Russia Boosts SW Military Flank in Response to NATO Expansion

Russia Boosts SW Military Flank in Response to NATO Expansion
Wed Jul 27, 2016 21:51:39

Russia has strengthened its southwestern military flank in respond to the increasing military buildup by NATO and the deteriorating security situation in Ukraine.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday that Moscow has deployed more air defense systems in the southwest.

“Since 2013 ... we have formed four divisions, nine brigades and 22 regiments,” Shoigu said during a meeting at the Russian Defense Ministry broadcast on state television.

The senior military official said a “self-sufficient” contingent of troops has also been deployed in Crimea, the former Ukrainian territory which joined the Russian Federation after a referendum in March 2014.

Russia has faced an array of economic and military sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States over Crimea. Moscow and the West have also been at odds over the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where the West accuses Moscow of providing support for anti-Kiev forces. Moscow has denied the charges.

The conflict has led to an escalated military race as both NATO and Russia accuse each other of creating instability. NATO has announced plans for a more active presence close to the Russian borders. The alliance also plans to expand its membership to include Russia’s eastern neighbors.

Shoigu said the beefed up military activity in the southwest was not just meant to respond to NATO’s buildup of forces near the borders and the situation in Ukraine, noting that “terrorist” groups were also active in the North Caucasus.

The Russian defense minister said the new deployment in the southwest would “include two missile brigades armed with Iskander missile complexes, which has allowed [Russia] to boost fire power to destroy the potential adversary.”

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