Finland, Sweden and US building three-way defence ties

Finland’s and Sweden’s Defence Ministers will meet with the U.S. Secretary of Defence in Washington this week, in order to discuss military cooperation and sign a trilateral statement of intent. In this picture, Finland’s Defence Minister Jussi Niinisto inspects Finnish troops during a military exercise between Sweden and Finland, on the Swedish island of Gotland, in 2017. (Anders Wiklundvia/TT/Reuters)
Defence Ministers from Finland, Sweden and the United States are scheduled to meet in Washington to discuss military cooperation between the three countries and the overall security policy situation, according to a press release from Finland’s defence ministry issued on Monday evening.

The three defence ministers will also sign a trilateral statement of intent (SOI).

The ministry said the new SOI “compliments and brings together” earlier agreements, aims to ensure that there are no overlapping activities and that competitive situations are avoided in international military drills and training exercises.

“After signing similar SOIs with the United States in 2016, both Finland and Sweden have enjoyed positive bilateral defence relations with the United States and the goal is to apply the model also to trilateral defence cooperation in the future,” the ministry release reads.

Better cooperation and information exchange

Finnish researcher and expert in US foreign and domestic policy, Charly Salonius-Pasternak said he thinks the new agreement is significant.

“The agreement simplifies the management of a growing number of [military] exercises and eases the exchange of information between the countries ,” Salonius-Pasternak told Yle.

That increase in sharing of information, Salonius-Pasternak said, could deal with weapons systems available to all three countries.

Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter quoted the country’s defence minister Hultqvist saying that the agreement aims to increase stability through a heightened US military presence in Europe.

Salonius-Pasternak said Hultqvist’s statement is significant.

“It appears that it [the agreement] has been seen as necessary to create better conditions for US military representation in Finnish and Swedish defence matters,” he said.

Niinistö is also scheduled to make a presentation on the Baltic Sea region’s security situation at an Atlantic Council seminar on Tuesday, according to the ministry.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: NATO wants to keep the Arctic an area of low tensions, Radio Canada International

Denmark: Denmark’s new defence agreement renews focus on protecting the Baltic, Radio Canada International

Finland: As Finnish Air Force seeks new fighters, expert weighs options, Yle News

Norway: Norway blames Russian troops for GPS jamming near border, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia to link military installations with trans-Arctic cable, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Should Gov be able to call on Finns if Sweden attacked?, Radio Sweden

United States: Why are elite fighter pilots leaving the U.S. Air Force?, Alaska Public Media

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