Russia sends troops to the Far East.
Image Credit: AP photo/Sergei Grits
On Thursday, the Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that more troops will be sent to the Far East in response to the increasing tensions in the region. On the Defense Ministry website, Mr. Shoigu specifically said that reinforcements will be sent due to tensions in the East. He said ‘The military-political situation in the Eastern Strategic Direction remains tense.’
The Defense Minister did not specify what the threats are, but he promised that 500 units of new and modernized equipment will be sent to the Far East, along with improvements to the navy’s Northern Fleet. Mr. Shoigu said ‘Russia cannot be left defenceless and it also needs to operate its capabilities there, in terms of air force, defence and personnel.’
A Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov said that Russia is concerned about outside influence in the Far East region. He did not specify the countries that might be trying to influence the region. Mr. Peskov said ‘All of these, of course, do not contribute to stability in this region.’
It is interesting to note that Russia’s Far East has seen huge anti-government protests against Vladimir Putin. The city of Khabarovsk, where it has been reported that a local leader was arrested, has seen weeks of demonstrations for the arrest.
Recently, Russia has increased ties with China to keep close watch of their national borders. Both countries believe there is a threat of an outside influence in their countries. Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi said ‘Some countries have conducted acts of unilateral bullying, wantonly interfered in the internal affairs of other countries, and bashed China and Russia, undermining the security and stability of the surrounding areas of the two countries.’ He further added that ‘China and Russia are united like a mountain, and their friendship is unbreakable.’
Russia is also worried about its Western Front, due to the Belarus political crisis. Both Russia and Belarus blame the United States – led NATO of inciting unrest in the country. They have recently conducted military drills together. Serbia which initially showed its interest to join the military drills, dropped out, citing pressure from the European Union. Belarus has been criticized for its rigged elections after their leader Alexander Lukashenko managed to obtain 80% of the votes, even though it was clear that he would not win. The opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya rejected the results. The protests in Belarus resulted in chaos and sanctions from the European Union. Mr. Lukashenko, a close ally of Russia, asked for their assistance.
Recently, Russia withdrew its reserve troops that were stationed near the Belarus border, after the leaders of both countries met at the Russian resort of Sochi.