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Russia preparing for WW3, plans to double troops on NATO border, claims Estonian intelligence chief

Russia is preparing for a military confrontation with the West within the next decade and could be deterred by a counter build-up of armed forces, Estonia's Foreign Intelligence Service said on Tuesday.

Agencies and A News WORLD
Published February 13,2024
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (AFP File Photo)

Russia is ramping up preparations for a potential military conflict with NATO within the next decade and is planning to double the number of its troops stationed along its border with the Baltic states and Finland, Estonia's intelligence chief claimed on Tuesday.

Russia is currently unwilling to take any military action against the Western alliance in the short term, partly because Russia has to keep troops in Ukraine, Kaupo Rosin, director-general of the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service, told reporters in the capital Tallinn ahead of the release of Estonia's national security threats report.

However, according to him, Moscow believes a military conflict with NATO is possible within the next 10 years.

"We will highly likely to see an increase in manpower, possibly doubling. We will see an increase in armed personnel carriers, tanks, and artillery systems over the coming years," Rosin said, referring to the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, as well as the Finnish border.

Rosin is the latest European official to warn of a military expansionary threat to Baltic states from the Kremlin, calling for European states to start increasing their military spending and rearming.

Estonia and other Baltic states have increased military spending to more than 3% of GDP on defense this year, exceeding NATO's 2% target.

He claimed that the likelihood of a military Russian attack "would be much higher than without any preparation."

The Russian war on Ukraine has prompted Germany to permanently plan to base 4,800 troops in the Lithuanian region by 2027, which analysts argue is at risk of a Russian attack.

This will be Germany's first permanent foreign military deployment since World War II.

Denmark's Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen also warned last week that Russia could attack NATO within three to five years.

"Russia's capacity to produce military equipment has increased tremendously," Poulsen told local newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

It cannot be ruled out that within a three-to-five-year period, Moscow "will test Article 5 and NATO's solidarity," he added.

"That was not NATO's assessment in 2023. This is new knowledge that is coming to the fore now," he said.

Earlier on Monday, Norway's intelligence service claimed that Russian forces are gaining an advantage in the war in Ukraine due to a greater number of soldiers and arms supplied by China, North Korea, and other countries.

Ukraine would need "extensive" Western military aid to turn things around, the head of the military intelligence unit Nils Andreas Stensones said at a press conference while presenting the intelligence annual report.

"In this war, Russia is currently in a stronger position than it was a year ago and is in the process of gaining the advantage," Stensones told local reporters.

However, Rosin does not expect Russia to make advancements in Ukraine before the presidential election due next month, as he also claims it will need to mobilize a substantial number of military personnel to achieve its objective.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump suggested that under his leadership, the U.S. would not protect NATO members from a Russian attack unless they spend enough on defense.

Trump, who remains the Republican front-runner to enter the 2024 U.S. presidential race, was widely criticized for his comments with Western military alliance's chief Jens Stoltenberg, saying this "undermines all of our security."

Referring to Trump's warning, Rosin said, "Such statements are never helpful."