Russia will establish more military facilities in the country’s west, in what Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu described as “adequate countermeasures” to Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership bids.
Shoigu said in a speech on Friday that the two Nordic nations’ request was one of numerous military threats that had developed near Russia’s northwestern border in recent years.
Those threats also included the United States stepping up strategic bomber flights, sending warships to the Baltic Sea and intensifying training exercises in the region with its NATO partners, he said.
“Tension continues to grow in the zone of responsibility of the Western Military District. We are taking adequate countermeasures,” Shoigu said, as Moscow’s forces continue their invasion of Ukraine.
“By the end of the year, 12 military units and divisions will be established in the Western Military District,” he added.
This will be accompanied by a surge in military equipment and weapons.
“This year, we intend to get more than 2,000 pieces of such equipment,” Shoigu said.
Security concerns driven by Russia’s invasion, which began on February 24, led Finland and Sweden to break from longstanding policies of neutrality and move to join NATO.
Finland shares 1,340km-long (830 miles) land border with Russia, while Sweden shares a maritime boundary.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed on Thursday that he had received their applications to join the bloc, in what could represent one of the most significant changes in Europe’s security architecture in decades.