Minister Kajsa Ollongren visited Latvia, Estonia and Finland last week. She also boarded the Zr.Ms. Seven provinces in the Baltic Sea. The situation around Ukraine was crucial for talks with her three colleagues. Countries bordering Russia feel the threat more strongly than other NATO allies. In Finland, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the support of the people for joining NATO has increased significantly. Ollongren talked about it with her Finnish counterpart.
There is great solidarity with Ukraine in the Baltic and northern countries and there is great concern about the course of the war. The ministers exchanged information on the military support they provide to the country. The importance of credible deterrence and strengthening of NATO’s presence in the region was also discussed. This is a topic that ministers say should be discussed at the NATO summit in June.
Credible deterrence includes the deployment of NATO’s SNMG1 fleet. Mrs. De Zeven Provinciën is currently sailing in the Baltic Sea and is part of this permanent naval response force. From the frigate, command of SNMG1 is also carried out by the Second Staff and under the command of Dutch Commander Van de Sande. Minister Ollongren flew there by helicopter to meet the crew, see what life and work on the ship were like and hear how the deployment has come about to date.
In Finland, the Minister was introduced to the concept of security of the whole society. Finland’s security policy is based on the strong involvement of society as a whole. In addition to all government sectors, companies, NGOs and citizens also have a role to play in crisis situations.
Due to their history and geographical location, Finns are fully aware of the importance of resilience and readiness. For example, an extraordinary and stable 70% of the population is ready to defend the country with weapons. The state also has a large and actively trained reserve force of 30% of the adult population.
Fighting the hybrid threat
Ollongren also visited the Hybrid Center of Excellence in Helsinki. This knowledge center advises and builds capabilities to prevent and combat hybrid threats, such as cyber attacks and misinformation. To this end, 31 allies participating in the EU and NATO exchange experiences, give each other recommendations and ideas are tested.
Minister Kajsa Ollongren on board Hr.Ms. Seven Provinces (Picture: defense)