UK signs defense deal with Sweden and Finland

As Sweden and Finland are expected to formalize their NATO membership applications in the coming days, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made the trip to Harpsund – the summer residence of Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson , located west of Stockholm – and in Helsinki, Wednesday, May 11, to sign a defense and mutual protection agreement with the two Nordic countries.

An initiative seen as insurance by Sweden and Finland, worried about the reactions of Russia, and which allows Boris Johnson to recall that his country has a major role to play in European defense.

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“If either country is hit by a disaster or victim of an attack, we will be there and help each other, including with military assistance”, assured the British Prime Minister in Helsinki. A little earlier in Stockholm, he had specified that the agreement would make it possible to “share intelligence, conduct even more joint military exercises and deepen our joint technology developments”.

Boris Johnson has not ruled out sending British troops or even assisting with nuclear deterrence. “We usually do not comment on this topic. [de la dissuasion nucléaire]but it is up to each of the two partners to formulate their request [d’aide] and we take [cet engagement d’aide] very seriously”, he stressed during the press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson. London has also offered to deploy Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and British Army personnel to northern Europe.

A delicate intermediate period

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto at the presidential palace in Helsinki, May 11, 2022.

This agreement comes at a time when the two Nordic countries, members of the European Union (EU), are preparing their application for NATO membership. But before Sweden and Finland can join the transatlantic Alliance, its thirty member states will first have to give the green light, which could take between four months and a yearwarned Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.

The two northern neighbors will then find themselves in a delicate situation. “During this interim period, the country that is waging a merciless war, an ignoble war against Ukraine, knows that we have made our choice, but we will not be covered by the security guarantee provided for in article 5 of the treaty. of NATO »explained to World Tytti Tuppurainen, the Finnish Minister for European Affairs, who wants the process to be “as quickly as possible”.

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