Shoigu: NATO leaves Russia and Belarus no choice but to respond

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November 2, 2016 – Fort Russ News – 

RIA Novosti – translated by J. Arnoldski  – 

Russia is compelled to take defensive measures in response to NATO’s increasing activity on the western borders of the Union State of Russia and Belarus. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu stated this at a joint meeting of the Russian and Belarusian defense ministries. 

At the NATO summit in Warsaw in July, the member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization agreed to increase their military contingent in Eastern Europe: by 2017, four multinational battalions will be deployed in the Baltic counties and Poland. 

In addition, NATO is constantly discussing strengthening its presence in the Black Sea region. The alliance justifies these actions by alleging a threat posed by Russia. Moscow has repeatedly stated that it will not go to war with any NATO member countries, but will not leave unanswered the organization’s increasing military presence near its borders.

“On the western borders of the Union State, the US and other NATO members are actively expanding their offensive capabilities by opening new bases and developing military infrastructure. They are not ceasing in attempts to impose their will on other countries through economic and political diktat as well as military force. An open information war is being waged,” Shoigu stated.

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These actions, the defense minister noted, undermine strategic stability and force Russia to take responsive measures. Shoigu emphasized that the high level of cooperation with Belarus allows issues of strengthening the Union State’s defense potential to be successfully resolved.

“Such an approach is relevant now more than ever, as international mechanisms designed to resolve crisis situations are being stalled and tensions are very close to our borders,” the minister said.

In his assessment, Russia and Belarus’ military cooperation is actively developing. In September of next year, Russia and Belarus will hold the “West-2017” strategic exercises simultaneously in several training areas in both countries. Shoigu said that these war games will become “the main event in the joint preparation of our armed forces in 2017.”

The Russian defense minister stressed that the development of plans and scenarios for the war games will take into account NATO’s increased activity near the borders of the Union State. 

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In addition, he noted, Russia and Belarus are paying significant attention to realizing agreements on the joint defense of borders and the creation of a unified regional air defense system. In 2016, Russian enterprises completed a major overhaul of S-300PS anti-aircraft systems that were transferred to Belarus free of charge. “These measures allow violations of the Union State’s airspace to be prevented,” Shoigu concluded. 

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