Mirror imaging. Lesson thirtytwo

Russia argues that NATOs Kosovo mission in the 1990s was identical to Russia’s takeover of the Crimea. But the Kosovo mission was only implemented after lasting discussions which involved the entire NATO which dealt with a far reaching and long-lasting crisis that caused the UN Security Council to perceive the Kosovo conflict as a threat to international peace and security.

In the Crimea, however, there was no previous crisis, there were no attempts to discuss the situation with the Ukrainian government and the UN was not involved, and finally no attempt was made to mediate. In Kosovo, international efforts were made to find a solution over a period of 3,000 days. In the Crimea, Russia annexed parts of Ukraine’s territory in less than 30 days.

Russia has tried to justify its illegal and illegitimate annexation partly by referring to the referendum that took place in the Crimea. But the referendum was incompatible with Ukrainian law and was held under an illegal occupation force, without freedom of expression or media access for the opposition, and without credible international monitoring of the election.

Russia claims that the Ukrainian government is illegitimate. Ukrainian President Poroshenko was elected with a clear majority in an election that the OSCE election organization characterized;

”clear resolve of the authorities to hold what was a genuine election largely in line with international commitments and with a respect for fundamental freedoms.”

The only areas in which serious restrictions were reported were in areas that were controlled by the pro-russian separatists who undertook; “Increasing attempts to derail the process.” Official Russian administrators continue to claim that the Ukrainian parliament and government are dominated by Nazis and fascists. But in the parliamentary elections, the parties that Russia claimed to be facsist got far less than 5 percent of the votes required for these parties to take their seats in Parliament. The voters in Ukraine voted for unity and moderation, not separatism or extremism, and the composition of parliamentarians reflects it.

In short, the Ukrainian President and Parliament are legitimate while the separatists’ actions were not.

Source; North Atlantic Treaty Organization

 

Homework:

Is there any possibility that Russia can soak this up? Can you think of a credible pro-russian counterargument if you are pro-russian? Don’t waste my time with pseudo arguments!

Can you add any credible arguments against Russia if you are pro-ukrainian?

Roger M. Klang, defense political Spokesman for the Christian Values Party (Kristna Värdepartiet) in Sweden

The Kola peninsula. Lesson thirty

Despite its large land mass and the fact that Russia has ports in all four directions, the number of ports are relatively small. The usefulness of the Russian ports are also often limited due to both climatic conditions and the long transport distances.

In the north, only the larger ports in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk have international status, and of these, only Murmansk on the Kola Peninsula in the furthest north can handle regular traffic all year round. At the Arkhangelsk area in the bay south of the Kola Peninsula, a thick, impenetrable ice is formed in the winter.

A statistical assumption is that the Russian revenue for the ports in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea is four times as large as that for the ports of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk in the Barents Sea.

The above was written by FOI associates Tomas Malmlöf & Johan Tejpar in their FOI publication ”Ett skepp kommer lastat” published in 2013.

Military in Kola

The following information is from 2015 and it gives a picture of the importance Russia attribute to the Barents region. These are bases planned and/or existing in 2015:
The Alakurtti airbase with the Marine bombardiers.
The newly deployed 80:th independent motorised rifle infantry brigade, one of Russias two Arctic brigades at Alakurtti.
The other newly deployed brigade, the Arctic 200:th independent mechanized infantry brigade, is located in Pechenga, former finnish Petsamo, and it is adjacent to Norway.
13 Airbases and 10 air defense radar stations have been constructed or were to be constructed on Russia’s Arctic coast, according to PISM (Polish Institute of International Affairs).
They also have an Air defense division, a coastal missile defense and a missile regiment. At least they were supposed to be built in the Kola peninsula in 2015.

A deployed S-500 Triumph in Kola can cover the Swedish airbase Kallax in Luleå, if the S-500 is deployed near the Finnish border. But it is not optimal, to try to shoot down cargo-airplanes approaching Kallax, with the S-500 system deployed in Russia. If you fly under a certain altitude while coming in to land at Kallax the Russian radarbeam is going to fail to detect you because your flying in radar shadow. We are talking about altitudes under ~9,000 m, so it is not realistic to think that an S-500 can do the job since the cargo-airplane under any circumstances will come in to land under an altitude of 9,000 m, thus under the radar horizon. Both the 400 km range variant of the S-400 and the 600 km range S-500 are optimized for interception of ballistic missiles, not shooting down airplanes, for these reasons. There are other S-400 variants with shorter range for shooting down enemy aircrafts. Air defense missile systems are used or should best be used for defensive purposes. It’s not an offensive weapon.

Not even the exit and the entrance to the Baltic Sea through the Danish Great Belt and the Swedish-Danish Öresund or even the Kiel canal plays any absolute role if Russia are developing the infrastructure in the Murmansk region, with its ports, its navy and its Airports.

NATO can lock in Russia in the Baltic region, if Russia tries something fatal in the Baltic region, leading to issues. Has the Murmansk railway to Severomorsk been kept in condition? Has the Port of Severomorsk been developed? Has the airport in Murmansk been developed? And so on.

The actions speak for themselves, according to the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM), 16 deep-water ports will be built on Russia’s Arctic coast.

Of course reality is that NATO is probably not going to blockade Russia in the Baltic region, because to many NATO countries are dependent on Russian energy. The Netherlands with its port in Rotterdam is a European energy hub. What remains are sanctions, but how effective would that be? Thus, there would only be one solution – war.

 

Homework:

What do you think? Do you think the biggest implications with a bypass of the Baltic region will be military and economically coercive in the Barents and/or in the Baltic region, or do you think the implications will be just economical? Explain your conclusions please.

Sources;
PISM (Polish Institute of International Affairs), 2015.
The FOI publication ”Ett skepp kommer lastat”, published in 2013. Cited with permission.

Roger M. Klang, defense political Spokesman for the Christian Values Party (Kristna Värdepartiet) in Sweden

4) To be or NATO be. Lesson twentynine

Putin visited Finland in June-July 2016 in conjunction with Russia’s up to date biggest readiness control exercise, which was carried out on August 25-31, 2016. It was an informal visit, and according to Russia, they didn’t sign any agreements. Sauli Niinistö and Putin discussed “the relations between Finland and Russia and the situation in Europe”. Before that Putin and the Finnish president Sauli Niinistö met as recently as March 2016 in Moscow.

Nato held a summit in the first week of July 2016, where it was agreed to deploy four reinforced battalions in the Baltic countries and in Poland, which Russia naturally opposed.

At a previous meeting in Finland the Moderate (Moderaterna = alleged right wing political party in Sweden) Karin Enström, Vice Chairman of the Swedish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, criticized Niinistö for meeting with Putin. Niinistö replied that Sweden does not keep up with what is happening in the world and that, e.g. The United States has an active dialogue with Russia. But you have to understand that Finland is cornered by Russia and that it was no coincidence that Putin took a trip over the border in conjunction with the Russian mass mobilization. What were discussed there can determine Sweden’s fate.

The country that wants to annex the Baltics and is located in the east, gain a huge advantage, if they undisturbed under false pretences that no Natoland is going to be affected, first can seize the large Swedish island of Gotland in the middle of the Baltic Sea. If they seize Gotland they can create a total A2AD (Anti Access/Area Denial) over large parts of Scandinavia and the whole of the Baltic Sea with advanced long range air defense systems.

I think that Russia will try to find cracks in the Swedish-Finnish relations. They hope that one country will not apply for NATO membership without the other country also doing so, and that there will therefore be no membership for any of the countries. In one way, the True Finns (political right wing party in Finland) are dangerous which have worked to strip the Swedish-speaking part of the Finnish people of their civil rights. It may come back to haunt them. I believe that Finland is more dependent on hooking on a Swedish membership than Sweden is dependent on hooking on a Finnish membership. Finland, with NATO’s eyes, can probably be more easily sacrificed than Sweden. It can put Finland in a difficult situation if Sweden joins the NATO organization without a co-signing together with Finland. It’s what happened when Sweden joined the EU. The Finns haven’t forgotten.

In the above diagram you can see who the weakest link in the chain is. It’s Germany. For my part, although Sweden is not a member of NATO, I am prepared to help defend a NATO nation in the Nordic region, if it is small, like the Baltic States or Iceland. But promises of military aid without first showing that you are really prepared to follow up on it are not worth much. So I am ready, if I were an authorized statesman, to let our Visby-class corvettes and our submarines, from time to time patrol the waters of the Baltic States in peacetime. I have already made a Baltic ex officer assurances and thus I cannot back down.

I am also ready to support Finland in different ways. But it doesn’t matter what I say, or even what our defense minister Peter Hultqvist says, if we do not have a plan for how the help should be executed in peacetime and in wartime or if we don’t have the means to help in any decisive way. We are not alone in not having a plan. NATO lacks or lacked a functioning plan since the United States doesn’t have any land-based persevering deterrent like medium-range ballistic missile systems with versatile types of war heads, like the Russian Iskander-M, which is deployed in Kaliningrad. The United States has phased out most of its tactical nuclear arsenal and the one that is available is not land-based, it is air and sea based.

This is the fourth and last lesson concerning Sweden, Finland and NATO. I hope I haven’t left the Finns with a grudge towards this patriotic Swede. I am prepared to help the Finns with whatever help we can allow ourselves to give to them, even officers and fighting units in Swedish uniform. A hypothetic war in the twentytwenties will be much more qualitatively materiel focused than in the Russo-Finnish winterwar in 1939-1940, and I am afraid that we are not going to be willing to supply the advanced materiel the Finns are going to need without also controlling its contributive forms. That means that wherever there is advanced Swedish equipment, it is going to be operated by Swedish personnel under Swedish command. At least if I have anything to say about it.

But first we need a solid plan and binding agreements.

Homework:

Can Sweden and Finland prevent that Russia could find cracks in our Swedish-Finnish relations? If so, how?

Please motivate your answer!

Roger M. Klang, defense political Spokesman for the Christian Values Party (Kristna Värdepartiet) in Sweden

3) To be or NATO be. Lesson twentyeight

I don’t think that an attack against Sweden will be of a military nature, but the attack will come in the form of a prolonged cyber operation and/or through an economic conspiracy against us. The only thing that can discourage the Russians from committing a cyber attack on Sweden is if we have an ability to attack Russia with the same means.

Georgia’s president Mikhail Saakashvili believed that NATO would intervene if Russia attacked Georgia militarily. But Georgia is more isolated localized geographically because there are only two access roads by land from the Nato country Turkey. Plus, the airport at Georgia’s capital Tbilisi is isolated. In addition, Turkey has a long history of turncoat policy regardless of the consequences for northern NATO countries and others, and it is the Turks who controls the straits of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus into the Black Sea. A NATO intervention was hardly possible.

Georgia 2008 was the famous “litmus test”. It will of course be more of a risk-taking for Russia to attack Sweden before we can join NATO than it was to attack the isolated Georgia. But players come in plenty. Professor Rolf Tamnes, Norwegian historian and professor at the Department of Defense Studies (Institutt for forsvarsstudier – IFS), emphasizes that Russia does not trust Swedish non-alignment, since the extensive cuts in the Swedish defense force is considered as an incentive to seek external help, for example from NATO and the United States.

Apparently, it is not clear abroad what Swedish “non-alignment” stands for. In my opinion, it stands for freedom to choose alliance partners according to our own preferences. We should make this clear to the world, even if the outside world then will reject us even more, because uncertainties benefit us even less. We are sitting in the fox trap regardless.

How may Russia evaluate their geo-economic field and balance it with the geomilitary field?

1) Russia prefer to look at it as if the outside world is dependent on what they have to offer in the form of Russian gas and oil, but I believe that they realize that Germany may make themselves independent from the geostrategic Gazprom and thus Russia. They must keep the Germans happy.
2) It is almost a required condition that Russia is able to simultaneously attack the entire Baltics and parts of Scandinavia not to mention Iceland, if they intend to be able to count on free passage through Öresund, Kattegat and Skagerack, and they must be able to keep their main trading countries, e.g. the Netherlands and France.
3) This in turn requires that the United States first, nearly lose its superpower status. We therefore have no interest whatsoever in the United States losing its superpower status.

But I think that Sweden as a state must grant access to our territory for US troops on Swedish soil if we are to join NATO. It is not enough to receive a Naval ship visit from time to time, which we could also do as a non-aligned country in peacetime. I am not particularly happy to let 5,000 American hungry hearts invade a Swedish small town or one of our Baltic Sea islands in peacetime. Maybe we can do as Norway and let the US stock up materiel in Swedish bunker rooms?

Homework:

The US may have bases in Sweden as a requirement for a Swedish membership. Above all, an air defense base on one of our Baltic Sea islands and access to our airbases and ports. Otherwise the US will never have the time window to intervene in Scandinavia and even less in the Baltic countries, before Russia has swallowed parts of us. If the United States cannot intervene in time on our latitudes and longitudes, then it makes no sense for us to join NATO and we will probably then be denied membership.

But there is also the possibility to accomodate American service members families and thus unburden some pressure on our communities and our society as a whole. Let them contribute to our society and at the same time make it possible for them to use public services such as hospitals and schools at the same low cost as for Swedes. The schools should even be free of charge. I have absolutely no problems with Americans as a people.

Do you agree or not agree? Please motivate your position.

Roger M. Klang, defense political Spokesman for the Christian Values Party (Kristna Värdepartiet) in Sweden

2) To be or NATO be. Lesson twentyseven

Off course, the United States does not want to betray the baltic people, but it may be that they realize that it will be impossible to defend the Baltic countries if one does not add big resources to Norway and Poland. One can also choose to defend the Baltic countries already in the Baltics, by deploying long-range air defense systems and mechanized ”verbands” (German word for troops) in the Baltic states. Either the Americans do not see this possibility as realistic, or they abstain from it for political reasons e.g. because they do not want to rock the hornets nest. It might be that they have been duped or maybe they have missed the whole idea of their own fault. In any case, the Americans have not yet deployed any air defense systems in the Baltic countries.

Germany can, in a strategic twilight dusk, deny the Americans access or transit to Poland. In that case, a scenario with a “fire break” dividing Sweden is a probable solution. Chief Engineer Helge Löfstedt expressed this about the presumption of our cooperation in the journal Försvarsutbildaren nr 3 2014;

“The problem is mostly about how Sweden should avoid ending up in a situation where the help takes humiliating forms which leads to Swedish wishes being neglected in conjunction with the development of the conflict.”

What is good in the defense committee report “Road choices in a globalized world” (Vägval i en globaliserad värld) is that the defense committee proposes an expanded and deepened defense cooperation with the Baltic countries. But when they express themselves like this, they are only half right;

“The future is becoming increasingly difficult to predict. It is not possible to imagine that a military conflict in our immediate area would only affect one specific country. A military attack exclusively against Sweden remains unlikely for the foreseeable future. However, crises and incidents, which also include military means of power, can emerge in our region, and in the long term military threats can never be ruled out.”

It is a false axiom that Russia would not have the will or the ability to attack Sweden singularily. In the Georgia War of 2008, a singular Georgia with far-reaching plans to join the NATO organization stood against a Russian attacker, and the Russian attack was planned according to Putin’s own statement several years afterwards. The attack was a signal to the US that; “We can strangle your supply line of materiel and isolate the US forces in Afghanistan right here, so don’t even think about expanding NATO membership to Georgia at our expense.”

There is a threat against a singular Sweden, if our politicians say we will join NATO, just as there was a threat against Georgia in 2008. It must also seem very attractive to the Kremlin to secure its northern flank at a reasonable cost in a European full scale war.

The question is whether Russia really believes it would be easier to secure its northern flank than it would be to win in east Europe. If I am allowed to answer in the Kremlin’s place; It could be if, with “victory”, you are considering gains from the political and military neglect by the victim countries, as well as the result of the implementation of hybrid warfare combined with classic Russian extortion and threat rhetoric against the Scandinavian countries.

In eastern Europe, classic blackmailing and threat rhetoric doesn’t work as well as it do in northern Europe, in peacetime. Putin can annex a little bit at a time in eastern Europe. Or Putin can take a big chew in Scandinavia, as Hitler did.

If democracy can prevail and the people is allowed to decide on NATO membership, the decision is given a legitimacy which Putin will find hard to dismiss. If our Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist and the Government (2019) are to decide, they will put Sweden in unnecessary danger. Which do you think is the most dangerous of the following three alternatives:

1) To apply for membership in NATO after an invitation to the Membership Action Plan.
2) Almost unnoticed bit by bit slipping into NATO without us applying for membership for that matter.
3) To be non-aligned or only in alliance with Finland and build a strong Swedish defense on our own.

Following line 1) requires that Sweden get militarily involved in the outside world and make binding commitments of military assistance to, among other countries, the Baltic states.

Following line 2) is a natural consequence of Sweden caring about its small neighboring countries and brothers in e.g. the Baltics. We are prepared to help the Baltic countries, even though we do not know how to do just that in the event of a Russian invasion of the Baltic countries, and that we are prepared to help gets us involved in international exercises and treaties dominated by the United States.

Following line 3) is a risky business because we don’t know what is going on inside Putin’s head. But we know that we then cannot count on help from the US, who is NATO’s foremost guarantor. We can, of course, be freeloaders just by realizing that the US and NATO almost certainly need to use Swedish territory as a build-up area for a recapturing of the Baltic States. But such thinking creates contempt among the NATO member countries, rightly so, and that may cause them to do whatever they feel like in and with Sweden. So, paradoxically, we lose influence and self-determination in the event of a war in our neighborhood if we would choose to follow line 3.

I believe that a Swedish NATO membership should be debated. But the decision should be left in the hands of the people through a general referendum, and not be left in the hands of the politicians who are not competent in anything that has to do with our defense, except for the gender issue and the ”value ground” that is. A popular referendum is an extra safety net for Sweden as a state, because it will not be as easy for Putin to militarily attack selected parts of Sweden if the decision on NATO membership is decided by vote of the Swedish people.

Homework:

Considering that we need to join the NATO organization simultaneously with Finland, as we already discussed a little in Lesson twentysix, how do you look at our dilemma? What road would you have embarked on if you had the above mentioned three choices?

Is there an additional choice?

Please motivate your conclusions.

Roger M. Klang, defense political Spokesman for the Christian Values Party (Kristna Värdepartiet) in Sweden