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Russia moves nearly all troops on Finnish border to war against Ukraine

Russia moves nearly all troops on Finnish border to war against Ukraine Illustrative photo (Getty Images)

Russian bases near the border with Finland are almost empty, despite Moscow's threats over the country's accession to NATO. Russia has redeployed personnel and equipment for the war against Ukraine, reports Yle.

Russia has threatened Finland with “consequences” if it joins NATO and promised to increase its military presence near the border, but now military bases in the region are more empty than a year ago.

“On average, 80% of the equipment and soldiers have been redeployed to the war against Ukraine,” the intelligence source told Yle.

The share of withdrawn Russian soldiers and equipment depends on the specific base, season, and training. Mostly instructors and recruits remained at the bases, while contract soldiers were sent to war.

According to Yle's source, Russia is raking equipment and soldiers from its bases not only near the Finnish border but throughout the country, except for the Moscow region.

Source: Yle

Yle has obtained satellite images of Russian bases that confirm these changes. At the military base near Petrozavodsk, as of May 2024, dozens of pieces of equipment have disappeared compared to June 2023. Besides, a new hangar has appeared, which was not there before, and the equipment is no longer standing in the open.

Images from Kaukjärvi on the Karelian Isthmus (now renamed Kamenka by the Russians) show numerous tents for personnel, probably mobilized or recruits undergoing basic training.

According to an intelligence source, the air defense system around St. Petersburg remains quite strong.

Source: Yle

Relations between Finland and Russia

Since 2022, relations between Finland and Russia have deteriorated greatly amid geopolitical tension, namely Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Finland's accession to NATO.

In May 2022, Finland officially applied for NATO membership. This decision was motivated by the growing threat from Russia and the desire to ensure national security. Russia responded with threats of military retaliation.

In April 2023, Finland officially became a member of NATO, which significantly strengthened its security guarantees. Russia interpreted this step as a serious challenge to its strategic interests in the region.

Finland supported the sanctions imposed by the European Union against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. These include economic restrictions, a ban on trade in certain goods, and an asset freeze.