The Russian Defense Ministry is planning to deploy additional forces in Crimea as part of beefing up the Black Sea fleet under a $2.5 billion program. The need for new deployment emerged after the formerly Ukrainian peninsula joined Russia.
“Before year’s end we will form new units of air defense and marine troops at the sites of our fleet’s deployment,” Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said Tuesday. “The fleet will receive new submarines and surface ships of new generation this year. This requires our attention.”
The minister stressed that the Navy beef-up program for the Black Sea fleet was extended due to Crimea, the fleet’s base, becoming part of Russia in March. The ministry plans to spend more than $2.4 billion for the purpose by 2020.
The announcement of deployment plans comes after Russia voiced concerns of the build-up of NATO forces in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea. The alliance deployed aircraft and warships as well as ground troops, saying it was needed to instill confidence in its members like Poland, Romania and the Baltic states.
NATO’s moves come in response to the ongoing political crisis in Ukraine and the allegations that Russia is preparing to invade its eastern neighbor. Moscow sees the military build-up close to its borders as provocative.