16:04 GMT12 July 2020
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    NATO Seeks Expansion to Eastern Europe (300)

    Of late, the Nordic countries have been pumping up their military budgets on account of a fictitious Russian "threat." According to Danish security expert Peter Viggo Jakobsen, Scandinavia's somewhat paranoid fear of Russia is unfounded.

    Contrary to Nordic propaganda, Russia is not preparing to invade the Kattegat Straight, disembark at the Åland and Gotland islands or attack the Baltic states, Peter Viggo Jakobsen, a PhD and Associate Professor in the Department of Strategy at the Royal Danish Defense College and Professor at the Center for War Studies, University of Southern Denmark, told Finnish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet. According to Jakobsen, this would entail more sanctions and a full-scale war.

    "I'm getting pretty tired of all these maps with Kaliningrad as a starting point which illustrate how Russia could strike at us," Viggo Jakobsen told Hufvudstadsbladet.

    According to Viggo Jakobsen, Russia would certainly be able to strike at and occupy the Baltics before NATO would come to rescue. However, a win in "round one" might be offset by military retaliation and economic sanctions, he pointed out.

    Meanwhile, speculative fears of Russian "aggression" have been largely utilized by Swedish and Finnish hawks to push traditionally non-aligned countries into further cooperation with NATO and even eventual membership. At present, Sweden and Finland take part in NATO exercises and overseas operations are NATO members in all but name. Reports advocating full-scale membership and promising considerable security bonuses have succeeded one another in both the Nordic countries.

    Viggo Jakobsen does not believe in either Swedish or Finnish NATO membership in the near future. Despite fluctuations of the public opinion which recent polls indicate, the majority of Finns and Swedes remain opposed to joining NATO.

    "One can certainly see some shifts in public opinion. But unless there is anything that spawns fear, changes are unlikely to occur," Viggo Jakobsen said.

    According to him, another possible motive is related to the shared European identity, the desire to be in good company.

    "However, with their EU membership both Finland and Sweden have already gained this identity and are part of the West. So the question is basically already settled," Viggo Jakobsen noted.

    What matters most, according to Viggo Jakobsen is how the United States perceives the situation. If the US favors an immediate NATO membership for Finland and Sweden on the countries' own request, the rest of NATO states will be forced to cooperate. Viggo Jakobsen compared the situation to that when Turkey became a NATO member. Denmark was openly reluctant to accept Turkish membership, but it only turned out to slow down the process.

    Finally, Viggo Jakobsen addressed the problem of territorial claims in the Arctic. At present, Denmark and Russia have border disputes over areas around the North Pole. According to Viggo Jakobsen it is rather a matter of prestige, since it is unlikely that Denmark would actually pursue the resources of the far north.

    "Lengthy and difficult negotiations between Denmark and Russia are to be expected, but eventually it will end as between Norway and Russia in the Barents Sea. Eventually, we will reach some kind of agreement," Viggo Mortensen concluded.

    The successful delimitation of the Norwegian-Russian aquatic border in the Barents Sea in 2010 led to a surge in bilateral oil and gas projects.

    NATO Seeks Expansion to Eastern Europe (300)


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    security, Hufvudstadsbladet, NATO, Peter Viggo Jakobsen, Scandinavia, Baltic Sea, Sweden, Russia, Denmark, Norway, Finland
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