0431 GMT June 21, 2021
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made the announcement at a meeting with top military officials on Monday. He pointed to a growing number of flights by US strategic bombers near Russia’s borders, deployments of NATO warships, and increasingly frequent and massive drills by alliance forces, according to AP.
He charged that such actions “destroy the international security system and force us to take the relevant countermeasures.”
“We will form another 20 units and formations in the Western Military District until the year’s end,” Shoigu said.
He added the military units in western Russia have commissioned about 2,000 new pieces of weaponry this year.
Last month, a massive troop buildup in Russia’s south and southwest near the Ukrainian border raised concerns in Ukraine and the West, which urged Moscow to withdraw its forces.
Russia has recalled some troops from its western part after sweeping maneuvers in April, but Shoigu ordered them to leave their weapons behind for Russia’s Zapad 2021 military exercises in September.
He noted Monday that preparations for the exercises, which will be conducted jointly with Belarus, are now in their final stage and emphasized that the maneuvers have an “exclusively defensive character”.