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Research Report

Baltic Sea security: How can allies and partners meet the new challenges in the region?

Editor: Ann-Sofie Dahl
Copyright Date: Jan. 4, 2016
Pages: 52
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Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 6-8)
    Ann-Sofie Dahl

    In a joint op-ed in April 2015, the defence ministers of the five Nordic countries stated that the Russian aggression in Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea represent ‘the greatest challenge to the European security architecture’.¹ Russia’s aggressive behaviour put Baltic Sea security back on top of the NATO agenda for the first time since the Cold War and reintroduced the old, familiar strategic concepts of deterrence and reassurance. The countries in the Baltic Sea region are, to again quote the abovementioned op-ed, confronted with a ‘new normal’, which will define security in our region for the foreseeable future....

  2. Part I. Security in the Baltic Sea region

    • (pp. 10-12)
      Christopher Coker

      Like species, institutions evolve or perish. We used to talk about the ‘survival of the fittest’, a social Darwinist metaphor that has rightly fallen out of fashion. Today, scientists speak instead of the survival of the best-informed. Species that know what is going on in the neighbourhood tend to survive. The neighbourhood we are talking about is the Baltic Sea region, where NATO is challenged to evolve or perish; or at very best wither away. One of the problems facing the Alliance is that some of its members are far more concerned with other neighbourhoods. One is the Mediterranean (and...

    • (pp. 13-16)
      Gudrun Persson

      Recent developments and the Russian challenge raise a number of important questions for the West and future policies. Russia’s challenge to the contemporary Euro–Atlantic security architecture is possibly even greater than generally understood. When studying the Russian understanding of national security and security policy and the Russian military thinking about future wars, it becomes apparent that the Russian challenge reaches far beyond Ukraine. In terms of military activity, we have seen much more active Russian behaviour over the past couple of years in parallel with the use of non-military means. Much of this behaviour is a reminder of times...

    • (pp. 17-19)
      Andras Simonyi

      Why is the Baltic Sea region so important to the United States? The answer is fundamental: In the era of transitions from authoritarianism to democracy, from command economy to market economy, from exclusion to inclusion, this is where freedom exists in elections, in entrepreneurship, in social innovation, the integration of ethnic and minority groups into society, gender equality, tolerance and acceptance, and the freedom to express who you are without fear of adverse consequences.

      Yet just across the border stands a Russia determined to turn back the clock and embrace a 19th–20th century view of the world marked by...

    • (pp. 20-22)
      James Mackey

      The past two years have seen the Baltic Sea turn from a region of cooperation into one of contest. The dramatic increase in Russian military activity in the region, coupled with its violation of international law and international commitments in Ukraine, have forced the Baltic Sea states and the NATO Alliance to which many of them belong to reassess the security situation in what was otherwise thought to have become a ‘quiet’ part of Europe.

      The Baltic Sea area held (and continues to hold) a great deal of promise for regional security cooperation, including areas that would directly address Russian...

  3. Part II. The Allies

    • (pp. 24-26)
      Claudia Major and Milena Kleine

      In terms of security policy, the Baltic Sea region has until recently been of ‘friendly disinterest’ for Germany. German security policy was built more on an east–west axis, with the northern and southern dimensions receiving less attention. This did not preclude cooperation and consultations with the Nordic and Baltic states, but there was less of a strategic approach compared to other regions.

      The Ukraine crisis thrust the region to the forefront of security considerations. While Germany responded with considerable commitments in NATO, EU, OSCE and multilateral and bilateral formats, the conceptual underpinning of a northern or north-eastern axis in...

    • (pp. 27-29)
      Justyna Gotkowska

      The annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Eastern Ukraine, along with domestic developments, have confirmed that Russia is generating a deep-rooted, long-term challenge to the West. In this situation, the West must send the correct signals to Russia: that it is serious about the security and defence of its members and that it treats the challenge posed by Russia as a strategic one.

      The regime in Moscow is autocratic and subscribes to a paranoid world view, seeing Russia as vulnerable to external and internal threats because of the policy of regime change allegedly pursued by the West. At the...

    • (pp. 30-32)
      Andres Kasekamp

      Since the annexation of Crimea, analysts have asked, ‘Is Narva next?’ The international media has descended on Narva to ask whether ‘little green men’ could suddenly appear there. An Estonian border town 150 km from St. Petersburg with an overwhelmingly Russian-speaking population, Narva is a symbol for the larger Baltic question and the future of NATO. A chorus of prominent analysts and public figures, including former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, have warned of the ‘high probability’ of future Russian action against the Baltic states.21

      Indeed, there is abundant evidence of increasing military activity in the Baltic Sea region...

    • (pp. 33-36)
      Paal Sigurd Hilde

      Norwegian Minister of Defence Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide has repeatedly stated that the Ukraine crisis has led to a ‘lasting change’ in the European security landscape. The crisis has undoubtedly had a dramatic impact on perceptions of European security. The extensive media coverage garnered by two studies by the European Leadership Network with titles conjuring images from the Cold War – ‘Dangerous Brinkmanship: Close Military Encounters between Russia and the West in 2014’ and ‘Preparing for the Worst: Are Russian and NATO Military Exercises Making War in Europe more Likely?’ – serve as good examples.27

      Despite the Defence Minister’s strong...

    • (pp. 37-40)
      Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen

      Christian’s Island in the Baltic Sea is the eastern-most point of Denmark. The island remains the property of the Ministry of Defence, with a commandant appointed by the Minister, a remnant of the war Denmark fought with Britain from 1807 to 1814. This was primarily a naval confrontation which occasionally spilled onto land, as when Royal Marines occupied the island of Anholt in 1809, fortifying the lighthouse and renaming it Fort York.

      Having been deprived of its main ships of the line after the British bombardment of Copenhagen in 1807, the Danish navy had to rely on smaller ships such...

  4. Part III. The Partners

    • (pp. 42-45)
      Ann-Sofie Dahl

      The Enhanced Opportunities Programme (EOP) embarked upon by NATO at the Wales Summit in September 2014 provided the allies and partners with a new platform to take cooperation to the next level with a select group of partner countries. The EOP is a pragmatic and flexible model, based on individual, tailor-made arrangements with each of the five partners, often jokingly referred to as NATOs ‘gold card holders’.

      The process to create this new tool for deepened cooperation between allies and partners was based on two basic conclusions. First, the urgent need to further deepen military cooperation, create improved mechanisms for...

    • (pp. 46-48)
      Karoliina Honkanen

      Finland is a close and active NATO partner and has long cooperated with the Alliance in crisis management operations and other activities. For the first time during the two decades of Finland’s partnership cooperation with NATO, the Alliance now has a strong and renewed focus on north-east Europe due to the shifts in the security environment. In this situation, there is a clear mutual interest for the Allies and regional partners to exchange views and deepen their cooperation.

      Three topics will be touched upon here from the Finnish perspective. First, the Finnish views on the Enhanced Opportunities partnership (EOP) will...

  5. (pp. 49-50)
    Ann-Sofie Dahl

    The analyses presented by the authors above point towards a number of themes that are likely to remain of significance for security in the Baltic Sea region, and which will continue to shape and influence the debate, especially up to the Warsaw Summit in 2016. One such theme emphasized by the authors is the need for a long-term perspective. The gradual change in Russian behaviour, from being a putative partner of the West to a much less beneficial stance – including Russian challenges to principles that are central to the European order, such as disrespect for established borders and agreements...