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Russia to deploy military units near border in response to NATO: Defense minister

Russia has decided to deploy nearly 20 new military units to the country’s southwestern region by the end of the year, amid escalating tensions between Moscow and the West over the recent military build-ups along its borders.

The Interfax news agency cited Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as making the comment on Monday, saying that the deployment is in response to the NATO’s provocative actions in the region.

“The actions of our Western colleagues are destroying the world’s security system and force us to take adequate countermeasures,” Shoigu said, adding, “Around 20 military formations and units will be formed in the Western Military District by the end of the year.”

The latest development comes amid an escalation of tensions between Russia and the United States and NATO over Ukraine.

Russia has built up troop presence near the Ukrainian border amid increased activity by NATO forces in the region. The US and other NATO members have deployed military forces to the region as well.

To the southwest, Russia borders Belarus, Finland, Ukraine and NATO members Latvia, Norway and Estonia.

The US has been deploying missiles in Eastern Europe and near Russia’s western borders, a provocative move repeatedly denounced by Moscow.

Its bombers and spy planes, as well as NATO aircraft, have frequently been detected in the vicinity of Russia’s borders in recent years.

Moscow has repeatedly warned the US and its NATO military allies against conducting “provocative” war games near its borders.

Putin to discuss persecution of protesters in US with Biden: Lavrov

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has announced President Vladimir Putin’s readiness to discuss a range of human rights issues with his American counterpart, Joe Biden, when they meet next month, including the “persecution” of those behind the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.

Lavrov made the remarks on Monday, saying that Moscow would not shy away from discussing any issue at the upcoming summit.

“Of course, we will be ready to discuss everything, including problems that exist in the United States,” Lavrov said, stressing that Russia is monitoring the ‘persecution’ of those behind the US Capitol riot.

The riot, which was intended to disrupt the ceremonial counting of Biden’s electoral votes in Congress, was in part blamed on former US president Donald Trump’s rhetoric and his refusal to concede defeat in the November 3 election.

“A lot of interesting things are happening there,” he said, adding that Russia seeks to discuss “protection of opposition rights” in the United States.

Putin and Biden are set to hold their first face-to-face meeting in the Swiss city of Geneva on June 16, amid rising disputes between Washington and Moscow over a range of controversial issues.

The US has imposed waves of sanctions against Russia, including over the situation in Ukraine, alleged meddling in the 2016 and 2020 US presidential elections, and the recent jailing of opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

Relations between the two countries hit a new low in March after Biden, in an interview called Putin a “killer” and said the Russian president would have to “pay a price” for what he alleged was interference in the 2020 US presidential election. Moscow has denied such allegations.

More recently, tensions escalated between the two sides over the Russian-speaking Donbass region of Ukraine, where Ukrainian troops and pro-Russia forces have been fighting since 2014.

Kiev and its Western allies accuse Moscow of having a hand in the crisis. Moscow, however, denies the allegations.

 

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