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Border troop deployment 'unjustified', says Kremlin

By REN QI in Moscow | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-01 09:51

The Russian flag flies on the dome of the Kremlin Senate building behind Spasskaya Tower, in central Moscow, Russia, May 4, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

Any decision by Finland to allow a "concentration" of troops on its border with Russia would be viewed by Moscow as a threat, the Kremlin said on Wednesday, after Poland offered to send military advisers to help Helsinki police on the frontier.

Jacek Siewiera, head of the Polish National Security Bureau, said in a post on social media late on Tuesday that Poland would send military advisers to its NATO ally Finland, in response to "an official request for allied support in the face of a hybrid attack on the Finnish border".

"A team of military advisers will provide on-site knowledge on border security, also in operational terms," he said.

But Finland said on Wednesday it was unaware of the Polish offer. It has closed its entire 1,340-kilometer border with Russia for two weeks in a bid to halt an unusually large flow of asylum-seekers that Helsinki says amounts to a "hybrid attack "orchestrated by Moscow, a charge the Kremlin denies.

When asked about the Polish offer to Finland during a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "This is an absolutely redundant measure to ensure border security because there is no threat there." Any planned deployment would be unprovoked and unjustified, Peskov said.

The Finnish foreign and defense ministries and its defense forces did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto held talks with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda in Warsaw last week, but they did not discuss military cooperation on the Finnish border with Russia, Niinisto's office said in a statement to Reuters.

Finland infuriated Russia earlier this year when it joined NATO, ending decades of military nonalignment, due to the conflict in Ukraine.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the bloc's member states do not pressure Ukraine regarding peace talks with Russia, the state-owned news agency TASS reported on Wednesday.

Stoltenberg called the military aid to Ukraine a "path toward peace", opining that the stronger Ukraine is on the battlefield, the stronger it will be at the negotiation table.

Since the launch of the special military operation in February 2022, Russia has introduced a slew of tough laws that criminalize discrediting the military.

TASS reported on Wednesday that Russia's Interior Ministry has prepared draft legislation that would force foreigners to sign a "loyalty agreement" forbidding them from discrediting Soviet military history, or contravening traditional family values.

Arms race denounced

Separately, a Russian senior diplomat accused the United States of starting a new arms race.

Sergey Ryabkov, Russia's deputy foreign minister in charge of ties with the US, nonproliferation and arms control, said if the US expects to win the next arms race, then Washington is mistaken.

Ryabkov reiterated Russia's position that Moscow is not threatening a military conflict with NATO but said a possible escalation depends on the actions of the alliance.

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