Russia taking jabs at Sweden俄羅斯採取刺戳在瑞典

By Gary Schmitt
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
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Sweden hunting for suspected Russian sub

  • Vladimir Putin's Russia is by no means the threat the Soviet Union was during the Cold War
  • But Moscow has increasingly been willing to flex muscles with neighbors, says Gary Schmitt
  • Sweden has expanded operational ties with Russia, Schmitt says

Editor's note: Gary Schmitt is director of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies, American Enterprise Institute. The views expressed are his own.

(CNN) -- Sweden's chase for what is widely suspected to be a submerged Russian submarine operating within its territorial waters can't help but remind older Swedes of the fact that, during the Cold War, Swedish waters were thought to be regularly covertly probed by submarines belonging to the Soviet Union.

Gary Schmitt
Gary Schmitt

Indeed, back in 1981, the "Whiskey on the Rocks" incident saw a Soviet attack submarine carrying nuclear-tipped torpedoes run aground on the shoals not far from the Swedish naval base at Karlskrona.

Fast forward more than three decades, and Vladimir Putin's Russia is by no means the threat -- materially or ideologically -- that the Soviet Union was during the Cold War. But the fact that the Russian leader has made it clear that he does not accept the advance of democratic regimes onto Russia's doorstep -- whether they be tied either to the European Union or NATO -- is bound to mean that this latest incident will have echoes of times past for many Swedes.

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And Putin has been willing to match words with action.

With a plan under way to modernize Russia's military over the next decade, Moscow has increasingly been willing to flex its armed muscle not only in Ukraine, but against other neighbors as well. In the case of Sweden, this has included Russian simulated air attacks against Stockholm, the buzzing of Swedish ships and planes by Russian aircraft and, as recent as this September, the alleged violation of Swedish airspace by two Russian Su-24s, a supersonic attack aircraft.

Putin's jabs at Sweden are undoubtedly also tied to the fact that the government of Sweden has, in reaction to Putin's revanchist policies, increased its operational ties to NATO and neighboring NATO states even while remaining formally outside the alliance.

In fact, the submarine chase that is now occurring comes on the heels of Sweden's participation in a Baltic Sea military exercise that included vessels and aircraft from Denmark, Poland and the Netherlands.

Such cooperation is needed precisely because Sweden has, like the rest of Europe, spent much of the post-Cold War era cutting its defense budget and the size of its armed forces. For example, Sweden's navy today has fewer than 10 surface combatants, no operational anti-submarine warfare helicopters and only five submarines. It was only two years ago that Sweden's top military officer admitted that his forces could only defend a small segment of the country for about a week without outside help.

All this suggests that the hard reality is that Sweden is in Moscow's sights -- and not just because Stockholm leans toward the West in its policies.

The region's geography means that any conflict in the Baltic region would almost certainly involve Sweden. Kaliningrad, Russia's major military enclave on the Baltic Sea, is hemmed in by Poland and Lithuania on its borders and Sweden by the sea, and control of the latter's airspace and seas could be decisive if a major conflict should occur.

In mid-September, Swedes went to the polls and rejected a third term for the center-right coalition that had governed Sweden since 2006. The new government is an alliance of left-leaning parties led by the Social Democratic Party and has pledged to increase defense spending.

No doubt, news of a possible Russian sub trolling in Swedish waters will bolster public support for the government's decision to up Swedish military capabilities.

The question Stockholm will face is whether the planned increase -- less than $1 billion over 10 years -- will be sufficient to make up for the two decades of decline and adequate to deal with Russian plans to expand its military strength.

For decades, the Swedish government has avoided taking explicit sides between Brussels and Moscow. But the Swedes will find sitting on the fence to be increasingly uncomfortable when Putin is your next-door neighbor.

2014年10月24日 - 更新1630 GMT(0030 HKT)
(CNN) - 瑞典的追逐什麼被廣泛懷疑是被淹沒的俄羅斯潛艇運行在其領海不禁想起一個事實年長瑞典人認為,在冷戰期間,瑞典水域被認為是變相定期探討由屬於蘇聯潛艇。
一晃三十年以上,而普京領導下的俄羅斯絕不是威脅 - 重大或意識形態 - 即蘇聯在冷戰時期。但事實是,俄羅斯領導人已經明確表示,他不接受民主制度的推進到俄羅斯的家門口 - 他們是否被捆綁無論對歐盟還是北約 - 必然意味著這個最新的事件都會有迴聲過去的時代的許多瑞典人。
愛沙尼亞面臨的僵局與俄羅斯 新的北約秘書長吹捧俄羅斯的關係 中國加強同俄羅斯的關係
這一切都表明,殘酷的現實是,瑞典是在莫斯科的景點 - 並不僅僅是因為斯德哥爾摩在政策偏向西方。

斯德哥爾摩將面臨的問題是,是否有計劃增加 - 少超過十億美元超過10年 - 將足以彌補二十年的下降,足以對付俄羅斯計劃擴大其軍事實力。


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