Russia will increase combat readiness in response to NATO threat: Defense minister

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Russia is taking measures to respond to what it calls threatening military action by NATO, including combat readiness checks and troop exercises, news agencies cited Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying on Tuesday.

Shoigu was cited as saying that NATO was planning to deploy 40,000 troops and 15,000 military personnel close to Russian territory. A large unexplained build-up of Russian forces close to Ukraine’s eastern border and in Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, has escalated tensions in recent weeks.

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Russia on Tuesday called the United States an adversary and told US warships to stay well away from Crimea “for their own good”, calling their deployment in the Black Sea a provocation designed to test Russian nerves.

Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and two US warships are due to arrive in the Black Sea this week amid an escalation in fighting in eastern Ukraine, where government forces have battled Russian-backed separatists in a conflict Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people.

“The United States is our adversary and does everything it can to undermine Russia’s position on the world stage,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was cited as saying by Russian news agencies.

“We do not see any other elements in their approach. Those are our conclusions,” the agencies quoted him as saying.

The comment suggests that the veneer of diplomatic niceties that the former Cold War enemies have generally sought to observe in recent decades is wearing thin.

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