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.
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