The Russian military on Tuesday said that it will form 20 new units to counter a growing threat from NATO, The Associated Press reported.
An increased number of U.S. strategic bomber flights, the deployment of NATO warships and military drills by NATO allies were among the reasons Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu gave for the country's decision to beef up its military forces.
“We will form another 20 units and formations in the Western Military District until the year’s end,” Shoigu announced during a Tuesday meeting with other top military officials.
Thousands of NATO troops with several warships and dozens of aircraft are currently taking part in exercises that stretch through the European region, according to the AP, which Shoigu said “destroy the international security system and force us to take the relevant countermeasures.”
NATO said that these exercises aren't a part of war games with Russia but are to prepare a response to any attack on any one of its members.
However, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg noted that Russia itself has invested in new military weapons and is willing to use them against neighboring countries like Georgia and Ukraine.
“This is one of the main reasons why NATO over the last years has increased the readiness of [its] armed forces,” Stoltenberg said, according to the AP.
Russia has backed separatists in Ukraine's eastern region, a conflict that has led to the deaths of 14,000 people, after annexing the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Russia recently recalled troops that were stationed in the western part of the peninsula in April.
Shoigu said that the country will add those new units to their its existing Western Military District by the end of 2021, according to the AP. He also noted that that military units have commissioned 2,000 pieces of weaponry in 2021.