Nordic countries extend military alliance in face of Russian aggression | World Defense

Nordic countries extend military alliance in face of Russian aggression

Mar 30, 2015
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Joint declaration from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland calls Russia’s conduct the ‘biggest challenge to European security’

The Nordic countries have pledged to step up military cooperation in the face of increased Russian aggression, which they described as the “biggest challenge to European security”.

The defence ministers of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, plus Iceland’s foreign minister, signed a joint declaration published in the Norwegian daily Aftenposten that said the bloc “must be prepared to face possible crises or incidents”.

The ministers said they were responding to an altered security situation caused by Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict and increased Russian military activity in the Baltic region.

“Russia’s conduct represents the biggest challenge to European security,” the ministers wrote. “As a consequence, the security situation around the Nordic countries has significantly worsened during the past year.”

The countries have reported a rise in Russian military activity over the past year, including several airspace violations and incidents of war planes allegedly flying without their identifying transponders.

“We must be prepared to face possible crises or incidents,” the declaration said, adding that Russia’s leaders were prepared to use “military means in order to reach their political goals.

“The Russian military is acting provocatively along our borders, and there have been several border violations of countries around the Baltic Sea.”

Norway, Denmark and Iceland – which does not have an army – are Nato members, while Finland and Sweden are non-aligned, but have increased their cooperation with the alliance, including joint exercises, amid internal debate on the merits of membership.

Sweden, Denmark and Finland are part of the European Union.

The ministers said “Russia’s propaganda and political manoeuvering are contributing to sowing discord” within both organisations.

The increased Nordic cooperation will include more joint military exercises and intelligence exchanges, as well as stronger defence industry ties.

“Closer cooperation in northern Europe and solidarity with the Baltic states will contribute to stronger security in our region and raise the threshold for possible military incidents,” the ministers said.

Nordic countries extend military alliance in face of Russian aggression | World news | The Guardian