Russia will reinforce its western and southern flanks with three new divisions by the year-end, officials said on Wednesday, threatening retaliation to NATO’s plans to boost its military presence in eastern members Poland and the Baltic States.
While Moscow accuses the Western alliance of threatening its Russia’s security, NATO says intensified military drills and its plans for increased deployments on its eastern flank are purely defensive after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014 and backed separatist rebels in Ukraine.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said on Monday NATO was weighing up rotating four battalions of troops through eastern member states amid rising tension in the Baltic.
Russia has scrambled jets to intercept U.S. reconnaissance planes in recent weeks and made simulated attack passes near a U.S. warship in the Baltic Sea.
Speaking in Brussels on Tuesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed the alliance would deploy “batallion-sized” multinational units on a rotational basis in the east.