Putin says Russia must strengthen as "aggressive" NATO approaches

By Reuters/Denis Pinchuk   June 22, 2016 | 02:29 am PT
Putin says Russia must strengthen as "aggressive" NATO approaches
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, June 15, 2016. Sputnik/Kremlin/Mikhail Klimentyev/via Reuters
Russia must boost its combat readiness in response to NATO's "aggressive actions" near Russia's borders, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.

Addressing parliament on the 75th anniversary of Nazi Germany's attack on the Soviet Union, Putin berated the West for being unwilling to build "a modern, non-bloc collective security system" with Russia.

"Russia is open to discuss this crucial issue and has more than once shown its readiness for dialogue," he said. "But, just as it happened on the eve of World War Two, we do not see a positive reaction in response."

"On the contrary, NATO is strengthening its aggressive rhetoric and its aggressive actions near our borders. In these conditions, we are duty-bound to pay special attention to solving the task of strengthening the combat readiness of our country."

The U.S.-led military alliance is increasing its defenses in Poland and the three Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as part of a wider deterrent that it hopes will discourage Russia from any repetition of its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea in 2014.

Russia sees NATO's deterrence plans as hostile.

Drawing historic parallels with the 1930s, Putin said humanity now faced a danger of failing to withstand the fast-spreading threat of terrorism, just as it once failed to unite against the rising power of Nazi Germany.

"The world community did not show enough vigilance, will and consolidation to prevent that war and save millions of lives," Putin said.

"What kind of a lesson is still needed today to discard old and frayed ideological disagreements and geopolitical games and to unite in the fight against international terrorism?" 

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