing.
"My first concern, when folks mention Russia and China is the word ‘vigilance’ […] We have certainly seen over the course of the last several years China increasing their economic involvement on the European continent […] and obviously we pay very, very close attention to what Russia is doing on our continent", he said.
Commenting on recent statements about the strategic nature of the cooperation between Russia and China made by the presidents of the two countries, Wolters said that NATO is also "keeping [its] vigilance up" on the activities between Moscow and Beijing. At the same time, he doubted the "sincerity" of the relationship between the two countries.
Forces of the Atlantic Alliance have actively been conducting drills in Europe, including near Russia’s borders. NATO and US reconnaissance jets and drones have also been regularly snooping around Russia’s borders since relations between Moscow and the Western states began to deteriorate in 2014 after the Ukraine crisis.
In light of the decline in ties with NATO countries and the increasing military presence of the military bloc near Russia’s borders, Moscow has deployed S-400 air defence systems in Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave in the Baltics, to the frustration of the US, which has called the move "destabilising".