Russia’s top general said on Friday that Moscow would retaliate against increased NATO activity near its border as tensions with the western alliance over Ukraine escalate. Since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region, NATO has moved to reassure its nervous eastern European allies. Ships and planes have been temporarily deployed to their countries and military exercises in the region stepped up. “NATO’s military groupings in the Baltic states, Poland and Romania are being built up, as well as the military presence of the bloc in the Baltic, Mediterranean and Black Sea,” General Valery Gerasimov, the chief of general staff of the Russian armed forces, told a defense conference in Moscow. “The intensity, the operational and combat readiness of the alliance’s troops is being increased near the Russian border. In these circumstances … we have to take retaliatory measures.” More