Russia has moved almost all ground forces from Finland’s vicinity to Ukraine, media report

Russia has moved the vast majority of its ground forces previously stationed near Finland to the war in Ukraine, the Finnish public broadcaster Yle reported on June 19, citing an undisclosed Finnish military intelligence source.

These revelations stand in contrast to previous claims by Russia on reinforcing its troops near the Finnish border in response to the Nordic country’s entry into NATO.

“On average, 80% of the equipment and soldiers have been transferred to the war in Ukraine,” the high-ranking military intelligence source told Yle.

According to the source, the situation is similar in other Russian regions except for Moscow Oblast. This concerns mainly the Ground Forces, as air defenses, the Air Force, and the Navy remain relatively well-manned, Yle reported.

The numbers of soldiers stationed in bases near the Finnish borders sometimes fluctuate as Russia draws new conscripts, but “all contract soldiers have been sent to do real work,” the source said.

After Russian professional contractors suffered heavy losses in Ukraine, Russia began to partially mobilize its population to fill up the ranks.

Satellite imagery obtained by Yle confirmed certain changes. For example, dozens of units and equipment stationed in a military base near Petrozavodsk (a city some 200 kilometers or 125 miles from the Russian border) in June 2023 disappeared as of May 2024.

At the same time, new facilities appeared, likely for servicing equipment damaged in war or accommodations for conscripts undergoing basic training, Yle wrote.

A number of NATO officials have warned that NATO should prepare itself for a possible open confrontation with Russia in the coming years. The Finnish intelligence estimates it can take between three to five years for the Russian military to recuperate from its losses in Ukraine.

The tensions between the military bloc and Moscow have been mounting since the West threw its support behind Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.

Finland entered NATO in April 2023, extending the NATO-Russian border by roughly 1,340 kilometers (830 miles).

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