Washington Examiner

Russia aims to “gain control of the Baltic Sea,” says Sweden

Russian President Vladimir Putin ⁢is aiming⁤ to “gain control of the​ Baltic‍ Sea”‍ to threaten NATO, as per Sweden’s top military officer, ⁤Gen. Micael Bydén. ‍Bydén raises concerns about Putin’s intentions, especially regarding the Baltic region‌ and Gotland island. The ​Russian government’s draft document on maritime border⁣ changes​ has sparked tensions ​with neighboring countries like Lithuania. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ambition to control the Baltic Sea, alarming NATO, is highlighted by​ Sweden’s military leader, Gen. Micael Bydén. Bydén’s apprehensions center on Putin’s focus on the Baltic area and Gotland island. Tensions escalate due to Russia’s ‌proposed maritime border ‌alterations, prompting unease among neighboring states, notably Lithuania.

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to “gain control of the Baltic Sea” and threaten NATO, according to Sweden’s top military officer.

“Putin’s goal is to gain control of the Baltic Sea,” Gen. Micael Bydén, the chief of defense for the Swedish armed forces, told German media outlets, per Politico. “The Baltic Sea must not become Putin’s playground where he terrifies NATO members.”

Bydén, who has served as Swedish chief of defense since 2015, avowed that “Putin even has both eyes on Gotland” — a large Swedish island in the Baltic Sea that has been part of NATO territory since March. And his warning coincided with the publication of a draft Russian government document that stoked regional fears that Moscow intends to enact unilateral changes of Russia’s maritime borders in the Baltic Sea.

“There is nothing political here, although the political environment has seriously changed since then,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday, per Tass. “You see how tensions are escalating, what level of confrontation is, especially in the Baltic region. Of course, this requires our relevant agencies to take appropriate steps to ensure our security.”

Peskov offered that comment after the Russian Defense Ministry published a draft document that contemplated shifting Moscow’s delineation of the “internal waters of the Russian Federation.” That document, published Tuesday, drew a protest from Lithuania, another NATO ally bordering the Baltic Sea.

“Russia’s actions are seen as a deliberate, targeted, escalatory provocation to intimidate neighboring countries and their societies,” a Lithuanian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in a Wednesday statement. “This is further proof that Russia’s aggressive and revisionist policy is a threat to the security of neighboring countries and Europe as a whole.”

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis added that he regards the document as part of Russia’s “hybrid” warfare with Western powers.

“Another Russian hybrid operation is underway, this time attempting to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about their intentions in the Baltic Sea,” he wrote on social media. “This is an obvious escalation against NATO and the EU, and must be met with an appropriately firm response.”

Russian authorities removed the document later Wednesday, as an unnamed Russian defense official told state media that “there has been and is no plan to revise the width of territorial waters, the economic zone, continental shelf off the mainland or lines of Russia’s border in the Baltic.” Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo downplayed the significance of the briefly seen document.

“This is probably a routine inspection and media reports have stated there that they are not engaging in any political maneuvering,” said Orpo, whose country applied for NATO membership alongside Sweden after Russia launched the full-scale war in Ukraine. “This of course is a good direction. Right now I don’t see any reason for greater concern.”


Still, Bydén, the Swedish general, said the allies will have to be on guard against Putin’s territorial ambitions.

“If Russia takes control and seals off the Baltic Sea, it would have an enormous impact on our lives — in Sweden and all other countries bordering the Baltic Sea,” he said. “We can’t allow that.”

" Conservative News Daily does not always share or support the views and opinions expressed here; they are just those of the writer."

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