The Kremlin announced large-scale changes to the Russian military on Tuesday which would also include creation of an army corps in the Karelia region of Russia which borders Finland. This move comes as tensions rise between Russia and Finland which is seeking active NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) membership along with Sweden.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow would form an army corps in the Republic of Karelia, Newsweek reported. Russia and Finland share an 830-mile border. Finland has two regions — North Karelia and South Karelia — bordering the Russia that bear the same name.
Moscow has threatened Finland with "retaliatory steps" if it joins NATO.
Petri Mäkelä, a Finnish military and security expert, told Newsweek that Shoigu's announcement had not become part of discussions in Finland yet and that the "current situation is that the border area has less Russian troops than ever."
He said since Finland had announced its NATO aspirations, there had not been any overt stepping up of belligerence towards Helsinki from Moscow so far "and Finland has increased readiness very efficiently recently." "But the deployment of the next wave of mobilisation will tell (us) a lot," Mäkelä said. "At the moment there are no combat efficient troops between me and St. Petersburg."
Last month saw Finland considering ending its arms embargo on Turkey. Finland’s Defence Ministry had shown an “initial green light” to Turkish requests for arms, Finnish local media reported. “It’s possible that the government will deal with these applications before next spring’s elections,” said Riika Pitkanen, special adviser to the Defence Ministry.
The change in policy outlook came days after Turkey said Finland must publicly declare an end to its arms embargo to secure Ankara’s support for NATO membership. Pitkanen said Finland is considering arms exports case by case.
“We look at who is ordering the product, what kind of product it is, and what it will be used for,” Russian news agency Sputnik quoted Pitkanen as saying. Finland and Sweden recently abandoned their policy of military nonalignment and rushed applications to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the US-led security alliance comprising 28 European and two North American states. The Nordic nations’ rush was prompted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Finland and Sweden have stood by Ukraine in the conflict.