8 February 2016

Russian Air Force Conducted Simulated Nuclear Strike on Sweden

  1. Damien Sharkov, Newsweek, February 4, 2016

    Russia’s air force has practiced a nuclear strike against Sweden, according to a report by NATO’s secretary general.The Russian training mission, which took place in March 2013 by the eastern edge of the Stockholm archipelago, attracted a great deal of media attention and some Swedish media outlets speculated the maneuvers resembled what a Russian aerial attack on Sweden would look like.The incident involved a rapid deployment of Russian bomber and fighter aircraft at Sweden’s aerial border, prompting an embarrassingly slow response from the Swedish air force. Unable to mobilize its own air force in time, Stockholm had to ask NATO to send jets to deal with the possible threat.
    Two Danish NATO jets arrived to shadow the exercise. But the incident still demonstrated the level of Sweden’s vulnerability, as Russian aircraft with nuclear capabilities came within striking range of its capital city.According to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s annual report, the move was indeed a simulated nuclear strike against Sweden and part of a worrying trend of Russian aggression in Northern Europe.
    Sweden and Finland, both non-aligned with NATO but frequent partners to its military exercises, have complained of airspace violations by Russian aircraft in recent months. Over the course of 2014 and 2015, NATO’s Baltic Air Police scrambled a record number of jets to deal with incoming Russian military aircraft.The report, which was released last week but only attracted the attention of Scandinavian news outlets on Wednesday, speculated that the likely targets of such an attack would be Smaland in southern Sweden and the National Defence Radio Establishment, Sweden’s military intelligence hub, just outside Stockholm. The report confirmed that the group of planes consisted of four Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 bombers as well as two Sukhoi Su-27 jets.

    “As part of its comprehensive military rearmament, the extent of Russia’s military maneuvers and exercises have reached levels not seen since the end of the Cold War,” the report said.
    NATO membership is gaining popularity in Sweden as a September a poll found that 41 percent of Swedes were in favor of joining the alliance, up 10 percent from 2013. London-based security think tank the European Leadership Network warned over the summer that the nature and scale of Russian and NATO military exercises wereamplifying the risk of an accidental confrontation

  2. Syrian Army Battlefield Gains North of Aleppo May Have Altered the Balance of Power in Northern Syria

    February 5, 2015
    Assad Regime Gains in Aleppo Alter Balance of Power in Northern Syria
    Institute for the Study of War
    February 5, 2016
    By Christopher Kozak

    Key TakeawayBattlefield realities rather than great power politics will determine the ultimate terms of a settlement to end the Syrian Civil War. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies in Russia and Iran have internalized this basic principle even as Washington and other Western capitals pinned their hopes upon UN-sponsored Geneva Talks, which faltered only two days after they began on February 1, 2016. Russian airpower and Iranian manpower have brought President Assad within five miles of completing the encirclement of Aleppo City, the largest urban center in Syria and an opposition stronghold since 2012. The current campaign has already surpassed the high-water mark set by the regime’s previous failed attempt to besiege Aleppo City in early 2015. The full encirclement of Aleppo City would fuel a humanitarian catastrophe, shatter opposition morale, fundamentally challenge Turkish strategic ambitions, and deny the opposition its most valuable bargaining chip before the international community. 


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