President Vladimir Putin says Russia will take adequate measures to counter NATO’s increasingly “aggressive rhetoric.” “NATO is strengthening its aggressive rhetoric and its aggressive actions near our borders,” Putin said in an address to the lower house of parliament on Wednesday. He said Russia must work to strengthen its combat readiness at a time when NATO is expanding and moving its infrastructure towards Russia’s borders.
“In these conditions, we are duty-bound to pay special attention to solving the task of strengthening the combat readiness of our country.” Putin further called for the creation of an international security system void of “bloc-like thinking” and open to all countries. “Russia is ready to discuss this extremely important issue,” he said, adding that such proposals have been so far left unanswered by Western countries.
Putin’s remarks come as the upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw in early July is set to put the “Russian threat” high on the agenda. On Tuesday, Vladimir Komoyedov, the head of the Defense Committee of Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament) dismissed remarks by NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg who accused Moscow of violating “the Fundamental act of NATO-Russia.”
Komoyedov said that the accusations do not bear scrutiny, saying it is actually the Western military bloc that is constantly boosting its potential near Russian borders. “Everyone understands that these are not some peace doves that fly to us to feed from our hands,” he said. “These are the beasts that, once allowed to react to the alleged Russian ‘aggression,’ would bite off the whole hand up to the shoulder and wouldn’t even choke on it,” he added.
NATO has stepped up its military buildup near Russia’s borders since it suspended all ties with Moscow in April 2014 after the Black Sea Crimean Peninsula re-integrated into the Russian Federation following a referendum. The US and its European allies accuse Moscow of destabilizing Ukraine.