MOSCOW, March 25. /TASS/. The Russian Defense Ministry is compelled to respond to the build-up of NATO’s military potential in Europe, including that close to Russian borders, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Friday.
"NATO continues building up its military potential in Europe, including in close vicinity to the Russian borders. No doubt, this situation cannot but concern us. We are forced to respond to it," the minister said, adding that the developments in the western strategic direction merited special attention.
"We’re constantly improving the combat composition of the Western Military District’s troops. Work continued in 2015 to set up units and military formations, including three divisions," the defense minister said.
The Russian defense minister said earlier that the ministry was planning to form three new divisions in the western direction.
In 2016, Russia’s Western Military District will receive over 1,100 pieces of new and upgraded military hardware, the minister said.
Western Military District Troops Commander Andrei Kartapolov said earlier that the troops would receive Sukhoi Su-35 advanced fighter jets, Koalitsiya-SV and Msta-SM self-propelled howitzers and S-400 antiaircraft missile systems.
As was reported earlier, the Western Military District has set up a new, 1st tank army with its headquarters in the Moscow Region. According to a TASS source in the Russian General Staff, the 20th combined arms army has been formed anew and stationed in five regions in west Russia.
The minister said that about 300 surprise checks and more than 800 operative and combat training drills would be held in the Western military district in 2016.
"The level of training of personnel and military command bodies is being raised. This year there are plans for more than 800 routine operative and combat training drills and about 300 surprise checks," Shoigu told the board meeting.