1) To be or NATO be. Lesson twentysix

Since 2014, a threatening Russian rhetoric combined with an aggressive behavior on the military air and sea arena has been displayed towards both Sweden and Finland, mainly regarding our approach to NATO. Russia threatens us, not because we could seek membership in NATO, but because we are approaching NATO. This is both good and bad news.

The good news is that Putin knows that Russia cannot reasonably attack Sweden unprovoked and that there is room for us to slip into and acclimatize in NATO in the future without formally joining.

The bad news is that it gets more difficult to formally join NATO. Unfortunately, Russia’s rhetoric is toxic, everybody are fascists and Russia is entitled to expansive self-defense. This means that they have stopped every form of dialogue. It means more polarization that can lead to war. Everything is depending on Russia now.

The question as I see it is not if Sweden and Finland should join NATO. The question is; how strong military forces each country must have, in order to have the freedom of choice both to stand outside NATO alt. to join NATO.

If we should be non-aligned or full-fledged NATO members also boil down to; Can NATO, i.e. the US, deploy forces via the Atlantic puddle or via the air and deploy mechanized troops before the one week military resistance is over and Gotland and/or northern Norrland and Scania in the south are taken. At a superficial glance, the most important thing seems to be to get help with air forces.

But it is not enough having a significant airforce to beat the Russians in northern Norrland, because the enemy has mobile air defense systems. Therefore, the most important thing for us is that we have our own air defense systems in Norrland and preferably land-based cruise missiles with supportive types of UAS and that we can meet the enemy on the ground.

The answer to whether the United States can deploy forces in time I guess depends on their willingness to sacrifice soldiers and tax mony for us, and it also depends on what kind of military branch and weapon systems we can expect them to help us with, and in which part(s) of Sweden the war is raging.

Air force reinforcements could in principle arrive here before the week is over. But then we may not have any remaining relevant airbases given that we have probably been combated. Then we are faced with “fait accompli” regarding Gotland’s air defense. American air forces need 2-4 days before they can reach Norway. Marine forces need 8-14 days, and green forces need 1-2 months before they can reach a Swedish or Norwegian port.

What could possibly make a difference on the island of Gotland is, above all, target-measuring ability for cruise missiles, but also soldiers with FGM-148 Javelin against combat vehicles and air defense systems, etc. The first mentioned probably requires compatibility in certain areas, because information must be able to be linked and used by a platform with cruise missiles which is located e.g. in Skagerack.

In Norrland, our airbases will probably also be combated. But possibly the railway connection between the Norwegian Trondheim, where the United States has pre-stocked materiel in different mountain rooms, and Swedish Luleå is intact or can be repaired quickly.

The Port of Gothenburg can be used, but Russia can threaten to mine it. Whether they make real of the threat or not, noone will dare to use the harbor before it is mine-searched.

If the Finnish army lasts for just over 3 weeks, a heavy American mechanized brigade with equipment and personnel will be able to deploy, in addition to the combat vehicles that may be pre-stored in a total of 8 mountain rooms in the Trøndelagsregion, in Norway with transport flights and from there to Norrland and/or Finland via the railway. But there is no reason to assume that the railway remains intact all the way, though all the way may not be needed.

One can ask whether the Swedish influence in the world decreases if we join NATO where the enemy always is called Russia, China or the militant Islamism. But what do the politicians really mean by “non-alignment”, do they mean that we should be solitary and alignment free (read; completely alone in the world), or do they mean that we should safeguard our freedom to choose our alliance partners as we see fit?

From the beginning our neutrality policy was called; “Alliance in peace, aimed at neutrality in war” when the declaration was first formulated by Olof Palme and the Social Democrats in the early 1970s. The Swedish Social Democrats largely adhere to this declaration today. The declaration is easy to read and it can be interpreted in only two ways. Olof Palme wasn’t a cowardly man but the way the world sees this declaration reads either ”cowardice” or ”I am a traitor”. The problem for us is that the next war can very well be confined to ourselves and a well-known provocator, so that we are the ones standing with our pants down.

One can look at our non-alignment today as if we want to keep our freedom to act as we see fit, or in other words to make decisions after our conscience. Praxis is that we choose alliance partners and not only for our own gain. Given the unilateral declaration of solidarity proclamated by our former so called right wing government, it is a matter of being free to choose our own alliance partners. But the declaration of solidarity was not popular, at least not in Finland, and this is because we cannot back up our former governments great fine words militarily.

There is no doubt that as long as the Baltic countries can count on American help, Sweden can count on an American interest in using our territory. Ironically, this means that Russia too has an interest in using our territory. From that presumption, it becomes a race for Swedish territory. Traditionally, this has been the strongest argument for Swedish neutrality policy. But then we need to be able to control our own territory, and we can hardly do that at present date.

The Americans can unload on the Swedish west coast, including at Landvetter Airport, and transport the materiel on land to the north, east and south. The notion that the Americans may wish to win a minor stalemate in the Baltic Sea can be the main reason why the island of Öland actually would turn out to be a very strategic island for both the US and Russia. The Americans therefore need many allies in Sweden. They need large sections of the population and defense organisation to be NATO friends.

The Balkans and Camp Bondsteel have become extremely important for the US northern European strategy. It is no secret that NATO has been on a charm offensive against several countries in the Balkans in 2016.

The Russians need Visby Airport on northern Gotland, which is favoured by Gotland being an island. Visby is the largest resort on Gotland and is located on the island’s west coast.

Each country has unique conditions in unique times. Sweden and Finland have been warned in disguised terms to join NATO. Our situation can be likened to a trust exercise where a person closes his eyes, crosses his arms and falls back towards a person who is supposed to catch him in his fall. Will the US catch us in our fall backwards, or will we hit the ground without any possibility of cushioning our fall?

On the other hand, Sweden participates in the recurring international joint ventures Baltops, Northern Coasts and the Archtic Challenge Excercise, where participants from several countries in Europe and the US participate. We are already participating in the RFP (Reserve Forces Pool) within the framework of NATO Response Forces. Archtic Challenge Excercise is led rotated by Sweden, Finland and Norway. Baltops is led by the United States for best interoperability of the exercise.

Homework:

Do you think that Sweden and Finland should seek to be invited to the NATO Membership Action Plan and join the NATO alliance simultaneously in the near future? Please motivate your standpoint.

Will the US catch us in our, albeit somewhat cussioned fall to be honest, you think?

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

The Baltic states. Lesson twentyfive

In 1989, Estonia had a population of 1,565,000, of which 30,3 percent were ethnic Russians. In 2007, Estonia had a population of 1,342,000, of which 25.6 percent were ethnic Russians. This means that 130,100 ethnic Russians emigrated out of a population of 474,200 Russians (1989) and that 92,900 Estonians emigrated out of a population of 1,090,700 (1989) between 1989-2007. So the population decline was happening mostly at the guests’ expense (the Russians) even though they did not have any reason to be there from the beginning. However, most of them were forcefully relocated from Russia to the Baltic states during the Soviet era, and they have no fault of their own or their descendants, for living there. There is no one living that can be held accountable, for the country’s demographics and that the ethnic Russian population lives where they live now.

Of course, the ethnic Russian population can be held accountable for their behavior. The Estonians are forced to make the best of the situation. Until a number of years ago, it went well, but in 2007 there was an uprising during the bronze soldier crisis when Estonian authorities wanted to move a bronze statue of a Russian WWII soldier from the center of Tallin to a peripheral cemetery in the capital.

The statue is a symbol of Russian supremacy that has stood since the Soviet era. The Estonians had every right to move the statue, and Russia acted beyond their right when they more than likely targeted the country in an IT attack. Estonia is so IT-integrated that the country is sometimes called E-stonia. Russia, simultaneously, started a large-scale repair work project on the railway at the Russian side of Narva. Look up Narva in your Atlas, it’s a geographically and historically important city! This effectively stopped all rail transports, which very negatively affected Estonia’s economy, as Estonia is a transit country for goods.

Estonia requested help from NATO, and NATO sent professional military IT-technicians to help Estonia defend itself against and recover from these IT attacks. It is this kind of Russian behavior that makes me oppose that Swedes associate with Russians by entering into business contracts with Russia, and so it is understood that if you do business with Russian companies, you are doing business with the Russian mafia, and in the long run, you are jumping into bed with the FSB (KGB’s heir).

At least if you don’t do as IKEA and banish taking and giving of bribes at both high and low levels in Russia and everywhere else. But look at how it’s going for IKEA in Russia. Should honest Swedish companies in Russia be forced to kneel before the Tsar while Russian companies in Sweden should thrive and be allowed to criminalize society? As long as these Swedish companies are not special steel manufacturers or high tech companies of course, because then it is certainly advantageous for Putin that Swedish companies establish themselves in Russia. Can they blame us for avoiding such a situation when they run such a cannon boat diplomacy as they do, put in their own words?

By wanting, intending to, planning and budgeting for, and being able to defend Gotland, we help the Baltic states best. Sweden has helped to thwart Russia’s Baltic “energy blockade”, by placing a power cable between Nybro in Småland to Lithuania, as part of the European Union’s energy policy. At the same time, we could not back up the work with any credible defense, and Russian interferences were common.

The Russian Prosecutor General was to investigate “whether it was legal by the Soviet Union to recognize the Baltic States”. This was reported in Dagens Nyheter on June 30, 2015. The Russian Prosecutor General has previously stated that it was against the law that Crimea was handed over to Ukraine in 1954. Not surprisingly he also claimed that this does not have any legal consequences. Yevgeny Fjodorov and Anton Romanov from Putin’s party “United Russia” have demanded an investigation. The parliament members argued that the decision harmed Russia’s sovereignty and led to the dismembering of the Soviet Union. The two believe that the recognition of the Baltic States was treason and harmed Russia’s sovereignty with the explanation that it were non-constitutional coups that led to the emergence of the Baltic states.

Since when can a state claim that its own laws have priority before the laws of another state and that at the expense of the other state? Now I understand why the official Russian protests against Finland regarding the Finnish courts being biased for Finnish parents to divorce children among Finnish-Russian couples happened. This way the Kremlin has in good time acquired an alibi for its own court decisions, which means that Russia can make laws in other countries and maybe even annex them, as they will claim that Finland does against Russia.

According to information from a Swedish resident in the Baltics, a destabilization campaign, which he believes has been initiated by Russia, between Norway and Lithuania, was in progress from July 2015. The campaign was about a discussion about forcibly disposed children with Lithuanian parents in Norway. The campaign had been going on for more than 1½ months and was even at ambassador level. This very much probates the alibi theory I describe above. Russia plans to legitimize its security policy for its own people and for the world. At the same time, it reveals Russia’s expansion plans in northern Europe and Scandinavia in all its nakedness, either on the political level alt. on the military level, or both.

The Baltic states also try to profit politically. They declared in early November 2015 that they were going to seek financial compensation from Russia for the socio-economic damage they were suffering during the Soviet occupation in 1940-1991. Russia categorically rejected this thought.

Homework:

There are so many good questions that turns up when you read this, that I don’t know where to start unravel. Contemplate the information and ask your own questions! Part of being an intelligence person is about being able to hold information to yourself, not to become a Big shot, but because you cannot find listeners to your all-wise conclusions. At least that is what you think if you are an intelligence person like me. Remember, you are in training, that means that you are not required to criticize sources. Concentrate on causality and cohesion!

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