The defence ministers of Sweden, Finland, and the US met in Washington to sign a trilateral letter of intent to reinforce their security cooperation.
Peter Hultqvist of Sweden, Jussi Niinistö of Finland, and James Mattis of the US signed a nonbinding agreement that involves broad themes concerning exercise activities and interoperability. The understanding is the beginning of a closer defence relationship between the parties involved as opposed to the various bilateral agreements currently in place.
“We need to work in a deeper way with exercises [in order] to develop interoperability. I think this agreement will make it easier for us to sit down together and plan for that sort of activity,” Hultqvist told Defense News after the signing. “So I think this is a platform to develop different sort of activities that can make more security and stability in our part of Europe.”
Finnish Jussi Niinistö said the letter of intent holds potential for better coordination and more military exercises, as the country prepares to host a major exercise with its partners in 2021.
Asked by Swedish news agency TT whether the move was a reaction to recent Russian warnings that an expanding NATO would be considered a threat, Hultqvist said:”We haven’t singled out any particular country in that way. We’re only noting that over time the security political situation in our part of Europe has deteriorated.”
Finland and Sweden are not NATO members but they both have Host Nation Support Agreement (HSNA) which means that NATO aircraft and ships can be transported by members across their territories upon invitation of the respective governments.
Sources: Defense News, The Local