From Robinder Sachdev:
Against a backdrop of dark enmity and a proxy war in Ukraine with the US and NATO that is radically disrupting and redefining the European security fabric and global geopolitics, the logic suggests that Russia is denying NATO expansionism in Finland and Sweden want.
IT SEEMS that there will be a conventional conflict between NATO and Russia – not possible to say when, but likely in the near to mid-term within our lifetime of present-day humans living on planet Earth. And there is a probability, currently in the low teens, that this conventional conflict will turn into a nuclear one (more on that in a next NATO-Russia column). However, another scenario could arise where nuclear weapons are rattled in another region of the European theater within 3-6 months, as discussed below. As of today, there are about 6-7 big picture scenarios of the future that emerge from this conflict. In today’s column I will focus on 2 of these likely scenarios in the short term, 3-6 months. 1. The Black Wall – Some things have been clear since day 1 of the invasion.
One thing that is clear and makes a lot of sense from a Russian perspective is the erection of a Black Wall for tomorrow’s Ukraine, which will deny it access to the Black Sea (and the Sea of Azov) – forever. This Black Wall will be the boundary of a land corridor along the sea coasts of Ukraine. This zigzag land corridor along the Black Sea coast, starting with Russia in eastern Ukraine, along the entire sea coast of Ukraine to the south-western end of Ukraine, can be anywhere from 50 to 100-300 miles long in places, and will extend to Odessa and beyond, to the extreme borders of Ukraine with Moldova and Romania. Forget the fate of the rest of Ukraine, this corridor would be turned into Russian territory.
This will ensure that regardless of internal chaos and whatever happens in a landlocked Ukraine, tomorrow’s Ukraine will be forever barred from access to the Black Sea (and Sea of Azov) – at the mercy of Russia. Also, this region is rich in minerals, base metals, and industrial infrastructure (Ukraine provides 70 percent of the world’s supply of neon gas — crucial for making semiconductor chips), logistical links of railroads and ports, including Odessa, the giant shipping and shipbuilding hub. Overall, this is a rich region that will contribute to the Russian economy. It might be worth using Russian forces to own this region. What happens within the remaining territory of landlocked Ukraine is another matter entirely. In this region there may be urban civil war, political chaos, puppet regimes of Russia or Russia-hating elements that will be in power for years or decades to come – but Russia would have erected a Black Wall for Ukraine for all time. 2. Black umbrella over Finland, Sweden – One of the last remaining non-NATO countries to share its border with Russia is Finland. Also, Sweden is one step away from Finland and so far a non-NATO country. Both countries now wish, and public opinion is growing in both, to join NATO. In recent weeks, some NATO countries have already expressed their support for Finland and Sweden joining NATO. Well, if Russia thinks that NATO and US expansionism are a threat to Russia (and that’s the main reason it went to war with Ukraine), then the moves and statements by Finland and Sweden should of course be a cause for great concern in the give Kremlin . Against a backdrop of dark enmity and a proxy war in Ukraine with the US and NATO that is radically disrupting and redefining the European security fabric and global geopolitics, the logic suggests that Russia is denying NATO expansionism in Finland and Sweden want. What could Russia do to ensure Finland and Sweden don’t join NATO? Will it warn them both not to go down this path? Or will Russia stand idly by and in the next few years both Finland and Sweden will become NATO members? The “Black Umbrella” scenario posits that given signals coming from Finland and Sweden, Russia could initially warn these two countries to remain neutral and drop all their NATO ambitions immediately.
Russia may require a written treaty from these two nations for this purpose. Essentially the same conditions that were dictated to Ukraine is NATO membership. Finland, a small country of about 6 million people and a defense budget of about $6 billion, is puny compared to Russia’s conventional armed forces. Sweden too, although it is buffered by Finland in between. So a Russian warning could make them both stop and change lanes.
The question is: what happens if Finland and Sweden ignore Russian warnings and stick to their NATO admission procedures? Will Russia rally troops on the border with Finland and threaten brinkmanship? Or will she march to Helsinki? In the background a drumbeat rolls over reports from Russia about nuclear weapons aimed at Helsinki and Stockholm. Prime Minister Sanna Marin of Finland will have to make some decisions. Soon. Aside from the surprise announcement of Finland and Sweden as NATO member states, Russia may not need to deploy too large a force on the Finnish border to pose a serious and real threat to Finland. Sure, Russian forces are being stretched in Ukraine, but at the same time, they could station some small, sensible numbers on the Finnish border, informing that their threat must be taken seriously. Combine this with a military and strategic nuclear exercise in northwestern Russia or the Baltic Sea. Then give both countries 48 hours to sign a neutrality treaty. Or face the war. Will Finland and Sweden give in to Russian demands and live under the “black umbrella” of a Russian-dictated foreign policy, or will Finland fight back? Finland may not have a choice. The US and NATO will certainly be upset, but war with Russia in support of a non-NATO country? And risk a nuclear conflagration with Russia? Thus, a Black Umbrella scenario could cover Finland and Sweden in the next 3-6 months. (IANS) (Robinder Sachdev is President of the Imagindia Institute. Views expressed are personal).