Putin’s Spokesman Says Russia Will Respond to Baltic Confrontation

(RightWing.org) – Russia has stepped up pressure on NATO, hinting at moves to “ensure its security” after it announced plans to change its borders with two members. A Kremlin spokesman complained about “confrontation” in the Baltic Sea, conveniently ignoring the fact that the sudden tension in the region was entirely caused by Russia. Now the Kremlin is looking for an opportunity to advance its position in the region — but can it back up its words with a credible threat of action?

Russia Threatens Border Move

On May 21, Russia’s Foreign Ministry published a draft proposal to extend its maritime borders in the Baltic Sea. According to the Kremlin, Russia just wants to “update” borders based on old data — but the reality is its proposed new boundaries include areas that currently belong to Finland and Lithuania.

The Baltic Sea is almost completely surrounded by land and while covers just 633,840 square miles, economically it’s very important to northern Europe. Some of Europe’s largest shipyards are on its coasts, it has a major offshore wind power industry, and it attracts large numbers of tourists every year. Nine countries have Baltic coasts; eight of them are NATO members — including Germany, Sweden, Finland, and Poland — and the ninth is Russia. A unilateral move to claim other nations’ territory in the sea was never likely to go down well.

Sure enough, it hasn’t. As soon as the proposal was revealed, European politicians started objecting. Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis called it “an obvious escalation of tensions” that needs to be met with a “firm response,” while Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson, backed up by the Estonian and Finnish governments, declared that Russia just can’t do this.

What’s Happening Now?

At first, it looked as if Russia had realized that, in fact, it just can’t do this. Just hours after the proposal appeared on the Kremlin’s website it vanished again. However, Russian spokeswoman Maria Zakharova quickly dashed those hopes. On May 23, she confirmed that Russia is working to “clarify” its new territorial claims — and ominously said the Defense Ministry is handling that.

The Putin regime seems determined to push on with the provocative move. Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov complained on May 22 about “the level of confrontation in the Baltic,” glossing over the fact Russia caused this new confrontation by launching a territorial grab and warned that his country will “take steps to ensure its security.”

Russia has already been increasing the pressure on new NATO members Finland and Sweden, including jamming GPS signals in the Baltic region, and has threatened to double its military forces around the area. In reality, Russia’s weakened military might struggle to do that, but the rogue nation’s neighbors can’t afford to ignore the threat.

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