Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Research Report

Nordic-Baltic Security in the 21st Century:: The Regional Agenda and the Global Role

Robert Nurick
Magnus Nordenman
Copyright Date: Sep. 1, 2011
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 80
  • Cite this Item

Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)
    Frederick Kempe

    The Nordic-Baltic region has undergone a remarkable transformation over the last twenty years, from a region of potential competition and instability in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union to a place of robust stability, deep Euro-Atlantic integration, and economic dynamism. This transformation was by no means preordained; it was the result of skillful execution of policy in Washington, the Nordic-Baltic countries, and beyond. Today, the accomplishments of the Nordic-Baltic region may represent the epitome of the US objective of a Europe whole, free, and at peace.

    Over the last twenty years, the United States joined with its...

  2. (pp. 3-5)

    Look at the security arrangements for the eight countries of the Nordic and Baltic region and two things are immediately apparent. The countries that have the greatest needs have the worst security. And the countries that have the strongest defense are divided.

    Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are among the militarily weakest members of NATO. Only Estonia comes close to spending 2 percent of its GDP on defense—the NATO target. The latter two spend pitifully little on their military, around or below 1 percent of their GDP. Latvia has largely given up territorial defense and concentrates on supporting the mission...

  3. (pp. 6-11)
    Ann-Sofie Dahl

    Sweden and Finland belong to a category all by themselves in the community of PfP (Partnership for Peace) countries. As old and solid democracies in a peaceful and stable corner of Europe, with similar long histories of peacekeeping experience, and with military contributions to most NATO missions since the end of the Cold War, the two countries appear to have little in common with the rest of the countries that make up the diverse PfP group.

    Sweden and Finland readily fulfill all requirements for membership in the Alliance, politically as well as militarily; their applications would, according to some NATO...

  4. (pp. 12-15)
    Karlis Neretnieks

    On January 14, 2010, the Swedish parliament adopted a bill that stated: “Sweden will not be passive if a catastrophe or an attack will befall another (EU) member country or a Nordic country. We expect that these countries will act in the same way if Sweden would be affected. Sweden should therefore be able to give as well as receive military assistance.”

    This “Solidarity Declaration” is a drastic reorientation of Swedish defense and security policy. It means that Sweden has abandoned the last vestiges of its traditional 200 years old neutrality policy. Sweden seems once again be prepared to contribute...

  5. (pp. 16-21)
    Imants Liegis and Airis Rikveilis

    Less than a decade after Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania became members of NATO, the Nordic-Baltic region seems to be confronted by a number of challenges. Some of these derive from the overlapping institutional interests and competencies in the region. All the countries concerned are members of either NATO or the European Union (EU); some belong to both. Moreover, as regional groupings the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and the five Nordic states of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden are also engaged in regional cooperation activities among themselves. These forms of cooperation gain in significance during times...

  6. (pp. 22-26)
    Leo Michel

    When outgoing secretary of defense Robert Gates delivered his valedictory speech on NATO to a prestigious Brussels audience in June 2011, he did not mince words. After acknowledging that NATO “has for the most part come through” for the Afghanistan mission, and that a few smaller allies had joined the United Kingdom and France in making “major contributions” to strike operations in Libya, Mr. Gates spoke bluntly of his major worries.

    NATO, he said, was turning into a “two-tiered Alliance” divided between members who specialize in “soft” tasks (such as humanitarian and development assistance and less risky peacekeeping) and those...

  7. (pp. 27-29)
    Walter Andrusyszyn

    The end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact contained the seeds of contentious volatility in what has been and still is perceived as the peaceful Nordic-Baltic region. The three Baltic states in particular, which had only experienced a few years of freedom in the previous 700 years, harbored lingering and strong concerns about the trajectory of Russian domestic and foreign policy in the post-Cold War world. The United States, on the other hand, hoped and believed that post-1991 Russia was steering a new path toward a democratic state that would find...

  8. (pp. 30-34)
    Tomas Malmlof

    Energy independence from Russia remains a crucial national security problem in the Baltic states. This issue brief outlines the present evolution of the Baltic electricity market and the implications thereof for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as well as for other countries. It also identifies the questions that need to be addressed in order to provide for a more secure, competitive, and sustainable electricity market.

    Even if the Baltic states have been successfully integrated in European and transatlantic security structures, their energy supply-systems are still very much dependent on Russian energy carriers and infrastructure. Russia has also pushed for a downstream...

  9. (pp. 35-40)
    Andris Spruds

    Can the Baltic Sea region serve as a litmus test for the efficiency of energy regionalization, a common EU approach, and an enhanced EU-Russia energy dialogue? There are reasons to think so. During the last twenty years, the Baltic Sea region has experienced an enlargement of the Euro-Atlantic institutions and a number of initiatives to institutionalize regional cooperation. The region was also the first to adopt an internal EU regional strategy with a strong commitment to further integrate the regional energy infrastructure and markets. Moreover, the Baltic Sea region is the only region where the EU countries have common borders...

  10. (pp. 41-46)
    Pekka Sutela

    How does Russia see its place and role in the Baltic Rim? How do Russia’s economic and trade relationships affect—or reflect—its priorities for the region as a whole? Is Russia reacting to initiatives and changes originating with others? Is it rather a full partner, or even a change-maker setting the agenda? During the Cold War, the Soviet strategy here was straight-forward. Is there any strategy now?

    Questions such as these are much on the minds of policymakers, business people, and political observers around the Baltic Rim. To address them, this paper will look at the character of the...

  11. (pp. 47-51)
    Dmitri Trenin

    Moscow’s policies toward the Nordic-Baltic region are an important part of Russia’s more general approach to Europe and the Atlantic community. They continue to evolve, presenting the countries of the region, the European Union, and the United States with new opportunities and options, while also challenging them in new ways.

    To understand Russia’s policies in the area, it is important to distinguish between the two very different elements which make up the Nordic-Baltic region, from Moscow’s perspective. These are the Nordic countries Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, which the Russian ministry of foreign affairs collectively refers to as Northern...

  12. (pp. 52-57)
    Alyson J. K. Bailes and Kristmundur Þór Ólafsson

    National defense and military security still loom large for nations in the Nordic-Baltic region, for obvious geostrategic reasons. Yet these states and their peoples have not neglected other aspects of security that affect their integrity, prosperity, and welfare. In the Cold War the Nordics were well aware of the risk of economic sabotage and blackmail, and applied a “total defense” concept that gave businesses and private citizens a role in protecting national assets under attack. Today, hostile use of nonmilitary levers is still an issue, as shown by Estonia’s cyber experiences, and cases where energy or other key branches of...

  13. (pp. 58-62)
    Per Augustsson

    The changes taking place in the Arctic due to climate change are opening up a broad agenda of new strategic issues. These include management of oil, gas and fish resources, environmental protection, shipping, trade, economic development, legal issues, governance and security. Most of the issues are closely interlinked and a comprehensive approach to the Arctic will be needed in the coming years in order to tackle such challenges effectively. Since May 2011, all the member states of the Arctic Council have comprehensive Arctic strategies. The different strategies share many overall objectives. With closer Nordic cooperation on the Arctic, the Nordic...

  14. (pp. 63-66)
    Kadri Liik and Riina Kaljurand

    Twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Nordic-Baltic region stands out as Europe’s success story. The Baltic countries, which were seen by many as potential sources of tension in the early 1990s, have become stable democracies, firmly anchored in Western institutions. The whole region has benefited from the opening up of borders and the free movement of people, goods, and capital; and, in the aftermath of the 2008-09 economic crisis, it has become the corner of Europe where prudent and timely—and in some cases, even radical—measures have led to energetic economic growth, unburdened by excessive...

  15. (pp. 67-72)
    Damon Wilson and Magnus Nordenman

    In recent years, quiet but steady efforts to increase cooperation among Nordic and subsequently Nordic and Baltic nations have created an opportunity for the countries in the region, when acting together, to have an outsized impact on global affairs. This trend is accelerating as the region is emerging from the current financial and economic crisis stronger than the rest of Europe. The increased frequency of Nordic and now Nordic-Baltic coordination meetings among regional officials—along with the landmark 2009 report by Norwegian former foreign and defense minister, Thorvald Stoltenberg, followed in 2010 by a comparable wise men’s report, linking the...