Russia has repeatedly detected the presence of NATO warships, including vessels with cruise missiles, in close proximity to Russia’s territorial waters which has soured the already tense relations between Moscow and the bloc.
President Vladimir Putin has told the Ministry of Defence to respond promptly to a missile deployment by western nations near Russian borders, should such a necessity arise.
Speaking at the final Defence Ministry forum of the year, Putin noted the “incessant” character of NATO military activities, lamenting the fact that the US, in particular, has abandoned several international treaties, thus degrading the global arms control systems.
“We are not going to produce and deploy mid- and short-range missiles in the European part of Russia or in any other regions of the country. But we have to be ready to react swiftly if Western countries place weapons of that kind near our borders”, Putin said.
The president assured that Russia continues to analyse the geostrategic and political situation in the world and forecast possible scenarios, taking into account potential threats and the expanding military capacities of the Russian army and navy.
He added that Russia will rapidly continue to develop its military and keep a high combat readiness of its nuclear forces to ensure security and maintain strategic parity on the global arena.
Addressing the issue of the rearmament, Putin emphasised that Russia will never find itself lagging behind other nations that spend exorbitant sums of money on arms.
NATO aircraft and warships have been spotted many times by Russian intelligence near the country’s borders over the past few months. Russia has repeatedly warned that such incidents pose the risk of accidental escalation.
The uptick in tensions also follows America’s decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty. In May, US President Donald Trump declared that Washington was pulling out of the programme and would not rejoin it “until [Russia] adheres.” The US completed the process of exiting the deal in late November.