While Finland and Sweden have started the the process of joining NATO, Russia has begun withdrawing heavy military equipment and personnel from the unit stationed near the Finnish border in the Murmansk region, reports the Russian news outlet Agenstvo.
According to satellite images, which were reviewed by journalists of the Finnish news agency YLE, over the past month, more than 100 units of equipment, including dozens of armored personnel carriers, have been withdrawn from the Finnish border.
The images taken on June 26, show empty storage areas at the Russian military unit 34667, located in the village of Alakurtti, about 70 km from the border with Finland. According to YLE, the equipment was there in mid-May.
Finnish military expert Marko Eklund, who studied the images, believes that the equipment and the personnel were sent to Ukraine. According to Eklund's estimates, between a third to a half of the personnel had left the military compound.
Eklund believes that the deployment of the Alakurtti brigade to Ukraine may be a sign that Russia needs to replenish troops at the front but does not want to talk openly about it.
The military unit 34667 is the 80th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade, a tactical unit of the coastal troops of the Russian Navy, which specializes in combat operations in Arctic. The brigade has about 2100 personnel.