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Iran Press TV

Russia warns NATO of retaliation in face of military build-up

Iran Press TV

Wed May 4, 2016 11:16PM

Russia says it will engage in retaliatory measures if NATO continues its plans to deploy four extra battalions in Poland and the Baltic states.

"This would be a very dangerous build-up of armed forces pretty close to our borders," said senior Russian Foreign Ministry official Andrei Kelin on Wednesday

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced on Tuesday that the alliance would deploy "battalion-sized" multinational units throughout eastern member states.

The proposal was initially made by US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Monday amidst rising tension between the US and Russia in the Baltic region.

Tensions surged earlier this month after the US guided-missile destroyer USS Cook sailed close to a Russian naval base in the Baltic Sea, an action which resulted in the scrambling of Russian jets that buzzed the ship.

Kelin added, "I am afraid this would require certain retaliatory measures, which the Russian Defense Ministry is already talking about."

Earlier, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that three new military divisions would be formed by the end of this year to counter what Moscow saw as "the growing capacity of NATO forces in close proximity to the Russian borders."

NATO's arming of Ukraine

Meanwhile, speaking at a news conference with NATO's new Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Curtis Scaparrotti, Stoltenberg said NATO will continue its "defensive" and "proportionate" military build-up close to Russia's borders in "reaction to the Russian behavior in Ukraine."

Russia and NATO have been locked in a deepening dispute. NATO has stepped up its military build-up near Russia's borders since it suspended all ties with Moscow in April 2014 after the Crimean Peninsula re-integrated into the Russian Federation following a referendum.

"I do believe that we should support Ukraine with what they need to successfully defend their territory and their sovereignty," Scaparrotti added.

During the conference, Scaparrotti said that he would continue NATO's current policies towards Russia and that the Western military alliance and Moscow must communicate to ensure there is no "accident or miscalculation".

Around 9,300 people have been killed and more than 21,000 have been injured in two years since Ukraine's predominantly Russian-speaking east made efforts to gain greater autonomy against the country's pro-Western leadership.

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