UK signs security agreements with Sweden and Finland — Analysis
This is despite Russia’s warnings that NATO membership may be in jeopardy for the Nordic nations.
The UK has agreed “Mutual security guarantees” with Sweden and Finland, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed on Wednesday, a few days before Stockholm and Helsinki are due to announce their decision on pursuing NATO membership.
Johnson is visiting both countries today to sign “Historical” declarations, the prime minister’s office said in a statement.
According to Downing Street, the new pacts involve “Intensifying intelligence sharing and joint military training.”
The UK also intends “If the nations are in crisis, or under attack, it is possible to provide support for their armed forces,” the office said. The reassurance is timely as Sweden and Finland have previously voiced concern about Russian retaliation if they applied for NATO membership.
Speaking during a press conference in Sweden, Johnson claimed that the Russian military attack on Ukraine – which he described as “Putin’s bloodthirsty campaign against a sovereign nation” – put an end to the hope that peace in Europe will endure.
“The war in Ukraine is forcing us all to make difficult decisions. But sovereign nations must be free to make those decisions without fear or influence or threat of retaliation,” the UK prime minister said, adding that he is “Very happy” to sign the declaration.
According to reports, several countries are soon joining the UK for security support in Sweden and Finland. Verdens Gang reports that Nordic NATO members Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Iceland are working to form a common political declaration. This could give Stockholm and Helsinki additional security assurances over the coming months.
On May 6, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki reassured Sweden and Finland that the United States will be able to find ways “to address any concerns either country may have about the period of time between a NATO membership application and the formal accession to the alliance.”
Amid Moscow’s ongoing military offensive in Ukraine, both Sweden and Finland, which has a lengthy border with Russia, have seen a dramatic change in public opinion, with the majority of the population now supporting joining the US-led bloc, according to polls. Authorities in both countries had to change their anti-alignment policy.
Sweden’s ruling party will reveal its stance on NATO membership on May 15, three days after a similar move is expected to be taken by Finland. While the Swedish Social Democrats, according to their Secretary-General Tobias Baudin, have not yet come to a final decision, the Finnish government has reportedly formulated their position and it is “Finland applied to join the EU.” The parliament is reportedly expected to give its approval as well.
In early April, the head of the military alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, said NATO “We are very grateful” Finland and Sweden if they apply to join, and is prepared to make a decision on membership “quite quickly.”
Russia considers the further expansion of NATO to be a direct threat to its own national security, and “For the entire security architecture.” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov warned in April that Moscow would “You can take further measures” to make its defenses on the Western flank “More sophisticated” if Finland and Sweden join the bloc.
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