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Iran Press TV

Russia starts maneuvers to counter NATO drills

Iran Press TV

Tue Jun 10, 2014 12:31PM GMT

The Kremlin has launched military maneuvers in response to war games by a Western military alliance near the Russian border as tensions simmer between Moscow and NATO.

The Tuesday drills involved the Russian Baltic Sea fleet, the air force and paratroopers in Kaliningrad, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

"The maneuvers are taking place just as the international games Saber Strike-2014 and Baltops-2014 began in Europe," the ministry said.

"The number of personnel involved in the Kaliningrad maneuvers as well as defense ministry hardware are comparable with the number of personnel, weapons and military equipment involved in the drills conducted by NATO member countries on the border," it added.

The statements follow warnings by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, saying any eastward expansion or build-up by NATO near its borders will backfire.

"The artificial attempt to continue NATO's eastward expansion, progression of the military infrastructure to the east, closer to Russia's borders, is counterproductive," said Lavrov.

The warning comes as the Western military alliance launched war games near Russia's western border. Nearly 5,000 troops and 800 military vehicles from 10 NATO member states, including the US, Britain and Canada are participating in the Sabre Strike exercises near the Latvian capital, Riga.

Meanwhile, the United States has offered increased military support to NATO members in Eastern Europe.

The US has reportedly deployed two nuclear-capable B2 stealth bombers to a British air base to join the drills later. The war games are scheduled to last until June 20.

Russia sees the Western military alliance's moves as a sign of aggression amid the crisis in Ukraine.

Tensions between Russia and the West heightened after Ukraine's Autonomous Republic of Crimea integrated into the Russian Federation following a referendum in March.

The move sparked angry reactions from the United States and the European Union, prompting both to impose punitive measures against a number of Russian officials and authorities in Crimea.

GMA/NN/SL



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