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NATO steps up military activity near Russia’s borders over years — General Staff

US strategic aviation has considerably increased flights along Russian borders

MOSCOW, December 9. /TASS/. The North Atlantic Alliance over the past few years has considerably stepped up its military activity near Russia’s borders, the chief of Russia’s General Staff, Valery Gerasimov said on Thursday.

"Tensions in Europe have not eased. In recent years the military activity of the North Atlantic Alliance has grown several times. NATO holds about 40 major military exercises near Russia’s borders every year," Gerasimov told a news briefing for foreign military attaches.

He stressed that in the process of NATO’s exercises large troop contingents were redeployed towards Russia’s borders and a large share of military hardware remained on the sites of the drills.

"This year a large-scale exercise, codenamed Defender Europe was conducted, with both the alliance’s member-states and non-bloc countries, such as Sweden, Finland and Austria taking part. Large troop contingents were moved towards Russia’s borders. The exercise is now over, but part of the US military hardware has not been pulled out of Europe to this day," Gerasimov said.

US strategic aviation has considerably increased flights along Russian borders. During such flights the planes simulated launches of cruise missiles against targets inside Russian territory.

"Over the past month alone there have been 30 flights, twice more than in the same period last year," Gerasimov said.

"There is an upsurge in NATO forces’ naval activity in the Black and Baltic seas. This year 26 naval ships of non-Black Sea countries - Britain, Greece, Spain, Italy, and the United States made 29 visits to the Black Sea. There were 23 such visits in the previous year. Very often NATO ships’ actions are provocative," Gerasimov said.

The Russian military, he said, closely monitored all movements and "any attempts at violating the border will be upset, of course." Gerasimov stressed that "Russia’s initiatives for moving the areas of exercises away from the Russia-NATO line of contact and also for enhancing predictability and easing risky military activity remain relevant."

"The Russian Defense Ministry confirms its readiness to discuss European and global security issues for creating the necessary conditions to take specific measures to de-escalate tensions and promote mutual trust," Gerasimov said.