11:25 GMT +312 November 2019
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    US troops land with parachutes at the military compound near Torun, central Poland, on June 7, 2016, as part of the NATO Anaconda-16 military exercise.

    NATO Intensifies Drills Directed Against Russia - Russian Defense Minister

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    NATO has doubled the intensity of military exercises, most of which are directed against Russia, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Thursday at an expanded Defense Ministry board meeting.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — NATO, instead of the joint fight against terrorism, has declared Russia its main threat and is increasing its military activity near Russian borders, Shoigu said.

    "Instead of uniting efforts against the common global evil — terrorism — NATO declared Russia the main threat and continues to increase its military potential near our borders," Shoigu said.

    "Under this pretext, the budget of the North Atlantic alliance's countries has been increased by $26 billion and amounted to 918 billion. NATO leaders decided to deploy four reinforced battalions and tactical groups next year in the Baltic states and Poland, and to deploy and maintain an armored brigade of US ground forces on the territory of several countries in Eastern Europe," he said.

    "NATO has doubled the intensity of military exercises, most of which are anti-Russian. The armed forces of the United Kingdom began to use Russian-made tanks and military uniforms of the Russian army for the designation of the enemy at the Salisbury Plain range," Shoigu said.

    He said the NATO's presence near the Russian borders has grown threefold in the past 10 years and eightfold along the country's western borders.

    Since 2014, NATO has been building up its military presence in Europe, especially in Eastern European countries neighboring Russia, using Moscow’s alleged interference in the Ukrainian conflict as a pretext. Moscow has repeatedly denied the claims and warned NATO that the military buildup on Russia’s borders is provocative and threatens the existing strategic balance of power.

    During the last NATO summit in July, NATO resolved to strengthen its military presence in Eastern Europe on a rotational basis with four battalions in Poland and in the Baltic nations. During the 2014 summit, NATO established a 5,000-strong Very High Readiness Joint Task Force in response to the alleged Russian threat.

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