Born, the exercise begins in the Baltic: there are also Finland and Sweden

from Andrea Marinelli

USS Kearsarge arrived in the port of Stockholm, the American aircraft carrier with 26 fighter aircraft on board and 2,400 between marines and sailors who will take part in NATO exercises in the Baltic scheduled from 5 to 17 June

arrived in the port of Stockholm the USS Kearsarge, the American aircraft carrier with 26 fighter aircraft on board and 2,400 between marines and sailors who will take part in NATO exercises in the Baltic scheduled from 5 to 17 June: this is the first visit by an American warship to Sweden, and comes just three weeks after the application for membership of the Atlantic Alliance submitted jointly by Sweden and Finland. The ship a little the symbol of how Putin’s special military operation in Ukraine has altered the architecture of European security: the promise – writes the New York Times – of what entry into NATO will bring to this historically neutral country that suddenly no longer is, or protection from the wrath of the Kremlin. Nobody in Stockholm can fail to notice that there is a large American ship in town, said the supreme commander of the Swedish armed forces, Michael Byden, from the deck of the amphibious attack ship.

Kearsarge will participate in a drill on amphibious attacks – one of the 7 major NATO exercises scheduled by the end of 2022 from the article polar circle to the Mediterranean – with NATO, Swedish and Finnish troops they will have to invade from the sea a territory that has been conquered by the enemy: this is an extremely complex operation – it is no coincidence that the Russians have never managed to complete it in Odessa, for example, while in Mariupol they landed several kilometers from the city – which requires great coordination between air, land and naval units, as evidenced by the D-Day landings in the Second World War. If the 51st annual Baltops exercise goes according to plan, 7,000 marines, sailors, pilots and troops from 14 allied countries plus Sweden and Finland – with 45 ships and 75 aircraft – will conquer a beachhead on a beach in the Stockholm archipelago.

NATO was the only option for these two countries: there was talk of a Nordic alliance, but creating something out of nothing would have been much more complicated, he told the Corriere della Sera Charly Salonius-Pasternak, military expert of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, explaining that, after the application for admission, several exercises have been added to the program already prepared by NATO: among these there was already the Arrow 22, hosted by its own from Finland at the beginning of May, which involved American, British, Estonian and Latvian troops. In the next twelve days, various operations will be carried out involving ships, planes and armored vehicles belonging to NATO in Latvian waters, while tactical maneuvers will take place in the Baltic Sea and in the region’s airspace and will then end in Kiel, Germany.

This exercise demonstrates that the entry of Sweden and Finland into the Alliance – the main unexpected consequence of the invasion of Ukraine, currently blocked by the Turkish veto – it would make it possible to reshape the defense of Northern European countries: Finland, for example, carries a 1,340-kilometer border with its bulky neighbor and would put St. Petersburg within artillery range. However, Kearsarge’s presence in Stockholm is also a reminder of obligations that the two countries will have to respect in case of conflict, clarified on Saturday the American general Mark Milley, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on a visit to the Swedish capital. From a Russian perspective, the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO will be very problematic, in military terms, explained the American general, who in recent days had specified how the two countries would have brought a significant military capability within NATOas well as interoperability and sharing of intelligence information with allies.

Their strategic location, argues General Milley, should also limit Russia’s military adventurism, which will only have access to the Baltic in Kaliningrad, where the Baltic fleet is stationed, and in the St. Petersburg region. Beside her, on the deck of the Kearsarge ship, there was also the Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, who it has focused on the defensive nature of NATO. A concept – that of defensive nature – which also returns to Helsinki several times, underlined in al Courier by members of the Finnish Foreign Commission, for which joining the Alliance has only one goal: Article 5, which guarantees mutual defense in case a member is attacked. We looked at the pros and cons of joining NATO, Jussi Halla-aho, a member of the Conservative Finns party and chairman of the commission, told us during a meeting in Parliament. We already had cons we all had as partners of the Alliance, while we lacked Article 5.