The Russian military said it ended war games near its western borders as a sign of good will after NATO announced it was scaling back planned exercises due to the spread of coronavirus.
“We are trying to find common ground,” Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said in an interview with Izvestia newspaper published Monday. “For example, we took the initiative to end military drills in the immediate vicinity of the Russian border with western states.” Russian military planes now fly missions over the Baltic Sea with transponders turned on, he said.
The decision comes after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization effectively canceled the drills scheduled to begin in April, which were billed as the biggest deployment of U.S.-based troops in Europe since the Cold War. The plans had been regularly criticized by the Kremlin, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in February that Russia would respond with reciprocal measures.
The Russian military hasn’t detailed its plans to battle coronavirus. While Russia is considering increasingly drastic measures in response to the spread of the pathogen, the army continues to prepare for the 75th anniversary celebrations for the end of World War II.
More than 10,000 soldiers had begun practicing for the May 9 parade near the capital despite a ban on public gatherings outside, Russia’s Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported last Tuesday, citing unidentified people in the military.
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