Russia announces western military buildup to match NATO presence near its borders

Russia's saber rattling comes as Sweden and Finland have submitted formal bids to join NATO
Vladimir Putin with military personnel

The Russian Ministry of Defense announced the buildup of forces in the nation's Western Military District as a response to the mounting NATO forces near its borders.

"Twelve military units and subunits will be formed in the Western Military District by the end of the year," said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who highlighted the Swedish and Finnish bids to join NATO as factors in the buildup, according to Russian state media outlet Tass.

The formation and deployment of these new units will also coincide with an effort to equip troops with modern equipment and arms, Shoigu said, adding "we intend to get more than 2,000 pieces of such equipment." He did not specify what form that equipment would take. The defense minister further highlighted Russian naval activity in the Baltic Sea, noting that the Muscovite fleet had increased training exercises by 42 percent.

Russia's saber rattling in the Baltic Sea and western regions comes as Sweden and Finland, both traditionally neutral countries, have submitted formal bids to join NATO following the Russian invasion of Ukraine which began in February. While NATO members have generally supported their addition to the bloc, admission for the Nordic countries may prove difficult as applicants must receive unanimous support from member nations and Turkey has voiced strong opposition to their admission.

Russia and Sweden have not been to war in centuries, the last conflict between them being the former's conquest of Finland, then a part of Sweden, in the early Nineteenth Century.

Finland, however, fought the Winter War from 1939-1940 against the Soviet Union and later the Continuation War alongside the German invasion which began in 1941. Finland retained its independence despite the Soviet triumph over the invaders and was a neutral power during the Cold War.