Russian defense minister talks of threat in the East

The military strategic situation around Russia remains tense: in addition to increased activity by NATO states in the West, there are now threats coming from the East, said Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu.

Shoygu claims that the eastern threat to Russia is being created by the actions of the US and its allies, who he says are trying to expand their influence in the Asian and Pacific region.

“In the eastern strategic area there is a persisting trend towards a complication of the military and political situation,” the minister remarked.

According to Shoygu, Washington’s goal is to weaken Russia’s position in China and South East Asia. In order to “respond adequately”, the Defense Ministry intends to increase the number of contract soldiers in the district’s military divisions, make multiple organizational changes and conduct more than 120 exercises.

By the end of the year, the district will acquire 1,743 new weapons and military vehicles. In November, Russia’s Pacific Fleet will be joined by the submarine “Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky”, which was commissioned in March and is currently undergoing sea trials.

Between April and May, Russia and China held the joint exercise “Sea Cooperation 2019” in the South China Sea, which involved 10 combat vessels and more than 3,000 troops. “We are now actively making preparations for bilateral command and staff exercises in the Sakhalin and Primorsk operational areas,” Shoygu announced.

The situation in the western strategic direction also remains “tense” according to the minister: NATO is strengthening its military presence in Eastern Europe, American anti-missile defense systems are being deployed in Poland and Romania, and the alliance is increasing its cooperation with Finland and Sweden.

“In order to neutralize the emerging threats we are implementing a set of measures,” Shoygu warned.

In particular, more than 20 organizational measures will be taken in Russia’s Western Military District to improve the combat personnel, including coastal personnel, anti-air personnel and logistics.

By the end of the year, the district will receive more than 1,300 items of new and modernized equipment. The number of troops in the district will continue to grow through the hiring of contract soldiers, of which more than 9,000 have been chosen since the start of the year.

“The primary efforts of the district’s command are aimed towards conducting the Russian-Belarusian operational exercise ‘Shield of the Alliance 2019’, which will conclude the two year cycle of joint training. The exercise is exclusively defensive in nature. In it, we plan to use up to 12,000 soldiers and 950 units of military equipment,” Shoygu said.

At the end of April, Valery Gerasimov, Chief of Russia’s General Staff, said that Russia had reinforced its troops in the west and south due to NATO’s activity. He also denied the reports that Russia is preparing for combat, saying that such claims were “actively circulated by the Russophobic media”.

  Russian, Shoygu