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Russia concerned about Finland and Sweden’s “increasingly strong” link to NATO

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs says Finland and Sweden’s transition towards closer cooperation with the American-led military alliance NATO is a cause of special concern. The statement refers to a recent newspaper article from Norway in which representatives from all five Nordic countries called for increased joint military cooperation among the Nordics to respond to what they describe as a Russian threat.

Naton lippu.
The flag of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation represents the blue Atlantic Ocean and the circle of unity. Image: S. Sabawoon / EPA

The Russian Foreign Ministry has written an article on its website condemning a Nordic minister declaration that appeared in the Norwegian paper Aftenposten last Thursday. The letter disclosed a March 10 decision to intensify Nordic defence cooperation in the area of joint military exercises, acquisition of defence materiel, intelligence sharing and thwarting cyber attacks.

On Friday, Finland's Defence Minister Carl Haglund had said that in his opinion, Nordic security cooperation is one thing and NATO membership is a “totally different matter”.

Even so, the Russian Foreign Ministry now says the joint call for increased Nordic defence cooperation is a cause for concern.

“Decision-making in this area is without a doubt each state’s sovereign right, but a difference has arisen in the last few years because Nordic defence cooperation has begun to be directed against Russia,” it writes. According to the Ministry, this development violates all of the positive achievements that have been attained by cooperation in the North.

“In this context, the greatest concern is over the increasingly strong convergence of Finland and Sweden with NATO, even if these two countries officially seek to be independent of all military unions.”

“In place of an open and constructive discourse – on peace in Northern Europe and a solution to the Ukrainian conflict – the principles of confrontation are being foisted on the public opinion of the Nordic countries,” the Ministry writes.

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