That is reason enough to continue with these steps, particularly when every barrel of Russian oil translates into munitions fired at Ukrainians. From an economic standpoint, the fact remains that gas and oil for domestic consumption come from imports via the pipeline from Russia. However, negotiations of the sixth set of sanctions have endangered Slovakia’s reputation as a staunch pro-Ukrainian country. However, even good neighbours don’t always agree on everything. Therefore, a distinction between it and its southern neighbors should be maintained. Admittedly, this stubborn position made negotiation a little easier for Bratislava as well. Diversification is one way out for Slovakia. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Reliance on Russian oil and gas impacts Slovak economy

By Juraj Kuruc
Research Fellow & Project Coordinator for the Future of Security Programme at the GLOBSEC Policy Institute. Building regional partnerships, such as the Visegrad 4, to ensure voices from the region were heard became an important endeavour. Many of these issues were resolved or rendered irrelevant when countries in the region joined the European Union (EU) and NATO. According to some research, crude oil imports are actually rising. Slovakia’s contribution to Ukraine’s war effort is directly proportional to its ability to heat its homes and power its cars in the coming winter. Unlike Slovakia, Hungary was blocking the entire sixth package until its demands were met. From the start of the Russian war in Ukraine, Slovakia, alongside Czechia and Poland, has taken a firm stance in supporting Ukraine and opposing Russian aggression. Slovakia’s position as a negotiator, resembling that role of Hungary, saw Slovak leaders asking for the same exemptions which entail oil supplies flowing through pipelines being exempt from the embargo for two years. The vulnerability of this dependency was demonstrated on several occasions in 2006 and 2009.   They are affecting Russia’s economy and the sixth package of sanctions will be a significant step for the entire EU. Gas and oil are vital for the Slovak energy sector. Paradoxically, this conflict can have an unintended consequence in helping Slovakia reach its emission commitments, meet green quotas, and wean itself off Russian hydrocarbons. Having a peaceful Ukrainian state, one that is ideally in the EU, is the most preferred outcome and one that supersedes the need for cheap gas and oil. It should be noted that the Slovak government’s stance on Ukrainian membership in the EU or indeed its supply of weapons and materials to support the war effort has not changed –– indeed, there have been notable transfers of S-300 surface-to-air missile systems, self-propelled artillery, and most recently, helicopters. A plan to build a pipeline that would enable Slovakia to tap into Polish seaborne LNG supplies is nearing the finish line. SLOVNAFT

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In addition to borders, Slovakia shares a long and at times complicated history with its neighbouring countries. The newest round of painstakingly negotiated sanctions on Russia, which aim to cut Russia’s profits from the sale of hydrocarbons to European countries, hit landlocked countries like Slovakia, Czechia, and Hungary the most. This is a legacy of the bygone communist era that created an entire ecosystem of jobs, but also almost complete energy dependency on Russia. However, the sixth round of sanctions on Russia represents a dual problem for the Slovak government – an economic one as well as reputational. However, the economic well-being of Ukrainian allies is equally important if their support is to continue. From a distance, it is easy to overlook the economic necessity and opt for an easier albeit lazier polarizing narrative of either pro-Ukrainian or pro-Russian. According to the most recent announcement from the Slovak Minister for Economy, the government estimates the price increase range for gas for consumer households to be between 34 to 59 percent. That scenario is unacceptable to any sane Slovak government–– the prospect of having the Russian army as its neighbor after more than 30 years is an ugly one, even with NATO membership and a battle group on Slovak soil. So far, sanctions have failed to coerce Russia into stopping the war. This led to the implementation of a technical improvement that enabled the reverse flow of natural gas in case of interrupted supply, which proved helpful to Ukraine and Slovakia in 2014. At the same time, the possible cost of a ‘no-sanctions’ is one without widespread support for Ukraine and pressure on Russia. The Slovak government is also asking for guarantees that this type of investment will be supported by funds from the EU. Summer means that while household gas demand for heating is currently low, demand for crude oil remains the same. Repurposing the only Slovak refinery – Slovnaft, which is part of the Hungarian MOL group – to work with lighter crude oil instead of the heavier Russian type is estimated to cost around €250 million and will take several years to develop.

These efforts ensure a continued modernization of the forces, expanding their life cycle to the 2050s and adding to the Leopard battle tanks and infantry vehicles. Moreover, the Russian invasion has created a tremendous shift in public opinion, with the majority of the populations voting in favour of joining the Alliance. Moreover, the equipment and technologies are often crafted according to the specific operational needs of each country. An especially interesting asset is Finnish national defence course, which is dedicated to leaders from various spheres of society. However, the more likely outcome will be that their NATO accession will freeze. Specialized and highly operational, the industries supply national capabilities with effective techniques and equipment. Since the summit provides momentum for the innovative solutions and strategies to be included as the lynchpin behind the seventh Strategic Concept, not having Sweden and Finland as valid members is a drawback. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>What does Finland and Sweden NATO membership mean for the future of NATO’s innovations? Finland has been replacing artillery equipment since 2014 as a part of the Operational Artillery programme. For a non-nuclear country, it needs to maintain up-to-date conventional forces to ensure a credible deterrence. Their aim to be self-sufficient in defence and security is reflected in their substantial investments into R&D.  
 
  The performance and profitability of these industries also stem from the successful use of civilian technology in their respective military productions. Defence industries and R&D
When it comes to innovation potential and Research & Development (R&D), the two countries’ defence industries serve as strong assets to their NATO candidacy. Sweden, on the other hand, takes pride in its top-ranked air force, backed up by Gripen 39 fighter jets and its expert navy. While the two countries have long maintained military non-alignment positions, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led them to completely reassess their posture and future of security. A similar exercise at the NATO level would certainly boost the performance of Allies and their cooperation with the private sector. Turkey has indicated that it does not perceive the Summit as a deadline for accession, so the question of when Sweden and Finland will join is still up in the air. Russia’s unprovoked violation of security guarantees has made NATO’s security umbrella significantly more appealing to both Finland and Sweden, but what does their potential membership mean for the future of NATO’s defence innovations? For instance, the Swedish submarines are specifically adapted to the Baltic Sea, taking into account its different salt layers, or narrow archipelagos. Both have been involved in a wide range of cooperation initiatives with the Alliance, sharing common values and objectives. Their Submarine Flotilla unit would substantially strengthen the Alliance’s presence in the Baltic Sea and in the Arctic. Finland shares a border with Russia that spans more than 1,300 kilometres. Their perception and innovation-driven perspectives on security and defence might be missing in the outcomes of the summit, as they could help lead the Alliance to improve performance on innovation. As GLOBSEC´s recently published report on NATO´s performance and innovations suggests, NATO can escape the growing geo-economic burden by pursuing profitable investments into defence industries and innovative technologies. In line with increased defence spending in multiple NATO member states, this enlargement could put greater emphasis on defining NATO’s innovation needs and help shape a more resilient innovation ecosystem. With substantial increases to defence spending, active militaries and defence industries, each country brings something unique to the table. By bringing modern militaries, effective defence industries, seasoned know-how, and production based on the military needs and end-users, the two Nordic countries can push NATO defence innovation to the frontline. They are taught about different sectors of the country’s national security, which allows them to understand Finland’s needs and in turn, help guide decisions. In fact, Finland’s artillery is among the biggest in Europe, with the second-largest land forces. By Jacqueline Sirotova
Project Coordinator, Future of Security Programme at GLOBSEC

General view of the meeting

NATO

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On 18 May, Finland and Sweden officially applied for NATO membership––a markedly historical decision. Neither of the countries are strangers to NATO. As the report recommends, establishing close links with the private sector and subsequently grounding defence innovations on this cooperation is a much-needed policy for the Alliance. Both countries are known for prioritising innovative and sustainable solutions, which are essential for preserving the Arctic region and its climate. Since the industry consists mostly of small- and medium-sized enterprises, Finland and Sweden can give NATO lessons on effective cooperation between smaller scale enterprises and the public spheres. The industries are not only highly profitable, but internationally competitive, exporting large portions of high-quality products with long life cycles. With the NATO Madrid Summit just around the corner, many expect the enlargement process and negotiations to be finalised. With Finland and Sweden already operating within these guidelines, they are unquestionably valuable to the future of NATO innovation.