Putin: Russia may boost military readiness in response to NATO moves

Moscow (dpa) - Russia may need to increase the preparedness of its armed forces given the increased NATO military activity near its border, President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.

The Russian leader said that he had seen no sign that the Western military alliance, which holds a summit in Poland next month, was willing to find joint solutions to regional security issues.

"On the contrary, NATO intensified its aggressive rhetoric and aggressive actions near our borders," Putin told parliament, according to a Kremlin statement.

The statement offered no details as to how Russian military forces might be boosted.

The US underscored that NATO is a defensive alliance and President Barack Obama would discuss ways to strengthen the alliance at the Warsaw summit next month, spokesman Josh Earnest said.

"It's the cornerstone of our national security policy," he said, noting cooperation with NATO allies not just in Europe but also in Afghanistan and other hotspots.

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Russian military officials would only meet with the NATO-Russia Council after the summit.

The forum was suspended by NATO in 2014, when relations between the sides reached their worst point since the Cold War over Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The council met in April for the first time since the suspension. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had expressed hope that it would meet again before the July 8-9 Warsaw Summit.

Last week, NATO decided to station battalions of around 1,000 soldiers each in Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. The eastern members of the military alliance - all former Soviet republics or satellite states - have expressed anxiety about Russia since the country annexed Crimea in 2014.

Poland launched a large-scale military exercise along its border with Russia on June 7 featuring 31,000 NATO and non-NATO soldiers and dozens of fighter jets and ships. Several military exercises are also due to take place in the eastern NATO area ahead of the summit.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 14:20

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