As Canada embarks on contributing 1,000 troops to Nato's military build-up in the eastern European plank, Russia has purged 50 high-profile military commanders from its Baltic Fleet command. Tensions between the Western world and Russia show no sign of cooling down any time soon as both sides continue to step up efforts to fortify their forces.
In an unexpected move, Moscow's defence ministry said it is sacking dozens of military officers in the Baltic region – officially for irregularities such as cover-up of accidents. The fleet commander Vice Admiral Viktor Kravchuk was among those sacked.
The fleet is responsible for patrolling the flashpoint region between the West and Russia. Its headquarters is located in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad – sandwiched between the Nato member states of Poland and Lithuania.
It was an unprecedented move considering the public nature of the dismissals and also the biggest mass removal of this kind since the fall of the Soviet Union. In Russia, undesired or underperforming officers are usually removed from posts deftly and not in this public a manner.
Russia Today quoted an official statement from the defence ministry as saying: "The commander of the Baltic Fleet, his chief of staff and a number of officers have been suspended by the defence minister after an inspection. They are expected to be deposed from their positions and dismissed from the armed forces." It added that their underwhelming performance has led to "serious shortcomings in their duties".
Only in 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the fleet heaping praise on its contributions. The latest move has also come at a time when Moscow has said it is dispatching 2,000 units of new sophisticated equipment in a direct response to Nato's increasing military presence.
Meanwhile, Canada, under Western pressure, consented to supply 1,000 troops to Nato's beef-up in the Baltic states. As part of the new rotating battalion unit, about 4,000 Nato troops are to be deployed along the border regions with Russia.