Western Military Capability in Northern Europe 2020: Part II National Capabilities


  • Eva Hagström Frisell
  • Krister Pallin
  • Johan Engvall
  • Robert Dalsjö
  • Jakob Gustafsson
  • Albin Aronsson
  • Michael Jonsson
  • Björn Ottosson
  • Viktor Lundquist
  • Diana Lepp
  • Anna Sundberg
  • Bengt-Göran Bergstrand

Publish date: 2021-03-11

Report number: FOI-R--5013--SE

Pages: 160

Written in: English


  • Denmark
  • Norway
  • Finland
  • Estonia
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Poland
  • Germany
  • France
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • security and defence policy
  • military expenditures
  • armed forces
  • assessment
  • military capability


The conclusion of our analysis of Western military capability in Northern Europe in 2017 was that the West had several shortcomings compared to Russia when it came to high-intensity warfighting. Considerable resources and time would be required before the West could change the situation. In 2020, three years later, our wish was to enhance the analysis and perform a first-cut net assessment of the force balance between the West and Russia. The aim is to identify important characteristics of the force balance with respect to relative strengths and weaknesses. We also suggest some keys to improving the Western defence of Northern Europe. Whereas Part I of the report covers the actual net assessment, Part II charts the base for Western military capability in Northern Europe, i.e. the defence efforts of eleven key Western states that play a significant role in the collective defence of the area. These countries are increasingly developing the capability for national and collective defence by filling hollow defence structures and modernising the armed forces. In comparison with 2017, force readiness has not changed significantly. However, the quality has improved in some respects, in particular through participation in NATO's enhanced Forward Presence, NATO's rapid response forces and multinational exercises.