Russia is preparing for a military confrontation with the West in the next decade, but could be deterred by a counter-buildup of its armed forces, Estonia’s Foreign Intelligence Service said on Tuesday, Reuters reports.
Ukrainian soldiers at the front in winterPhoto: AA / Abaca Press / Profimedia Images
A growing number of Western officials have warned of a military threat from Russia to countries on NATO’s eastern flank, urging Europe to prepare by arming itself.
The intelligence chief said the assessment was based on Russia’s plans to double the number of forces stationed along its border with NATO member Finland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.
“Russia has chosen a path that is a long-term confrontation … and the Kremlin is probably anticipating a possible conflict with NATO in the next decade or so,” Kaupo Rosin told reporters at the release of the report on threats to Estonia’s national security.
A military attack by Russia is “highly unlikely” in the short term, he said, in part because Russia needs to keep troops in Ukraine and would remain unlikely if the build-up of Russian forces was matched in Europe.
“If we are not prepared, the probability (of a Russian military attack) would be much higher than without any preparation,” Rosin added.
Estonia and the other Baltic states increased their military spending to more than 2 percent of GDP after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, and NATO allies increased their presence in those countries.
Germany plans to have 4,800 combat-ready troops in the region by 2027 in its first permanent foreign deployment since World War II, and Rosin said NATO and its allies are moving in the right direction to counter the threat Russian.
Rosin does not expect a Russian breakthrough in Ukraine before the presidential election in March, as he would need to mobilize many more troops to achieve that goal.
Regarding comments from Donald Trump, who said he would not defend allies who do not spend enough on defense, Rosin said: “Such statements are never helpful.”
Russia’s ability to supply ammunition to its troops continues to outstrip Ukraine’s, and unless Western support is sustained or increased, Ukraine is unlikely to be able to turn the tables on the battlefield, he added.
The New York Times noted in an extensive material published last September, based on statements by Ukrainian and European security officials, that Russia was on its way to an annual production capacity of two million of projectiles, double its capacity before the start of the war in Ukraine.
Armin Papperger, the chairman of the Board of Directors of one of the largest European arms manufacturers, the German giant Rheinmetall, has warned that Europe will need 10 years to fill its ammunition stores in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
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