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Announcing its 2016 summit in Warsaw on Friday, a Nato spokesman said: “This summit comes at a crucial time for the alliance, as the tectonic plates of Euro-Atlantic security have shifted both in the East and the South.” At its last summit in Wales, Nato boosted its defences in eastern Europe, aiming to reassure allies nervous about Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.
Earlier this month, Poland and the Baltic states said they were seeking permanent Nato deployments on their soil to counter increased Russian activity.
In the Cold War, he tracked groups of as many as 12 Soviet fighter-bombers in attack formation near the island.
That activity dropped to almost nothing in the 15 years following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
“If we were in a war situation, our radar would be one of the first things taken out. The first thing you should do is shut off the eyes of your enemy.”At the height of the Cold War, Bornholm’s radar station and listening post was arguably Denmark’s most important contribution to Nato.
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“But so has Nato activity.” Russian planes now skirt the island almost weekly.
It’s a similar picture in the other Nordic countries.
But in 2012, to the horror of old cold warriors such as Mr Skaarup, the Danish armed forces shut it and sold it. “We don’t know what’s going on, not in the same way as we used to.”Capt Hansen points out that now Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are part of Nato, Bornholm is no longer the alliance’s “eyes to the East”.
Nor does he see Russia’s recent Baltic aggression as a genuine threat: “Today we are too dependent on one another, and the financial situation demands some sort of stability.”As Professor Jens Ringsmose, at the University of Southern Denmark’s Centre for War Studies, says: “Putin’s project is all about putting Russia back on the map as one of the big players.Capt Hansen chuckles to think that only seven years ago he spent an evening drinking vodka with Russian sailors who had landed on the island as part of their participation in Nato’s annual Baltic Operations (Baltops) exercise: “I wouldn’t imagine they would be invited to Baltops this year.”The simulated attack certainly wasn’t an accident, he says.