Russia’s Mauled Border Units could take years to recover: Finnish official

Russian military units, which have been withdrawn from the country’s border with Finland, could take years to return to full strength after “heavy losses” in Ukraine, a senior diplomat has said, as Helsinki prepares to join neighboring Sweden in dem to join the NATO alliance.

This was announced by Kai Sauer, State Secretary for Foreign and Security Policy at the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs news week on the sidelines of the Helsinki Security Forum on Saturday that there is no immediate security threat to Finland, partly due to Russia’s current military weakness along the border.

Several reports have indicated the transfer of Russian military units from their borders with European Union and NATO nations to the battlefields of Ukraine, where Moscow forces are suffering heavy casualties and being pushed back along several axes of Ukraine’s advance.

Sauer said the same applies to the 830-mile Finland-Russia border, which, subject to approval by the Hungarian and Turkish parliaments, will soon become NATO’s newest front line with the Kremlin.

Kai Sauer at the HSF in Helsinki
Kai Sauer, State Secretary for Foreign and Security Policy at Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is pictured at the Helsinki Security Forum in the Finnish capital, September 30, 2022.
Finnish Institute for International Affairs

“Our observation is that at least the border — the land border — is pretty calm,” he said. “Russia has moved its troops to Ukraine along our border. And as far as tourism is concerned, the numbers have dropped drastically since we issued our restrictions. So it’s rather quiet.”

The same applies at sea, Sauer added. “Yes, nothing was made public. Maybe the airspace violation stats, there might be a slight increase, but nothing drastic even there.”

When asked how long it would take for Russian strength along the border to return to pre-invasion levels, Sauer said news week: “It can take one to three years, depending on how the war progresses and also how the training of the new recruits takes place.”

The Finnish authorities are also following the fortunes of units traditionally stationed along their border. “It’s something we’re following through the Russian media,” Sauer said. “And indeed, there were units that suffered heavy casualties.”

news week has asked the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment.

Finland and Sweden say they are alert to possible Russian aggression – whether conventional or hybrid – as they prepare to join NATO. Moscow has repeatedly threatened retaliation for both countries’ historic move away from neutrality and into the transatlantic alliance, which has thrown its weight behind defending Ukraine against Moscow’s ongoing invasion.

The alleged sabotage of the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines in the Baltic last week has particularly worried NATO and EU allies. Sauer, like other Western officials, did not openly attribute the four blasts to Moscow.

“It’s in the nature of hybrid activity that operations are difficult to attribute to anyone,” he said. “Even with Nord Stream, it’s difficult to say with 100 percent certainty – before this investigation is complete – who is behind it.”

“The Russian reaction to Finland and Sweden joining NATO, as far as we know, was verbal and very clear and open,” he added. “That was expectable.”

Ukrainian soldiers with Kharkiv Russian trophy patch
This file photo shows a Ukrainian soldier demonstrating a trophy-building patch taken by pro-Russian separatist forces in Kharkiv on September 26, 2022 in Dementiivka, Ukraine. Heavy Russian casualties since the invasion began in February have forced Moscow to move troops from its borders with NATO and the European Union.
Viacheslav Mavrychev/Suspilne Ukraine/JSC “UA:PBC”/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images

https://www.newsweek.com/russia-mauled-border-units-military-years-recover-finnish-official-kai-sauer-1748203 Russia’s Mauled Border Units could take years to recover: Finnish official

Rick Schindler

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