One aspect of the upcoming “Steadfast Jazz” NATO military exercise, to be held from 2-9 November, that may give pause for thought is that in it parts of Finland, Sweden and Norway are deemed to be enemy territory, an article in Finland’s Hufvudstadsbladet explains.
According to Svenska Dagbladet,
Sweden and Finland have been cut into fictional states that previously belonged to a fictional empire, Skolkan. These former Skolkan countries are independent and economically developed but are also marked by corruption, paranoia and a desire to expand.
Three of the six countries (Torrike in central Sweden, Bothnia in western Finland and the new island Lindsey in the Norwegian Sea) are hostile and threaten NATO.
The fourth country, Framland in eastern Norrland, is NATO-friendly, while the fifth, Arnland in southernmost Sweden is a failed state. The sixth country, Otso, in eastern Finland is a neutral buffer state against Russia.
The NATO countries are the same as in reality, except that northern Norway has been added to with a part of Sweden – western Lapland.
Russia and Belarus to the east are not involved in the game but are classified as neutral.
In a response to Zapad 2013, the Russian/Belarusian Baltic Sea military exercises in which land, sea and air forces took part in a simulated confrontation with NATO forces, in November NATO will hold its Steadfast Jazz exercise, which is based on the so-called SKOLKAN scenario. This will likewise focus on the Baltic Sea region, and will feature the defence of a NATO member. An article on the NATO website gives some information:
The change in how NATO trains is one of the most significant organisational modifications for the Alliance in the last 25 years. In addition to revisiting the challenges associated with conducting operations in and from the sovereign territory of NATO Nations and how imperative it is to partner with host-nation governments and military forces, SKOLKAN also allows for the integration of emerging challenges such as cyber defence, ballistic missile defence and energy security into a complex training environment.
Reading Wednesday’s intervention by Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin in the case of the 30 environmental activists now facing altered, though still disproportionate, charges of “hooliganism” as a sign that Moscow is now fully in command, an op ed article in Helsingin Sanomat concludes that “the whole incident has now become highly political, and before long a political solution to it will be sought.”
Mikhail Kosenko, who has already spent a year in a remand prison awaiting trial and is accused of using violence against an OMON policeman during the May 2012 Bolotnaya Square demonstration – even though the policeman in question does not remember the incident and denies that Kosenko hurt him – has been sentenced by a Moscow court to indefinite forced psychiatric treatment.
More details here, from Joshua Yaffa in the New Yorker.
In his blog, Berlin-based U.S.-Swiss-Korean journalist Lucian Kim presents a remarkable series of reports on contemporary life and conditions in the North Caucasus – in particular notes and photographs from a journey to Chechnya. He writes:
Before the Boston Marathon bombing, few people had heard of Dagestan. Two years earlier, in April 2011, I traveled to the Russian province and its neighbors Chechnya and Ingushetia. I wanted to see for myself a region that most Russians associate with bandits and Islamic terrorists. And I was dead-set on tracking down Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed warlord who holds Chechnya in an iron grip.
The whole of the blog is well worth reading and studying.
Hat tip: Nina Ivanovna – @ninaivanovna – on Twitter