During a briefing, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticized the NATO-North Atlantic Alliance’s decision to conduct the Steadfast Defender 2024 military exercise near Russian borders as provocative, warning that it raises the risk of military incidents and could potentially have tragic consequences for Europe.
Maria Zakharova has warned that the “Steadfast Defender” exercise could have “tragic consequences” for Europe, as reported by TASS.
NATO has initiated its largest exercise in Europe and the North Atlantic since the Cold War. This exercise is expected to continue until late May, with the participation of over 90,000 troops from member countries of the alliance.
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson mentioned that during this exercise, NATO forces from member countries will be active near Russia’s borders in Norway and Romania, which, according to her, is a deliberate step to escalate the situation.
The diplomat stressed that the Russian side “has no plans to attack NATO countries.”
Rob Bauer, the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, recently stated regarding the start of the NATO exercise, “We must understand that it is not a given that we will achieve peace. That is why we [NATO forces] are preparing ourselves for engagement with Russia.”
He emphasized that NATO should be ready for war and “unexpected events.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson noted that similar statements have been made by other NATO officials.
Ms. Zakharova stated that NATO aims to justify its existence in the eyes of millions of Europeans and Americans and divert public attention from the “failures” in a conflict initiated by the Kyiv regime against her country.
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson reiterated that her country “has no plans to attack NATO countries.”
NATO has launched its largest exercise in Europe and the North Atlantic since the Cold War. The last similar exercise was conducted in 1988 during the midst of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the West.
This year’s exercise is set to continue until late May, with the participation of over 90,000 troops from member countries of the alliance, including Sweden.
More than 50 warships, 80 jets, and 100 military vehicles are participating in the “Steadfast Defender 2024” exercise, demonstrating the alliance’s significant military presence in Europe and the North Atlantic.
The exercise also highlights NATO’s commitment to regional defence planning, with a specific focus on responding to potential Russian threats, despite not directly naming Russia in their statement.
Given Moscow’s recognition as the “most important and immediate” threat by NATO, this exercise holds great significance for member countries, particularly in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, marking one of the largest conflicts in Europe in the last 70 years.