Defence Competitors of the Baltic Sea. II. Does the Northern Europe Get More Attention of NATO? I have to remind that we are talking about the growing need for NATO to make a complex (this was already summarized in Part I. Defence Competitors of the Balti

I have to remind that we are talking about the growing need for NATO to make a complex (this was already summarized in Part I. Defence Competitors of the Baltic Sea. I. Do we See Changes in the Focus of NATO from the Baltic t…

I have to remind that we are talking about the growing need for NATO to make a complex (this was already summarized in Part I. Defence Competitors of the Baltic Sea. I. Do we See Changes in the Focus of NATO from the Baltic to Black Sea?) assessment of the security of the eastern side of the Alliance where it stretches from the Azov Sea in the south to Norway in the north.  
I have a couple of messages from that country, which seems not too much related to it. On 17 August the Norwegian Police Service arrested a citizen of Norway, who was suspected of passing information of public importance to Russia. According to daily that disclosed the information, the suspect was employed at DNV GL that is involved in consultancy and certification services for shipbuilding and pipe industries and energy sector. According to the data of special services he was communicating with representatives of the Norwegian defence industry.
One of most important topics during the phone conversation on 13 July between Mark Esper, US Minister of Defence and his Norwegian colleague Frank Bakke-Jensen was a threat caused by Russia in the Northern Europe. To this end M. Esper thanked Oslo for acceptance of American marines. In 2017 the Pentagon sent 300 marines in rotations of half a year for the first time after the Cold War. Later Oslo asked to increase the number of soldiers to 700 and asked them to stay at least seven years.    
M.Esper and Fr.Bakke-Jensen also discussed about a strategic partnership of countries in the defence area and besides other issues they also talked about fair distribution of finances between partners of NATO.
In March the exercise ‚Cold Response 2020‘was held in Norway (by the way, it was terminated earlier because of COVID-19), with 14 thousand participating soldiers from 10 states of the Alliance and also partners from Sweden and Finland. Organizers of the exercise announced in public that these manoeuvres in the northern regions of the country from Narvik to Finmark and at the border with Troms area in Murmansk region is the response to the increasing military activity of Moscow in the north-west of Europe. 
On the eve of ‚Cold Response 2020‘Head of the Norwegian Intelligence Service Lieutenant General Morten Haga Lunde in his interview to the Daily VG called exercises of the Russian naval fleet with exercise of missile operations near Norwegian offshore platform Aasta Hansteen as a part of the Moscow campaign, which is used to express its dissatisfaction with participation of his country in NATO.   
Before the exercise of the Russian fleet the Ministry of Defence of Norway Haakon Bruun-Hanssen mentioned activities of the Russian military forces in the region and indicated several military exercises held in 2019 close to the borders of his country and submarines deployed by Moscow in the Atlantic Ocean as a threat not only to Norway but also to its allies and American soldiers in Europe. In April 2019  30 Russian warships, including submarines and supply vessels from the North, Baltic and Black Sea fleet, demonstratively participated in the action that Norwegians called a particularly complicated operation in order to block the Access of NATO ships to the North, Baltic and Black Sea.   
As H. Bruun-Hanssen told in his interview, any attempt to strengthen Norway becomes a very hard task both to his country and allies.
If NATO only now starts taking care of what is going on in the Arctic Ocean, Russia has been doing this for a long time; already from 2009 Moscow has been prioritizing the Arctic – has been opening new military bases or opening the already closed, has been building submarines. Consideration of the West to the Arctic region significantly increased after occupation of Crimea in 2014; meanwhile the NATO lacks infrastructure there – ports and military bases.
Moscow is not hiding its ambitions in the Arctic and is upgrading the troops and navy and building new icebreakers. The military bases of the Russian North flotilla are located in the Barents Sea, Cola Peninsula, Severomorsk port. Patrolling of Russian submarines in the region already reached the extent that has not been seen since the Cold War.     
According to the research fellow Sidharth Kaushal of the Royal United Services Institute of the United Kingdom (UK), Russians try to restore the Russian flotilla, which in the case of crisis would take over the control over communication lines of NATO northern members. According to the study carried out by the analytical centre RAND Moscow could do this in deployment of military vessels and submarines, armed with Kalibr and other modern cruise missiles in so-called Bear corridor that is situated between Svalbard islands and northern part of Norway.
Recently the Ministry of Defence of Russia boasted that paratroopers jumped from 10, 000 meters high when tested new equipment in Arctic. Last year the media wrote about landing of Russian forces in the most northern part of Norway Svalbard during their exercises. If Moscow secured its domination in the north, it would encumber arrival of the ally forces to Scandinavian countries during the conflict. Thus, according to S. Kaushal, it is most probable that the Western allies would develop two-stage response – will increase the focus on patrolling in the corridor Greenland-Island-UK in order to control patrolling in the Barents Sea in order to manage vessels sailing under and over the water.
The West has already taken some actions – in October 2018 NATO organized the exercise ‚Trident Juncture‘, during which they trained how to defend Norway. This was the biggest NATO military exercise since the time of the Cold War. 40 thousand soldiers arrived to Norway from 31 countries. The neutral Sweden and Finland also delegated their soldiers to the exercise and provided their bases. The training how to defend from the attack of technologically advanced enemy, was taking place in the air and sea from the Baltic Sea to Island. Also on the land – in all Norway, except for the most northern region at the border of Russia.
In 2018 the aircraft carrier of the US came to the Arctic first after 3 decades break. The Western allies are visiting the region more often. This May military vessels of the USA and UK entered the Barents Sea that is of particular importance to Russia in the Arctic. These were the first Western movements of the squadronin in 3 decades. Three US torpedo boats, an auxiliary ship and UK frigate participated, all of them were equipped with modern missile defence systems and aim points on the coast that can attack with weapons. Before that vessels trained to hunt submarines in the North Sea. S. Kaushal indicated that such exercises have become a new standard and their number will increase.        
The response of Russians in 2019 was the training ‘Okeansky shchyt‘and before that – ‘Trident Juncture’ organized big training ‘Vostok’ in 2018 (has not been organizing them for 37 years) with thousands of soldiers, aviation, ten thousands of tanks and armadillos. Similar exercise ‘Zapad’ was held before.  
The Pentagon is preparing its base not far from Oslo for deployment of its fighters. Additional forces of marines will be dislocated in Norway closer to Russia. In Sweden American marines have been already training to defend a complicated line of the Baltic coast.
From the speech associated with realities of the Baltic. The concerns of Sweden about intensions of Russia in Europe and the region of the Baltic Sea were caused by incidents when Russian aircrafts approached the Swedish aircrafts and a case in 2014 when a mysterious submarine was observed not far from Stockholm, the Russian, as it was suspected, however Moscow denied it. Besides, in June 2015, the Centre for European Policy Analysis of the USA (CEPA) published a report, which wrote that Russia organized exercises for 33 thousand soldiers that imitated an invasion to Gotland and other territories. 
After these events in 2016 Sweden announced about transfer of 150 infantries to Gotland and in July of the next year the contingent increased to 300 soldiers. After the collapse of the Soviet Union Sweden reduced defence expenditures and in 2005 withdrew a regimen from Gotland and sold barracks in the island.    
According to the Swedish defence analyst Karlis Neretnieks, Russia after occupation of Gotland that is located in the centre of the Baltic Sea, may deploy mobile air missiles and thus pose a threat not only to all states of the region NATO members but also limit response possibilities of the Alliance. Eight states of the Northern Europe and Baltic region still are very dependent on each other in the point of view of defence, thus the coordination mission of NATO has become very important. We should also mention that although Sweden and Finland do not belong to the Alliance and the principle of collective defence is not applied to them, these countries have a very close cooperation with NATO. Everybody gets more and more interrelated.
Scandinavia is seen as a guarantee of security of the north-east wing of NATO. Again, we have to remind that it does not mean guarantee of security on account of the Baltic States. This is also supported by the circumstance that Norway is the closest (that does not declare it in public) partner of Lithuania in the NATO format. Both countries cooperate in the area of defence in all ways – starting with planning of policy to trainings. Ministers, commanders of troops and politicians have regular meetings in multilateral formats: Nordic-Baltic, Nordic countries, the UK Joint Expeditionary Forces (JEF), that contribute to strengthening of cooperation in the area of security.
Since the middle of last year Norway posted its soldiers to the NATO battalion battle group in Lithuania managed by Germany, soldiers and fighters were sent to the NATO Baltic policing mission in Šiauliai in 2005, 2007 and 2015. The military cooperation got more intense when the Ministry of Defence purchased the medium range air-defence systems NASAMS (Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) from Norway and two air missile batteries were purchased and installed. Norway has transferred two short range air-defence systems RBS-70 and Lithuanian troops purchased vessels from it for the naval forces. In recent decade several dozens of specialists from Lithuanian air forces, naval forces and land forces, soldiers of special operation forces and logistic specialists took part in the exercise. Lithuania and Norway cooperate in implementation of Baltic State projects BALTRON (Baltic naval squadron), BALTNET (Baltic Air Surveillance Network) and BALTDEFCOL (Baltic Defence College).   
Finally, Lithuania and Norway are also related in the same assessment of military threats. Same as Lithuania, Norway has a border with Russia, thus it is well aware what threat the aggressive and unpredictable conduct of Russia and desire to establish its military domination in the region of the Baltic Sea and Arctic poses to international security.
Arūnas Spraunius

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