The ongoing airstrikes against the Islamic State is leaving the terror organization bank account dwindling. Since the beginning of the campaign against ISIS, Coalition and Russian aircraft have targeted oil infrastructure in Iraq and Syria, one of the primary sources of income for the terror group. It is estimated that ISIS was making nearly $500 million a year selling oil on the black market. With the loss of that significant revenue source, ISIS has struggled paying its militants. Fighters in Raqqa (de facto capital of Islamic State) have had their wages cut 50 percent. While the loss of income does not necessarily bring about the end of ISIS, it makes it much harder for the terror group to finance continued operations in Syria and Iraq.
A recent report by NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has revealed that a training exercise by Russian aircraft on the outskirts of the Stockholm archipelago was a simulated nuclear attack on the Swedish capital. Russia and Sweden have a long and complicated history. The two nations have fought 11 wars since the 12th century, although the last occurred in 1808-1809 when Finland was captured and made an autonomous part of Russia. During the Cold War, the two sides played a game of cat and mouse between Russian submarines and Swedish naval forces. Despite its declaration of neutrality, there were numerous instances of Swedish ships dropping depth charges on suspected Russian subs.
With the end of the Cold War, Sweden began a massive drawdown of its armed forces. In 1995, the Swedish army had 15 maneuver brigades and 100 reservist battalions and could be mobilized in two days. By 2010 those numbers were down to two maneuver battalions and four reserve companies and saw the mobilization period shoot up to 90 days. A revamping of the Swedish army (pursuing an all-volunteer force by 2019) has seen an increase to two maneuver brigades, 14 reservist battalions, and a mobilization period of seven days. While Sweden remains a neutral nation (there is some speculation it may join NATO if Finland takes that path), it has maintained continued relations with NATO and is the leading nation of the Nordic Battle Group (one of 18 battlegroups in the European Union). While Russian attention has largely been diverted towards Syria, once that conflict comes to its eventual close, it may renew its sabre rattling in the Baltic against its northern European neighbors.