MOSCOW, November 18. /TASS/. Western countries’ actions in the Black Sea go beyond boundaries, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
"As for the Black Sea, the latest developments go beyond certain boundaries: strategic bombers fly at a distance of 20 km from our state border and they carry quite serious weapons, as is known," the head of state said at a Foreign Ministry enlarged board meeting.
The Western countries’ actions that aggravate the situation can be seen not only in the Black Sea but also in other regions close to the Russian borders, Putin said.
"Yes, we constantly express our concerns over these actions, talk about red lines but, of course, we understand that our partners are very peculiar and, to put it mildly, do not take all our warnings and talks on red lines seriously," the Russian leader said.
The Russian president recalled NATO’s expansion to the east. "Even though the relationships between Russia and our Western partners, including the United States, were just unique and these ties were almost at the level of allied relations, our concerns and precautions about NATO’s expansion to the east were absolutely ignored," Putin said, adding that "there were several stages of the expansion" of the military bloc.
"And now let us see where the NATO military infrastructure is: it is located right near to our borders while missile defense systems have been deployed in Romania and Poland and they can be easily employed, considering that MK-41 launchers stationed there can operate as strike complexes," the Russian president pointed out.
"It is just a matter of several minutes to change the software," he added.
Russia’s Defense Ministry reported on November 10 that US Navy ships arrived in the Black Sea to take part in the US European Command’s multinational drills in the region. According to the ministry’s data, the US guided missile destroyer Porter, fleet replenishment oil tanker John Lenthall and command and staff ship Mount Whitney entered the Black Sea for the multinational exercise. On November 15, the Mount Whitney departed for the Mediterranean Sea, following the completion of the exercise.
Russia’s Defense Ministry slammed these maneuvers as a destabilizing factor in the region intended to use Ukrainian territory for military goals. The Russian armed forces were closely watching the situation in the region, the ministry assured.