The head of the defense Ministry of Finland Jussi Niinistö has offered to create, together with the armed forces of Sweden, a kind of alternative to NATO. However, he lamented that the Swedish army is weak and not lied. Another thing is that this traditionally peaceful country is now experiencing the rise of militaristic, induced with anti-Russian propaganda.
The Minister of defence of Finland Jussi Niinistö is the namesake of President Sauli Niinistö, member of the political party “True Finns” (perussuomalaiset translated into Russian, although there are variants of “real Finns”, “genuine”, “original”). The meaning of this word is in opposition to the slang word uussuomalaiset (“new Finns”, that is, migrants). This is a nationalist (by Finnish standards) party, ideological basis of which is the restriction of inflow of migrants, temperate “euroscepticism” and “support on own forces”. Its leaders believe that Finland is so self-sufficient that she does not necessarily strengthen any relations with the European institutions, including the European Union and NATO. Here, by the way, and the appeal of Jussi Niinistö to neutral Sweden, rather than NATO, although the former Millennium colonizer, exploiter and neighbor-antagonist is seemingly the last country to a military Alliance which should aim Helsinki.
“When the conscription, we sacrificed the conscious attitude which the people has for the army”
In the parliamentary elections this year, the “True Finns” received almost 18% of the votes and entered the coalition with four Ministerial portfolios. The party leader Timo Soini became Minister of foreign Affairs (this is also not a gift to the world community), and Jussi Niinistö Minister of defense.
Since he literally gushes similar initiatives. A month ago, Niinisto said the need to create rapid reaction forces – new units for Finland that need to be placed along the border with Russia. He justified this decision “to increase regional tensions amid the Ukrainian conflict.” Niinistö also believes that in Finland one of the world’s best education systems, but geography should be taught at least the globe. And the story too: the experience of Mannerheim showed that just along the border with Russia is nothing to place is not recommended.
Rapid reaction forces will be recruited from among reservists for additional appeal. The Finnish army is approximately 35 thousand people (for a sparsely populated country – a lot) and about 300 thousand reservists, and it is completed on the basis of universal conscription. Finland is one of the few European countries where the conscription system has never been questioned and never challenged. It is something like a national symbol, if you like, “buckles”, along with a suspicious attitude towards the former metropolis.
Then Niinistö announced the development of a plan for dealing with the Russian “green men” in the archipelago of Aland in the Gulf of Bothnia. It is this system of Islands, which even in Finnish do not say (the population of the åland archipelago, the Swedes, and he has the rights of broad autonomy within Finland), from the point of view of the Minister of defence, the first victim of the “aggression of Russia on the Crimean scenario”. Islanders were surprised. But tens of thousands of Finnish reservists actually received a summons with a detailed description of where, when and what do they have to arrive in the event of a Russian attack on Finland.
Smaller initiatives Jussi Niinistö (e.g., transition to own production of tanks and non-German “Leopard”) are not so bright. By the way, it several hours a day has taught Russian language, in his own words, “out of courtesy”. However, in another interview he said that “many times tried to learn Russian how to stop Smoking”. What else can I add? In 2004 he and his son survived the tsunami in Thailand by climbing a Telegraph pole.
Now this from all points of view is an extraordinary person and politician offers Sweden to unite for defense against an aggressive Russia. This idea, however, a few caveats. First, combine the as yet unknown shape of the armed forces of the two neutral States is only available to 2020, because a) the Swedes are not ready and b) until Russia Finland and Sweden to attack still not going to.
However, Niinistö said that the Swedes do not pay enough attention to ensure regional security and in need of encouragement, including such initiatives. The Swedes were silent.
And so they regularly put the example of Finland, with its professional army and a constant degree of anti-Russian sentiment. And then there’s some “True Finns”, which may not even be after the next election, to immediately respond to their initiatives.
Two hundred years of peace
Sweden has not fought since Napoleon, and the last enemy was Russia. In 1809, Bagration’s troops across the ice crossed the Gulf of Bothnia, occupied the Aland Islands and began not far from Stockholm. King Gustav IV Adolf was deposed, and at the Hamina Treaty, Russia finally withdrew in the whole Finland. Even Russia fought with Sweden only from the XVI to the XIX century, 10 times as much as Poland (a record from Turkey – 12 times). But the “ice March” Bagration was the last “vaccine” for centuries. After him, the Swedish government, in principle, refused to participate in European Affairs and, consequently, did not participate in the wars that eventually grew into a principled stance of state neutrality and pacifism.
The Swedish mentality is derived from more than two hundred years of peace, tranquility and contemplation. However, during the cold war Sweden maintained a very high level of combat readiness. The country has spent on military spending huge sums to 3% of GDP, the size of the army fluctuated around 300 thousand people, has created its own effective military industry, which is now good and focused mainly on exports. Concern “Bofors” produces high-quality artillery systems (up to the ACS). SAAB fighters. By yourself are equipped in the Navy of the Kingdom. The Swedish part several times participated in various UN operations (together with the Finns, by the way).
With the end of the cold war somewhat hysterical attitude to their defense quickly evaporated. The army began rapidly to decline, and defense spending has decreased dramatically. Finally, in 2010, Sweden abandoned conscription by going to professional equipment. Swedish army was reduced to a laughable 20 thousand people (including air force and Navy) scattered across the country with an area of approximately 150 thousand square kilometers and with a coastline in 3220 miles.
Even more serious were changes of a psychological nature. There was a steady opinion that the Swedish armed forces in principle are not intended for the defense of the country, and are purely decorative in nature (must be the state of such an attribute), or at least called upon to participate in international operations of a limited character. One of the main reasons for such a caricature relationship with the army intelligence, by the way, is called the refusal set at the call. “When the conscription, we sacrificed the conscious attitude, which the nation feels for the army,” – says the analyst of Chatham House, Cahir Jill in relation to Sweden.
Anyway, the basis of modern Swedish mentality is the idea that there is no armed conflict in the region can not be, and therefore there is no need to worry about defense. No external events will not affect Sweden, and if it still touches, then everything can be settled peacefully. To convince the Swedes that need to dramatically increase defense spending (to increase), to re-equip the army, to join the Union with the Finns, and even the return of the conscription system (as in Lithuania) – not an easy task.
Not easy – unless addressed. Over the past year, the Swedish society became the object of intensive information and lobbying pressure, in which “aggressive Russia” – the main argument. Swedish mentality was hit by a wave of different kinds of reports, investigations, and “information documents”, which suggests that “Putin’s Russia” is preparing to address the Kingdom something aggressive. Only last month, several reports were issued, which in alarmist tones, describes the future plans of Moscow to capture Sweden, from Gotland. For example, the Center for European policy analysis in detail explained to the Swedes that Russia in the last exercises worked out it was the capture of the island of Gotland. The report’s author, chief editor of the Economist Edward Lucas claims that he received the information from “sources in NATO”. Reading the report, the Minister of defence of Sweden Peter Hultqvist stated: “We must respond to these events, therefore, are going to increase your military potential.” In addition, there are regular reports of “violating Swedish airspace” by Russian military planes and ships, not to mention the eternal search of Russian submarines in the archipelago. It is generally the usual fun since the cold war, comes almost to hysteria, and now gained new breath and meaning.
Here is the island of Gotland came in handy. Sleepy, cold resort, the flag which proudly flies a RAM with curled horns, was declared an “Outpost”, taking that Russia will be able to “fire rockets” half of Europe. It is clear that, by signing such Brede, head of the administration of the island was miss Cecilia schelin-Seidegard just wants to obtain from the Ministry of defence money in the budget your depressive piece of rock in the Baltic. But even these paranoid statements fit well into the General atmosphere of panic “the Russians are coming”, created in Sweden over the last year.
This massive pressure gradually wears away the cornerstones of the Swedish mentality. And now for the first time in the entire history of sociological surveys, more than half of the Swedes (57%) favors increasing the military budget (despite the fact that government policies support only 30%). The Parliament offers to increase military spending to 10.2 billion Swedish kronor (about $ 1.2 billion), or about 1.2% of GDP. But according to modern requirements of the United States is still not enough. And even less than was requested by the Ministry of defense of Sweden itself.
General staff, of course, is pleased with the increased attention to yourself. Deputy head of planning General Michael Classon although we do not agree with the fact that over Sweden in imminent danger, yet emphasizes that “we (the Swedes) are witnessing the change of strategy of Russia”, which apparently in itself is unpleasant and makes you think.
In principle, there is nothing wrong. The Swedish army was considered efficient, although the word is applicable to it only in the abstract. And in the background of the real situation not only in Europe but in the world as a whole Sweden has suddenly discovered that her army of heterogeneous armament, is extremely small and has no combat training, despite the professional status. That the Swedes began hastily to patch this hole, is a natural human reaction. Another thing is that the main catalyst of this process was massive propaganda, which brought down on English-speaking Swedes think tanks close to NATO. And if the real needs of Sweden in the necessary defense of their country do require rearmament and revision of the principles of its construction, it must meet exactly the Swedish interests, and not to be provoked from the outside.