[…] Russia’s relations with non-NATO countries in the Baltic Sea region—Sweden and Finland—have also become markedly strained. Stockholm has just decided on a major increase in its defense spending, citing the Russian threat. Moscow, of course, has always considered Sweden an informal member of NATO. What is new is that Finland, Russia’s direct neighbor and a neutral–friendly partner during the Cold War, is now cooperating very closely with the United States and NATO. The Baltic Sea has largely become a NATO lake.
In response, Moscow reversed the post-Cold War policy that had long seen its western flank as its safest. New military formations have been established. The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, rather than becoming a laboratory for close Russian-European cooperation, has been rebuilt as a military fortress, a behind-the-lines West Berlin on steroids. While Russians worry about defending Kaliningrad, Poland and the Baltic countries fear a Russian strike to cut off the Baltics by seizing the Suwalki gap.
What we are witnessing here is not a new Cold War, but a new kind of confrontation, which is also fraught with high risks. The most likely danger is no longer a massive cross-border invasion or a large-scale nuclear attack, but an inadvertent direct collision between Russian and Western forces where they operate close to each other, or a miscalculation by one side linked to misperception about the other. Läs artikel