Joaquín Cocho, intelligence analyst and national security expert, talks about the threats to the islands in the event of armed conflict.

The memory of the arrival of US ships of the Sixth Fleet during the 1960s and 1970s is now a vague memory. “Society seeks the welfare state over security, and this is very dangerous,” warns Joaquín Cocho, an intelligence analyst and expert in national security risks, who adds that “throughout history, the Balearic Islands have been a point of reference for supply, advance, planning and positioning for a naval attack and for the transport of goods”.

If the conflict in Ukraine were to escalate worldwide, what role would the Balearic Islands play? Cocho analyses for Mallorca Global Mag the threats and the situation that the islands would experience in the event of a possible escalation of the current war.

“These hypotheses form part of the strategies and scenarios that are being considered in military, civilian and economic prospective. Because of their strategic location in the Mediterranean, the islands are a much easier territory to attack, besiege and eliminate, as this provides a reference point, but they are more resistant to being conquered,” explains the expert. In addition, there is a clear trend in recent conflicts: “The aim of war is not to kill the enemy but to cause an economic, logistical and supply problem.

Diversion of resources

An attack on Mallorca would be tantamount to “diverting a percentage of military assets, civilian and commercial action, which would cause a distraction”, Cocho points out. “The islands are vulnerable, unless they are well equipped and have an advanced communications system, radars or interception and monitoring elements for ballistic air traffic. As an expert, Cocho laments the lack of investment, which results in a situation of weakness compared to other countries.

Moreover, he wonders “whether the Balearic government would be willing to return to having military infrastructure or whether it would let navy ships patrol its ports”, something that “need not be scandalous: there are satellite antennae, communications posts and radio transmission buildings, which are very present in territories such as Gibraltar. An island is a very complicated element to defend. It is either highly protected or extremely vulnerable”.

Moscow Palma in 6 minutes

The destruction of Mallorca’s strategic points – ports and airport – would be enough to block it, according to the expert. “Something relatively easy for a country like Russia, which has Burevestnik cruise missiles, with unlimited range and a nuclear engine, capable of circling the globe,” explains Cocho, who speaks of the capacity of other weapons with a range such as “the Kinzhal hypersonic system, which travels at 12,000 km per hour, or the Avangard, which flies at 24,000 km per hour; Moscow – Palma, in 6-7 minutes. Impossible to react,” he concludes.

Hypotheses that may seem improbable for Mallorca, where the deployment of troops and military personnel “would depend on the Ministry of Defence”, according to Joan David Janer, lecturer in International Law at the UIB. “We are in another part of Europe, the current conflict is far away and the strategic interest of the Balearic Islands is not very high compared to others such as Gibraltar, the Sea of Marmara…”.

For some time now, Mallorca has not seen the troops that were more common in past decades. But the presence of aircraft, submarines and troops from other countries, within the NATO pact, could return to the island in the event of an escalation of a military conflict.