MEHR: The North Atlantic Alliance's plans to hold a military exercise near Russian borders are provocative, increase the risk of military incidents, and could lead to tragic consequences for Europe, Maria Zakharova said.
"The maneuvers [of Exercise Steadfast Defender 2024] are openly provocative in nature. For several months, a 90,000-strong group of forces from 31 NATO member countries, as well as Sweden, will be actively operating near Russian borders on the territory from Norway to Romania. This step is deliberately aimed at escalating things. It increases the risk of military incidents and could ultimately lead to tragic consequences for Europe," she said.
The diplomat stressed that the Russian side "has no plans to attack NATO countries," TASS reported.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, NATO does not hide the fact that during the drills "tasks to repel <...> the Russian threat" will be practiced.
"The chairman of its military committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, said that the alliance is preparing for a conflict with Russia. Similar comments have also been repeatedly heard from the leadership of NATO countries," Zakharova went on to say.
"In this way the alliance is trying to justify its existence in the eyes of millions of Europeans and Americans, as well as its agenda to contain Russia, to justify the insane increase in military spending, and, of course, in some way distract public opinion and audience attention from the failures in the field of that very hybrid war [NATO is conducting] by the hands of the Kyiv regime against our country," the diplomat said.
Earlier, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Christopher Cavoli, announced that the largest NATO exercise in recent decades, Steadfast Defender 2024, will begin at the end of January. About 90,000 military personnel from the alliance’s countries and Sweden will take part in it.