Putin has announced that Russia is gearing up to take “all necessary (military) measures” to counter NATO aggression, and will not hesitate to use military force against incidents of “intimidation” such as the US naval destroyer that recently sailed close to the Russian border.
Russia’s NATO Ambassador Alexander Grushko warned participants at a meeting of the military alliance, “This is about attempts to exercise military pressure on Russia. We will take all necessary measures, precautions, to compensate for these attempts to use military force“.
On April 11, the US guided missile destroyer USS Cook sailed close to a Russian naval base in the Baltic, an action which resulted in the scrambling of the Russian aircraft which buzzed the ship.
“After detecting the ship within their visibility range, the Russian pilots diverted from it with all safety precautions,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Thursday.
During the meeting, US Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute described the passes as unsafe and unprofessional, claiming that the destroyer was on routine business in international waters when the incident occurred.
Russia and NATO have been locked in a deepening dispute. The military alliance accuses Russia of backing militias in eastern Ukraine. Moscow denies this and argues that the alliance is using the situation to move closer to its borders.
Issues remain after meeting
“There were profound disagreements related to the crisis with Ukraine. Today’s meeting did not change that,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after the meeting.
“We have suspended practical cooperation between NATO and Russia, but we all agree that it is in all our interest to keep channels for political dialogue open. However, this does not mean that we are back to business as usual,” he added.
According to the United Nations, over 9,000 people have lost their lives and some 20,000 have been injured in the Ukraine conflict since April 2014.