In a joint article on Friday, April 10, 2015, the Defense Ministers of Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark + Iceland’s Foreign Minister presented their plans for increased military cooperation between the countries. In the declaration, the ministers declared the deepened cooperation with the statement; “we must relate to Russia’s actions, not to Kremlin’s rhetoric”.
We believe that Russia has shown that it is “ready to use military means to achieve its goals, even when it violates international principles of international law”. The Russian Foreign Ministry responded in a communiqué two days later that what worries Moscow most is that Sweden and Finland tend to increasingly approach NATO. The Foreign Ministry in Moscow also accused the Nordic countries of having embarked on an anti-Russian course. Russian Foreign Ministry also claims that the public in the Nordic countries have been subjected to an aggressive, implied anti-Russian, propaganda recently.
But NATO’s highest political leadership welcomes a deepened Nordic defense cooperation. Independent Russian military expert Alexander Golts says Moscow’s worst fears are being realized, but Russia will not respond with military means. I’d rather hear it from the NATO Secretary General, but Ok.
Four points in the deepened cooperation:
• More common exercises.
• Joint industrial cooperation also in defense context.
• Joint exchange of intelligence information.
• Joint processing of cyber material.
What can halt a Nordic defense cooperation is if Iceland is not given space and assistance to build up its own defense. We witnessed it happening in August 2015. Russia decided to stop imports of, among other things, Icelandic fish. The trade conflict with Russia has sparked a debate in Iceland. Several important Icelandic politicians, even ministers, have questioned whether their small export-dependent country can actually afford to continue supporting the other western countries’ sanctions policy against Russia.
The fishery accounts for around 35 percent (2017) of all exports from Iceland, and Russia is the second largest market for Icelandic fish products. Therefore, the entire Icelandic economy was hit hard on August 13, 2015, when Russia decided to stop importing food from Iceland. Russia aimed their punishment at Iceland for standing with EU:s sanctions against Russia even though Iceland is not an EU member.
EU sanctions against Russia include financing of Russian banks controlled by the state, an arms embargo and restrictions on exports to the Russian energy sector.
Ukraine, Albania, Montenegro and Liechtenstein have also ended up on Russia’s black list for similar reasons as Iceland. Russia’s black list is Russia’s response to EU sanctions policy.
A government source in Reykjavik states that preliminary figures indicate that the Russian import stop will cost Iceland 3 percent of the country’s total exports and 1.5 percent of their GDP. Russia has so far bought almost half of all mackerel exported from Iceland.
Instead, when that market is closed, Iceland is trying to get the EU to reduce its 18 percent tariff on Icelandic mackerel. The tariff originated as an effect of the “mackerel war” where Iceland has had difficulty in accepting the EU:s and Norway’s mackerel quotas in the North Atlantic. As Iceland receives this kind of blow because they support the EU trade sanctions against Russia, it is only natural that Iceland ask for flexibility and for the EU to reduce these tariffs.
“When it comes to these [Russian] sanctions, there is probably no other country in Europe that is hit as hard as Iceland. We as an organization try not to end up in the middle of an international dispute, but we must somehow minimize the effects of this.” Quote; Kolbeinn Arnason head of the Icelandic fisheries industry organization SFS. Source; SR; Ekot
For the Nordic countries to be able to stand united as a force to defend ourselves in a world that increasingly exhibits economic, political and military irregular competitive conditions, it is necessary that we coordinate regulations and permits for sea traffic regarding foreign warships through the Danish Storebælt and the Swedish-Danish Öresund straights. The term “airdraft” in the picture is the maximum height a vessel can have to be able to pass through the bridges’ arcades.
Consider the idea to coordinate and/or limit foreign Naval passage through the Danish and Swedish straits.
Will it solve any safety problems for our two countries or any countries in the Baltic Sea? Up to date, Russian and Chinese Naval ships have repeatedly passed through either one or the other strait.
If no, how do you figure?
If yes, how would it affect the relations between the former two historically often with each other belligerent nations of Sweden and Denmark? Danes and Swedes have fundamental differences in mentality. Danes are continental whilst Swedes are not. Sweden have more similarities with the classic America than they have similarities with Denmark.
Roger M. Klang, defense political Spokesman for the Christian Values Party (Kristna Värdepartiet) in Sweden