NATO Is Rehearsing for Conflict With Moscow: Russian Official

NATO Is Rehearsing for Conflict With Moscow: Russian Official

An upcoming NATO war with Russia is currently “being rehearsed” by the strategic alliance, according to Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev.

A close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Patrushev, who has been touted as a potential successor, claimed on Thursday that NATO’s “Steadfast Defender 2024” military drills showed that the alliance had become “increasingly aggressive” and was preparing for an “armed confrontation” with Moscow, according to Russian state media outlet RT.

The ongoing NATO drills are scheduled to continue through May and utilize over 90,000 troops from all 32 of the alliance’s member states—including Sweden, which officially became a member on Thursday. Exercises are being staged in locations that include countries sharing borders with Russia, such as Poland and the Baltic nations.

While NATO says the military exercises are simulating a response to an only hypothetical threat, Russia and some of its allies have claimed otherwise. Patrushev reportedly said on Thursday that NATO, which he called an “important tool” for U.S. hegemony, was using the drills to simulate a planned “scenario” of war with Russia.

NATO military personnel and amphibious vehicles on Wednesday are pictured during the alliance’s “Steadfast Defender 2024” training operation near Gniew, Poland. Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev on Thursday accused NATO’s exercises of being a…

Sean Gallup
“An armed confrontation with Russia is being rehearsed [and] undoubtedly increasing tensions and destabilizing the situation in the world,” Patrushev said. “[The] destructive role of the US in modern history is obvious … [it has] unleashed so many wars and military conflicts.”

Newsweek reached out for comment to NATO via email and the U.S. State Department via online press contact form on Thursday evening.

Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, denounced the drills as “provocative in nature” and said that they “could ultimately lead to tragic consequences for Europe” shortly after the operation was launched in January.

Tensions between Moscow and NATO have been sharply escalating in recent months, as have concerns about Russia’s war with Ukraine growing into a world war by directly involving the alliance.

NATO expansion concerns were cited by Putin as one of the reasons for launching the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The alliance has only grown during the war, with the accession of Finland last year and Sweden on Thursday.

Regardless, Putin has insisted that he has “no reason” and “no geopolitical interest” to start a conflict with NATO, although some of his allies in state media and officials in his government have suggested that might not be the case.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned during a House hearing in late February that Putin would “not stop” with Ukraine if Russia manages to prevail over Kyiv, going on to predict that a Russia-NATO war would follow.

“We know that if Putin is successful here, he will not stop,” Austin said. “He will continue to take more aggressive action in the region … Quite frankly, if Ukraine falls, I really believe that NATO will be in a fight with Russia.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded to Austin’s remarks by claiming that he had made a “Freudian slip” that accidentally revealed American “plans” for NATO to attack Russia.

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