“Russia is also experiencing certain concerns about the fact that large-scale exercises are being conducted near its borders, including unplanned ones, as was the case quite recently in the Black Sea,” Putin said at the VTB Capital Investment Forum “Russia Calling!”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that NATO is amassing a significant amount of military equipment on Russia’s border.
Speaking at the press conference with his Brazilian counterpart, Lavrov also noted that Moscow cannot rule out the possibility of Kiev undertaking some kind of “military venture,” which would pose a threat to Russia.
“President Putin spoke about this on 18 November… he stressed that we do not need conflicts but if the West cannot hold Ukraine back, but, on the contrary, encourages it, of course, we will take all the necessary steps to ensure our security,” Lavrov said.
He added that for a while “the West has been provoking Ukraine – and not only Ukraine” – to take “anti-Russian actions.”
The Russian Foreign Minister also expressed hope that Kiev will “not follow the path of Mikhail Saakashvili in August 2008.”
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who earlier arrived in Riga to meet his Latvian counterpart and attend the Meeting of NATO Ministers, vowed “serious consequences” in the event of “renewed Russian aggression” in Ukraine. Referring to Russia’s “massing of troops” near the Ukrainian border, Blinken said that it was “unusual,” noting that any escalation by Moscow would trigger “grave concerns” in the United States.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also said on Tuesday that the movement of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine is “unprovoked and unexplained.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin also spoke on Tuesday, expressing Moscow’s concerns about the military drills taking place near the Russian border, including military exercises that have not been scheduled.
Earlier in the day, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement revealing that over 50 NATO reconnaissance aircraft and drones are being detected near the country’s borders every week. Addressing the allegations of Moscow “escalating” the situation on the Ukrainian border, the ministry outlined that the Russian actions are “of a purely defensive nature.”