The increase of tension in the Baltic Sea area since 2014 did not originate in the Baltic States, or in Poland, or the Nordics. It was a reflection from the Black Sea.
A hundred and fifty years ago, it was the Royal Navy and the French Navy that brought the Crimean War to the Baltic shores to put pressure on Russia. Now it is Moscow attempting to turn the tables on the West through the same stratagem.
Unlike some analysts suggested early on in the current flare-up, there is no such thing as a Southern Baltic Sea Theatre of War. From a Russian point of view, the Baltic Sea is merely a glacis for St. Pete and the Murmansk coast. Russia’s strategic nightmare is the vulnerability of its second-strike capability, which could be threatened either physically or technologically. That is why the radar in Vårdö in Finnmark is such an important issue.[…]
Finnish EU Membership and NATO partnership are facts acknowledged in the Kremlin. The red line in Finland’s case remains NATO membership. Even with the evident closeness with NATO, bilateral agreements with the United States – and especially the military alliance of sorts with Sweden – are not the same thing as joining NATO. Finland’s and Sweden’s accession to NATO would bring a sea change, seen from the Kremlin as a loss of face. […] The most important turn of events has been the Fenno-Swedish military cooperation. Unlike previous governments that had begun to dismantle Sweden’s regional defenses, the present (outgoing) social democratic government turned the tide. As Sweden politically is not able to join NATO, they had to remedy the problem by other means. Having suspended conscription and all but disarmed its land forces, Minister of Defense Peter Hultqvist intensified bilateral relations foremost with Sweden’s traditional unofficial ally, the United States. But then he turned to Finland, and the rest is history. Läs artikel