ISW: Russia prepares for potential conflicts with NATO countries
Russia has implemented legal mechanisms to reform the Leningrad Military District as part of a significant military overhaul
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has examined the reasons behind this reform.
As per the report, on October 8, a presidential decree, prepared by Russia's Ministry of Defense, was published on the Russian federal portal for regulatory and legal acts. This decree suggests removing the Northern Fleet (NF) from its status as an "interspecies strategic territorial association."
According to Russian state media reports, this proposal implies that the NF will no longer function as a distinct military administrative unit equivalent to a military district. It is anticipated that the NF, along with its four regions (The Komi Republic, Arkhangelsk and Murmansk Oblasts, and the Nenets Autonomous Okrug), will be incorporated into the restructured Leningrad Military District.
Russian military analyst Yuriy Fedorov has pointed out that the revival of the Leningrad Military District signifies Russia's preparations for potential conflicts with the Baltic states and NATO as a whole.
In 2010, the Russian military merged the Moscow and Leningrad Military Districts into the Western Military District. In 2014, the Northern Fleet was established by the Russian Ministry of Defense, originating from the territory of the Western Military District. Then, on January 1, 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin elevated the Northern Fleet to the status of a military-administrative unit on par with a military district.
In December 2022, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu proposed reestablishing the Moscow and Leningrad Military Districts, consolidating them from the Western Military District. He confirmed that as of August 2023, active efforts were underway to establish these military districts.
The decision by the Ministry of Defense to relocate weapons of mass destruction underscores Russia's recognition of the need to restructure its forces in response to NATO. Additionally, it is likely that Russia will seek to establish a presence along the Finnish border. Nevertheless, the exact methods by which Russia will mobilize, train, and organize these forces into a new military district remain unclear, according to the ISW.
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