Russia’s defense minister vows more troops near Nordic countries

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu is seen during a visit of Russian President to the joint staff of troops involved in Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in an undisclosed place on December 17, 2022. (Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

New military bases will be created in the western regions, Sergei Shoigu said at a meeting Wednesday between top military leaders and President Vladimir Putin.

“Given NATO’s desire to build up military potential near the Russian borders, as well as to expand the North Atlantic Alliance at the expense of Finland and Sweden, retaliatory measures are required to create an appropriate grouping of troops in Northwest Russia,” Defense Minister Shoigu said.

The two Nordic countries applied for NATO membership a few months after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Barents Observer previously reported that thousands of soldiers from the Kola Peninsula were deployed to the battlefields and hundreds of them are killed in action. Especially the 200th Motorized Rifle Brigade of the Northern Fleet ran into big losses during the first weeks of the war last winter.

Corps to be formed in Karelia

Shoigu said an army corps will be formed in Karelia. Further north, the 200th Motorized Rifle Brigade in Pechenga and the 80th Motorized Rifle Brigade in Alakurtti will both be part of a larger motorized rifle division. Such divisions will also be organized in the Western, Central and Eastern military districts, according to the minister.

The 200th and the 80th brigades on the Kola Peninsula are part of the Northern Fleet military district which geographically covers the northwestern regions and the waters along the Northern Sea Route. The brigades are specialized in Arctic warfare and equipped with weapons and vehicles for operations in harsh winter climates.

Shoigu added that the coastal troops of the Navy, with existing marine brigades, will form five divisions of the marine corps. Also based near the border to Norway and Finland in the Pechenga region, Russia’s 61st Naval Infantry Brigade has contributed with soldiers both in Syria and Ukraine.

Listing the priority tasks for next year, the defense minister highlighted the war on Ukraine, by him named “the special military operation.”

“It will continue until the tasks are completed,” Sergei Shoigu said.

He then stressed the importance of training and exercises. Special emphasis will be given to what Russia’s defense minister claims are “threats associated with the further expansion of NATO to the East.”

The largest military exercise will be Zapad-2023 (West-2023).

Sergei Shoigu was sitting next to President Putin and Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, General Valery Gerasimov.

“No funding restrictions” says Putin

While Shoigu presented plans to increase the country’s number of soldiers from today’s one million to 1,5 million, President Putin said Russia had “no funding restrictions.”

“The country, the Government give everything that the army asks for, everything. I hope that the answer will be properly formulated and the corresponding results will be achieved,” the President said.

Putin admitted that the September 21 partial mobilization revealed certain problems, but assured the necessary measures are taken. That both includes improved interactions between local and regional authorities as well as weapons supply to the mobilized personnel.

The Russian edition of the Barents Observer recently told the story of a soldier participating on the battlefield. He said there is a lack of everything; food, uniforms, weapons, radio communication and moral.

Vladimir Putin ended his speech by thanking civilians for providing additional equipment, warm clothes and gifts to the soldiers in the front lines.

“Even if the Ministry of Defense provides everything necessary in some segments, we send a big thank you to people for this respect.”

Russia has admitted to just 5,937 military deaths in Ukraine. Western estimates put the figure at about 100,000.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Canada’s inaction on Arctic surveillance could affect future sovereignty: report, Eye on the Arctic

Faroe Islands: Denmark, Faroe Islands agree to establish air surveillance radar to bolster gaps in Arctic surveillance, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Norwegian military vehicles take new transit corridor via Finnish Lapland, The Independent Barents Observer

Greenland: Local company’s $3.95-billion U.S. arctic base contract “good news” says Greenland, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Arctic security discussed at Reykjavik Northern Group meeting, Eye on the Arctic

NorwayDefence minister says Norway must get stronger in the North, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Assertive Moscow outlines push into central Arctic Ocean, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Norway, Finland, Sweden prioritize North in updated statement, Eye on the Arctic

United StatesU.S. Army poised to revamp Alaska forces to prep for Arctic fight, The Associated Press

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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