War in Ukraine: Moscow increases pressure on Sweden and Finland

Posted on April 14, 2022 at 6:49 pmUpdated on April 14, 2022 at 7:34 pm

Russia multiplies warnings and recriminations. The Kremlin threatened on Thursday to deploy nuclear missiles around the Baltic Sea if Sweden and Finland join the Atlantic Alliance, as now seems very likely in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In both countries, public opinion, hitherto overwhelmingly in favor of the neutrality policy pursued by Stockholm and Helsinki for more than 70 years, has changed in recent weeks. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said a decision on the matter would be made “in the next few weeks” during a trip to Stockholm on Wednesday.

His Swedish counterpart, Magdalena Andersson, also called for a “rapid and comprehensive” reassessment of her country’s security environment. The entry of Finland and Sweden into the Atlantic Alliance, which already has some thirty members, would be a considerable setback for Vladimir Putin, since the objective he showed in January was a return of Western NATO forces to the perimeter that It belonged to them before enlargement. of the Alliance to the Eastern countries since 1999.

escalation risk

On the other hand, Russia framed Ukraine again of attacks on its territory, which could provide a reason for more intense shelling of Ukrainian cities. The governor of the Russian border region of Bryansk on Thursday accused kyiv forces of attacking the village of Klimovo, days after similar accusations for the village of Spodariouchino in the Belgorod region.

Half a dozen people were reportedly injured in the fire attributed to two Ukrainian helicopters in Klimovo. kyiv has denied any involvement. The Russian military on Wednesday threatened to attack command centers in the Ukrainian capital, accusing Ukraine of shooting and sabotaging on Russian territory.

Disaster for the Navy

Although the various land fronts of the war barely evolve for about ten days -except, slowly, in the strategic port of Mariupol-, the russian fleet recorded a spectacular loss on Thursday, that of its main cruiser: the “Moskva”. These buildings are, after aircraft carriers, the largest and most powerful ships currently in service in the world. However, most navies prefer frigates for reasons of cost and agility. Therefore, only the United States and Russia have cruise ships.

True, the Kremlin claims that the “Moskva”, one of only four such buildings it owns, is only damaged by fire after the explosion of ammunition on board. It would be towed away for repairs. On Wednesday night, kyiv claimed to have sunk it with two Neptune missiles. A sign of the seriousness of the incident, the crew of 510 sailors was evacuated and the ship has been out of service for months.

This missile cruiser was put into service in 1983. It was considered the flagship of the fleet assembled by Moscow in the Black Sea, with about fifteen frigates, twelve landing ships and two other cruisers, the “Varyag” and the “Marshal Ustinov”. .

His coup de grâce has no spectacular operational significance. It is designed to attack other ships, which the Ukrainian Navy no longer possesses, and not land positions.

Until now, the Russian fleet has participated very little in the fighting. It was limited to prohibiting all commercial navigation in the Black Sea. However, this attack will likely encourage other Russian ships to move no closer to the coast within 280 km, the range of Ukrainian missiles, especially as British Harpoon missiles are being deployed near Odessa. According to several specialists, it would be the worst loss suffered by a military fleet since the Falklands War in 1982. And the worst suffered by Russia since World War II.

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