Isn’t the current government of Finland trying to reverse this?
They voted that party slut out.
High above a railway bridge spanning a foaming river just outside the Arctic Circle, Finnish construction workers hammer away at a project that will smooth the connections from NATO’s Atlantic coastline in Norway to its new border with Russia.
“We will be removing some 1,200 of these one by one,” says site manager Mika Hakkarainen, holding up a rivet.
Until February 2022, the 37-million euro ($41 million) electrification of this short stretch of rail – the only rail link between Sweden and Finland – simply promised locals a chance to catch a night train down to the bright lights of Stockholm.
After Russia invaded Ukraine, that changed.
Now Finland is part of NATO, and Sweden hopes to join soon.
As the alliance reshapes its strategy in response to Russia’s campaign, access to these new territories and their infrastructure opens ways for allies to watch and contain Moscow, and an unprecedented chance to treat the whole of northwest Europe as one bloc, nearly two dozen diplomats and military and security experts told Reuters.
The Finnish rail improvements around Tornio on the Swedish border are one example. Due for completion next year, they will make it easier for allies to send reinforcements and equipment from across the Atlantic to Kemijarvi, an hour’s drive from the Russian border and seven hours from Russia’s nuclear bastion and military bases near Murmansk in the Kola peninsula.
Among forces based there, Russia’s Northern Fleet includes 27 submarines, more than 40 warships, around 80 fighter planes and stocks of nuclear warheads and missiles, data collected by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA) shows.
In a military conflict with NATO, the Fleet’s main task would be to secure control of the Barents Sea and stop ships bringing reinforcements from North America to Europe through the waters between Greenland, Iceland and the UK.
That’s something Finland can help NATO resist.
“It’s all about containing those kinds of capabilities from the north,” retired U.S. Major General Gordon B. Davis Jr. told Reuters.
Besides opening its territory, Helsinki is buying the right assets, particularly fighter jets, “to add value to (the) northeastern defence and, frankly, in a conflict put Russia at risk,” he said.
Sweden’s contribution will, by 2028, include a new generation of submarines in the Baltic Sea that Fredrik Linden, Commander of Sweden’s First Submarine Flotilla, says will make a big difference in protecting vulnerable seabed infrastructure and preserving access – currently major security headaches, as the September 2022 destruction of the Nord Stream gas pipelines read more showed.
“With five submarines we can close the Baltic Sea,” Linden told Reuters. “We will cover the parts that are interesting with our sensors and with our weapons.”
Analysts say the change is not before time. Russia has been actively developing its military and hybrid capabilities in the Arctic against the West, partly under the cover of international environmental and economic cooperation, the FIIA’s Deputy Director Samu Paukkunen told Reuters. Russia’s defence ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
Paukkunen’s institute estimates Western armed forces are militarily about 10 years behind Russia in the Arctic.
Even with the losses that Russia has sustained in Ukraine, the naval component of the Northern Fleet and the strategic bombers remain intact, Paukkunen said.
Yes, let’s hear more about the huge losses Russia has suffered in the Ukraine.
That will improve global understanding, I’m sure.