Military drills in Nord Stream waters

The Nord Stream pipeline

Two major Russian military drills in the Baltics this August and September appear to have threats against the projected Nord Stream pipeline as one of the training scenarios.


Russian Armed Forces will engage in big-scale training in the Ladoga-2009 and Zapad-2009 drills, to be held in areas in and adjacent to the Baltic Sea. Protection of oil and gas installations have been declared a official target of the training, and some analysts see the drills, and especially the Ladoga-2009, as aimed on the protection of the Nord Stream project, the 1200 km long underwater pipeline which is planned to run through the Baltic Sea.

The pipeline, planned completed in 2012, will be Russia’s first major direct pipeline link with the EU and thus a key alternative export transport route for Russian gas.

Several countries around the Baltic Sea have expressed serious concern about possible environmental consequences from the project, among them Finland. Sweden has in addition expressed concern about the security implications of the pipeline.

The Swedes are clearly nervous about the pipeline issue, as they reduced their defence preparedness in the Baltic Sea after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now it seems the Russians are coming back, and that makes them uneasy”, Docent Alpo Juntunen from the Finnish National Defence University says to Helsingin Sanomat.

However, other Nordic defence experts see the Nord Stream exclusively as a commercial project without military security aspects.

Russia’s interests in the Baltic Sea region are commercial and logistic, not military-political”, Special Adviser Hiski Haukkala from the Unit for Policy Planning and Research at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs says to He does not consider the gas pipeline project and Russia’s interest towards the Baltic Sea to be a worrying development from the security policy perspective.

If such a critical piece of infrastructure is laid on the bottom of the sea, it is only natural that it will also be defended. That is all there is to it”, Haukkala says. He believes Russia’s political interests lie elsewhere, and not in the north or the west.