Sweden, Denmark and Norway signed an agreement on defense cooperation on Friday in response to the growing tensions in the Baltic Sea and obvious Russian aggression, but Finland’s absence from the deal has raised some questions.
The tripartite agreement mainly meets the needs of non-NATO members Sweden, which has neglected military build-up and practically dismantled its defense forces after the Cold War. The agreement is necessary due to Russia’s readiness to use military force to achieve political goals, says Sweden’s Minister of Defense Peter Hultqvist to TV4 in an interview on Friday. The three countries aim to raise the bar against such behavior.
In Finland’s absence from the agreement, Minister of Defense Antti Kaikkonen justified this by pointing out that Kaliningrad in the Danish Strait was not on the country’s threshold via Twitter on Friday. A similar defense co-operation agreement was previously signed between Finland, Sweden and Norway, while Finland also has its own bilateral agreement with Sweden.
There is no shortage of defensive agreements in Europe and around the Baltic Sea.
The Nordic Defense Co-operation (NORDEFCO) consists of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden with the aim of “strengthening the participants’ national defenses, exploring common synergies and facilitating effective common solutions”. The European Intervention Initiative (EI2), launched by France, aims to “facilitate the emergence of a European strategic culture” with thirteen members, all Nordic countries except Iceland. Together with the Baltic states and the Netherlands, the British-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) also includes Nordic members.
(Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)