By James Krotz
According to Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak, the level of Russian naval and air force activity has been “unprecedented” in the past week. Indeed, over the past 9 months, NATO-Russian aerial close-calls have reached high levels. 40 incidents, with 11 of those being categorized as “high risk”, capable of bringing about escalation of Russian-NATO tensions over Ukraine and other issues. Tensions ran especially high in October, when a Russian submarine was suspected to be lurking in Stockholm harbor. Although Russian naval officials have vehemently denied involvement, other maritime powers in the region with more transparency with the Swedes have also denied involvement.
Eastern European, Baltic, and Scandinavian countries have perhaps the highest levels of tension. These are the countries where the incidents are taking place, and they have the most to lose from fraying relations with Russia. Multiple breaches by Russian bombers and fighters into Swedish, Danish, Finnish, and Estonian airspace have prompted strong condemnation by Northern European officials, but little else. Perhaps it is time for drastic action. Perhaps Sweden and Finland should reconsider further alignment with NATO, eventually culminating in full membership if Russia continues these breaches of sovereignty.