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Trump Pushes the Envelope: NATO Military Exercises Near Russian Border in Northern Norway – August – November, 2018: Part Three – Is The United States Using Neutral Sweden (and Finland) as “Platforms” to launch war against Russia?

November 9, 2018

Gotland, Sweden, Äland Finland – Launching pads for war against Russia?

(Part One), (Part Two)

Is The United States Using Neutral Sweden (and Finland) as “Platforms” to launch war against Russia?

Is The United States Using Neutral Sweden (and Finland) as “Platforms” to launch war against Russia? Driven by Washington, if NATO is preparing for war, what kind of war could it be other than nuclear war?

1. Trident Juncture 18 (TRJE18)

Neither climate change – the largest cloud hanging over life on earth – nor foreign policy in general played a role in the recently completed mid-term elections here in the United States, although the results of the elections will have a bearing on the Trump Administration’s to conduct is global initiatives. First appearances indicate that U.S. punishing sanctions against Iran will not be as thorough as planned, with large countries – India, Turkey, China, Russia – refusing to submit. There are also indications that the trade war with China is not working in U.S. favor either and that some adjustments are in the offing.

On the other hand, Russia sees no prospects for improvement in Russian-American relations after the U.S. midterm elections. The view of these relations continues to look more and more somber in fact. While in Washington DC the accusations of Russian meddling in these elections is again beginning to surface, in Europe the concern is quite different: the unending U.S. military build up in Europe, bases approaching the outskirts of Russia and unending NATO military exercises, each one somewhat larger and more ominous than the last. For example, during the weeks leading up to these mid-term elections, with virtually no media publicity in the United States – and not much in Europe either, NATO held the largest military maneuvers since the end of Cold War – 1 in Northern Europe, close to the Russian border.

Such mega-military exercises, exercises leave little doubt that the United States – through NATO – is preparing for war against Russia. Statements, like those of NATO Secretary General Jens Stolenberg that “the exercises are not directed against any specific country” cannot be taken seriously. They are little more than public relations drivel. Of course the exercises are a major provocation against Russia, nothing less.

The message is clear: the world is at the onset of Cold War II.

Finland, along with Sweden and 29 NATO countries, is participating in the NATO military exercises, Trident Juncture 18 (TRJE18), in the north of Norway. Part of the exercise includes air activity in the airspace not only of Norway but of Sweden and Finland. Although Sweden and Finland are not formally members of NATO, their militaries have been increasingly integrated into NATO military plans through the agency of “Partners for Peace.

Trident Juncture 18 tops most of the prior NATO military exercises in terms of overkill and bloated military expenditure. It’s quite a show being put on in large measure with U.S. taxpayer money. The production includes some 50,000 troops, 65 ships, 250 aircraft, 10,000 tanks. To add a little “umph” to it all, the Trump Administration is sending the aptly named USS Harry Truman air craft carrier, with its 6000 member crew and a long history of Middle East combat missions spanning back to the year 2000. This is the first time since the end of the Cold War that a U.S. air craft carrier travels to the Arctic since the collapse of the USSR.

At the same time, NATO has been increasing its troop strength elsewhere close to the Russian border in Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Maneuvers in the Baltic there have already resulted in a number of close encounters between aircraft flyovers of military ships. All of this adds up to increased tensions as the region inches towards unthinkable conflict. For the United States it’s all a part of the global military encirclement of Russia and China, in an attempt to keep the former from retooling its economy in the aftermath of the collapse of Communism; for the latter a futile attempt on Washington’s part to maintain its hegemony as China’s economic and political influence continue to surge.

2. Agneta Norberg – The Canary in the Nuclear War Cold Mine

In a 2017 interview in Helsinki posted on YouTube, Agneta Norberg, chair of the Swedish Peace Committee, related how on a trip to St. Petersburg in 1970 her understanding of World War II was shaken. She came to understand the profound sacrifice made by the then Soviet Union and their decisive role in defeating Nazism. Growing up in northern Sweden she had been exposed to quite another narrative. Over time she also began to question the “not-so” neutral role that Sweden has played in the post-Cold War period since the 1991 collapse of communism in the USSR.(1)

As much as anyone, Norberg has constructed the emerging relationship between Sweden, Finland and NATO that has taken shape since the end of Cold War 1 and has argued persuasively about the dangers of the NATO military buildup in northern Europe, the waters adjoining it in the Arctic Ocean and the provocative nature of NATO naval maneuvers and military bases increasingly close to Russia in the Baltic Sea region.

As she tells it, that visit changed her life; for nearly a half century she has advocated nuclear disarmament and peace between the conflicting centers of ideology in Europe and elsewhere. Norberg has closely followed and frankly uncovered through her careful observation NATO’s militarization of the Nordic region, the dramatic increase in the frequency of NATO military exercises since the turn of the millennium, the de facto integration of both Sweden and Finland into U.S. and NATO war plans against Russia – their denials to the contrary – through the medium of the Partners for Peace initiative, “NATO’s antechamber.”

In the process, their claims of being neutral, some kind of bridge between Russia and the West that they were so well known for during the Cold War have essentially evaporated. In 2014 Sweden signed what is referred to as a “Host Nation Support Agreement” with NATO. It permits NATO troops to train on Swedish soil; the Commander of the Finnish Army signed a similar “Host Nation” agreement the same years. (2). As Norberg notes:

“If Sweden is attacked and cannot sufficiently defend itself, then this Host Nation Support Agreement kicks in and the United States, through NATO will “come to Sweden’s defense.” Sweden has been training for such a possible scenario. What this means is that Swedish soldiers, through their NATO connection, have been training for war against Russia in these exercises from Stockholm to Goteburg as well as on Gotland (Swedish island off the east coast of the Swedish mainland in the Baltic Sea.”(3)

For the most part, because of both a media blackout – or nearly so – on the myriad of activities that have drawn Sweden and Finland into NATO, that for the most part, the public of both countries remains unaware of the degree to which their countries have been drawn into NATO cooperation. Norberg details a number of ways that both Sweden and Finland have “shed their neutrality:”

• Besides the annual military exercises that include major operations on Swedish territory in the northern third of that country, in the northern Swedish province of Norrbotten, NATO operations have extended into Finnish airspace and territorial waters at Rovaniemi, north of the Arctic Circle. Naval operations in the Gulf of Bothnia, the western finger of the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland have become annual affairs.
• Just outside of Kiruna, in the very north of Sweden is the world’s largest satellite downloading station, referred to as “S-Range.” Photos and other information are downloaded from satellites are received in this sparsely populated region of Sweden and from there transferred directly to the Pentagon, in northern Virginia
• The northern areas of Sweden are being used by NATO as a massive testing grounds for attack drones and missiles.
• Both NATO naval and air multi-coordinated exercises have taken place on Gotland, the long narrow island running north to south in the Baltic Sea not far from the Swedish mainland (mentioned above). According to Norberg a NATO helicopter company has been deployed there along with 80 military personnel. The equipment in place includes U.S. Chinook and Apache helicopters.. Besides the helicopters, U.S. marine and Natioanl Guard personnel are stationed there, provoking local protests.
• There are some indications that powerful radar receivers that used to monitor Soviet naval and air activity in the Baltic Sea have been reactivated for “Cold War 2.” At least according to one source, these particular antennas are essential for the targeting of guided missiles. These missile related antenna systems are now back on Gotland.
• There are also indications of NATO military activities in the air and on the territorial waters of Finland in the area of the Äland Islands. The Äland Islands are a (mostly) Swedish speaking island chain extending west of Turku in Finland’s most southwest corner. The islands were contested between Sweden and Finland between the world wars. One of the few achievements of the League of Nations was to work out a settlement between the two countries in which the islands would remain part of the national territory of Finland, with the Swedish population having transit rights between the Swedish mainland and the islands themselves. An integral part of the agreement is that the islands would remain de-militarized. It is not clear if some secret agreement was worked out with NATO leading to a change in status, or if the demilitarized status of Äland is simply being ignored by NATO.

Norberg noted the significance of the changing status of both Gotland and Äland:

“I cannot answer the question as to whether or not the islands’ status has formally changed nor the details as to how the status of these places has been altered. Of course negotiations over Äland are done in secret. But I suspect that because both Gotland and Äland are strategically important to the United States – think of what kind of strategic platform they both could be so close to Russia – that it would be feasible to launch an attack on Russia from either place.”

To be continued…

________________________
Footnotes.

1. Sixteen years later, in the summer of 1986 when we were living in Finland, our family had the good fortune to spend a month in the Soviet Union. The visit included time in Yalta – where the post-WW2 political arrangements between the great powers of the day (US, USSR, France, UK) took place, Moscow where we saw, leaving the airport, how close the Nazis had come to seizing the capitol and about a week in St. Petersburg, then known as Leningrad.

2. Norberg, Agneta. The North: A Platform For Warfare Against Russia. European Center for Excellence for Counteracting Hybrid Threats. Publication Series No. 2. Helsinki, 2018. p.26

3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C07lhj51q7k

________________________

1. Sixteen years later, in the summer of 1986 when we were living in Finland, our family had the good fortune to spend a month in the Soviet Union. The visit included time in Yalta – where the post-WW2 political arrangements between the great powers of the day (US, USSR, France, UK) took place, Moscow where we saw, leaving the airport, how close the Nazis had come to seizing the capitol and about a week in St. Petersburg, then known as Leningrad.

 

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Bill conklin permalink
    November 10, 2018 12:16 am

    Hi Rob thanks for the informative article. I really cannot understand why Europe thinks it’s in their best interest to put up with United States. This whole thing could end up in nuclear war.

    • November 10, 2018 1:36 am

      They have no choice; since the end of WW2 they have been dominated by Washington and still are. If they could break away and follow their own path they would. They are little more than a colony when all is said and done.

Trackbacks

  1. Trump Pushes the Envelope: NATO Military Exercises Near Russian Border in Northern Norway – August – November, 2018: Part One | View from the Left Bank: Rob Prince's Blog
  2. Trump Pushes the Envelope: NATO Military Exercises Near Russian Border in Northern Norway – August – November, 2018: Part Two – Some Strategic Considerations | View from the Left Bank: Rob Prince's Blog

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