How a Country With No Military Can Change the Battle Against Russia

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Iceland, a remote island in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean with just under 400,000 people, and the only member of the Atlantic Alliance without its own military, played an important role during the Cold War as a NATO watchdog, preventing passage from the Norwegian Sea to the Soviet Northern Fleet.

Today, with a more hostile Russia and an Arctic increasingly militarized by Putin, Iceland is once again at the center of the geopolitical chessboard after years of absolute domination by Uncle Sam that condemned it to geostrategic irrelevance.

What is so important about its location on the world map? How has Iceland managed to exploit its location to its advantage? Who will defend this remote island in the event it is attacked or even invaded? What role does it play in an Arctic increasingly militarized by Russia?

Interesting links:
Greenwood, Jeremy. 2023. “Great power competition and overseas basing in the Arctic”. Policy Brief. Brookings. At:

MacKinlay, Alexander. 2019. “Iceland, strategic ebb and flow.” Opinion Paper 27/2019. Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies. At:

Th. Jóhannesson, Gudni. 2004. To the edge of nowhere? U.S.-Icelandic defence relations during and after the Cold War. Naval War College Review 57 (3/4): 115-137. At:

Vázquez Orbaiceta, Gonzalo. 2023. “The resurgence of the strategic importance of the GIUK Gap.” Opinion Paper 49/2023. Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies. At:

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