Putin slams NATO for ‘aggressive’ activities, rhetoric
MOSCOW—President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday slammed NATO for ratcheting up its rhetoric and its “aggressive actions” close to Russia’s border, warning it was forcing Moscow to increase its military capacity.
“NATO is stepping up its aggressive rhetoric and its aggressive actions close to our borders,” Putin told lawmakers on the 75th anniversary of the invasion of the USSR by Nazi Germany.
“In these conditions, we are obliged to dedicate special attention to resolving tasks connected with heightening the defence capabilities of our country.”
Putin also accused the West of rejecting Russian overtures to help tackle the common foe of “international terrorism” — as it once ignored the Soviet Union’s warnings about Hitler — as it seeks to isolate Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.
“Once again, as it was on the eve of World War II, (we) are not seeing a positive response,” Putin said.
Relations between Russia and the West have slumped to their lowest point since the Cold War over Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and its alleged masterminding of a separatist uprising.
Russian aircraft have also increased tensions recently by launching a series of provocative intercepts of NATO, Swedish and other aircraft.
Fears of Russian expansionism have sent a chill through NATO members such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland and seen the USled alliance bolster its presence in eastern Europe. General Ben Hodges, the commander of US ground forces in Europe, warned in a news report Wednesday that NATO would currently be unable to protect the Baltics against a Russian attack.—AFP