Ukraine’s victory: Nordic interest and role

Bild från Nordic Ukraine Advocacy Summit.

The Ukrainian fight for survival and independence from the Moscow Empire is of crucial national interest for the whole Nordic-Baltic region. For the Baltic countries, I would not hesitate to call the outcome of the war near to existential, but it is also existential for the whole region as we know it.

We should be very clear about the Russian demands in the Autumn of 21. For Sweden and Finland this ment being placed in the Kremlin sphere of influence. What that means I do not think I need to explain here in Helsinki.

We should also be very clear that Russia has defined it is in conflict with the whole collective West; EU and NATO. And it doesn’t matter if we think we are not. If someone has decided to take the fight, you can perhaps ignore the fact that you are punched but not the fact that it hurts you. In this fight – Kremlin uses every trick in the school yard that some of the unfortunate of us can imagine, but in an upscaled state version. We use to call this tool box for hybrid threats…

So are we grasping the severity of the struggle for the future, not only for Ukraine, but also for us and the whole of Europe? And are we realizing the risks? With populist pro-Russian forces gaining momentum in the large and important EU countries France and Germany, and with a crucial US election ahead that could paralyze the action of the leading country of the Free World – the future is unpredictable. On the same time, Russia is weak. As long as Ukraine gets backing from the West Russia will not reach its goals on the battlefield. Russia is trying to achieve its goals by extortions, bluffs, nuclear threatening Armageddon-language and influence operations.

This does not mean that the situation is not dangerous, on the contrary – miscalculations can be disastrous, so also to fall for bluffs.

And in all this we have China who is striving for world dominance, supporting Russia and actively undermining the rule based order even if Russia is the brute in the front line. We can add North Korea and Iran and its proxies to the mess.

So do we fully understand the situation. I would argue no, because decisionmaking is to slow, with to little to late. Both when it comes to support Ukraine and to build military capability on the northern flank, of course we could argue that the awareness differs among allies in the Northern flank, and that is true. But we still lack the courage to draw the right conclusions of what is needed to be done. NB8 can not rely on others to go before them and take care of things, it is in our own interest to show the strength to do what it ever it takes.

One key element is to increase military production heavily. Here NB8 could turn into an armoury of Democracies. We can not wait for EU, NATO or some else to act and get production in order.

That is why I propose a NB8-formula for Ukrainian victory, which should be understood as an Ukraine whole and free and integrated in the EU and NATO.

1 per cent of GDP, use the first badge of funding to build industry production facilities in the NB8 and in Ukraine, this sum should also go to rebuilding Ukraine after the war until  EU and NATO membership is there, In this production of Gripen fighter jets to Ukraine should be included.

Sanctions should mean a total ban of trade with Russia unless an active exemption is made, not the other way around.

Sanctions should be added on third parties that create possibilities for Russia to arm, this means also China.

NB8 should also strive to advocate more energetic and coordinated in the Global South for Ukraine, as non colonial (well almost non-colonial (Denmark and Sweden having a minor past) together with the successful state building experience of the Baltics we have credit to use in the dialogue.

No red lines, or limits, on how we can decide to help Ukraine. Including sending military units in various capacities to Ukraine. Let Putin guess what we will do, instead of us guessing what he will do.

Strengthening ourselves so we do not become the weakest link in the chain:

An aim of at least 3 percent of GDP for defense, for countries lagging behind – such as Norway, Sweden and Denmark this means probably a need of reaching 3,5-4 percent quickly and adapt a war mode on how to increase speed in arming the countries. Urgency must be the watchword of the day.

Also a cooperation mechanism to meet hybrid threats is needed to meet Russia’a actions that are ongoing today.

And we must start to dare to talk what winning means, and that we should not fear a Russia falling apart.

Patrik Oksanen, resident senior fellow, Frivärld.