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Russia 'moves heavy military equipment towards Finnish border'

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 4/12/2022 Walter Finch For Mailonline

Russian heavy weapons including missile systems have been seen moving towards the border with Finland, hours after Russia warned its northern neighbour against joining NATO.

An unconfirmed video uploaded last night appears to show two Russian coastal defence missile systems moving along a road on the Russian side of the border that leads to Helsinki. 

The missile systems are thought to be the K-300P Bastion-P mobile coastal defence system, designed to take out surface ships up to and including aircraft carrier battle groups. 

The Russian deployment comes as Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said she expects her government 'will end the discussion before midsummer' on whether to apply for NATO membership. 

Recent opinions polls by a Finnish market research company put 84% of Finns as viewing Russia as a 'significant military threat', up by 25% on last year.

In response, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov euphemistically warned the move would 'not improve' the security situation in Europe, and Moscow lawmaker Vladimir Dzhabarov added more bluntly it would mean 'the destruction of the country'.

'We have repeatedly said that the alliance remains a tool geared towards confrontation and its further expansion will not bring stability to the European continent,' Peskov said. 

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Yesterday NATO announced two multinational naval groups of sixteen ships led by the Royal Netherlands Navy will be patrolling the Baltic Sea coasts of members such as Poland and Estonia to 'maintain a credible and capable defensive capability'. 

Finland, along with neighbouring Sweden, has historically avoided NATO membership, despite close alignment with the West, in an effort not to provoke Russia. 


Video: Video appears to show missile strike from Ukrainian helicopters on Russian oil depot (The Independent)

Video appears to show missile strike from Ukrainian helicopters on Russian oil depot
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But the Scandinavian country shares a 830 mile long border with Russia and has been unnerved by Putin's invasion of Ukraine, having been invaded once before by the Soviet Union in 1939.

Meanwhile, Sweden's ruling party formally began debating the possibility of launching a bid for membership yesterday, a move which would signal a complete role reversal in policy for the Scandinavian kingdom that has remained militarily neutral for decades. 

Party secretary Tobias Baudin told local media that the NATO review should be complete within the next few months. 

'When Russia invaded Ukraine, Sweden's security position changed fundamentally,' the party said in a statement. 

A current map of Nato membership in Europe. Sweden and Finland have historically avoided membership in order to not provoke Russia, but the Russian invasion of Ukraine has changed their calculus

A current map of Nato membership in Europe. Sweden and Finland have historically avoided membership in order to not provoke Russia, but the Russian invasion of Ukraine has changed their calculus
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In Sweden, the ruling centre-left Social Democrats have historically opposed NATO membership but the more than six-week conflict in Ukraine has reignited debate in the Scandinavian kingdom.

A policy reversal for the party, which ruled for an uninterrupted 40 years between the 1930s and 1970s, would be historic and could pave the way for Sweden to apply to join NATO. 

The party, led by Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, are said to have begun discussing the possibility of joining NATO today, with the issue expected to be a central to parliamentary elections scheduled for September 11. 

Sweden is officially non-aligned militarily, although it is a NATO partner and abandoned its position of strict neutrality after the end of the Cold War.

Having initially stressed that non-alignment had 'served Sweden's interests well,' Andersson recently conceded that she was ready to discuss the policy and in late March said she 'did not rule out' a bid to join NATO.

Mr Peskov made clear that Russia would have to 'rebalance the situation' with its own measures were Sweden and Finland to join Nato. 

The spiral of escalation has seen both countries increase their defence spending, with Helsinki announcing plans to spend £11 on drones and Stockholm adding another £243 million to their military budget.

In Ukraine, Russian forces are continuing to pull out of Belarus to support operations in the east as Putin focuses his invasion on the Donbas region where Russian-allied separatists have claimed independence. 

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