Russia Retaliates Against Finland’s NATO Membership with New Leningrad Military District

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In response to Finland’s recent decision to join NATO, Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed plans to establish a new military district aimed at bolstering Russia’s presence near Finland. Putin, speaking in an interview with Russian journalist Pavel Zarubin, highlighted that historically, there had been minimal conflicts between Moscow and Helsinki, especially over the past few decades. However, with Finland’s NATO membership, Putin indicated a significant shift in their relationship.

Expressing discontent over Finland’s alignment with NATO, Putin emphasized that Russia previously had resolved all disputes, even those of territorial significance dating back to the mid-20th century. He underscored that Russia lacked territorial disputes with any NATO member state and saw the move as an unnecessary provocation.

To counterbalance the expanding influence of the US-led alliance, Russia plans to establish the Leningrad Military District. This new military force will find its base in the Leningrad Region, situated in the northwestern part of Russia, encompassing the city of St. Petersburg, historically known as Leningrad duting the Soviet era.

Putin emphasized the sudden shift in relations, stating that while there hadn’t been significant issues before, the decision by Finland to join NATO prompted the creation of the Leningrad Military District. He expressed disdain, considering the move unnecessary and illogical.

Putin noted that prior to Finland’s NATO decision, the two nations shared a largely amicable relationship, with minor disagreements primarily related to business in the timber-processing industry. Finland’s move to align with NATO occurred following the eruption of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia in February 2022, ultimately resulting in Finland becoming a full-fledged member of the US-led bloc in April of the following year.

Highlighting Russia’s opposition to Finland’s NATO membership, Putin reiterated that their bilateral relationship had no unresolved issues. Despite this, Helsinki announced intentions to sign a Defense Cooperation Agreement with the US, granting the latter rights to station troops and store weapons and ammunition across 15 zones in Finland, as per the Finnish Foreign Ministry.

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