NATO stages LARGEST EVER military drills on RUSSIAN BORDER as global tensions escalate

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The ‘Iron Sword 2016’ military drills, which are being held close to the Russian border, involve 4,000 troops from Britain, the US, Germany, Canada, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Luxembourg and three baltic states.

They are intended to last until December 2 and will prepare Nato to station 4,000 alliance troops in Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia – a decision taken at the Warsaw summit in July.

According to the Lithuanian defence ministry, the tests will be carried out in the towns of Rukla and Pabrade, close to the Kaliningrad region – a Russian exclave located between Poland and Lithuania.

The military alliance’s decision to boost its global army presence follows Russia’s deployment of S-400 air defence systems and Iskander missile launchers to the Kaliningrad.

Nato slammed the move as “aggressive military posturing” and insisted Moscow has no reason to feel threatened by it.

State Department spokesman for the treaty, John Kirby, has insisted Nato’s role is about defence and the avoidance of conflict, rather than the fuelling of it.

He said: “Nato is a defensive alliance, it’s always been a defensive alliance. It will remain a defensive alliance.

“There is no reason why Russia should view NATO in any way, shape or form as a threat.”

Mr Kirby said that Nato’s increased military activity in eastern Europe was a defensive response to Russian “aggression” in “annexing” Crimea from Ukraine.

The region voted to join the Russian Federation in March 2014, following the coup that overthrew Ukraine’s elected government.

Mr Kirby added: “In terms of recent months and years, there would have been no reason for NATO to advance and commit additional capabilities on the European continent – including American capabilities – had it not been for Russia’s move in Ukraine.”

But Russia has slammed Nato, labelling it a “truly aggressive bloc”.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, said: “Russia is doing all that is necessary to protect itself amid NATO”s expansion toward its borders.

“The alliance is a truly aggressive bloc, so Russia does what it has to do. It has every sovereign right to take necessary measures throughout the territory of the Russian Federation.”