Sweden and Finland swim into an alliance – Mir – Kommersant

The NATO multinational force on Sunday began exercises Baltops 2022 in the Baltic Sea. They are attended by 14 member countries of the alliance, as well as Sweden and Finland, which have applied for NATO membership. The maneuvers, which started on the Swedish coast, are taking place ahead of a NATO summit scheduled for late June, at which Sweden and Finland could be admitted to the alliance – but only if Turkey withdraws its objections to this.

The multinational NATO exercise in northern Europe, which has been held since 1971 under the name Baltops, will last until June 17 and this year will be the largest in its more than 50-year history. In addition to the 14 member countries of the alliance – the United States, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Turkey – Sweden and Finland will take part in them, which on May 18 submitted official applications for membership. in NATO.

The area of ​​maneuvers covers the central and southern parts of the Baltic Sea, as well as coastal ranges in Germany, Sweden, Poland and the Baltic countries. The Baltops 2022 exercises will involve 7,000 military personnel, as well as about a hundred aircraft and helicopters and 45 warships.

The purpose of this year’s exercises is to demonstrate NATO’s readiness to control the Baltic Sea and move large military forces to any place in the Baltic region in a short time.

The start of the Baltops 2022 exercises was given in Stockholm and, in addition to celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Swedish Navy, pursued another goal, which was outlined by Mark Milli, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CNS) of the US Armed Forces, who arrived in the country. At a press conference aboard the American landing ship USS Kearsarge, which docked in Stockholm, General Milli called for considering Baltops 2022 in the context of the admission process for the two Scandinavian states that began in May.

“This is the first time a ship of this size has passed through the Stockholm archipelago. This year is different, given the context. It is important for NATO countries to show solidarity with Sweden and Finland after applying to the alliance,” said Mark Milley. “Sweden may not have the largest army, but it is very high-level, including a high-class air force, modern technical equipment, a strong navy and well-trained ground forces,” said Mark Milley, expressing his conviction that the future the membership of Sweden and Finland will significantly strengthen NATO’s position in the Baltic Sea region.

According to the US 6th Operational Fleet, there are currently three American warships in the Baltic Sea.

In addition to the large landing craft Kearsarge carrying elements of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Battalion, the amphibious transport dock Gunston Hall and the guided missile destroyer Gravely also arrived.

“What we are seeing in Stockholm today sends an important message about security in our part of the world. It is important that several countries are represented here, we are in a difficult situation, which makes our cooperation even more important,” Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said at a joint press conference with General Milli in Stockholm. “Call it a new cold war or a new iron curtain, but we need to be aware of what is happening around us right now. This is why democracies must stick together,” he added.

It is noteworthy that the day before his visit to Stockholm, Mark Milli visited Helsinki, where he met with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen and Commander of the country’s armed forces Timo Kivinen. “The parties discussed European security issues in the light of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as a strong and strong security partnership between the United States and Finland,” said KNS spokesman David Butler. “The Chairman of the Council of Ministers underscored the strong support for Finland’s bid for NATO membership,” said David Butler.

Meanwhile, three weeks before the NATO summit in Madrid, scheduled for June 28-30, the question of whether it will take a decisive step to admit Sweden and Finland into the alliance remains open due to Turkish objections. Recently, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a number of representatives of the country’s top leadership made several new statements indicating that an agreement with Ankara is not yet in sight.

Sergey Strokan

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