In an op-ed in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten on Friday, the four Nordic Defence ministers and one Foreign Minister call for an extended military cooperation among them. The text also outlines possibilities for an extended cooperation with Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.
Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland plan for more joint exercises like the air-force drill Arctic Challenge to take place in the skies over Norway and Sweden next month.
Also, more industrial cooperation, including in the defence sector, more exchange of intelligence information and joint processing of cyber-material are on the priority list.
The ministers op-ed in Aftenposten triggers massive attention in Russian national media on Friday, being the top morning story on the Kremlin operated newsagency Sputnik, RIA Novosti, Argumenty i Fakti, RBC, Echo Moskva, Interfax, Regnum and others.
The ministers have a very clear message to Russia.
“The Russian aggression against the Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea are violations of international law and other international agreements. Russia’s conduct represents the gravest challenge to European security. As a consequence, the security situation in the Nordic countries’ adjacent areas has become significantly worsened during the past year…. we must be prepared to face possible crises or incidents.”
Nordic defense cooperation has been on the agenda for some years, but this is the first time the ministers so clearly says such cooperation is needed due to Russia’s actions, not only in Ukraine, but also along the Nordic borders.
“The Russian military are acting in a challenging way along our borders, and there have been several infringes on the borders of the Baltic nations,” the ministers write and continues:
“Russia’s propaganda and political manoevering are contributing to sowing discord between the nations, as well as inside organisations like NATO and the EU” …. “The Nordic countries meet this situation with solidarity and a deepened cooperation.”