Blinken to visit Luleå amid Arctic fighter jet exercise

Luleå is the largest city in Norrbotten region, northern Sweden. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with the Swedish Prime Minister and Foreign Minister at Luleå air base on May 30.

While Sweden is waiting on the doorsteps to NATO, the US Secretary of State sends a strong signal of support as he starts his Nordic visit at Norrbotten Wing, home to Sweden’s northern fighter jets base.

The hope was for Sweden to join North Atlantic Alliance ahead of the Vilnius NATO Summit in July.

Security is on the agenda, but the Government in Stockholm has released few details about the upcoming meeting. A day ahead of Blinken’s visit is the start of Arctic Challenge 2023, Europe’s largest air force exercise that will gather 14 nations. War games with about 150 fighter jets will take place in the skies above Norway, Sweden and Finland until June 9.

The US aircraft carrier “USS Gerald R. Ford” is this weekend visiting Oslo, but will sail north on Monday, to the waters west of Helgeland near the Arctic Circle where the powerful carrier group is expected to train together with NATO allies.

The NATO Summit takes place in Vilnius, Lithuania on July 11-12. The hashtag is already in place outside the Defense Ministry’s building. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

After Luleå, Blinken will participate in an informal meeting among NATO foreign ministers in Oslo on May 31 and June 1. Russia’s war on Ukraine and the changing security situation in Europe are on the agenda. Sweden’s Foreign Minister Tobias Billström will attend the Oslo meeting.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Norway committed to keeping Arctic Council as leading forum on North says ambassador, CBC News 

Denmark: Danish policy prioritizes low-conflict Arctic amidst Russian tensions, Eye on the Arctic

FinlandRussian cyber attacks, espionage pose growing threat to Finnish national security, Yle news

Greenland: Growing focus on Arctic puts Greenland at higher risk of cyber attacks: assessment, Eye on the Arctic

IcelandNATO anti-submarine warfare exercise underway in North Atlantic, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: And in Between, There Are Doors’—Europe, the Arctic, and shared spaces, Blog by Marc Lanteigne

Russia: Moscow expels five Swedish diplomats, orders closure of Consulate General, The Independent Barents Observer

SwedenRussian spy ships surveying Nordic energy infrastructure, Radio Sweden

United StatesU.S. nominates Alaskan as first Arctic ambassador, Eye on the Arctic

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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