Thursday

23rd May 2019

Nordic pact heightens tension with Russia

  • The Nordic states plan to share information on airspace violations (Photo: Air Combat Command)

The Kremlin has complained that a new Nordic defence pact is “directed against Russia” and amounts to a “confrontational approach” on the Ukraine crisis.

The Russian foreign ministry issued the statement on its website on Sunday (12 April).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

It said “Nordic defence co-operation … has begun to be directed against Russia in a way that could undermine the positive engagement accumulated over the past decade”.

It voiced “concern” that Finland and Sweden, which are not Nato members, are showing “increasingly strong convergence” with the alliance.

It also said that “instead of an open and constructive dialogue” on issues such as the Ukraine conflict, “the principles of confrontation are being foisted on the public opinion of the Nordic countries”.

The defence ministers of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden unveiled the agreement in an op-ed in Norwegian daily Aftenposten last Thursday.

They said they would: share information on maritime and airspace movements; take joint steps on cyber defence; conduct military drills; consider launching a new air-police mission called Northern Flag; share air bases; and explore joint military acquisitions.

“Russia’s conduct [in Ukraine] represents the gravest challenge to European security. As a consequence, we must be prepared to face possible crises or incidents”, they warned.

They said “Russia is undertaking huge economic investments in its military capability” and that its military “is acting in a challenging way along our borders”.

They added that Russia is trying to “sow discord” in the West and that their pact “strengthen[s] the cohesion of Nato and the EU, and helps to maintain transatlantic links”.

Russian jets have violated the airspace of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania hundreds of times over the past year.

But the Russian military has also spooked the Nordic allies.

Last June, Russian bombers simulated an attack on the Danish island of Bornholm.

Last October, two Russian bombers entered Swedish airspace near the Oland island. The same month the Swedish navy launched a hunt for a suspected Russian submarine in the Stockholm archipelago.

Russian military planes have also been involved in near-misses with Swedish civilian and military flights.

A recent survey showed that 64 percent of Finnish people don’t want to join Nato. But Swedish public opinion is swinging toward the alliance.

For his part, the Finnish foreign minister, Erkki Tuomioja, told national media on Sunday the defence pact is “neither a plan for nor precursor of Nato membership”.

Speaking to EUobserver before the Ukraine conflict, the then Swedish defence minister, Karin Enstrom, said she believes that if any Nordic state is attacked, neither Nato nor EU allies would stand aside.

"It's really difficult to think that if one [EU] country ... was affected by a catastrophe or an attack, it would not affect all the other EU countries. It would be an act of self-interest to try to stabilise the situation”, she said.


US ambassador lampoons Nordic military pact

Proposals for the Nordic countries to create a mini-Nato alliance are "dreams in Polar fog" but may be useful for "keeping an eye on Polar bears and Russians", a senior US diplomat said in a freshly-leaked cable. Another dispatch said Catherine Ashton is a "street fighter".

Lithuania bans Russian TV station

Lithuania’s media watchdog has blocked broadcasts by Russian TV channel RTR Planeta on grounds of inciting hatred over Ukraine.

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

News in Brief

  1. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  2. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal
  3. UK sacked defence secretary backs Johnson for leader
  4. Dutch voter turnout so far slightly down on 2014
  5. Report: Hungary's Fidesz 'bought' Belgian official
  6. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  7. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  8. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election
  2. Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble
  3. EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal
  4. EU should stop an insane US-Iran war
  5. EU faces moment of truth at midnight on Sunday
  6. Dutch MPs: EU sanctions should bear Magnitsky name
  7. Far-right hate speech flooded Facebook ahead of EU vote
  8. Key details on how Europeans will vote

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us