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Russian FM Lavrov says NATO tries to involve neutral states in military exercises under pretext of their EU membership

Russia]s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: NATO tries to involve neutral states such as Finland & Sweden in its military exercises under pretext of their EU membership. NATO came up with “military Schengen” in the context NATO-EU cooperation.

FM #Lavrov on NATO’s Defender 2020 drills said official data on military expenses shows that European NATO members alone have almost twice as much military force as we do. I have no idea where they found an enemy that can rival them.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told AFP that the US Defender 2020 drills  which is scheduled for March, is not directed against Russia,

According to him, the drills' goal is to show the ability of US to quickly deploy US forces in Europe to protect the allies of the alliance if necessary.

NATO is a defensive alliance, and the upcoming drills are defensive in nature, he noted adding that they are not looking for a confrontation with Russia.  He added that Russia, as well as OSCE member states, were duly informed by the US of upcoming maneuvers.

“Russia has every right to feel safe within its borders, but so do our member states,” AFP reported quoting Stoltenberg.

On co-opting the non NATO EU members, the alliance have not given any defensive statement. Defender 2020 drills will be the largest US drills in Europe in 25 years. As a military source in NATO explained earlier to TASS, these will be exactly the American maneuvers under the American command. 

The structures of the North Atlantic Alliance will play a subordinate role during the exercises, engaged in logistics and coordination of contingents of 17 US partner states that will take part in the maneuvers. 

A total of 37 thousand people will be involved in them, Germany will be the center of their holding, however, various elements of these maneuvers will take place on the territory of 10 NATO states, including near the Russian borders with Poland and the Baltic countries.

Defender Europe will become an annual NATO exercise with a large-scale iteration planned for even-numbered years and smaller versions occurring in between. US military personnel will constitute the bulk of the force this year, with European allies collectively providing only 8,000 personnel.

“Almost 500 American tanks, self-propelled guns and heavy infantry fighting vehicles, hundreds of aircraft, [as well as] tens of thousands of wheeled vehicles will take part in the exercises.” The force buildup for the maneuvers will continue until April, and then NATO will conduct a series of drills forming part of the overall exercise.

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