Blinken to visit Luleå amid Arctic fighter jet exercise

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with the Swedish Prime Minister and Foreign Minister at Luleå air base on May 30.

By Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer - May 26, 2023
Luleå is the largest city in Norrbotten region, northern Sweden. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

While Sweden is waiting on the doorsteps to NATO, the US Secretary of State sends a strong signal of support as he starts his Nordic visit at Norrbotten Wing, home to Sweden’s northern fighter jets base.

The hope was for Sweden to join North Atlantic Alliance ahead of the Vilnius NATO Summit in July.

Security is on the agenda, but the Government in Stockholm has released few details about the upcoming meeting. A day ahead of Blinken’s visit is the start of Arctic Challenge 2023, Europe’s largest air force exercise that will gather 14 nations. War games with about 150 fighter jets will take place in the skies above Norway, Sweden and Finland until June 9.

The US aircraft carrier “USS Gerald R. Ford” is this weekend visiting Oslo, but will sail north on Monday, to the waters west of Helgeland near the Arctic Circle where the powerful carrier group is expected to train together with NATO allies.

After Luleå, Blinken will participate in an informal meeting among NATO foreign ministers in Oslo on May 31 and June 1. Russia’s war on Ukraine and the changing security situation in Europe are on the agenda. Sweden’s Foreign Minister Tobias Billström will attend the Oslo meeting.

The NATO Summit takes place in Vilnius, Lithuania on July 11-12. The hashtag is already in place outside the Defense Ministry’s building. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Located in Kirkenes, Norway, just a few kilometres from the borders to Russia and Finland, the Barents Observer is dedicated to cross-border journalism in Scandinavia, Russia and the wider Arctic.

As a non-profit stock company that is fully owned by its reporters, its editorial decisions are free of regional, national or private-sector influence. It has been a partner to ABJ and its predecessors since 2016.

You can read the original here