So far, there is no unanimity of opinion in Stockholm on joining the North Atlantic Alliance
The Swedish armed forces have once again become more active – and again, as, basically, in all recent years, due to the “Russian threat” widely discussed by the West. At the end of the past week, drones were seen over at least two nuclear power plants in Sweden, and the country's authorities, in parallel with the investigation of these incidents, increased their military presence on the island of Gotland. We figured out how serious the danger declared by official Stockholm is and how far it is from the long-discussed accession of the Scandinavian country to NATO.
On Friday, January 14, over two nuclear power plants (NPP) in Sweden — “Forsmark” and “Oskarhamn” — two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of unknown origin were spotted. If the first news about the UAV was connected with the fact that one of the locals was “playing around” with drones, the authorities later called the incident extremely serious. This was backed up by reports of an unidentified craft flying over the Ringhals NPP.
None of the sighted drones were shot down, but at least two factors indicate that serious forces could be behind unauthorized flights. Firstly, the zones above the nuclear power plants — flightless, launching your own drone there for any local resident is fraught with severe punishment. Secondly, according to the information about the incident over the Forsmark nuclear power plant, the UAV flying there was large enough and capable of developing high speed. That is, we are talking, if not about a combat drone, which is equipped with a supply of shock weapons, and therefore heavier than others, then at least a professional reconnaissance vehicle.
So far, no accusations have been made against a specific party from Stockholm, but the very fact of the simultaneous investigation of three incidents with UAVs, coupled with the fact that the Swedish military has increased its presence on the island of Gotland, is indicative. In particular, a special unit consisting of at least ten armored vehicles and about a hundred fighters was sent to the territory in the Baltic Sea, which belongs to Sweden.
Such measures have already been directly explained by the growing, according to the Swedes, the threat of Russia in the Ukrainian direction — against the background of a series of unsuccessful negotiations between the Russian Federation and Western countries last week. “Controlling Gotland has great influence over the entire Baltic Sea. If any other [other than Swedish] weapons are placed on the island, this will affect Sweden, Finland and the entire Baltic, — Swedish Minister of Defense Peter Hultkvist noted in this regard.
This is far from the first time that it is in Stockholm that the alarm is sounded regarding the “Kremlin aggression”. Back in the fall of 2014, shortly after the annexation of Crimea to Russia — and as a consequence of the unprecedented cooling of relations between Moscow and the collective West, — Swedish media reported about a Russian mini-submarine allegedly damaged off the coast of their country. The search for the submarine, however, yielded nothing, and five years later it was recognized that the signals that became the reason for the operation came from a faulty weather buoy.
However, even the debunked myths about the Russian threat do not dampen the enthusiasm of the Western military. Sweden is not a member of the North Atlantic Alliance, therefore, in her opinion, all possible “creeps” Russia is trying to stop and investigate on its own. At the same time, as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated, the Swedes (as well as the Finns), if they have a clear request, can be accepted into the military bloc as soon as possible. However, the current Swedish government refuses to do so.
Explain such a “half-hearted” Stockholm's policy is easy: being an economically prosperous country, Sweden does not want to spend extra money on compulsory membership contributions. In addition, both in Swedish society itself and in the political elite of the Scandinavian country there is no consensus on the need to join NATO, noted in a conversation with MK. Dmitry Danilov, Head of the Department of European Security at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
As the analyst emphasized, Sweden is de facto already in the orbit of the North Atlantic Alliance, enjoying almost all the advantages of cooperation with it, — with the exception of Chapter 5 of the Charter of the bloc, according to which an attack on a NATO member is regarded as a threat to the entire association.
“Against the background of a rather rigidly defined Russian position in negotiations with the United States in particular and NATO in general, the over-activity of the Swedish military is not surprising, — says Dmitry Danilov. — At the same time, Sweden undoubtedly demonstrates that, without being a member of the alliance, it is still part of the Euro-Atlantic strategy to contain Russia in the military and political spheres. Stockholm long ago adopted a policy of building up cooperation with NATO within the framework of various partnership programs. And, of course, Sweden is quite capable of quickly joining the Alliance. But for Stockholm, it is also important to maintain a conditionally neutral status, as well as independence from decisions made, for example, by the American side within NATO. Therefore, without a serious aggravation in Europe, one should not expect Sweden to join the bloc in the short term. But the Swedish authorities can keep the question of potential membership as a kind of “wild card”; — both in foreign and domestic policy».