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FOI issues report on security and defence policy in the Baltic region

How do the Baltic states view their security situation, what are the primary threat perceptions and can they be defended against these types of threat? These are the central questions raised in the new FOI report “The Security and Defensibility of the Baltic States”.

There is today a consensus in the Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – that their security situation is relatively good but that it is also wholly dependent on Baltic integration firstly within NATO and secondly within the EU. The role of the United States in particular is of central importance to Baltic security.

“We can see that perceptions of the threat to the Baltic states are dominated by discussions relating to “new” threats such as cyber threats and energy security issues,” says Mike Winnerstig, security policy analyst and project leader at FOI.

“But the Baltic states have also begun to invest increasingly in traditional territorial defence because of a suspicion that the security situation could deteriorate in the longer term.”

A precondition for the ability of the three Baltic states to defend themselves against military attack is the capability of NATO, and the United States in particular, to come rapidly to their aid. In the event of conflict, it is likely that Swedish and Finnish sea and air space, and possibly land territory as well, would be of considerable importance to the outcome.

“The lack of strategic/geographic depth in the Baltic region means that the territory of the surrounding countries would in all probability be quickly affected by any future conflict. This is something that may also have consequences for Swedish security policy and defence planning,” says Mike Winnerstig.

The situation is different where economic and energy related security in each of the Baltic states is concerned. Estonia sees its situation as being economically favourable and the same applies to its energy security. For Latvia and Lithuania the situation is more problematic, not least where their dependence on Russian energy interests is concerned.

One thing that is clear is that the entire Baltic region can be regarded as a “security complex” in which the security policies of all states in the region are interlinked.

FOI, Swedish Defence Research Agency

Swedish Defence Research Agency
SE-164 90 Stockholm

Phone +46 8 555 030 00
Fax +46 8 555 031 00

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