MOSCOW — NATO exercises near the border with Russia reflect the alliance’s preparations for a large-scale military conflict, Russia’s chief military officer said in remarks published Wednesday.
The chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, said at Tuesday’s meeting with foreign military attaches that NATO’s activities have heightened tensions and reduced security along the Russian border.
Asked if the Russian military sees a potential threat of war, Gerasimov said that Moscow doesn’t see “any preconditions for a large-scale war.”
He added, however, that Western pressure on Russia could trigger “crisis situations” that may spin out of control and provoke a military conflict.
NATO’s secretary general said Tuesday he is confident the Western military alliance and Russia “will act in a respectable way” as both hold training exercises in the same area off Norway’s coast.
Gerasimov charged that the scenarios of the alliance’s drills in eastern Europe “point at NATO’s deliberate preparation for its troops’ involvement in a large-scale military conflict.”
Russia-West ties have sunk to their lowest levels since Cold War times following Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea. Moscow has repeatedly voiced concern over the deployment of NATO forces in the Baltics and the alliance’s maneuvers near Russia’s western border.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted Wednesday that the “continuing expansion of NATO’s military infrastructure toward our borders raises concern.”