September 15, 2015: Strategy page
Fear of Russia is creating a new military alliance in northern Europe. Since 2014 Sweden and Finland, while not NATO members, have been training with other Baltic states (Denmark, Norway, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) that are. This year Sweden and Finland participated (along with 15 other nations) in the BALTOPS naval exercise. The 5,600 troops involved were mainly concerned with confirming that everyone’s equipment, procedures and communications worked as needed for joint naval and amphibious operations.
One of the things the 2015 BALTOPS was concerned with was defending Gotland; a key Swedish island between Sweden and Latvia. Whoever controls Gotland dominates the eastern Baltic and access to most of the Swedish coastline. BALTOPS planners also examined retaking Gotland if Russia were to seize it, which Sweden sees as an increasing possibility. Sweden now plans to increase the Gotland garrison and build more fortifications.
BALTOPS also worked on amphibious operations in the Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia), which are now NATO members and threatened by Russia. Sweden and Finland have long been allies and are increasing their military cooperation and coordination.