On May 11, the UK has signed mutual security pacts with Sweden and Finland, agreeing to come to their aid should either nation come under attack. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited both countries to sign the deals, amid debate about them joining Nato.
Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Magdalena Andersson signed a security assurance deal in Stockholm. Finland’s President Sauli Niiniste and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, signed a declaration in Helsinki.
The agreement says: “We have affirmed that if either country is affected by a natural disaster or attack, the United Kingdom and Finland will, at the request of the affected country, assist each other in various ways, which may include military means. This cooperation will remain fully consistent with each country’s security and defense policy and is intended to complement, not replace, existing European and Euro-Atlantic cooperation.”
The document also calls on Russia to immediately halt military action in Ukraine and increase support for Kiev, “including supplies of lethal materials,” declaring its readiness to help Ukrainians rebuild their country.
Boris Johnson said at the signing ceremony in Helsinki: “The Russian invasion of Ukraine changed the European security equation, rewrote our reality and changed our future. We saw the end of the Cold War era, but the invasion of Ukraine unfortunately opened a new chapter.”
He added that the defense pact shows that Britain and Finland can “intensify their partnership and take it to unprecedented heights”.
“The United Kingdom is unwavering in its commitment to NATO’s Open Door policy. The United Kingdom welcomes Finland’s role in securing the Baltic Sea region, Northern Europe, and beyond. The United Kingdom firmly believes that if Finland decides to apply for NATO membership, it will contribute to the security of the entire North Atlantic area”.
The agreement is a political declaration, rather than a legally binding document under international law, the Finnish President’s Office said.
Sweden and Finland started talking about the possibility of giving up years of neutrality and joining NATO against the backdrop of the Russian special operation in Ukraine. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg supported the idea and promised to ensure both countries’ quick accession. Julianne Smith, the U.S. permanent representative to NATO, said the organization expects Stockholm and Helsinki to make independent decisions on joining the military bloc in the coming months. According to her, the United States would welcome such a step.
The Kremlin called Sweden’s and Finland’s joining NATO an existential threat to the country. Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Russia’s Security Council, said it was necessary to be prepared for aggressive actions of the bloc against the background of attempts to expand its presence near Russia’s borders. It is expected that Stockholm and Helsinki might decide whether to join the NATO bloc by the end of May.
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