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Russia Bolsters Military Forces in Baltic Exclave Amid NATO Fears

Russia’s Baltic Fleet commander accused NATO of deploying an armored tank and several battalion-tactical groups to the exclave’s borders. Vitaly Nevar / TASS

Russia is looking to expand its military power in Kaliningrad by adding a new division that includes motorized rifle, artillery and tank regiments amid NATO buildup along the border with Russia’s Baltic exclave, a naval admiral said Monday.

Admiral Alexander Nosatov, the commander of Russia’s Baltic Fleet, accused the Western military bloc of deploying an armored tank and several battalion-tactical groups to the exclave’s borders. Other NATO strike units and subunits have also been deployed to the immediate vicinity of Kaliningrad’s borders, he said.

"In response to this threat, the leadership of the Armed Forces was forced to take retaliatory measures. One of them was the formation of a full-fledged motorized rifle division, which has become part of the army corps of the Baltic Fleet," Nosatov told the Defense Ministry’s Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper.

“The new unit includes motorized rifle, artillery and separate tank regiments,” said Nosatov.

Nosatov said the reinforcement of Kaliningrad’s forces would continue through next year.

Kaliningrad is bordered by NATO members Poland and Lithuania and is home to Russia’s Baltic Fleet. Tensions between Russia and the Western military bloc remain at post-Cold War highs over Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

In a report published last week, NATO identified Russia as one of its main threats for the next decade and proposed strengthening NATO's capabilities to counter threats from Russia. 

"By economic and social standards, Russia is a fading power, but it has shown that it is capable of territorial aggression and is likely to remain the main threat to NATO in the next decade," the NATO report said.

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