22:40 GMT29 May 2020
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    NATO members may be carrying out full-fledged preparations for aggression near Russia’s border, according to Konstantin Sivkov, director of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems.

    Speaking at a roundtable in Moscow on NATO’s policy towards Russia, Sivkov argued that there are several signs apparently indicating that the alliance may be preparing for "military aggression."

    "NATO is conducting large-scale full-fledged preparations for military aggression," the expert said.

    He underscored that recently NATO members have been deploying significant military forces to Russia’s western border.

    "Four battalions, comprising 1,000 personnel, are currently deployed along Russia’s border. But the firepower of each of those units is much greater than a single battalion would need. In theory, those units could be easily transformed into an army corps with a size of 40,000-50,000 personnel, with additional troops deployed from the United States and other parts of Europe," Sivkov said.

    Moreover, the expert pointed out that earlier NATO recruited Russian speakers for drills in Germany. In March, the description of the vacancy "Russian-speaking role players for NATO exercises" was published on the official portal of the German capital of Berlin.

    "Candidates will play the role of civilians in conflict zones. This will help to create a real training scenario for servicemen and their optimal preparation for foreign missions," the description said.

    "It is, in fact, evident that [the exercise] practices possible hostilities against Russia as a potential enemy," Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the Russian State Duma International Affairs Committee, told Sputnik in late March.

    Finally, Sivkov said that another trend indicating NATO’s preparations for possible aggression against Russia is the planned increase in the material and technical capabilities of the US 7th Fleet in the Pacific Ocean.

    "Apparently, NATO ships in the region may be preparing for an aggression. This may be a pretext for military actions against Russia," he concluded.

    NATO-Russia relations have been complicated over the past years, as NATO has set a sustainable course for the alliance's expansion by engaging Eastern European states since 2014.

    NATO justified its eastward expansion as a response to Russia's alleged meddling in the Ukrainian conflict. Moscow has repeatedly refuted these allegations.

    On December 22, 2016, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that the NATO presence near Russia's borders has grown threefold in the past 10 years and eightfold along the country's western borders.

    In a recent documentary interview with US filmmaker Oliver Stone, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would give a suitable response to NATO’s actions along Russia’s border in order to maintain a strategic balance.

    The Russian president stressed that Russia poses no threat to its neighbors. Speaking about the NATO expansion, Putin added that countries should better focus on reaching agreements on security and mutual assistance if they feel any threat.

    Meanwhile, currently NATO is conducting the Tobruq Legacy 2017 drills in Lithuania, involving nearly 500 personnel and 30 air defense systems from several alliance member states. In particular, the US sent its Patriot missile defense systems to Lithuania, in the first deployment of the system to the Baltic region.


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    aggression, military drills, tensions, NATO, United States, Russia
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