Russia responds to NATO: punishes Finland and announces new military bases

Russia responds to NATO: punishes Finland and announces new military bases

PARIS.- After Poland and Bulgaria, Finland will also run out of Russian gas from this Saturday. Moscow has decided to punish its neighbor for refusing to pay the bill in rubles and presumably for applying for NATO membership.

“It is very regrettable that the contractual delivery of natural gas is suspended. But we had prepared very carefully for this situation,” Mika Wiljanen, CEO of Finnish energy group Gasum, said in a statement. “There will be no interruptions to the gas distribution network”, says the text.

Although natural gas it represents only 5% of the energy consumed in Finland, 92% of which comes from Russia. During the summer, the needs should be easily met thanks to the Baltic Connector gas pipeline, between Finland and Estonia, connected to the underground storage site of Incukalns, in Latvia.

“The winter period will be more complicated, because the capacity of the gas pipeline will not be enough to cover all our needs,” said Olga Vaisanen, spokesperson for Gasum.

This is not the first time that the Kremlin uses its fossil fuel as a weapon of warLast weekend, Moscow suspended some of the electricity exported to Finland, after that country and Sweden announced their decision to join the Atlantic Alliance Organization.

Another reaction to this imminent NATO enlargement was the announcement of the creation of 12 new Russian military bases in the west of the country.

Sergei Shoigu, Russian Minister of Defense– – Kremlin

“By the end of the year, 12 military bases and units will be deployed in the Western Military District”, said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, speaking to officials of his ministry and the armed forces. Shoigu underlined “the increase in military threats on the Russian borders”, accusing NATO and the United States.

Considering the fate of its armed forces, military experts are skeptical of these announcements from Moscow. According to the Russian Ministry of Finance, Russia spent more than $300 million a day last month, more than double before the invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, with a salary of around $3,000 per monthsoldiers recruited to fight in the neighboring country they have to buy their personal equipment, like shoes, bulletproof vests and even bandages and other medical suppliesaccording to the independent newspaper The Times of Moscow.

On the other hand, and in the midst of a recruitment crisis, while the offices devoted to this activity are increasingly attacked with Molotov cocktails, Moscow is studying the possibility of extend the age limit for entering military service, which could now exceed 40 years. According to a statement issued this Friday by the Duma (Russian parliament), pro-government lawmakers introduced an amendment in this regard, with the aim of addressing the lack of specialists in the armed forces, such as doctors and engineers.

In the field of cyber warfare, Vladimir Putin ordered this Friday “break with foreign technologies to strengthen Russia’s defenses against cyberattacks”. The head of the Kremlin, however, assured that his services have succeeded in stopping serious “cyberaggressions”.

Putin chaired the meeting of his Security Council on Friday
Putin chaired the meeting of his Security Council on FridayMIKHAIL METZEL – SPOUTNIK

“The ongoing active digitalization in the Russian government and economy must be maximally shielded from any potentially negative action from abroad,” Putin said. “The obvious way to achieve this objective is to ensure the transition to national equipment, technologies, programs and products,” he added during a meeting of his Security Council. According to the Russian autocrat, his country is facing an increasing number of computer attacks from “different states”, which are “finely coordinated”. The Kremlin’s decision to “nationalize” the IT business comes at a time when, since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, a large number of Western suppliers have stopped working with the government in Moscow.

“But I can say that this cyberaggression and the sanctions against Russia failed because, in general, we were prepared,” he concluded.

After weeks of fighting at the steelworks, the Ukrainian defenders of Azovstal received orders from kyiv on Friday to stop fightingaccording to its commander.

“The higher military command gave the order to save the lives of the servicemen of our garrison and to abandon the defense of the city,” said Denys Prokopenko, commander of the Azov regiment, one of the units present at the plant. . Earlier, Russian forces announced that more than 1,900 Ukrainians had surrendered.

“Nationalists trapped in the factory have started to surrender. Currently, 1908 has surrenderedsaid Minister Shoigu.

Ukrainian soldiers captured by Russian forces after the surrender at the Azovstal factory
Ukrainian soldiers captured by Russian forces after the surrender at the Azovstal factoryPA

kyiv wants to organize a exchange of prisoners of war. But the Russian authorities insist that they consider some of these men, not as soldiers, but as neo-Nazi militants. With this surrender, Moscow also claimed to have almost “completed” the conquest of the Ukrainian region of Lugansk (east).

After releasing an additional $40 billion to help Ukraine, the United States warned on Friday that, despite the success of Ukrainian forces in the city of Kharkiv, the Russian army is strengthening its control in the east and south of the country. This means that the conflict could last for a long time.

However, a senior Pentagon source also confirmed that Russian forces continue to have problems of cohesion, troop morale and logistics. The source, however, refused to endorse the possible purges within the Russian military command, mentioned by London.

“We prefer to be extremely cautious in our forecasts,” he warned.

For their part, the G7 countries promised this Friday raise $19.8 billion to support Ukraine’s finances. This was stated by the finance ministers of the group after a meeting in Germany.

G7 ministers meeting in Germany
G7 ministers meeting in GermanyINA FASSBENDER – AFP

Italy has proposed to the UN the constitution of a “international facilitation group” to try to achieve “step by step” a truce in Ukraine, according to Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio. According to the official, this group should be made up of international organizations, such as the European Union, the United Nations or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Heavily criticized for remaining in power after the invasion of Ukraine, Gerhard Schroeder, a former German social-democratic chancellor and personal friend of Putin, He eventually decided to step down as chairman of the board of Russian state-owned oil giant Rosneft. The announcement – communicated by the company – comes a day after the German parliamentary committee in charge of the budget withdrew more than 400,000 euros a year from privileges in his capacity as former chancellor.

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