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

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