Putin threatening Finland and preparing for potential war with Nato, warns think tank

By Isaac M December 19, 2023

Vladimir Putin is preparing for the possibility of “large-scale conventional war” with Nato, according to a major think tank, after moving troops towards Russia’s northwestern border and issuing a veiled threat to new alliance member Finland.

Russia has confirmed it is strenthening its military units in the northwest, where it shares borders with Finland, Estonia and Latvia, and has formed a new military zone – the Leningrad Military District (LMD) – in the wake of Finland’s decision to join Nato in April.

Speaking in an extended interview with Russian state television channel Rossiya 1 on Sunday, Mr Putin said that now “there will be problems with Finland and accused other Nato members of “dragging” Helsinki into the alliance. Finland said it had no choice but to end decades of neutrality as a result of Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in an update on Sunday said the way the Russian military was restructuring and expanding in the northwest suggested it was gearing up for a “potential future large-scale conventional war against Nato”.

It said Mr Putin’s interview on state TV was indicative of the Kremlin’s “hostile intent” towards the alliance, and poses a “credible and costly threat to Western security”.

Earlier this month Joe Biden urged the US Congress to approve more emergency funding for Ukraine, warning Washington that “if Putin takes Ukraine, he won’t stop there” and would go on to attack Nato countries, resulting in “American troops fighting Russian troops”.

Mr Putin has directly responded to Mr Biden’s warning, claiming Russia has “no interest” in fighting Nato. “It is complete nonsense – and I think president Biden understands that,” Mr Putin said.

Last year Mr Putin and his closest aides in the Kremlin denied Russia had any intention to invade Ukraine – right up until the 24 February when the president ordered tens of thousands of troops to attack the neighbouring country.

Russia’s war with Ukraine is about to enter its 23rd month, and has driven the deepest rift between Moscow and the West since 1962. Mr Putin has consistently downplayed the war as a “special military operation”, while the US warns it has dramatically increased the dangers of a direct confrontation between Nato and Russia and the start of a third world war.

While progress on the battlefield has been fairly static in recent months, Russia continues to launch concerted attacks and Ukraine is pleading with Western allies, especially the US, not to cut it off from supplies of arms, ammunition and other military aid.


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