Russia to create 12 military bases in the west ahead of NATO’s advance

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Moscow is also preparing to cut off gas to Finland next Saturday

Russia’s warnings and threats against Finland and Sweden have not stopped since they expressed their desire to join NATO. This Friday it was the turn of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who announced the establishment of 12 new military bases in the west of the country before the end of the year. He stressed during a meeting with his department’s leadership that the Helsinki and Stockholm decision “poses a growing military threat near our western borders”.

“Twelve military units and divisions will be established in the Western Military District by the end of the year,” Shoigu said. In his words, such a measure “will be synchronized with the delivery of more modern weapons and military equipment to the troops (…) they are expected to receive more than two thousand units of new types of weapons.”

According to him, “the verifications carried out have shown a qualitative increase in the educational level of the units in the western district by 25% compared to last year.” The Russian defense minister also referred to the “42% increase in the intensity of the combat training missions of the ships of the Baltic Fleet” and 4% in the case of air strike exercises.

At the same time, Shoigu pointed out that in the past eight years, after the annexation of Crimea and the first war in Donbass, “the number of American strategic bombers in Europe has increased fivefold, from 3 to 45 per year, and the entry of American ships equipped with guided missiles in the Baltic Sea has become systematic.

The senior Russian military official also indicated that in 2022, near the Kaliningrad region (former Königsberg), where Russia’s Baltic Sea fleet is anchored, the Americans “simulated combat missions six times with access to areas within range of their cruise missiles.” And since 2016, 24 such events have been detected by our target monitoring system.”

Shoigu insisted that “the United States and NATO are increasing the scope of combat and operational training near Russia’s borders.” He cited in particular the Defender of Europe exercises, in which, according to his information, “up to 40,000 soldiers from 30 countries participate” and whose purpose, he added, is “to transfer an American division to European soil for deployment in three strategic directions: the Arctic, the west and the southwest.Therefore, he concluded, “tension continues to grow in the area of ​​responsibility of the Western Military District.”

But Russia’s military intimidation of Finland, Sweden and the Alliance in general, which is very similar to that it carried out against Ukraine months before the start of the invasion on February 24, is not the only form of coercion. According to the Finnish company Gasum, the Russian energy giant Gazprom is preparing to cut off gas supplies to Finland next Saturday. Gasum claims to have received a notification from Moscow warning that such a move is related to Helsinki’s refusal to pay for fuel in rubles.

Gasum ensures that the gas flow from Russia to Finland will be interrupted from seven o’clock in the morning. The Finnish company’s president, Mika Wiljanen, has in a statement called Russia’s gas cut “very regrettable”, despite the fact that it represents no more than 5% of Finland’s total consumption. The refusal to pay the bill in rubles, an order issued by President Vladimir Putin on March 31 in retaliation for sanctions the European Union has imposed on Russia, has already left Poland and Bulgaria shutting their gas taps.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday that about half of Gazprom’s 54 foreign customers already pay for gas in rubles. The mechanism set up by the Russian gas company for its customers requires opening two accounts with Gazprombank, one in foreign currency and the other in rubles, from which the corresponding payment is made.

Last Monday, Putin pointed out that the expansion of the Atlantic Alliance at the expense of Finland and Sweden “will undoubtedly provoke our response (…) which will depend on the threats to our security that arise”. Days earlier, during a telephone conversation with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, Putin called Finland’s eventual integration into NATO a “mistake”.

Regarding the conduct of the war in Ukraine, Shoigu referred this Friday to the situation on the Donbass front, noting that “the liberation of the self-declared Lugansk People’s Republic is nearing completion”. But the truth is that the area currently controlled by the Russian forces and separatist rebels in Lugansk is practically the same, with no apparent progress, as the area they managed to occupy in the early days of the offensive in late February and early March. That is, more than 80 percent. But from then on, when the occupation was almost complete, Moscow’s troops came to a standstill. The fighting is now centered around the cities of Severodonetsk and Lisichansk, which have been heavily bombed for days, but which the Russians have not yet been able to capture due to fierce Ukrainian resistance.

Source: La Verdad

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