The United Kingdom has agreed to “mutual security guarantees“with Sweden and Finland, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson revealed on Wednesday, a few days before Stockholm and Helsinki will announce their decision to continue NATO membership.
Johnson visits both countries today to sign “historical“statements,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement.
According to Downing Street, the new pacts mean “intensify intelligence sharing, accelerate joint military training, exercises and deployments, and strengthen security in all three countries and northern Europe.“
The UK also intends “to support the two nations, armed forces should either face crisis or come under attack“This declaration comes as both Finland and Sweden have previously expressed concern about possible retaliation from Russia if they were to apply for NATO membership.
During a press conference in Sweden, Johnson claimed that the Russian military attack on Ukraine – which he described as “Putin’s bloodthirsty campaign against a sovereign nation“- put an end to the hope that peace in Europe will last.
“The war in Ukraine is forcing us all to make difficult decisions. But sovereign nations must be free to make those decisions without fear or influence or threat of retaliation.” said the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, adding that he is “very pleased“to sign the declaration.
The news of the security pacts comes amid reports that several other countries will soon join the UK to provide security assistance to Sweden and Finland. According to the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang, the Nordic NATO countries Norway, Denmark and Iceland are working together with their neighbors on a joint political declaration that can provide Stockholm and Helsinki with further assurances in the coming months.
On May 6, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki assured Sweden and Finland that the United States will be able to find ways. “to address any concerns that both countries may have regarding the period between the application for NATO membership and the formal accession to the Alliance. “
In the midst of Moscow’s ongoing military offensive in Ukraine, both Sweden and Finland, which have a long border with Russia, have seen a dramatic change in public opinion, with the majority of the population now supporting joining the US-led bloc, according to surveys. This prompted the authorities in both countries to reconsider their long-standing alliance freedom policy.
Sweden’s ruling party will reveal its stance on NATO membership on May 15, three days after a similar move is expected by Finland. While the Swedish Social Democrats, according to their Secretary General Tobias Baudin, have not yet reached a final decision, the Finnish government has reportedly formulated its position and it is “that Finland applies for membership“Parliament is also expected to give its assent.
In early April, the head of the military alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, told NATO “welcome warmly“Finland and Sweden if they apply for membership and are prepared to make a decision on membership”pretty fast.“
Russia considers the continued expansion of NATO a direct threat to its own national security, and “for the entire security architecture“Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned in April that Moscow would”take further action“to make his defense on the western flank”more sophisticated“if Finland and Sweden join the bloc.