Finnish military sees no dramatic changes in numbers of Russian vessels
Sources at the Estonian Ministry of Defence say that the Russian Navy increased its activities in the Baltic Sea in 2009. The Estonians make particular note of two large naval exercises, called Zapad and Ladoga, which together extended from the between Belarus-Lithuania border to the Leningrad Region.
The exercises were the biggest in years in the Baltic Sea region, with units of the Russian North Sea and Black Sea fleets taking part.
Already in 2006 Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the planned undersea natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany will increase Russian naval activity in the Baltic.
“Russian Naval vessels operated in the Baltic Sea more than before, which they naturally have the right to do”, said an anonymous source at the Estonian Defence Forces.
The ships carry anti-aircraft systems, missiles, torpedoes, and anti-submarine weapons. They do not have any nuclear missiles on board.
In addition, there are Russian research and surveillance vessels in the Baltic, and surveillance aircraft are also active in the area.
Russia’s Baltic fleet is not as large or as important as those in the Black Sea, the North Sea, and the Pacific, but the Estonian military source notes that there is a strong move to upgrade the Baltic fleet.
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Estonian military source: Increased Russian naval activity in Baltic Sea