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US warship arrives in Sweden and a warning for Russia

The appearance of the USS Kearsarge in the Swedish capital demonstrates the security commitment of the US and NATO, and deters adventure. military Russia in the future.

For many Swedes, the arrival of the USS Kearsarge in Stockholm on June 4 was more than just a visit.

Kearsarge, the US Navy’s Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, arrives in Sweden to participate in NATO’s annual BALTOPS (Baltic Operations) exercise in the Baltic Sea. The exercise, with the participation of 14 countries of the alliance besides Finland and Sweden, is expected to take place for nearly two weeks starting from June 5.

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The USS Kearsarge docked in Stockholm on June 4


“No one in Stockholm can be unaware that a large American ship is right in our city,” said General Micael Byden, commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, while visiting the Kearsarge. near an MV-22 Osprey aircraft.

If one had to find the weighty symbol of how much the Russia-Ukraine conflict has changed Europe, it would be a giant warship like the Kearsarge, with its 26 fighter jets and 2,400 marines and marines. Player, will definitely be one of them.

Two weeks after Sweden and Finland together Apply to join NATOthe appearance of the US warship symbolizes a commitment that the two countries will be protected if it falls into conflict with Russia, as well as a warning to Moscow.

Commitment to protect

Some 7,000 troops, 45 ships and more than 75 aircraft from 14 NATO allies, along with Sweden and Finland, will take part in the 51st BALTOPS exercise. “This year’s exercise is probably larger than last year. about 30% last year,” Vice Admiral Eugene Black, the US commander, told reporters Euronews.

The operation took place at a time when NATO could not accelerate the admission of Sweden and Finland compared to protest from Turkey, an alliance member. The two Nordic countries have expressed concerns about their security pending admission, and have received pledges of protection from the United States and several other NATO members.

Against this backdrop, the BALTOPS exercise is the latest demonstration of the unity and military might of a NATO that is about to expand northward, which Russia does not want.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said the drills were a “strong signal to the world” that the US President’s security was guaranteed. Joe Biden for Sweden and Finland “actually implemented by concrete action”, according to Defense News. “We are very grateful for this,” she said at a joint news conference with General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, aboard the Kearsarge on June 4.

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Prime Minister Andersson and General Milley aboard the Kearsarge on June 4


Two weeks ago, Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist told reporters in Washington that the Pentagon had committed to a number of temporary security measures: US Navy warships to the Baltic Sea, bombers U.S. Air Force personnel will fly over Scandinavia, ground forces participate in joint training, and American experts will help thwart any cyberattacks that Russia might launch.

General Milley said President Biden and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are working with US European Command with NATO to “build options to slightly increase” pre-planned exercises. there.

“We’re looking at things that we can do on the ground, with the marines or the army. There are things we can do with special forces, things we can do with force. air force or navy,” Milley said.

Warning to Russia

Over the next few days, the US Marines will practice their core mission – amphibious assaults on islands already occupied by enemy troops – in the Stockholm archipelago. With Russia’s Baltic fleet stationed at Kaliningrad, 300 kilometers away, Russia’s occupation of neighboring islands is a prospect that Sweden fears and anticipates.

Military experts say that this is exactly the kind of military operation that Russia has not been able to carry out in Ukraine. And the inability to do this is a big part of why Russia can’t control the port city yet. Odessa in southern Ukraine, according to The New York Times.

Correspondents visiting the Kearsarge on June 4 were introduced to how the ship’s force would carry out an amphibious assault. The ship or any aircraft from its huge flight deck could bombard enemy defenses on the beach before the US Marines stormed ashore.

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USS Kearsarge to participate in exercise BALTOPS


However, the ability to coordinate between the US, other members of NATO with Sweden or Finland needs to be practiced. For example, one of the obstacles for the Kearsarge was that transit into the port of Stockholm was very difficult, and three Swedish sailors had to call the ship a week in advance to steer it into port.

“The purpose of the exercise (BALTOPS) is to develop the interoperability of the United States, NATO and partner countries in joint air, sea and amphibious operations,” the Finnish Self-Defense Forces said. said in a statement.

With all of that said, the BALTOPS exercise is both a stark warning to Russia and a poignant reminder to Sweden and Finland of the obligations they will have to fulfill if they become NATO members. . According to military experts, Sweden and Finland are expected to participate in any “squeezing” efforts by NATO against Russia in the Baltic Sea in the event of a conflict. This is what General Milley clearly alluded to on June 4.

According to him, Russia has a Baltic fleet, but the strategic location of Sweden and Finland will be an obstacle to Moscow’s military adventures. In essence, the Baltic Sea will turn into a “NATO lake” once the two Nordic countries join the alliance, if not counting the two Russian territories of St. Petersburg and Kalingrad.

“From the Russian point of view, this is going to be very problematic for them, militarily,” Milley said.

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