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Council of Baltic Sea States: Baerbock: Joint response to Moscow’s pinpricks

Council of Baltic Sea States: Baerbock: Joint response to Moscow’s pinpricks
Council of Baltic Sea States: Baerbock: Joint response to Moscow’s pinpricks

Sabotage, GPS interference, disinformation: Russia is trying to create uncertainty in the Baltic Sea region with targeted provocations. The democratic states bordering the Baltic Sea are meeting in Finland.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has announced a joint response by the democratic Baltic Sea states to Russian provocations in the region. “When Russia’s pinpricks try to divide us, we will move closer together,” the Green Party politician said on Thursday before two days of consultations between the foreign ministers of the Baltic Sea Council in Finland. Baerbock added, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin: “Security today also means security in the Baltic Sea region from and not with Putin’s Russia.”

The meeting began in the evening in the city of Porvoo near the capital Helsinki with the obligatory family photo. The main topic at the working dinner afterwards: “Defending against Russian hybrid threats in the Baltic region.” This Friday, Baerbock initially wanted to meet with her Finnish colleague Elina Valtonen in a small group. The subsequent working session was to focus on strengthening crisis preparedness and resilience in the Baltic region.

The Council of the Baltic Sea States was founded in 1992 on the initiative of the foreign ministers of Germany and Denmark to support the political and economic transformation of the Baltic Sea region and to stabilize the region. Members are the eight Baltic Sea states Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Sweden as well as Iceland, Norway and the EU. As a result of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Russian membership was suspended in March 2022, and in May 2022 Russia withdrew from the Council of the Baltic Sea States. The organization’s secretariat is based in Stockholm.

Sabotage, GPS jamming, disinformation

In a very small space, data cables, shipping routes and wind turbines run through the Baltic Sea region like lifelines and connect free societies, said Baerbock. “If complex hybrid threats – from GPS interference to sabotage of underwater cables to disinformation campaigns on social media – are the order of the day, we will oppose them together as democratic Baltic Sea states,” assured the Federal Foreign Minister.

At the end of May, Russia removed markings in the Narva river bordering Estonia, which marks the border line between the neighboring countries and the eastern external border of the EU and NATO. There was also irritation over possible Russian plans to adjust the maritime borders in the Gulf of Finland and in the Kaliningrad exclave, which also borders Lithuania.

At the end of May, Estonia summoned the chargé d’affaires of the Russian embassy due to disruptions to GPS satellite navigation in the Baltic region. At the time, Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna stated that jamming – the active disruption or blocking of the signal – by Russia had increased. This had a significant impact on civil aviation. The GPS signal is used by aircraft to determine their own position and for navigation, for example.

“NATO common security umbrella over the Baltic Sea”

With the accession of Finland and Sweden, NATO is now “our common security umbrella over the Baltic Sea,” said Baerbock. “As maritime neighbors around the Baltic Sea, we agree: We want to protect our freedom and security in the Baltic Sea region together – now and for future generations.”

Sweden joined NATO on March 7 and announced a few days ago that it would participate in monitoring the airspace under the command of the military alliance. According to this, Swedish fighter jets are to be used as part of “NATO Air Policing”, primarily over the Baltic states. Like its neighbor Finland, Sweden had applied for NATO membership after many years of military non-alignment under the impression of the Russian attack on Ukraine. Finland became a NATO member in April 2023. In the meantime, Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced the deployment of additional troops and weapons systems on the border with Finland.

Source: Stern

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