MOSCOW, May 25. /TASS/. The North Atlantic Alliance is using the Ukrainian crisis as a pretext for building up its groups in Eastern and Central Europe, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Thursday.
"NATO is using the Ukrainian crisis as a pretext for building up its groups. Another stage of the alliance's expansion has been launched. Military infrastructure is being modernized in Eastern and Central Europe, strike weapons are being deployed, and the scale and intensity of joint exercises are increasing," Shoigu said at a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Council of Defense Ministers.
He noted that this year’s largest exercises would be Defender Europe 2023, which would involve countries outside the bloc.
Another alarming aspect, Shoigu said, is "the growing aggressive rhetoric and joint 'nuclear missions' by NATO countries in Eastern Europe for practicing the use of nuclear weapons delivery systems, as well as the upgrading of the components of the US global missile defense system."
"The supply of depleted uranium ammunition to Ukraine and attempts at provocations and strikes against Russia’s strategic facilities belong here, too," he added.