Russia and the Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea Strategy Forum (BSSF) returned in 2021 after a pandemic-induced hiatus of more than two years. Since 2017, the dedicated Northern European forum on maritime security and strategy in the Baltic Sea region brings together around 50 international experts from academia, the military, the industry & selected media representatives. Subjects of mutual interst include naval strategy, maritime security, critical infrastructure, maritime trade, seaports, energy issues, maritime safety, and alliances and challengers to and in the region. The BSSF is traditionally hosted by one of the three steering group organizations and, after three go-arounds in 2017 (Finland), 2018 (Denmark) and Germany (2019), is now conducted every other year. For BSSF21, the ongoing pandemic necessitated a virtual format organized by ISPK's Center for Maritime Strategy & Security.
Shortly before the Christmas break, against the background of the significant Russian military build-up around Ukraine that would lead to a full-blown war only two months later, BSSF21 highlighted some recent maritime work emitting from Northern Europe, namely aspects concerning the (at time of writing unfinished) NorthStream 2 pipeline & key findings on studies on the Russian Baltic Fleet. In line with BSSF's approach to look beyond the horizon, another presentation addressed findings on Indo-Pacific navies: With Chinese warships having visited the Baltic, and the prospective participation of the Royal Australian Navy in the Baltops exercise 2023, the apparently far away navies are of interest to Northern European planners and researchers alike.