Russian Defence Ministry: NATO's provocations may escalate into armed conflict

Russian Defence Ministry warns of serious armed conflict with NATO

Alexander Fomin, Russian Deputy Minister of Defense warned that NATO's deliberate provocations near the Russian borders could eventually cause an armed conflict to spark.

"The alliance has switched to the practice of direct provocations that are fraught with a high risk of escalating into an armed confrontation," Alexander Fomin said.

Speaking at the briefing for military attachés and representatives of foreign embassies accredited in Moscow, Alexander Fomin referred to the incident from June 23, 2021, when  HMS Defender destroyer attempted to penetrate the territorial waters of the Russian Federation near Cape Fiolent off the coast of Crimea.

In the Black Sea region, in comparison with 2020, the intensity of the use of reconnaissance aircraft has increased by more than 60 percent, Fomin noted. The number of sorties has increased from 436 to 710.

In addition, strategic bombers B-IB and B-52H of the US Air Force performed 92 sorties in the airspace of the Black Sea region vs. 78 sorties in 2020.

"The minimum approach to the Russian border in the western part of Crimea was 15 kilometers,” Fomin said.

The scale and intensity of NATO's operational and combat training activities in the Black Sea zone has been increasing as well, the official said. NATO has conducted a total of 15 exercises in 2021 (up from eight a year earlier).

The presence of ships and auxiliary vessels of non-regional NATO states in the Black Sea has become permanent. Thus, from January to December 2021, NATO ships have made 30 calls to the waters of the region, vs. 23 in 2020. The ships have thus spent over 400 days in the Black Sea waters vs. 359 days in 2020.

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