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MINSK, November 2. /TASS/. NATO led by the United States is building up its offensive potential on the western borders of the Russia-Belarus Union State and Moscow is forced to take defensive measures in response, Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday.
"The United States and other NATO members are actively building up their offensive potential on the western frontiers of Russia's ally, opening new bases and developing military infrastructure. There are incessant attempts to impose their will on other countries using economic and political diktat, and also military force. An open information war is underway," Shoigu said at a session of the joint board of the Russian and Belarussian defense ministries.
According to the Russian defense minister, "these actions are undermining strategic stability and are forcing Russia to take counter-measures of defensive nature, including in the western strategic direction."
As Shoigu stressed, "the high level of bilateral interaction and the agreed positions on the basic problems of global and regional stability help successfully solve the issues of strengthening the defense potential of the Union State."
"This approach is the most topical precisely now that the international mechanisms designed to solve crisis situations are stalling while the hotbeds of tension have moved close to our borders," the Russian defense minister said.
Russia is currently paying special attention to the provision of units and formations in the Western Military District with modern armaments and military hardware, and also to measures of operational and combat training, he said.
"Measures are being practiced as part of combined arms groupings of forces in operational directions. Some command and staff exercises and training drills are organized jointly with the Armed Forces of Belarus," Shoigu said.
The Russian defense minister named the joint exercises of airborne troops and special forces, the Interaction-2016 command and staff drills of the Rapid Response Forces from the member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the CSTO peacekeepers’ drills Unbreakable Brotherhood-2016 among the largest such maneuvers.
In Shoigu’s opinion, "military cooperation between Russia and Belarus is actively developing."
"In this process, the joint board is an effective mechanism of taking collective decisions in the sphere of common security of our counties," the Russian defense minister said.
Russian and Belarussian commanders will take into account NATO’s increased activity near the borders of the Russia-Belarus Union State when they develop the scenario of West-2017 joint drills, Shoigu has warned.
"When the goal and the scenario of the drills are developed, attention will be paid to the situation related to NATO’s increased activity near the borders of the Union State," Shoigu said, summing up the results of a session of a joint board of the Russian and Belarussian defense ministries.
The strategic maneuvers will be held in September next year simultaneously on several training ranges of Russia and Belarus.