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Russia To Beef Up Military Forces On Western Flank, Citing NATO Threat

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (file photo)
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (file photo)

Russia's defense minister says that the security situation near the western borders has worsened and Russia will beef up its forces there.

Sergei Shoigu, speaking on a trip to Russia's westernmost Kaliningrad region on June 21, pointed at NATO's exercise in the Baltics as an example of the alliance's growing presence in the area.

Shoigu said the large-scale drills reflected NATO's "anti-Russian course."

He said the military will form 20 new units along its western frontiers by the year's end. Later this year, Russia and Belarus will hold the West-2017 war games.

Russian state TV showed footage of a NATO F-16 fighter jet shadowing Shoigu's plane as it was approaching Kaliningrad. A Russian Su-27 fighter then edged in between the minister's plane and the NATO jet to ward it off.

Later on June 21, Russia news agencies reported that several NATO fighter jets were escorting Shoigu's plane over the Baltic Sea as he was returning from Kaliningrad to Moscow but did not try to get close to it.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, Interfax, and TASS

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