Russian lawmakers are calling the largest allied airborne drills in Europe since the Cold War a threat and provocation rather than a defensive exercise.
The war games, dubbed Swift Reponse 15, involve nearly 5,000 soldiers from 11 NATO countries flying across Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, and Romania, and will continue from August 15 to September 13.
In announcing the games August 18, the U.S. Army said they were aimed at demonstrating "high-readiness" and the capacity to maintain "a strong and secure Europe."
But Vladimir Komoyedov, head of the State Duma Defense Committee, said August 19 that Russia in response is keeping its forces "on alert."
Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the Federation Council International Affairs Committee, said the exercises are egging on a recent escalation of fighting in eastern Ukraine.
"Conducting large-scale NATO drills is tantamount to conducting an operation to cover or support another adventure of Kyiv."
He said the "hyper exercise" is actually undermining security in Europe rather than increasing it. "Europe is secure and strong precisely when sabers are rattled less," he said.
Based on reporting by AFP, TASS, and Interfax