Russia is expanding its Leningrad Military District – a move that some see as a future threat to Finland and the Baltic states.
On Sunday, Oct. 8, the Russian Ministry of Defense published a draft decree from President Vladimir Putin to absorb the Northern Fleet into the Leningrad Military District.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu called for the Leningrad Military District’s expansion in December, saying it would be a response to “NATO's desire to increase its military potential near the Russian borders, as well as to expand the North Atlantic Alliance at the expense of Finland and Sweden.”
Russian Military Analyst Yurі Fedorov wrote in his Telegram channel that the Leningrad Military District is designed for war in two new theaters, “the Baltic countries and Finland” and that the areas “must be saturated with troops.”
But Federov indicated that this will only happen after Russia has finished or stopped its invasion of Ukraine – as most of the Russian forces meant to be transferred to the Leningrad district are now in Ukraine as part of Putin’s so-called “special military operation.”
“Russia will face an even more difficult task, because the army is worn out, modern weapons have been depleted, the war has revealed a lot of weaknesses in the army. They will strive to recreate armed forces capable of waging war in Europe and with Ukraine and NATO in the Western theater,” Fedorov said.
Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia might plan to freeze the war in Ukraine and rebuild its troops.
“I will be frank with you, as always. Now Russia is considering various scenarios for the coming years. One of them is especially dangerous. If there is any pause in this aggression against Ukraine – any freezing of the situation, there will be a new critical moment,” he said, speaking at the inaugural session of the 3rd summit of the European political community in Granada, Spain.
If Russia is allowed to stop now, the Kremlin will be able to restore the military potential broken by Ukraine by 2028 and by then have enough strength to attack more countries, Zelensky said.
“In addition to Ukraine, this is specifically the Baltic countries and exactly those countries on whose territory Russian groups are present. This is clear information from our intelligence. We signal it to you,” he said.
Experts and politicians working in national security and national defense have been talking about Russia’s plans, Dovile Sakaliene, a member of the National Security and Defense Committee of the Seimas of Lithuania, said on Ukrainian television.
“Some colleagues in southern Europe in this sense still do not want to understand that if we do not solve the problem with Ukraine, if we do not help Ukraine win now, Russia will use this window of opportunity when there is a war between China and America,” Sakaliene said.
According to Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, if Russia “breaks” Ukraine, then Russia will have other goals.
“Now, at the cost of enormous efforts and sacrifices, Ukraine, let me say, will gain time for us so that we have time to prepare so that we have time to further strengthen the NATO collective defense system and take steps to strengthen our own system,” the Lithuanian president said.
He said that Ukraine will win and that the spine of Russia would break.
Russia’s decree calls for the incorporation of four regions of the North-Western Federal District that were previously part of the Northern Fleet into the Leningrad Military District: the Komi Republic, the Arkhangelsk and Murmansk Regions and the Nenets Autonomous District.
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