US strategic bombers boost flight intensity in Europe, says Russian defense chief

MOSCOW (TASS): NATO is building up the intensity of strategic aircraft flights in the western strategic area while its combat ships with cruise missiles are systematically entering the Baltic Sea and the number of drills is on the rise, Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergey Shoigu said on Monday.

“The situation in the western strategic area is characterized by mounting military threats. US strategic bombers have boosted the intensify of their flights in Europe by 14 times in the past seven years,” Shoigu said at the ministry’s board meeting.

NATO warships with guided-missile weapons are systematically entering the Baltic Sea, the defense minister specified.

“Warships of this class performed tasks near the Kaliningrad Region three times last year alone. Overall, the data recording equipment has registered 18 deployments by combat ships to the designated areas of cruise missile launches since 2016,” Shoigu said.

Simultaneously, the United States and NATO continue expanding the scope of operational and combat training near Russian borders, the defense minister said.

“The number of drills has grown by 50% in recent years. Currently, the Defender Europe 2021 drills, the largest exercise in the past 30 years, are taking place, involving up to 40,000 personnel. Their main aim is to practice the redeployment of a full-fledged US division from the United States to Europe,” the defense chief specified.