Russia plans to establish 12 new military bases along the western region of Russia as a response to Sweden and Finland applying to join NATO. The announcement was made by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu last Friday, saying that the new facilities will be up and running “by the end of the year.”

Shoigu said that “12 military bases and units will be deployed in the Western Military District,” telling senior ministry and military officials in attendance that there was increasing “growth of military threats on Russia’s borders.”

In his address, the minister added that the Russian army is also expecting to receive over two thousand troops, equipment and arms.

The news follows the announcement of Sweden and Finland’s bid to join NATO, which Russia sees as its major security threat in Europe. The move comes as a major policy shift from the two Nordic countries that have adopted military non-alignment for decades.

Having both Sweden and Finland join the 30-nation alliance widens the front Russia has to cover in the event of an armed conflict. In particular, Finland has the longest shared border with Russia of any country at 830 miles (1,340 kilometers).

Public and government support for joining NATO sharply rose in the two countries after Russian President Vladimir Putin waged his so-called “special military operation” against Ukraine late in February. Ironically, the expansion of NATO towards Russia was one of Putin’s justifications for declaring his invasion, which he now ultimately caused.

Swedish and Finnish Ambassadors to NATO submitting their application to NATO (Sweden at NATO). Source:
Swedish and Finnish Ambassadors to NATO submitting their application to NATO (Sweden at NATO/Twitter)

Putin has said that the inclusion of Sweden and Finland in the western alliance did not pose a direct significant threat to Moscow but cautioned that the Kremlin would respond if NATO chose to establish military facilities in the two countries.

“But the expansion of military infrastructure into this territory would certainly provoke our response,” Putin said during a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. This alliance comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Russia.