A warning sign is seen on the border with Russia near Meremae, Estonia, November 20, 2021. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

VILNIUS (Reuters) – Russia is preparing for a military confrontation with the West in the next decade and could be deterred by a build-up of armed forces, Estonia's Foreign Intelligence Service said on Tuesday.

A growing number of Western officials have warned of a military threat from Russia to countries along NATO's eastern flank, calling on Europe to prepare through rearmament.

The intelligence chief said the assessment was based on Russian plans to double the number of forces stationed along its border with NATO member Finland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

READ: Ukrainian drones attack Russian air base near Estonia

“Russia has chosen a path that is a long-term confrontation… and the Kremlin is probably anticipating a possible conflict with NATO within the next decade or so,” Kaupo Rosin told journalists at the release of the report on threats to Russia’s national security. Estonia.

A military attack by Russia is “highly unlikely” in the short term, he said, in part because Russia has to maintain troops in Ukraine, and would remain unlikely if the buildup of Russian forces was matched in Europe.

“If we are not prepared, the probability (of a Russian military attack) would be much higher than without any preparation,” Rosin added.

Estonia and the other Baltic states increased their military spending to more than 2% of the value of their economies after Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, and NATO allies increased their presence in those countries.

READ: Estonia accuses Russia of 'escalation' actions

Germany plans to have 4,800 combat-ready troops in the region by 2027, in its first permanent foreign deployment since World War II, and Rosin said NATO and its allies are moving in the right direction to counter the Russian threat.

Rosin does not expect a Russian advance into Ukraine before the presidential elections in March, as it would be necessary to mobilize significantly more troops to achieve that objective.

Speaking about US presidential candidate Donald Trump's comments that he would not defend allies who do not spend enough on defense, Rosin said: “Such statements are never helpful.”

Unable to save your signature. Please try again.

Your subscription was successful.

Russia's ability to supply its troops with ammunition continues to surpass Ukraine's, and unless Western support is sustained or increased, it is unlikely that Ukraine will be able to change the situation on the battlefield, he added.