Naval captain: Finland, Sweden would boost NATO capability on Baltic Sea

Capt. Johan-Elias Seljamaa.
Capt. Johan-Elias Seljamaa. Source: ERR

Finland and Sweden's accession to NATO would mean significant new capabilities on the Baltic Sea, as both countries' navies have been designed for combat specifically on the Baltic Sea, Capt. Johan-Elias Seljamaa, deputy commander of the Estonian Navy, said on ETV's "Terevisioon" on Thursday morning.

The war in Ukraine has provided Estonia with lessons on how to move forward with its own naval defense.

"The Ukrainians declared mine risk areas at the beginning of the war already," Seljamaa said. "As we can see, this has prevented the Russians from sending in landing troops. The Russians are keeping their distance — the enemy's ships are maintaining their positions outside of the range of anti-ship missiles (AShM)."

Considering the course of the war, he believes Estonia is making the right decisions now already. "We're working on developing our layered defense: mines that obstruct the enemy's freedom of movement, and then AShMs, which in turn keep ships away," he said.

Likewise of crucial importance is situational awareness, i.e. the identified maritime picture. "In combining the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) and the fleet, we are moving in the direction of the Navy being responsible for situational awareness and directing all of Estonia's maritime resources," he explained.

Seljamaa believes that Finland and Sweden's accession to NATO would be a very good thing.

"Both countries' armed forces have built up their naval fleets specifically for combat on the Baltic Sea," he said. "This will mean very specific capabilities that are surely very effective."

According to the naval captain, the Russians' recent activity on the Baltic Sea is similar to that of previous years — there is not much happening there.

"They're focusing on training teams, which is taking place primarily near Kaliningrad," he said. "They're conducting sea trials for ships being repaired, and of course they always shadow bigger groups of ships that allies have brought here to the Baltic Sea — demonstrating that they're aware. Russian ships accompany them, and gather intelligence and communications."

These activities are reciprocal; allied navies do the same thing.

In Ukraine, Russians are conducting critical operations in the direction of the Black Sea port city of Odesa. Currently in their sights are critical infrastructure, ports and junctions.

"Odesa is a crucial major port, in terms of both exports and in rebuilding the country afterward," Seljamaa said. "Also near Odesa is Snake Island, which is being fought over, and it's impossible to say right now who is in control of the island. Snake Island is crucial for establishing access to the port, and weapons systems can be placed there."


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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