Russia concerned by Finland, Sweden moves towards closer ties with NATO

Sergei Lavrov is Russia's Foreign Minister. (Thomas Nilsen/Barents Observer)
Sergei Lavrov is Russia’s Foreign Minister. (Thomas Nilsen/Barents Observer)
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that moves by Finland and Sweden towards closer ties with NATO are of “special concern”.

A Nordic defense cooperation positioned as directed against Russia, can undermine the positive cooperation that has been accumulated in the North over the past decades, the ministry warns.

The comments were published on the ministry’s web site on Sunday as an answer to an op-ed in the newspaper Aftenposten on Friday, were the Defense Ministers of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark and the Foreign Minister of Iceland called for an extended military cooperation among them.

The ministers said Russian aggression and violations of international law and other international agreements forces a more coordinated Nordic preparedness against possible crises or incidents.

“The settlement of questions like these is of course the sovereign right of each state,” the comment reads. “But unlike in previous years, Nordic defense cooperation has been positioned as directed against Russia, something that can undermine the positive constructive cooperation that has been accumulated in the North over the past decades.”

Increased concerns

In the joint statement, the ministers have a very clear message to Russia:

“The Russian aggression against the Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea are violations of international law and other international agreements. Russia’s conduct represents the gravest challenge to European security. As a consequence, the security situation in the Nordic countries’ adjacent areas has become significantly worsened during the past year…. we must be prepared to face possible crises or incidents.”

“Instead of an open and constructive dialogue aimed at finding joint solutions to enhance security in Northern Europe and on the continent as a whole, including settlement of the Ukrainian domestic conflict, openly confrontational approaches are being forced upon the public opinion of the inhabitants of the Nordic countries,” the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs conclude in its answer.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada:  Canadian Rangers – The Watchers, Radio Canada International

Denmark:  Nordics to step up security cooperation on perceived Russian threat, Yle News

Finland:  Survey – More than half of reservists in Finland pro-Nato, Yle News

Norway:  Peace and stability crucial for Arctic economy, Barents Observer

Russia: Fire-struck nuclear submarine to be repaired, Barents Observer

Sweden:  Sweden’s government scared of NATO facts: Moderates Party, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. Arctic rep: Russia’s Arctic buildup not necessarily martial, Alaska Public Radio Network


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