Russia Threatens NATO Over Ukraine, Because Of Course It Does

This week, NATO will meet to consider how to respond to the escalating crisis in eastern Ukraine, where Russian troops have allegedly entered the already embattled region. But peace agreements are off to a rough start: In response to NATO, Russia is reportedly revising its military strategy to counteract the increasing international pressure. The news comes after NATO leaders raised the idea of deploying military forces to eastern Ukraine, as well as other Eastern European countries situated near the Russian border.

According to The New York Times, Russian military official Mikhail Popov was quoted in a Russian news agency calling NATO "one of the leading military dangers" to the nation. He said that Moscow is rewriting its military doctrine because of these "changing military dangers and military threats."

Popov was quoted as saying:

We [Russia] believe that the defining factor in our relationship with NATO remains the unacceptability for Russia of plans to move military infrastructures of the alliance to our borders, including by means of expanding the bloc.

In a Moscow press conference on Tuesday, Russian leaders reportedly emphasized that any Ukrainian efforts to join NATO — Ukraine is currently not a member of the alliance — could further drive a wedge between the Ukrainian government in Kiev and the pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukraine region. BBC News reported that Popov called out NATO for "aggravating tensions" between Russia, Ukraine and the European alliance.

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While meeting this week, NATO leaders devised a plan to bolster its rapid-response force so that it can be deployed to Eastern European countries that border Russia, in case of a military emergency. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said during a press conference on Monday that the newly improved, "high readiness" force will be deployed much more quickly than in the past.

We will develop what I would call a spearhead within our Response Force – a very high readiness force able to deploy at very short notice. This spearhead would be provided by Allies in rotation, and could include several thousand troops, ready to respond where needed with air, sea and Special Forces support. ... So this force can travel light, but strike hard if needed.

Rasmussen added that to carry out this "readiness action" plan, NATO will need to pre-position equipment and supplies in Eastern European nations that border Russia. According to Rasmussen, this means a "more visible NATO presence in the East" for as along as necessary.

The rapid-response force is expected to be discussed in more detail at the Wales Summit, which starts on Thursday and will be attended by President Barack Obama. Obama is slated to visit Estonia, a Russian neighbor, before arriving in Wales for the summit.

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The call for a quick-response military force may have been triggered by recent events in Ukraine. After calling a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine commission last week, the European alliance's command operations released satellite footage of Russian troops crossing the border into eastern Ukraine.

Brigadier General Nico Tak, director of the Comprehensive Crisis and Operations Management Centre at Allied Command Operations, said in a statement:

Over the past two weeks we have noted a significant escalation in both the level and sophistication of Russia’s military interference in Ukraine. The satellite images released today provide additional evidence that Russian combat soldiers, equipped with sophisticated heavy weaponry, are operating inside Ukraine’s sovereign territory.
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Tensions have come to a head between Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The Ukrainian head of state told the European Union on Saturday that Ukraine was "close to the point of no return," according to BBC News.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin is trying to distance itself from recent comments made to Italian newspaper La Repubblica that forewarned an invasion of Kiev. "If I want, I can take Kiev in two weeks," Putin was quoted as saying. However, a Russian official reportedly told a state-run news agency on Tuesday that those comments were taken "out of context" and had a "very different meaning," NBC News reported.

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