Putin plans to double troops along NATO border

Washington:  Estonia Foreign Intelligence Service on Tuesday said that Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to double his military deployment along the NATO border with the Baltic states and Finland as part of Moscow’s potential assault on a long term basis after Ukraine is over, media reports said.

The intelligence agency said that Putin still harbors an appetite for conflict and represents an unpredictable threat nearly two years after the invasion of Ukraine.

Estonia gained its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991. It became a NATO member in 2004.

The intelligence agency said that Russia could double the 19,000 troops positioned near Estonia.

“Russia’s troop presence near Finland, with whom it shares an 830-mile border, has so far been fairly small,” the intelligence report said.

The report said that this scenario is going to change now because Finland recently became a NATO member.

The report said that Russia’s new military formation will be built around at least two or three maneuver units with around a dozen fire support and combat support units.

Western officials said Putin’s veiled threats to attack NATO countries could turn out to be real. Under NATO’s Article 5, an attack on one NATO member is deemed an attack on all.

Estonia Foreign Spying Director General Kaupo Rosin said that Russia has chosen a path with long-term confrontation.

“Russia is highly unlikely to attack a NATO country in the short term,” Rosin has said.

He said that the Russians in their own thinking are calculating that military conflict with NATO is possible in the next decade.

“Russians are planning to increase the military force along the Baltic states’ border but also the Finnish border. We will highly likely see an increase of manpower, about doubling perhaps. We will see an increase in armed personnel carriers, tanks, and artillery systems over the coming years,” he said.

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