The present Russian disinformation aggression against the West is to a great extent based on Soviet techniques during the 1980s, when the Soviet Union was experiencing a downturn towards collapse. It might therefore be of interest to recall some of the Soviet activities in Scandinavia during the last decade of the existence of the Soviet regime. Scandinavia is an area close to the Soviet and Russian empires. Scandinavia in the twenty first century along with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland feels a cold wind of threat from the East in the Baltic Sea area.
No doubt the Soviet Union in the 1980s regarded the northern flank of Europe as important. It comprised not only the NATO countries Denmark, Iceland and Norway but also non-aligned Sweden and Finland.
The Soviets were studying the concept of a strike through Scandinavia to outflank the central front in then West Germany. The Manchurian Campaign in 1945 was studied as well as the Nazi Blitzkrieg against Norway and Denmark in 1940. The Nazi landings in 1940 were almost duplicated in the Soviet Sever exercise of 1968 and Okean of 1970. Soviet naval forces then sailed out of the Baltic and along the Danish and Norwegian coasts to conduct amphibious landings on the Pechenga Peninsula in the Arctic.
The Manchurian campaign of the Soviet Union used strategic surprise as a model. It was the primacy of offensive employing massive forces. Extensive use of deception and camouflage in the pre-attack period was also employed. The chief weakness of the enemy, the Japanese Kwangtung Army (and of NATO’s northern flank during the Cold War) was the failure to prepare in depth.
Soviet military strategy continuously stresses the importance of directing the main attack at a place where the enemy least expects it. This had a special meaning in the Cold War when NATO’s forces were most heavily concentrated on the border between West and East Germany. Meanwhile on the northern flank it was little more than a tripwire.
The Soviets wrote extensively on the Maginot Line and how the Nazis outflanked the Allies by going through the Benelux countries. Soviet mass murdering leader, Lenin, originally referred to the Western colonies when the doctrine of the weakest link was presented but it had military applications as well. Depriving NATO of its northern flank would mean less ability for Germany to resist Soviet attacks. If West Germany went, so would probably all of NATO’s European member states.
It is against this background facts will be presented here to demonstrate the dangers of leaving the northern flank almost undefended. A few examples from the Cold War: on the Norwegian-Soviet border two motorized rifle divisions totaling 27,000 men faced only 500 Norwegian border guards. Close to the border was the largest military concentration in the world at the time, the Kola Peninsula. In northern Norway there were only three airfields with runways over 1,700 meters.
During the Cold War internal forces in Scandinavian countries with pro-Soviet leanings combined with Moscow-directed forces to weaken the northern flank. It was in reality a most dangerous security situation in Scandinavia.