Should we Worry About Russia’s Presence in The Baltic Sea?

When a non-NATO country like Sweden starts beefing up its military, we should all pay attention. After nearly 33,000 Russian soldiers rehearsed a military takeover of the Baltic Sea back in March, including practicing the seizure of Gotland, Sweden started to reinforce its military capabilities.

Peter Mattsson, researcher at the Swedish Defency University noted how concerned the countries’ officials are over Russia’s presence in the area. “A takeover of these islands would mean that NATO would not be able to send ships into the Baltic Sea and would make the organization irrelevant there. It’s such a strategic spot.”

In September the country plans to take part in a NATO exercise in Spain to strengthen its relationship with the alliance. Over the past year, relations between Russia and Sweden have been tense because of Russia’s presence in the Baltic Sea. Back in 2014, two SU-24 fighter-bombers allegedly entered Swedish airspace, “the most serious aerial incursion by the Russians” in nearly 10 years.

It’s Russia’s movement into the Arctic region north of the Baltic Sea that is causing concern for the US too. “We’re not even in the same league as Russia right now,” Coast Guard Commander Paul F. Zukunft said. With the Arctic being a stockade of oil, gas, mineral, and fishery reserves it’s understandable that Sweden and members of the NATO alliance are watching Russia’s every move.

Heavy diesel icebreakers aren’t military ships, but play a huge role in any country’s strategy to use the area. The US only has two, while Russia already has six in service.

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