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NATO Defense
NATO and Sweden Send in the Subs

After more than a year of frequent and provocative incursions by Russian ships, jets, and subs all around Europe, NATO is holding a huge submarine exercise in the North Sea, adjacent to the Baltic. The alliance forces are joined by increasingly close partner Sweden (whose waters also played unwitting host to a purported Russian sub not too long ago). Reuters has more:

More than a dozen vessels from 11 countries are participating in the “Dynamic Mongoose” exercise. NATO will simulate detecting and attacking submarines in one of the most hostile seas, with rugged but shallow underwater canyons, rapid currents and unusually high sound pollution from freshwater pouring in from Norway’s fjords.

NATO’s claims that these exercises aren’t meant to respond to Russia should be taken with a grain of salt:

“Russia has a right to be at sea, just as we do,” Rear Admiral Brad Williamson, the commander of the exercise said. “But the incidents we have seen are not in line with international regulations… and that’s been the cause of concern.”

“This is not a response to that… but provides relevance to the exercise,” Williamson said on board the USS Vicksburg, the lead vessel in the exercise.

Nordic defense ministers issued a strongly worded condemnation of Russia last month, calling it the biggest threat to security, prompting Russia to say that Finland’s and Sweden’s closer ties with NATO were of “special concern”.

This fleet of submarines is a poignant reminder of just how far relations between Russia and the West have deteriorated since the annexation of Crimea. It’s not just the diplomatic fights over Putin’s Ukrainian adventure that characterize the cooldown. The submarine incursions plus the flights Russian military jets are taking without active transponders that threaten civilian airliners have really rankled some European countries, not the mention the U.S. and Japan. As Moscow continues to go down this road, the Cold War analogies will only get more frequent and more apt.

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  • qet

    Time for me to dust off the old Mac II and boot up my copy of Harpoon.

  • Blackbeard

    It’s an empty buff and the Russians know it. I’ll believe they’re serious when the Europeans start increasing military spending in a significant way.

  • Fat_Man

    Still pumping my idea for a Baltic defense alliance (Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Poland with the US as convener and honorary chairman) looks better and better.

  • Dan Greene

    >>”After more than a year of frequent and provocative incursions by Russian ships, jets, and subs all around Europe, NATO is holding a huge submarine exercise in the North Sea, adjacent to the Baltic.’

    Notice TAI’s implication that the Dynamic Mongoose (DM) exercise was conceived this year specifically in response to alleged Russian submarine incursions. You would never know from these insinuations that DM was first held in 2012 and that this is the fourth iteration of what is now an annual exercise. It’s undoubtedly true that Russia is the principal unstated threat at which the exercise is directed (although it is China’s submarine capability that is growing by leaps and bounds.) But the idea that this exercise is a specific response to Russian activity of the last 12 months is ridiculous and nothing more than wish fulfillment on TAI’s part.

    >>”The alliance forces are joined by increasingly close partner Sweden (whose waters also played unwitting host to a purported Russian sub not too long ago).”

    Once again, TAI fails to note that one of the two major pieces of “evidence” in support of the claim that a Russian submarine was moving in the Stockholm Archipelago in October 2014 has been debunked by the Swedish Navy. The widely disseminated photo that the media trumpeted as proof has been assessed to be a civilian fishing/pleasure craft. The other piece of evidence, the alleged sonar trail of the alleged submarine is based on data never provided for outside experts to analyze.

    And of course, since a violation of Swedish waters would be likely to push Sweden into or closer to NATO, no one has come up with a credible motive for why Russia would undertake such action.

    And as usual, TAI uses its basic intellectual bait and switch: In paragraph 1, the submarine is described as “purported.” But by the last paragraph, with no evidence of any kind provided, the “purported” is dropped and we simply have: “The submarine incursions…have really rankled some European countries.” Now, miraculously, the “submarine incursions” have become a fact rather than a claim.

    Nice work, TAI.

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