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Russia moves to boost army near Europe after NATO expansion

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attends a meeting with graduates of Higher military schools at the Kremlin in Moscow on June 21, 2023. (Egor Aleev/Pool/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)
August 10, 2023

Russia will boost its military forces near its borders with NATO states, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said as he lashed out at the U.S. and its allies for providing support to Ukraine.

Shoigu told a meeting of defense officials Wednesday that “strengthening of troop formations” on Russia’s western borders was necessary in response to what he said was a buildup of forces by North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries.

He singled out the “militarization of Poland” and said the entry of Finland and Sweden to NATO membership would be “seriously destabilizing” for Russia’s security. Taking into account the armed forces of eastern European countries, about 360,000 service people are stationed in the immediate vicinity of the borders of Russia and its ally Belarus, he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, now in its 18th month, has triggered Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II and reinvigorated NATO, as members of the defense alliance send billions of dollars in weapons to help the government in Kyiv defend itself. The war prompted Finland to join NATO, while Sweden’s membership application is going through the ratification process.

Shoigu complained that deliveries of arms to Ukraine by the U.S. and its allies “creates serious risks of further escalation of the conflict.” He didn’t acknowledge that Russia had started the war.

Russia announced in January that it planned to expand its military to 1.5 million people from the existing target level of 1.15 million amid deepening tensions with NATO. The Kremlin hasn’t indicated how quickly the expansion will take place.


© 2023 Bloomberg News

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