Baltic brinkmanship amid NATO war games

BALTOPS24

Sweden’s¬†armed forces on June 15 issued a statement charging that¬†a Russian military aircraft violated the country’s¬†airspace the previous day,¬†calling the act “unacceptable.” ¬†The Russian SU-24 fighter plane reportedly entered Swedish airspace just east of the island of Gotland¬†in the Baltic Sea, approximately 150 miles south of Stockholm. A Swedish JAS-39 Gripen jet was sent to intercept the Russian plane after a verbal call to retreat¬†by the Swedish air command was ignored. The Swedish¬†military said that the last violations of the Nordic country’s airspace airspace by Russia were in 2022, when two Russian SU-27s and two SU-24s simiarly approached Gotland.

Just days before the new incident, Sweden and other NATO allies were conducting naval exercises in the area as part of the annual Baltic Operations drill (BALTOPS). This was the first time Sweden had taken part in the exercises.¬†Sweden became NATO’s newest member in March of this year, the 32nd country to join the alliance. It initially applied for membership¬†along with¬†Finland¬†in 2022 after Russia invaded Ukraine, ending over two centuries of military non-alignment and neutrality. (Jurist)

Finland’s Border Guard stated on June 14 that it suspects a similar airspace violation by four Russian warplanes took place earlier that week. The Finnish¬†Ministry of Defense first¬†reportedan incursion¬†June 10 over the¬†Gulf of Finland, near the city of Loviisa. Minister of Defense Antti H√§kk√§en stated that the military takes the suspected violation very seriously.

Moscow’s Defense Ministry announced in response that Russian planes flew over the neutral waters of the Barents, Baltic and Norwegian seas. The ministry also said that all Russian Aerospace Forces¬†flights are conducted in line with international rules.

Finland previously accused Russia of violating its airspace in April and May 2022.

This development comes along with growing tensions along Finand’s land border with Russia. On April 4, the Finnish Ministry of Interior announced that it would extend the closure of crossing stations on the land border until further notice. In addition, it also closed the water traffic border crossings at the ports of¬†Haapasaari, Nuijamaa and Santio. ¬†Russia has¬†criticizedFinland’s “politicized attitude”¬†toward the border. (Jurist)

Photo: NATO