New military bases in Russia in response to NATO expansion: Moscow
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on May 20 that Moscow would create new military bases in western Russia in response to the expansion of NATO.
"By the end of the year, 12 military units and divisions will be established in the Western Military District," Shoigu said at a meeting in televised remarks.
The army expects to receive more than two thousand units of military equipment and weapons, Shoigu added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to pro-Western Ukraine on February 24, sending shockwaves across the world.
Moscow’s military campaign shook Sweden and Finland that - after decades of military non-alignment - decided to seek NATO membership despite warnings from the Kremlin.
Meanwhile, flanked by the leaders of Finland and Sweden, President Joe Biden forcefully supported their applications to join NATO on May 19 as Russia’s war in the heart of Europe challenges the continent’s security. Regarding Ankara'a opposition, the U.S. president said U.S. and Turkey countries “meet every NATO requirement and then some."
Biden walked to a White House Rose Garden appearance with his hands on the shoulders of Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden and President Sauli Niinisto of Finland for an event designed to emphasize U.S. backing of their NATO candidacies.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier emphasized his opposition to the two countries joining the military alliance.
Biden, in a notable pledge, said the U.S. and allies would “deter and confront any aggression while Finland and Sweden are in this accession process.”
Once-neutral Finland and Sweden are abandoning what in Sweden’s case has been 200 years of military non-alignment, driven to join NATO’s mutual defense pact in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and ongoing war there.
Acceptance of the countries would bring into the alliance two well-equipped, modern militaries on Russia’s doorstep. It would also serve as a powerful and lasting rebuke to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the consequences of his invasion.
The two leaders also visited the Capitol and met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said she was honored to “offer the fullest support and endorsement to your request to be part of NATO, the greatest defense alliance in the history of the world. ”
Separately, the Senate approved $40 billion in fresh economic and military aid for Ukraine, sending the bill to Biden for his signature.
At the White House, Prime Minister Andersson said: “Russia’s full-scale aggression against a sovereign and democratic neighbor ... was a watershed moment for Sweden. And my government has come to the conclusion that the security of the Swedish people will be best protected within the NATO alliance.”
Not only are Sweden and Finland fully qualified, she said, but “having two new NATO members in the high north will enhance the security of our alliance.”
Biden said he began the private discussions that led to the two Scandinavian leaders’ “momentous” decision to join NATO back in December, even as Russian forces were gathering on the border with Ukraine, ahead of Putin’s Feb. 24 invasion.
The United States and its allies say the invasion, while failing in Russia’s aim of unseating Ukraine’s Western-friendly government, is only strengthening the West’s security alliances.
Finland’s Niinisto on Thursday credited Biden’s months of encouragement with playing a crucial role in the decision by his country and Sweden to team with NATO to face any future threat from Russia or others.
The Finnish leader, speaking after Biden in the Rose Garden, addressed some of his remarks directly to the Turkish president.
“As NATO allies, we will commit to Turkey’s security, just as Turkey will commit to our security,” Niinisto said. “We take terrorism seriously. We condemn terrorism in all its forms and we are actively engaged in combating it.”
The Finnish and Swedish leaders said their governments already are in discussion with Erdoğan’s to try to overcome Turkey’s opposition “in an open and constructive manner.”
“New members joining NATO is not a threat to any nation," Biden said. “It never has been.”
Erdogan has said Turkey’s objection stems from grievances with Sweden’s _ and to a lesser degree Finland’s _ support of PKK terror organization.