Ministry Document Warns of Russian Military Expansion
After remarks last week by the undersecretary of the Defense Ministry over concern that Russia is bolstering its military presence in the Baltic Sea region, an official document detailing the developments has surfaced in the media.
A threat of major concern, according to the ministry, are the Iskander missiles and S-400 anti-aircraft weapon system in Kaliningrad, which strategists say could be used to shield the Baltic states and Poland from a NATO defense, reported Eesti Päevaleht.
Other activities of concern included the enlargement, in 2009, of the Leningrad military district from 16,535 to 25,704 men. Also recently, in Vladimirsk, just a few hours from the Estonian border, the 25th motorized rifle brigade has been created.
The Defense Ministry has also kept an eye on older units, such as the 76th landing force division and the 2nd Spetsnaz brigade in Pskov, as well as the 9th artillery brigade in Luga. The 26th missile brigade in Luga was recently equipped with Iskander-M rockets, whose 500-kilometer reach covers a large part of Estonia. Kaliningrad has also increased the size of its 336th marine brigade from 1,227 to 2,700 men.
The document asserts that reconnaissance missions and air force exercises in the Baltic region have become more frequent, and landing divisions have arrived for such excercises from bases further away, Tula and Ivanovo. There have been several provocative flights by bomber aircraft near the Estonian border this year, the document said.
It also said that airborne exercises have been directed at Estonia and Latvia in the last two years.
Ministry officials said the processes would be met with increased Estonian reconnaissance and developing of early warning capability.