War in Ukraine: Moscow increases pressure on Sweden and Finland

Posted Apr 14, 2022 6:49pmUpdated April 14, 2022 at 7:34 p.m

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

In both countries, public opinion has shifted in recent weeks, which has so far been overwhelmingly in favor of the neutrality policies pursued by Stockholm and Helsinki for more than 70 years. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said a decision on the matter would be taken “in the coming weeks” during a trip to Stockholm on Wednesday.

His Swedish counterpart, Magdalena Andersson, also called for a “swift and complete” reassessment of her country’s security environment. The entry of Finland and Sweden into the Atlantic Alliance, which already has 30 members, would be a significant setback for Vladimir Putin, given that the goal he announced in January was a dwindling of Western NATO forces on the border that preceded them Extension belonged to the Alliance for the Countries of the East from 1999.

risk of escalation

In addition, Russia has again charged Ukraine with attacks on its soil, which could prompt intensified bombing of Ukrainian cities. The governor of Russia’s Bryansk border region on Thursday accused Kiev forces of hitting the village of Klimovo, days after similar allegations against the village of Spodarioukhino in the Belgorod region.

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

Disaster for the Navy

While the various land fronts of the war have hardly developed for ten days – except slowly in the strategic port of Mariupol – the Russian fleet on Thursday recorded a spectacular loss, that of its main cruiser: the “Moskva”. After the aircraft carriers, these buildings are the largest and most powerful ships currently in service around the world. However, most navies prefer frigates for reasons of cost and maneuverability. Thus, only the United States and Russia have cruisers.

The Kremlin has asserted that the Moskva, one of only four buildings of this type in its possession, was only damaged by fire after ammunition on board exploded. It would be towed away for repairs. Kyiv on Wednesday night claimed to have sunk it with two Neptune missiles. As a sign of the seriousness of the incident, the crew of 510 sailors have been evacuated and the ship has been out of service for months.

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

His knockout has no spectacular operational significance. It is designed to attack other ships – which the Ukrainian Navy no longer owns – and not land positions.

So far, the Russian fleet has taken very little part in the fighting. It was limited to banning all commercial shipping in the Black Sea. However, this attack is likely to cause other Russian ships to no longer approach the coast within 280 km, the range of Ukrainian missiles, especially as British Harpoon missiles are stationed near Odessa. According to various specialists, it would be the worst loss suffered by a military fleet since the 1982 Falklands War. And the worst Russia has suffered since World War II.

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