Arming Against Putin – NATO in the Baltic Sea

  • Sundance
  • Rotterdam
  • HotDocs

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden have been planning to join NATO. This would bring the Baltic Sea almost completely under the Alliance's control. Russia sees this as a threat, and the Baltic Sea is suddenly at the centre of geopolitics.
Measured by the potential of the powers that confront each other here, it is suddenly one of the most dangerous regions in the world. The documentary focuses on the present, past and future of this front on the high seas and thus on the motives, and actions, of the central actors.




52 min


Knut Weinrich



Most Germans think of the Baltic Sea as a holiday destination. The fact that the Third World War could have broken out here during the Cold War was forgotten after 1990. But since February 2022 everything has changed. Russia’s attack on Ukraine has sent shock waves through the Baltic region. Finland and Sweden are striving to join NATO.

The Baltic Sea is thus becoming a “NATO Inland Sea”. This does not fit in with Putin’s imperial aspirations. There are constant power plays between Russian and Western military in the Baltic Sea. Finland is a NATO member since April 2023, while Sweden’s membership is opposed by Turkey. Estonia’s government, on the other hand, is urging haste: who knows better what dangers threaten than the Baltic population, which lived under Soviet occupation for decades?

On “Navy Day” in 2022, Putin renewed Russia’s claim to global naval dominance. Russia’s fleet-building programme, however, does not seem feasible, given the costly attack on Ukraine. But weakness does not make a regime less dangerous. Experts do not rule out the use of Russian nuclear weapons. Here, too, the Baltic Sea region is at the centre.

The renowned author and director Knut Weinrich sends the audience on an image-rich journey to the scenes of this struggle. High-ranking people from politics and the military, as well as renowned experts, show the explosive nature of the sea we all thought we knew. At the end is a prognosis of who will retain supremacy between Kiel and St. Petersburg – East or West. And what follows from this, in terms of risks and opportunities.

Written and directed by

Knut Weinrich


Torben Müller
Peter Östlund
Dino von Wintersdorff


Björn Schubert
Alex Ruff


Konrad Buschke



Mix/Sound design

Pierre Brand

Color Grading

Bernie Greiner

Production Management

Lydia Mutschmann (GBF)
Katharina Krohmann (ZDF)


Florian Tropp

Editorial Department

Frederic Ulferts (ZDF/Arte)

Executive Producer

Reinhardt Beetz

Produced by Gebrüder Beetz Filmproduktion GmbH – A Leonine Company
In coproduction with ZDF
In collaboration with ARTE
Funded by Nordmedia

Arming Against Putin

In co-production with

  • ZDF

In association with

  • arte

Funded by

  • Nordmedia