MOSCOW, May 20. /TASS/. Military threats have mounted near the Russian border in the western strategic direction, Russia’s defense chief Sergey Shoigu said at a Defense Ministry board meeting on Friday.
"The western strategic direction is facing heightened military threats near the Russian border," Shoigu reported.
Over the past eight years, US strategic bomber flights have been reported over Europe 15 times more frequently, with an increase from three to 45 annually, the minister said.
Also, US vessels carrying guided missile systems have been regularly entering the Baltic Sea, Shoigu pointed out. Over this year alone, they held six missions to test entry into potential target areas for the launch of cruise missiles near the Kaliningrad Region, Russia’s exclave along the Baltic Sea.
"Meanwhile, the US and NATO have been ramping up operational and combat training along our borders," the Russian defense chief said. "Up to 40,000 troops from 30 NATO member-countries are currently involved in the Defender Europe exercise."
Shoigu estimated that the maneuvers were aimed at sending a full-fledged US division to Europe and deploying troops to the Arctic, in addition to the Western and Southwestern strategic directions. He also noted the recent NATO entry bids from Russia’s closest neighbors, Finland and Sweden.