NATO-Russia relations: Russia beefs up military on southwestern flank as response to ‘approaching NATO'

17:38 Jul. 27, 2016

Russia beefs up military on southwestern flank as response to ‘approaching NATO'

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visits the Hemeimeem air base in Syria, June 18, 2016 (AP photo)

Defence Minister Shoigu confirms increasing militarization of Crimea

Russia has strengthened its southwestern flank as NATO builds up its military presence near its borders and next-door Ukraine remains unstable, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday, Reuters reports.

Moscow has deployed more air defence systems in the southwest and has also deployed a "self-sufficient" contingent of troops in Crimea, Shoigu told a meeting at the Defence Ministry broadcast on state television.

"Since 2013 ... we have formed four divisions, nine brigades and 22 regiments," he said. "They include two missile brigades armed with Iskander missile complexes, which has allowed to boost fire power to destroy the potential adversary."

Ukraine's security services has long stated that Moscow is turning Crimea into a powerful military base on the southern flank of NATO.

One more reason for Western concern, is Moscow's plans to send the nuclear capable Iskander missile systems to its European exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea.

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