- In case of growing confrontation and a new Cold War, non-NATO member states like Sweden or Finland could apply for full membership in NATO, says Jonas Kassow, Researcher at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP).
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- The threat of a new, Cold War could also lead to increased defense budgets for both Northern European member states as well as other NATO nations. Both actions could provoke Russian counter measures, Kassow says, adding that issues with Russia relating to Svalbard, the Barents Sea and fisheries could emerge.
Russia could test NATO members
Although many of the experts High North News has spoken to reject that we are heading for a new Cold War several of them have clear ideas about what the consequences could be if the political climate between Russia and the West should deteriorate further.
Jonas Kassow, Program Assistant at the USA/Transatlantic Relations Program at the German Council on Foreign Relations, says one of the consequences could be that Russia could start testing the resolve and readiness react of Arctic and northern European states.
- Even the use of “civilian” ships to test military boundaries seems plausible, Kassow says.
His colleague, Stefan Steinicke (Fellow, Research Division EU/Europe), at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) says this:
- NATO would have to play a more active part in the defence of Northern Europe. Pursuant to article 5, this would have consequences for all NATO member states. It seems plausible that Russia would use hybrid tactics to test NATO member states´ reaction capabilities.
In addition, he says, a continuing deterioration of relations between Euro-Atlantic states and Russia could result in a situation where a confrontation between both sides could also be played out in the Arctic.
An internal burden-sharing debate within NATO could emerge, Steinicke says.
- A North-South divide seems possible where southern European member states prefer to focus on an increasingly unstable Mediterranean and MENA region, whilst member states from eastern and northern Europe would lobby for a stronger focus on the Baltic Sea and the Arctic region.
- In such a case in the Arctic, NATO would increase it´s yet rather dormant interest in the High North. Meanwhile, the western coastal states would begin to increase their military presence in the North, not only by troops, but also by gaining research data and intelligence information, for example. Some special attention should be payed to potential “hybrid” efforts by Russia such as distribution of false media information, says Golo Bartsch at Germany’s Federal Ministry of Defence.
Bartsch notes that he speaks in a personal capacity, and that his statements should not be linked under any circumstances to his official position of the Federal Ministry.
Bartsch, previously an Associate at the Ecologic Institute, has also been an officer with the German Federal Armed Forces, where he worked as a foreign and security policy analyst for the Federal Ministry of Defence (BMVg).