Norway, Finland, Sweden prioritize North in updated statement

“A central aim of this cooperation is to enhance and strengthen operations planning among the Participants in areas of common concern, especially the northern parts of Finland, Norway and Sweden (North Calotte and expand to other areas as required),” said the Statement of Intent signed on Tuesday. (istock)

The defence ministers of Finland, Norway and Sweden signed an updated statement of intent on Tuesday in Oslo that prioritizes operations planning in the North.

The three countries all share borders in the Arctic.

“A central aim of this cooperation is to enhance and strengthen operations planning among the Participants in areas of common concern, especially the northern parts of Finland, Norway and
Sweden (North Calotte and expand to other areas as required).”

The statement also pledges to improve the ability of the three countries’ militaries to operate in conjunction with each other.

“In light of the security situation, cooperation and unity among likeminded nations is paramount,” the Statement of Intent on Enhanced Operational Cooperation said. “For this reason we are determined to take combined measures aiming at enhancing and improving our ability to conduct military operations.”

‘This will serve as a deterrent against aggression’

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year has transformed the security picture in Europe.

Russia is not mentioned in the statement, but the three Nordic countries said the changing security environment demands closer military cooperation and the ability to operate easily with each other.

“We will make the necessary preparations to enhance our defence capability, interoperability, readiness and ability to provide military support among the Participants,” the document said. “This will serve as a deterrent against aggression.”

‘Further opportunities for even deeper defence cooperation’

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted both Sweden and Finland to apply for NATO membership earlier this year.

Their applications were approved and the accession protocols for both countries were signed on July 5. The 30 member countries must now ratify the protocols. Turkey and Hungry are the remaining two countries to do so. 

A file photo of Prime Ministers of Sweden Ulf Kristersson and of Finland Sanna Marin (R) in Helsinki, earlier this year. (Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva / AFP via Getty Images)

Tuesday’s statement says once with the process is completed, it will further facilitate defense cooperation in the region.

“Finland and Sweden’s aspirations to become members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will, after the completion of the accession process, transform our trilateral defence
relationship into an arrangement between NATO Allies,” the document said.

“This will provide further opportunities for even deeper defence cooperation.”

In a joint statement on Tuesday after the signing, Finland’s Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen, Norway’s Minister of Defence Bjorn Arild Gram and Sweden’s Minister for Defence Pal Jonson, said the security challenges facing Europe requires tools for greater cooperation. 

“As all the Nordic countries will be allies in NATO, we have decided to update the NORDEFCO Vision to reflect this new strategic reality,” the said in a statement posted on the government of Norway’s website. “The new Vision will guide the development of future Nordic defence cooperation between allies.”

Soldiers of the P18 Gotland Regiment of the Swedish Army camouflage their armoured vehicles during a field exercise near Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland on May 17, 2022. The statement signed on Tuesday pledges closer military cooperation between Finland, Sweden and Norway. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images)

The statement is not a legally binding document and involves no obligation on any nation to take military action.

A statement from Finland’s Ministry of Defence stressed the document signed Tuesday is meant to compliment bilateral defence cooperation between Nordic nations as well as  trilateral cooperation between Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Write to Eilís at 

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Canada’s inaction on Arctic surveillance could affect future sovereignty: report, Eye on the Arctic

Faroe Islands: Denmark, Faroe Islands agree to establish air surveillance radar to bolster gaps in Arctic surveillance, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Norwegian military vehicles take new transit corridor via Finnish Lapland, The Independent Barents Observer

Iceland: Arctic security discussed at Reykjavik Northern Group meeting, Eye on the Arctic

NorwayDefence minister says Norway must get stronger in the North, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Assertive Moscow outlines push into central Arctic Ocean, The Independent Barents Observer

United StatesU.S. Army poised to revamp Alaska forces to prep for Arctic fight, The Associated Press

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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