Russia continues to build up military forces and mobilization readiness on its borders with the Baltic countries.
This was stated in a joint report by the State Security Department and the Second Investigation Department under Ministry of National Defense in which threats to national security were assessed, as reported by Delfi, in referring to a press conference in the Seimas of Lithuania, where the report was presented.
“This is a signal that NATO and Lithuania should be ready to engage in a conflict within 24-48 hours. This is a signal for both NATO and us. If we’re speaking about their [Russia’s] Zapad (West) exercises, we should mention the presence of our allies here, that they are fully integrated into the Lithuanian armed forces, that is, the Lithuanian army, and allies are ready here,” said Lithuanian Minister of National Defense Raimundas Karoblis.
Lithuanian intelligence expressed concern over the noticeable strengthening of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime. The main goal of the Kremlin this year, in the opinion of the special services, is to ensure the stability of the regime and create favorable conditions for Putin’s reelection to another term.
"Strengthening internal control processes increases the likelihood that Russia will pursue an aggressive foreign policy that effectively compensates for potential public discontent with the social and economic situation," the report said.
According to the report, Russia’s most pressing problem is not financing the rearmament, but the shortage of personnel. For several years now the Western Military District of the Russian Federation has needed to form three new brigades, but there aren’t enough people. For the time being, Russia is solving the problem by forming battalion tactical groups, each of which consists of 700-800 well-trained soldiers. The number of such groups is growing rapidly; in 2015 there were 66, last year there were 96, and this year there are 115. Russia plans to increase this next year to 125 battalion tactical groups, which will have the support of artillery and tank troops.
There is also a strengthening of Russian military groups in the Kaliningrad region, where Iskander missile systems are deployed on an ongoing basis, as well as corvettes carrying Kalibr cruise missiles and Bal and Bastion coastal missile systems, some of which can hit ground targets.
The authors of the report have concluded that holding such large-scale “sudden” exercises near the Baltic borders means that Russia is set for quick military actions.
"Russia is currently capable of launching military operations against the Baltic States within 24-48 hours. Russia is trying to create a military potential in the region in which it will be possible to carry out a military operation without a lengthy preparatory period, limiting the enemy's ability to respond effectively," the report says.
Lithuanian intelligence also draws attention to the Zapad-2017 Belarus-Russia military exercise, which is scheduled to be held in September, and claims that “it is likely that the number of participants in the exercise will be much larger, and a scenario involving an armed conflict with NATO will be considered.” Just last week, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said that resolving the Russian-Ukrainian conflict depends on how far we let Russia go.