Sweden has taken decisive action to counter Russia’s growing presence in the Arctic region by increasing land forces in the northern part of the Nordic country and expanding military cooperation with Finland and Norway.
“Our natural response [to Russia’s military build up in the Arctic] has been beefing up our military presence in the northern part of Sweden, reestablishing Garrisons and regiment detachments, beefing up our Army Rangers,” said Pål Jonson, Sweden’s defense minister, during the Warsaw Security Forum today. “We’re also extending cooperation especially between Sweden, Norway and Finland up in in the high north and all of us [are] going to also be part of integrated missile and air defense system [collaboration], and I think that’s also going to strengthen NATO.”
No “warships or submarines” belonging to Russia’s Northern Fleet Joint Strategic Command — Moscow’s Arctic military arm — have been destroyed in the conflict with Ukraine, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank. However, CSIS does note that naval vessels from the Northern Fleet have been deployed to the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, or Ukraine since the war began.
Conversely, CSIS points out that a battalion tactical group from Russia’s 200th Motorized Rifle Brigade, one of a number of Russian Arctic Units in Ukraine, has been “effectively wiped out,” by Ukrainian forces.
Russia sees the Arctic as critical to protecting a second-strike, naval nuclear deterrent capability based in the Kola Peninsula and strengthening power projection in the high north, but with Sweden close to receiving NATO membership and Finland joining the alliance in April, Moscow faces greater difficulty from its neighbors in executing strategic ambitions beyond Russian borders.
More broadly, Jonson said that he wants to see Sweden join NATO “as soon as possible” amid delays from both Turkey and Hungary. Ankara has vowed to hold a parliamentary ratification on Swedish membership of the alliance but not before the end of October because of a “two month long recess” for parliament, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Meanwhile, Hungary’s leader said in late September that his country is in “no rush” to approve Sweden’s bid.
Source: Breaking Defense