Gotland and Åland on the Baltic chessboard – Swedish and Finnish concerns

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Series Details 26.10.16
Publication Date 26/10/2016
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Sweden and Finland are increasingly concerned about the defence of their Baltic Sea islands, Gotland and the Åland Islands, which Russia could attack in the event of a regional crisis or conflict.

In mid-September Sweden decided to permanently station a mechanised company of Swedish Land Forces on the island of Gotland. In addition, in mid-October the Swedish military publicly objected to the use of the Gotland port of Slite for the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, due to concerns about the defence of the island.

In Finland, in turn, debate on the defence of the Åland Islands was reignited after the Finnish defence minister suggested in mid-October that Finland should re-examine archipelago’s demilitarized status. As long as Sweden can be expected to continue reinforcing Gotland’s defence, so it is most likely that Finland will try to make the Åland Islands’ defence to be an important element of strengthening its bilateral military cooperation with Sweden, without any formal change in the status of the Islands.

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Related Links
ESO: Background information: Russia’s ‘Niinistö Plan’
ESO: Background information: The Line in the Sand: Finland and the Unpredictable Neighbor

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