Saturday

26th May 2018

US backs Europe on Russia deterrent

  • Mattis (r) with Niinisto in Helsinki on Monday (Photo: defense.gov)

US defence chief James Mattis has praised European efforts to jointly deter Russian aggression, amid talks on EU military integration.

Speaking in Helsinki on Monday (6 November), Mattis said that "by tightening such cooperation here in the north, we see the deterrent capability of democracies strengthened."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Broad support for Pesco at EU military chiefs' talks (Photo: consilium.euoropa.eu)

He said the "deepening" of a Nato-Finland 'defence partnership' and the implementation of a US-Finland defence 'statement' had "a stabilising purpose here in northern Europe because it contributes to Finland's resilience as an independent nation."

Mattis also "applauded" Finland's creation of a Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats.

He said the centre's 12 members, including the US, would be "learning from the other and building resistance to those with malign intent toward our democracies."

Mattis did not name Russia in his Helsinki remarks, but he told US press en route to Finland that his five-day European tour was "an opportunity to reiterate where we stand by our friends … if any nation including Russia seeks to undermine the rules of international order."

The Finnish centre of excellence, which opened in April, is aimed at countering Russian hybrid warfare - a mix of economic measures, propaganda, cyber attacks, and covert military action.

Asked by press on Russia's attack on the US election last year, Finnish president Saul Niinisto said on Thursday: "We are clear-eyed on that."

"The most important thing is that ordinary people understand that kind of threat in Finland", he added.

"Every citizen is a defender of his or her territory, at least what's between his or her ears," he said, referring to hostile propaganda.

Finland is not a member of Nato and 59 percent of its people still oppose joining the alliance, according to recent surveys.

Northern defence

But it signed bilateral defence pacts with Nato and the US in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine three years ago.

It also takes part in regional defence clusters, such as the Northern Group, which includes Britain, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the Nordic states, and the Baltic states.

The Finnish hybrid centre involves Finland, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Britain, and the US, but is open to all Nato and EU members.

Niinisto said the US and Finland were in talks on holding a joint military exercise on Finnish territory.

He said the drill, to include up to 10,000 troops, was "worth doing. In principle, yes I am positive it that we develop training activities," he added.

"Relations between the United States and Finland have never been stronger," Mattis said.

EU integration

The US defence chief will meet Northern Group officials on Tuesday and most of his EU counterparts at a Nato event on Wednesday.

His visit comes amid EU preparations to deepen military cooperation in areas such as arms procurement, air transport, and medical operations.

EU states' military chiefs discussed the scheme - called Permanent Structured Cooperation (Pesco) - in Brussels on Monday.

Up to two-thirds of EU countries, led by France, Germany, Italy, and Spain are expected to sign up to it at an EU foreign ministers' meeting on 13 November.

Pesco's main aim is to speed-up EU crisis interventions in Africa and the Middle East.

Speaking to press en route to Europe, Mattis said the Islamic State jihadist group in Iraq and Syria was "going down."

Its "whole bottom was dropping out", he said.

Finland calls for 'pragmatic' EU defence

Finland’s plan for EU defence integration, presented to ministers today, goes less far than Italian or French “visions”, while quietly designating Russia as a threat.

Analysis

Good day for Russia in Europe

Russian firm Gazprom is a reformed character, the EU commission has said, improving the climate for new pipelines to Europe.

Analysis

EU has no 'magic bullet' against US Iran sanctions

EU leaders in Sofia will discuss how they can protect the bloc's economic interests against US threats to sanction companies doing business in Iran. But their options are limited.

Opinion

Ratifying CETA after 'Achmea scandal' is anti-European

While few people in Europe have heard of the 'Achmea' ruling, the case will have far-reaching consequences. Member states must understand the implications of the case quickly - especially those considering ratifying the EU-Canada trade agreement.

News in Brief

  1. Italy set to pick eurosceptic finance minister
  2. UK foreign minister fooled by Russian pranksters
  3. Rajoy ally gets 33 years in jail for corruption
  4. Close race as polls open in Irish abortion referendum
  5. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  6. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  7. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  8. UK households hit with Brexit income loss

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  2. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  5. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  6. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  8. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  9. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  10. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  11. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  12. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations