Sweden and Finland to further enhance security cooperation

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin and her Swedish counterpart Magdalena Andersson speak to the media outside the Prime Minister’s official residence, Kisaranta in Helsinki, Finland, March 5, 2022. Ronnie Rikuma/Letikova/Via Reuters

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HELSINKI (Reuters) – The prime ministers of the two countries said on Saturday that Sweden and Finland will strengthen their security cooperation in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but they are not committed to joining NATO.

“Russia’s war against a sovereign European state puts the European security system at risk. In this changing security environment, Finland and Sweden will further strengthen our cooperation,” Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin told reporters in Helsinki at a joint press conference with the Swedish prime minister. Magdalena Anderson.

Sweden and Finland have strong historical ties and close military cooperation, including joint exercises and information exchange.

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The invasion, which Russia called a “special military operation,” quickly changed the attitude toward NATO in both countries, which are currently outside NATO.

Opinion polls in recent days have shown a majority for NATO membership in both countries for the first time ever. Marin said it was “understandable” that more people in both Sweden and Finland now would like to join NATO. Read more L2N2V712H

“We’re having this discussion right now in Finland,” Marin said. “We will hold these discussions within parliament, with the president, within the government, and between parties,” he added.

In Sweden, the Social Democrats have long resisted calls from the center-right opposition to join NATO. Anderson said it was normal for the discussion to take place again, but he avoided questions about Sweden’s entry into the military alliance.

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“The security situation has changed in a dramatic way,” Anderson said. “I have met party leaders from other Swedish parties several times in the past week and we are discussing a number of issues,” she said.

There is already close cooperation between the two countries with NATO, and they are invited to all consultations on the Ukraine crisis. Secretary-General Stoltenberg said in January they could join the alliance “very quickly” if they decided to apply for membership.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said Friday that the United States and Nordic countries would “initiate a clear process of intensifying defense and security cooperation” after a meeting with US President Biden that included an invitation to Magdalena Anderson. Read more

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(cover) by Anne Kuranen in Helsinki and Johan Allander in Stockholm; Editing by Catherine Evans and Christina Fincher

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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