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Russia begins transfer of troops from Syria to Ukraine as Finland signals Nato membership

By Thomas Kingsley
EPA

Russian president Vladimir Putin has begun moving troops from Syria to Ukraine to help in the Battle for Donbas, reports have claimed.

Military forces are being moved from Syria where the Kremlin had thousands of troops based since 2015 when Vladimir Putin ordered his fighters to support president Bashar al-Assad.

The Moscow Times reported that these troops are being stationed at three airports in Ukraine before being transferred to the frontline to increase Russia’s presence as fighting in the southeast increases.

More than 63,000 Russian military personnel have deployed to Syria between 2015 and 2018, Moscow says, however it is unclear how many officers are currently stationed there. According to western intelligence Russian forces have become frustrated with the resilience of Ukraine’s troops which had drawn out the “special military operation” and has caused the Kremlin to change its plans from seizing Kyiv to gaining control of the Donbas.

Russia’s abandoned air bases in Syria are being transferred to the Iranian military-political organisation, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the militant group Hezbollah, according to sources.

Russia has faced unexpected resilience from Ukraine’s military (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The news comes as Ukraine has launched a series of counter-attacks in Kharkiv pushing Russian troops northward and Finland has made its intentions clear to apply for Nato membership.

Russia said that Finland’s move to join Nato will make Europe less stable and Moscow would be forced to take “retaliatory steps”. The Kremlin’s foreign ministry said Helsinki’s application, announced earlier in the day, is a “radical change” in the country’s foreign policy.

“Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop threats to its national security arising,” the foreign ministry said. Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Finland’s Nato bid was a cause for regret.

He added that Finland had taken “unfriendly steps” against Russia. On possible responses, Mr Peskov added: “Everything will depend on how this expansion process of Nato expansion plays out, the extent to which military infrastructure moves closer to our borders.”

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Dive Deeper:
Russia warns of ‘retaliatory steps’ over Finland’s bid to join Nato
The Kremlin said it would respond but declined to spell out how
Kremlin warns of retaliation after Finland seeks to join Nato
The Kremlin has warned of retaliatory “military-technical” steps after Finland’s leaders came out in favour of applying to join Nato.
Russia vows response as Finland seeks Nato membership without delay
Finland has said it would apply to join NATO "without delay", with Sweden expected to follow suit, suggesting Russia's invasion…
Live: EU ramps up military aid to Ukraine as diplomatic efforts intensify
The EU pledged an additional €500 million in military aid to Ukraine at a meeting of G7 nations on Friday…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Russia warns Finland over NATO bid
Moscow says it will be forced to take “retaliatory steps” after Finland announced its NATO bid, while Ukraine says it…
Finland’s leaders endorse NATO bid; Russia issues threats and continues airstrikes on eastern Ukraine
LVIV, Ukraine — As Finland’s leaders dealt him a blow by announcing their support for joining NATO, Russian President Vladimir…
Get all your news in one place