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Report: Russia Building Military Base Near Border With Ukraine

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin / AP
• June 7, 2016 4:51 pm

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Russia is in the process of building a military base close to its border with Ukraine, according to a report Tuesday.

Reuters reported:

A Reuters reporter who visited the Russian town of Klintsy, about 50 km (30 miles) from Ukraine, saw a makeshift army camp, large numbers of newly-arrived servicemen and military vehicles. Two soldiers in camouflage gear who were manning a checkpoint in a forest turned the reporter away, saying they were guarding a "special military site." Last year, Reuters also reported on construction of two other bases further to the south on Russia’s border with Ukraine. The defense ministry has not acknowledged the deployment of troops to Klintsy, which usually serves as a stop for truck drivers traveling between Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

A town official in Klintsy told Reuters that approximately 240 soldiers had arrived to serve in the new division based there. "What’s to hide? That they’ve come? They’ve arrived," council deputy chairman Oleg Kletny stated. "They’re going to be garrisoned here."

Military vehicles, tents, and multiple service members were reportedly seen in the town on Monday. Kletny told Reuters that the troops began arriving in the town on May 30.

The apparent construction of the army base is the latest evidence of Russia bolstering its military capabilities in the region in an effort to counter NATO’s increased military exercises and deployments in eastern Europe in response to Russian intervention in Ukraine.

This week, NATO countries began a 10-day military exercise in Poland, the largest in eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War. The exercise involves 31,000 troops and thousands of military vehicles from 24 different member countries.

Last month, Russian officials announced that the country would establish three new military divisions in the face of proposed NATO buildup in the Baltics. The divisions would reportedly each include about 10,000 soldiers.

"The Defense Ministry is taking a series of measures to counter the expansion of NATO forces in direct proximity to the Russian border," Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stated, adding that the new divisions would be created by year’s end.

The Klintsy town official told Reuters that the military buildup there came in response to Shoigu’s announcement of the three new military divisions.

Russia has also recently objected to the United States’ decision to turn on a long-planned NATO missile defense shield in Romania aimed to protect Europe from ballistic missile threats, mainly from Iran. Kremlin officials have characterized the defense shield as a threat to Russian.

Published under: Russia