Brits Push Sweden and Finland Closer to Joining NATO
May 11, 2022 (EIRNS)—U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson flew to Stockholm and then Helsinki today, to push both Sweden and Finland closer towards NATO membership. Both governments are expected to announce their decisions by the end of this week. In the meantime, they signed agreements, importantly promising mutual military support to each other, upon request.
In Stockholm, according to a press release from Johnson’s office, Johnson and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, “agreed that the aftershocks of Putin’s abhorrent invasion of Ukraine had fundamentally changed international security architecture. They underlined that relations with Putin could never be normalized.”
The two signed a “U.K.-Sweden Political Statement of Solidarity,” that among other things: “The United Kingdom and Sweden share the same security environment in Northern Europe. We face common challenges relating to the deteriorating security situation, due to Russia’s aggressive actions. We have a joint interest in a close political dialogue and practical cooperation between NATO and Sweden....
“On the basis of solidarity, values and geographical proximity, the United Kingdom and Sweden will meet challenges in peace, crisis and conflict together. Should either country suffer a disaster or attack, the United Kingdom and Sweden will, upon request from the affected country, assist each other in a variety of ways, which may include military means.”
In Helsinki, Johnson signed a similar “United Kingdom-Finland Statement” with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. His press release asserted that
“Both leaders discussed the barbaric invasion of Ukraine, which they agreed had changed the equation of European security. ... The Prime Minister set out the United Kingdom’s staunch support of Finland’s sovereign right to make decisions about its future without fear or influence.... The Prime Minister and President Niinistö said they looked forward to even closer military collaboration and agreed to stay in close touch.”
“We signed a joint statement. We will stand together and support each other in any circumstances, in good and bad weather,” Niinistö said in a press conference following the two leaders’ meeting. When asked about the Kremlin’s thoughts on a possible NATO membership, Niinistö denounced what he said was Russia’s attempt to remove Finland and Sweden’s agency over the decision. “If the case is that we join well, my response [to Russia] would be that you caused this, look at the mirror,” Niinistö said.
Johnson arrived in Helsinki the day after the Finnish parliament defense committee issued a statement supporting NATO membership, but hinged on NATO’s Article V security guarantee. According to Yle, a total of 10 parliamentary committees are expected to give their opinions about whether Finland should join NATO to the Foreign Affairs Committee, which will then draw up a report. However, the defense committee’s stance reportedly carries particular weight.