NATO, Russia spar as foreign ministers meet in Latvia

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The two-day meeting in Riga comes amid concerns in Kiev and the western capitals over the build-up of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border.

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NATO foreign ministers are meeting as Russia and the coalition continue over reports of military activity along the Ukraine border.

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The United States-led group has been concerned by the crowding of Moscow’s troops along the border with Ukraine in recent weeks, the second such build-up this year.

Meanwhile, Russia has warned NATO against expanding its military infrastructure in Ukraine.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to brief his 29 NATO counterparts on Tuesday about US intelligence photos in the eastern side of the coalition and Ukraine, an ally of the security coalition but not a NATO member.

Speaking to reporters in the Latvian capital Riga, Blinken described Russia’s recent military activity as “unusual” and warned that any action by Moscow would have “serious consequences”.

Earlier, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called the creation of Moscow’s army “unusual”, but said the coalition had no “clarity” yet about Moscow’s intentions.

“We see heavy capabilities, we see armored units, drones, electronic warfare systems and we see thousands of battle-ready Russian soldiers,” Stoltenberg said Monday after visiting NATO troops with camouflaged tanks Said to rehearse fighting skills and after a live round in a snowy forest. North of Riga.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that expanding NATO military infrastructure in Ukraine was a red line he hoped would not be crossed, and expressed concern about military exercises near Russia’s borders. .

Speaking at an investment forum in Moscow, Putin also said that Russia is also developing a new hypersonic missile that will soon have it in its arsenal.

US warns of ‘serious consequences’

Kiev has previously expressed fears that Moscow may prepare for an attack.

But Ukraine’s defense minister said on Tuesday that Russia’s latest military build-up is aimed at bolstering Moscow’s bargaining position at a future meeting between US President Joe Biden and Putin after their initial meeting in Geneva in June.

In a statement on the website of the Ministry of Economy, Oleksey Reznikov said relations between Ukraine and Russia were bad when Russia built up troops earlier this year.

According to Western officials, in May Moscow deployed about 100,000 troops to the border, the largest number since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

It later ordered those units to pull back, but the renewed build-up has led to the redeployment of about 92,000 troops to the border, Ukraine’s head of military intelligence told a Military Times outlet earlier this month.

Moscow denies military incursion

Moscow has repeatedly rejected suggestions from Kiev and its Western allies that it may be ready to frame a military incursion into Ukraine as provocative and about increased NATO activity in the region. have complained.

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the coalition of deploying a significant amount of military hardware near Russia’s borders and said Moscow could respond to security threats from Western countries and Ukraine if necessary.

Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, and Russian-backed separatists occupied a part of eastern Ukraine in the same year bordering Russia.

Ukraine and its Western backers have accused Russia of sending troops and weapons across the border to support rebel forces in the Donbass. Moscow has regularly denied those claims.

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