The Western alliance has long been worried about the Baltic region, a former Soviet stronghold that threatened European capitals during the Cold War. Recently the Russian Federation beefed up military forces in its remaining exclave in the region — Kaliningrad.
Russia’s Defense Ministry is completing the creation of a new motorized rifle division in Kaliningrad. The 18th division will be ready for action by this autumn, and its three motorized rifle regiments and one tank regiment will be re-equipped. The reinforcement of the Russian grouping in the Kaliningrad Region is ahead of schedule. According to earlier plans, the process it was supposed to be completed in the exclave by the end of 2021. Experts say the creation of a fully equipped division in the region is an effective response to NATO’s maneuvers near Russia’s borders, reported Russian state news agency TASS.
Plans for the coming creation of a fully equipped motorized rifle division were revealed by the Baltic Fleet’s Admiral Alexander Nosatov in December 2020. Izvestia writes that the backbone of the new division is the 79th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade. The division is a self-sufficient unit, which has all the necessary tools for conducting various types of combat actions.
The expert links Russia’s fast-tracked creation of the new formations to the recent NATO drills in the Baltic states. “After these maneuvers, an analysis was carried out and weak spots for reinforcing military groups of strategic importance were pinpointed,” the Head of Department of Management and Social Technologies at the Northwestern Institute of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) Inn aVetrenko explained.
Today, Russia uses the territory as a naval and missile base, inside NATO borders. With the alliance moving to further encroach into Russias ‘near abroad’, such as talk of including Ukraine, Kaliningrad will continue to be a useful wedge for the Kremlin.
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