Saturday

1st Oct 2022

Russia calls selective Baltic security talks

  • Nato warship the USS Cook was harassed by Russian jets in the Baltic Sea earlier this year (Photo: Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa)

Russia has invited experts from most Baltic countries, but not Denmark and Germany, for talks on regional security.

"I can confirm, that we have received an invitation and that similar invites were also sent to other countries - Poland, the Baltic states and Finland," Sweden’s defence minister, Peter Hultqvist, told Swedish radio station Ekot on Wednesday (17 August).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom and her Finnnish counterpart Timo Soini at a Nato foreign minister's meeting in May. (Photo: Nato)

Russia's deputy minister of defence, Anatoly Antonov, who is on an EU blacklist over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, earlier told the Tass news agency that the meeting would take place in Moscow in September and that ”despite differences of opinion, Russia is ready for constructive conversations about common issues”.

He said the meeting would cover the military-political situation in Europe, increased military movements near borders, and regional flight security.

According to Nato, Russia has built up a force of more than 300,000 troops on its Western borders, together with new air bases, naval assets and nuclear-capable short-range missiles.

In the two years after its Ukraine invasion, it has held dozens of unannounced military exercises, some involving movements of more than 100,000 soldiers at a time.

It has also violated Nato states’ airspace in the Baltic region.

Danish military jets, for instance, were activated 98 times to respond to Russian airspace incursions in 2014 and 2015.

The Danish military has only once had to intercept Russian jets in Denmark’s air space since the start of 2016.

But with Denmark not invited to Moscow, the Swedish defence minister told the radio station that he could not guarantee Swedish participation either.

"For us it is very important that the countries situated around the Baltic are acting collectively on this kind invitation,” he said.

United Nordic front on Russia

The Swedish and Finnish foreign ministers, who were meeting in Stockholm on Wednesday, also discussed the Russian initiative.

"I think in general these kinds of contacts and negotiations should be on a wider scale," Finnish foreign minister Timo Soini said at a press conference in Stockholm.

"Above all we'll discuss with other countries who received invites and decide what this is all about," added Swedish foreign minister, Margot Wallstroem. "We won't allow a wedge to be driven between countries."

The three Baltic states, Denmark, Germany, and Poland are all EU and Nato members.

Finland and Sweden are in the EU but not in Nato. They have started to build closer Nato ties as well as closer US defence ties since the outbreak of the Ukraine war, however.

Baltic Sea safety

Nato deputy head Alexander Vershbow wrote in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, a German newspaper, on Tuesday that it was “hard to think of a period, at least since the end of the Cold War, when relations [with Russia] have been as strained as they are today”.

His opinion piece noted that the last time Nato officials met their Russian counterparts, in Brussels in July, Russia had made a “welcome but narrow proposal on air safety in the Baltic Sea”.

But he said the large-scale military drills and false claims by Russian officials must end for ties to improve further.

Feature

Nato summit forges united front on Putin

Nato's weekend summit was "not so pleasant” for “Mr Putin”, Lithuania said, but the event also exposed Poland's bitter divisions.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  2. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  3. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  4. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  5. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  6. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  7. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  8. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Putin declares holy war on Western 'satanism'
  2. Two elections and 'Macron's club' in focus Next WEEK
  3. EU agrees windfall energy firm tax — but split on gas-price cap
  4. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'We are not going to resign ... anywhere'
  5. Going Down Under — EU needs to finish trade deal with Australia
  6. MEPs worry Russian disinfo weakens support for Ukraine
  7. Everything you need to know about the EU gas price cap plan
  8. Why northeast Italy traded in League for Brothers of Italy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us