Foreign Policy: NATO’s Alarming Unpreparedness Against Russia’s Arctic Threat

By Elías Thorsson - April 4, 2024
German soldiers, wearing snow camouflage and skis, take part in the multinational Nordic Response military exercise in Alta, Norway March 7, 2024. NTB/Heiko Junge via REUTERS

NATO is seriously unprepared to counter Russia’s military capabilities in the Arctic despite ongoing military exercises and the inclusion of Finland and Sweden in NATO, Foreign Policy reports. While NATO’s Steadfast Defender 2024 exercise showcases a significant troop presence, it does not address the specific challenges posed by Russia’s military activities in the Arctic.

  1. Lack of Capabilities: None of the NATO member states possess ice-strengthened ships equipped with both anti-aircraft and anti-submarine capabilities, essential for Arctic defense.
  2. Strategic Focus: Finland and Sweden, despite joining NATO, primarily focus on the Baltic Sea region due to their proximity to northwest Russia.
  3. Russian Threats: Russia’s military buildup in the Arctic, including the deployment of nuclear submarines capable of reaching North America undetected, poses significant challenges to NATO’s defense posture.
  4. NATO’s Response: NATO lacks a cohesive Arctic strategy, and its current responsibilities only cover the “High North,” leaving critical gaps in defense coverage.
  5. Strategic Cooperation: Russia’s vulnerability in the Arctic has influenced its strategic partnership with China, although Moscow remains cautious about allowing Chinese military presence in the region.
  6. Recommendations: NATO should develop a comprehensive Arctic strategy, revise defense spending targets to include Arctic capabilities, and increase its presence in the region to effectively deter Russian military activities.

Read the full article here.