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10 countries against 1, Europe "traps" Russia, the unusual mechanism is activated for the first time, 20 warships land in the Baltic Sea, this is why the situation is alarming
Written by Marsela Shytia 30 Nëntor 2023
The long war in Ukraine has brought about a drastic geopolitical reconfiguration of the Baltic theater and a profound shift in the military balance between Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO. The shift to renewables is poised to increase the region's reliance on offshore energy infrastructure. However, all this energy infrastructure will be exposed to a number of security risks. These can include relatively innocuous incidents or much more malicious threats such as attacks carried out by state and non-state actors. Even if it is unclear who and when might target offshore energy infrastructure, it is known that countries like Russia can conduct special covert missions in deep seas. Russia has effectively lost its position of power and ability to threaten its neighbors with projections of military power, so it is no surprise to "draw out the reserve cards".
Activation of JEF
The ten northern European states that make up the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) recently decided to activate the "defense clause" that allows additional military resources to be deployed to protect infrastructure in the Baltic Sea. More naval and air capabilities are said to be deployed in the heart of the region to help "protect critical underwater infrastructure," the defense ministers of the ten countries said in a statement. "This is the first time the JEF has activated the defense", they emphasized, indicating that their activities will begin at the beginning of December. From December 1 to 15, the Joint Expeditionary Force will operate in the Baltic Sea. The British frigate arrives on December 4. Focused on operational defense in Northern Europe, the JEF is a coalition of 10 countries led by the UK and also including Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. "About 20 warships will be deployed in the Baltic Sea, but also in the North Atlantic areas," Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson said on public channel SVT.
10 states against 1
He said that strengthening the military force is necessary to cope with "a very serious security situation in the world and especially in our neighborhood". "We must be able to carry out this type of operation to protect our vital infrastructure, but also to send a signal to Russia," Jonson added. The JEF countries agreed in October to increase security in the Baltic Sea after an underwater gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia was shut down due to a leak it said was caused by external actions. It was later discovered that the undersea cable between Estonia and Sweden had also been damaged. Finnish police eventually concluded that the damage to the pipeline was caused by the anchor of a Chinese merchant ship that had left the area. In September 2022, the Nord Stream gas pipeline was destroyed amid a conflict with Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
Protecting the entire underwater infrastructure in the Baltic Sea is difficult, as the whole area is divided into two areas of activity, one in the eastern part of the Baltic Sea and the other more towards Sweden, said Markus Holst, an adviser at the Ministry of Defence. "The Denmark Strait and the North Sea are also involved. They can cover a large area collectively and, in addition to ships, there are patrol aircraft that can move much faster than ships and have a better field of view," he said. "Incidents related to the gas pipeline and cables happened in early October, as is widely known," he continued. "It's not that we couldn't have started sooner, one of the reasons is that NATO was active immediately after these incidents in the Baltic. The second reason is that the first time things may not go as quickly as they could. But I think they will it's done faster," Holst said.