Home Australia Putin’s new Nordic nightmare: How strategically crucial Baltic Sea will become ‘NATO’s lake’ after Sweden was cleared to join the alliance in huge backfire for Kremlin regime

Putin’s new Nordic nightmare: How strategically crucial Baltic Sea will become ‘NATO’s lake’ after Sweden was cleared to join the alliance in huge backfire for Kremlin regime

by Elijah
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Putin's new Nordic nightmare: How strategically crucial Baltic Sea will become 'NATO's lake' after Sweden was cleared to join the alliance in huge backfire for Kremlin regime

The strategically important Baltic Sea is being dubbed NATO’s lake after Sweden was allowed to join the military alliance, strengthening its power in the region in a nightmare for Vladimir Putin.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg immediately welcomed Hungary’s ratification. “Sweden’s accession will make us all stronger and more secure,” he said in X.

The country’s accession to the alliance adds a final piece to the puzzle around the shores of the Crucial Sea, making it easier for NATO to exercise control and reinforce its vulnerable Baltic states.

Analysts have suggested this will mean that Western allies, including the United Kingdom and the United States, will be well positioned to strangle Russia’s room for maneuver in the crucial sea route if war with Moscow ever breaks out.

But Moscow will still be able to threaten undersea infrastructure and the region from its bases near St. Petersburg and in the heavily armed exclave of Kaliningrad, and experts warn that NATO must remain alert to the Russian threat.

“If you look at a map, geographically the Baltic Sea is becoming a NATO lake, yes,” said Minna Alander, a researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. “But there is still work to do for NATO.”

NATO power will strengthen in the region in a nightmare for Vladimir Putin (pictured today)

NATO power will strengthen in the region in a nightmare for Vladimir Putin (pictured today)

NATO power will strengthen in the region in a nightmare for Vladimir Putin (pictured today)

Swedish and Finnish soldiers conduct war simulation exercises during NATO's Baltic Operations (Baltops 22) military exercises on June 11, 2022.

Swedish and Finnish soldiers conduct war simulation exercises during NATO's Baltic Operations (Baltops 22) military exercises on June 11, 2022.

Swedish and Finnish soldiers conduct war simulation exercises during NATO’s Baltic Operations (Baltops 22) military exercises on June 11, 2022.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban shake hands after a news conference following their meeting in Budapest, Hungary, on Friday.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban shake hands after a news conference following their meeting in Budapest, Hungary, on Friday.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban shake hands after a news conference following their meeting in Budapest, Hungary, on Friday.

A resident prepares a disabled car to be towed, near a residential building damaged during a Russian drone strike, in Dnipro, Ukraine, on Monday.

A resident prepares a disabled car to be towed, near a residential building damaged during a Russian drone strike, in Dnipro, Ukraine, on Monday.

A resident prepares a disabled car to be towed, near a residential building damaged during a Russian drone strike, in Dnipro, Ukraine, on Monday.

It comes as Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson called Monday a “historic day” after Hungary became the latest NATO member to approve the country’s application from 2022 to join the alliance in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

‘The parliaments of all NATO member states have now voted in favor of Sweden’s accession to NATO. “Sweden is ready to assume its responsibility for Euro-Atlantic security,” Kristersson said in a statement on X.

Sweden’s membership in NATO was supported by 188 legislators in the Hungarian parliament, with 6 against and no abstentions.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has faced pressure from NATO allies to fall in line and seal Sweden’s accession to the alliance.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg immediately welcomed Hungary’s ratification. “Sweden’s accession will make us all stronger and more secure,” he said in X.

After Finland joined last year, Sweden’s membership – which cleared the final hurdle on Monday with Hungary’s vote on ratification – means all countries surrounding the Baltic Sea, except Russia, will be part of the alliance. military.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a series of high-profile incidents involving pipelines and cables under the Baltic Sea have given NATO a wake-up call about its vulnerabilities.

In September 2022, a sabotage attack affected the Nord Stream gas pipelines between Russia and Europe. More than a year later, investigators have yet to publicly identify those responsible.

Then, last October, a gas pipeline and cable linking Finland and Sweden to Estonia were damaged. Finnish police say they believe a Chinese cargo ship was probably involved.

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu participate in the wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the occasion of Defender of the Fatherland Day on Friday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu participate in the wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the occasion of Defender of the Fatherland Day on Friday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu participate in the wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the occasion of Defender of the Fatherland Day on Friday.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson speaks during a news conference with his Hungarian counterpart, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, during a news conference following their meeting in Budapest, Hungary, on Friday.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson speaks during a news conference with his Hungarian counterpart, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, during a news conference following their meeting in Budapest, Hungary, on Friday.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson speaks during a news conference with his Hungarian counterpart, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, during a news conference following their meeting in Budapest, Hungary, on Friday.

NATO has beefed up its naval deployments in response and is looking to increase its monitoring capabilities, but keeping an eye on what happens underwater is an important task.

“It is very difficult to have global control of a sea as one would control land territories,” said Julian Pawlak, a researcher at Germany’s Bundeswehr University in Hamburg.

“What the Nord Stream sabotages have shown, among other things, is that it remains difficult to know exactly what is happening beneath the surface and at the bottom of the sea.”

Sweden has long had a close association with NATO, but its formal membership will allow it to fully integrate into the alliance’s defense plans.

Beyond its long Baltic coast, Sweden brings with it the island of Gotland, which would play a central role in helping NATO impose its will.

But just across the water, Russia has its own vital outpost: the Kaliningrad enclave.

Nestled between Poland and Lithuania, Moscow has in recent years turned the region into one of the most militarized in Europe, with nuclear-capable missiles stationed there.

Russia’s Kaliningrad-based Baltic Fleet is a shadow of its Cold War self and the invasion of Ukraine has sapped some of its forces from the region.

But John Deni, a research professor at the U.S. Army War College, said the Kremlin has maintained its investments in submarine capabilities and still has the firepower to conduct small-scale landings or threaten U.S. supply routes. NATO.

“In terms of artillery, indirect fire and nuclear-capable weapons, they outgun and outrange NATO allies in the region,” Deni said.

“Allies have to confront that threat and counter it.”

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban hold a news conference after their meeting in Budapest, Hungary, on Friday.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban hold a news conference after their meeting in Budapest, Hungary, on Friday.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban hold a news conference after their meeting in Budapest, Hungary, on Friday.

On the other hand, while Stockholm brings with it a rich heritage of naval history, like other NATO states in the area, its maritime power in the Baltic remains insufficient.

“Even if you count Sweden, NATO’s naval resources are relatively limited,” Deni said, adding that the allies need to develop their capacity to carry out demining under fire.

Three countries that are particularly relieved by the entry of Sweden – and Finland – are the Baltic states of NATO, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, long considered the Achilles heel of the alliance.

War planners have struggled to find a way to prevent them from being isolated if Russian ground troops seize the 65-kilometer (40-mile) Suwalki Gap between Belarus and Kaliningrad.

Sweden’s position, straddling the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, opens a key route for the transit of more NATO forces to protect them in case of attack.

“It allows U.S. forces to timely reinforce Baltic Sea nations, but especially frontline states,” said Tuuli Duneton, Estonian undersecretary for defense policy.

Despite NATO’s joy at welcoming Sweden into the fold, American academic Deni insisted that the alliance should stop considering the Baltic as its property.

“Calling it ‘NATO lake’ leads to complacency,” Deni said.

“The challenge and threat that Russia poses in the region is significant in some respects and allies for now lack the capacity to counter that in a crisis.”

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